Spring Semester Shadowing: Cardiology

Last semester I wrote about my experiences shadowing oncology, urgent care, and orthopedics. You can check that post out here! Today, I am sharing one of my six shadowing experiences of the semester! Overall, I shadowed cardiology, med/peds, neurosurgery, emergency, and family medicine!

One of my favorite things about shadowing is when an experience completely opens your mind about a specialty you had never considered. This definitely happened a few times this semester so keep reading about my spring semester shadowing to find out when!

Cardiology

This experience actually was not supposed to happen. I was scheduled to follow a nurse in the cardiac lab and see what goes on in this setting of the hospital. But I was sort of handed off to a cardiologist who was performing a transesophageal ultrasound on a patient. This was absolutely fascinating! All semester my classmates and I have been learning about ultrasound, practicing it on each other, and even had a lab practical on standardized patients. So it was comforting to see something I was actually familiar with.

I followed along as the doctor inserted the skinny ultrasound probe down the patient’s esophagus as to view a clearer picture of the heart. The doctor pointed out each ventricle and atrium to me. He showed me how the valves all seemed to be working correctly. He used the colored doppler to make sure blood was flowing in the right direction. I was deeply engrossed because I completely understood and could follow along to what he was saying which was amazing because it doesn’t happen too often as a first year!

5-1-11b
Doppler: BART (blue means away, red means toward)

Although I only was able to see one patient, it was one of my favorite shadowing experiences all year. It definitely made me want to consider cardiology as a future specialty!

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If you have any awesome cardiology experiences or shadowing experiences in general, please share below so I make sure to check it out! 🙂

 

My (Way Too Long) Recap of This Week of Clinical Research

Okay. Sorry for the long and sort of boring title for this blog post. But it is what it is. This summer is my last summer break EVER. Although it would be nice to spend it 24/7 outside by the pool or watching movies, I’m very excited to be doing some clinical research for the first time. I thought I would share exactly what I’ll be up to this summer and go into a little more detail about this past week, which was the first week of my research experience!

I had almost a full week of nothing before I started research this past Monday and I’ll have an additional week of nothing after these 8 weeks of research! During my first week of summer, I got caught up on Netflix shows, doctor appointments, sleep, seeing family, and some much needed relaxation.

So now onto this past week of research!

Monday:

I arrive to the hospital at 9am to meet an employee who helped organize this research experience. I’m with 9 other students who have accepted a variety of research positions in fields like family medicine, emergency medicine, and orthopedics. There is a short and informal briefing on our new badges and how to get into the parking lot, pay for lunch, and other tasks like that.

All of the students receive a quick tour of the hospital and then are sent to have a group photo. After this, students of different programs split up and go to their respective department. The OB/GYN department took two students to work on two separate projects, so me and the girl I will be working aside get dropped of at our department.

We meet with the person who hired us and were given specific details about the projects we will be working on! I’m very excited about my project because I get to physically interview patients, input data, and will also be allowed to play with this data which is something I haven’t done yet! The resident I’m working closely with is SO NICE and makes this research position even more amazing.

Our boss takes us out to lunch to a place sort of like World Market and it has the most amazing salad bar I’ve ever seen, not even kidding. After lunch, we receive more information about what our schedule is like for the next 8 weeks, who to contact if we need help, and other paperwork things. One thing that is great about this position is that the OB/GYN department integrates shadowing opportunities into our research experience. This coming Monday, I’m actually scheduled to shadow a gynecologic oncologist in the OR! So… definitely very excited about that.

Anyway, we wrap up the day early and I head home so excited to tell my boyfriend every single detail about the day. Oh, I planned to do a BBG workout this day but was so sunburnt from the weekend at the pool that I had to resort to stairclimber instead. Monday night I also watched the Cavs (best team ever) sadly end their season but was inspired by LeBron’s moving words, “we’ll be back”.

Tuesday:

So how Tuesday’s morning went is how most of my mornings will go in the coming weeks. I wake up at 6am and make my little cappuccino K-cup. Then I study using Firecracker for an hour until 7. I also eat some cereal during my study time. Then from 7-7:30 I get dressed and ready to go and leave right at 7:30. I have to be at the hospital at 8:30 for perinatal rounds but like to leave with plenty of time and get situated in the office.

Perinatal rounds are awesome. They only last about half an hour or so but are packed with foreign words and acronyms. I’m slowly learning what common phrases like IUGR (intrauterine growth restriction) or BPP (biophysical profile) mean. I’ve also learned a lot about common drugs like why magnesium is used for neuroprotection during pre-eclampsia or procardia is a specific tocolytic which means it is used to stop premature labor. ISN’T THAT SO COOL? I was seriously geeking out because I haven’t even taken pharm yet but being so immersed really has its benefits.

After these rounds there is a 15 minute break before Labor and Delivery walking rounds. This is fun because I really see the dynamic between attending, resident, and medical student. The resident presents the patient’s case outside the room in front of the attending and med students. The attending then asks questions to both the residents and med students. I see residents encouraging med students and attendings encouraging residents. Of course I’m not being asked any questions because I literally know nothing compared to these people but it’s so fun to see these rounds play out.

After rounds, I have from 9:30 to about 12:30 to do some data entry. The project I’m working on started in January without any of the surveys being entered into a database. So if you could imagine, there are a lot of surveys to catch up on.

Lunch is seriously amazing because the cafeteria at the hospital I work at is the best cafeteria ever. If I wasn’t trying to eat healthy, I would have a calzone or fresh pizza every single day.

After lunch, I start working with a resident who helps show me how to conduct the surveys. It’s a little daunting at first because I’m not that familiar with the set up of the hospital or some details of the survey. The resident walks me through it two times before I’m doing it on my own. It really isn’t that hard but it can be confusing trying to read doctor handwriting at times.

After conducting some surveys and a little more data entry, it’s time to go home! I’ve been listening to the podcast, Serial, all week and was truly addicted. This makes the drive go so fast.

When I get home, I’m exhausted from staying up late for the Cavs game the night before that I have absolutely zero energy to workout. But hey, I did have a salad for lunch so that counts right?

Wednesday:

So I repeat the whole morning routine starting from 6 – 9:30 am. I basically do the same things but a little more efficiently as the day before. I do data entry, try to clean it up a little as I go, from 9:30 to 12:30. Then after lunch, I see if there are any new admits that need a survey.

After work, I decide I really need to get back on my BBG workout game and I make myself do week 2 legs and cardio. Of course the first exercise is burpees and I already want to quit. BUT I actually finished the whole thing and was pretty pumped.

Thursday:

This day was more or less the same as Wednesday. At this point, I’m feeling more comfortable with the OB/GYN lingo and how to tackle my day. Everything is starting to be more efficient!

After work, I finish Serial, freak out, and then get sad that it’s over. Then I go to the gym and do BBG week 2 arms and abs. OMG, I was on a roll with the workouts. Then I sort of ruin it a little bit when I go to my parent’s house to have dinner. Because my sister is in town from California, we celebrate with some Hawaiian pizza, wings, and Dairy Queen.

Friday:

Today was a little different than all the other days of research so far. I have to be at the hospital at 7am for Grand Rounds. These rounds consist of chief case reviews and a few lectures. The reviews are where chief residents present their cases of the week and attendings will ask them questions about it. The lectures were on DKA & pregnancy and hyperemesis gravidarum. DKA is a state where your body produces too many ketoacids which is basically just not good and hyperemesis gravidarum literally means excessive puking when pregnant, and that is not good for obvious reasons.

I learned so much this morning! Took some notes, looked up some things after, and am feeling SO LUCKY for this experience so far.

The rest of the day consisted of some more surveys and data entry. I also received a more detailed tour of the hospital and the OB/GYN department! I saw the OR that I’ll be in on Monday when I get to observe gynecologic oncology!

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So that was my week in a very detailed and excessive post. But it was SO FUN. I’m very excited for the weeks to come and am hopeful I’ll keep on learning as much as I have already!

If you have any questions, please ask below!!! 🙂

A PAssion for Women’s Health – Guest Blogger: Jamie, PA-S.

Hi everyone! Today I’m sharing an awesome post written by a PA student I met on Instagram. Instagram has proven time and time again to be an amazing community where I meet other pre-healthcare professionals like myself. I’ve been following Jamie, a PA student, for quite sometime and have always admired her honest take on PA school and how she shares her passions with her followers. When she shared her take on women’s health, I just had to ask for a guest blog post from her because I could tell her passion was contagious. I’m so excited for my readers to learn about her perspective as a PA student and how fascinating women’s health is!

-Madison

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For as long as I can remember, I have been obsessed with sexual and women’s health. In the early years of high school, I wanted to go to medical school, do a residency in OB-GYN, and then do a fellowship in infertility. I wanted to be the person creating miracles for a couple – to help them grow their pair into a family. Then I turned 16. My parents were separated and couldn’t afford to buy me a car. I lived in a wealthy area, so many of my friends and classmates were being handed keys to these beautiful 2-door Jeep Wranglers or brand new 2010 Chevy Cruzes (not sponsored, I swear that’s just what everyone drove). Of course, at 16, I wanted a car, too. I needed to buy the car and pay for gas and insurance, so I put on my nicest clothes and went to every local shop in the mall, every local restaurant until I finally had a nibble for an interview. I interviewed two places – Taco Bell and McDonald’s. Working in fast food while attending high school was my first taste of hard work and time management. My schedule was loaded with AP courses and I was working the full 18-hours a week that minors can legally work. Often, I would have to stay late because someone didn’t show. Sometimes my half-hour mandated break would happen at the end of my shift and I’d just be let home early, starving and ready to collapse into bed. I would still have homework to complete and had many late nights. I missed many events because I had to work and I hated that. It was here that Dr. Jamie Murawski, M.D. wasn’t sounding as hot as it once did. I truly did not know if I had the passion and drive to continue this level of grind for another twelve years.

I began college pre-med and was adamant about wanting to diagnose and treat patients. During orientation week, the sexual health lecture we received as a huge group of incoming freshman confirmed my desire to work in women’s health. They went through all types of birth control (literally everything from oral contraceptives, IUDs, the progestin arm implant, condoms, female condoms, spermicides, diaphragms, and even a brief mention to “coitus interruptus” AKA pulling out), consent and what it actually means, and they talked about the hard truths of domestic violence. Everyone around me seemed to be groaning but I was so intrigued. I went on to take as many courses relating to sexual health and women’s health as I could. My favorite professor, Dr. Marianne Gerard, was a huge inspiration to me. She is a medical doctor who didn’t feel fulfilled treating patients and instead had an incredible calling and passion for teaching. This lady has a well-deserved 4.8 on “Rate my Professor”. She’s the real deal. She teaches human sexuality and brought in bagels and strawberry cream cheese when we learned the menstrual cycle (the cervix looks like a bagel, haha! And strawberry to represent the blood, obviously. Amazing.) Anyways – the point is, I slowly took classes that helped me develop my passion. I knew I wanted to treat patients and I knew I didn’t care about the doctor title. I was slowly realizing that it wasn’t just infertility treatments I liked, but even well-being visits for pap smears, breast exams, and STI screening. I want women to feel empowered in their bodies and to trust their provider for advice on what lubricant or condom brands are recommended for someone with a latex allergy, what birth control method would best suit their lifestyle, and for pregnancy either how to best nourish their growing baby or how to find a safe physician to perform an elective abortion depending on their feelings about that fetus. You get the idea. I wanted to provide the necessary information for women to make informed, educated decisions about their body and healthcare.

After speaking to Dr. Gerard about her many years as a physician, I realized I didn’t want the title. I didn’t care about the politics of health insurance, dealing with administrative tasks or running my own practice. My passion lied in treating patients and that interaction alone. I was taking many other courses, including pharmacology and pathophysiology, and found other interests in cardiology and neurology. Dr. Gerard really pushed me toward physician assistant. I was already considering being a PA because I nannied for one and admired her lifestyle. She worked three 12-hour shifts per week and had time to go to her kid’s dance and piano recitals, join them for field trips, help them with homework or just relax by the pool while they swim. Family has always been a big deal for me, and even though I don’t have children and am not currently married, I am working toward that. Ultimately, I wanted a job in medicine that would allow me to both heal and teach, move between specialties, and pay back the debt necessary to obtain the degree. I found all of that and more in being a PA. I have only two short months until I finish didactic year, and then they set me loose on real patients for clinicals. I feel strongly that every decision I have made so far to pursue a career in medicine has been the right one for me. PA school is the biggest academic challenge I have faced yet and each passed exam, each completed unit feels more and more rewarding.

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jamienicole_pa

“Hi all. Thanks for reading! I’m Jamie Murawski, a physician assistant student at the University of Detroit Mercy. I have a Bachelor of Science from Grand Valley State University. I’m a Michigan girl through and through. 

I’m growing my online presence in the PA community through Reddit, where I moderate /r/prephysicianassistant along with some other pretty cool PA students. I also have an Instagram where I pseudo-blog about my journey (@jamienicole_pa.s). Please feel free to follow me or message me with any questions, I’m happy to help!”

 

 

First Year Study Tips

As of yesterday, I am officially done with my first year of medical school! I already feel overwhelmed by the amount of free time that lies in front of me. Looking back, it seems like the year flew by. I can remember orientation week like it was yesterday. 26 exams, a few stressful breakdowns, and countless ounces of coffee later, I can say I have learned SO much about school and about myself.

The subjects that were covered during my first year include biochemistry, genetics, physiology, anatomy,  and neurobiology. I also took public health, physical diagnosis and clinical integration, and a problem-based learning course. I quickly found out that my exams were based mostly off of what was covered in the lecture’s PowerPoints so this shaped my studying habits.

At the beginning of the school year, I would attend all of that days lectures and then review them at my apartment. When I reviewed them, I thought that I should just continue to use study methods that worked for me in undergrad. I used to rewrite all of the lecture notes onto my own paper with different coloring schemes. This was SO time consuming in medical school that 2 weeks in, I had to find a completely new way of reviewing.

Instead of rewriting ALL of the lecture notes, I would first read once through the material. This way, I felt more comfortable when reviewing the lecture for the 2nd time to pick out the most important information that was covered. During the 2nd time that I reviewed lecture material, I would have a pen (only one color) and paper with me to take notes of the most important material. Writing only the most important material took way less time than writing the entire lecture out. I would do this for every lecture so that at the end of the day, I had reviewed each lecture twice.

Then during the weekend, I would read through each lecture again, have a different colored pen with me, and review the notes I had written previously. I would add additional notes that I may have missed, underline very important themes that I could not stick in my head, and review that material for a 3rd time. By this time, I was getting more and more comfortable with the lecture material.

During the first semester, I would supplement my physiology and biochemistry courses with BRS books (physio here and biochem here) and First Aid (here)! I totally recommend these books, especially the BRS physio and First Aid, because they do a great job of condensing super important material that is heavily tested on Shelf exams and Step.

I had to adjust my studying methods for anatomy during the spring semester because most of the class time was spent in the lab. This semester is kind of a blur for me because I was not the biggest fan of anatomy. Our class wasn’t too clinically of functionally structured. Instead, it seemed like all we were doing were memorizing. So I had to go back to flashcards (Netter’s were extremely popular) and reading the lectures over and over. I did try using a white board during musculoskeletal when muscles and their origins, insertions, innervation, and function were a big testing topic. I also gave Quizlet a try and talked about it in a previous blog!

Neurobiology allowed me to go back to my classic 3-time review of lecture material. In the first block, we had a lab practical so I couldn’t completely ditch the straight memorizing part right away. For the majority of neuro, my time was spent reviewing lecture material while writing down only the most important topics and coming back to annotate, underline, and review. It was during this time, after almost a year of med school under my belt, I felt I had mastered how I studied best: repetition.

In summary, here are some tips for how to study in medical school:

  1. Be ready to adapt your studying habits.
    • As you can see, I had to change how I studied a few different times. Each subject may call for a different study habit so it’s important to change accordingly.
  2. If something isn’t working for you, change it.
    • This is basically #1 rewritten, but I believe it is extremely important for succeeding in med school.
    • I was so hesitant to switch from taking notes of the entire lecture to just the important material. Why would I want to change something that I had been so successful with in undergrad? But the time was way too consuming and I was so overwhelmed by the material that I had to make a change.
  3. Stick to a few high yield resources.
    • It is so easy to become overwhelmed by all of the of books and study materials out there. So I suggest only using a few resources to really pound in the knowledge you are learning in lecture.
  4. Repetition is extremely helpful.
    • By the time I had reviewed material for the 3rd time, I could picture the exact slide that would answer a practice question. I felt more and more confident with each review.
  5. Active learning.
    • My way of active learning was when I would review notes for the second time, I would underline, highlight, and annotate additional notes. This kept me engaged and not dozing off. I also highly suggest practice questions. I love, love, love practice questions. They served as a great review and solidified my understanding of the material.

Well there ya have it! My first year study techniques in a nut shell. Let me know if you have any awesome study tips you would like to share! Thank you!!

 

 

 

 

The Reason Why I Was Rejected from Medical School

Getting accepted to medical school is no easy task. AAMC provides data (Table A-1) that shows how many medical school applicants there are in a cycle compared to how many of those applicants matriculate. In 2016-2017, there were 53,042 applicants and only 21,030 matriculants. I’ve often heard that getting into medical school is the hardest part of a career in medicine – and after applying twice, I definitely believe it.

My first application cycle ended in a round of heartbreaking rejections. I was shocked, saddened, and felt defeated. Applications cost hundreds of dollars. You have to take the MCAT, send transcripts, travel for interviews, buy dress clothes, and many other tasks that cost money. You have high hopes when you press submit on AMCAS. Your hopes dwindle a little after you see someone you know on Facebook share that they received an interview invite while you’re checking your inbox every 5 minutes. Your hopes skyrocket when you receive your very own interview invite only to be dropped back down when you are put on the waitlist. You’re still hopeful, I mean, you are on a waitlist – you weren’t flat out rejected! Months of hoping, praying, and wishing came to an end for me in August, once all 3 schools I had been waitlisted at had started classes. My rejection letters were coming shortly.

So how did I receive three interviews yet not one acceptance? I believe I was rejected to medical school because of a lack of confidence. It seems so silly now looking back. How did I still feel so inferior at interviews when I should have felt validated? I remember getting an interview at my dream school and thinking to myself, “there’s no way I deserve this, I’m below their average MCAT”. I want to let applicants in on a little secret… if you are even applying to medical school, you deserve an interview. You’ve taken all the prerequisites, written dozens of essays, hundreds of hours were spent building up to your application – you deserve an interview. If you receive an interview, OF COURSE you deserve that interview! You were handpicked by the committee. That school has a spot for you. It is now your job to sell yourself on why you deserve that spot.

I knew I needed to bring confidence to my interviews. I knew what I needed to do. But I still came up short. My whole educational career, I’ve always downplayed good grades and achievements. I never wanted to come across too boastful or arrogant. I pride myself in being a humble person. Medical school interviews are not the time to downplay your achievements. There are ways to talk about yourself confidently and assertively without coming across negatively. I now know how to come across this way thanks to my gap year.

My gap year gave me time to think about what went wrong during my first application: I was too timid, lacked confidence, and felt inferior. Knowing what I didn’t know then, I was ready for my second set of interviews. I knew how to talk about myself more positively, assertively, and confidently. I can recall one interview (to the school I currently attend) where I spoke about myself in a very eloquent and confident manner. I actually believe it was this moment that led to my acceptance.

The interview with two faculty members was almost over after only about 15 minutes but I hadn’t yet discussed a main point I wanted to sell about myself. The new addition to my resume, working as an nurse aide, was something I desperately wanted to share. This new job of mine was hard but gave me a perspective on healthcare that I had never seen before. So when one of the faculty members asked if there was anything else I would have liked to add, old Madison would politely say no and then run out the door thankful to be done. New Madison asked if she could shed some light on a new experience that she believed made her an even more qualified candidate. It might not seem like a huge moment to you, but it was the biggest deal for me. I talked about myself and what I could offer to the program in a way I had never done before.

If you’re about to apply to medical school for the first, second, third, or whatever time, please know that there are other people who have struggled through what you are about to go through that can help and guide you in anyway you need! Please know that you are deserving of an interview and a seat in a class. Sometimes, luck just doesn’t go your way. So don’t give up on your dreams after one failed attempt! Try and try again! And remember, you have to be your own advocate because no one else will be fighting for you.

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Update: I had originally said there were 830,016 applicants. There were actually 830,016 applications and 53,042 applicants. (Thank you to an instagram follower who helped with the correction!)