I am a miracle made up of particles and in this existence I'll stay persistent and I'll make a difference and I will have lived it - Medicine for the People

JournalistDoingScience Starts Medical School!

Saturday, August 15, 2015

It's been absolute ages but I feel that it's somewhat appropriate that my first post in a while be about THE FIRST DAY OF MEDICAL SCHOOL. Yep, I started med school this week and it was AMAZING! Actually, maybe I should clarify, I had medical school orientation this week and it was amazing and now I'm going to tell you guys all about it.

"But Chantal," you ask in bewilderment, "where the heck are you going to medical school? You never told us?!?!" You bring up a good point and I'm definitely guilty for saying I was going to tell you and then not writing a blog post before (although to be fair I did tweet about it). I'm at UVM! I decided to attend the University of Vermont College of Medicine for a variety of reasons, including but not limited to: location in the Northeast, proximity to family, curriculum, technology, Ben & Jerry's access...the list goes on. It was a really tough decision but I'm so glad I was able to take my time and consider my options before finally choosing UVM. 

Now, on to the actual interesting bit - orientation week. It was absolutely amazing. I could tell at interview day that students at UVM really seemed to love the school and the administration obviously cared so much about their students and this truly came out through orientation week. Everyone I interacted with from the faculty and staff to the upperclassmen was absolutely wonderful. They were caring, they were informative, they were thoughtful. They worked very hard to put our minds at ease and make sure we were having a wonderful orientation experience. 

I want to actually write a few posts about the individual activities we did because they were pretty fun and kind of deserve to be spoken about in their own little article so I'm reserving that for later but I do want to say that I'm starting "real school" on Monday and I've decided that a big way I want to try to keep my sanity this semester is by writing about what I encounter as I navigate M1 year. I hope you guys still want to follow along on my journey from medical student to physician and would love to hear any feedback from you on particular things you'd like to hear about! 

I'll finish off with this (I think) encouraging anecdote about the power of our words: throughout orientation week I was happy to meet many of my classmates but the best interaction I had was with a student in my year that I met on Wednesday. P and I were matched up for a teambuilding type exercise that was part of our wilderness medicine/ropes course day (more on this later). It was one of those big circle type things where you have an inner circle and an outer circle and you pair up and then have to tie one persons shoe using one hand each (you know how these ridiculous activities go). Anyway, after we got paired up and I was about to introduce myself P informed me that she actually already knew who I was because she read my blog. She told me that it was really nice to have a voice that wasn't constantly discouraging or down about the changes of getting into medical school and that it was so helpful to be able to use my website and some of my posts about the process of applying as a resource for her own application cycle. I was so incredibly touched that she said something and really thankful because it reminded me how important it is to share one's experiences with others. It inspired me to keep up with the blog because people really are taking notice. I hope you guys read this and realize that whatever little projects you work on and share with others are so worth it - you never know whose life you will affect in a positive way with your words or thoughts!

That's all for now - I'll post again as soon as I can!

So...Where Are You Going to Medical School???

Friday, March 27, 2015

Lately everyone has been asking me this question and I honestly don't have an answer for them. Over the past few months I've almost stopped thinking about it because I simply don't have all the facts yet to make the right decision. I've only heard a final decision back from three out of the five schools I was interviewed at and don't yet know what kind of financial aid packages any of them will offer. Rather than perseverate over where I'm going to end up, I'm doing everything in my power to make sure that I'll be ready for the grueling reality of first year. This basically means that I'm taking it pretty easy. I have a few trips planned for the spring/summer and am really looking forward to getting out of the country and exploring parts of the world I've never been to before. More than that, I'm excited to see friends, eat new/strange food, enjoy the sunshine, jump in puddles, tramp through valleys and up mountains, lie on beaches and read as many books as I can possibly devour. I want to make this a summer to remember and that's what I'm focusing on right now. So to all of those who are curious about where I'll be for school next year - join the club! I promise I will let you know as soon as I do but until then take a page out of my book and chill out, go do something fun, bake a cake, kiss your significant other or watch a good movie. It's important to enjoy the ride :)

It's Not Over! Interview Season Continues

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

After getting into school shortly before I went home for Christmas I kind of assumed that I was done with the interviewing season and even considered skipping my interview at UIC. Luckily I decided I should go and check out what they had to offer.
Well, what do they say about the best laid plans? I actually loved UIC, they have amazing research opportunities and a lot of great global programs specifically designed for those who are interested in practicing medicine internationally. I left that day feeling really conflicted because now I had two programs I was legitimately interested in. Then the new year rolled in and with it came TWO additional interview invitations in one week. The first was from Dartmouth, without a question the highest ranked school that I applied to. After some deliberation I decided that I had to go. First of all, you can't exactly say no to an interview invite from an Ivy League school and secondly, they have an awesome program! Reach for the stars, right? Two days later I received an invite from the Tufts Maine Track Program which I ended up withdrawing from since I decided I'm not interested in practicing rural medicine in Maine (Vermont now, that's a totally different story!). I have no ties to Portland and the idea of having to switch locations in the middle of medical school was daunting.
So here I am, once again getting ready to attend an interview day but this time I'm feeling a lot more confident. I already have an acceptance in my pocket and that can do wonderful things to your stress levels. I'm super excited about Dartmouth and will update you all after interview day!

Chantal & JournalistDoingScience: The Return

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Cryptic post title notwithstanding, I'm sure most of you are curious what this post will be about since it's been eons since I've written. Let's just insert my usual excuses here as to why that may be and move on quickly because I have much to share. Mainly, that I got into medical school.

Cue the deafening silence and then (I would hope), subsequent shattering applause.

I GOT INTO MEDICAL SCHOOL!!!

Shortly before the holidays, as a matter of fact, so it was a lovely holiday gift. 

I'm going to share more on this topic but for now I would just like to thank all of you dear readers for your wonderful support and faith in me. The large number of encouraging messages I've received on here or via Twitter have really helped to lift my spirits whenever I was feeling overwhelmed about the whole maddening process. 

Finally, I want to return that encouragement to the rest of you who are maybe still waiting with baited breath to hear back from schools. I know it's terrifying and demoralizing to sit there wondering if someone else will deem you worthy but you should know that you are and no matter what the admissions committees decide, your hard work and wonderful accomplishments are things to be incredibly proud of. 

That's all for now, I can't wait to tell you all the whole (still currently ongoing) story soon!

Medical School, Admissions, Acceptance, Buffy, Angel



All In A Week's Work

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

I've been incredibly busy lately, a common refrain in the majority of my posts, I know, but as I was thinking about what I could write about next on this blog I realized it might be helpful to detail exactly what I've been so busy doing, especially for those of you who are in the midst of the application process yourselves. Keep in mind that my schedule and activities may vary widely from yours and that's OK, doesn't mean you're doing anything wrong so no need to get concerned! I just like to stay occupied :)
A typical week for me goes something like this:

Mondays I have Physio so I get into work a little later than usual since I go straight from there to class. I leave at 6 and walk about a block away to the building that holds my classroom and sit through a 3 hour lecture. I don't get home until around 10 and by then I pretty much just collapse into bed. Maybe I have a snack. OK I usually have a snack.

Tuesdays are more relaxed so I get to come home and catch up on household tasks that may have fallen by the wayside. I try to schedule vet appointments for in the evening or meet-ups with friends for then.

Wednesdays I go into work an hour early so I can leave early for volunteering at Lurie, which is the highlight of my week (post coming soon!). I get home after 7 and even though that's not incredibly late I'm exhausted every time.

Thursdays are my writing days (although sometimes I try to sneak some time in on a Wednesday too!). Usually I'll pen an article for the Almost Doctor's Channel or send updates to schools that allow electronic submissions. Occasionally I'll just come home and watch some Grey's because, you know, gotta have some me time.

Fridays I either babysit or try to cook. I've recently gotten more into trying new recipes and it's been so much fun. I generally consider myself more of a baker than a chef but I'm really enjoying learning to make exciting dishes that I never would have tackled before.

And that about sums it up! On the weekends I study, hang out with my adorable kittens or try to get out into the city. Also obviously I study, run errands, go grocery shopping, all that good stuff gets relegated to the weekends or squeezed in during lunchtime at work. It keeps me on my toes but I like having so many things going on! I'm also looking to add some shadowing hours to my resume so that's another thing I need to make time for! Although I'm a bit crammed, I'm loving it all and am excited to share with you how it all goes.


Interview Season

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

It's finally feeling truly like Fall in Chicago and I'm really missing the warm, sunny days I spent at the beach as I hurry into work bundled up in my coat and boots. Normally I would be feeling rather melancholy, faced with the prospect of a long winter indoors but as it is I'm much too busy to spend any time brooding over the death of summer. It's Fall and that means that interview season has begun in earnest! So far I have received interview invitations from Hofstra, Boston University, UVM and, just last week, UIC. On Tuesday, September 31, I flew back to the East Coast (which was a nightmare of cancelled flights and rescheduled interviews) to attend interview day at BU and then Hofstra and it was an amazing, exhausting, wonderful experience. I stayed on in New York City for the weekend following a Friday interview at Hofstra and met up with some college friends for a fun mini-reunion. I ended up flying back to Chicago Monday morning on the red-eye and making it to work, bleary-eyed on roughly 5 hours of sleep (half of which was on the plane so it barely even counts). I then had to go class after work so I didn't actually make it home until almost 10 PM!
It's been a very long and tiring week but I wouldn't trade it for anything and being away made me really appreciate coming home to my cozy apartment and adorable kittens. Oh yes, I have two kittens now. I decided that Rufus (kitten #1) needed a tiny friend to grow up with and keep him company so I adopted Lizzie Bennet, a beautiful gray tabby who keeps Rufus on his toes. She's a feisty little lady and her and Rufus are so adorable together it's incredibly distracting, I'm shocked I ever get anything done when they're around to cuddle with me on the couch.
Another reason I've been incredibly busy lately is that I've started volunteering at Lurie Children's Hospital. I want to save talking about it for another post but suffice it to say that I look forward to my shift all week and have really enjoyed it so far. On top of that I have a new class (physiology!) which has a hefty amount of required reading per week so I'm planning on shutting myself in with some tea and snacks this weekend and studying extra hard to get up to speed.
With everything going on (all exciting things!) it's been difficult to keep up with writing on this blog but I'm always happy when I get a chance to sit down and update you all. If anyone is interested in specific interview day posts for any of the above four schools I'm glad to oblige, just let me know in the comments!

Kittens, Adorable Kittens, Tabby Cat
Rufus & Lizzie being friends

Hellooooo New York!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

I've been keeping this news a bit under wraps but I actually got my first interview invitation a while ago and (huge surprise) it was from Hofstra! Hofstra is a new medical school in Long Island which was started within the past three years (they don't actually have a graduating class yet). While for some this might be a huge negative, I actually think this means the school won't be mired in the same kind of issues surrounding worn-out curriculum and ineffective teaching methods that many of the more well-established medical education institutions face. There's already a ton of information on the internet regarding Hofstra's programs and their Step 1 scores are crazy high which is a pretty good indicator that their small group rather than enormous lecture teaching approach is working. I'll be flying out in October for a Friday interview date and I'm really excited!