chantal-mendes

Chantal Mendes

Chantal Mendes is a writer who loves science. She graduated with a journalism degree from Boston University (go Terriers!) and is currently a third year at the University of Vermont College of Medicine. In addition to her interests in cardiology and pediatrics, Chantal enjoys rock-climbing, anything Lord of the Rings related and looking for the best poutine in Vermont. She shares stories of her journey from journalist to prospective doctor on her blog, journalistdoingscience.blogspot.com and tweets @Chantal_Mendes.

http://journalistdoingscience.blogspot.com

This Is How To Take Time Off During Medical School

Here is a list of a few experiences I’m happy that I did to take time off during medical school my first two years.  Recently I was up late clicking through my old Facebook pictures reliving some of the more fun moments of the past few years. As I was doing this I realized that I have done SO MANY amazing and wonderful things since starting medical school. At the beginning of M1 year, everyone tells you (jokingly or not, I can never tell) to kiss your social life (or any kind of life outside of books and medicine) goodbye. I have not found this to be necessary AT ALL and I want to encourage you all to reject this mindset. While it’s true there were times I spent 14 hour days in the library or when I was so stressed about an upcoming lab practical that I couldn’t bear to do anything besides study, there were also many times when I put other things in my life first. I think this has helped me to be more balanced and allowed me to build up a reserve of emotional strength to draw from when it comes to the tough parts of medical school. By having things outside of medical school to plan and look forward to, I don’t let studying completely define who I am as a person, which...

Taking Sick Days in Medicine

As my regular readers may have noticed, I tend to write about what I know. I think it’s the best way for me to choose what to write about because then I don’t feel like a phony, which is something I sometimes feel just as a by-product of being a student of medicine. Another way in which I feel like a bit of a phony is when I get sick and have to miss school. It’s especially tough on rotations because you feel like you’re letting everyone down, as if the whole team is somehow there for you when in reality they would function completely the same without you (although they may miss your positive attitude/humor/white coat pocket snack stash). For example, I get migraines often and they are only partially managed with medication. Sometimes the meds just don’t work or I’m not able to take them in time. Once I went a whole month without them because there was a snafu with the pharmacy and I couldn’t refill them. During that time I was so nervous I would get a migraine and have to call in sick that the whole time I was filled with anxiety over the mere possibility. Even if I do actually take the sick day I just sit at home feeling nauseas and ill, arguing with myself over whether I am sick “enough” for...

Managing Stress In The Fast-Paced Medical Field

The other day I cried in front of my attending in the little office we share at an adult outpatient practice. We had only worked together once so were still somewhat uncomfortable around each other – still learning about each other and feeling out our individual expectations. I started crying because I was a few minutes late which normally wouldn’t have stressed me out enough to begin weeping but I had been dealing with some pretty heavy personal stuff that had completely sapped all of my emotional energy. When I arrived at the office, worn out after staying up all night trying to deal with what was going on, I couldn’t handle the crushing guilt I felt over my tardiness. Managing stress, especially in health and medicine, is tough. It’s important to be honest here so I will also say I was considerably upset about my attending seeing me this way – emotional, not in control, allowing my personal life to affect my work. I apologized over and over as I blotted my tears with the Kleenex he held out to me with a sympathetic look on his face. “I’m not usually like this” I remember saying at least three times. He commiserated. He understood what I was going through. He normalized it for me and told me everything would be ok. He suggested I take the rest of...

Tips and Tricks for Your Next USMLE Step 1 Test

First of all I’d like to say that I am not the expert. I’m not even AN expert (of anything). Reading this article will not magically make you score a 260+ on Step 1. However, it might help to quell some rising panic which will DEFINITELY improve your chances because less stress = increased ability to relax and allow your brain to do its thing! With that said, here is some advice I found helpful during the dark period that was Dedicated Study Period. It’s ok to not use First Aid. I know saying this basically borders on blasphemy and that First Aid is literally “the bible” of step studying but it is simply one resource among many and it will work for some and not for others. Some people will swear by First Aid, others don’t even read through more than a few pages. I think it’s really up to you and whether or not you find it helpful. I personally found that reading straight through as had been recommended to me was a waste of time. Instead, I ended up using it more as a summary review after I had already gone over the concepts to help cement some of the more-high yield details. Set a goal. I don’t mean in a vague way like ‘ OMG I have to do better than the 240s or my...

Picking a Doctor’s Brain: 9 Questions About the Trials and Travails of Residency

The Kaiser Permanente San Diego Family Residency Program welcomes six new residents per year into one of the largest Family Medicine Departments in the world. I was very excited to interview one of their Chief Residents, Dr. Aaron Edelstein, about his experience as a resident and glean some helpful advice As a doctor, he is dedicated to family medicine and has a refreshing attitude towards balancing life and work responsibilities. Outside of work Aaron is an avid runner and hiker and enjoys the San Diego music scene. You can follow him on Twitter @ConnectTheDocs. 1. Tell us a little bit about yourself – where you’re from, what medical school you went to, what field are you specializing in, what’s your favorite hobby? I grew up outside Boston and came back for medical school at Tufts University School of Medicine, in the MD/MBA program.  I got roped into Family Medicine by my fantastic advisor, Dr. Altman, and the more I learned about FM, the most I knew it was a great choice for me. I have a great interest in data, and patterns, so the idea of keeping a whole patient panel healthy really sparked my interest. Medicine seems to be moving towards a performance model, where physicians will be monitored and rewarded for their innovative work at keeping patients healthy.  FM captures that idea and concept well. 2. What...

5 Unexpected Ways Your Life Will Change in Med School

While I may not yet be a medical student, I spend a lot of time with friends who are currently in their second year. Some of them I’ve known since before they were in school and others I’ve only recently met but they all share some common behaviors that I believe are a direct result of their studies. After hanging out so much with these wonderful people I’ve made the following observations. 1. Everything can be related to medical school classes: Every topic of conversation and every situation you may find yourself in can be likened to a story that was heard during a cardio or neuro lecture. Your problems will be compared to infectious diseases and if you’re looking for advice, don’t be surprised to hear your friend begin by saying “well, we went over this in psych last week…”   2. While watching popular television shows: like “The Walking Dead” or “Breaking Bad”, your medically inclined friends will say things like “oh, I totally get what a fugue state is now” or, “this is a ridiculous depiction of how the CDC would act in a situation like this.” Get used to it.   3. Be prepared: for your friend to want to throw things out of your fridge after rummaging around for a snack and finding something nearing expiration. “Oh my God, this cheese is a day past...

4 Things That Will Leave No Doubts About Your Decision to Be a Doctor

What do you do when you start to wonder if you really know what you are getting yourself into by signing up to be a doctor? I don’t mean when you’re experience serious, soul-searching doubt that requires considerable thought to make sure you are on the right path, I mean those little, sneaky fears that overcome you every once in a while when you’re tired or you just got rejected by yet another school. I’ve been struggling with these feelings lately as I sit and wait to hear back from the first school I interviewed at. Being in a state of limbo can be really stressful and the waiting game is no fun to play. With that in mind, I thought I would share a few things that always help me feel better when I’m facing uncertainty. 1. Volunteer: Helping others, no matter what the cause, is always great because it gets your mind off of yourself for a moment with the added benefit of knowing you’re actively making a difference in someone’s life. Volunteering makes you more compassionate and empathetic and often helps you feel more grateful for your own health and well-being. If you’re working at a hospital with residents & attendings it’s often an accurate glimpse into what your future may look like and will fill you with a renewed sense of enthusiasm for your chosen profession, leaving...

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