A Summer to Remember

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I can’t believe there is one week left to summer vacation. I should have realized how quickly 12 weeks would pass but I had hoped it would slow down…or at least, August 6th would hold off for several additional months. Second year is looming and while I cannot imagine saying goodbye to this wonderful summer, I am slightly excited for the more clinically relevant curriculum and return of friends that marks the second year. That said, I am planning on spending this final week in full summer glory: olympic filled days, ice cream indulgent evenings, and a review of all of the memories made in the past three months.

No one can say I didn’t take full advantage of this, our final summer. After this summer, we will be spending the warm months on warm wards so per the advice of many superiors and mentors, I spent the summer enjoying myself. Highlights include: exploring the West Coast and my first national park, enjoying jazz music on Friday evenings, taking ballroom dance lessons followed by delicious meals, lazing in the bay in Virginia Beach, tubing down Long Lake in Harrison, Maine, hiking around central Pennsylvania, exploring little known restaurants, and reveling in the ownership of my time. I’ve included a couple pictures at the end of my post so you can match an image with these brief descriptions. The best part of this summer has been the control I’ve had over my free time. No class meant little requisite studying and my research project was entirely self-motivated, allowing a self-determined schedule and plenty of opportunities for spontaneous get-a-ways and exciting adventures. I’m hoping the memories I’ve created will help me through the year…and some of the more stressful moments. I can close my eyes, envision my various attempts to water ski, and leave studying behind, if only for a brief moment.

The new first-year class has begun to move into their apartments on campus and there’s a general excitement in the area. I am so excited to meet all of the new students and hear their perspectives on entering medical school. This week is filled with social events, orientation videos, lectures (for the first-years), and the treasured white coat ceremony. How odd to be the second-year! Am I even ready to give advice on first-year? I still think I’m processing the entire year but it will be fascinating to see how the first years adapt and how their class is similar and different to ours. For now, I’m going to focus on relishing the last seven days of freedom and my goals for the upcoming academic year.

Thanks for reading and hopefully I’ll be able to write soon with some immediate interpretations of second year!

What I learned while enjoying summer vacation…nothing can put a price on sunsets and late night lake swims.

Best,
Lindsay

Virginia Beach Waterfront


A park dedicated to a chocolatier. There is nothing better.

Just keep swimming

Celebrating my roommate’s wedding!

A Brief Aside

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I’m currently posted up in the library doing some excellent qualitative research homework, that’s right, homework, but wanted to take a quick second for a summer update. My PI, main researcher and the physician overseeing my project, has assigned me brief assignments that mimic my eventual research endeavor. It’s one of the best methods I can imagine to help me become familiar with the material and type of analysis I’m doing. 7 times reading through a 6 page interview and I feel like I was practically at the interview. I may even be able to quote large segments. Now, if that isn’t nerdy, I’m not sure what is! Tonight I’ll spend some more time shadowing in the Emergency Department. After an exciting Thursday evening in the ED last week, I took up my mentor on the opportunity for another shadowing opportunity and I cannot wait. Three plus hours of observing sutures, traumas, infections and chart work may not thrill all but I love the time I’ve spent shadowing in the ED. I’ll save you the inevitable question: no, I’m still unsure of what specialty I want to pursue and while I like Emergency Medicine, I’m still sorting through all of my interests. First, I need to make the challenging decision between Medicine and Surgery. It ain’t as easy as it sounds, especially when the greater part of my experiences have been in straight Medicine. With such minimal exposure to surgery, I certainly can’t eliminate the field without further consideration. While I don’t have to make a decision for a long while yet, I am so envious of my friends who have already determined several top fields they are interested in. A little self-guidance would be much appreciated but it looks as if my psyche is going to leave me guessing until the last minute. Hopefully further shadowing and clinical skills experiences this coming year will help me make some greater determinations. For now though, I’m looking forward to an exciting evening in the ED! Now, back to my interview!

What I learned while scouring interviews: sometimes taking a step back reveals more information than four additional scourings.

-Lindsay

A Year Completed

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And there goes the first year of medical school! I finished my last exam exactly one week ago and have begun enjoying my last free summer. I can’t believe that one year has elapsed and my classmates and I are ¼ of the way towards becoming M.D’s. As surreal as it feels right now, I can recount just how many nights I felt like studying would go on forever and we would never reach May 11th. It’s been an incredible year filled with more growth, development, progress, and knowledge than I could have ever anticipated. Leaving the final exam was bittersweet—of course I was thrilled to have completed the first year but I realized that never again will I be a first-year medical student, green with anticipation and excitement at becoming a doctor. I’m happy to report, that I am still that naïve, slightly green student but I’m even more excited than when I first arrived. Holding on to that thrill is probably my greatest accomplishment this year. It’s very easy to lose sight of why we first became interested in medicine when we’re mired down in basic science concepts but I think the College has done a miraculous job of keeping our interest intact. Now that summer is here, I finally have time to breathe and reflect on this year in its entirety and I am not only proud to have completed my first year but cemented in my determination to pursue this career. Sure, this year’s 60,000-dollar expenditure could confirm anyone’s inkling, even create conviction, but I believe my assuredness comes more from excitement about future prospects than debt. Second year is bound to be more medically oriented and while I am excited for what’s to come, I am going to relish every second of this summer.

For the next three months I’ll be completing my Medical Student Research Project, a graduation requirement and frankly, an excellent implementation despite the time it will take away from what would otherwise be a completely free summer. I’ll be analyzing data for a patient-provider interaction study and hopefully creating an abstract and model for future medical school educational units on identifying patient clues in the context of a clinical visit. Interesting stuff…or at least to my qualitatively oriented mind it is! In between research and some shadowing, I’ll be exploring Hershey properly for the first time and taking some much needed breaks for vacations! First I’m off to California to explore Yosemite and my new pastime, hiking. For those who know me well, please give me the benefit of the doubt, I can indeed hike and no, I do not need a GPS for directions (though if anyone knows of a lightweight, pocket model, I wouldn’t ignore the advice). Outfitted with my new hiking boots and some wool socks, I’m ready to take on my first national park…and my first trip to the West Coast. I am beyond excited. I had planned to take a trip to California to visit my friend from school over Spring Break but the dreaded Mono obscured my travel plans. Now I’m getting a second chance to explore what has been termed the “Better Coast,” so I’m loading up on Vitamin C and extra sleep in anticipation. Oh, and breaking in my new hiking boots (I know most of you are laughing right now…har de har har).

After the West Coast comes more research, a hopeful beach trip with the family, a trip to Maine and then my roommate’s wedding, an event I’ve been waiting for all year! With a concert in NYC and some fun weekends planned in between, Annapolis to see the best friend, Bucknell to relive the glory days, Pittsburgh for visits with the family, this is going to be a wonderful summer. I am committed to keeping all you loyal readers updated along the way.

This first true summer weekend has been incredibly relaxing. The gorgeous 80-degree weather prompted several hours of relaxation outside and a trip to the Outlets for some unnecessary, yet oh-so-desired, shopping. I’m now writing you with Bridget Jones’ Diary playing in the background contemplating ice cream for dessert. It’s such a luxury to have time to plan dinner, absorb some Vitamin D, and take a workout class without wishing I had my PowerPoints at hand. This is truly the life.

I’m going to soak in the sheer bliss of having nothing to do!
What I learned while enduring my first year of med school: nothing can replace a good group of friends, a supportive family, and Chocolate Moose Tracks Ice Cream and no amount of stress can take those things away.

For now,
Your 2nd year medical student…Lindsay.

MS-One, MS-Done
Celebrating the completion of our first year!

A Perfect Break

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Well, we are officially 9 weeks away from the end of the first year of medical school. I cannot believe how fast this year has gone by. We finished off what seemed to be an unending 17 weeks of CMBMP just before a much-needed two week break. The second portion of CMBMP, although the same type of material as the first portion of the course, felt far different–we encountered more pharmacology and many more clinical scenarios as well as more clinically oriented exams. I enjoyed the past 9 weeks and I’m looking forward to the next course, Biological Basis of Disease or BBD, and our last true summer. I’ll be spending the summer doing research at Hershey as will the majority of my friends–40 hours a week of research will seem like a vacation as compared to the constant studying and never-ending stress accompanying classes and exams. I hate to wish away any time but I am thoroughly looking forward to the completion of first year and a relaxing three months before second year begins…family vacations, weekend trips, and the promise of warm weather devoid of guilt associated with avoiding studying will help push me forward through this final course.

If someone were to ask me what the greatest challenge of medical school has been thus far, I might have to say the final week and a half of CMBMP. There’s very little that can deter me from studying…or staying awake…or eating but mononucleosis threw me a curve-ball. Pushing through literally became my mantra. Thankfully, the true exhaustion only set in two days prior to the exam, sense the sarcasm, and I somehow made it through and have spent the better part of my break recuperating. The CBC and mono spot test I pored over, however, yielded some pretty pathetic results and deferred my planned visit to California during the second week of break. To say I was disappointed would be an understatement but I realized that spending the week pushing myself even further would lead to a rough start to the semester…and I couldn’t spend another planned study day falling asleep in the library. Thankfully, my friends were incredibly supportive and through chicken noodle soup, tea, and encouraging pokes when I fell asleep, I made it through!

Before going home for two blissful weeks, we took a whirlwind trip to NYC. 48 hours, the actual Kate Spade NY store, a gala fit for royalty and a bialy with schmear that rivals even the best produced by my grandmother made for the perfect start to break. A quick train ride to the city, a mere 40 minutes after we emerged from our exam, and we were smack dab in the heart of the city, hailing a cab and getting ready for the gala. We shopped a bit, got efficiently lost in the Subway system, ate at a delicious Italian restaurant and saw a hilarious comedy improv show courtesy of the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater. I cannot wait to go back this summer.

The first week of break was spent shadowing a primary care physician in internal medicine. The first two days felt like a haze as I navigated mono and the unknown world of actual patients and complaints. My preceptor was excellent and helped not only diagnose me but make me feel incredibly comfortable with addressing patients, taking histories and even checking blood pressures. As the week continued, and I began to feel better, I was able to see patients and determine an assessment and plan entirely on my own. I’d confer with my preceptor and we’d make a decision together and then discuss the plan with the patient together. The amount of responsibility I was given helped me develop my skills while allowing me to ask questions and remain somewhat autonomous. It was a wonderful week and has been followed by an even better week filled with lots of relaxation, a bit of writing, and endless naps in between episodes of trashy television. This is the life.

There’s so much to look forward to, so much upcoming, and I cannot wait to feel completely myself again. Below are some pictures to try and update you on the past however many weeks and this wonderful break!

I'm sorry; is this heaven?

My sister and my break coincided for a week!

My best friend from college, Elise, came to visit several weekends before the end of CMBMP. Such a great visit!

Hope all’s well with you and hopefully I’ll find some time to post in the coming weeks.
Best,
Lindsay

A New Semester

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I know, I know; I can’t even begin to make apologies for the delay or the time in between this and the most recent post. Apologies won’t do for my woeful negligence…instead, I’ll just update you!

The beginning of this semester is off to a hectic, but excellent start. After ringing in the New Year in style, I made my way back to the sweetest place on Earth…and CMBMP Part Deux. This semester’s coursework is similar to Fall semester in that we are still focusing primarily on biochemistry however we have had several physiology lectures in recent weeks that have made us all incredibly excited for second year…and more clinically oriented lectures and classwork. For now, a brief four-span lecture series on insulin, glucagon and diabetes will have to suffice.

We took our first exam a week ago and I was able to celebrate both my birthday and another exam completion all in one weekend! Needless to say, we managed to cram a lot into three days. Our current schedule allocates “fun” in three week intervals so when we are afforded the opportunity to enjoy a stress free weekend, there are very few who do not engage in some much-needed stress relief and debauchery. Even going out to dinner now feels like a very special occasion…and a much needed treat. How expectations change! Props to my wonderful friends here for making me feel so loved throughout my birthday weekend…I’ve included some pictures at the end as proof that medical students do have fun. Or, at least, we try our very hardest to.

We’ve started a new course this semester called Medical Humanities, a class I’ve been looking forward to taking since I interviewed over a year ago. Medical Humanities incorporates various different forms of fine art, literature, and history to provide an overarching and all-encompassing explanation of various aspects of the medical profession. From patient suffering to the history of medicine as an art form, the course encourages medical students to take a step back from the scientific and recognize the inherent artistic elements of the medical profession. From the nuanced interactions and prized patient provider relationship, to the challenges experienced at every turn, the course aims to open our eyes to the oft-encountered yet rarely discussed philosophical components of the medical profession. I love being assigned reading by Kurt Vonnegut or brief clips from “So You Think You Can Dance” of a choreographer’s interpretation of addiction. As an English major, and avid blogger (hold the acerbic jabs at my recent lack of posts), I really appreciate the College’s dedication to exploring the “Humanities” in Medicine. There is so much history, literature and art associated with the profession–it would be a shame and a real oversight on the part of all educators to not insist on exploring these topics in the classroom. Sure, this course means an extra homework assignment per week, more reading and several hours less sleep but I truly enjoy all of the reading we are assigned and I find the group sessions to be evocative, inspiring even. I’m regularly impressed by how thoughtful and brilliant my peers are–to be surrounded by such conscientious individuals, aware of the issues of patient suffering and various other philosophical issues makes me feel better about the future of healthcare. Hopefully, I’ll be able to share some of our writing assignments here and even put some of the questions we are forced to ponder to you.

Not to shift gears but I have a lot to update you all on and very little time (as always) to do such. More about Medical Humanities in my next post. For now…I’ve noticed a slight change since returning from Winter Break. Maybe it was the two perfect weeks devoid of studying or the successful end to a semester, but I find myself better able to focus now with less time devoted to distraction…an explanation is definitely needed. My 10 hour plus study days are no anomaly to the average medical student but previously, I would find myself relishing a few sacred hours on Saturdays to watch television and zone out…or attempt to write a blog. Now, I find myself allocating my time a little differently. I spend a little longer at the gym and some more time with friends but make up for what I can only quantify as lost hours (because I have a guilt complex that could rival Pontius Pilate) by rarely indulging in distractions while studying. It makes studying go even faster and the slight time pressure I impose on myself seems to have helped me become that much more efficient. So, no more Saturday television catch up for an hour or two and Facebook rarely graces my Firefox window as a quick five minute study break. Instead, those three or four hours I estimate I save go towards another mile to run or five more minutes to chat with friends. For the anal retentive, it’s all about the equal exchange. I can’t rationalize studying any less, so I simply have to re-arrange and re-allocate. So far, so good.

Now for those pictures I promised:

Was there ever a better birthday cake?


The best people to celebrate a birthday with


A truly excellent surprise planner


Little sister, Florida, and the tan I've already lost

More updates to come but for now, I’m off to try and bulk up my sleep hours…
Thanks for sticking around to wait for my posts!

Best,
Lindsay

A Floridian Escape

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If you’re prone to jealousy, I’d refrain from reading this post! I’m currently sitting poolside in 80 degree weather in beautiful Florida reflecting on the close to the semester. I can’t imagine a better way to relax after several months of constant activity. The very end of the semester was tough but incredibly satisfying. We finished CMBMP I by learning about the Krebs cycle and various biochemical pathways. It wasn’t the easiest material we’ve encountered but I was really impressed with the cohesiveness of the presentations as well as the quality of the lecturers. Not every lecture we receive can be delivered by stellar presenters-expertise in a field does not always correlate to teaching skill-however this past block featured few disappointments. I was really impressed by the quality of the teaching and the amount of information we learned in the two week stretch from Thanksgiving.

We covered muscle mechanics, oxidative phosphorylation, glucose usage, ketoacidosis, diabetes, beta thalassemia and so much more. I think the best reward for studying, beyond a good test score, is when you’re able to convey a complex topic to family and friends upon returning home. That’s when you really feel like you’ve learned something. And while I’m sensing my family may becoming irritated with my constant medical quips (ha ha), it is so satisfying to feel that I have learned something applicable to becoming a physician. It’s an even better feeling to know that I have not only survived but thoroughly enjoyed the first semester of my medical training.

What a learning experience this has been thus far: I feel even more assured that medicine is my calling as both a profession and lifestyle. While I can’t claim total agency over my stress level, I have adapted to the high pressure environment and I’m slowly getting used to the requirement for constant studying. I’ve made wonderful friends who understand exactly where I’m coming from and who have made this first semester not just survivable but funny, exciting and manageable. I know that no matter how challenging or stressful the material becomes, I will have friends who can not only relate but are experiencing the exact same emotions…and will help me counter the anxiety with a glass of wine and lots of laughter.

In terms of what I hope to improve upon for next semester…I want to take a little more time for me and for my blog! It’s so easy to get wrapped up in the “I’m too busy to function” attitude and I hope to break the cycle this coming semester. I made good on my promise to work out almost everyday (the days before a test, however, are unfortunately devoid of exercise-induced endorphins) and I plan on sticking to that resolution come January. The rest of my resolutions are slowly developing…I’ll keep you updated!

Enjoy the day whether it be snowy or filled with sun!

-Lindsay

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A Whirlwind Three Weeks

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Oh, apologies won’t even cut it this time! Just consider the time I spent away from blogging to be weeks of building memories and excellent stories to share with all you readers! As of Wednesday at 4:30 PM, I officially completed my first semester of medical school. I couldn’t even imagine this feeling when I first started this blog and I am still trying to comprehend what it means to be 1/8 of the way through my medical school curriculum. The past two and a half weeks were frantic, preparing for our last exam, submitting final assignments and packing for a much-needed two week break. Reflecting on the past 4 and a half months, I can honestly say that I wouldn’t want to be doing anything else. Despite the never-ending studying, the incredible amount of stress, the frightening new experiences and many sleepless nights, medical school has proven to be the best decision to have worked so hard for. It’s challenging, when caught up in the momentum of the curriculum and hectic nature of everyday medical school life, to take the time to assess whether you are really enjoying what it is you are learning and partaking in. Medical school, like college, is far more than a mere learning experience–it is an endeavor and a ongoing process of self-exploration and discovery. I am truly lucky to be afforded this experience…and while I am relishing the coming 16 days devoid of studying, I am already looking forward to Spring Semester. Rather than one large, overwhelming post concerning the past several months’ activities, I think I will try and blog once a week as I lay in the Florida sun (under an umbrella and coated with 80 SPF sunscreen…thanks pathology for making me acutely aware of the dangers of melanoma) and enjoy time with family. Stay tuned and I hope everyone is gearing up for a wonderful holiday season!

Thanks for sticking around!
-Lindsay