006: Last Day of M1

Holy moly. Today was my last official day of M1. The year is far from over, of course, since we still have a whole week of exams to get through. Still, it feels so weird to think about the fact that I’m already 1/4 of the way through. I suppose it’s because the process to get into med school is SO long and arduous, that it’s unbelievable how fast time flies once you’re actually in.

Maybe this is TMI, but earlier this morning as I entered the bathroom on the second floor of the med building, I couldn’t help but recall the first time I ever entered it. It was during orientation, and we all had to pee in cups for our drug test (I was clean, fyi). Perhaps not the most delightful experience to think about, but it also got me thinking about how I felt that day, interacting with the strangers who would become dear friends, and feeling quite overwhelmed after receiving so much information about the curriculum requirements, school policies, etc. To think that a little over 9 months later, the novelty has completely worn off, and mostly I just feel exhausted, hungry, and ready to get these exams over with.

It’s also fun to think about the next couple years. I still have so much to learn, and so much to experience. I’m still nowhere near close to knowing what I want to specialize in. This year alone I’ve jumped from pediatrics, to cardiology, to pediatric cardiology, to neurology, to OB/GYN, and now to endocrinologist. You can see I’m gonna have a tough time with this decision in the future, lol. But as mentioned in a previous post, I’ve learned to trust the process. I know at this stage I’m not ready to know what I want to do yet, and that’s completely okay. I’ll know eventually. Three years is a long time, and all the things I have yet to experience and learn from will make the decision easier. In the meantime, I can only focus on the challenges I face presently and nothing more.

And that’s my cue to end this post. My 20-minute study break is close to over, and I must get back to the grind. Maybe in the summer when I have more time (ahh!) I can share with you guys some good study tips I’ve learned and what I consider to be the best study music of all time. Until next time!

005: Apologies

I’m going to go right ahead and point out the glaringly obvious: I literally haven’t posted anything for almost a year. I feel kind of awful about it, but also…I feel like there’s no point on dwelling on it or making excuses. So, I’m just going to accept responsibility (mea culpa), apologize to any of you who may have wished I’d continued posting (what readers? lol), and go on with this blog as best as I can.

So where am I now? Well, first year is drawing to a close and I can’t believe it! I’m sitting at my dining table right now, sipping on spearmint tea from a giant mug as one does, contemplating how fast time has flown by. I still remember feeling so nervous and excited the first day, and meeting all sorts of new people. Now, almost 9 months later, I still feel excited to be here and I definitely still get nervous (hello, OSCEs!) but I’m more accustomed to it.

I have learned SO much. Like, honestly, SO much information has entered my brain these last 9 months. It hasn’t been easy. Study habits had to change, failures had to be dealt with, and to be quite honest, help had to be asked for. I’m not gonna sit here and pretend studying medicine is super glamorous. It’s definitely tough. And for someone like me, it was a rough transition, not just in terms of academics, but also in terms of living situations and being far from family. But if there’s one thing I’ve learned this year, it’s that the struggles HAD to happen. I had to go through everything I went through and allow the process to be what it needed to be. That’s how growth happens. A lot of times we might wish we could get from point A to point B with a snap of our fingers, but life is like “nah, it can’t be that easy”. We must make the journey and cross all the hurdles, and that takes time. For me, it took almost 6-7 months, but I’m finally at a place right now where instead of feeling totally overwhelmed, I can confidently say, “I can do this!” And that feels awesome.  However…I’m going to spare you another 5 paragraphs of my ramblings, end my philosophical reflection here and just say to anyone struggling in school right now: trust the process!

This past year has been challenging academically, physically, and emotionally. But it’s also been tons of fun! So many great memories will forever remain with me. I’ve made close friendships with so many great people, and I’ve learned a lot from them too. We’ve hung out, we’ve partied, we’ve picked up new hobbies (running!), we’ve shared stories, and, of course, studied together. To be honest, I really wasn’t expecting to bond so easily and so quickly with people. Maybe it’s the shared traumatic experience of medical school? Lol. But I’m so glad to have met my new friends, and I can’t wait to continue sharing this journey with them and see what else the future has in store for all of us.

Now to be fair, my first year journey is not quite over yet. I’m about a week and a half out from our class’s dreaded end of unit exam. The unit: endocrine, reproductive, and gastrointestinal. We’ve definitely shifted into maximum overdrive in preparation for this exam, and I am no exception (although let’s be real, my productivity isn’t always the greatest–and I’ve learned that’s ok, too!).

And so, with that, I must return to my anatomy review guide. It’s been fun taking this study break to reflect and return to writing here. I don’t want to promise anything, because I feel like I can hardly trust myself, but I hope to continue this trend and really use writing here as a sort of creative outlet. Lord knows I need it. Until next time. 🙂

004: Dog Days

We’re officially halfway through June and almost halfway through 2017, which I am having a lot of trouble wrapping my head around. It seems like just yesterday I was celebrating my acceptance, and that was almost 5 months ago. Spring semester finals, graduation, and summer orientation zoomed by just like that. It’s definitely been a crazy few months to say the least.

As far as preparation for the fall goes, I recently attended what my school calls a “pre- summer orientation” in order to get some major paperwork out of the way. I felt like I was signing my life away, one sheet of paper after another, for all sorts of things–mentor preferences, photo releases, fingerprinting forms, etc. Immunizations have been another huge thing; in fact, just 3 days ago I had to get a shot in each arm and the first part of a 2-step TB test. So whoever said the pain is over once you’re in…you lied! And it doesn’t end there. In August, we have a 3-day orientation scheduled where we’ll undoubtedly have even more paperwork to fill out as well as getting tested for drugs and receiving our university IDs. But although it feels a little tedious, it’s mostly exciting to feel like I’m finally taking action and it definitely just sort of solidifies the fact that I am in medical school.

Aside from the mounds of paperwork, I also got a chance to briefly meet some of the people who will become my classmates. I say briefly because amidst all the hustle and bustle, I only got to really talk to 2 or 3 of them. Anyone who knows me knows I’m not really an outgoing person. In fact, it can sometimes be really hard for me to work up the nerve to talk to someone, especially a stranger. I get pretty awkward, to say the least. I was a little worried because it almost seemed like a lot of people already knew each other from before. I, on the other hand, attempted having a conversation with one guy, only to see he ended up talking to the people sitting on the other side of him. Kinda sad, I know, but I can only laugh it off for now and hope I make life-long friends like the dean of admissions assured us we would. My school actually prides itself on being on the smaller side, with less than 100 students per class. We’ve been told repeatedly the small size of the class allows us to get to know each other really well, which I am sure will be the case. It’s just hard to reassure yourself of that sometimes when you know you’re not the best at making new friends. So here’s hoping!

The rest of the day was spent getting to know the town I’ll be calling home for the next year or so. I managed to find a pretty great place to live, close to campus and the train station which will be great for when I want to visit home. I won’t have a car on campus this year, so I’ll probably be biking everywhere (how environment-friendly of me). I’m pretty excited about getting to have my own apartment, so I can’t wait to move in come August. The town where my school is located isn’t huge, but since it’s a college town, there’s a lot of activity in and around campus; shops, restaurants, movie theaters, gyms, you name it. Geographically (or demographically, you could say) it is a lot different, since it’s in the Southern part of the state, so it’s a lot greener and hillier, and the people seem a lot more open–I guess the myth about Southern hospitality isn’t a myth after all. I didn’t have time to explore every inch of the city but I’m sure there’ll be plenty of opportunities for that once I’m living down there.

All in all, it’s been great getting to know my school and just getting used to the idea of what my life will be like in medical school for the next 4 years. As far as this blog goes, I know it’s been quite a while since my last post, but there weren’t many medically-related things going on for me to write about. My plan to “journal” my experiences is still a solid go, so once August comes around you can expect to be hearing a lot more from me. Until then, thanks for reading all the way through! And if you’ve got any tips for being less socially awkward, I’m all ears!

003: The Medical Tag (Part 1)

Hey, everyone! It’s been a few weeks since my last post (it’s now officially SPRING), and I’ve been tagged by @dramasforscrubs to complete the Medical Tag. Not only do I think it would be a great way for you to get to know me better, but as I haven’t actually started medical school yet, I thought it’d be interesting for me to be able look back and compare what my answers are now to what they will be a year from now (hence, the part 1).

So without further ado, here goes:

Who are you and where do you study?

I’ve decided to remain anonymous on this blog for the time being, so for now call me Ro. I am a 21-year-old college senior who was recently accepted into medical school. I won’t say where exactly, but it is a smaller school in the Midwest whose focus is really on forming doctors to serve in suburban to rural areas. Although admittedly this school was not my top choice, I fell in love with the program when I interviewed there, and I am incredibly excited to start this fall! #Classof2021

When did you start studying medicine or premed courses?

I began premed courses as soon as I entered college. In fact, my major is Pre-Medical Chemistry, which means a lot of the required premed courses were already requirements for my major. I also double minored in Biology and Psychology, which was really useful when I began studying for the MCAT!

What made you choose the medical field?

I decided on a medical career as a junior in high school after taking an Anatomy and Physiology class. The class included a field trip to our local university’s cadaver lab, and I think it was this experience which really fueled my desire to become a doctor. As a mere 16-year-old, of course, I really had no idea what choosing to pursue a medical career would entail. But I’m glad I stuck with it, and after all these years of preparation, studying, and extracurriculars, it is incredibly gratifying to be able to say that I made it. 🙂

How did you come up with your blog name/username?

To be honest, I was really trying to pick something that would be memorable but not too cheesy. I ended up settling on Flowers & Stethoscopes simply because I really love all things floral (big surprise there), and added stethoscopes as a more clinical component. I like to think the name sort of describes multiple facets of my personality (i.e. the fun-loving, slightly awkward, obsessed-with-Instagram girl, versus the girl who takes academics seriously, gets good grades, and is now on her way to medical school).

How would you describe your blog?

The original intent behind this blog was for it to be a documentation of the next four years of my life. This is an idea I had toyed with for a while, especially because the stark transition from undergrad to med school is known for being pretty drastic. On top of that, a lot of personal change is going on in my life as well as I am finally graduating and will be moving away from home for the first time (a whole 5 hours!). I knew I wanted to be able to put my thoughts and experiences as I navigate the next 4 years into words–I was actually planning on simply keeping a journal for myself. I eventually decided on creating this blog because (A) I generally prefer typing to writing things out longhand, and (B) I had recently discovered the small, online community of medical students and I decided…why not join in on the fun? I obviously don’t expect for this blog to turn into a huge deal or the next viral sensation anytime soon, but I though it might be nice to be able to share my experiences in a space where others are going through similar things. But back to the original question: How would you describe your blog? It is simply my take on medical school and all the ups and downs that come along with it.

What’s your favorite quote?

There are SO MANY quotes from so many good writers/lyricists, but time after time I always come back to a line from The Beatles’ song “Strawberry Fields Forever”:

Living is easy with eyes closed/misunderstanding all you see.

Best memory in medical school?

Unfortunately, I don’t yet have a favorite memory, so I guess I would have to say receiving my acceptance email about a month ago and feeling ecstatic!

What’s one course you struggled with?

Again, I haven’t really had any experience with medical courses yet, but if I had to pick one class from undergrad that really gave me a hard time, I’d have to go with Physical Chemistry. If only because I wasn’t really interested in the topic which made it even harder to study, and also because it seemed no matter how hard I tried I could never break an 80 on the exams.

What’s your favorite book?

This is another one of those questions that is so hard to find an answer for (not to mention it’s been so long since I sat and read for pleasure), but if I had to pick, I would say Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk. Having never seen the movie before, the ending came as a complete shock, and overall it was a great read.

What do you do in your free time?

Netflix. That is all. Also, not a lot of free time. But when I do have a lot of free time, I enjoy walking nature trails and hiking. I would also really love to travel some day, when I can afford it (haha).

PS: If you’re looking for a new show to binge, I highly highly recommend Thirteen Reasons Why.

What do you want to major or specialize in?

I’m a children’s church teacher at my church, so I have had lots of experience working with kids ever since I was 13 or 14 years old. I always said early on that I’d love to be a pediatrician, but recent events in my family have led me to lean towards another specialty: cardiology. I’m specifically talking about my father suffering a heart attack around 3 years ago. He is young, so it was fairly unexpected, but heart disease runs through his side of the family so I know it’s something we will be dealing with in the future as well. I actually mentioned this to a physician faculty mentor at my school and he suggested I combine the two and become a pediatric cardiologist. So for now, that’s the goal. I’m a realist, though, so I know there’s lots of room (and experiences) left to change my mind between now and 4th year.

Who do you look up to?

I look up to God, first and foremost. I feel He is really the only one who knows me truly and completely, better than I even know myself. I try every day to remain in this walk with Him, and though I know at times I’ve failed, I also know His grace and mercy are never ending. I trust that He is the one who will help me and guide me through medical school, if there are times when I may feel like I am alone or like giving up. I know with complete certainty that it is thanks to Him that I have been giving this opportunity to study medicine, and my only hope is that I can honor Him with my career. If I succeed, it is only for His glory.

How do you study (productively)?

Haha…oh man. I wish I could tell you that I am the most studious and responsible student. Unfortunately, I am actually the world’s biggest procrastinator. I know I have bad study habits, and it’s easy to fall into this rhythm in undergrad, but I also know I’m going to have to work hard to change my habits once I enter medical school. I’ve actually been reading a lot about study tips and things that may help me stay more focused. Hopefully when I come back to this tag in a year I’ll have a better answer to this question.

How do you stay motivated in medical school?

Again, I can’t really answer this question yet, but for me personally, motivation has always come from this image I see in my head of Future Me in some sort of clinical setting, talking to patients and their loved ones, helping them get through rough times, and doing my job to the best of my ability. Maybe my answer is very cliche, but it’s gotten me through times where I truly thought I’d never achieve my goal of studying medicine.

What are your best tips for future medical students?

I can’t give tips to future medical students just yet, but I can give tips to future medical school applicants, and they boil down to two things, really:

  1. Apply early! Applications open June 1st for a reason. Even though the process is rolling admissions, your chances of scoring interviews are much better if you apply as early as possible. On that note, also try to turn in your secondaries as soon as humanly possible. You can even pre-write some of them (a lot of the prompts for various schools can be found on Student Doctor Network). Waiting more than 2 weeks to turn in a secondary is probably going to be detrimental to your application. (Note: I don’t want to make generalizations because I can only speak to my own experience, so make sure you do a lot of research about the process. There’s tons of resources online.)
  2. I know as well as the next person how intimidating the whole application process can be, especially interviews. But what you have to remember is that the people viewing your applications are not faceless automatons who want to see you fail. They are human beings. Whoever is reading your application is someone’s father or mother or sister or brother…they have probably at some point in their life experienced everything you are experiencing as an applicant. So don’t fear them…instead, try to relate to them. Humanize yourself and humanize them, because in the end it’s our shared experiences which serve to unite us. It will also help you feel a lot less nervous in the long run. Trust me!

So there you have it! Thanks for sticking around to the end of this post. I hope reading through my answers wasn’t a complete bore. If you have any other questions for me, feel free to message me directly!

I can’t wait for this blog to really take off as I begin this new adventure!

002: Match Day 2017

Today thousands of 4th year medical students across the country found out where they will be spending the next 3-4 years of their lives. It is a momentous occasion, worthy of celebration and excitement. My school’s Facebook page happened to be live streaming their match day ceremony and I managed to catch it in my feed. I saw smiling faces, eagerly receiving their envelopes, and counting down the minutes until they could open them all as a class in unison. Before opening, they were allowed to “break the scene” and leave their seats to go stand by their family and loved ones. And on the count of three, envelopes were ripped and slowly but surely…the squeals, the shouts of “YES!” and the happy chatter began to fill the room.

I watched in awe…it was a weird feeling, A) because I knew none of these people personally, had no idea what their stories were or the events in their lives that led them to this point, and B) despite all of that, I got excited for them. And I think the knowledge that some day it was going to be me opening my very own envelope got to me because I actually got chills (as cliche as that sounds).

I’ll never get to meet the class of 2017, but I know for them right now it’s not the end…it’s just the beginning. A lot of them are going out of state to places like Seattle and New York (so jealous!) , and others remain here. No matter where their career takes them, I know all of them will be successful doctors in their field. And getting to share in the excitement of match day for the first time only makes me more excited about what is to come!

001: Acceptance

It’s official. I’ve been accepted into medical school! It’s crazy, it’s unbelievable, I don’t feel like I deserve it…and yet, here I am–about to go from pre-med to full-fledged medical student. I’m unbelievably happy, relieved, worried, scared, excited, apprehensive, and just shell-shocked. I had honestly been preparing myself for the worst. I thought I’d end up having to re-apply in the next cycle. To have been staring for so long at a door you thought you’d never get to go through and now to be standing on the other side…It’s just an indescribable feeling.

I found out about my acceptance about 3 days ago, and right away I called my parents. Their responses were also a mix of thrilled excitement and apprehension. They were happy for me to be sure, but not psyched about me having to move so far away (I’m not even sure how I feel about it yet). I’ve also told my siblings and closest friends, but I have yet to make a big announcement on social media, mainly because I feel like it’s not official yet. I’m planning on sending in my acceptance form and deposit tomorrow, so maybe after that I’ll feel like it’s actually set in stone. In the meantime, I’ve actually been afraid to call myself a med student. It’s ridiculous, I know, but I feel like at any minute I’m gonna get an email saying “sorry, we sent you that acceptance letter by mistake”, etc.

The other part of me (the one I’ve been trying to keep in check) is super psyched, ready to buy school and office supplies, hunt for apartments and move in. That part of me needs to chill. I can’t deal with so much giddiness and excitement right now, especially knowing I have half a semester left of undergrad, plus all of summer after graduation. What kills me, though, is not having much information at the moment since I’ve yet to send in my acceptance.

If there’s one good thing that’s come out of this, it’s the feeling of relief. Knowing I’m done, I no longer have to worry about “will I or won’t I”, I know where I’ll be in the fall and there’s no more uncertainty about the future. I can actually look forward to graduation. And it’s the feeling of knowing God closed every single door except this one–that thanks to His mercy, I’m even able to attend medical school. It’s knowing the medical education I’ll receive is truly a gift from God, and I plan to give everything I have to do it right and to be great for Him.

Also, I’m finally leaving my hometown! Although, I am going to miss my family a lot.