“Here’s to the unknown, the smiles and the tears and the laughs we haven’t had yet.” – O.L.

Happy New Year’s Eve everyone! The quote that serves as the title of this post is an excerpt from a poem I discovered earlier today. Simple in its construction, the poem has great depth. I want to share the poem, “Honest Toasts for the New Year” in its entirety before I dive into the rest of this post.

New Year’s Eve and we are all
holding flutes of cheap champagne,
with people we don’t know
or don’t care for, or we wish we could
just leave behind with this year
and we are all toasting,
glasses raised above crooked halos.

Here’s to the friends we lost,
the friends that left us behind,
the friends we haven’t met yet
and the friends that are bound
to be more than.

Here’s to the knives wedged
between shoulder blades
and blood slick ribs,
grazing our hearts as we breathe.
Here’s to the pain
that made us stronger.

Here’s to the resolutions we didn’t keep,
the ones we will make again
and again and again,
but habits are hard to break.
Here’s to consistency.

Here’s to the lips we kissed,
bruised, bit, lavished
and all the lips we will come
in contact with in the future.
Here’s to love.

Here’s to the scars
and the pieces of ourselves
we had to cut off to make it,
the fractures of glass that we are leaving
in this hellhole of a year.

Here’s to the unknown,
the smiles and the tears and the laughs
we haven’t had yet.
Here’s to next year, the New Year,
hopefully it will be better
and we will learn just as much.

Feel free to read the rest of O.L.’s poetry at this link.

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How to Survive Medical School: Internal Medicine, Family Medicine, and Surgery Clerkships

I cannot believe I am saying this: I just finished my fourth rotation ¡Adios Internal Medicine! Sayonara Family Medicine. Goodbye Surgery. I’ll miss you pediatrics!  MS3 is going by extremely quickly and as hard as this year is – one of my favorite internal medicine residents told me it’s “a year that requires grit”– I’m a bit sad that things are winding down.

Before third year set off, I spent a lot of time reading the advice of medical bloggers and anonymous med-redditers. I found this advice extremely helpful and I just wanted to share how I approached each clerkship.

MS3 is extremely different from MS1 and MS2. There is a delicate balance between preparation for the wards/clinics and preparation for the end-rotation shelf. It’s hard for me to give concrete advice about how to strike that balance. Believe me, it will get easier with time. In this post, I’ll share what resources made internal medicine, family medicine, and surgery survivable.

If you’re looking for more advice, these are some pretty great places to check out as well.

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White Coat Wardrobe: Blue Crop Top Edition

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Today marks the halfway point through my pediatrics rotation. I’ve spent the month in the outpatient clinics: two weeks on subspecialty (pulmonary, allergy/immunology/rheumatology, and endocrine) and two weeks in the general clinics. This weekend, I’m heading up to Lafayette to start my inpatient services (PICU, wards, nursery). I can honestly say that I’ve enjoyed every single day of this rotation thus far.

Sometimes I get messages from medical students who haven’t started clinical work yet about what I wear to clinic. You probably guessed but most of these students are female. What is considered appropriate? Where can you find affordable albeit professional attire? I’ll try (I’m not making any promises here!) to do a better job of sharing what I wear to work on the blog. Let’s start with a throwback.

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How to Survive Medical School: USMLE 1

This past weekend marked the halfway point of clerkship (MS3) year. This past weekend also marked yet another weekend that flew by without a blog post. I promise that I’ve drafted and edited posts in what little spare time I have. Third year is exhilarating albeit exhausting – a topic I’ll touch on in a post to come. Today, I wanted to share just a little bit about my preparation for USMLE 1 and some general advice for the big exam.

I often get emails and direct messages (on Twitter and Instagram – you guys are relentless) about USMLE 1 and my score. I have never been the kind of person to share specifics regarding standardized test scores but I will say this: I only took the advice of upperclassmen who scored 245 and above. And so, I would take my own advice.

To preface my advice: you know yourself best. At this point, you’ve come to understand what sort of student you are. You know how to prepare for standardized tests. USMLE 1 is no different from the MCAT or SAT/ACT/AP. Don’t forget that!

The worst thing you can do is get into your head. I think a lot of medical students get so worried about the exam and freak out (preemptively) about their ability to match into xyz specialty that they forget that it’s just a test. An important test, but still…just a test. With that in mind, the best advice I can give is to try your hardest to learn material well the first time it is introduced.

One of my classmates took extra time off to study for USMLE 1 and of course when we caught up to chat, I asked him why. He told me: “I took pass/fail at heart first and second year, and so I had to teach myself a lot of material for the first time. I just needed more than 6-8 weeks to prepare.” Totally valid.

Before you launch into this post, take a peek at my general approach to MS2 and how I handled each MS2 course.

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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

how to survive

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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