Book Worm · Medical Student

Book Review: How Doctors Think

How Doctors Think by Jerome Groopman, M.D. is on many lists of what to read before entering medical school. Thus, this past month, I thought I would check it out. I was surprised to learn that it was actually not written with aspiring doctors in mind, but rather it was written for patients to hopefully aid them in better interacting with their doctors.

how doctors think

The goal of this book is to provide both patients and doctors better information so that they can make better judgements, diagnoses, and treatment plans together.

Now, as noble as that can sound, it also does not sound like a truly exciting book to read, but don’t be discouraged. I really enjoyed reading this book! Groopman includes multiple stories from his own work as well as from his colleagues that are gripping, heartbreaking, and interesting. Often, you are following the doctor’s thought process and he/she tries to correctly diagnose a patient with an unclear problem. Almost each chapter has a mystery patient and as Groopman goes through it, you learn how  the doctors approach the problem, how their medical training influences this approach, and how sometimes their approach is flawed leading to complications.

 

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I found this so interesting because as an aspiring doctor, it is important for me to understand some of the pitfalls that doctors can have in their thought processes when making a diagnosis. For example, Groopman describes a woman who had Celiac disease but was constantly diagnosed with psychological disorders instead due to a cognitive bias the doctors had.

The book ends with Groopman’s advice to patients on how to best interact with doctors including what questions to pose, how to describe symptoms, and how to handle non-ideal doctor patient relationship. I think this advice is useful for any patient and all doctors to consider moving forward. All in all, I highly recommend reading this especially for people considering the health field!

 

 

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Book Review: So You Got into Medical School… Now What?

I was officially accepted into medical school and since then have been alternating between being unconditionally happy and insanely terrified of what the next four years have in store. Thus, I asked for this book for my birthday and, because my mother loves me and knows how anxious I can get, she dutifully shipped it out for my 22nd (Side note – she did call me a nerd for this being on the top of my birthday gift wish list).

This book is designed to read prior to medical school to help accepted students feel more prepared for the upcoming years. I will be reviewing it as one of those students who has not yet entered school so keep that in mind – a current medical student may have differing opinions.

so you got into med school

The first four chapters of this book are all about studying. Topics include the difference between conceptual learning and memorizing, ensuring study efficiency, procrastination, avoiding study anxiety, and the idea of diminishing returns. Diminishing returns in regards to studying means that as your test grade gets closer to 100 percent, the points are harder to gain. I found these chapters incredibly useful – and not just for the future! Although medical school examples are utilized to explain each concept, I honestly believe any college student could benefit from the first half of the book and the approach it provides towards studying and class preparation.

For example, the book explores how to make studying the most efficient. This includes  not cramming for a test which can be avoided by not procrastinating. It also means identifying what the author calls ‘high-yield material’ or material that will be have more test questions than minute details. This is what your studying should be focused on.

One of my favorite concepts from the first half of the book was the idea that “all study hours are not equal.” Often times, people compare how many hours they studied on a test to their classmates, but the sheer amount of time is not a great indicator of the quality of studying. For example, I could study for six hours straight from 8:00 pm to 2:00 am versus my friend who studied for three hours from 5:00 pm to 8:00 pm. My friend’s studying was probably better because she was more well rested, more focused, and was not burnt out by hour five.

no idea what we're doing

The second half of the book explores the 3rd and 4th year of medical school which include clerkships, rotations, and applying for residency. Stories in this section were not as helpful because one’s experiences is so specific to what school they attend. However, the author included specific questions to ask and who to ask them to so that you may feel more prepared for your transition to 3rd year.

At the start of each chapter, there were little short stories from actual medical students lives which were humorous, honest, and provided great insight into what it is like to be a medical student. Overall, I really enjoyed this book. The author had a very casual tone and was reassuring. He explained his reasoning with examples, hypotheticals, and his own experiences.

This book gave me hope that I can actually have a life in medical school so fingers crossed! 🙂

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Camp Nanowrimo

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April 1st marks the start of Camp Nanowrimo. Check out the website here

For those of you who don’t know, Nanowrimo occurs in November and is National Write a Novel Month where in 30 days you attempt to write 50,000 words of a new novel. I have participated three years and only completed the challenge once. Throughout the year however, Nanowrimo holds ‘camps’ which are less intimidating because you pick your word count goal.

This year, I will be working on a new YA fantasy novel I’ve had mulling in my mind for a few weeks and my word goal is 30,000 words which I think is do-able. I’m super pumped because one of my good friends is also participating with a goal of 30,000 words so we can be each other’s support system. I wanted to share this super fun opportunity for those who haven’t heard of it and share my tips for doing well and having fun when participating in Nanowrimo!

 

Talk about the process with friends

As I mentioned, one of my friends is doing this challenge. It really helps us to chat about it and keep ourselves accountable. Even if you don’t know anyone participating, tell your friends about it. Tell them what you’re working on and your story ideas. They’ll help keep you encouraged and motivate you to keep going. Plus there’s nothing like having a great sound board for ideas when you’re hit with writer’s block.

 

Set a realistic word count

The great thing about the camp challenge is that you set the goal. Look at your April schedule and see if you’re super busy or if you can push yourself to write more. Also, keep in mind how much you write normally. If you barely write now, asking yourself to write 2,000 words a day may be too much whereas asking yourself to write 750 words a day is more realistic.

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Avoid getting behind

From past experience, every time I have quit these challenges is when I became days behind on my word count goal. It becomes an insurmountable challenge in my head and becomes more like a chore. To avoid this, make sure you write at least twenty minutes each day, even if you’re just writing character description rather than the story.

 

Use the Camp Nanowrimo resources

The website has tons of resources including forums and emails from authors. My first time participating, I was overwhelmed and made little use of them. But now, I love seeing what other aspiring writers are saying, working on, and struggling with. Hearing their tips and experiences helps me with my own process. So take some time to explore what the site has to offer and the community of the other ‘campers’.

 

Schedule time

Try to set up time throughout the day to commit to your writing. Also, always have a notebook on you so you can make use of your random twenty minutes between classes to write down a short scene or idea you had.

 

Be proud

You are writing a story – that is amazing and you should know that!! Even if you don’t write a full novel in a month, even if you only write 1,000 words, that’s 1,000 words you didn’t have before you started.

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Let me know about your guys’ nano experience and keep me posted throughout the month. My Nanowrimo account is jdafgek so feel free to buddy with me on the site!

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Committing to Being a Writer

As I mentioned earlier this week, my creative writing professor gave my class advice on how to commit to our writing and it has left me inspired. My desire to write has been reinvigorated and I’m happy to say that I’ve already written the first three chapters of my new book (*squeal of excitement*). I’ve compiled the advice offered from my professor and other writing friends on how to focus your energy on writing and take your writing seriously.

Call yourself a ‘Writer’

Make this word part of your identity. You don’t have to be published or famous to be a writer. See yourself as a serious writer and you are one step closer to becoming one.

Join a writing group

There are official writing groups you can join (similar to book clubs) where you workshop and get feed back. It’s great to have fresh eyes look at your work and it keeps you accountable. Even if you can’t find a group or don’t have the time, find at least one friend who is willing to read and provide honest notes.

Schedule it in

Set up blocks of time to write and take it seriously. Maybe tell close friends about the times so they know not to disturb you while you’re writing. Also, get away for the writing – don’t do it at home with all of your distractions ready to pull you away from your story

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Unfortunately, you can’t always wait for inspiration to strike… otherwise you’d never write a word

Read and underline

Read as much as you can, especially books or poems similar to how you want to write. Underline lines and parts you love to pull inspiration from.

Always have a notebook on you

I have a page in my bullet journal dedicated to random ideas for poems or books. Additionally, whenever I’m on campus I try to have a small notebook stashed in my backpack so if I have a spare moment I can write.

Find resources that work for you

There are a lot of online resources available to provide support and inspiration to aspiring writers. I use Pinterest to find writing prompts for practice and often use the fashion and model posts to find images that help me decide what my characters will look like.

I also LOVE The Most Dangerous Writing App (find it here). The app allows you to set a timer and you have to write for the entire time otherwise it deletes everything you’ve written so far. It sounds crazy but it really forces you to push past your writer’s block. I usually shoot for 5 minutes at a time on the site.

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My game face when using the Most Dangerous Writing App

So, I hope some of these have been helpful. Keep me posted on how your writing is going and let me know if you have any of your tips and tricks in the comments below!

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