With Thanksgiving

The holiday season always puts me in a state of reflection. Maybe it’s a result of my annual ten slices of pumpkin pie. Since Thanksgiving is still a recent memory, I wanted to write about a few things for which I am grateful:

A controllable thermostat in the Alumni Hall classroom. When nearly everyone has vacated our lecture hall, and the faithful few remain, I am so thankful that we can turn the temperature up to the 70s and be nice and toasty while we study for eight hours or until our eyelids become too heavy to lift (whichever comes later).

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I’m dreaming of a sunny Christmas…

Wednesday/Thursday $3 burritos. I find it hard to prepare meals for myself throughout the week. There are some weeks when I survive on free food given at events and kind friends who love to cook. But when all my containers are empty and nothing in the community fridge has my name on it, LLU Church UReach $3 burritos save the day.

California sunshine. After experiencing seven Midwest/East winters and enjoying the “winters” here in SoCal, I would be reluctant to go back to a white Christmas, no matter how romantic and song-worthy it sounds.

Tutors and big sibs. At every session, material that would normally take me five hours to digest is compacted into two glorious hours of epiphanies. My tutors are brilliant and funny, and they deserve a lot of credit for helping me succeed in medical school. Meanwhile, my big sib (student mentor) gives me hugs and food, and who wouldn’t be grateful for that?!

friendsgivingFriends. They help make the med school life worth living. In just a few short years, these amazing people will be changing the world, one patient at a time.

Jesus. The author and finisher of my faith. When the world seems to be crumbling from within and more eyes grow cataracts of anxiety and fear, I continually look forward to His promise of a perfect world, where there will be no need for doctors (Revelation 21:1-4).

After three more tests and two mock board subject exams in less than three weeks, we’ll be home for Christmas! I can’t wait!

Thankful

The holiday season is by far my favorite time of year.  It’s the time for snuggling up in cozy sweaters and warm blankets, sipping peppermint mochas, spending time with friends and family, and celebrating all that we are thankful for.

This year, the holiday season comes during a hectic and harried time.  According to our second year predecessors, our upcoming exam set will be the most difficult exams that we will face all year.  This is made evident by the fact that I have been sorely neglecting my duties as a student blogger because, let’s face it, I’m busy being a student!  Yet in the midst of studying heart sounds, respiratory physiology, genetics, anatomy, biochemistry, and immunology the holidays remind me to pause and appreciate the things that matter most in life.

So, as I sit here snuggled up in a blanket, sipping a warm cup of tea on this last night of Thanksgiving break, I thought I’d share just a few of the things that I’m thankful for this holiday season.

Faith – The trials of medical school have taught me that faith is a crucial component of remaining grounded in what truly matters.  I am so blessed to attend a university that encourages me to grow not only in my knowledge of disease processes, but also in my knowledge that we are not the ones who do the ultimate healing.  We may suture wounds and treat diseases, but God is the ultimate healer and only He can offer eternal life.

Family – This Thanksgiving I got to spend time with my sister in Davis, California.  She is a fourth year veterinary student at UC Davis and her clinical responsibilities make this the first Thanksgiving that she has been forced to be away from home.  After not seeing her for months while she’s been away at school, it was amazing to be able to visit her in Davis for a few days.

Friends – One of the things that has made medical school the phenomenal experience that it has been thus far is the people that I get to spend each and every day with in my class.  I have made some of the most incredible friends along this journey and I couldn’t be more blessed.  Moreover, my long-time friends from years past have stuck with me through this time. Although I hardly get to spend time with them, they continue to support and encourage me.

Holiday Shenanigans – Part of the fun of the holidays is all of the holiday festivities!  This year our class had a Thanksgiving Potluck in the park to start off the holiday season right.  A special thanks to Theresa Tran and Lauren Parker for helping to plan this event!  We have a few more fun holiday parties planned for the class so stay tuned for more updates!

Uh oh… do I want to do Ob/Gyn?

Hey readers!

My posts have been far and few these past months for which I apologize. After my 10-week surgery rotation, I lost a lot of momentum and I struggled to keep my energy level up during the next 10 weeks on my pediatric rotation. Now I am on week 3 of my 6-week Ob/Gyn rotation, and even though I am getting less sleep than when I was on surgery, I feel much more energized and on top of my tasks.

I’ve noticed a peculiar trend in myself. When I am working at a faster pace with a more rigorous schedule, I tend to be much more disciplined with my studies and my personal time even though I have less of it overall. In another words, less free time + less sleep = more work done + better energy. So while I don’t get tons of sleep, I do notice that my energy level is higher and that I feel more accomplished at the end of the day. Does anyone else notice this phenomenon or do most people function better with regular sleep and ample free time?

Anyways, back to my update. While I loved surgery and loved pediatrics, I am super loving Ob/Gyn. I mean, this is the specialty that I wanted to do before I came to medical school, and I have not been disappointed thus far! Even though waking up at 4 a.m. is brutal on the skin and I grumble out loud when walking over to the medical center in the (relative) cold, once I set my feet on the 3rd floor, I am (mostly) awake and on the go!

Having a phenomenal course coordinator (DeeDee) and course director (Dr. Hart) have only made this fast-paced, ever changing rotation so manageable and fascinating! And the attendings and residents I have worked with so far have been approachable, warm, and FUNNY. And minus several not-so-positive incidents like “tripping” my attending (eeek I still feel so horrible) and getting chastised by the scary scrub tech for grabbing the suture scissors from her mayo tray (I know my bad, but I picked up this bad habit from surgery), I have been having a really great experience. I feel like I am not only learning from the residents and in the OR, but that I am actually able to find time to read the textbook and retain information by repetition via these different modes.

So why am I saying “uh oh” you ask? Well, because Ob/Gyn comes with a price (as do all other specialties). Ob/Gyn has PRIMARY CARE (which is my focus), but it also has SURGERY (which I found to really enjoy when I was on surgery oncology). This means a 4 year residency for just general Ob/Gyn (+ more year for fellowship), long long hours, and a lot of foreseeable sacrifices. But I also love the fact that I can focus on women’s health and more specifically advocate for healthier and safer pregnancies through better rates and quality of preconception care  and prenatal care visits. My public health focus was racial disparities in preterm birth and preconception care, so I would be able to apply a lot of that to my future practice.

While I can envision myself as an Ob/Gyn, I also envision a life of balance between work and family. I know I signed my right to a 9-5 work schedule away when I came to medical school and that’s okay. But what I do want is to think ahead and choose a path that will be balanced for the well-being of not just myself but for my family and my patients.

It’s Thanksgiving this Thursday, which I am looking forward to eagerly! My best friend from college will be joining me and my family for a home-cooked Thanksgiving meal, and then maybe we’ll go do a little Black Friday shopping! I have so much to thank God for this year.

Happy Thanksgiving! -angiek

Holiday Blues

Ariana, First Year Medical StudentAs a music junkie, I LOVE discovering new artists and songs and building my collection. Since Thanksgiving has come and gone, the holiday music season has officially kicked into full gear. I’ll admit, I was listening to Justin Bieber and Michael Buble’s new Christmas albums back in October…

Wait it’s already December?? They say that time flies when you’re having fun. They should also say that time flies when you’re in medical school. It seems like we just finished taking our last set of exams when we have the next monster coming in a little over a week.

Panic-mode started up again this week as the stakes get higher. After going thru two tests weeks already, I should be fully comfortable and ready for the third, right? Well, in a perfect world…

Nope, unfortunately I am still scared, still worried, still stressed out.

This past Thanksgiving break helped focus my sights on the grand prize: Christmas Break. In medical school, breaks seem to last forever. It’s as if someone clicked the “pause” button on life and then started playing it forward in slow-mo. I’m the type of person who tries to get the most “bang-for-your-buck” in every aspect of life. Give me 2 days of vacation? I’ll pack as much “fun” into it as possible.

Since there are, in fact, 24 hours in a day, you might as well use as much of it as you can. So on Nov. 24 I ran a “Turkey Trot” 10K in Long Beach with a van full of fellow crazies, stuffed my face for lunch with relatives, went to Cabazon Outlets for “Black THURSDAY”, and then to cap it off, had an epic early morning snowboarding trip to Bear Mt. And that was just 2 days. The feeling of exhaustion that I was met with was oh so worth it, and a 13-hr sleep cured it all. This break was just what I needed to gear up and get ready for the final push of 2011.

bear mt

So what’s with the title? Well, December=Holidays and I don’t think any medical student is very happy with the thought of exams coming up. Pre-exam week brings out the worst in people, or at least me. Coffee takes the place of water, stress levels are sky-high, conversations are limited to as few words as possible, and there is that icky feeling in the pit of your stomach of “unreadiness.” But, here goes round 3 and this time we get an actual BREAK afterwards! ‘Till Dec. 16…

A Lot To Be Thankful For

Stephanie, Second Year Medical StudentThanksgiving break is over already, and it’s a bittersweet reality.  On the one hand, it was so nice to be able to have a couple of days away from classes to get some extra work done and relax a bit (there are pictures below of the fabulous feast we had at our house and the friends we were able to share it with), and now that is over and it’s back to hard work looking ahead to tests.  On the other hand, it’s Christmas time and we are almost done with the first half of the school year!  I would say overall that I am most excited about the fact that we are almost done with the semester :).

I figured this would be a great time to pause and reflect on the year so far and all that I am so very thankful for (it was just Thanksgiving after all).  This year has been busy – much more so than last year – and yet I have found myself much more upbeat, enthusiastic, and focused on the tasks before me.  Second year is definitely different from first year, but I seem to be one of those students who finds it much better than the first year (I have heard from previous students that you either love first year and then hate second or hate first year and then find second much more enjoyable).  With that enjoyment comes so many things to be thankful for so here are just a few:

The friends we shared Thanksgiving with

  1. I am thankful for my loving husband, my wonderfully supportive family, and my absolutely amazing friends.  Everyone always says that they couldn’t make it without these important people and I think that medical school takes that to the ultimate extreme – I don’t know how anyone could survive the craziness of medical school without a strong support system.

    Our fabulous Thanksgiving feast!

  2. I am thankful for the opportunities God has given me to put my abilities and passion to good use (and to learn exactly what it means to put them to good use).  I know that He has led me to where I am today and I trust that He will continue to do so.  I can’t wait to see what He has in store!
  3. I am thankful for all the experiences (both good and bad) that have brought me here and made me who I am today.  There have certainly been some rough points (no one would ever claim medical school was easy 🙂 ), but I wouldn’t change a thing because I know each little hiccup has helped mold me into who I am.

So, as we turn towards the last leg of the semester, keep all of the medical students at Loma Linda in your prayers if you could.  It’s an exciting time as we prepare to celebrate the birth of our Saviour, but we all also have finals and subject exams to look forward to as well.  I hope everyone can finish up strong and feel good about where we have been and where we are going in the upcoming year!

Our beautifully decorated Christmas tree