11 out of 10

Between working a number of shifts in the ED, prosecting, teaching Anatomy, and babysitting, I have not had a chance to sit down and update this blog. It may be due to the overnight shifts, which have been warping my sense of time, but I legitimately thought that we were at the end of October up until I resurfaced the other day to find out that it’s only mid-October! I guess with the on-going application cycle, it’s best to keep busy and not become obsessed with the intricate workings of medical school admissions.

Anyway, I wanted to write a brief post highlighting a new book by Freida McFadden aka Dr. Fizzy. It’s called 11 out of 10: A Collection of Humorous Medical Short Stories, and as you may surmise, there are a number of contributors to this particular novel including, yours truly!

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A quick disclaimer, my short story is definitely not that great when compared to some of these seasoned writers. I wrote it about two years ago, and in retrospect, it definitely sounds “green” to me. If I had the chance to re-do it, I could probably come up with funnier material, especially with everything I’ve encountered as a scribe thus far. But I digress. Regardless of how funny (or not) my own story is, I can guarantee that it is part of a collection of amazing stories written from various perspectives. The best part is that 100% of the proceeds will be donated directed to “Deworm the World“, a charity hand-selected by Dr. Fizzy herself.

So, if you have a moment, check out the links above. Even if you’re not interested in the book itself, consider donating directly to the charity as all it takes is mere pennies to get the appropriate medication to these children who are riddled with parasitic infections.

— A.

Memorizing Muscle Facts (Again)

Although I planned to take a break from school this year and instead, work more hours to pay for the ridiculous amount of debt I have accrued from applications thus far, my three-month summer break left me craving for some educational stimulation. So, I signed up for a Human Prosection class series that will begin this Fall and finish up at the end of Spring semester next year. It’s actually a pretty awesome class so far – and it’s amazing that a class like this is offered through a community college. What is Prosection, you ask? It is a class where a cadaver is dissected with the intent of using it to teach and demonstrate anatomical structures. In short, this cadaver will be a teaching tool for years to come and cannot be dissected without regard. But yes, that means that I, a pre-medical student, have the opportunity to dissect a full cadaver from beginning to the end with four other students. There are medical schools in the US that offer fewer opportunities for their students as they move forward towards “Virtual Anatomy”.

But I digress. While the experience has been enriching so far, one item that I am not looking forward to, is teaching muscle facts to students in the lower level Anatomy classes in two weeks. When I was in their position, I went for a straight memorization method and was able to muddle through the muscle unit of Anatomy. However, teaching is an entirely different game as students will be asking me questions that will challenge my understanding of the entire body. So this week, I will not only have to memorize the muscles, insertions, origins, and actions again, but I will have to do it in a way where I can verbally recall them without faltering in front of my students.

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This linked post from Action Potential has some great tips that I am going to attempt this week. However, if anyone else has any other tricks up their sleeves – or any teaching pointers to seem more confident in front of your fellow peers – please send them my way!

— A.

Source: How to memorize origins and insertions

Scribing

I may or may not have mentioned this already, but I have been working as an ER Scribe for the past few months now at a nearby hospital. I was actually hired on by the company back in October, but I had to go through an arduous training period until I was finally “recommended” to begin solo shifts. The length of training was understandable given that scribes work directly with physicians and ensure that these physicians are billed adequately for their time. One mistake could cost the ER doctor a lot of money, or worse, a lawsuit. But some of the delay was partly due to administration and miscommunication, so I couldn’t become a “full-fledged scribe” until earlier this year.

Before I go on, for those of you who do not know what the job entails, which is totally okay because up until a year ago, I knew very little myself, as a scribe, I help write up charts for patients who come into the ER, allowing the physician to spend more 1-on-1 time with the patient.

23 year old female presents to the ED with complaint of insomnia onset three days ago. Patient complains of back pain and weakness, but denies vomiting, nausea, or any other symptoms.

Scribing is becoming increasingly popular as hospitals shift from paper to electronic medical records. And why pay extra for an educated individual, when you have boatloads of pre-meds who would jump at the chance of working with physicians directly! Thus, I am the physician’s shadow, listening in when a patient explains their symptoms and medical history and typing away furiously when the physician dictates to me findings from a physical exam. Is it overwhelming? Most definitely. But is it interesting? Hell yes! I have seen so many exquisite cases in just my few months at the hospital so far. And if there is one thing I have taken away from my experience it’s that during a shift, a physician may be presented with 100 patients with abdominal pain as their chief complaint. However, it takes a keen observer to distinguish that one patient who might have a unique and possibly life-threatening diagnosis. No matter the time or how tired you may be, you cannot afford to careless when it comes to a person’s life.

It is astonishing how invested I am in this job, when initially, I had only applied to silence my mother who was badgering me about finding a “real job” for my résumé. I’m sure there is a crafty way to present ‘babysitting’ on your résumé, but it just didn’t seem like something that would impress future schools or employers. Don’t get me wrong, babysitting has been, and still is, a great way to make cash. I still babysit on the side now because I do make 2x, sometimes even 3x, the amount I make as a scribe. But the experience that I have gained as a scribe, is just unparalleled. I have learned more field-related information in the past few months than I did in the last 23 years of my life!

There is definitely a steep learning curve associated to this job. During my first few weeks of training, I had over 600 abbreviations and terms thrown at me, some so foreign-sounding that I questioned what I was getting myself into.

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when I found out that HA stood for headache -.-

To be honest, I am still learning, and will probably continue to learn until my last day as a scribe, but that’s something I should be used to if I want to become a physician. Just the other day, I was working with an older physician who was unsure if a patient’s diagnosis should be paraphimosis or phimosis. She had me do a Google search (which revealed some interesting images in the ER that I’m sure would be labeled NSFW) and then proceeded to devise a mnemonic to remember the difference between the two terms.

As I mentioned above, I work 8+ hour shifts, most of those shifts are devoid of breaks, and 95% of the time, I am on my feet. I come home mentally and physically exhausted. But, I have worked many jobs in the past and I can honestly say that this is the first job that I am so involved in what I am doing, that time simply flies by. There are the occasional glances at the clock – I’m only human after all – but for the most part, I am constantly entertained with charts or looking up bits of information online, or engaging with the physicians, that before I know it, my shift is over and I leave with a sense of fulfillment. It just validates the sentiment that when you are doing what you love, you’re never really “working”.

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<3 A.

 

 

Helping Hand

One thing that I have been working on during my “gap year” is letting go of some of my fears and inhibitions. One in particular is the fear of asking for help. Growing up as a more independent individual, I have had trouble admitting that I was in need of assistance. Regardless of the situation, I often found myself burrowing into a deeper hole rather than reaching out for help. I was afraid to raise my hand in class and ask for clarification, afraid to reveal my worries to another, and afraid to simply say “I can’t do this alone”. I pretended that I had everything under control and maintained a pleasant facade to a point where no one could reach out to me.

“I push so hard that nobody pulls”

But you know what? It is okay to ask for help. There is no shame in asking multiple questions in class or going to office hours or even asking strangers for advice on applying to medical school. I would always shy away from this in fear of annoying someone or taking up someone’s time. But if there is someone who is placed in front of you as a resource, whether it be a professor or an advisor, there is absolutely no reason to apologize for asking for help. You just have to be willing to accept that helping hand.

For pre-meds: this Tuesday, April 29th, Accepted.com is holding a special webinar called “Create a Compelling AMCAS Application“. I don’t know about you, but regardless of all the research I have found and the advice I have been given, I am still wary of filing my application when May 1st comes rolling in. The session is only an hour long and you can listen to these tips in the comfort of your own home – how can you not benefit? So if you’re interested, register now and sign up for a spot – I’ve registered so you can best believe that I’ll be listening in as well!

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Hope that helps,

A.

What Now

It’s been a while since I have updated this blog. Or at least, it feels like a while – although in my defense, I’ve been sick for a good two weeks now! Being an aspiring physician, I know it is sinful to admit that I usually avoid getting the flu vaccine. But when you’re hit with a strong bout of the flu for the first time in years shortly after agreeing to take the flu shot, you do begin to wonder. Anyway, enough of that tangent. My first round of midterms are coming up and I figured that as long as I am procrastinating memorizing all those bone diagrams for my anatomy exam tomorrow, I might as well churn out another post!

Where can I begin? To be honest, as soon as the MCAT was over, weeks began to blend together and before I knew it, we were in mid-March. It’s all one big blur of laughter, tears, and food. I did get my score back and initially, I wasn’t too happy with it given that I had a goal score in mind. However, after a few days of processing, as well as a few emails from medical schools encouraging me to apply, I have come to appreciate my score. Will I take the MCAT again? Maybe? It’s all up in the air right now, but since a new format of the MCAT is taking over next year, there are PLENTY of dates (like three in August!) left, if I decide to commit to an endless hour study marathon again. For now, I am content.

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As you might be able to tell from above, I also started/finished watching Happy Endings. I totally recommend it if you’re looking for a 30-minute “pick me up/study break” sort of TV show. Sadly, it only lasted for three seasons – more of a reason to check out this cult favorite!

Recently on Twitter, I’ve noticed numerous schools trending as high school students have been getting their acceptance letters (and I guess for the NCAA bracket). This past Friday, #UCLAbound began trending, putting me in a major flashback friday. It was just five years ago that I was in a similar position. I was a nervous wreck, but not because I was awaiting to hear from my “dream school” – more so because I just wanted to get into the schools I applied to. There was no real reasoning behind why I applied to the schools that I ended up applying to – some were from recommendations from others, some were from some internet browsing, and some were simply television-influenced (like Yale and Gilmore Girls). And when I decided to ultimately submit my ‘SIR’ to UCLA it was more for my family than anything else. I mean, don’t get me wrong, it is an amazing school; but I certainly didn’t decide to go there because of the athletics, or the Psychology department, or the food …. well, maybe a little bit because of the food, haha.

although we never had anything as fancy as this

although we never had anything as fancy as this

This is all coming back to me now, not only because it has been half a decade since, but come this summer, I’ll be going through another major application cycle once more. Sure, I sort of went through that process last year with graduate schools, but I had no idea what I was doing and my plan was haphazardly thrown together – sort of like when I was applying to undergraduate schools come to think of it. This time though, I know what I want, but even more so, I know what kind of environment I can thrive in.

I am currently taking classes at a community college for the first time. And not to offend anyone who has attended community college, but I was a little hesitant diving in given some of the horror stories I had heard. However, not only was it easier to sign up for classes than it was at a university, but these classes are SMALL. Compared to my Life Science courses ranging from 300 to 400 students, there are about 30-35 students in one of my biology classes. Amazing. My professors knew my name by week two and there was not a moment when I felt lost in a crowd.

As I begin to narrow down my MD/DO options for this upcoming cycle, I realize that the schools that I decide on must provide me the same sort of feeling that I have been relishing in community college. Regardless of school status or “fame”, the schools I choose must be on the smaller end when it comes to class sizes. Now I know that might be more harmful than helpful given that there are less spots to compete for – but at the end of the day, if I know I’ll end up drowning in a 500-person class setting, why place myself in one? Along with small class sizes, I also want to consider affordability and residency placement. Though I am a Southern California-bred gal, I don’t think temperature should keep me from applying – I think that’s more of a consideration when I (hopefully) am accepted and (possibly) narrowing down schools.

So what now? Well, at this point, I would love to hear if any of you have any pieces of wisdom regarding school selection or recommendations. All of the blogs that I am following have been incredibly helpful already and I am sincerely grateful, but if you find that you have anything to add, I would love to hear it. Until then, I’ll continue to work on my personal statement and relish this in-between year!

<3 A.

“What Now” – Rihanna