SECOND SEMESTER OF MED SCHOOL: REVIEW AND TIPS


tumblr_mouuvpR0MA1qinh1vo1_500Courses:

Physiology (every day)
Biochemistry (every day)
Genetics
Neuroscience
Research Methods

Summary:

The schedule this time around was much more relaxing than the first due to a number of factors. The first being that instead of having class 8-5pm every day, 2 days of the week we finished at 3pm, and often on the other days, our profs would get through material faster than expected and let us out early. This was great because it gave us time to breath after the rigours of first semester, and adjust to the new course load. Unfortunately, the down side of having more free time is that it can lead to a lack of productivity – when you don’t have enough time for work, you make every minute count. When there is an *excess* of time (**because it was hardly an excess, but rather a few extra hours a week), one feels like certain tasks can be put off until later (ie. studying). Secondly, having an entire semester behind me was a nice reassurance that I could make it through this. In first semester, I was constantly wondering, can I really pull this off? And having that sense of accomplishment really helped my mentality going into semester 2. Continue reading

FIRST SEMESTER OF MED SCHOOL: REVIEW AND TIPS

tumblr_n5sdezBDmZ1r54pxzo1_500Courses:

Anatomy (every day)
Histology (every day)
Embryology
Ethics
Radiology

Summary:

What a stressful time! I have never had so many emotional break downs in my life! This is not to discourage anyone, as my stress was derived from a number of factors. First, moving to a developing country. Second, dealing with such a different style of academics, coming from a background in the arts. Third, figuring out how to find a balance between my academic, physical, and social life. And finally fourth, feeling trapped on my tiny little campus or apartment that was out of the way from most of my friends. Continue reading

AN ISLAND WEDDING

Tonni & Daniel

Tonni & Daniel

 A few weeks ago I was asked to play photographer at a vow renewal ceremony for a fellow student on campus. The event went off without a hitch, the weather was perfect, and the guests were having fun. I’d never attended a true beach wedding before, and I’d have to say, this one checked all the boxes for what I’d envisioned.

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HIKING LA SOUFRIERE

IMG_8734_2My first set of blocks for the new semester came and went, and I celebrated with classmates the next weekend by exploring this beautiful island. A bunch of friends/fellow classmates hopped on a bus and drove an hour out of town to the base of La Soufriere, a volcano with the highest peak in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

There are two different ways to ascend the mountain – one side offers a never-ending series of stairs, while the other offers a rocky, bushy expanse of “trails” (I use air quotes because they were hardly visible, and mostly just areas of trampled bush). We took the latter. The entire hike, up and down totaled about 28k…a necessary climb after an entire week of indoor studying on my butt! I have to say, it was the most glorious outdoor experience I’ve ever had. The weather was perfectly warm, and even though it started to pour rain for an hour on the way up, we barely noticed due to the expanse of foliage protecting us from above. The rain that did hit us, though, was welcome, the hike was intensely vertical (surprise, surprise) and our tour guide was practically running a mile/minute. Continue reading

PROS AND CONS OF STUDYING MEDICINE ABROAD

tumblr_np5z69nWTt1rc9mw1o1_1280I would like to start this post by saying that studying medicine abroad is a great way to go if attending an American or Canadian school isn’t feasible for you, but it is not the best possible option. Unfortunately, stats show that American IMGs have a 60% chance of being considered for residency interviews in the states, and non-US IMGs (ie. Canadians) have an even lower likelihood of being considered, at 48%. This is why it is very important to consider every possible outcome before enrolling in medicine abroad (if you plan to work in North America, that is). That being said, I understand that for many of us, passing all the requirements to get into medical school at home can be difficult. For me, I would have had to re-do my undergrad and focus on the sciences – or at least spend another 2 years taking a load of pre-requisite courses. For others, achieving the outstanding GPA required for most med schools is unrealistic due to full-time jobs, kids, or family needs. All of this being aside from the required high MCAT scores. One of the largest factors stopping students from attending med school at home seems to also be the exorbitant tuition fees demanded from the first year of medical school alone (think rent, supplies, and textbooks on top of every day expenditures and then add tuition). Continue reading

ALMOST DONE FIRST YEAR!

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Hey guys! It has been a while again…as you can imagine, my second semester has been even busier than the last. This time around my courses include biochem, physiology, genetics, neurology, research methods, and a case-based learning seminar once a week. Just finished my second set of block exams for the semester and I can’t even imagine how the time flew by!

Coming back from the break was more difficult than I had anticipated. I had hoped to feel refreshed and ready to get back into things after my 10 days at home (I even managed to swing a trip down to Cali with the fam!) but when when my plane touched down, I couldn’t help but feel a wave of depression washing over me. I can’t put my finger on why exactly, but it felt very much like a system re-set, as if I was back to re-start all over again. It was like the previous 4 months had added up to nothing. It felt as though I had worked so hard to learn so many things over the last 4 months, only to start new courses about which I knew nothing. Of course, I was indeed moving forward in my medical education, however looking from the front of a new semester in medicine seemed so very daunting. Regardless of these feelings, I managed to pass the time with the help of friends who felt the same way, Friends (as in the actual TV show), and ice cold diet cokes by the pool. Continue reading

MEMORIZING VS. UNDERSTANDING

I’m finaltumblr_lte7dhRyr91qbsx6do1_500 (1)ly in the last stretch of MD1! Exams are over and went extremely well, thankfully, considering that week of studying beforehand was pure hell. Among the many things I’ve learned while studying medicine, one outstandingly important tidbit of wisdom I can share with future students is the importance of understanding the material you are learning as you memorize it. Some students will tell you that memorizing material without understanding it is impossible. I disagree. It’s perfectly feasible, however doing this hardly lends to USMLE prep, 16 months (or 2 years for American med grads) down the road. Due to the nature of the material we learn in med, much of it can be crammed a week or two before the block. In classes like anatomy, embryology, radiology or ethics, where the concepts aren’t difficult to understand, all that is required to do well on exams is memorization. What’s the catch, though? We forget facts that register in our brains as meaningless! The important thing is to make facts meaningful by understanding them. By relating them to other concepts, by applying them to practical situations, and by visualizing how they can be implemented off our note sheet and in the real world. When we do this, recalling 1 fact from the 1000s learned throughout the basic sciences becomes a simple process of eliminating unrelated principles. Continue reading

ON STAYING MOTIVATED

eceb2040e7b07e87f6e05b6b52f38664 As exams are fast approaching (again), I’ve been struggling to find the motivation required for me to dive into all this material. The one thing I’ve realized about studying med is that the hardest part isn’t in understanding the material, but rather accepting that it’s all I’m going to be looking at for the next several months of my life. In the long term, 16 months is no time at all. However it can be so difficult to visualize the end goal when you’re 10 slides into learning a 100 slide lecture, 1 of 20 for one class, during one block. On days like today, where I become endlessly distracted by the myriad of articles, news updates, images, tweets and videos presented to me by various media, it’s necessary to take a chunk of time to get out of the books and do my own thing. However, days like today seem to happen more frequently than not and I’ve been frustrated with my inability to find fun in my studies. All that I’m learning is so fascinating! But there is so much to learn that I barely have time to scrape the surface of many topics worth looking into, reading papers about, and grasping a full understanding of. Continue reading