Categories
Life Medical School Medicine Science

The-Burnout,-Doubt-Everything,-Find-Resolve-Again Cycle

Pre-meds take heart.
I ache for you. I really do.
I know how it is. I know you doubt your decision to become a doctor or PA constantly. I know that it comes at the worst times too. Right before a test.
I used to sit in the student union with my science classmates, staring at our textbooks. We watched the sun go down from the same spot almost every night. We ordered dinner in there; sipped coffee; ate entirely too many sour straws. We pretended to know how to explain the problems’ solutions to each other. We tried index cards, quizzing each other, making up games, and repeating the answers over and over. We tried writing it out multiple times and diagramming it, any creative way to make it easier on ourselves to learn.
During this ritual, one or all of us would end up with eyes glazed over, elbow resting on the book, face in hand. Or worse-  head down resting on the book staring off into the void.
Jenna would catch my eye and say “What?” as in “What are you thinking?” and I’d spout off our usual joke about wishing the information would just enter my brain through osmosis as I was laying on it.
Then- and stay with me here because our overloaded minds rarely make  sense. “I just…. I can’t… I mean… [sigh]. This is just really hard and I hate it and I’m tired and I can’t… I mean…. ugh… WHY?
Natural progression dictates the others around you join in on the moaning. Such begins a big discussion of every cruel assignment, poorly written test, where your grades are at, how bad/good your week is on workload, and a psychoanalysis of how to conquer every class and professor. It goes on and on.
Eventually I would realize that all the other study groups in the room are long gone. The moon is so high its not visible from the wall of windows anymore. Everything is closed. My roommate is probably fast asleep at home. I start gathering up my stuff realizing I’m not studying anymore tonight and sleep would better serve me. As soon as the backpack is slung around to my back, books out of sight, I feel immediately guilty that I have not studied enough.
I walk to my car slumped over, exhausted and sometimes genuinely depressed at another day of failure. Of not understanding. Of not making the grade. Of wanting to do something, anything other than how I spent my hours that day.
I get to my apartment, briefly stare into the kitchen and decide that making food would take too much energy even though I had apple rings and red diamond tea for dinner 8 hours ago. I get ready for bed literally beside my bed, the motions so familiar I don’t even turn the light on. Its simple really.
Take backpack off, set it on the floor beside my bed where I grab it first thing the next morning. Pull my bra out of my shirt, take my pants off. Plug in my phone. Get in bed. No makeup removal, no brushing teeth.
This, my friends, is the burn out.
I feel for you premeds because I know this trudgery well. It was my life for what felt like most nights of the last three years. I know how you feel even if you can’t say it.
What we are not able to articulate to our study buddies in the moment where you are pondering your life silently instead of actively studying- is how you aren’t sure if you want to actually do this. To be a doctor. You don’t know if you can do it all through undergrad and then add four more years. You don’t even know if you’ll pass physics and it keeps you up at night when you are so so tired. At the ripe age of 20, you are burnt out and you want to do something else. Please, God, anything else!! You just don’t have it in you anymore.
Believe me there are plenty of people that will tell you that you can go ahead and do something else. Many of your classmates will choose something else and you will secretly envy them. I did. They are probably the wise ones. The ones that will be able to go on a trip to Cabo with 3 other married couples when they’re 25 while you are still in school. Its a respectable and understandable choice. I wish I had been able to do something else.
Several times, though, in the middle of the “doubt everything” phase, I would consider my other options. “What else would I do?” I thought. “What do I really want to be doing?”
I didn’t have a single answer. In the moment there were plenty of things I would rather do: eat, stand outside, take a shower, make a phone call, break down and cry, stab a professor, eat again, sleep. But in the future? What did I want to be? A doctor. That was always the answer. I want to see patients. I want them to trust me, let me into their lives, mourn with them, appreciate their humanity, heal them, understand their health as a human being better than any other doctor they’ve ever had.
My rational mind then takes me to what I must do as a follow up. If being a doctor is all I want, and being a doctor requires medical school and medical school requires I pass this course. Then it follows that passing this course requires I study. So here I sit and here I will study. This is what you want to do. That’s all the resolve I need. It’s that simple.
In each burn out, you ultimately have to figure it out for yourself if medicine is still want you want to do, time after time. But I just want you to know that it happens, and it happens to everyone. Often. Questioning it isn’t a reason to quit. It not being what you want is a reason to quit. Because being a doctor is going to take a lot of work. Its probably going to take a lot out of you. You can do it, though, if its what you want to do. It’s going to be easier to handle all the work, when you realize that its not just something you have to do, in the end, you wouldn’t rather be doing anything else.
Also, go easy on yourself. It may be miserable to sit there studying; I know my group dreaded going in to study at the end of class each day, but being there is half the battle. And if you really wanted to be doing something else, you’d be out there doing it, not studying.
I know it sounds crazy but I actually miss those late nights with friends studying and talking and whining about our lives. I’m scared out of my pants for medical school to start! What if its worse than those terrible nights?! Now that is scary.
“It’s so strange how life works: you want something and you wait and wait [and work] and feel like its taking forever to come. Then it happens and it’s over and all you want to do is curl back up in that moment before things changed.” -Lauren Oliver
 

Categories
Family Friends House Life Pictures Recipes

Graduation Party Details

Here it is folks. The last remnants of my senior year of college. Woah.
My sisters, mom, and I did most of the party prep ourselves. We ordered 20 ml Lure-Loc syringes, a set of 3 Ehrlenmeyer flasks, 50 urine sample cups, and a set of 6 plastic beakers all from Amazon and tried to incorporate a science/medical  theme throughout the party.

IMG_2762
My messy pretzel thermometers

IMG_2764
Food Table

IMG_2765
Typical graduate shrine

IMG_2766
Build-your-own-Sundae bar with topping injections!

IMG_2767
Sprinkles!

IMG_2814
“Laboratory”

IMG_2816
“Urine” Punch to put in our urine cups. It was white grape juice and ginger ale.

IMG_2826
Pretty flowers my mom arranged!

IMG_2808
Mom and Dad

 
DSC_6498
The giant stethoscope my dad made for fun

DSC_6489
Dat baby tho

IMG_2763
POPCORN

DSC_6455
My parents with all their grandkids

DSC_6463
Macey found the popcorn like she always does!

DSC_6494
Besties for the resties

DSC_6441 DSC_6449 DSC_6451 DSC_6479 DSC_6480 DSC_6482 DSC_6501

Categories
Application Process Medical School Medicine

My Second Medical School Interview

I woke up this morning and felt like writing, so I’m going to get this doozy out of the way. I’ve been meaning to do it for a while- since I wrote this post about my first interview back at the beginning of April.
I’m struggling a little bit with how to write this, because I want to be honest. For me, this wasn’t as positive of an interview. I feel like I said the right things, and I didn’t colossally screw up. It was just not a great experience for me. That’s an opinion. It’s how I personally feel about what happened. It is a really great school. It just isn’t the school.
My second and final interview was at OU.
Unknown
 
Source
Again, I went to bed early the night before. Also like the first time I woke up ready to get it over with.
I distinctly remember getting to the medical park- which includes seven post graduate healthcare profession schools, a few hospitals, many research institutes, student unions, etc- and not having a clue where to go. I wandered aimlessly, thinking showing up 15 minutes before required was plenty of time.
Two minutes later, when I found where I was supposed to be, I also found I was the underachiever of the bunch. I was one of the last ones to get my name tag and my packet.
The panic that was assuaged when I got to my first interview and discovered I was one and the same with my fellow interviewees, was exacerbated when I got to this interview  and discovered I was not one of these people.
First of all, there were too many of us to count. Secondly, many of them it seemed were non-traditional students (which can be intimidating on interview day, to a kid that has never had a meaningful job in here life). They had briefcases and stilettos. I had a water bottle and flats.
After letting us mingle in the lobby, they sent us into one of the main lecture halls and told us about the school, the campus, and the selection process. We were divided into groups. Some people went to their interview first, some went on a tour, some went to see the skills lab, and some talked about the online lecture system with the med students. I was in the group that got a tour first and then my interview.
My group’s tour guides were wonderful. They were easy to get along with and answered a ton of questions. That was soothing to me; that when everyone wasn’t in interview clothes and all high-strung and nervous, I felt like I could fit in with the type of students OU has. The children’s hospital is gorgeous and inspiring and it made me want to be a doctor right away. The entire medical campus has like 548960958 places for faculty and patients to eat, which was cool. (I will be eating soft pretzels everyday from Quiktrip a mile down the road from where I am going).
At my interview, I waited outside for the last group to finish for what seemed like forever. Finally the door opened and I was introduced to a female family doc, a fourth year male med student, and an ancient male plastic surgeon. They asked me about myself. I struggled to mention a few adjective that described me and then I decided that saying I was “diligent” meant nothing to them so I went on to say what it is I like to do. When I mentioned that I have five nieces and grabbed my necklace with their initials, the family doc wanted to see the necklace, and she put her hand on my shoulder. Boom, I liked her. We were connected. From then on, she was on my side. The med student and I had a mutual friend. Bam, connection. These two people asked me questions that were easy to answer, fed me prompts so I knew which direction they were looking for, and understood the answers I was going for.
The plastic surgeon, not so much. I had no common ground with him. He asked me odd questions where I wasn’t sure what he was getting at. We started discussing Shawnee. He mentioned the casino there and asked me if I had ever been. I said “No, I have not”. He asked, “Are you against gambling? Do you gamble?”  To me, those are two different questions and both are irrelevant to obtaining a medical education.
I said, “No I do not gamble, not necessarily for any other reason than that I don’t think it sounds fun. Am I against gambling? No, not particularly, though it does cause some difficulties for those that do gamble so its not always wise.” Blah blah blah. I knew I was rambling. I had no direction because I wasn’t sure where to go or what he was wanting.
The other bothersome question he asked me was about medicine at least. He asked if I see a patient- and am completely unable to help them, I just send them home, would I charge them for their visit. I said, “What do you mean, unable to help them?” He said, “You provided no services and no care because you did not know what was wrong.” I said, “I’m not sure that I would see that as an acceptable visit. I would do something else to figure out what was wrong, refer them to someone, do some labs; but, if I really did not do anything for them, no I would not charge them.”
He wrote something down on his paper and I wanted to scream. WHAT WAS HE AFTER? The family doc offered some verbal buffer because she could tell I was confused. I wanted to know what was wrong with the hypothetical patient I couldn’t help and why I was so incompetent to not help them. The plastic surgeon asked the medical student what he would say. The med student said he would charge for it. The plastic surgeon said “You see, when medical students come in their first and second years, over half usually say that they wouldn’t charge them. But third and fourth year students and practicing physicians learn that a doctor’s time is worth a great deal more than you’d think even if a service isn’t provided. At my practice- just making someone an appointment when they show up and sit it my waiting room, it costs me $257 in overhead. So when a woman comes in and asks me if I mole is cancerous and I look at it and say no and send her on her way, I charge her for it.”
Ahhhh. I see now. Relief. He didn’t care what I said. I thought to myself.
I was a part of his own personal survey project of testing-the-naive-little-pre-doctor-on-her-lack-of-jadedness-and-isn’t-she-so-cute-with-her-ignorance.
I called him on it. I told him that the mole scenario was a different story than the situation he gave me. If the woman made an appointment to see if her mole was harmful, she was paying for a professional opinion, even if it just meant she was getting peace of mind. In that case, yes, I would charge her. I also stuck to my guns and said that in the first situation he gave me, where I was literally unable to do anything for a patient, I do not see it as correct to charge her if I just send her home.
OU has a partial blind interview. Halfway through, after they “get to know you” (in fifteen minutes), you step out and they look at your numbers- MCAT and GPA.
I stepped out and my medical student tour guide talked to me about how it was going, assured me that I had a right to be here and to be proud of my grades and MCAT- after all, I was here. She said that they have already determined my grades to be good enough to go here, that they just want to hear my side. With a little bit of comfort, I went back in.
MCAT first. Plastic surgeon said, “If you had taken your MCAT again do you think you could have done better?” “Yes.”
“It says Physics is your lowest subscore and you also have a poorer grade in physics on your transcript.”
“Yeah, Physics is definitely not my strong suit. But, I did improve my Physics subscore and brought up my physics grade by a letter grade in between physics 1 and physics 2. I just had to buckle down and learn how to study.”
“You won’t be able to go into orthopedics or plastic surgery without an understanding of physics. Those specialties require an understanding of structures and straight lines and connections.”
Me, not too heartbroken or swayed by one man’s opinion of the medical importance of physics, “Ok, I’ll keep that in mind.”
Med student pipes up. “Do you feel like you did your best?”
“Um, that’s difficult question. At the time I felt like I was giving it my all. Looking back though, I can always see ways in which I could have done things differently to improve.”
Plastic surgeon “Your GPA is a little low, would you be worried coming in to OU that you would fall behind?”
“Not at all. My ‘low’ GPA is due to a couple of classes that are required for medical school to show you can do the work. If you look at the semester where I took 4 biologically relevant LAB science classes all at once and got straight A’s, you will see that Anatomy, M&C, Physiology, Genetics, etc do not deter me. PILE THEM ON, I LOVE THOSE COURSES.
Yes, I said “pile them on”. And my biggest fans smiled. Plastic surgeon did not. Plastic surgeon thinks Physics is of paramount importance because he got an A in it in 1842 when he took it and there was only one chapter.
Other questions:
What has been your most meaningful volunteer experience and why?
In your shadowing, have you ever seen a patient that stuck with you emotionally, why?
Where else did you apply?
After my interview, we had lunch and did the rest of the touring/rotations. They had baked cod, salad, and mashed sweet potatoes, which I though was weird. All I ate were rolls and cookies.
I was emotionally drained by the end of the day. And starving. I felt proud that I had answered the “grades” questions with conviction and told plastic surgeon off, sort of.
But, I didn’t like that I had a naysayer. Nobody likes a naysayer. I didn’t like the huge impersonal environment, where I would get lost. I was upset. At the time I was still on the wait list at OSU and so much was unknown. I was afraid that if I didn’t get in to OSU and did get into OU (unlikely) that I would have to go to OU and wouldn’t like it.
Thankfully, it all worked out in the end, as it always does.
 

Categories
Science

"The amazing th…

“The amazing thing about mammalian development is not that it sometimes goes wrong, but that it ever succeeds.”
-Veronica Van Heyningen