Third year and fourth year of medical school truly flew by. Here I am, a few days after graduating from medical school, still in disbelief that I am now a medical doctor. (!!!)
It’s been a long time coming.
Medical school was quite literally the best of times and the worst of times. In four short years, I took (and passed!) three board exams, saw my first patients, learned how to suture, tie surgical knots and delivered a baby. I realized I love the operating room. I traveled the world. I cried more than ever before, and I grieved–over the deaths of close family members and of patients I cared for.
Some of the people I met during the first week of school are now my closest friends. I chose a specialty (obstetrics and gynecology) and matched into a fantastic residency program. I proudly wore a thick black robe and sat under a sweltering sun on graduation day (sweating profusely, but still proud).
So now here we are, at the end of one chapter and ready to begin the next. Without a doubt, the upcoming years will be trying and I will be working harder than I ever have in my whole life. But I am also looking forward to training in a specialty I love and growing as a physician and as a woman. It’s officially time to retire the short white coat (which I actually haven’t worn in months lol) and start mentally preparing myself to wear the long one and the responsibility that comes with it.
I remember when I first got my white coat as a first year medical student two years ago–it was pristinely white, not wrinkle or stain in sight. It was the symbolic representation of a clean slate, a fresh start, the blank first page of a journal, the start of a career.
Fast forward to the end of my third year of medical school. This white coat has collected ink stains, coffee stains, and stains of unknown origin. It has served as a fill-in for an umbrella on walks home from the hospital. Its pockets have held snacks to fuel me through 24 hour overnight call shifts. It has been my blanket for naps in the library.
Sure the white coat looks nice (I suppose), but its main benefit (in my opinion at least) is its functionality. I can carry an absurd amount of things in these pockets (there are inside pockets too!). Here’s what I kept in my white coat during my Internal Medicine clerkship and why:
Pens – an absolute must have. Honestly, you would probably be OK if you carry absolutely nothing else in your white coat besides a pen. (Seriously, even a spare stethoscope can be found but extra pens are always hard to come by.) And I always try to keep multiple pens in my coat (and several more in my bag) because somehow pens always go missing….. I also keep a highlighter in case I have journal articles to read or outside records to review.
Stethoscope – because, you know, it’s probs important to listen to your patients’ hearts, lungs, bellies, etc. (Read: it’s definitely important to listen to your patients’ hearts, lungs, bellies, etc. And it’s embarrassing to get caught without your stethoscope.)
Maxwell’s – this is a super helpful little guide for pretty much any clinical setting. It has helped me when I needed to calculate a Glasgow Coma Score, or describe which dermatome a shingles rash was affecting, and on countless occasion.
White Coat clipboard – I love this thing. When on rounds, or in patient rooms, it’s the perfect writing surface to take notes on. The clipboard folds in half, so I keep my patient lists inside and they stay nice and neatly folded, and HIPPA protected! And once it’s folded up, the outside of the clipboard has great reference material. 10/10 recommend.
iPad mini 4 – I find it helpful to carry this with me because I can pull up UptoDate or PubMed to look up any information relevant to my patients, or research questions that come up during rounds. Even though I also keep my phone in my pocket I think it’s more professional-looking to use a tablet and I avoid my residents/attendings assuming that I am texting friends or browsing Insta. I also use my iPad to access the electronic medical record if I don’t have my own computer to use. And of course I can use it to study/do UWorld practice questions if there is any downtime.
Journal – I personally find it easier to take handwritten notes than to type on my iPad, so I carry my Moleskine journal to be jot down helpful tips from residents and attendings or take notes in lectures.
Chapstick/lip balm – last but certainly not least, I keep some type of lip moisturizer on hand. Right now I’m loving the Chapstick Ultimate Hydration, or Burt’s Bees Tinted Lip Balm in Red Dahlia if I want a subtle pop of color.
Of course from time to time I’ll have a bag of trail mix or a granola bar because ya girl gets hungry lol. But the above items are my usual white coat necessities. Without them, I truly feel naked (and about 5 pounds lighter).
I hope you enjoyed a peek into what is hidden in those mysterious white coat pockets! In the future, I’ll give you the details of what bag I use and what I carry in it, so stay tuned!
Thankfully, during M3, we get a 2 week winter break that encompasses Christmas and New Year’s Day. That means for the past two weeks, I have been chilling. No clerkship obligations, no required readings, no nothing. It’s been a beautiful change from the hustle and bustle of being on the wards.
First off, I’ve had a chance to catch up on some sleep. And oh did I sleep. I’m talking sleep in until noon, take an afternoon nap, and then go to bed early lol. (I was exhausted! Third year will snatch all of your energy.)
I spent my waking hours binge watching great TV (Game of Thrones, Grey’s Anatomy, and Law & Order) and my guilty pleasure shows (90 Day Fiancé and Toddlers and Tiaras). I browsed Pinterest for recipes and room decor. I indulged in mani/pedis, at-home facials, and delicious food. I also did some retail therapy, a little bit of painting and some reading that didn’t include textbooks/UptoDate articles. (Current read: Rupi Kaur’s The Sun and Her Flowers).
But best of all, I spent most of my break surrounded by my parents and my younger sister. We ate, drank, and were merry all break. We laughed, had family movie nights and visited extended family as well. My little sister almost convinced me that I could become a vegan (mmmm maybe not quite lol). It was so nice to be at home and in their company.
While I certainly could’ve taken advantage of this extra free time and studied for my upcoming shelf exam, I purposefully did a minimal amount of studying during break. And I mean minimal. We don’t get many breaks in medical school, so I really wanted to enjoy this one without feeling obligated to study. After all, I spent the majority of my winter break last year studying for Step 1, so I wanted to fully enjoy the holidays with my family and friends without worrying about studying or falling behind on schoolwork.
When you’re in medical school, not studying can be a lot easier said than done. It’s easy to feel guilty about not studying because in medicine, there is always something to learn! But, spending time away from the books is important to give yourself a chance to relax and to keep yourself from feeling burned out. Taking time to lounge around and enjoy my break was important to me to make sure I can go back to the wards rejuvenated and ready to work!
I haven’t made a list of New Year’s Resolutions for 2018, but this year I hope to make sure I’ve got plenty of self-care in my routine. I hope you find ways to do the same, whether it’s through exercise, art, or Netflix!
It’s been a while since I’ve blogged, and I’ve been through a lot in the meantime.
For starters, I took (and passed!) Step 1! I went into hiding for 6 weeks to study for this exam, hence the absence from nearly all social media.
Then, after my Step 1 exam, I took a trip to South America–a much needed getaway. (I’ll devote a separate blog post to this trip, which will include the highlights from my stay in Buenos Aires and a side trip to Uruguay.) But for now I’ll just say I ate my fair share of steaks and drank plenty of Malbec.
And so now–finally–I have started my third year of medical school! Clerkships! I’m three weeks into my first rotation, and so far I’m still trying to figure this whole thing out. My first two weeks I was on the inpatient neurology stroke service, which was an amazing experience to jump into, albeit pretty fast-paced. Now I’m starting my two weeks of outpatient neurology, which so far has been much more laid back but still quite interesting.
Every day I just try to become more comfortable talking to patients, hone my physical exam skills, and learn more about clinical practice. Even though it’s a huge adjustment transitioning from classwork to clerkships, so far I’ve enjoyed it so so so much more. After all, this is why I came to medical school–to see patients!
I’ll continue to keep you all updated as I progress through third year, and (as always) I’ll be sure to share all the fun times along the way!
Yes, I realize December is almost halfway over and I am just now writing about my favorite moments from November. But things happen. This week marks the last week of my pre-clerkship classes, and I’ve also been transitioning into studying for my board exam coming up in January (the infamous USMLE Step 1 Exam), so school stuff has been a lot lately. Oh, and my laptop decided to go crazy on me so I had to replace my hard drive. Yay.
But, better late than never, so here goes a list of my favorite things from November 2016. Or, in the spirit of Thanksgiving, things I was thankful for this past month:
Thanksgiving. Duh. This is the highlight of November. What’s not to love about Thanksgiving? This year I was extra lucky and had two Thanksgiving dinners–one with my relatives in South Carolina (the annual Thanksgiving family reunion), and another one the Saturday after Thanksgiving Day. The second Thanksgiving was just with my parents and sister because mom worked Thanksgiving and couldn’t join us in South Carolina. My sister and I prepared the whole meal, and we didn’t hold back even though it was going to just be the four of us. I mean, if you’re going to do Thanksgiving, you’ve gotta go all out.
Election day. No, the election didn’t turn out the way I had hoped. But I greatly appreciate living in a country where I can exercise my right to vote and make my voice heard.
Wilderness workshop. The Emergency Medicine Interest Group and Wilderness Medicine Interest Group at my medical school put together a workshop designed to teach people important survival skills and tips for enjoying time in the great outdoors. Now, the closest thing I have ever done to camping was when I was in Girl Scouts and my Brownie troop camped in our troop leader’s backyard. But, I’d really like to go ~real~ camping one day, so getting advice from some of my classmates who are avid outdoorsmen/women was great. And I learned how to start a fire out of twigs and leaves and stuff which was pretty cool.
Falling leaves. In my October Favorites post I wrote about how much I love fall. Part of the reason I love it so much is because I loveeee when the leaves change colors. Campus looked so so so beautiful this past month with the orange, yellow and red leaves all over the ground.
Therapy Dogs. A student group organized an event in our library the week before we left for Thanksgiving break that included therapy dogs–perfect timing seeing as we were in the midst of studying for an exam! The dogs usually visit patients in the Children’s Hospital, and they even have their own trading cards. Too cute.
Labor Day Weekend 2016 has (sadly) come to an end. (But I refuse to say goodbye to summer because the temperature is still in the 90s.)
This year turned out to be a pretty relaxing LDW (after the part where I endured a pretty grueling final exam for cardio, of course). I mainly hung out around the house, tidying up/organizing/decorating. But everything changed when I came across an email about an upcoming discussion about artist Kehinde Wiley! I’ve admired his work for a while, because I love how he creates incredible, colorful portraits of people of color that are inspired by historical works of art. (If you want a better summary of his life and his work (trust me, you do), check this out.)
So naturally, when I realized that his exhibit, “A New Republic” was on display at the Virginia Museum of Fine Art in Richmond, I had to go. I recruited my best friend Michaela (also a huge Wiley fan) to come with me, and we spent our day off from class flourishing away in Richmond.
I was super excited for this exhibit and I can say that I was not disappointed. Wiley’s work is infinitely more beautiful in person, when you can really appreciate how detailed and (how massive) every painting truly is. I really was in awe of all of his work. I couldn’t even pick a favorite painting.
“A New Republic” also included some of Wiley’s sculptures and stained glass pieces, which were new to me because I had only heard of his paintings. But these works, especially the stained glass, were just as awe-inspiring as the large-scale portraits. Clearly, this man is talented.
Painting is about the world we live in. Black people live in the world. My choice is to include them. This is my way of saying yes to us.
Bottom line: If any of you ever have the chance to see Kehinde Wiley’s work in person, please please please go! You won’t regret it.
I know, it’s been a while, but the first few weeks of school were pretty hectic. Between moving into a new apartment unit, and taking an anatomy practical and an exam within the first two and a half weeks of class, I’ve been a busy lady these past couple of weeks.
This year is my second year of medical school, and I’ve set a few goals for myself. I’ll share them with y’all so hopefully you keep me accountable.
Keep studying hard. I (thankfully) managed to make it through my first year of medical school, so I just have to stay focused and make it through one more semester of pre-clinical work! (And then study for boards but I don’t wanna talk about it…)
Cook more. I’m trying to save up some money to take a nice, much-needed vacation after I take Step 1 in January, and I know I can save a ton if I eat out less and cook more. I’ve been stocking up on cookbooks and recipes so I’m pretty excited to try out some new dishes—and depending on how they turn out I’ll share them on the blog!
Exercise more. Exercise is good for the mind, body, and soul and it really helps me feel better when school gets stressful. A knee injury has been holding me back but hopefully after that gets sorted out I’ll be up in the gym just workin’ on my fitness a little more regularly.
Call friends/family more. Sorry guys I know I’m bad at this. But just because I don’t call/text doesn’t mean I don’t think about you! I’ll try to do a better job of showing it though.
Take time for myself. Medical school gets pretty stressful, so it’s important to find time to wind down and relax. For me this will probably mean the occasional Netflix and chill (by myself) or treating myself to a mani/pedi every now and then. Also, I recently discovered a local massage school that only charges $25 for an hour massage, so best believe I’ll be checking that out.
Keep on flourishing. The good thing about only having class Mon-Fri from 8am-12pm and podcasted lectures is that I have a lot of flexibility in my schedule. But that will change once I get on the wards in February. I want to make sure I take advantage of the free time I have now and get out and explore wineries, try new restaurants, dance at salsa nights, go on some weekend trips, maybe go on a hike or two… You know, just flourish.
I’m really looking forward to this upcoming school year. I’ll be sure to share some of the highlights with you on the blog, so keep an eye out!
Ever since arriving in Guatemala, I knew I wanted to go to Tikal National Park. Temple I in the Great Plaza of the park is basically a symbol of Guatemala. My guidebook went as far to compare it to the Eiffel Tower’s iconic representation of Paris.
The problem was that I was living and working in the southern/southwestern part of the country, and Tikal is in the northern part, deep in the jungle. But I was determined to get there.
So, at the end of my project, I left Xela a few days early with two of my friends and we headed for Tikal. We first took a bus to Guatemala City (4 hours), and from there took an overnight bus (10 hours!) to Santa Elena, which is close to Tikal.
We arrived in Santa Elena at 6:30am and at the bus station were immediately harassed by vendors trying to sell us bus tickets to Tikal. But to avoid getting scammed or overcharged, we decided to head towards Flores, a nearby island-town and book our bus and guided tour through Los Amigos Hostel. Best decision we could have made.
Los Amigos was great. The hostel itself has a really cool vibe, and setting up the bus + guided tour with them was really easy and went incredibly smoothly. We also bought a bagged lunch from the hostel’s restaurant to take with us to the park.
We left for the park at 8am, and stayed until 3pm. Our guide, Luis, took us on a tour through the park, leading us from complex to complex and pointing out spider monkeys and tarantulas along the way. He was really knowledgeable about the flora and fauna in the park and made the whole experience really incredible for us. He showed us a plant whose flowers smell like garlic, and encouraged us to eat termites, which he said tasted like carrots (almost everyone declined but a few brave souls actually did it).
I most enjoyed finally being able to see (and climb) Tikal’s temples and pyramids. I liked spending time in the Great Plaza, which is flanked by two large temples.
I also enjoyed climbing the Temple IV which is the tallest temple in the park, and actually the tallest remaining Pre-Columbian structure in the Americas. (It’s also the site where they shot a scene of Star Wars Episode IV!) From the top of Temple IV, we had a beautiful view above the jungle canopy , with the temples flanking the Great Plaza poking out between the trees. It was truly breathtaking.
After our day at Tikal, we spent a little time exploring the nearby town of Flores. I absolutely adored this town—it’s actually on its own island! I also loved that Flores has this cool Caribbean vibe to it complete with brightly painted houses.
We ate dinner at Raices Bar & Grill, and sat out on the dock. This gave us a beautiful view of the sunset, and was the perfect ending to a long day.
I was scared that I would spend so much time trying to get to Tikal and then be underwhelmed by the park itself. But I can easily say that nothing about the park was underwhelming. The natural beauty of the park along with the enormous ruins were truly amazing, and worth the long journey to get there. This long excursion was the perfect end to a wonderful time in Guatemala.
There is so much to see in Antigua Guatemala! We really could have spent a full week there. Unfortunately, we only had the weekend. However, we managed to fit in a little bit of sightseeing (and a good bit of nightlife) into the 36 hours we spent in the city.
It was pretty drizzly and we didn’t want to be out in the rain, so we skipped a lot of the sights. We started off in the central park, which is huge, with an interesting “Mermaid” fountain in the middle of the plaza.
We then made our way to the ChocoMuseo. This place is part chocolate museum, part chocolate shop, and includes a tasting bar and a café. There are also a few classes each day where you can make your own chocolate (sadly, we just missed the morning class). I sampled some fantastic dark chocolate, and some amazing chocolate liqueur. I was so close to buying some choco-mint body lotion from the gift shop, but I convinced myself not to spend the money (in retrospect, I should have bought it—it smelled incredible).
We also made it over to the famous Arco de Santa Catalina, which was quite beautiful. Unfortunately it was so dreary outside that it was hard to appreciate the color of the arch and hard to see the volcano in the distance.
We also made a pit stop at Nim P’ot, which is a huge hall full of artisan handicrafts. It seemed a bit overpriced to me, but I enjoyed wandering around looking at the wide variety of artisan goods that were for sale there.
Finally, before the rain, we headed to La Merced church. I was amazed by its intricate yellow and white facade, which includes carvings of lily vines and sculptures of priests. Inside the church, curtains of pale and golden yellow were draped from the ceiling behind the altar. To the right of the altar was a massive sculpture of Jesus bearing the cross, encased in an intricate gold structure.
Food*, Drink, and Party
We ate at Mono Loco the first night, which was kind of pricey (for Guatemala, at least), but pretty delicious. They have huge plates of nachos that are plenty for two people to share. The second night we tried Paddy’s BBQ, which was absolutely amazing. I had a burger with fries and it may have been one of the best burgers I’ve ever had.
*I’m planning on writing a separate post about my favorite restaurants later, so I will elaborate on these restaurants even more then.
We had a great time going out in Antigua. Two of our favorite spots were Lucky Rabbit and Reilly’s En La Esquina. But what happens in Antigua stays in Antigua so I can’t share any details (lol).
Although we didn’t get to explore any of the ruins in Antigua, or spend a lot of time just walking around and getting to know the city, I really really enjoyed this trip.