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

Fall Slump - Am I The Only One??

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

It's just starting to get really cold in Chicago and while I'm loving being here despite the plunging temps it's making me want to stay curled up in my bed all day with a mug of hot tea. As a result, I haven't been doing much of anything, including taking time to write and I realized today that I miss it. I've slowly started to acclimate to my new job and I'm really enjoying the projects I'm working on but it's still kind of strange to not have to divide the hours of my day between five different activities. Over the last few years in addition to having a job I was always taking a class or two, nannying, volunteering, researching, studying for the MCAT, and trying to fit in time with friends & family. Now I have only have to juggle two of those things and it's not very difficult. It's making me realize that I enjoy the challenge of multi-tasking. I like being busy and spending my time doing useful and fulfilling things and this blog is one of them. So, I'm going to try to start writing more often. In the next few months I'll be posting an update on how the application cycle is going as responses from schools slowly keep trickling in. I'm also hoping to start volunteering at a local family health clinic and will definitely post about that as soon as I'm able. As always, I'm open to suggestions and would love to hear ideas if you have them! 

Cuddling, Cold, Fall Weather, Chicago
just cuddling under the blankets, keeping my nose warm

Interview Day At RMC Part II

Friday, October 18, 2013

HA! I'm sure most of you had despaired of me ever writing this post BUT HERE I AM! I am not really sure why it took me so long to get around to it. I think I just lost the momentum unfortunately and have frankly been enjoying relaxing a bit too much lately BUT I finally kicked my butt into gear and here it is: the second part of interview day at Rush. Enjoy :)

I left off on my last post on this topic as the interviewees were being funneled back into the original meeting room for lunchtime. At this point we were all quite hungry and tired so it was nice to take a seat and eat something. I was very impressed with the healthy food choices they had (it's a medical school so I guess that's an obvious one) and the best part was that several first and second year students joined us for the hour! One of my wonderful friends who is currently an M2 at Rush was able to volunteer for my interview day and it was so nice to see a familiar face as I ate my salad with terrifying speed (did I mention how hungry I was?). It was comforting to have a friend there but also really helpful because I was able to hear his answers to several questions posed by my fellow interviewees that I wouldn't have thought to ask.

After lunch the Rush students took us on another tour. This time we were taken through the Anatomy Lab, the Library, Classrooms and Lecture Halls and were able to learn about the academic part of the school directly from the students. It was great to have a first-hand account of how it was to be a student at Rush and ask about things like living on or off-campus, where was the best place to eat out and how much do you have to study in a given week. It was also amazing to see how happy the students were. They really seemed genuinely thrilled to be there and glad to show us around and their excitement was infectious. It was plain to see that, while they were clear about the difficulty of classes and the amount of hard work that goes into doing well, it's not hard to be happy at Rush - which I think is an important distinction and it really stuck out to me. I know students from other schools that don't feel the same way about their institution and I think it's really marred their experience.

The academic tour came to a close all too quickly and we were hurried back to HQ (this is what I'm going to call the home base conference room from now on) for the next set of interviews. I had Dr. Robert Leven who was a professor in the Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology next and I was a little nervous because this was going to be my open file interview which meant he would probably ask me more pointed questions.

When I was ushered into the room and met Dr. Leven I was relieved to see that he didn't look incredibly intimidating, which was good. Unfortunately for me, he jumped right into the interview and for the next 30 minutes rapidly fired questions at me. I definitely felt my palms get a little sweaty in this interview, not because I felt like Dr. Leven was harsh or unfair but because I hadn't quite expected the intensity. There were also a few times he asked a question that seemed to not follow from his previous question and I had to take a moment to sort out my thoughts and form a coherent answer. I've heard horror stories from friends who had an interviewer who was outright rude or mean and this was definitely NOT the case for me but I did feel like it was hard to catch my breath and still keep up! All things considered though I felt like it went well and was inwardly throwing punches gleefully into the air when he asked me a question on Obamacare because I had specifically read up on the ACA in advance so I would be prepared (thanks A for the tip!). I also felt reassured towards the end of the interview because, although the overall tone was less relaxed than my morning interview, Dr. Leven asked to accompany me back to HQ so we could talk further after our time was up which I took to be a positive sign and when we parted he seemed quite warm as he wished me luck and told me he had really enjoyed our talk.

After everyone completed their second interviews we were all escorted back to HQ for another set of talks. I feel like at this point I was so exhausted I didn't really properly take everything in but I do remember one of the speakers sharing her interest in pediatrics and community health which I am very interested in so I felt excited at the opportunities available for getting involved. There were several others who discussed their work in community service and outreach and really impressed upon us the importance of these endeavors at Rush (one of the reasons I love this school) and it was great to hear from the many fantastic individuals who are so dedicated to working with underserved populations.

By the time it hit 3 PM I was so ready to head home. Although the day had gone loads better than I had nervously anticipated, it had worn me out and as soon as I walked into my house I gratefully kicked off my heels and sat on the side of the tub and soaked my feet in cold water (and then I took a nap!).

While I'm really looking forward to my UVM interview, it's going to be difficult to top the acceptance and eagerness that radiated from those I met at Rush. The passion and excitement for not just medicine but excellent patient care and volunteer work that I encountered made me fall in love with the school and I'm waiting with baited breath to hear their decision on November 14!

Rush Med, Rush Medical College, RMC
Beautiful new "butterfly" building at Rush Medical Center

Newest Article - Taking Chances

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Good MORNING wonderful readers. I had a pretty awful day yesterday for reasons that I may or may not get into at a later date but I wanted a share with you this piece I wrote for The (Almost) Doctor's Channel. Basically it's all about the importance of not letting life pass you by as you work towards that MD/build your career in medicine. I won't say too much else since I want you all to read it but I think it's good to remind ourselves that if we want something, we have to try really hard for it now instead of putting it off till later (and that applies to many things in life, not just studying for an exam). I hope you enjoy and I'd love to get your feedback!

PS I am sure some of you have been waiting (with baited breath, obviously) for part II of my interview day at Rush and I will absolutely be posting that by the end of this week, I've just been hitching a ride on the strugglebus so it's taken me a while and I apologize!

Chance, Joke, Pun, Take One

Vote Dr. Georges Bwelle For Hero Of The Year!

Friday, October 11, 2013

Some of you may have seen my previous post regarding CNN Heroes and how Dr. Georges Bwelle, founding surgeon of Ascovime was nominated. Now he's made it into the top 10 and voting has opened up for Hero of the Year. This is where you can help - every day you can go to this link and vote for your favorite to win a total of $300,000! With this money, Dr. Bwelle will have the funds to keep Ascovime running, allowing him to bring healthcare to rural and underserved areas. So please, take a moment every day to vote for such an amazing cause - it really makes a huge difference!

The (Almost) Doctor Channel

Thursday, October 3, 2013

I stumbled across this blog via Twitter the other day when I read an article written by one of the "Almost Scholarship" winners about social media and medicine and I really liked what I found. My interest was piqued at the fun idea of contributing an article for one of their scholarship categories so I decided to write a post about social media and applying to medical school. The editors liked it and said that if it does well I will have the opportunity to write another piece and maybe become a regular contributor! This is where you guys come in - all you have to do is click on this link and take a peek at what I wrote and maybe leave some feedback/love/angry comments. I would really appreciate it (and if I personally know you, I will make you cookies. As a bribe. Just kidding, as a reward for being awesome). The more interest I get, the more of a chance I have to keep contributing, which would be really exciting for me so THANK YOU for reading this and if you take the time to read my article THANK YOU EVEN MORE :)

Almost Doctor's Channel, Medical School, Pre-Med Blog

Interview Invitation #2: University of Vermont College of Medicine!

I checked my online applicant center for UVM today to see if there had been any updates since they "small pooled*" me and when I signed in a page popped up telling me my interview had been scheduled! I was incredibly surprised because I never received an email so I didn't even have an inkling that there was a change in my status. Needless to say, I am absolutely thrilled to be flying to Vermont in early December to interview at such a wonderful school (in my home state!). My parents are pretty excited too. Let's hope interview day #2 is as pleasant as interview day #1!

*For those of you who may not know what this term is referring to: at UVM, after a preliminary review of their AMCAS and secondary, most applicants are placed into a small pool of individuals to which an interview may be extended. It's better than being "in review" or outright rejected but doesn't mean you have a guaranteed interview so you are still waiting/hoping for an official invitation.

Vermont, Mountains, Scenic
lovely vermont mountains

Interview Day At RMC

Today I had my interview at Rush Medical College in Chicago and surprisingly, it was a wonderfully positive experience. The people that I met, the students that I was interviewing along with, the program and hospital itself - all of it was truly wonderful.

I'm getting a bit ahead of myself though. Before I began writing this post I was thinking about how I wanted to recount my personal experience but also, hopefully, answer some of the common questions pre-meds have about interviewing and give you all a better understanding of how the day will work. With that in mind, I'll go through the day chronologically and try to be as thorough as possible.

The first thing I want to stress is GIVE YOURSELF SO MUCH TIME TO GET THERE IN THE MORNING. I live in the Wicker Park area of the city which is about 15 minutes by bus to the Rush Med campus. I knew I needed to be checked in by 8:30 AM so I figured I'd leave at 7:45, giving myself 45 minutes to make the commute. Unfortunately, I took a little longer than I had expected to get ready and ended up in a panic because my bus was almost half an hour late and I blew my "cushion time." Luckily I was able to get there right at 8:30 so I was OK but I realized that I probably should have given myself a full hour to make the trip. Even though I usually don't like getting anywhere more than 15 minutes early, I think in this case (and for my own peace of mind) it would have been a good idea to have given myself extra time. 

Once I arrived, sweating and out of breath, I was handed a schedule with my name on it and ushered into a spacious room with chairs set around tables placed into a U shape. There were drinks and refreshments and I immediately drank a huge glass of iced water which helped me to calm myself (at this point my nerves were a little frayed and I was feeling a bit dehydrated). I was surrounded by 23 students, most dressed in dark suits which made me glad I had chosen to wear black but also happy that I decided to wear a print top that kind of stood out from the typical white/light blue shirts in the room. It was kind of funny actually because several of the professors that spoke to us joked about how serious we all looked in our identical suits so I was glad that I decided to deviate a bit with the top that I chose. There were one or two students who wore lighter/different colored suits and they still fit right in so it was nice to feel like there was a bit of leeway to express yourself.  I know this might sound silly or mundane to some of you but I was really concerned about what image I would project based on my clothes and I had read everything from "don't look like everyone else" to "interviews are not the time to experiment" so hopefully this will calm those of you who want to change up your look a bit without going too crazy.

After we all settled in, Jill Volk, the director of recruitment and special programs, walked in and the mood went from slightly strained to pretty relaxed in about five minutes. Jill was funny, energetic, and reassuring. She made it very clear from the outset that they wanted to make the day as stress-free as possible and that, while we were there to be interviewed by Rush, this was also Rush's opportunity to show us why we should choose them. I really liked this approach and felt like it made everyone so much more comfortable than they would have been otherwise. It especially helped me to focus better because I wasn't wasting mind-space being worried about how intense my interviews were going to be. 

We found out that each of our schedules were personalized and that no two schedules were exactly the same. Everyone would be present for the welcome and financial aid talks but then roughly half of the group would be up for their first interview while the remaining half stayed behind and got to know each other. One of the nice things that I appreciated about the organization of the day was that you were brought to and from each interview (which was held down the hall from the room we were all in). This took the onus off of us to worry about timing and was a huge relief to me because I had read about people being late for their second interviews because their first interviewer went over their time. Luckily this wasn't a problem because Rush was responsible for getting you to everything on time so if you were late, it was their problem not yours. Again, it was just a small way they were able to help make the day smoother for us and I really appreciated it and felt like it really showed how much they cared. 

In addition to Jill Volk, we were welcomed by the Assistant Dean and the Associate Dean of Admissions as well as a representative from the Financial Aid Office. I liked that we were greeted by some of the higher ups in the College because it showed that they were intimately involved with the interviewing process, which I think is important. They were also so excited, friendly and eager to talk to us that the general mood was considerably lightened.

I was in the first group of interviewees so promptly at 9:30 I was whisked off to meet with Dr. Rebecca Hoban. Rush's interview day includes two 1:1 interviews which can be with a faculty members or students. I got two faculty but some others had people had a professor and a student. Dr. Hoban was a neonatologist which was really exciting for me because I have been interested in neonatology/pediatrics ever since I decided I wanted to pursue medicine. Our interview was "closed," which meant that my interviewer had only seen my basic information but I liked that because I felt like it made everything a bit more relaxed. We had no problem getting to know each other and our time actually flew by. We had to get two warning knocks on the door before we were finished and I left the room feeling pretty good. This may be an attribute of Rush in particular but the questions were pretty basic and Dr. H seemed really interested in just getting to know me as a person instead of interrogating me so the experience was much more pleasant than I had expected it to be.

When our interviews were over we were picked up and returned to home base where we had a few minutes before people were called for the second group of interviews, leaving the rest of us to sit and chat among ourselves. It was great to have a bit of down time and we were able to get to know each other and also ask Jill some questions about the school. She was incredibly knowledgeable and super laid-back which encouraged a friendly dialogue. We were able to learn a little bit about the process that occurs after interview day and how the selection committee functions, which was helpful. 

Everyone reconvened after the second wave of interviews and we were introduced to three M4s who took us on a tour of Rush Hospital and Cook County/Stroger Hospital, which is partnered with Rush and the location where Rush students have many of their rotations. At this point I was having a bit of trouble because I had a blister but I had asked for bandaids earlier and everyone was so nice they just went and grabbed me a few from somewhere so it wasn't too bad. Keep this in mind ladies...pre-emptively bandaid if you're wearing shoes that aren't super comfortable!

Touring the hospital was awesome because walking the halls made the idea of being a doctor one day SO REAL. It was also not my absolute favorite part of the day because it was difficult for all of us to keep up and sometimes hard to hear our tour guide. I couldn't listen the whole time because it was impossible to understand what was being said so for the most part I just soaked everything in. After the tour we were escorted back to the room for lunchtime (thank goodness, at this point I was so hungry!). 

This is getting to be a crazy long post so I'm going to postpone the lunch-and-after half until tomorrow (also that way I can build suspense about my next interview...). Keep tuned for PART II!

Suits, Medical School Interviews, Professional Attire

The Health Insurance Marketplace is OPEN

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Today is the first day the Health Insurance Marketplace is open which means that many formerly uninsured people across the United States are now eligible for health insurance! If you don't know exactly how it works or if you are covered, go here to check out the government website where you can read all about it, ask questions, and learn about your options. The government may be shut down temporarily and there is a lot of controversy and unease about recent healthcare reform but I have to think that making healthcare more accessible is a step in the right direction so yay for today!