Lessons from the Wards: Little Bo Peep

I nicknamed my favorite patient Little Bo Peep. I can explain: her earliest memory was of dancing through the streets of New Orleans during Mardi Gras, dressed as Little Bo Peep. She was 3 at the time, perhaps 4. It was hard for her to remember. Her memory had been “hazy,” she admitted cautiously — worried about how I would take that confession. She admitted a lot of things to me. 


Over the course of two weeks, I noticed that we had a lot of shared interests: nail polish (eh, I’ll admit it), German Shepherds, and Russian literature – in particular, Anna Karenina. 


She was dying — I think she knew that but I was blinded by my desire for her to live — and nonetheless she took such interest in my life. Carefully spun sentences stitched us closer together. Patients with terminal cancer have a great need for emotional support; I found myself holding her hand as she cried, painting her nails, cleaning her up after she vomited. 
We spent a lot of time talking – she hated to be alone – and I often told her that she knew me better than anyone else in New Orleans. She didn’t believe me, but it was true.
I was both fascinated and terrified by her disease process.

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How to Survive Medical School: Second Year Coursework

I can’t believe I’m saying this but: today is  my first day of third year! I took USMLE 1 a month ago weeks ago. It is such a relief to be beyond that exam. Since then, I’ve done a bit of traveling and I’ve tried to stop panicking about my impending score. In the future, I’ll share with y’all my strategies to study for the exam and to stay sane and motivated throughout my dedicated study period. In this post, I want to continue to chat about how I tackled second year coursework. It’s probably a good idea to first read the post about how I studied throughout the year.

Second Year at TUSOM: Second year begins in May with the inflammation (pathology, immunology, & clinical diagnosis) block. That block is followed by two months of well-deserved summer and then followed by the following blocks: microbiology (microbiology and immunology), hematology/oncology (microbiology, pathology, pharmacology, & clinical diagnosis), cardiology (microbiology, pathology, pharmacology, & clinical diagnosis), renal (microbiology, pathology, pharmacology, & clinical diagnosis), pulmonary (microbiology, pathology, pharmacology, & clinical diagnosis), gastrointestinal (microbiology, pathology, pharmacology, & clinical diagnosis), neurology (microbiology, pathology, pharmacology, & clinical diagnosis), reproduction/endocrine (microbiology, pathology, pharmacology, & clinical diagnosis), and psychiatry (pathology & pharmacology).

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How to Survive Medical School: Second Year Overview

Dedicated study period for Step is inching closer! Yes, I just used an exclamation point — if I channel positivity, will that make everything better? We are in our last week of lecture!!! How crazy is that? The psychiatry examination on March 4th (aka my little sister’s 19th birthday!) and that rounds things out until in-house final exams and USMLE 1. I figured that now is as good a time as any to start rolling out content about how I survived second year. I’ll post about my favorite resources, strategies for each class, and USMLE 1 (after I take it, of course).

This post will serve as an introduction in which I’ll provide general tips about how to effectively use your study time (based on what worked for me) and which resources (outside of Tulane materials) were particularly beneficial.

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How to Survive Medical School: First Year Shelf Exams

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The first years at Tulane are just about to start their last block of the biochemistry/genetics/physiology/histology sequence. In light of the impending shelf exams, I just wanted to share a quick table with my advice. I remember being intimidated when the first year basic science shelves rolled around but they are definitely do-able. I’ve overheard quite a few second years give first years advice: there are clearly a range of opinions. You just have to find out what works best for you. Some people state that studying is not essential, um… I wouldn’t take those comments too much to heart. I walked into the library a handle of times during shelf week and it was packed with my fellow classmates. Definitely do some review but don’t overwhelm yourself, the exams are fair and the test items are on the high-yield components (are you sick of that term yet?).

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Pep Talk for Premeds: What Prepared Me for Medical School

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The end of second year is coming quickly. Cue moment of complete honesty: it’s coming far more quickly than I’d like. I’m looking forward to being beyond the exam that shall not be named (oh come on, you know: Step One). I’m looking forward to working with a team, seeing / caring for patients, and having an opportunity to fine-tune my clinical exam skills. Regardless of how excited I am to move beyond basic science curriculum, I’m nervous. It’s scary. Transitions are scary.

Many of y’all who follow the blog are premedical students. Some of you may be starting medical school this upcoming fall–congratulations! I distinctly remember reading my first acceptance letter to medical school. I was excited albeit terrified. I had a gnawing fear that I was unprepared for medical school. That fear was fair — it’s impossible to be 100% prepared for the whirlwind of medical school — but I have come to realize that particular courses and experiences definitely made my transition to medical school easier. I wanted to share a super quick list with you all because it may be helpful for someone out there.

Before I jump into the list, I just want to say: don’t worry! If you’ve been accepted to medical school, it’s highly unlikely that you won’t be able to rise to the challenge. I know you might not believe me but it’s true!

So what prepared me for the academic aspects of medical school?

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“The new year stands before us, like a chapter in a book, waiting to be written.” – Melody Beattie

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Happy New Year! My hope is that all of you have an amazing 2016 filled with love, happiness, adventure, and unforgettable moments. If you’re anything like me, you see the start of the new year as a moment to reflect, grow, and become a better person. I love making (keeping few, breaking some) resolutions. I make resolutions at the top of the year (which I reevaluate at the start of each month), prior to the start of Lent, and on my birthday.

As some of you faithful readers probably would have guessed, I have a system for making resolutions. I start with five categories — academics, personal health, faith, passion projects, and relationships — and make 1-2 goals per category. In short, these resolutions push me toward finding more balance in my life.

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“Be a source of joy, and let the critics and haters complain about the world.” ― Paulo Coelho

It’s December 9th. It’s been almost five months since my last entry. In the time that has elapsed: I traveled (to Dallas, Atlanta, and Cancún), I read many novels, and I returned to school. I’ve thought about posting; in fact, I started a few posts and never got around to editing or publishing. I’ve received emails, some panicked, about my hiatus. The panicked emails sound something like: “are you not posting as regularly because second year is significantly harder than first year?” Good question.

Two of my classmates (shout-out to Ken & Liz) asked me, a few months back, why I had (essentially) abandoned my blog. My response: “Can we just agree that second year is crazy? I haven’t had the energy to write about medical school. I’m just trying to get through it.” Take note that I had just spent 2.5 hours chatting outside of the library, so my response was very melodramatic and I obviously have time to blog.

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How to Survive Medical School: Histology & Physiology

I’ve begrudgingly realized that vacation is coming to a close. In a little over two weeks, I’ll be back in class (okay…at home) . Many of you are soon to start your first year of medical school and I would be surprised if you aren’t a bit nervous. My greatest concerns, I’ll admit, were academic in nature. I found it difficult to find legitimate advice about first year courses. In far too many blogs, MS1s compared medical school to drinking out of a firehose.

Okay sure, they aren’t wrong. Okay sure, I’ve said that myself. Yet, I found those blog posts  to be anything but helpful.

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“The Tiniest Bodies”

A few months ago, I was asked to review Catherine Musemeche’s novel, Small: Life and Death on the Front Lines of Pediatric Surgery for The New Physician. I’m pleased to let you all know that you can find my review in the current issue of The New Physician.

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the tiniest bodies

Just another quick note! PreMedLife Magazine republished my post about how to survive the academic aspect of MS1 / T1 year. Don’t worry, I’ll have a post about how to tackle histology and physiology in the next couple of days!

“Punishment has become the social fabric of everyday life.” – Victor Rios

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Before I launch into the subject matter of this post, I just want to make a quick comment on the recent decisions made by SCOTUS. As a physician-in-training, I recognize that my career in medicine does not operate outside the realm of politics. It is not only the legislation regarding healthcare (such as the recent Affordable Care Act decision) that is relevant but also the other major decisions such as (1) fair housing, (2) marriage equality, and (3) clean air — decision is pending.

The legal fabric of our society gravely impacts the quality of life of our future patients and thereby their health status. It’s important, as our patients’ advocate, for us to care about politics; for us to speak up for equality (in whatever form that comes). I’m proud of my country.

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