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

BU Impressively Lands in Top Ten of Buzzfeed's "Sexiest, Smartest Colleges in the Country"

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Mostly because I went there, obviously. Just kidding ;) but seriously, while I tend to think these kinds of articles are biased and somewhat ridiculous, I can't help feeling a little bit of pride that we ranked so highly on the sexy/smart list!

Partner's Healthcare Sustainable Champion Award 2013!

I just wanted to take a quick moment to congratulate my awesome friend +J. Dominic Mancini on being selected to receive the Partner's Sustainable Champion Award this year! Dom is one of my currently-applying-to-medical-school friends and also happens to be one of the smartest and most dedicated people I know. One of things I've always really liked about Dom is how he works so hard to make the world a better place and a big part of that is caring for the environment. I remember him telling me forever ago about a "Going Green" initiative he was hoping to start up at his lab at Brigham & Women's that would help lower the amount of waste generated and introduce recycling as an alternative and I was impressed. It encouraged me to do a better job in my own life of reducing my carbon footprint, something I've always been hyper aware of (probably a residual effect of being a Vermonter) but have started to slack off on in the past year. Hearing about Dom's work was a great reminder that it doesn't take much to recycle paper instead of toss it in the bin, consume less waste and generally make more of an effort to take care of the earth. So congratulations Dom, for a job very, very well done - with your kind of creativity and the hard work you put into projects like this it's easy to see you're going to make a fantastic doctor.
For more information on Dom's successful recycling project at the Brigham, check out this article!

Dominic Mancini
Dom posing like a boss next to some new recycling bins at the Brigham

Temporary Hiatus

Monday, April 22, 2013

It's MCAT study time! I'm taking the whole week off for some intense prep. It's less than a month till my test date and now is the time to, in the words of my old rugby coach, go balls to the wall. I won't be posting anything because I want to really focus on getting ready for the exam (panic!) but will hopefully get something up next week when I return to work!

Update: If You Want to Help Boston

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

For those of you who are not already directly involved in the relief efforts, below are some ways to help victims & authorities. Most importantly I would stress giving blood through the +American Red Cross or various hospitals in the area. Here is a press release from the Red Cross with a link to find out where you can donate. I've done it before and I recommend it to everyone - it doesn't take long, really isn't painful and it DOES make a difference.

- To offer housing in Boston: http://on.bchil.org/XEoe2C

- Boston charity, Tech Underwriting Greater Good is accepting donations that will go directly to helping those in need: http://on.bchil.org/XEodMa

- Red Cross Safe and Well website to connect w/ family & friends:http://on.bchil.org/XEogHL

- To get involved with the Salvation Army: http://on.bchil.org/XEogHO

- The last mile of the Boston Marathon was dedicated to victims of the Newtown shooting, make a donation to the Newtown Memorial Fund here: http://on.bchil.org/XEogY5

- How to help the authorities: 1-800-CALL-FBI, prompt #3 or 1-800-494-TIPS.

(these tips were posted on Facebook by Boston Children's Hospital)

Tragedy at the Boston Marathon

Deciding to write about the tragedy that occurred in Back Bay yesterday as many marathon runners were just crossing the finish line in Copley was a struggle. Ever since I moved to Boston for school in 2006 I've felt such a strong connection to this city. Celebrating Marathon Monday is an institution and in years past I've been out there on the sidewalks, red solo cup in hand, screaming and cheering for the runners along with the rest of the crowd. Now it feels like all of my happy memories are tainted in some way because of the horrific things that happened yesterday.
I was actually on the fence about going to watch the Marathon right up until Sunday night. I had a lot of work to do but I kind of wanted to take some time to watch the race. Earlier in the week I had sent a text to my friend mentioning that I might go just for a little while and I'm so glad now that I didn't. I was at the post office running an errand when I got a voicemail from my dad telling me what happened and asking if I was OK. I immediately searched the news online to find out what was going on and started checking up on everyone I know in the area to make sure they were safe. I then went home immediately and turned on the news.
People ask me all the time why I want to be a doctor and I think the best way to explain it is that when I saw the explosions on the news and the first responders rushing towards the blasts instead of away I wanted to be them. I wanted to be there at the scene and I wanted to help. I was incredibly thankful that I was safe and that all of the people that I loved turned out to be fine (after much frantic texting and calling over the next few hours) but I felt so useless sitting on my couch checking Facebook for updates while so many men, women and children were out there hurting and I couldn't do anything about it. 
Even though my loved ones were safe, thinking about all of the people who experienced a loss or had a friend or family member injured made my heart hurt. It also made me infinitely grateful that there were so many wonderful people at the scene whose first thought was to help. The police, the national guard, bystanders, medical personnel, all of the doctor and nurse race participants who crossed the finish line and then immediately began tending to the wounded - they are amazing people and their actions are a beautiful example to the rest of us. Hearing stories of runners rushing to give blood after completing the marathon are so touching because they remind you that in the midst of such darkness, there is still so much good in the world and there will continue to be, we just have to believe it.
Boston is already coming together and I know things will slowly go back to normal but the effects of yesterday will echo deeply into the future. I worry that the Marathon will never be the same but feel better when I think about the nature of those that live here. Bostonians are known for being stubborn and this is one case where it's undeniably a beautiful quality. We can't give in and let sadness take over and ruin what is meant to be an uplifting and joyous occasion. I know it's too soon to talk about next year but I feel like more people than ever will be lining the race course from Hopkinton to Heartbreak Hill to the finish line to cheer and high-five runners as they complete the Marathon and I hope I will be there to join in. 
Thank you to everyone who checked up on me yesterday, it meant more than you will ever know. 


iChase the Cure Update

Monday, April 15, 2013

I've been crazy busy today working from home (because of the Marathon, wooo!) but I wanted to post a little note about the race on Saturday! It turned out to be a beautiful day for a run - about 50+ degrees and sunny. I have the worst time getting up before 1 on the weekends but luckily the Esplanade is about 15 minutes from my house so I didn't have to wake up too early. It was lovely to see how many people showed up for the event, a few hundred I would say, and also to think about how many others contributed by donating their time or money to the cause (according to @ichasethecure on twitter, donations were still rolling in after the race had finished!).
I met up with my friends Francis and Allie and Allie's boyfriend Jordan and we ended up running the whole course in a little over 30 minutes. The poor boys (who are much more used to running) had to slow down to keep pace with Allie and I who were the slowpokes of the group. After the race there was Raising Cane's (a sponsor for the event and a personal favorite of Francis's. Ok also a personal favorite of mine, come on now) and lots of other post-race goodies including cool purple t-shirts!
Overall it was a great event that I was really excited to be a part of and am hoping to run next year if I end up sticking around Boston.
Most importantly, I just wanted to send out a special thanks to those of you who donated via my fundraising page, you are wonderful people and I appreciated the support so much!

iChase the Cure 5K
awesome race shirt!


Friday, April 12, 2013

I'm taking the MCAT on Saturday, May 18th at 1:00 PM.
Location: Vermont (because I am a horrible procrastinator and didn't sign up early enough all the testing centers in MA were filled but whatever because it'll be nice to go home for a visit)
Days to go: 36 (I'm not even 100% sure this is accurate but I counted it twice so what does that tell you about my math skills?)
Current mental state: Terrified (yep)

Why I Love Khan Academy

I'm a huge fan of anything that helps me understand science in a visual way and +Khan Academy is probably one of the best tools I've found for studying a variety of subjects (most notably the dreaded chemistry & physics).
I have a really hard time understanding concepts just by reading the textbook and taking notes in lecture but having someone draw out a picture or a diagram helps me absorb the information so much better. For me, using Khan Academy is like that part in the Matrix where Neo gets plugged in and starts downloading information directly into his brain and five seconds later he's like...I KNOW KUNG FU. Literally, that is how I feel when I watch these videos because suddenly I get nucleophilic aromatic substitution or the steps of the glycolytic pathway or whatever it is I'm trying desperately to figure out and I understand it in a way I never did before. I'm like a cartoon character with a bright lightbulb suddenly going off above my head (can you tell I'm a science nerd?).
Khan Academy is great because the videos go very slowly and everything is written out so you can see exactly what they're talking about. They break everything down, begin with the smallest, easiest concepts and build up to the harder parts. You can stop and pause or rewind as you wish so you can learn at your own pace. Also, and this might just be me, the instructor has an incredibly friendly/calming voice so I get less frustrated when I don't understand simple harmonic motion (ugh physics).
Because I won't do as good a job explaining the genius behind the system, here is a Ted Talk featuring Salman Khan, the founder of Khan Academy. It's really interesting to hear him talk about designing teaching to better mesh with an individual student's learning style. He's such a proponent of new and innovative ways to teach and because everyone processes information differently I think it's vital to develop new methods of education instead of just taking a traditional approach and funneling everyone into the same curriculum.
If you're interested in using the videos for yourself check them out here, they're FREE to the public (!) and there are thousands of videos on 25+different subjects.
*Just a note - while I find that they're incredibly helpful, they are not necessarily comprehensive so it's better to use them as a study aid instead of as a replacement for textbooks/lectures if you are taking a college-level course.

Surprise! I'm running the 4th annual iChase the Cure 5K for Kid's Brain Tumors on Saturday

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

This is an awesome event sponsored by iChase the Cure - a growing non profit that is involved in a variety of causes, one being pediatric brain cancer research. 
Here is some more information about the organization/event in case you're interested in running and here is the link to my fundraising page if you feel like donating! All proceeds from the run will directly fund a clinical trial at Dana Farber so your money is going right to where it's needed. 
This cause in particular is special to me because I'm interested in becoming a pediatric doctor one day and working with sick kids and this is a small way for me to contribute now. If we all get involved then we can all have the satisfaction of knowing that we're doing something to help and every little bit counts!

PS I haven't run all winter and yesterday was my first almost three-miler of the year...this is either a good "hurry up and get fighting fit" opportunity or Sunday morning I will wake up like:
arrested development, gob bluth, mistake

"College Kid Forced To Remind Know-It-All Economist That He's Actually Not A Scientist"

Monday, April 8, 2013

Because I have a physics midterm exam tomorrow naturally I am finding it impossible to maintain focus at 11:30 PM and while browsing the internet black hole that is Facebook I discovered this hilarious video. This kid is great and I think it's awesome that he's standing up for the important issues but more importantly - look at Bernie Sanders go! For the uninformed, Bernie is an Independent Senator for VT who I feel really embodies the mindset of our little state. We may be small and we don't often make much of a fuss but when when we do, it's over the things that count! I L VERMONT.

I lovermont

On getting published in the research field

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

A few weeks ago I had a meeting with my current PI and as we were going through the agenda (who should send out which emails, documents that needed to be updated etc.) she casually drops this bomb: "oh by the way, you should probably get started on drafting the manuscript for Aim 1." I know this is an incredibly cliche phrase to use but you LITERALLY could have heard a pin drop. I actually didn't know how to respond so I just nodded, mutely. On the one hand I was THRILLED (excitement level: mentally jumping up and down) and on the other I was terrified because I've never actually written a research paper on my own before, at least not one based on scientific data. Also I've only been on this project for three months! Thankfully my PI went on to explain how she was giving this to me because she has been very impressed with my involvement in the study so far and really wants me to have a publication before I leave (which may or may not be in September but that is still very up in the air). It calmed me down somewhat to know that she has a lot of faith in my abilities and clearly wouldn't be giving me this task if she didn't think I was up for it.
While I've been incredibly lucky and am thankful to have been given several opportunities to get published before applying med school, I don't necessarily think it's completely up to chance. There are definitely things that anyone can do to help get their name on a paper they can include in their resume, CV, or grad school applications.
Probably the most helpful thing you can do for yourself is be proactive. I kind of hate that word because I think it's overused but it works in this case because it means "creating or controlling a situation by causing something to happen" (Google) and that's exactly what you want to do. If you already work in research and you want to get your name on a paper, don't just wait to be approached, talk to your PI about wanting to take on more responsibility and ask about the possibility of being included on a future publication. The worst thing they can say is no and you're no worse off than you were before. You can also talk to fellow RAs and ask if they need any help on their projects that may give you credit. Sometimes this might be tricky to navigate because I know some places are more competitive than others but in my experience I've found that any help offered is often gladly taken and you'll at least get a mention for it.
If you don't already work in research but would like to, start asking around because a lot of RA jobs are filled through recommendations (that's how I got my position). If you feel like you aren't close enough to the people you would ask just do it anyway. We've been looking for someone for our FDA project for months and if my roommate's sister's best friend contacted me asking about working at Partners I'd probably recommend her to HR as long as she wasn't a huge disaster (side note: we're still looking for someone for that project so if you're interested, holla at me).
If you're worried you won't get hired due to lack of experience then stop stressing because you're probably awesome in plenty of other ways. I've talked to several coworkers who have conducted interviews lately and was told that they primarily look for someone who is independent, goal-oriented and willing to learn. What you already know matters a lot less than how hard you work to get better at new things. Also doing all the regular things like showing up on time, not being rude, and dressing nicely really help (seriously, some interviewees don't do this, it's crazy).
Above all else, persevere! I guess it's mostly common sense but if you don't get the first job you interview for or your query about being on a paper is shut down then just keep trying. You'll get there, I promise.


Just a quick note to those who may be wondering where my previous post went - I've been asked to keep this under wraps until further notice due to copyright & publishing protocols so if you know what I'm referring to, please do the same! And if you have no idea what I'm on about, well then, carry on.