Friday, June 10, 2011

Breaking the cardinal rule

Traditional wisdom says to take the summer off to recharge between first and second year as that is the only summer you will have off agin in a long time.

Conventional wisdom and advice also say that one should prepare for the USMLE/COMLEX the same way you prepped for the MCAt and other standardized tests.

So what does one do when these two pieces of advice collide??

I know from the first time I took the MCAT with about 5 months prep that I am the type of person who needs more than 5-6 months to prepare. The last time I took the MCAT, I prepped for the better part of a year, spending time on the areas where I was weak. And my score was siginificantly better becuase of it.

Yet I am not supposed to be doing anything this summer, I am supposed to be relxaing....that is what many of my fellow students are doing. They are taking vacations, enjoying time off and just chilling out.

Yet, since I am not traditional, I am chosing notto follow traditional advice. As of a few days ago I officially started the prep for the USMLE/COMLEX Step 1 exams I will be taking next year around this time. I am taking this summer to review the areas in which I am stronger as well as shore up the areas in which I am weaker.

Sometimes I feel like I am playing chess while others are playing checkers. I am thinking eighteen moves ahead and planning and carefully thinking about what steps to take and what path is the best. I am thinking about how to best maximize my chances at getting a residency in this area, since we have the house here and my husbands job is here when I know that is the furthest thing from some of my classmates mind. But I think it is just part of being a non-traditional student. We need to think ahead, we need to plan ahead. Our lives are much more complicated than our traditional counterparts....we have other factors and people to consider....we do not always have the luxury of picking up and going just anywhere.

So here is to breaking the cardinal rule :)

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Final update on my grandma

For those of you who are not also my facebook friends....
My grandmother was readmitted to the hospital the Monday after finals with a right side lobe pneumonia, sepsis and a urinary tract infection.
Thursday morning, May 26th she went into multiple organ system failure. After fighting for over three months since she had her hysterectomy and her colon perforated, she passed away at 11:45pm on May 26, 2011 surrounded by her loving family.
She will forever be missed and forever loved.

A picture of my granny and me at my Masters graduation May 2010.

Reflections on 1st year

What an incredible rollercoaster is all I can say!!!

So for those of you about to begin, or thinking about beginning this journey.....all I can really say is buckle up and enjoy the ride.

The hardest classes of the year by far: Anatomy and Neuroscience. Just an incredible tremendous amount of information and to know every detail in depth was daunting.
But at some point during these courses, it became not about knowing every minute detail, but simply about surviving. About passing. And you know what that was okay.

Most people have to only deal with the stress of medical school, which make no mistake is a HUGE stress.
On top of that, add in the fact that I had a grandmother who was in and out of the hospital and the ICU from February on, I am dealing with pre-teen drama courtesy of the almost 12 year old, the same almost 12 year old was significantly under performing in her classes and we had to push her to get her to achieve to the best of her abilities, my son had the teacher from heck who made his second grade year absolutely awful and miserable and just the normal stresses of having a family. I think my stress meter was at about a 15 on a scale of 1 to 10.
And just as I am in the midst of dealing with all of these things which are combining to make the first year of my dream a nightmare, the semi-truck hits.
It is hard being a non-traditional student. I think sometimes it is harder being a very identifiable non-traditional student. I have had so many people marvel at how I do it over the course of the year, openly ask me how I do it. There is no answer to this, I think it is something that only a parent understands. As parent, when everything needs to be done and you are the main one doing it you simply do what needs to be done to get the things done that need to be done. Things may not be perfect, but they are as close to perfect as you can get them, but they are done. And that was my year, I simply did what needed to be done. There were incredible sacrifices made along the way....we said no to family gatherings, we made the kids say no to birthday parties and gatherings with friends, we limited the activities they were involved in....but we kept the things that were important to us as family like always having dinner together or our family lunch on the weekends. But I guess there are some people who do not understand, who will never make any attempt to understand and who will try to undermine you no matter where you are. Those people targeted me, made me the center of their rumors and innuendo. Why?? Simply because I am different, simply because they can not understand, simply because they made no attempt to understand, simply because they made no attempt to know me or to know my work ethic and the sacrifices made to be where I am to do what I am doing to realize a dream so long in the making. I was so hurt when I heard of these rumors/innuendos, but now I am past hurt I am past angry, I am even past the point of trying to understand why these people would do what they did to me. I just know that they did it at the worst possible time, they did it when my stress level was at a 15 and they caused my stress level to creep up to a 20.
But these people are everywhere, I have seen people like them when I was working, even when I was volunteering. I think where I am now comes from knowing I can deal with these people, I can deal with these people and one day somewhere along the line karma will come and bite them on the behind.
So if you too are unfortunate to run across these people, these people who make no attempt to understand or to know, then I say to you what was said to me: Ask yourself if these are the type of people you would associate with if you did not have to. If you are like me and they are not then I was told the following: since you do not want to associate with these people, then why give them power over your happiness and let them control your path. And that was so take the power start to take my life back.
Then one stress got resolved.....we made the decision to switch my son to a different school next year. Knowing that he will be in a better situation for him is such a relief and has been a huge weight off my shoulders.

And now I have the summer to recharge :)

And I have finished first year. I may not have achieved everything I wanted to at the start of the year but I did the important goals:
1. I made it through the year without getting one of "those" emails from the dean advising me I was on academic watch/warning due to my grades in a class
2. I passed every class....again I passed. It may not have been the grade I was capable of if I did not have all of these other things going on but I passed.
3. I survived first year, the second half of which pushed me to the very edge of my limits.
3. Again I say to you I survived and passed first year.

May second year be smoother :)