Friday, September 25, 2009

Middle of Exams

I am in the middle of the first block exams so It will be a while before I get another post up.
Exam schedule

  • Biochem: completed this morning
  • Histology: Monday
  • Physiology: wednesday
  • Anatomy: Friday
Good luck to all those who are interviewing.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

The Multiple Mini Interview: Interview Speed Dating

I Apologize in advance for the typos and general poor writing, but I wanted to get this post out for some of you who are  interviewing in a few weeks.

So many people are curious about the MMI. DO NOT FEAR THE MMI. This was the most enjoyable interview experience I had from four different schools. If you like talking and acting this is the interview system for you.

The Do's...
  • Be yourself
  • speak clearly and authoritatively
  • Generally state answers in the positive and use the sandwich criticism paradigm
  • use the lower register of your voice ( not as important)
  • have fun with it
  • make eye contact
  • speak slowly
  • stick to your story
  • Stay calm
  • speak with authority and confidence
  • humble and ready to learn
The Don'ts...

  • do not fear, interviewers can smell fear
  • mumbling
  • Studying current event news articles (almost completely useless)
  • stress
  • to absolute in your statements
How to prepare...
It is important to note again do not stress over this, stay calm at all times, and speak clearly. To practice the formulation of ideas get together with some of your premed friends, find an article that is interesting and controversial, and discuss it together without previously researching or thinking about the ideas presented. This is to help you think quickly and efficiently and to help you formulate ideas clearly and efficiently. I know this sounds stupid but an improv acting class would be your best benefit.

The knowledge of the case or situation is not important and your position on issues matters very little. What is important is articulation of ideas. A good idea poorly articulated will be recognized by no one, but a mediocre idea presented with confidence will general be accepted. Remember this is to be an indicator of your third and fourth year scores which is not only based on test performance but patient interactions and clinical abilities.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Livin' It Up in Cincinnati

Recently I have been getting a few questions about what to do in Cincinnati. So here is a simple post of some listings of what the first and second years do. It is mostly catered to what I do. I have also provided links to various resources in the list. Please enjoy.

Night out sort of thing

If you are like me and don't really enjoy making small talk and dancing at clubs here are some outdoor type things
Sporting Events
  • Bearcats
  • Bengals
  • Reds (student nights and cheap tickets available)
  • In addition to these at UC there are numerous intramural sports that students can participate in
This is just the basics. There are tons of other events that go on throughout the year and there are also several other close cities to visit such as Columbus, Indianapolis, Lexington, Dayton, and Louisville. Also D.C., Chicago, Nashville, Pittsburgh, and Cleveland are not too far either.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

My first Dose of Medvouc: Medicine for the Homeless

"This is real third world medicine." the doctor with us explained. "We've got no money, we live off donations, and these people have no transportation or viable way to pay for healthcare. It is just like practicing in the third world."

Tuesday night was my first healthy dose of the medical practice. I saw patients, gave and received a flu shot, and even made a diagnosis or two. Mostly I was able to practice conducting a thorough medical history, obtaining vitals, and completing a physical exam. It was fantastic. I left the clinic really feeling like I was on my way to becoming a doctor with a strong desire to learn more. More over it was fun, and in the midst of medicine being muddled with the hard sciences of biochemistry and physiology during the first year, I was taken back to the beginning, the source of my desire to become a physician.

The smell of the homeless shelter brought back more memories than I can count from my days with the Marie Sandvick Center in Minneapolis. I recall being a helpless sophomore in college on the cold windy streets trying to explain to a man that he needed to get to a shelter. I just wished and hoped I could do more, and for the first time since I have been involved with the homeless I feel as though I made a physical difference in their lives. I was able to do more than just a coat or a bowl of soup, but even as I write this I realize more and more than I am still just a band-aid with a glimmer of home for the future.

above is a picture of the fountain square fountain in downtown Cincinnati

Thursday, September 17, 2009

One Last Lesson: First Impressions of Cadaver Dissection

There are as many career paths in medicine as there are careers in the US, but all medical professionals from dermatologists to neurosurgeons have one thing in common, cadaver dissection. Cadaver dissection is viewed as a rite of passage for medical students, an experience that we all have or will share. While there have been many attempts by computer programs to simulate the experience, the dissection process, the smell that just won't seem to wash, and the looks of disgust on crowded elevators cannot be duplicated in its fullest by any other means. There is not substitute.

For many we go through life teaching others whether it be one's children, students, co-workers, we have all taught in life and I am no exception. One of the things that attracted me to medicine was the ability to continuing learning and teaching. Even the hippocratic oath states:
"... To give a share of precepts and oral instruction and all the other learning to my sons and to the sons of him who has instructed me and to pupils who have signed the covenant and have taken the oath according to medical law, but to no one else..."
We have all taught in life and now some have chosen to teach in death, and their final instruction is to the next generation of medical students, to carry on a tradition that is thousands of years old. It is not only our privilege but also our responsibility to learn as much as we can from these special instructors. Each day I go into dissection, I have the words of my professors ringing in my ears: "The Cadaver is always right."

And so, I want to extend my deepest thanks to all those who have allowed a family member to be one of our teachers.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

MCAT Review: Which One Works

A friend of mine asked how I prepared for the MCAT and how I think he should prepare. This led me to write this new blog about the different review tools I have used.

I have taken the MCAT three times and have used three different book series to study. The first time I took the exam on paper I was at the testing center from 6:30 AM to 5:00 PM and the next two were both on the computer.

Princeton Review: This was okay. It contains all necessary information, but it is extremely wordy. It also includes a lot of information that is unecessary and is not ideal for the non-science major or those with limited study time. The method used in the writing and verbal portions of the exam are awful and are conducive to wither a paper or a computer exam. I used this the first time and I got a 26O, which was a little below national average at the time.

Kaplan: This is not even worth my time to explain the good points. The tests that are provided are more difficult than the real MCAT. Some people like this. I think it is always better to go with the most similar questions to the actual test, and taking these test will reduce self confidence which is the most important tool you have in the MCAT. If you decide to use their exams, use them at the beginning of your study schedule as a way to practice test taking skills and not as a diagnostic. I used these books the second time and did a little better at a 28S. I do not recommend these prep books.

EXAM KRACKERS! is the best and most concise review on the market and I do not get paid to say that. There are some typos, but they are easily detected. Just make sure you read the answer explanations to make sure it matches the key in the back of each test. I found that to be a small problem. Their writing and verbal strategies were the best I worked with. They also feature questions throughout the chapters and tons of questions. I also found these test to be most similar to the real MCAT. Using these the last time I took the MCAT I got a 31R, but with these on the MCAT practice exams provided by AMCAS I did not test below a 33 and sometimes saw a 36. Follow Jonathan Orsey's directions in the books to the letter. It took me a month into my study to find out they worked.

No matter which you decided to use I strongly recommend buying all the exams offered by AMCAS online. They give an exhaustive diagnostic of your testing ability and knowledge after each one.

Amount of time to study should really be up to you. I find that it is good not to draw out the study time for the sciences. About two or three months should do it if you are not in school. The verbal reasoning on the other hand will only get better with practice so beginning 14 weeks or more before the exam is not a bad idea. Just make sure you are reading and answering questions.

Keep the questions coming send me an email or just reply to the blog, and I will get back to you either in the form of a blog post or a personal email.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Health Professionals Scholarship Program: My Decision

I made the decision to join the military last year when I returned to Cleveland for Christmas break. It happened so quickly that when I told my old roommate I was joining the Military he assumed I would be an officer in the infantry with a gun in my hand and the artillery at my back. I distinctly remembering him ask, "What happened to becoming a Doctor?"

I reassured him and everyone else that was confused about my future that I would still be a doctor, but my patient population would change slightly. Instead of treating civilians I would be treating soldiers, veterans, and their families in addition to civilian patients who use military facilities.

My parents had already been planting the idea of the armed forces in my brain for years. I had already accrued a considerable amount of school debt, and I knew that the average medical student debt is around $250,000. I also considered the state of the economy and the future of the profession. So I began completing my own research on the subject. I spoke with several doctors in specialties that I was interested in, infectious disease, general surgery, cardiology, etc. and was surprised to find that each one had a drastically different experience. My biggest concern was when would I start my carreer. If I was going into the military it would be another four years before I was a real doctor in the civilian sector.

Dr. Endy at SUNY Upstate was particularly convincing without even knowing it. He basically explained how through the military I could have a Curriculum Vitae that was equal to any of my counterparts. I would not only be a doctor but also and officer and a leader. I would be able to travel the world living in many different countries, though not always were I would choose. I was also pleased to find that most of the medical work done during employment is with the local people of the country and relief work was more common than I anticipated all aspects which I look forward to with great anticipation.

Finally I made this decision for the following reasons: A love for my country and those that defend it, a strong desire to practice medicine in a third world setting and disaster relief, and the absence of some of the bureaucracy of healthcare so that I am free to practice medicine.

When I returned home from New Orleans for Christmas break. I called the recruiter and had a complete application in three days, a record time for that particular office. I have posted a link on the right hand side of the blog if you are interested.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

From Storms to Steeples: Finding a Church in Cincinnati

When I moved to New Orleans, I knew no one, had no contacts, or any sort of safety net to rely on. So when I was told I had to evacuate for Hurricane Gustav my plan was to drive north until I was out of the path of the storm. But my parents put me in touch with some doctor friends of theirs in Baton Rouge just a few hours away. While it was still in the path of the Hurricane it was outside of the flood zone of the New Orleans levies. The Hurricane hit for about two days. There was sustained winds of 63 mph and gusts of 90 mph, and was named the worst hurricane to hit Baton Rouge on record.

 These first few weeks in Cincinnati have been a stark contrast to the beginnings of my New Orleans adventure. Not only did I have an old friend already established in the city, but once again the people of the midwest proved to be some of the most welcoming I have experienced. I found it was easy to build friendships with my classmates, doctors, and professors in the area.

In contrast to my first few years in Minnesota, I was able to find a good church almost immediately through my friend. In Minnesota I went to Bethlehem Baptist for one semester and then spent the next two semesters church hopping and never really settling down to build relationships. I was constantly looking for a place that would be a better fit. Not being able to find a comparison to the teaching of the word by John Piper's, I finally settled back at Bethlehem for my remaining years in Minneapolis. In Cincinnati I decided to find a church and stick with it, and after the warm reception I received at Faith Presbyterian, I decided I would make it my home church while I attend medical school.

Faith Pres is an ideal place for me to attend church. There are several doctors from UC that attend there as well as musicians attending the conservatory. I even met a man who was in the 101st Airborne division in the Army during the Korean War and the beginning of Vietnam. There are several generations of people worshipping together, and the affects the gospel are apparent in the lives of the members.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

A Decision for Medicine: AMCAS Essay

I thought I would take a break from the normal posting and post the essay I used on my AMCAS application it gives a very broad view of my background and may be useful to those applying to medical school as a sample essay. I will also be posting some of my secondary essays as there is a lack of good examples of answers to other questions that medical schools may ask.

While working in the emergency room, in July of 2005, a woman was brought in with a gunshot wound to the left side of her abdomen. After no pulse was found I was given the order to begin compressions. Dr. Treat, the trauma surgeon, slipped in a central line while the nurses attached the rapid infusion set and began administering whole blood. After about ten minutes of CPR and defibrillation her pulse was restored, and she was rushed to the operating room where the emergency team left her.
As I walked away from the emergency room I began to reflect on the people and experiences that influenced my decision to pursue a career in medicine. I remember waiting to play the first note of a Chopin Etude at my freshman piano recital. My heart was pounding and my hands began to sweat. I felt the eyes of the audience staring at me. As the music soared the audience seemed to fade until I finished the last note. I stood the audience rose in a chorus of applause. I felt great joy, pride, and a little relieved when my piece was finished. Following my bow, I rose with a new found confidence in my abilities obtained from years of practice. As a musician, I developed confidence, persistence, discipline, and a unique attention to detail without losing the broader scope of the masterpiece. These skills have complemented my path in biology, and I will use them to accomplish my goal of becoming a doctor.
In college, I used the discipline I learned from years of playing the piano in my study of biology, volunteering in the inner city of Minneapolis, working night security in the dorms, and researching in genetics. Although music was instrumental in developing my aptitude to complete these undertakings, a number of factors helped to direct my decision to pursue medicine as a career. It was the development of three loves in me: my love for science, my love for people in need, and my love for the medical profession.
My freshman biology class taught by Dr. Bruce Simat first inspired my love for science. It opened a world to me where even the simplest carbon based molecules became a source of wonder. I further developed my love for science through research in genetics as an undergraduate and in cellular neuroscience as a graduate student at Tulane University. Research added a new dimension of independent study to my enthusiasm for biology.
Dr. Simat ignited not only my interest in biology but also my love for people in need. He continually challenged his students to contribute and to make a difference in the world. I first contributed to the city of Minneapolis through Streetlight and soon after, by a mission trip to Trinidad in January 2004. On that trip I first experienced direct patient care. Our team excitedly walked into an orphanage, and immediately, I noticed something different and unfamiliar about the strange shabby room and the children that stood along the far wall. These children were all victims the AIDS epidemic. The children were silent; not one dared to be the first to say hello to these strange white-skinned people. I could see they had been starved for more than medical attention; they longed for human touch and compassion. I saw it most in the yellow eyes of Rasha, a skinny black boy, who clasped his arms around my neck within seconds of speaking with him. He was the only one from the group that was suffering from full blown AIDS. Their low living standards and lack of basic medical care was heartbreaking.
My decision to become a doctor finally came from my love for the profession. Working in the emergency room at Fairview Hospital and with mentally and physically disabled men at ACR Homes I experienced patient care first hand. The disabled men I worked with pointed me towards people in great medical need while my work in the emergency room connected me with a career as a physician. My love for the medical profession was deepened the day I spent shadowing Dr. Thelander, a surgeon at the hospital where I worked. I was able to be with him on patient rounds and observe him at work in the operating room. Watching him, I fell in love with patient care. He taught me about dictations, CAT scans, x-rays, and each surgery he did including why it was done. But the best lesson I took away from the experience was his impeccable bedside manner. It appeared as though he loved and respected each of his patients and was interested in treating the entire person not merely the disease.
Working in the emergency room and Dr. Thelander taught me to love and value the patient, while the children in Trinidad opened my eyes to the fragility of life. Through these experiences I became aware that people still would die, children still would be infected with AIDS, men and women still would be murdered, making the world appear to be a hopeless place. This led me to the conclusion that the goal of a doctor is not only to cure disease but also to enter into a position of servant leadership in the community, and to invest in people's lives, whether in research or patient care. As a pianist serves the spirit of mankind through art, I prefer to become a physician to serve the physical and emotional needs of others through my love for science and my love of the patient.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Medvouc and the Beginnings

Last Friday I had the privilege of training to work at the Medvouc clinic. Medvouc is a student run clinic for the homeless at a shelter. I will be able to be an active participant in the diagnosis and treatment of the men and women living on the streets. At the training I learned to give an intramuscular injection (IM) used for vaccinations, an intradermal injection used for the Tuberculosis test, and a refresher on blood pressure and vital signs. More about this clinic will come when I have started actually working there, but I think it is necessary to mention how I was first interested in the homeless. This is not a short story, but I have made it as brief as possible and will split this story into two posts.

People have asked me how a boy from Cleveland ended up at Northwestern College in Roseville, MN. The simplest answer is Streetlight Ministries. When I first visited Northwestern College in November of 2002, it was because an old friend from California went there, and I thought maybe I would like it as well. I went to a practice piano lesson with one of the teachers and was not overwhelmingly pleased. Although later my teacher in Cleveland Mrs. Kwon begged me to reconsider after hearing me play when I came back.

The friday evening of my visit, I stayed with a guy named Steve, an apparent mathematical genius, who really didn't know what to do with me. He gave me two choices: a football game at the Metrodome and Streetlight. I didn't have any money so I took the free option.

November nights in Minnesota are not a walk in the park. It was about 9 degrees that night and windy. I was not dressed for the weather or prepared for the cold which I grew to love, but I toughed out the night, visited two homeless shelters, and a met some men on the street corner. The connection I made with the ministry was instant. It was not a happy or easy time, but it was joyous.

When I arrived at Northwestern College in August 2003 to attend classes as a biology major I looked forward with great anticipation to the first night of Streetlight. For the next three years I was committed. I made the conscience decision that on friday nights I would be working with the homeless. For the first year I primarily worked with the men on the streets, for the next two years I worked as leader with the students coming each weak, and the last year I helped the leaders.