About David

Hello! My name is David, and I am a second year medical student. I am the oldest of 10 homeschooled children, and I was homeschooled until I started college when I was 16. As a southern CA native, I attended Fullerton College and CSU Fullerton as a biology major. Growing up, I read lots of missionary biographies and during college, I was able to go on multiple medical mission trips to Mexico and Honduras. These mission trips solidified my desire to pursue medicine, and after attending the past 5 Loma Linda University open houses and years of avidly following this blog, I realized that Loma Linda was the perfect medical school for me. Now, I am thrilled to be a medical student here and to be able to write for this amazing blog. In my limited spare time, I enjoy going on one-day mission trips, spending time with my family, and playing board games and sports. I hope my blog posts will encourage and enlighten you and most of all glorify God.

Welcome to the Wards

After two year of medical school, we are finally done with the classroom portion and are now moving on to the clinical wards, where we get to take care of patients. Ask anyone in my class, and we are all thrilled to finally leave the stress of second year behind. After weeks of furious prep for the onslaught of finals and Step 1, everyone is relieved it is over (except for the crazy people who keep reminding me that we are supposed to get our Step 1 scores back in a week- could you stop adding stress to my life please???)

I was fortunate with how I scheduled my Step 1 exam to get a 3 week break before starting third year. How did I spend this break? Well, I went on my first ever road trip with my family across the US to visit Yellowstone, Mount Rushmore, Gettysburg, Hershey factory, and Washington D.C. including the White House, Capitol, Mount Vernon, and Smithsonian museums. We visited 22 states, traveled over 6,600 miles, and had plenty of adventures including eating lunch on the banks of the Mississippi, almost running over a bighorn sheep who jumped on the mountain road in front of us, and yes, even being forced to stop on the side of the road with vehicle issues. It was the perfect and much-needed break with my family before starting third year.

I am starting with Ob/Gyn and by luck of the draw, I get to start with 4 straight night shifts from 6 pm to 7:45 am. (Oh, and I have NEVER pulled an all-nighter, so staying awake and alert for 14 hours is a challenge of its own besides trying to perform like a competent student doc). And my first day on the job was certainly memorable!

1. First time ever logging onto the electronic medical records to review patients and write my own notes. Trying to navigate a new system is a challenge, but I at least find some workable solutions to get the job done.

2. First patient I am assigned to take care of, this patient has some mental disorder and thinks I am an incompetent clinician for asking questions and verbally is alternating between half-answering questions and verbally throwing us out of the room saying she is allergic to questions. Result is one of the most jumbled up and incoherent histories I have taken. At least it should get better from there!

3. First delivery! My resident tells me that this delivery is mine and that I am supposed to deliver this baby. I am able to suit up fast enough to get in on the action. While trying to remember all the steps for a successful delivery at 4 am, I am shocked when the baby comes FLYING out and all the carefully choreographed steps for a good delivery we had learned in our skills lab are now useless and I find myself simply trying to catch the kid and not drop it. With the help of my resident, I don’t drop my first fly ball 😂

4. You’re going to do this fetal ultrasound, my resident tells me. Never mind that although I had plenty of ultrasound experience in my first two years of training, I have never done an ultrasound on a pregnant patient before. All I am supposed to do is find the head and spine, but I get so disoriented that I find the head, but have no luck finding the spine. The babies must be doing well because they sure move a lot and don’t hold still as you try to find them😄

Well, what an eventful night! Never before has sleeping at 9 am felt this good! Back at it tonight!

That Extra Half-hour

A lot has been said for how difficult medical school is. While the analogy of “drinking out of a fire hose” is probably more correctly stated as “drinking out of a water spigot that never turns off,” medical school still takes a lot of time and energy just to even get through the program. That said, a lot of things we took for granted when we were younger such as a good nights sleep, free time, and enjoying time with family often become back-burnered during medical school.

Throughout college, I was NEVER a late-night study owl. I simply cannot stay up late and study, as my tired brain simply shuts down and refuses to memorize another sentence. That said, I must get between 7-8 hours of sleep to function throughout the day. Any less and I’ll be nodding off by early afternoon; any more and I feel no more rested than if I had simply gotten 8 hours. So it is possible to get through medical school sleeping 7-8 hours a night (woohoo!) Obviously, I can vary my sleep between 7-8 hours. If I need extra study time, I simply sleep closer to 7 hours. If things are going well (which is rare in second year), I can set my alarm clock closer to 8 hours of sleep.

The problem I found especially with second year is that it takes a ridiculous amount of brain power to memorize and learn all the things we need to know.  As well, there is simply not enough time to learn all the pages of info we seem to cover in no time at all. So naturally, I have been sleeping closer to 7 hours and trying to power my brain all day to get through the material. The problem I found is that this is simply unsustainable long term. I tried doing that last week, and by the end of the week I was mentally exhausted. The weekend is usually a premium study time with no new lectures, but I was so mentally tired I was studying nowhere near efficiency.

Two things I have discovered. Number 1: if it is past 9 pm and I am totally exhausted – GO TO BED AND CALL IT A DAY. There is no point in trying to study if you are mentally checked out. My tendency is to try to study but take breaks that gradually get longer and longer until I am taking more break time than study time. At this point, you may as well take a complete break – you’re almost there anyway. Number 2: an extra half hour of sleep is worth the investment. After getting closer to 8 hours of sleep a couple days in a row, I can notice a definite improvement. I am much more energized and can last longer in the afternoon going through the monotony of read and memorize lecture after lecture. A half hour invested in the sleep bank can mean the difference between efficient study and inefficient study. It is way better to have 2 efficient hours than 2.5 inefficient hours. Not to mention the fact I feel way better about life when I get my sleep 🙂

As student physicians, we are learning how to care for people’s medical needs. However, we also need to remember that part of taking care of our patients is taking care of ourselves. Whether it is eating right, exercise, or even that extra half hour of sleep to feel rested and energized, we need to be taking care of ourselves before we can expect to take care of others. So during medical school, do what you need to do to keep yourself sane and healthy – your studying and learning will be much better for it, as will be your overall health and happiness.

From Homeschooling to Loma Linda

I’m now a second year med student, and I am excited to finally contribute to the blog I read so much during my college years. Whether it was reading for information about Loma Linda and its MD program, perusing for an interesting and funny story, or simply looking for inspiration that I would one day get here, this blog has been one of my favorite sites to visit for the past few years. This is my first timer as a regular blogger, and I hope you’re as excited as I am for this continuing journey in medicine.

 

I’m the oldest of 10 home-schooled children. Normally, when people hear this, their mouth drops and they say “How did your Mom do it?”, “your poor Mom”, or “your Mom must be amazing.” Actually, she always wanted a big family. My Dad wanted at least 2 boys and 2 girls, and it just so happened that they had me first, then 5 girls, followed by the second boy. With 7 children already, they asked “What’s a few more?” and had 3 more boys to round out 10 children even divided between boys and girls.

Family photoMy family

Living in a large family has its share of fun and responsibilities. I really enjoy having so many siblings to do things together with. Whether playing a game of soccer, playing music together, or planning a mission trip, we have lots of people to get things done. There is always someone to play or chat with. Growing up, we all obviously had lots of responsibilities to help keep our family and school running smoothly. We all have to help watch little ones, wash laundry and dishes, and help teach our younger siblings. One of the reasons I really enjoy teaching (and may possible pursue academic medicine) is that I have been helping teach my siblings since I was 8. In our home-school, when you complete a grade level, you should be proficient enough at the grade level to teach it to a younger sibling. This has really helped reinforce the learning both for the older and younger sibling.

HomeschoolingThis is what homeschooling looks like!

For high school, I mostly taught myself out of textbooks as we use Rod and Staff curriculum along with Apologia for high school science and Saxon (back then) for math. My dad was my math and science tutor and my mom helped me a lot with English. I finished our homeschool curriculum at 16 when I passed the California High School Proficiency Examination (CHSPE). I then enrolled at Fullerton College for the next 2 years before I transferred to California State University Fullerton where I graduated last year with a degree in biology. During college, I was able to go on several summer medical mission trips to Honduras and Mexico. I had read a lot of missionary biographies growing up and was already thinking about pursuing medicine since high school. Mission trips really confirmed for me that medicine was what God wanted me to go into.  I was able to see God using health professionals to heal and touch people’s lives (for a story, check out this link https://mercertohonduras.wordpress.com/) and I saw medical missions as something I wanted to continue in my career.

 

As my parents and I began looking at medical schools to apply to, we found out about Loma Linda. I really was drawn to the mission of the school and its many opportunities for medical service. Reading the blog, I was impressed by the Christian environment of the school and the balanced lives of the students during medical school. I have been to every Loma Linda University open house since 2012, and each time I visited, I would count down the number of years left till I could apply and join this amazing school of medicine. I am happy to be here and would not rather be anywhere else, although a few months before matriculating at Loma Linda, UCLA school of medicine, a top 20 medical school that I had applied to as a back-up, offered me a scholarship on top of cheaper in-state tuition to go there. Although going to UCLA for 4 years would have been significantly cheaper than Loma Linda, I felt that God still wanted me to go to Loma Linda. I realized that there are things such as a school’s environment, mission, and character that are more important than money and prestige. Loma Linda has been a dream come true, and I am looking forward to the journey ahead!

DSC_2420Made it here to the school of my dreams!

Our second year starts in 11 days. Here’s to the last few days of break!