How to Survive Medical School: Obstetrics and Gynecology

I concluded my clerkship year in April. How crazy is that? Since that time —

  1. I took Step 2 Clinical Skills at the end of May — I passed guys!
  2. I took Step 2 Clinical Knowledge at the beginning of July (score is still pending)
  3. I completed a 2 week elective in radiology
  4. I completed a 2 week elective in allergy/immunology
  5. I spent a month in the northeast for an away rotation

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This post, admittedly long overdue, has been drafted for months. One of my friends (hi Ronke!) told me that I have to publish this post before she started her OBGYN rotation (aka on Monday) so I clearly didn’t take her too seriously.

As always, please take my advice with a grain of salt. If you’re looking for more advice, these are some pretty great places to check out as well.

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“For happiness one needs security, but joy can spring like a flower even from the cliffs of despair” – Anne Morrow Lindbergh

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Too often, we find ourselves trapped in the mindset of “have to.” I have to go to work. I have to study. I have to go see the new patient in room 6. I have to make time to workout. I have to meet up with my friend for dinner.

I know I am not alone in this.

We, professional students, get caught in the whirlwind of our responsibilities and our interests. To-do lists that stretch far too long down the page serve as our lifesource. We are unfailingly hardworking. We schedule naps. We schedule social time. We fail to be spontaneous.

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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 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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“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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“And as a special treat, he took me to the pathology lab and took a real human brain out of the jar and placed it in my hands. And there it was, the seat of human consciousness, the powerhouse of the human body, sitting in my hands.” ― Aditi Shankardass

“Today, I held a human brain.”

That was how I started the conversation. Not with hello. Not with any of the standard greetings with which I am well acquainted. It was as though the experience of which I spoke rendered me mannerless. And she responded: “how did you feel about it?” This particular friend has an habit of responding to statements with either (1) “oh, how was that?” or (2) “how did you feel about that?” For some reason, I could never predict when she would ask either of those questions; I never had an eloquent response prepared.

“Oh.”I sat cross-legged on the floor of my apartment; I had a copy of Netter’s Atlas opened to the colorful sketches of the brain. There was really no comparison between the color-coded brain in the atlas and the brain I was able to study in the anatomy lab. “I…I don’t know. There was the initial shock factor which was soon followed by awe and humility. In that moment, I was holding the cadaver-donor’s personhood. In a way, it felt really personal.” In previous posts, I made half-promises to: (1) comment on my experience in anatomy, (2) address resources I used to survive the course, as well as (3) resources for the shelf exam. I think I may cover all of those aspects in upcoming posts but as I am on vacation / in a pensive mood, this post will serve primarily as a reflection.

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