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.

What Does It Mean To Be Successful Outside of Academics?

When I was young and naïve at the beginning of my medical training, I defined success and accomplishment quantitatively – class rank, GPA, exam results. Getting an A meant I was successful and getting any other grade else meant I was not. As students, we are constantly overwhelmed with people telling us how to attain “success.” Following someone else’s expectations can be destructive and counterproductive to your personal goals. One year later, how I came to define succes achievement is entirely personal. Defining what success means to me is important to be able to groom myself as a young doctor. Measurements defined by others are no longer significant to me. And I am not concerned about my grades as long as I am passing. But, even when I fail, I never feel bad about it anymore. Instead, I congratulate myself on trying my best and try to learn from my mistake. I no longer abide by other’s ideas of success imposed on me. And I most definitely don’t compare myself with other classmates. By defining my own standards that I want to live up to, I have actually created higher standards for myself as a person. My life does not revolve around school; it is simply one aspect of my life over all. Previously, success meant doing good in school to the exclusion of all else because that was an...

This Health and Wellness Podcast Will Help You Get Through Med School

A new addition to the Alternative Health category on iTunes is Well Now, a health and wellness podcast by Saje Natural Wellness. The podcast was launched February 2018. As not only an avid podcast listener, but also a student in the health profession with a strong scientific background, I can say the podcast does not disappoint. The content is not only scientifically sound and reliable, but the patient stories are heart-warming and informative. The podcast is a new venture for the retail company. Saje Natural Wellness is a retail company based in Vancouver, Canada. It started in 1992 by a husband and wife team, Jean-Pierre LeBlanc and Kate Rose LeBlanc. They had a vision to introduce 100 percent natural, plant-based wellness products to the market. According to their website, the products contain pure ingredients from nature. The lavender they use in their products, for example, is grown in the hills of Provence. The company offers a wide range of products with the Saje label: massage oils, face and body mists, essential oils, and bath soaks. Saje introduces Well Now as one that helps listeners “discover the hidden side of health.” Having enjoyed the first two episodes and listened to them both in its entirety in one sitting, I can attest that this description is as an accurate one. Conventionally, a podcast will have a teaser or introductory episode. Sometimes...

Does It Sometimes Feel Like I’m Married To Medicine?

There’s so much love in the air this month. Every time I’m on Facebook, I see an engagement announcement. Despite being in a relationship myself, the longest commitment I have had is not with an individual. It’s with medicine. At this point, it would be appropriate to change my relationship status to: married to medicine. I have been loyal to medicine since I was 15. And I’m almost 30. That’s 15 years of pure devotion. I don’t even have the time to be fickle-hearted. Long before I took The Hippocratic Oath on my white coat ceremony, I said my vows to medicine. I didn’t realize at the time but when I declared a pre-medical academic track, my heart whispered to medicine: from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, or poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do us part. I guess my acceptance letter was medicine telling me it loves me, too. On Valentine’s Day this year, I spent 12 hours at school during the day (from 7 AM – 7 PM) and less than 5 hours with my boyfriend. During dinner, I even felt guilty for not studying for an upcoming exam. I work my absolute hardest and concentrate fully on this one relationship to the exclusion of all others. I would love to have some flexibility and freedom to devote to other people...

The Difference Between Pre-Med and Pre-Dental

Your position on the application waitlist seems to be moving at a glacial pace. And official application decisions begin to trickle in for another group of budding health professionals. Given the abysmal reality of the uncertain application cycle, it becomes easy to develop the “I’ll go anywhere as long as I’m a doctor” mentality. Often students interested in becoming a doctor apply to multiple medical programs (both DO and MD) as well as pre-dental programs with little reflection on how the training and the career trajectory differs. While there is subtle difference between DO and MD program, there is an unmistakable difference between becoming a doctor and becoming a dentist. Students who find themselves in this predicament – choosing what kind of doctor they wish to become – should not make this decision with a fickle heart. As a college student, I remember standing at a career crossroads and genuinely conflicted between choosing medicine and dentistry. I was fiercely passionate about emergency medicine and working as a physician in level 1 trauma center. I was also fired up about medical journalism and so medicine seemed like the best option, allowing me to intertwine two passions into a career. But, the lifestyle and compensation of a dentist was undeniably appealing. Looking back, my rationale for choosing one career over the other was entirely superficial. I wish I was more contemplative...

Five Ways To Keep Your Brain Alert In Medical School

Reading a Fast Company article this morning,  I was inspired to consider the ways I can keep my brain alert for the long haul. As a student, I do study most of the time so one could argue that my brain is constantly alert. It’s true that I do have to make a conscientious effort to relax my brain.  But, the suggestions in the article were very helpful. I’ve slightly modified the five daily habits that were recommended to the general public to be more school friendly. With a schedule as busy as ours, the following five suggestions may not be feasible to do on a daily basis. I think weekly is more manageable. Change your diet. I recently made changes to my own diet by drinking more water. If you’re anything like me, spending money and investing in a more expensive product such as the trendy Swell bottle could motivate you to drink more water. Or, adding fruit like berries, or lemon slices, or herbs like mint, help to change the flavor of plain water. Take inventory of what you could benefit from the most. For example, if you order Domino’s 3X a week, perhaps making home cooked meals would be an appropriate swap to incorporate more greens and vegetables to your diet. I have also found that switching the grocery store you shop for food adds some...

Do You Have What It Takes To Be A Future Doctor?

Everyone – from family to neighbors to friends to fellow airplane passengers – impressed when you tell them you’re going to be a doctor. There has always been, and will always be, a certain prestige associated with being a doctor. “You must be really smart,” is the usual reaction to this declaration of my professional pursuit. But, the funny thing, I don’t think I’m smart. In fact, smart is one of the last words I would use to describe myself. I may be a future doctor, which sounds rather smart and noble, but I honestly do not consider myself any smarter than the average person. I am sure there are a handful in the profession that are truly gifted individuals, in general, my classmates are not brilliant. They are just normal people, some with unique hobbies and interests. There is one characteristic among all of us in this profession that is undeniable. And that is grit. We are all hustlers. We stick with it. We not only work hard, but we push our physical limits. We have unwavering self-confidence. We are willing to sacrifice more than most others. Despite the darkness, we know there will be light at the end. We appreciate delayed gratification. It is these traits that make you a doctor. Anyone can develop and practice these traits. Anyone can be a doctor. I was the hardest...

The Medical Professional’s New Year’s Resolutions

For as long as I can remember, my new year’s resolution was to get straight A’s. Now that I am in dental school, I recognize that I want to aspire to do more than just get good grades. These days, I am perfectly content with passing and getting my degree. And I’m excited to make conscious goals for myself that focus on my life outside of academics. I narrowed it down to 5 things that I personally need to work on to have a more well-rounded, balanced lifestyle as a dental student and future medical professional. Drink more water. I recently got my blood drawn for routine bloodwork. Because I did not drink any water after waking up that morning, the nurse could not collect any blood from my veins and she tried 3 times. After being unnecessarily stuck with a needle more times than one, I finally recognized that I must drink more water. If I can get myself to finish a bottle of water on my commute to and from school everyday, I would consider that a drastic improvement. Exercise. I’m pretty sure exercise or “lose weight” is a common new year’s resolution. Even though everyone knows that routine cardio is beneficial, it’s funny how that is the first thing we eliminate from our daily routine as we start to get busy and increasingly stressed out. Exercise...