Tie: YSL vintage/thrifted
Tiebar: vintage/flea market
Pants and loafers: Banana Republic
Tie: YSL vintage/thrifted
Tiebar: vintage/flea market
Pants and loafers: Banana Republic
With my classmates being the oh-so-fashionable bunch, I decided to highlight the outfits they chose for clinic / OSCEs / days when they were just feeling on point. I hope this serves as some OOTD inspiration to other med students out there when you just don’t know what to wear!
Blouse: Calvin Klein
Shoes: Tory Burch
Welcome to my first post in #becauseitsnotstudying, a series of my culinary adventures in pursuit of the ultimate procrastination – eating my feelings. If you don’t know, I love to cook. I actually wrote one of my med school admissions essays on cooking, and they actually accepted me anyway. I’ve posted a few dishes on my Instagram, on which I plan to go back and review and offer my thoughts. Up first is a banana bread recipe from Epicurious!
View this post on Instagram
Freshly baked Chocolate Walnut Banana Bread 🍫🍌🍞 | it's still healthy because there's fruit in it, right? Thanks for the inspiration @epicurious • • • #medstudent #medschool #blogger #foodblogger #flatlay #igfood #f52grams #food52 #foodphotography #foodporn #foodie #feastagram #feedfeed #baking #bananabread #brunch #breakfast #inagarten #cookit #foodpornweb #foodpornshare #forkyeah #buzzfeast #eeeeeats #dessert #ourplatesdaily #homemade #broswhobrunch #epicurious #dennistheprescott
Before we start anything, I want you all to know that I’m not exactly what you would call a baker. I love to cook, but baking is a skill that I’m convinced I will never master. It’s very precise and I’m not; I love to improvise and taste along the way. However, I will share my attempt at baking with you all.
Directions with my commentary
Final thoughts: 10/10, would make again, was equally as delicious as banana bread french toast!
By now, first year medical students should be a week or so into their curriculum and are starting to get their toes wet. My school, like most, dedicates the first half of M1 year toward laying a foundation in biomedical sciences through a course called Fundamentals. It was broken down into four mini-blocks, each with its own theme and exam.
Instead of telling you which pathways to study, I’m going to provide you with what I think is important to take out of what feels like taking all of your upper level bio electives in one semester.
Now it’s back to cardio for me. Do you have any study strategies that helped you through the first semester of med school? What worked? What didn’t work? Feel free to let me know in the comments or on Instagram!
With my first year under my belt, I’ve found myself in a weird situation: people are actually asking me for advice about med school (I can’t believe I started a year ago). I decided to start this series based on my own journey, since I was always fortunate enough to have mentors tell me about how best to prepare for an exam, or what to watch out for in a class with a reputation for being difficult. It’s only fair that I share some of the things that I believe led to my success this year.
As the year progresses, I’ll be posting guides specifically for each block and how to go from White Coat Woes to White Coat Wows (ba-dum-tch). The posts will be based on my school’s block schedule, so it will most likely vary for your school. Disclaimer: most of the study tips and tricks are applicable to different blocks and I will try to be as specific as possible regarding study strategies, but you should to find your own style and figure out what works for you. Additionally, I’m planning to post some guides for pre-med students as well. Many of my friends from high school and college are in various stages of their medical careers (from premed to med school to residency), so I’ll try to include their perspective whenever possible. The first post, however, is for those who are starting right now.
I don’t know if this is sending mixed messages, but don’t stress too much. You made it this far and you should celebrate your accomplishments. Just be sure to self-monitor and ask for help when you need it. Best of luck to the incoming class, welcome to med school!
“There is no more difficult art to acquire than the art of observation, and for some men it is quite as difficult to record an observation in brief and plain language.” – Sir William Osler, MD, CM
With the first year of medical school under my belt, I’ve received the expected types of questions from family and friends: “Are you happy where you are?”, “Did you like it?”, “Was it what you expected?”, and “Will you take a look at this?” The answer to all of the above being “yes”, “yes”, “yes”, and “please see an actual medical professional.” My favorite question, however, is “what was your favorite class?”
The Art of Observation
It is often said that medicine is both an art and a science, a statement that took on a deeper significance during my selective, the Art of Observation. This course offered a chance to explore the oft-overlooked humanities component of our medical education by focusing on the critical appraisal of artistic work and examining the collaborative and intertwined history of both art and medicine.
Our first exercise was to do something most medical students are reluctant to do: tell everyone why he or she has the right answer in front of the doctor. After being shown different paintings of various scenes, we were asked to interpret what was shown to us – the time of day, period of history, mood of the scene, etc. We were then asked why we thought what we thought, forced to defend our hypotheses with visual evidence in the work – shadows cast by the sun, the fashion of the dresses worn, the expressions on people’s faces, so on and so forth. Further still, we were asked to objectively examine what led us to our conclusions based on fact alone. We supposed that the scene was taking place in the morning because of sunlight breaking through a window. But what else is sunlight other than a decrease in the value of colors over a certain area? Is a window not four rectangles circumscribed by a larger rectangle? And do we know it is made of glass because colors and shapes can be seen within the rectangle that are different from the colors and shapes outside the rectangle?
Our second exercise focused on visuospatial assessments and interpretation of 3D images. Chop a sphere in half and what do you get? A circle of course. And a cube? Obviously, a square. What about a cone? Depending on the angle of the bisecting plane a circle, ellipse, and triangle could be the right answer. Maybe I should have paid more attention in geometry and calculus. You utilize these skills to interpret an MRI or mentally reconstruct a 3D image (or even physically reconstruct a 3D image) based on 2D data. It’s also an important skill in understanding the 2D limitations of tests like radiography. This exercise was followed-up with a charcoal drawing studio session with a nude model and more painting analyses in the gallery. During this class, we practiced bringing our observations and interpretations to life. After being told to draw and erase a few times and meditating on the idea that nothing is permanent, I put together a piece of work that I’m actually very proud of (as a beginner of course).
Medicine, like art, requires us to sift through sand to find gold. A skill learned in this course, such as tolerance for ambiguity, is important because the right answer is rarely ever as obvious as we would like it to be. Often times, we are forced to with sort through mountains of ambiguous information in search of patterns that lead us to the correct diagnosis or treatment. One might even say that tolerance for ambiguity allows us to appreciate and validate different perspectives, a skill that is useful when consulting your colleagues or trying to have a conversation with a patient about his or her fears or goals. It is useful for us to tolerate ambiguity and uncertainty as a step in the learning process, instead of perceiving it as a threat or an obstacle. Other skills learned in this course, such as spatial awareness, might even be useful for assessing facial expressions and body language in your patients and colleagues, a necessary facet of emotional intelligence.
Another challenge, as Sir Osler stated, is “record[ing] an observation in brief and plain language.” Trying to explain a disease process to a layperson is like trying to explain to someone what their reflection is if they’ve never seen a mirror before. It’s an exercise that one can easily write off as trivial because we know what a mirror is from previous experience. But when you’re explaining to a patient why you think a their proximal muscle weakness is polymyositis versus a limb girdle muscular dystrophy for example, your own previous experience is going to mean little to them if you can’t explain why using simple terms to parse difficult concepts into digestible information.
This course really was my favorite class, but it was something that I didn’t fully appreciate until we finished our musculoskeletal-dermatology-rheumatology block. “Having a patient walk can tell you a lot about what’s wrong with them”, “a rash isn’t just a rash”, and “we don’t really know what’s going on here” are a few of the important points I picked up. A few weeks ago, I spent a Saturday at the MoMA, excited that I knew why Paul Klee’s painting style differed from one painting to another (it was systemic sclerosis, of course). Do me a favor the next time you’re at a museum: tilt your head or crouch down on the floor. There could be a whole world in front of you that you never even knew existed, if you only look a little harder.
I’m going to close this post with a little interactive session. Below are a few images that were used during my course, each of which depicts a certain medical condition or inconsistency (highlight under the picture to reveal the answer or discussion – best viewed on desktop). Make an observation, defend your hypothesis with evidence in the painting, and have fun.
The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp, Rembrandt
Rubens and the Graces, Rubens
The Ugly Duchess, Massys
The Death of Procris (A Satyr mourning over a Nymph), di Cosimo
“All is flux and nothing stays still.” – Heraclitus, 500BC
This blog post has been waiting a long time to be written. Since my last post in November, this idea existed only as a text document silently blinking in the corner of my laptop, a mess of jumbled ideas and half-thoughts impeded by my Block 4 burnout. Little by little, I’ve been adding to it, hoping for the day that I could finally muster up the inspiration to add form and substance to my ideas. Well, today is that day. And like all good ideas, it comes right before a busy week of a TBL, administrative meetings, presentations, and the start of the Infectious Diseases block.
The theme of this entry is transformation. Quite paradoxically, transformation has been the one constant that I’ve noticed over the past few weeks (my existential rambling will be explained shortly). To put everything into context, our past month was spent on a course called LifeStages, which explores the transformation one goes through from birth through death, and emphasizes the psychological, economic, and sociocultural determinants of health along the way. Although it was explained to many of us as “Winter Break Part 2,” I appreciate that it distilled much of what clinicians amass over years of experience. Thus, it was an opportunity to reflect on the journeys that we all go through, and the transformation that occurs along the way.
It’s funny how different I feel, even within the span of a few months. While I obviously have much, much, MUCH longer to go, I made sure I spent this winter looking back on the things I was able to accomplish. My first post on this blog was an early, but very real concern that I would not hit my stride. At that point, I had my doubts about making friends or succeeding in a new environment. Now, I’m finding my place in school leadership, forging new partnerships between my school and community organizations, and inching closer toward the doctor I’ve always dreamed of becoming. This month my clinic team and I were able to graduate our patient to a different program. From the first day I met her as a med student who knew absolutely nothing about patient care, we have gone on a journey together. The last time I saw her, she looked different. She smiled in a way that I can tell she hadn’t in a long time. As a team, we helped her get health insurance after she left her job due to chronic disability and anxiety, as well as tackle her newly diagnosed depression and loss of autonomy. Eventually, she came to realize that it was ok to ask for help, and that we were there so she didn’t have to go through something like this alone.
Although I thoroughly enjoy my time in clinic as a grounding experience that anchors me in the present, my other favorite aspect about being at a new school is our ability to mold our environment as we move forward; I describe it to students visiting on interview days as a “medical school startup.” We broke ground in this city for a reason; there is a purpose to everything that we do. We are constantly reminded that our mission is to transform and empower a community, and if we don’t do that, we have failed. I realize now that we are not only being groomed to effect positive change in this city, but to transform the dialogue of medicine and society at large. This past Wednesday, an ad-hoc panel comprised of myself and a few of my classmates had our second meeting with senior leadership staff regarding bias in medicine and medical education. I don’t know how often this occurs at other schools, but I am still taken aback by how our dean, vice dean, and other leaders actively engaged with us about how to best address issues of race, gender, sexual orientation, and overall respect within our institution. Our requests included additions to educational material to reflect our community and the challenges our patients must overcome, as well as standards that ensured mutual respect between both faculty and fellow students. While we are nowhere near resolving the issues that this community and our nation at large still struggle with, I honestly believe that I am at the right place. I am meant to be at this school surrounded by people I have the privilege of calling my classmates and friends.
Without divulging too much personal information, all I can say is that my classmates are amazing. To end LifeStages, we had a final “Meet the Students” segment. Throughout the course, we had various “Meet the Professors/Patients” workshops integrated into our curriculum, mostly there to shed light on how patients and their families deal with medical disabilities. However, this session was an opportunity for some students to speak in front of the class and faculty to share their life experiences. Mental illness, poverty, domestic violence and child abuse, drug addiction, you name it. And still, the theme was transformation: fighters became artists, users became creators, lambs became lions. There was a sanctity that came over the room when people spoke. At times it felt so raw and uncomfortable, invasive even, that sitting just three feet away from the podium made me feel like I was intruding on a private moment. In an hour and a half, the mood went back and forth between the austerity of a funeral and the ebullience of a wedding, yet somehow it all made sense with the rhythm of the event. What I took away from that afternoon was more important that anything I could learn from a book. In a way, listening to someone tell you a story like that can change you too. I don’t think that I can look at a friend, a patient, or any other person for that matter without thinking about the transformations they’ve gone through. Or perhaps, the transformation they are undergoing right now. You just never know who’s gone through hell and back.
To those who wish to pursue medicine: I don’t have much experience yet, but I can honestly say that I’m living my dream. What I do know is that you should stay focused, be compassionate, have empathy, advocate for your patients, and embrace transformation. In the end, those qualities are all that you really have to offer and the only ones that actually matter. And that is something that will never change.
Thanks for stopping by.