hanna-erickson

Hanna Erickson, "Almost" MD/PhD

Hanna is a MD/PhD student at the University of Illinois and an aspiring physician scientist who aims to specialize in hepatobiliary cancers. She is also passionate about teaching, leadership, and advocacy. The energy she once used to pep up crowds as a college marching band member is now directed toward exciting and educating others about science and medicine, especially through her tweets at @MDPhDToBe and her blog at www.mdphdtobe.com.

http://www.mdphdtobe.com

The Ultimate Guide to Picking a Research Lab

Whether you’re a pre-med who wants to build your resume for medical school, a medical student who wants to fill a free summer, or a graduate student, you’re probably going to be doing research. Before you jump into trying to join a research group, I am here to warn you that not every research environment is equal (as I’ve learned the hard way, which sort of makes me an expert, so you probably heed my warning). If you do it right, there is a lot to consider when finding a research advisor that is best for you, which is ultimately what’s important. If the thought of picking a research advisor makes you feel a little like this:   Then this list of considerations is for you. 1. What area of research do you want to be in? First things first, you need to narrow down your options. Often this will be in your major or graduate program area, so hopefully you’ve already had a chance to reflect on this. Do you want to do biology or engineering, chemistry or anthropology? Whatever it is, look for professors who are doing research in that area. 2. Does your personality fit with that of the Primary Investigator (PI)? Before asking to join a lab, it is essential that you reach out to the PI (or the professor in charge of the lab,...

10 Reasons Why Being a Medical Student is Awesome

In a recent medical school class, one of my lecturers told us, “The best days of medical school are the day you get in and the day you graduate.” We all laughed, but it was sort of a painful laugh as we hesitantly looked around the room to see how others reacted to the thought… The underlying message of that statement that we all know too well is medical school is hard. It’s way more work than you’d ever think you’d handle, which means a lot less sleep and a lot more stress. It separates you from your friends and family. The time you once had for things you enjoy seems to be sucked away. You may even find yourself in the wee hours of the night after weeks of sleep deprivation cramming for a few exams and questioning why you’re putting yourself through all of this. And yet, it’s awesome. It may not seem that way when you look around at your piles of books, notecards, lecture notes, empty energy drink cans, ramen packets, and building debt, but in comparison to other things, it’s pretty great. Not convinced? Here’s 10 reasons to make you believe otherwise.   1. You never have to worry about finding something to do.   Your to-do list is never ending, but it’s so much better than sitting around twiddling your thumbs. If you don’t...

How Reliable Are Doximity’s Residency Rankings?

Fourth year medical students, you probably starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Come this spring, you will get the title of “doctor” that you’ve been dreaming about for years. Finally – all of your hard work will pay off! I can only assume that it’s a pretty great feeling. Yet, just as you all surely felt as you applied to medical school, you’re feeling uncertain about your future. Back then, your thoughts were, “Where will you go to medical school? Will you even get in to medical school?” which have now become “What should you specialize in? Are you competitive for that specialty? Where should you apply?” It is an important and overwhelming decision-making process. Where to begin? Perhaps when you applied to medical school, like me, you started your search by looking at the rankings of medical schools. Unfortunately, no such list has existed for residency. Until now. Perhaps you’ve seen my colleague Ryan Nguyen’s piece about Doximity’s new Residency Rankings. In case you haven’t, Doximity, a social networking site for physicians, recently took on the task of creating a ranking of residencies to help out students make informed decisions. They reached out to their extensive membership, asking a simple question – What residency programs in your field offer the best clinical training? Between an initial Internal Medicine residency survey from January to...

How Social Media Can Jeopardize or Jumpstart Your Medical Career

Hide what you do on social media, they said. Otherwise it could get you rejected from medical school, they said. Well, they were right. In a 2009 survey, of the 600 officers who review medical school and/or residency program applications who were interviewed, 53 (9%) routinely used social networking websites in their selection process and 24 (4%) actually rejected an applicant based on their online activity. While these numbers are relatively small, a whopping 53% said that if they were to check an applicant’s social media accounts and if they were to find unprofessional content there, it could compromise their admission. As Scott M. Rodgers, M.D., associate dean for medical student affairs at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine said in an AAMC article, “Every student should assume that medical admissions committees DO look up applicants online and sometimes come across information about people that can either hurt or help a candidate.” This belief is consistent with a plethora of articles that can be found along the lines of “Don’t Let Social Media Jeopardize Your Medical School Admission” and “Social Network Activity May Affect Medical School Acceptance” with a large portion of these articles devoted to preventing the retribution of a negative social media presence. Among the advice is keeping accounts private, controlling who can tag you in photos, limiting your searchability, and changing your name altogether online to avoid...

3 Tips to Get Patients to Trust Vaccines

“You have a fire extinguisher in your home, right?” “Of course I do. Just in c…” “Yes?” “Just in case there is a fire.” “Exactly. And guess what, a vaccination works the same way. It is a precautionary method that can help our body be ready to put out an infection.” “Well, I guess I didn’t see it that way.” With a plethora of medical information online, it’s easy for people to be overwhelmed. They can find one site that says something is good and another that says it’s bad. It can be hard to discern which information is reliable. They hear medical horror stories and fear that it’s going to happen to them or their family. It’s very easy for a person to become scared, but it’s much harder to make them un-scared. That’s where health professionals need to take a stand. Behind local citizens perceived as neutral, respected, and informed, they are the most credible source for the public. Especially with respect to vaccinations, there is a need to offset a growing number of people who aren’t just apathetic, but are actively convincing people that they should not vaccinate their child or themselves even though there is strong evidence for how vaccinations are beneficial and no evidence for a link between, for example, the MMR vaccination and autism. So how can we use this credibility to influence...

The 20 Stages of Applying to Medical School

1. The application system opens.   2. You eagerly start filling out your application.   3. You think to yourself, “I got this.”   4. You start daydreaming about all of the interview invites and acceptances you’ll receive.   5. And what it’ll be like to be a medical student.   6. Then you go online for help and get overwhelmed.   7. You start questioning whether you’ll get in.   8. Which leads to questioning what you’re doing with your entire life.   9. To which your friends are like   10. You decide that’s a good idea.   11. So you take a break.   12. Then you come back all rejuvenated and ready to rock your application.   13. Because you’re feeling fabulous.   14. But now you accept that you’re not perfect.   15. And that’s okay.   16. You don’t let writers block get you down.   17. You do some extreme editing.   18. Finally, you’re ready.   19. You hit submit.   20. And relax.   Until you’re swarmed with secondary applications, that is.   Best of luck to everyone who is applying this...

The Fascinating Story of Being the Only Woman in Medical School

I first had the pleasure of meeting Jean Smelker nearly a year ago. I had just finished undergrad and was on my way to start medical school and graduate school in the fall. Jean, a retired pediatrician with a soft voice and a beaming smile, was so excited to hear about my journey (though I’m sure I was more excited to hear about her’s.) You see, Jean went to medical school in the early 1950’s, a time when women physicians were rare. In fact, she was the sole female in her medical school class of 75. In addition to her training as a MD, she earned a master’s degree in immunology and a master’s degree in public health, which came in handy as she served as director of two Children and Youth (C&Y) Projects throughout her career (one in Kansas, the other Minnesota) that provided comprehensive health services for children living in low incomes areas. She proved to be very bright and ahead of her time, becoming known as a progressive and holistic physician. Her philosophy that “We do what is best for the patients and make it work” became a guiding principle for the Minnesota C&Y project, and she was renowned for her use of hypnosis to treat warts.   On top of her serving as director of these projects and later commuting between Minnesota and Ohio for...