motivation

Know that…

Know that you can start late, look different, be uncertain, and STILL succeed.

Misty Copeland

know that

I’ve always loved this quote by Misty Copeland. I actually posted this image on my Instagram back in March 2016 and still think of this quote every now and then. It resonates so much with me, my life (especially as an immigrant – which I realize I’ve never talked about on here before), my journey in medicine, I mean everything; its as if Misty read the cliffs notes version of my life story (Yes, I know it’s totally bout her life, but you get my drift).

I’m currently on an away/ audition rotation and thought of this quote today. At this residency program, there’s a fun award called the “Shake Weight,” awarded to the CA1 (PGY2 anesthesia resident) who basically had the biggest “oopsies” of their class. As in messed up big time or perhaps was team struggle bus. It’s all in jest because of course EVERYBODY makes a mistake at some point in time or perhaps many points. This particularly person, however, stands out, takes the cake, and can totally laugh it off as well. Anyway, what’s REALLY cool about this award is that, residents who have been awarded this during their CA1 year often end up being Chief residents later on or being exceptional residents and attendings despite their rough start. When the resident I was working with told me the story behind the “Shake Weight” award and the legacy of past winners, I said a big “Yaaaaaaasss!” – silently of course.

Y’all, it ain’t how you start.

I’ll say it again, it ain’t how you start.

It’s how you finish.

It’s how you come back from whatever challenges you faced. It’s how you handled those curve balls and used it your advantage. It’s how you put in the work, day in and day out. Consistently.

This year, my 4th and final year of medical school, I received my FIRST honors for a clinical rotation. Not just one, but two back to back so far. Maaaan, I looked at it like, forreal?! This is real? Sure is.

And USMLE Step 2 CK, one of the licensing board exams to practice medicine in the United States, an extremely important 8 hour exam, ya girl increased 27 points compared to USMLE Step 1 and showed significant improvement.

Again y’all, it ain’t how you start.

“Know that you can start late, look different, be uncertain, and STILL succeed.”

Amen to that!

Neuro: I love the eyes, but the brain? Not so much

As you can tell, I’m slowly but surely recapping these past few months. This brings me up to the FINAL block of my first year of medical school – Neuro! The neuro block for us was 8 weeks (March 20th – May 19th) and included neurology, psychiatry, and ophthalmology, and of course, all the physiology, pathology, histology, and anatomy associated with it all. Basically, it was A LOT.

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After my cardiopulm experience, I was determined to make this a better block – to get back on my self-care and start exercising regularly again, to get back to cooking, and basically reestablish balance. Earlier in the year, I signed up for a half marathon, so I had no choice but to train or get injured. This was some motivation because my race was during this block! At the same time, I had a lot of things going on. I was still planning my wedding, had an engagement shoot scheduled in Philadelphia, had a national conference I was going to in Atlanta (SNMA Annual Medical Education Conference) and would be missing 3 days of lectures, and again, neuro was A LOT of material.

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On top of all that, I discovered (perhaps partially due to all the craziness I had going on), I wasn’t overly moved by what I was learning. Alas, as fascinating as some of my classmates found the brain to be, I was like mmm, I’m just tryna learn this material and move ON. There were several neural pathways/ tracts to know and a myriad of neurological disorders to differentiate from. I was like bruhhh! But then we got to the ophthalmology material, and something clicked. I could actually SEE the pathology and say yes, that’s glaucoma, or that’s a retinal detachment etc. It also helped that I felt a personal connection to what we were learning (The biographical film “Ray” on Ray Charles life is one of my favorites! And also disparities in health care, as can be seen in ophthalmology, always peak my interest). That’s when it dawned on me. I liked being able to diagnose by imagery. I wanted to be able to SEE the pathology. The whole guessing game and having to piece together a puzzle was absolutely thrilling to some of my classmates, for me, I was like nahh, neurology isn’t my calling. Ophthalmology was fascinating to me and turned out to be my favorite part of the block. In my opinion, it was also well taught by the professors, so of course that adds to the positive experience.

Due to all the things I had going on, this block turned out to be mentally, one of the most challenging. To summarize:

  1. We decided to post-pone our wedding from next year to my 4th year of med school. Planning as a medical student is hard. Trying to coordinate schedules when you’re both in medicine is difficult. And having a multicultural wedding involving family members in different countries is so sooo hard. In addition, having a wedding date that requires you to plan during your Step 1 study period is such a HORRIBLE idea. In summary, I’m glad we changed the date. It allowed me to also focus more on neuro and I needed that!
  2. We still did the engagement shoot in Philly. And the pictures were amazing! I had a whole situation trying to find a dress, and ended up deciding on Rent The Runway last minute. The dress turned out to be perfect!
  3. I ran the half marathon although I didn’t train as well as I would have liked. To top it off, on race day there was a huge rain storm with thunder, lightning, the works! The half marathon ended up being cancelled while I was racing due to safety reasons. I made it though 9.5 miles though!
  4. The SNMA Annual Medical Education Conference was LIT! I learned a lot, met some of my social media friends, got to spend time with my fiance (we attended the conference together), and Atlanta is such a FUN city. I can certainly see myself settling there in the future.
  5. I eventually caught up on the lectures I missed because of the conference, but maaaan, it was STRESSFUL. Shout out to my fiance for encouraging me and tryna keep me sane, Lord knows I was in panic mode for a bit.
  6. I made it through Neuro and finished my first year of medical school! Officially a 2nd year med student! Thanks to God for the strength through it all. There was a lot of craziness in that block!

Resources used:

And here’s a sneak picture of our engagement shoot! It was a great experience thanks to Tonjanika Smith Photography.

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Thanks for reading! And don’t forget to subscribe!

Just Keep Swimming…

It’s crazy how fast this musculoskeletal (MSK) block has gone. It wasn’t that long ago that I was making my first cut into my cadaver and then trying to reflect gluteus maximus to see piriformis, gluteus medius and the other underlying structures. Now fast forward 6 weeks later, and here I am:

  • 1 day away from my MSK OSCE (an assessment of my patient interaction/ communication skills using a standardized patient, as well as my ability to give  a shoulder and knee exam)
  • 3 days away from my anatomy practical
  • 8 days away from my block exam

It’s definitely GRIND time. There’s a lot of material in this block and because it’s also different from the others, it feels a bit overwhelming. I’ve been making to do lists everyday and trying to accomplish as much as I can..”Just keep swimming, just keep swimming” as my homie Dory would say.

This block was also a lot of fun. I serve on my school’s Student National Medical Association (SNMA) executive board and we had our regional conference on my campus. It was a blast! A lot of work when it came to planning, but the conference was a GREAT turn out and ultimately a success.

During this block, I also went to my first suturing workshop. Check out my handiwork below. Now I know my stitches aren’t good BUUUUT there’s a first time for everything. It was a pretty cool experience!

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Anyhoo, I just want to encourage others who are also studying for exams right now, WE GON’ BE ALRIGHT! We’re so soooo close to the end of this semester. Stay encouraged and power through. And if you need to recharge, listen to some Salt-N-Pepa, and PUSH IT! Push it reaaaaal good all the way to the finish line 🙂

Two weeks in and many more to go!

It’s Fridayyyyyy! Another week done and DONE!

gina.gifTruthfully, it’s been two weeks of studying, making new friends, MORE studying, going dancing, and then EVEN MORE studying. Yep I’ve been spending a lot of time with my books BUT I have a confession….I enjoyed it all. Yes I know, I know, it might seem strange – med school, firehose analogy, and all the other daunting images that come to mind when thinking about med school. So far, for me, it’s been a smooth transition. I will admit, this is mostly due to some of the study strategies I use, time management, my MEDPATH year, aaaannd of course, disclaimer, it’s only been two weeks. However, what I’m doing is working well for this block and I’m excited to share my tips!

First about the curriculum:

I’m on Foundations one, which is a 5 week mixture of Biochemistry, Genetics, Cell biology/ Histology, Pathology, Anatomy, Pharmacology, Behavioral and Social sciences AND Statistics (Evidence-based medicine etc). Wheeewww, looking at it now, that seems like a lot! What I like about it though is that the material is presented in different ways – what we call TLM (teaching and learning methods). So some of these subjects could be lectures, patient presentations, small groups, articulate modules, guided readings or team based learning (TBL). In addition to all this book work, we also have a patient and clinical skills component. All that to say, there’s a whole LOT to our curriculum and as time goes on, I’ll share more and more about it. One thing I will say though is I absolutely LOVE it!

Alright, unto what I’ve been doing to manage all the material. 

  1. I plan my week. I have a dry erase white board on my door (it’s actually a peel and stick whiteboard I bought on Amazon last year. Click here for something similar) that keeps me on track.
    • Did I get through all of Monday’s lectures, articulates etc? Note: first pass means preview for me. Second pass is typically in-class lecture. Some things like articulate modules, don’t get a second pass.
    • Did I make my Anki cards?
    • Did I review the Anki cards I made?
    • Did I prep for my LG class (which is the patient and clinical skills class)? planweek.JPGI made this board before class started and have been using it since day 1. Some columns don’t get filled i.e. I don’t plan to start BRS questions (Board Review Series – click here for link to books) until it’s closer to the block exam. My plan is to continue using this for the rest of the block and beyond!
  2. I preview – review. I am team PREVIEW lectures before going to class – like aaaaaall the way. Personally I am more engaged when I’ve previewed a lecture a night or two before and actually know what’s going on, what’s coming next, what slide I need to make sure I pay attention to because I was totally lost the night before and so on. It makes lecture a more enjoyable experience for me. So yep, I will sit there the day before go through all 60-something slides or however amount, just so I can have a better learning experience. I use my iPad (all students get one) so I’m able to write notes like “what’s going on here?” “is this important?” “skip!” It allows me to find out what’s high yield during lecture. A slight perk this week was having a random classmate I was sitting next to in lecture tell me “Wow you’re really smart, I hope you’re in my TBL group!” Yea, I felt pretty good. I told her my secret – previewing lectures is totally IN.
  3. I go to lectures. Some of the material is given to us as articulate modules which are prerecorded lectures – in those cases, yea I listen at home. However the in-class lectures are the ones I preview for AND go to lecture. Again for me, it’s making sure I’m engaged and paying attention. I prefer to hear the lecture once and not have to again, so might as well go and cement what I went over the night before. I find that when I stream the lecture live at home, I end up being distracted by other things, but when I’m in the lecture hall, I’m super focused.
  4. I make Anki cards. Anki makes the dream work y’all! It’s a flashcard app that uses spaced repetition and it is simply AMAZING. I make my Anki cards while I preview the lecture or while listening to articulate modules. During lecture, I pay attention to the slides I marked up (“is this important?!”) and more cards get made right there in lecture. I hope you can see how this makes learning a bit more interesting and engaging for me. I go over my Anki cards pretty much everyday – I give myself a break on Saturdays, but the rest of the week, I Anki while walking my roommate’s dog, while studying in my room etc. Yay for technology and being able to synch Anki to both my computer, iPad and phone!

Other things that have also helped is taking Biochemistry, Genetics, Histology, and Anatomy this past year. Shout out to MEDPATH. Some of this material feels like review (or at least vaguely recognizable haha). So these first two weeks haven’t been bad. One of the most enjoyable parts about it is incorporating the different diseases, symptoms, diagnostic methods etc i.e. Cystic Fibrosis. This whole week was pretty heavy on that, we also had a quiz today just on that, ask me anything hahaha.

But that’s how the week has been. Saturday’s are fun days. Last week was full of dancing and I’ve got some equally exciting things to look forward to tomorrow. I hope you do too!

The Fun Begins: My White Coat Ceremony!

“But they that wait upon the Lord will renew their strength; they will mount up with wings as eagles; they will run and NOT be weary; and they will walk, and NOT faint.” – Isaiah 40:31

Monday was my white coat ceremony and it was GLORIOUS. As I walked on stage after my name was called, I kept thinking this is really it – a major and symbolic step in my journey. I was overwhelmed with so much joy!

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Shout out to all the curve balls that made my journey to this point a bit more interesting and most importantly, to God who gave me the strength to tackle them all. All those challenges made this moment so much sweeter.

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A big thank you to my friends and family who have supported me throughout, also to you all, who read my blog, who provide encouraging words and put a smile on my face with your thank you emails – you’re appreciated!

Cheers to this next chapter, the curve balls that will be handled with grace (hopefully!), and the opportunity to share my experience through this blog. Looking forward to it all!

Halfway done!

Happy July everyone! I have a feeling it’s going to be a GREAT month. We started head & neck in Anatomy earlier this week, which means…**drumroll please** we’re halfway done with the summer session! Hallelujah praise Him!!! In all seriousness, it’s an AWESOME feeling knowing there’s just 3 weeks left of classes. Although we only get a week vacation before first year starts, I’m going to milk that break for all its worth. No plans yet, besides relaxing and hanging out with my fam; but the plan is to recharge as much as possible before ish gets real.

In the midst of classes, I’m still fitting in some fun here and there. The weather has been GORGEOUS and it’s been the perfect opportunity to test out my photography skills. I tried taking some shots of myself with the timer (and on my tripod), and bruhhh the struggle! How do some fashion bloggers do it?! I’m still getting the hang of my DSLR, and my biggest challenge is focusing. I was able to get some decent shots though. Cheers to this learning process!

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I’ve also been experimenting in the kitchen and cooking a lot lately – lots of veggies and home cooked meals. I’ve been feeding my body yummy goodness and it’s been loving me back! This week I found out that OSU has a community garden that’s open to the public. The Ross Heart Hospital community garden has weekly classes where they talk about the importance of nutrition, cooking, and healthy eating. Afterwards, you can pick from the garden – FOR FREE! Yes, vegetables for free, I was like what?! Sign me up! I went for the first time this week and a chef taught us how to make two plant-based sauces, afterwards was harvesting time. I probably picked close to $50 worth of groceries – it was awesome. The next day, I made some yummy goodness. Looking forward to experimenting some more!

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If you have any favorite veggie dishes, send them my way 🙂

Hope you all have a wonderful and safe July 4th weekend!

 

Roses, Long Distance Relationships, and the Joys of Anatomy

Last week was full of celebration. I received my official email, chose my white coat size, I mean it was legit. I also purchased my first DSLR camera –  woot woot! I’m trying to pick up photography as a hobby, but I’m a total newbie – alas, I’m still learning the basics. A friend of mine invited me out to a baby shoot she was doing for a client and I got to observe. It was my first time at Columbus Park of Roses and I was stunned by how breathtaking the whole park was. Here are some dope (raw) shots I took:

My boyfriend also visited that weekend. He’s a medical student and had just completed his last clinical shelf exam for third year (woot woot 4th year status!), so it was double the celebration! We’ve been long distance for the past year, so seeing each other always feels like a treat. I believe the saying goes, “Distance makes the heart grow fonder,” well I’ll add that it certainly makes you appreciate the time you’re able to spend together. Especially since we’re not only long distance but both in medical school now (double whammy!), we definitely treasure the times we’re able to physically see each other. And per usual, it was full of laughter and adventures.

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Sadly, Monday rolled around and it was time to get back into the swing of things, aka studying and getting more acquainted with the cadavers. Anatomy is a huge learning curve y’all! Right now we’re on upper limbs and I’m like, so many muscles in the forearm and hand, all these origins and insertions, the brachial plexus, tis too much! Yea, keeping it all straight is a challenge. Our practical and written exam is this Monday and I’m just going to keep going over the material till it sticks. I use Net Anatomy to study since my school has  a subscription to that. I also use Gray’s Atlas of Anatomy. It’s a bit challenging since we don’t have 24-hour access to the cadaver lab for this summer portion. I suppose I can’t complain though, it’s pass/ fail. Most importantly, being able to recall most of this material when we start MSK block (musculoskeletal system) in the fall is GOLD. I’m always down with anything that makes life easier. On that note, back to the books I go!

Reaction video: It’s official!

Yesterday was a BIG day for me. How big, you ask?

FLIPPING BIG!

Yesterday, the MCAT scores were released *GASPS!* Yes, I know. This is major. As you all know, one of the requirements for my conditional acceptance into medical school was retaking the MCAT. The date was scheduled for us, fixed, with no chance of rescheduling. All 15 of us MEDPATHers were set to take it on May 14th. This was about 2 weeks after our second semester ended. The goal was the meet/ surpass the minimum score required of us. As part of the program, we took The Princeton Review MCAT prep course; this was our “Independent study” course and counted towards credits for the spring semester. This was HUGELY beneficial for me since I had never taken a MCAT prep course in the past.

Anyhoo, fast-forward through all the studying, taking the exam that fateful Saturday, then waiting 31 days for the score to come out. June 14 finally rolled around and being the person that I am, I documented the moment I saw my score – I can’t help it, I’m a sucker for capturing memories. I opened my score page and…**drumroll please** not only did I meet the goal score, but I surpassed it and scored in the 80th percentile. To give you an idea, that translates to somewhere between 30 – 31 on the old MCAT. So yea, it went relatively well. No more ifs, buts, or maybes, my white coat ceremony is August 1st! I’ll definitely write more in-depth about how I studied in future posts. But first…here’s my reaction video!

Click here to  watch

I’m All The Way Up!

Hello beautiful people! It’s definitely been a WHILE. I’ll admit I haven’t been the most consistent but so much has happened these past two months – I finished my 2nd semester of MEDPATH, retook the MCAT (as required for the conditional acceptance), went on a 8 day bus hopping trip, and started the summer portion of my program (Anatomy + Immuno). Yep, a lot has certainly happened and to be honest, I’m feeling like,

Nothing can stop me, I’m all the way up!

I’m sure the amazing weather and overall summer vibes has something to do with it. And of course, the fact that there’s just one month, three weeks, and 6 days till my white coat ceremony (Yes, I have a countdown app for this, who gon check me boo!). This song has been my anthem for the past few weeks – can you blame me though? The beat y’all, it’s the beat! What songs are you vibin’ to lately?

“You Can Have It All”

Last night I had the opportunity to attend the annual “Women in White Coats” event at my school. It’s an event that allows female physicians (OSU med alums) and medical students at OSU to connect and share experiences specific to women in medicine. Naturally, I was excited to go and gain as much as I can from these women who have been there, done that.

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My poor roommate got suckered into taking (several) pictures of me before we left for the event 😛womenwhitecoatThe dress code was business formal. I went back and forth on whether or not to rock a blazer and ultimately decided not. Glad I didn’t because it wasn’t THAT formal. There were yummy little appetizers and desserts, and ahh yes, wine!whitecoate1

The event was set up almost like speed dating. Almost. Lol. Each round table had at least one physician (most had two), and students could sit at any of the tables. There were three rounds of group discussions. After each round, the students were free to go to any table and spark up a conversation with a new physician. In the beginning of the event, the physicians in attendance had gone around the room and introduced themselves, as well as their specialities; this made it easy to navigate your way too a physician of interest.

What was also really helpful was a suggested list of conversation topics conveniently placed on table. I didn’t end up having to use the list but it was nice to know there was a back up in case things got a little to quiet *cricket cricket*

I honestly had an AWESOME time at the event. I was able to speak with a Rheumatologist, two Primary care physicians, an Endocrinologist, and an Ophthalmologist, and they ALL had valuable pieces of advice to give – from career advice, to having a family, being in a long distance relationship in medical school, marrying someone also in medicine, choosing a specialty, residency, studying for Step one, I mean literally the whole spectrum.

I learned that you can have it all, BUT you also have to know what’s important to you.

That was definitely a big take away for me. I left feeling oh so inspired by all the women who have paved the way (and continue to do so in their respective fields). Chaka Khan’s “I’m Every Woman” sums it all up for me. Take a listen and groove with me 🙂