And then it was over: reflections on medical school

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. (!!!)

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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). 

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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.

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Wish me luck!

-Simone

 

What’s in my white coat? – Internal Medicine clerkship edition

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!

-S

The importance of self-care

Merry Christmas and Happy (almost) New Year!

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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).

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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!

Happy Holidays!

-S

The Best of Buenos Aires (and some of Uruguay)

The Best of Buenos Aires (and some of Uruguay)

Hi again! In my last post I promised I’d devote a separate post to my post-Step 1 vacation to Buenos Aires. Months later, I’m finally getting around to it (lol sorry, clerkships have kept me busy!). I’ll spare you the day-by-day itinerary of our trip and just give you some of my favorite things about Buenos Aires and Uruguay.

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El Caminito, La Boca. This colorful area (“El Caminito”) in the neighborhood of La Boca was definitely a highlight of the trip. We walked through a large indoor market, bought art from street vendors, and ate lunch at a restaurant that we literally stumbled upon down a quiet alleyway.

Recoleta Cemetery. I was truly amazed by how grandiose and beautiful the mausoleums were at this cemetery. By following the crowds we were able to find Eva Perón’s grave.

El Ateneo Grand Splendid. Hands down the most beautiful bookstore I have ever been in. It was previously a theater.

Tango show. We naively thought we would dance tango while we were in Buenos Aires, but after seeing how intense the dance was we decided not to embarrass ourselves lol.

One of our best decisions was to take a side trip to Uruguay. We hopped on a ferry boat and about 2 hours later we were in the quaint waterfront town of Colonia del Sacramento. Colonia was calm, sleepy village–a big change from bustling Buenos Aires.

Montevideo. We rode a bus from Colonia to Montevideo, and stayed with the sweetest AirBnB host. He even took us out to dinner the night we arrived in Montevideo, and we chatted for hours about life and politics over wine and pasta. Montevideo, despite being a big city, had a much more relaxed vibe than Buenos Aires, and the people were extremely friendly. We even had a chance to relax by the small beach on the edge of the city.

Last but certainly not least: the food. I think it’s safe to say that we pretty much ate our way through Buenos Aires and Uruguay. We ate delicious hand-made pastas, soft and flaky medialunas (croissants), creamy gelato, and the most amazing sushi I’ve ever had. And of course, we ate the most tender, flavorful steaks and drank fantastic red wines. To make things even better–everything was ridiculously affordable thanks to the exchange rate being in our favor. God Bless Buenos Aires.

 

This vacation was a much-needed getaway after studying long and hard for Step 1 and was also a birthday treat to myself. I’m super happy I was able to make this trip, and despite spending a full day in travel time (each way), I’d gladly go back.

-S

What’s new?

Short answer: almost everything.

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.

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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!

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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!

-S

November 2016 Favorites!

November 2016 Favorites!

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:

  1. 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. 
  2. 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. 
  3. 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. 
  4. 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. 
  5. 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. 

And those are the highlights! Thanks for reading!

-S

 

October Favorites!

October Favorites!

Fall is hands down my favorite season. There are so many things to love about fall: the weather, the clothes, the beauty of the leaves changing colors… (oh and pumpkin spice everything lolz).

October is usually the month where it actually starts to look and feel like fall. So it’s a happy month for me. But there are a few MVPs from this past month worth mentioning:

1. Apple cider, hard cider, and apple cider donuts from Carter Mountain Orchard. 

2. Getting to do a “liver transplant” in anatomy lab with cadavers. Did some suturing and everything!

3. Halloween. My second favorite holiday only to Christmas.

Hold up, they don’t love you like I love you….

 

We gone slayyyyy. Thanks Queen Bey for the inspiration.

4. My ever-faithful Neutrogena Rapid Clear acne spot treatment. Saved my entire face when I was having stress breakouts from studying renal.

5. Football. Especially under beautiful blue skies.img_0111

6. These adorable rain bootiesimg_0019-1

And those were the faves! So sad to see October end but at least I have another month of fall left.

-S