medschool

Why Sharing Your Medical School Story is Important

This semester, as I endure the long but exciting application process to medical school, I’m taking an upper-level English writing class that is appropriately titled “Writing in the Community.” This course is designed to liberate stories, both within ourselves and within our community. My community placement choice is with Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital, and I hope to have the honor of connecting with pediatric cancer patients to share their stories and give a voice to their fears, joys, worries, and smiles. I think there is immense power in telling stories, especially as I peer into my future career where I will meet people daily that have interesting and important stories to share. One of the reasons I chose to become a physician is to meet people from every background and every situation and get down and dirty with them in their biggest fears, mistakes, worries, and concerns. To get to this point, though, I must be able to effectively share my story and even more importantly, listen to someone else’s story. In a society that is fogged up with noise from ourselves, social media, and a busy schedule, taking the time to stop and listen is an often-neglected skill. In this class, I’ve learned that to tell someone else’s meaningful, honest story, I have to tell mine. Everyone has a story to share, even if it is buried under layers...

Why You Should Pick The Most Competitive Specialty

The first time I was told to pursue a competitive specialty I was dumbfounded. But now two years later, I’m telling you to do the same. To be clear, I’m not arguing we all attempt to be plastic surgeons or dermatologist. Props to those who can stand the OR and/or skin rashes. We just need to get into the mindset as if we trying to be one. This change in mindset has led my CV to go from subpar to top tier! The Difference in Mindset Between Those Who Choose Competitive Specialities: This isn’t true for all but I’ve found a difference between my classmates pursuing Ortho and those knowing they wanted to do primary care. Both groups are insanely smart, but the Ortho bros are more likely to seek out opportunities (research, conference, faculty interactions, etc.) Again not true for both. I know plenty of future primary care docs who are machines in their accomplishments. But the ortho bro knows he needs to be competitive in a competitive specialty. Thus he works hard at getting good grades, doing well on Step 1, excelling on rotations, and also cranking out research results. The pressure of competitiveness pushes them to ask, “what else can I accomplish”. My Own Journey: I haven’t talked much about my own specialty desires on the blog much. It’s not because I’m actively trying to hide it. I just found...

The De-Sciencing of American Medicine and What It Means to You

With all the talk about “evidence-based medicine,” you might think that doctors were becoming much more focused on rigorous science. But like the names attached to bills in Congress—such as the Affordable Care Act, which outlaws affordable insurance, the language used in the movement to fundamentally transform America and American medicine usually means the opposite of what it suggests. Are older doctors uneducated in science, and do they base their treatments on opinion, intuition, or outdated dogma, while younger doctors use objective observations and analysis? Consider the kind of medical student our prestigious medical schools are now seeking. In former years, premeds were notorious nerds, usually science majors, constantly studying to make grades in hard subjects. High scores on the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT) required ability for quantitative thinking and a foundation of factual scientific knowledge. Since 2015, the new MCAT includes “situational judgment tests.” The president of the entity that makes the test, Darrell Kirch of the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), intends to redefine what makes a good doctor. “I believe it is critical to our future to transform health care. I am not talking about tweaking it. I am talking about true transformation.” Ezekiel Emanuel asks in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA, Feb 20, 2018), “Does Medicine Overemphasize IQ?” A high IQ is no guarantee that a physician can “lead a multidisciplinary health team...

3 Effective Time Management and Organizational Tips to Get Your Through Medical School

Chances are you’ve been told that it’s the amount of material you have to master. Perhaps you’ve even heard a graphic metaphor to describe it, such as likening it to drinking out of a fire hose. And what are we told is the key to success when faced with such a Herculean task? Time management. Our own esteemed Katherine Seebald, who is about to join the ranks of the USC Trojans as a medical student this fall — and who, like Hermione Granger, excels at pretty much anything — asked me the following question recently:“What were the three biggest things you learned re: time management and organization that helped you in med school?”By the way, that’s verbatim. On a related note, she and/or I may think and talk in the form of powerpoint slides and Buzzfeed lists. Here’s my answer: 1. Schedule Everything And I do mean everything. Every little thing you do in your day: put it down with a corresponding amount of time. Eating, sleeping, hygiene, working out, watching TV, hanging out with friends—everything. Figure out how much time you need for the activities you love and need, and then make room for them. If you don’t make them a priority, and if you don’t carve out time for them, other obligations will crowd them out, and they just won’t happen. On a related note, you can also group the activities...

Are Textbooks Too Expensive? Survey Says Yes

The second-biggest financial stressor for college students, right after paying for tuition, is buying the source materials they need for their classes, according to a Morning Consult survey which was done at the request of Cengage. Cengage is a company that offers course materials like study guides, homework sheets, and textbooks to millions of students throughout the country. The survey was comprised of information from 1,651 former and current college students, ages 18 to 30. In the survey, 85 percent of students said paying for course materials, including the textbooks for their classes, is stressful financially. Only 73 percent of students said that paying for student housing was stressful. That figure was even lower for healthcare at 69 percent and meals and food at 63 percent. While all the categories mentioned can be expensive, a large number of students, at 87 percent, felt textbooks and course materials were overpriced and not worth the money. A similar number of students, at 86 percent, believed their college tuition was overpriced. The students reported they had to make sacrifices to help pay for their course materials. Four in 10 students said they missed meals to save extra money to chip at the cost of the materials. Two in 10 students said they even changed the major they pursued just to cut down on the cost of what they needed. Meanwhile, three in 10 students said...

The FAQs About Third Year Clerkships

There was some point in your life, either as a young elementary school kid or a senior in college, when you finally decided that you were going to become a doctor. You dedicated every waking moment of your life to that task, preparing yourself in the best way possible to become one of the best. After four years of college and two years of medical school, you finally arrive on the wards, ready to care for patients. So now what? Being 4 months out from my first day as a third year medical student, I can finally reflect back and answer some of the most common questions and concerns I had about doing well on third year clerkships. 1. What’s the best way to prepare for shelf exams? In one word – Uworld. To elaborate on this a little more, if your shelf consists of NBME questions, Uworld is a great resource to start with as you are going through the 4-8 weeks of each rotation. There are also NBME practice exams that can be found online to prepare you more. However, as per my experience, I found Uworld to be more than sufficient for doing well on shelf exams. 2. What resources can I use to study while on the wards? UpToDate, Case Files, Online MedEd. The most common questions you are going to be asked as a...

Why Presentation Skills Will Help You As A Doctor

I recently worked on a group presentation with some of my classmates on treatment planning. We were given the patient’s chart and asked to come up with the best treatment for their condition and present the case to faculty member who would ask each presenter a different question on our treatment. When we did a presentation run through, everyone read directly off the slides. For students with no exposure to public speaking and presentation skills, it is no surprise that they would do this. We sit through hours of lectures where professors read off slides that sometimes aren’t their own. In college, as a pre-medical student, you may get away with awkward pauses and statements filled with hesitation (you know, those um’s and like’s in the middle of a sentence). In a professional school program, such as medical school, it is inexcusable not to have basic presentation skills. I came up with a few suggestions for students interested in practicing speaking in public: 1. Look for opportunities to become a leader in your school in clubs 2. Raise your hand in class and ask questions 3. Take electives in your respective program or academic opportunities to write or speak in public 4. Learn by observing Ted Talks or YouTube videos 5. Participate in Toast Masters sessions 6. Look for Improv groups or clubs Why is this important? As doctors,...