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Sonali Bracken, "Almost" MD/PhD

Sonali is a fifth year MD/PhD candidate at the University of Connecticut Health Center. Her future career goals center on becoming an academic physician-scientist and translational researcher in the field of hematology/oncology. Sonali has co-authored two books, USMLE Step 1 Secrets, 3rd Edition and Evidence-Based Clinical Reasoning in Medicine. In her free time, she enjoys playing tennis, running, reading, and traveling the globe with her husband.

5 Keys to Maintaining a Healthy Relationship in Med School

Maintaining a healthy relationship with a significant other can be tough stuff. Add the stress of medical school to the mix and you can make a difficult situation nearly impossible. But ain’t love worth it? I certainly think so. My story? I met the love of my life while in high school. I went to college in Connecticut and he in North Carolina. As if it were not enough that we spent all of college apart, we remained hundreds of miles away from one another while pursuing our graduate degrees. I (as you probably figured out) began medical school, and much to my dismay, soon learned that it significantly complicated the already difficult battle of dating long distance. The amount of time we had to chat everyday dwindled as my workload surmounted. I found it increasingly difficult to devote m y attention to much outside of school. Clearly, I was not alone. As the year went on, I witnessed most of my fellow classmates’ relationships burn to a crisp, a reality that I found far from inspiring. Fortunately for me, our story ended happily. Four years after beginning medical school, I married m y high school sweetheart and am now living the happy life I have always wanted for m yself. It wasn’t always easy, but all good things are worth the wait, and needless to say- the occasional struggle....

Is an MD/PhD Right for You?

So you are considering applying to an MD/PhD program. How do you really know that it’s the right choice for you? Take this quiz to help you decide whether or not the program is suited for you! 1.   When others ask me what I want to do with my life, my first thought is: a.   I want to practice medicine b.   I want to start my own lab c.   I want to be an academic or hospital administrator d.   I want to teach   2.   When I consider what branch of medicine I may go into, I am most leaning towards: a.   Family medicine/primary care b.   Surgery c.   Internal medicine specialty d.   Pathology   3.   When I think about spending 8 years in school, my thought is: a.   Great! I can delay entering the “real world” b.   I know it’s long, but it will be worth it in the end c.    I’m still not entirely sure how I feel about it d.   I won’t lie. It’s a major turn off.   4.   In the far future, I envision splitting my time: a.   80% medicine, 20% research b.   20% medicine, 80% research c.   50% medicine, 50% research d.   ~100% research with a sporadic encounter with patients every now and then   5.   In my mind, the major perk of pursuing a combined MD/PhD is: a.   Free tuition and an annual...

Top 10 Mnemonics to Get You Through Med School

Sometimes even after reading over the same paragraph multiple times, the material just doesn’t stick. These mnemonics will help you effortlessly master important concepts that are high yield on the boards and guarantee your succes. 1) 5 parameters of the HPI (history of present illness): 2) Encapsulated organisms: 3) Inhibitors of Cytochrome P450: 4) To remember that the right lung is tri-lobed and the right side of the heart contains the tricuspid valve while the left lung is bi-lobed and the left side of the heart contains the bicuspid valve: 5) 12 Cranial Nerves (in consecutive order): 6) Branches of the Brachial Plexus: 7) X-linked Immunodeficiencies: 8) Most Common Symptoms and Bacterial Causes of Meningitis: 9) Anterior pituitary hormones: 10) Precursors in neurotransmitter synthesis (steps in order):     Featured image from Flickr / digiart2001 jason.kuffer   Correction: July 19, 2013 An earlier version of this post used incorrect wording for the third cranial nerve. This error has been...

The DO’s and DON’Ts of Study Groups

One of the most common questions among MS-I students is whether or not they should consider utilizing study groups. Study groups can be an excellent resource during medical school, but be sure to keep the following DO’s and DON’Ts in mind:   DO set a routine schedule for the week well in advance. Study groups work best when everyone knows exactly when they should meet and what topics to prepare for discussion. DON’T be unflexible. Things will inevitably come up that will disturb your meeting schedule. Try your best to reschedule rather than skip meetings all together. On the flip side, if your study partners are taking your schedule into consideration when making plans, it is important to honor your commitments to the group as best as you can.   DO invite classmates to join your study group. No one likes a clique. DON’T go overboard. Group sizes above six tend to make schedule planning more complicated. More importantly, remember that good friends don’t necessarily make good study partners.   DO have defined roles. Knowing who is good at writing on the board, drawing helpful diagrams, taking group notes, explaining complex cases, etc. can be extremely valuable to improving the efficiency of your study group. DON’T take advantage of any single person. For example, even if one person in the group tends to take the best notes during class,...

Crosswords for Incoming M2s

This summer has been a hot one, for sure! While it’s great to relax and enjoy the summer heat, now it’s time for all you med students to warm up something else…your brain! This fun crossword puzzle is a fun way to refresh your memory on some valuable med school info so that your return to school (right around the corner) will be as smooth as the waves you were surfing this summer. Click on the links to download and print the crossword puzzle and answer key (two separate links so you don’t take an early peek).       Click here for the crossword and clues.   Click here for the answer...