Medical Student

How I prep for Anatomy Lab

This week has been anatomy filled with my medical class dissecting the back and posterior neck region. Having taken an anatomy class last year, I was eager to begin lab and have been loving it thus far. My lab uses human-donor bodies which can be an adjustment for many people emotionally (Check out my post post about it). However, preparing for lab can also be an academic adjustment so I thought I’d share how I prepare for each lab in a scholastic sense.

 

Watch dissection videos

Schools usually provide these for you although some can be found online. I watch them once the night before then try to re-watch them just prior to the actual lab in the morning.

 

Coloring Books

Here is a link to the coloring book I use. It is my favorite because it has so many different perspectives of the muscles, bones, and nerves. Plus, it feels a little less like studying and a little more like art so it can be a nice break while still being productive.

anatomy coloring book

Effective flashcards

Having a thousand flashcards is not going to be helpful. I try to keep one flashcard per muscle and include attachments, function, and innervation.

 

Utilize multiple diagrams

I look up diagrams online in addition to ones provided by faculty. This way I see a variety of ways in which the material is presented and tested. The internet is a great resource and can be really helpful for finding quizzes or unlabeled diagrams that you can self-test yourself with.

anatomy drawings

While in lab…

I try to teach my lab group members what I know and then we alternate and they teach me. We like to quiz each other sporadically throughout to help us study as well.

I also make time to wander around the lab and check out what the other donors look like since there is a lot of variation and it’s important to be able to identify structures on all bodies.

 

 

I hope some of these tips help. Anatomy is so great so be sure to enjoy it and get the most of your experience!

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Lifestyle

Slow Cooker Chicken Tacos

As a student, my time is pretty important to me and I am broke. These two facts have caused me to love cooking using a slow cooker.  I can come home to a lovely meal that doesn’t make me sad and doesn’t take much time to put together. While making these tacos, I was studying at home so the delicious smell wafted into my room and kept me excited and motivated while reviewing histology.

crock pot chicken
Looking good in my crock pot 🙂

This recipe is so easy with few ingredients that you can just throw in a slow cooker.

 

Ingredients:

  • 2 lb boneless chicken breast
  • 1/3 cup fresh cilantro
  • 16 oz salsa (I use the Tostito restaurant style)
  • 1 taco seasoning packet
  • Juice from 2 squeezed limes

Recipe:

Put the chicken into the slow cooker. Add seasoning, salsa, cilantro, and lime juice. Cook on low for 6-7 hours. Throw it on a tortilla, add fresh toppings, and enjoy!

 

taco night
I served it with refried beans, Spanish rice, and red wine (of course!)

 

An extra bonus about this meal – it also takes great reheated. I prepared a bunch then ate it for lunches throughout the week. I hope you enjoy the tacos as much as I did.

 

Medical Student · School

Active Learning Study Tips

I just had my first real medical school exam this past Friday (*shriek*). I tried hard these past three weeks to utilize effective and efficient study methods that focused on active learning to help me prepare. With school just starting, it’s a great time to try out new methods and integrate them into your studying repertoire. So, I thought I’d share some of the new techniques that helped me.

 

Studying for all the senses.

While rereading the textbook can seem effective, it has been proven to be one of the most ineffective study techniques out there. Active learning is better. Active learning means listening, drawing, and moving. Rewrite your notes. Draw out diagrams. Listen to podcasts. Perform practice questions. The more ways you come into contact with the information, the better you will retain it.

 

pictures in notes
I add little doodles here and there in my notes to keep my mind focused. Plus, sometimes a random analogy (i.e. separating Romeo and Juliet) helps me remember concepts.

 

 

Identify your ideal noise level.

Some people need absolute silence and thus should find designated ‘quiet’ areas on campus or invest in ear plugs. I personally do better with some ambient noise so I like to sit at a semi-crowded café. I also found this amazing site that makes ambient noise mixes so that it sounds like I am sitting in the Slytherin common room at Hogwarts.

 

Base study guides off objectives. 

This is something that is emphasized a lot at my school and I wish I had focused on this more in undergrad. Most professors have a list of learning objectives or focuses that they introduce at the beginning of each new section. Use these to your advantage! They are a fabulous guide to what you should focus your studying on. These topics are likely to be high yield – meaning they’ll show up on a test the most and are thus more worthy of your study time.

 

study guides
Study guides directly based on the list of objectives

 

Teach and be taught. 

They say that you truly understand something when you can teach it to someone else. Now, we don’t all have roommates kind enough for us to teach them all of our lectures. I recommend a study group (my ideal size is 4-7 people) who can talk out hard concepts. If you’re struggling with one topic, try teaching what you can to the group and allow them to jump in when you mess up or forget something. Then do the same for them.

 

I hope some of these tips help you all as much as they helped me with my first exam. Have a great start of the semester and happy studying! 🙂

Medical Student

Wellbeing in Med School

Last year, my senior year of college, I really did not focus on my physical and mental well-being as I should have. I didn’t eat well, was sick often, and rarely exercised or made time for things I loved. I socialized with friends and focused on my academics, but infrequently checked in on how I was doing.

 

How I was last spring is not sustainable now that I am in medical school. If I continue with my old habits, my body will be exhausted and I will definitely fall victim to burn out. Three weeks into medical school and I’m doing much better. I’ve created a few easy rules for myself to follow to force myself to take better care of my body and mental health that I am hoping to maintain. After all, if I’m here to learn how to help my future patients stay healthy, I should probably lead by example.

 

Packing lunches ahead of time

I make 1-2 large meals on the weekends and then have been taking the left overs to school for lunch. I pack everything, being sure to  include healthy snacks the night before so I am not as tempted to pick up some sugary treats while on campus. This has also been helping my budget.

Walking to school 

Sometimes, the 15 minute walk to and from class is the only exercise I get. It’s a nice wake up in the morning and gives me some time to be outside and clear my head. On especially busy days, I multitask and call my mom during it so I can catch up with the family and then solely focus on work when I’m home.

mickey walking

Take my lunch break off

Most days, we get a full hour for lunch. Many take half that time and then study for the rest or get ahead on homework. I try to relax for the full break, chat with friends, or pick up some coffee so I’m refreshed and ready to go for the afternoon lectures.

Commit to things that are important to you

No matter how tired I am, as of now I refuse to not put make up on in the morning even if it means losing out on fifteen extra minutes of rest. Putting on my make-up wakes me up and helps me feel prepared for the day. It’s something I prioritize in my morning routine and I won’t be letting it go any time soon. I will also work extra hard Sunday day so I can enjoy the Game of Thrones finale that night – no way I’m missing that! 😊

Tracking my Interests

In my bullet journal, I track healthy habits and interests including… not hitting the snooze button, hitting my calorie goal, writing, and meditating. By keeping a numeric diary of what I am doing throughout the week encourages me to do them more. Even just a ten minute meditation or twenty minutes creative writing every once in a while is good for me. One of my favorite quotes is “sleep won’t help if it’s your soul that’s tired.” As much as I love science, sometimes my soul needs a more creative break.

Sleep is priority.

Over everything. I got an extra hour yesterday instead of flat-ironing my hair (something I’ve been wanting to do for days) and I have no regrets. My bed is my most important companion these past few weeks and I have no shame in saying that. If I get anything less than 6.5 hours, I’ll be useless and its too early for me to attach myself to a caffeine IV.

Medical Student

First Week as a Medical Student

 

This week, I felt like a future doctor and every once in a while it would hit me, that I’ve made it.

 

I don’t have ‘classes’ per say 

A lot of my loved ones have been asking me which of my classes is hardest or the most interesting. I didn’t really have a clear idea of how class schedule worked in med school so not having set class schedules for the whole semester is different. I have a weekly schedule that I access online. Every day, I have various traditional lectures, workshops, and team based learning activities. Each is usually an hour to an hour and a half and focuses on a specific topic such as enzyme kinetics or protein folding. All of these classes fall under ‘block one’ of my Foundations of Clinical Sciences.

*Note, this is how my medical school does it, others have different structures for curriculum.

Imposter syndrome is real

Being surrounded by people who have had careers, graduate degrees, and more years of chemistry or physics, while exciting, is also terrifying. The other day, I had to ask what ‘vaso-occlusive crisis’ meant and I felt like a moron. In case you were wondering, it’s when sickled blood cells build up in vasculature leading to a painful crisis for sickle cell patients. Some classes, I’m terrified that people will realize I got in on a system glitch. But based on my conversation with my peers, I’m pretty sure everyone feels that way. Plus, the admissions staff seems to have their stuff together so I doubt they make mistakes too often 🙂

imposter syndrome

I will need to change my study style

My study techniques got me through undergraduate courses and the mcat, so yes they have worked. But I do not think they will be sufficient. There’s a saying about retaining all the information from medical school.

It’s like drinking from a fire hose

And it truly is. In one hour of a workshop, I went through approximately one month’s material from an undergraduate lecture. Adjustments will be needed. I’m trying out a few this week including maintaining a cumulative study guide rather than making one right before a test as well as utilizing online material and self-quizzing more frequently. Based on my next exam’s score, I’ll continue adjusting.

I owe Elon a lot

I was so blessed to go to Elon – not only because I loved it and made some amazing friends there, but because my science classes prepared me so well for med school… or at least they have so far haha. We’ve mostly been going over molecular biology, genetics, and biochemistry. My previous undergraduate lectures have allowed me to be familiar with these concepts and I’ve even been able to utilize old notes (because yes, I do save them all).

I am exhausted and have never been more giddy

I am living my dream. When I think about it too much, I honestly start to tear up a little. I feel like I’ve truly found a place where I can be pushed and appreciated and surrounded by people with similar interests to my own. I’ve never felt so immediately comfortable somewhere before (though I am still terrified of keeping up, honestly). I try to remind myself to be grateful any time I forget how incredible this is and start to complain about the workload or lack of sleep. I am a lucky girl indeed to be able to do this and I am privileged to be learning here with so many brilliant classmates and teachers.

me in my white coat
You could say I’m pretty excited
School

Getting Ready for Back to School

It’s that time of year again when stores stock up on colorful notebooks and students slowly walk back onto campus. The few weeks before school can be bittersweet with the sadness of losing free time but the excitement for what the upcoming semester has to offer. This year is especially exciting for me as I start at a completely new school – the Larner College of Medicine.

There’s a lot to do before going back to school including packing (if you go to university), buying supplies, and catching up on summer reading. Today, I thought I’d share some of the tricks I use so that by the time that first morning lecture rolls around, I’m feeling totally prepared.

 

back to school.jpg

 

Organize your desk

Clear off your desk and make sure all of your newly purchased supplies are easily accessible so that you’ll actually want to study. I also recommend adding something a little cute or whimsical so that the desk isn’t too serious and is more inviting. On my own, I have beautiful teal elephant book ends that I love.

Clean out your room (especially your closet)

Most likely, you purchased some new items for the year so going through your clothes and throwing out or donating old and worn out items is a must. It’ll be easier to pick first-day outfits if you know what you have. Additionally, having a de-cluttered and clean room will give you peace of mind and more confidence to start the semester.

Get a planner that works for you

As I have mentioned, I LOVE bullet journaling so I always look up different layouts to try during the first months of school. The past year I have always included a ‘semester overview’ page dedicated to showing just the big test and project dates for all of my classes. If bullet journals aren’t your thing, do some research about what kind of planner you want and don’t just buy the first one you see. Ask your friends what kinds they use and what they like or don’t like them.

bullet journal for back to school.jpg

Print off all syllabi and materials prior to class

Reading these prior to the first day of class will help you feel prepared and will give you a better idea of how big of a time commitment this course will be and how to prioritize it.

Identify semester goals

This is so important to having a great semester! I recommend having two-three general goals with more specific sub-goals underneath. Write them down. Put them in your phone. But check back in throughout the next few months to see how you’re doing and make adjustments as needed.

This year, my two goals are to focus on my wellness while starting medical school and to stay on top of my studying. For the wellness goal, my more specific goals are to find time to write (a favorite past time and stress relief of mine) at least one hour every week and to exercise three times a week on average. For studying, my specific goals are to create biweekly specific study schedules and to participate in a study group a few times a month.

 

I hope these have been helpful. Please comment below with tips of your own and have a fantastic start of school!!

Medical Student

What to do after applications?

I apologize for being AWOL this past month. My laptop completely crashed and I recently moved up to Vermont to start settling in so I haven’t been able to keep up. But things have finally settled down so I promise to start posting more regularly.

 

Now, I know the 2017-2018 medical school application cycle is going on and many of you probably just sent in your primaries. So, I thought I’d share my advice for what to do with your next two months of summer while waiting to receive secondary applications.

med school apps.jpg

 

Check you email constantly.

You’ll be receiving secondaries and updates from AMCAS so make sure to check your email at the very least once a day and check your spam folders as well.

Fill out secondaries ASAP.

The recommendation you’ll often hear is to complete you secondaries within 2 weeks of receiving them so that schools know you are serious. Now, two weeks seems like a lot of time but often you receive them all at once and you have work or school or other obligations, so you just have to do your best to work through them as quickly as possible.

waiting gif
The wait for responses can be exhausting.

Keep information updated.

If you move or any of your information changes such as phone number, GPA, or email, keep all of the schools updated and notified by indicating these changes to your AMCAS profile.

Buy your suit now.

Buy your interview suit now when you can take your time and look for sales. Interviews can be stressful enough without frantically searching for a suit that fits both your body and your budget when you don’t have a lot of time yet. It may seem like you’re jinxing yourself but even if you don’t get an interview this year, you’ll need it in the future and if you get a classic suit, you’ll be able to wear it for many years to come.

Look up possible secondary questions.

There are many forums that discuss past secondary question. Additionally, some students may receive secondaries before you and  post questions on these forums. Having a heads up on the types of questions you’ll be asked can give you an opportunity to start brainstorming and drafting potential answers.

 

 

I hope this information was helpful and good luck during this application cycle!

 

Book Worm · School

Best Writing Advice I’ve Received

Hey everyone, sorry for the last two weeks of silence but I’ve been dealing with some laptop issues. Luckily, my lovely mother is allowing me to use her’s so I can get back to blogging ❤

 

I will admit, I am not the best writer there is (shocking, I know). However, I have been blessed to have some amazingly talented teachers and professors as well as had the opportunity to meet a few stunning authors at my university. Today, I thought I’d share some of the best advice for aspiring authors that I have heard from these professionals.

 

Focus on character, not plot.

I took a student-led workshop and the women running the show urged us to avoid ‘genre writing’ meaning not creating an epic horror or fantasy and instead creating a character first and seeing how that character interacts with the world. They said this helps avoid archetypes, cliches, and allows the readers to relate to the characters more because they turn out to be more life like.

The 1 inch picture frame.

One professor told me that when you’re stuck, fill in a 1 inch picture frame. What he meant was, when you don’t know where you are in a scene or what is happening, imagine the person or setting and just try to explain a 1×1 inch square of the full picture. It will get you started and help keep moving you forward.

best book ever

Write what you’re bad at.

The brilliant Junot Díaz spoke at my university my first year there. Many of his books are written in second person point of view and when asked why he writes that way, he responded that point of view is the one he is worst at. So, he writes books that way so he can get better because otherwise he would never improve. I try to emulate his approach by trying to write short stories and thrillers every once in a while to mix it up and practice. It’s kind of like switching up exercises in the gym so that all your muscles get stronger rather than just one.

Edit at the end.

Nanowrimo taught me this. Before, I’d write twenty pages then spend hours painstakingly looking over word choice and spelling errors rather than writing twenty more. By not looking back until you’re done, you’re less likely to get disgruntled and more likely to finish.

kermit writing

Rewrite rather than edit.

My creative writer professor is a novelist and his main advice for editing drafts was to literally retype the entire piece rather than just edit an existing document. He encouraged this for poem drafts, ten page stories, and claims that he does this for his novels as well. Although time consuming, he guarantees that it helps slow you down and will allow you to catch mistakes and areas to improve that you may otherwise miss. While I have yet to do this will a full novel, I did recently retype rather than edit a twenty page short story and I do believe it helped.

 

I hope these tips help you as much as they’ve helped me. Please share your own in the comments because I’m always looking for new ways to approach telling a story!

Medical Student

Tips for Writing a Personal Statement

The personal statement for medical school applications can be the most daunting. It’s one page where you can write anything you want about yourself and it’s often the best opportunity to demonstrate who you are besides just your GPA and MCAT scores. Thus, it was the part of my application that I was most stressed about but I ended up with a piece I was pretty happy with. So, I thought I’d share my personal tips that helped me.

who am i

First make a list.

Answer the question “What are you passionate about” and just brainstorm. See what patterns you see and try to pull those out in your writing.

Sound like yourself.

Yes, you want to sound professional but not like there’s a thesaurus is tossing out words.

Have the right people edit.

Have people you trust edit such as your school health committee or career advising. An English major or professor for grammar and spelling. But be wary of having too many people edit it. Too many cooks in the kitchen can leave you with something you’re not happy with.

Focus your paper.

Only highlight 1-2 key experiences from your resume. Otherwise it’ll just read like a laundry list. Mention the 2 most relevant ones to what you’re applying to and use the space to expand on them.

I hope some of these tips help and good luck with your applications!!

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Book Worm

Book Review: A Court of Wings and Ruin

Confession: I did not sleep last night. I decided to start A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas with the intention of only reading a few chapters. Then, all of a sudden I was 600 pages in at 5 in the morning so I just powered through.

I love this series. Check out my review of book one here and book two here. This book picks up a few weeks after the second one with Feyre living at the Spring Court with a duplicitous mission – weaken Hybern and the Spring Court from the inside. Don’t worry, no spoilers!

court of wings and ruin

This book is the longest in the series yet at 699 pages and is action packed. My favorite aspect of this book is that we get to see more of the other courts and their interactions. There is a fabulous scene with all the leaders of the different courts bickering about past issues and having political fights. It is entertaining and important to the plot as Feyre and her friends attempt to unite the island against enemy forces.

Rhysand is without a doubt one of my favorite characters in this series. Thus, I was a little disappointed that he didn’t make an appearance until about 100 pages in. Tamlin, as always, annoyed me. I think that Maas attempted to write a slight redemption arc but I was not having it. We get to know Elain and Nesta much better and how they fit into this new Fae world.

I do have a few critiques about this book. There were a lot of side stories such as Lucien taking a little adventure and Nesta recovering after the cauldron incident from the last book that I would have enjoyed seeing first hand from their POV. There are two short chapters form Rhysand’s POV but other than that it is entirely Feyre. My hope is that Maas may write some novellas to provide a few more details about some of the side plots. Additionally, some of the plot lines wrapped up a bit too easily. I can’t believe that I’m saying this since the book was quite long but certain pivotal scenes felt rushed.

Overall, it was a great addition to this series and fans will definitely enjoy it. However, the second book remains my favorite in the trilogy. Let me know what you all think!

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