sonal-kumar

Sonal Kumar

Sonal Kumar is passionate about combining science and storytelling. She has vast experiences outside of healthcare including marketing and advertising, print and broadcast journalism, including TV/radio production. Sonal is an alumna of Columbia University. She tweets @sonalkumar2011.

How To Study For Your Next Test Like A Pro

Looking back on my first year, I know now that I had no idea what I was doing when I told myself I was studying. It sounds funny because I have been studying science, and on the pre-health track, for more than a decade. Studying for any health professional school, including medical school is a beast. You can watch every YouTube video after searching how to study for medical school (I did!) and still do poorly on an exam. There is no secret and there is no magic involved. When it comes down to it, you just have to sit at a desk and make yourself understand the material you’re learning. There are a few things I learned along the way that might be useful to a student starting their first day in a rigorous, academic program. Cramming never works. In order to commit material to memory, you really can’t cram. Of course we all know classmates and friends who argue that they just can’t study any other way. Cramming makes me very nervous. I’m one of those people who just can’t recall what I’ve learned on the exam. I completely blank. In some cases – trust me, this happens – you really just have no other choice but to cram through the night. The best way to avoid this is to keep on top of the material as...

Four Tips For The Best Secondary Application

‘Tis the season for secondaries! Now that you’ve got the attention of the admissions committee with a stellar primary application, the secondary application is the prime opportunity to let yourself shine. Some schools send their secondary questions to every applicant, while others are more selective. In any case, crafting a meaningful answer to the questions would be in your best interest if you’re looking to gain admission to medical school. Follow the rules. Although secondary essays are shorter than the main AMCAS application, they are significantly harder. Take the time to actually read any instructions and be mindful of the word count for each question. Keep in mind the word count is not optional; 101 words is not the same as 100 words. Another common mistake is not actually answering the question being asked. If a school asks how you work well with others, you should not answer that with an anecdote showcasing your leadership qualities. Another thing that is important is to keep track of the schools you’re writing for and adhere to their specific requirements. If you have a question, email or call the school and do not make your own assumptions. Also, do not copy and paste what you’ve written before either from the primary application or secondary application for another school, even if you’re applying to MD and DO programs. If you’re finding yourself doing...

Remembering Charlie Gard

Charles Gard did not live long enough to celebrate his first birthday, yet captured the world’s attention with his memorable courage and strength. He was born August 4, 2016 and died this year just days before his birthday on July 28. For those unfamiliar with the highly debated medical-legal case, Baby Charles was born to Connie Yates and Chris Gard. Shortly after birth, Charles’ health was declining to the point that he required medical attention. In October, he was admitted to a hospital in London, Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children. Charles was the 16th person ever to be diagnosed with mitochondrial DNA depletion syndrome – a rare inherited condition causing muscle weakness and brain damage. Physicians at the London hospital refused to let Mr. and Mrs. Gard fly Charles to New York City for an experimental treatment offered to the family at Columbia University. Despite raising $1.5 million dollars to transport him from London to New York, physicians at the London hospital also urged Mr. and Mrs. Gard to get Charles off life support. This sparked severe controversy because many argued that doctors should not decide if Charlie’s life was worth living. The news event was not just an unrelated event to me. It definitely struck a cord with me. In fact, this scenario lead me to thinking – how would I handle such a situation as a doctor?...

Learn More How HIV Life Expectancy Is Improving

Combination antiretroviral therapy (ART) has been the preferred treatment for patients with HIV for 20 years. Since its inception in 1996, the therapy has continued to improve. Now, studies report that patients living with HIV who take the new ART drugs may look forward to near-normal life expectancy. In particular, people with the disease are likely to live 10 years longer than people who were infected with HIV in 1990s. A new study published in The Lancet reports advances in antiretroviral drug treatment (ART) that improve life expectancy for patients living with HIV. ART is the standard treatment regime for HIV patients. While ART cannot cure HIV, a combination of medications help patients live longer and reduce the risk of HIV transmission. ART was first introduced in 1996. One year after ART was introduced, the FDA approved Combivir, a combination drug taken as a single daily tablet, which made taking daily medication HIV patients easier. Since then, ART initiation has improved by leaps and bounds, making medication management easier for patients. The study was co-authored by a collective called “The Antiretroviral Therapy Cohort Collaboration.” Research was conducted by an international team led by the University of Bristol in the UK and funded by the UK’s Medical Research Council, Department for International Development and the European Union. The study combined data from 18 European and North American cohorts enrolled in...

Orientation Week: Welcome to M1

The first week is usually the calm before the storm in medical school (as well as in dental, nursing, and physician assistant programs). While each school is inherently different and will plan your orientation week differently, there are some things I picked up on during my first week that I wanted to share with The Almost Doctor’s community as generalized advice for starting professional school.     Apartment – If you are going to a school in a new city, orientation week is the best time to get settled. I was really lucky to have a quick and easy move into my new apartment. I only had to move in the weekend prior because my apartment was fully furnished; all I had to do was organize my personal belongings and fill my fridge. A lot of my classmates actually moved in weeks prior to orientation week. I completely underestimated this aspect at first and didn’t realize how comforting it would be to come home after a long day to a clean, organized space.   Networking – As one of the oldest students in my class, I certainly have a different perspective on meeting my classmates. I know it takes me a long time to open up and make new friends; I really love my personal space and need time to be alone. Joining a professional school is different because...

TED Talks About Learning

As Almost Doctors, we are learners. We spend countless hours at a desk memorizing information from a textbook. We sit in lecture halls and learn from professors. When we start clinical years as medical students, we don short white coats and learn from experience.   However, learning doesn’t just mean knowing. It is not the acquisition of knowledge, but the application of knowledge that is most important in medicine and in general. In the words of Albert Einstein, “Education is not the learning of facts, but the training of the mind to think.” As we head back to school, let us not forget the true value of education.   Here are some fantastic TED talks about learning, memory and knowledge that will broaden your perspective on being a student. Do schools kill creativity? Sir Ken Robinson makes an entertaining and profoundly moving case for creating an education system that nurtures (rather than undermines) creativity. http://www.ted.com/talks/ken_robinson_says_schools_kill_creativity   Kids, take charge Kiran Bir Sethi shows how her groundbreaking Riverside School in India teaches kids life’s most valuable lesson: “I can.” Watch her students take local issues into their own hands, lead other young people, even educate their parents. http://www.ted.com/talks/kiran_bir_sethi_teaches_kids_to_take_charge   A visual history of human knowledge How does knowledge grow? Sometimes it begins with one insight and grows into many branches; other times it grows as a complex and interconnected network....

My Personal Story on Story-telling in Medicine

An American poet and political activist, Muriel Rukeyser, said the universe is made of stories, not of atoms. I believe her. As a seasoned storywriter and storyteller, I walked gingerly into the Adult Emergency Services for my first shift as a volunteer at a legendary New York City public hospital. I sported a crisply ironed red polo with “Emergency Department Volunteer” embroidered in white stitch. Armed with a pocket notebook and a pen to tie up my hair, I was ambivalent and apprehensive to perform alongside my colleagues: focused pre-medical students in rapacious pursuit of the coveted MD degree. My instrument of choice was a writing utensil, so it is with good reason I shivered at the thought of nearing a stethoscope or a scalpel. I suffered from an incurable case of imposter syndrome; I feared someone would detect that I was better at languages than logarithms. Qu’est-ce que c’est Organic Chemistry? That was a foreign language to me. I feared for my life and for the life of the patients I was about to meet. I wondered and worried how I — a hesitant traveler following a circuitous path toward a healthcare career— managed to get myself in a prestigious summer program and in the hustle and bustle of one of the nation’s busiest EDs. To the house staff, I thought I could contribute nothing more than open-mindedness,...

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