Sunday, October 20, 2019

The Last Stretch: 2 Weeks Left

There are two weeks left until the first year of medical school is done. That means two more exams until I am 1/4 an official MD.

Unfortunately, there are two exams left and my motivation has plummeted so much I would be at E on the fuel gauge if I was a car.

This is what I have to look forward to...

The last RSA consists of all 5 blocks we have learned this year (Foundations, Musculoskeletal, Respiratory, Hematology, and Cardiology). It will be approximately 5 hours long and consists of two papers.

The last Anatomy exam will consist of anatomy and histology from the last 3 blocks.

Mostly, my aim is to pass so pray for me. xx

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Pathology Intercept

Breaking news-- I just finished my pathology exam.

Now, I am not a person that loves pathology and am definitely not willing to specialize in it. However, I thoroughly enjoyed the exam as it was easy and straightforward. The exam itself had 6 sections with one macro or micro slide for each station and questions pertaining to the pathology of the disease. It really helped solidify disease states that we have learned from previous blocks and I think was a really good review.

So overall, my quick review of the pathology exam is good good.

Monday, September 16, 2019

Year 1 OSCEs

First month in and not realizing what I was getting myself into...

The Objective Structured Clinical Examinations aka OSCEs is one of the most important exams in medical school.

It consists of 6 stations and a prompt before you enter the room. You have 3 minutes to read the prompt and 8 minutes to finish the station. The stations can range from physical exams (such as a knee exam) to history taking (such as anemia history). It is based on all the theoretical knowledge we have gotten from our lectures and synthesized into all the clinical knowledge we have gotten from our clinical days. More importantly than all of that, it shows the school the we are not awkward af and can actually talk to people normally.

For me, I thought this was one of the best exams I have ever taken in my life. It showed me that being a doctor is much more than just filling out bubbles on a blank exam. Instead the interaction we got, even from just actors and volunteers, were great. Our ability to relate to people is critical in our careers.

And best of all, we are now on a weeklong break before our 5th and final block for year 1 as well as our 3 upcoming exams.

Pray for me.

Edit: Update after OSCEs and Results

So it has been approximately three weeks since I sat the OSCEs. Personally, I loved the OSCEs and it was one of the best exams I have ever taken (and not because I did exceptionally well). Even though everyone says it's a song and dance, I really appreciate how it actually simulated working life for us. The one downside I would say that it is largely very subjective and not at all standardized. On one station I got 100 and comments saying I had great repertoire with the patient whereas on another station I got 36 saying it seemed like I was reading off a checklist. Furthermore, we got a station that hasn't been taught and was used for second years... I guess in the end everything is subjective and testable.

Sunday, September 8, 2019

The Farewell

Everyone struggles with their identity. Whether it is your sexual identity or your ethnic identity, everyone deals with their own stuff. Yet, these very struggles and our ability to overcome them eventually builds us into the people we are today. As cheesy as it is, I truly believe we are defined by our experiences.

For me, a large portion of my experience has to do with my upbringing as a Taiwanese Canadian.

I was born in Taiwan to a medium-sized but loving family. I left quite soon after because my parents wanted me and my older sister to have a life that expanded beyond the confines of a country with no recognizable sovereignty. We left to Canada where there were long bouts of time in which we did not see our family, or even our dad who was working to provide for us.

One of the most long-standing memory I have is holding my metallic purple binder and crying as my mom forced me to learn the phonetics of the english alphabet. Through those blood, sweat, and tears, I have been able to gain some invaluable experiences. I have been able to ski on Whistler and ice skate on lakes. I was in Shanghai during the World Expo and in Thailand when tragedy struck through the Phi Phi islands.

Throughout these moments, each one defined my existence and my growth as a human. Throughout these hard fought battles, I continued to forge my existence, one that is unique and unlike anyone else's. Through it all, it built me into the doctor I want to be today.

While watching The Farewell, it truly struck a chord with me. It exemplified the struggles of being stuck between two worlds. Whether it is for a wedding or for a medical emergency, there are moments where our culture seeps through and our viewpoints on life clashes with others. It is exactly in this moment that we need to reach into our humanity and recognize our commonality. We need to understand that we can not enforce our beliefs onto others, just as how they cannot do so to us.

I will not be spoiling the movie, but I do want to discuss one scene that really stood out to me. There is this one scene in the movie where Awkwafina, in character, asks her grandmother's doctor if it is the right thing to do to hide her diagnosis from her. The doctor provides an anecdote in which his own grandmother died of a disease she was unaware of due to the family's request.

Not only was the scene hilarious as it showed how the grandma tried to set up Awkwafina with not only a doctor but a doctor who can also speak english (albeit very brokenly), but it also showed how the doctor found it to be absolutely normal to hide the truth because in China, that is the norm. That is the norm. I think we need to remind ourselves that in times when we are questioning our own moral compass because no matter how much we want to be a great person, at the end of the day we are also doctors and we not only answer to our own ethics but more importantly we must answer to our patient's. That is a burden I truly believe every doctor must carry to ensure that we can help our patients not only physically, but emotionally.

This movie is powerful not only in its representation in the Asian American community, but as a commentary on cultural competence in the medical field. It is important to acknowledge the family's wishes, even if they do not align with ours.

I truly believe that any doctor that wants to be a good doctor should watch this movie.

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Studying as an IMG

One of the best things about my medical school is the mentorship programs that are offered either though the medical society or state medical society. It has been wonderful getting advice on literally ANYTHING from upper years and I am so appreciative that they were able to guide a lost lamb like me. In an effort to pay it forward, here is what I learned if you are an IMG trying to get back to America.

1. USMLE is king. This means disregard literally anything else because nothing else matters when you are trying to vye for a position back in the states. Yes, they will look at research and other extracurriculars but honestly, how could they judge on your preclinical grades when each school is different? This is the key to standardizing for them and as such, you should also be focusing on that. I think a lot of the times, medical students are wired to focus on their grades and are really disappointed when they do not achieve as they have in the past, but it is important to remember that trying to go back is a marathon, not a sprint.

2. Research is queen. As previously mentioned, the other thing that is really important is research. If you look at the outgoing research as well as the most prestigious medical journals, they are often from the states. This is not coincidental. It is important to understand that this is where medicine is heading and to stay ahead of the curve so try to reach out to faculties and get involved as soon as possible.

3. Make connections. It is soooo important to have connections so that you can take an elective back in the states in different hospitals as well as get recommendation letters. How do they know you can speak to patients in their own language or how would they know if you are a capable doctor if no one vouches for you? So make the effort to be friendly, but also yourself so that you aren't a fake beeech that no one wants to vouch for.

4. Make a schedule. For me, I know that my first preference is the states so I am making a loose schedule of my next four years based on certain goals and tests I have to take in order to go back. If you want to take an internship year and then go back that is also a really viable option and should be penciled into your schedule.

5. Don't worry. I know it seems impossible not to as we are all Type A robots, but it will all be okay. We are all smart, capable beings and regardless of where we are, we will succeed. I believe in all of you :)

So good luck and god speed!

Saturday, August 31, 2019

Hematology: A Vampire's Heaven

4/5 blocks have been completed and we are now onto one one of the most critical parts of the body (and what most people are squeamish about): blood.

For my medical school, hematology can be either heme hell or heme heaven depending on the clinical school that you are allocated to. For me, it is heme heaven. That means that while we are still getting an education and learning to differentiate between microcytic and macrocytic anemia, we are also finally able to breathe and catch up for what is ahead.

So what is ahead?

We have OSCE's in two weeks which is a song and dance where we get 6 stations and 10 minutes each to perform a physical exam, take a history, or do a procedural skill. Initially I thought this would be my most hated exam, but I have grown to love it. I love the idea that without being too aggressive or too invasive, we are still able to gather enough clues and diagnose a patient. It is honestly the backbone of medicine.

After OSCE's, we will be having a week off and then a pathology exam. This will consist of us looking through a microscope to diagnose patients based on their slides. Hopefully, I can get the hang of things beforehand...

Then in two months, we will be have our third RSA. This one is a doozy and will consist of material from all 5 blocks. What can be worse than that? Well, we will be having another anatomy exam a day after.

So I guess there truly isn't a holiday after all.

Monday, July 8, 2019

Three Blocks Deep

Hello Lovelies!

It is now July and that means I have officially finished two blocks (Foundations and Anatomy) and currently am in the last few weeks of my third block (Respiratory). I know I have been behind on posting and keeping everyone updated on how each block is and what we can all be doing to improve our scores and GET THAT BREAD! I will be working on that but in the meantime, I thought it would be worthwhile to sit down and describe the system that my medical school is currently under.

Now, the school that I currently go to is a four year MD program. The first two years is very knowledge-heavy where it is the quintessential 'study until you die' mentality where 3 out of 5 days, we are given lectures (an average of 5 lectures) and practicals (an average of 2 practicals). On 1 out of the 5 days, we have clinical days where we go to the hospital and we are given tutorials and learn about examinations in each block. These are the days I look forward to as they teach us how to use our stethoscopes, spirometers, etc. The remaining day is given to us as a study day as they need to rotate the amount of students on a clinical day so some are on Mondays and some are on Wednesdays. In the last two years, we have our clinical years where we spend most of our time in our allocated hospitals and do rotations.

Currently, in the first two years, our "semesters" are broken up into blocks (1-2 months) where each block is equivalent to a body system. After each block, we have required summative assessments that come in forms of multiple choice exams, identification (on prosections, microscope slides, or both), or OSCEs (which is a few stations with actors that we do our clinical examinations on). The first multiple choice and the first Anatomy identification was not a barrier- which meant that failing would not equate us having to repeat a year. Instead, it would be counted into our overall grade at the end of the year, but a passing mark at the end would let us continue into our second year. After each block, we get a 1-2 week break where we recuperate and some of us go home. While we have no summers anymore, we still have a very, very long winter break where most IMGs are able to actually go home and not feel like a 2000$ plane ticket is a waste.

Let me know what you think down below and if you have any questions shoot off. xx Follow my blog with Bloglovin