September 2, 2017 § 8 Comments
I’m struggling to find the words to describe where I am at this point in my life. These past two and a half months have changed me. They’ve forced me to face parts of myself that I either never wanted to face or didn’t know even existed. I’ve had to evolve and grow all while embarking on some of the greatest challenges I have yet to encounter.
I’m in my final year of medical school and the idea that I will be a doctor this time next year is… paralyzing. It’s exciting, yes, but paralyzing at the same time. I’ve spent more than half of my life trying to get to this point and now that it’s finally here, I feel like I don’t know what to do with myself. Knowing that I am about to achieve THE goal leaves me feeling almost empty. Checking that box will mark the end of almost 20 years of doing everything I possibly could to make this happen. It makes me wonder, will anything ever even come close to that?
Since I last wrote, I’ve been re-familiarizing myself with… myself. All while studying for one of the biggest exams I’ll ever take. There have probably been more bad days than good days, but the bad days are becoming fewer and fewer as time passes.
We started sixth-year rotations in the middle of July. My first rotation is surgery, which lasts for about 8-9 weeks. I only have one week left now and will take my final exam on September 12th. I’ve really been struggling with how to balance everything on my plate. I’m planning on taking Step 1 at the end of November and that exam requires EVERYTHING from me. But I can’t give it everything. I have my final exams in surgery and obstetrics and gynecology (not to mention the rotations themselves). I have my thesis. I have teaching. I have applications for next year. It’s…suffocating.
So where am I now? What am I doing? What am I going to do? These are all questions I’ve asked myself almost daily since the beginning of June. If I’m going to be completely honest, this has not been an easy summer for me. Everything I thought I knew about myself, my life and my future changed. My foundation fell out from under me right when I needed it the most. I needed to be the best version of myself and I didn’t know how anymore. So, I slowly started picking up the pieces, forced myself to accept whatever I was able to produce – regardless of how small – and pushed forward.
I turned 30 almost two weeks ago. I really wish I could describe the feeling I had that day. I know that birthday means different things to different people, depending on where they are in their respective lives. For me, it meant everything. It meant saying goodbye to myself. It felt like starting over. Like stripping myself of everything I knew. Complete and absolute vulnerability and, oddly enough, strength. What made the experience even more “life-altering” was the fact that I celebrated it in the historic city of Acre, Israel with my best friend and his family.
In the days leading up to my birthday, I was in a constant state of reflection. With the way my life has developed, the multiple life paths I’ve entertained, the struggles I’ve endured to get here…it’s not uncommon for me to take a moment and think about where I am versus where I would have been. Whether sitting on the banks of the Danube with a bottle of wine, wandering through the crumbling barracks of Auschwitz, looking out over the fjords from Tåkeheimen, reading the names on the stone plaque beside a Sarajevo rose, or feeling the jasmine scented footprints of Muhammad at the Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem, I always have the same thought: I wasn’t supposed to be here. In that moment, I think about all the points where the course of my life changed, all the decisions and challenges that brought me there and how rich and special my life is as a result. On the eve of my birthday, I stood alone on Amir’s parent’s balcony and watched the sun dip into the sea. As I sipped a glass of wine, I said goodbye to myself as I knew me in my 20’s and reflected on who I will become in my 30’s.
That trip changed everything. I had a moment in the car on the way to Jerusalem where everything clicked. Suddenly, I could see my future. I saw exactly where I want to be and what I need to do to get there. Every time my future has crossed my mind in the past two years, it’s been followed by absolute nothingness. It’s been a source of anxiety and fear and prevented me from enjoying the present. So when everything clicked, the feeling was indescribable.
Once I’ve worked out some details and made some progress with my plans, I will share them here – I promise.
Otherwise, things aren’t very exciting here. I pretty much only sleep and do practice questions. I’ve been sick since last week and my cough has been pretty extreme. Since I’ve been holed in my apartment studying, I didn’t even notice that I’d lost my voice until I went to the pharmacy to pick up an expectorant. When I opened my mouth to utter the first words I’d spoken aloud in three days, nothing came out. There were a few strange squeaks, followed by a long, intense cough. The pharmacist began to laugh. I laughed and coughed. Exciting stuff.
It’s off to bed for this one! To be continued 😉
October 11, 2016 § 2 Comments
It’s been a while since I last wrote and I have to say I’ve missed it a lot! The rest of August was packed with work – we even worked on the day that we left for the flight back to Budapest. It will all be worth it when we get our pay checks, but it was quite tiring then!
We started school the day after we got back. This should be a calm semester – we have the block system now, so we only have one subject for 1 or 2 weeks at a time – but I don’t think I’ll ever experience “calm”. The reason my semester isn’t calm has to do with something I never could have imagined happening: I’m teaching anatomy!
Along with my friends Dushyant and Amir, we are the three 5th years students who each have our own group in anatomy. It’s a huge honor and I feel so lucky to have been offered this opportunity. It’s also A LOT of work! I teach 3 classes a week (one histology and two in the dissection room) and outside of that I spend maybe 10-20 hours a week preparing/reviewing for the class. This semester we are focusing on the locomotor system (all the muscles, movements, nerves, vessels etc. of the upper limb, lower limb and thorax).
I absolutely love apps/technology/organizing and teaching this class is giving me the chance to let my technology freak flag fly high! In order to share useful sources, links, notes etc. with my students, I’ve created a page on a website called Trello. It’s more of a project managing site for companies, but I feel that it also works really well for teaching.
I re-organized it last night (one of the keys to success is constantly evolving your tactics, right?), so now it shows each board by topic. Previously, I had organised by week, so that they could follow along during the weeks of the semester. With midterms approaching, I think it is more efficient to have everything in one place.
This is how the main page of the Trello account looks:
When you go into specific boards, you can see that different topics or weeks are divided into separate lists. Each list is composed of various cards.
When you click on a card, it will open up to a smaller window and show you the details included in that card. For each histology slide, I include links to videos or websites covering the theory, details from the new histology guide written by the department, details from the old histology guide (which I feel has more detail and information) and then at the end, a picture of my own notes for that slide.
In addition to Trello, I use the website Memorang for creating flashcards. I’ve used this app before for previous courses and absolutely love it. I do prefer traditional, hard copy flashcards, but the benefit of this site is the algorithms (if you get a card wrong, it intermittently repeats it until you hate it) and the statistics (it gives you percentage progress with each card and with the deck). My students have access to the cards and I can see the top students on the leaderboard for the different sets.
On the online version of the site, there are different testing methods – which can be really great when you are tired/bored with studying and need a little kick.
I use the multiple choice option the most, but the traditional flashcard version is great when you need to first learn the material.
Another program/app that I’m using – or will start using today – is called Socrative. I really like how online quizzing systems can be integrated into the classroom/lectures. I’ve heard that one of the pathophysiology teacher has started doing it in his lectures and one of our internal medicine teachers did it during one of her presentations. It’s such a great way of keeping students engaged and interested. I’m not sure how I will integrate it into my practical classes, so for now I am using the site to arrange online quizzes that the students can do at home. My friend Amir and I have created almost 100 questions that we will launch in two rounds. My group will have their first quiz today and their second on Tuesday evening.
I will open the quiz for 1.5 hours and can track their progress throughout that time. At the end, I can download reports that are either (a) question specific or (b) student specific, which the students can then print out and use to study from late.
In addition to teaching, I’m doing research with two departments: Department of Surgical Research and Techniques and Department of Public Health. If all goes well – which I’m sure it will, after a lot of hard work – I will present my work in both departments at the TDK conference (Student Research Conference) in February. I had a really great experience with my 2nd semester public health professor and he has offered to be my thesis advisor. There are a couple of potential projects I can consider for my thesis (which must be completed by the end of 6th year, but which should be started – at least – by 5th year). I won’t tell about any of them yet – don’t want to jinx myself! With so many different departments, possible topics and potential thesis themes and advisors, I feel lucky to have a place to start.
I’d hoped to make this post longer and a bit more informative, but at this point I just need to press “publish”! I’ve sat down to write a new post countless times in the past two months and always get interrupted by something :P.
Tomorrow I will be examining 1st year medical students for their first midterm (covering the entire upper limb) all day. There are exams at 8:00, 10:00 and 14:00 and I’ve agreed to be there for all of them. It still amazes me how different things are now and how crazy it would be to go back and tell my 1st year self where I am today!
To get an idea of what the students need to know for their exam, check out the checklist I made for my group. That’s a lot of new vocab to learn!
Ok, off to Memorang flashcard land I go! Meanwhile, my students are finishing up their second quiz. I love being able to follow along live. The quiz Amir and I made is really, really tough (designed to make them think and use their knowledge), so I’m not too worried about the incorrect questions.
September 2, 2015 § 2 Comments
Tonight was the long awaited and dreaded: registration! This process is so unbelievably stressful and I have yet to find a way to convey just how stressful it is to anyone that hasn’t experienced it for themselves. I spent 6 hours sculpting the perfect schedule, plus 3 back ups, in the little time I had free this weekend, then 2 hours tonight making a sort of flow chart to maximize efficiency. The 45 minutes before registration opened at 20:00 were spent refreshing the page and going through my game plan. The 5 minutes before were spent breathing heavily, shaking my leg and checking my pulse on my fitbit (it jumped from 62 to 87 as the minutes passed) while talking to Skjalg on speaker (he is at work tonight). The 30 seconds before were spent counting down the seconds.
Actual time to register for 10 classes? Maybe 1 minute. And I’m not exaggerating! That is, if you get the classes you want. After maybe 20 seconds in, Skjalg hit a bump and we spent the next 15 minutes or so trying to figure it out. As of now, he has a pretty similar schedule to the one he wanted, except he is missing two classes (both of which we have the option of taking either this semester or next, but there are only 90 or so spots available). Judging from our class facebook group, he’s not the only one who didn’t get what he wanted.
This was the product of my initial brainstorming:
Evolution of today’s brainstorming from left to right! So funny to see after. I went into complete Rain Man mode!
And lastly, the final product!
Now: bed! I’ve worked the last four shifts at work, so I’ve pretty much been at work since Monday at 15:00 (with two nights of 5-6 hours of sleep to separate the days). I might actually feel worse than I do during exam period after an exam after pulling an all-nighter! Hopefully this burned-out feeling can be itself burned-out by a good night’s sleep!
September 6, 2014 § 7 Comments
(Get comfy, you’re in for a long one!)
Yesterday I lived three days in one. Or at least it felt like it. I began the day selling my books at the school book fair. It was so much more hectic than I’d imagined it’d be. The book sale before our first year was on the ground floor and only a handful of students had tables, everyone else had to have their books on a blanket on the floor.
The suitcase I used to pack my books weighed in at what felt like 200 kilos. This made it so that it took me a full 10 minutes to just make it out of my apartment building. One cab ride, complete with an angry cab driver, and a half-dislocated shoulder later, I was at the Basic Medical Science building. This year’s book sale was upstairs. I’d been warned by a friend I’d met on the first floor that it would be hectic and yet that did not prepare me for the scene I was met with when the elevator doors opened. The entire floor was packed with tables and first year students already buying books. I pushed my way through the crowd, likely making a few people angry, as I searched furiously for my sale station.
Jannie had gotten there before me and luckily spotted me in the chaos. After setting up, time flew by. I met so many students who know me through this little blog right here and it was such a surprise (and so nice to meet you all)! After talking the ears off of pretty much every person who approached our table, I had to run downstairs to partake in an introductory “lecture” for the first year students. The acting director of the English Anatomy department holds a speech at the beginning of the year to introduce the students to anatomy, the biggest class of the first year. She’d asked the future TA’s of anatomy to join and since I was selling my books, I said I would be there. We didn’t do much other than stand there on the side, but maybe it was nice for the first years to see people who have made it through.
After an hour or so more of book selling (and talking) I rushed home to drop off my suitcase and change for a day trip to Szentendre. Szentendre is a beautiful little town with cobblestone streets a 40-minute train ride from the city. We’ve been told about it so many times before, but never gotten around to actually going. Our friend Amir, whom Jannie, her sisters and I had dinner with earlier this week, is an amazing planner and life enthusiast. He was telling us about all of his trips around Hungary and even of some of the adventures he’s had here in Budapest. One of those trips sounded too good to pass up, and that was wine-tasting in Szentendre.
On our way into the town, Amir told us of five things we were going to do. I’m a horrible travel planner myself, so I love being in the company of someone who knows exactly what to do and just decides that we are going to do it.
- Dinner and wine-tasting – of course!
- Walk down by the river
- Christmas store
- Marzipan Museum
After the train ride home, we headed for the famous ruin bar, Szimpla kert. I’ve lived here for two years and have never been there, which is shocking to most. Amir felt it was absolutely necessary that I make the leap. If you are planning a trip to Budapest or live here and haven’t been there yet, you must visit – it is amazing!
As for registration, well, that was one of the most stressful 10 minutes of my life. Our adrenaline rush didn’t subside for nearly two hours after.
We ended up with almost everything we wanted. I have about half my classes with Jannie and half with Skjalg – which is actually perfect!
Planning our classes went through several phases…and I think I spent way, way too much time on it all. It did work out in the end though, so who’s to say it wasn’t worth it.
Random crazy person sheets with scribbles and time slots…
Modern day technology user. I used the notes from phase 1 to make up these possible schedules here. These I sent to Skjalg and Jannie, so we could start narrowing the classes down.
Mapping! Jannie and I sat for several hours before registration and made up these little registration maps. We wanted to make sure we had back-up plans for everything. In the end, I think we must’ve had something like 50 potential schedules. Jannie ended up getting most of the green path (our first choice) whereas I ended up with the blue path.
Well, not really final. I have some scheduling conflicts to work out – i.e. find a Hungarian class I can sneak into! I will be meeting with the physiology tutor on Tuesday (I’ve been accepted as a TA in physiology as well, so will be TAing for both anatomy and physiology ). I hope everything works out smoothly….it’s a little bit of a mess to look at right now.
Otherwise, I’ve spent the entire day inside. I set up a grocery delivery from Tesco for 14:00-16:00, but by 17:00, I hadn’t heard anything. After waiting in the call que for 20 minutes, I found out they were experiencing major technical difficulties and that the delivery wouldn’t be made until between 18:00-22:00. Safe to say I’m not in the best mood. Ordering groceries online is amazing – when it works as planned! I’d planned to be boring and stay in anyway, but I don’t want to be forced to do so.
March 30, 2014 § 4 Comments
It’s a beautiful Sunday morning and I am up and at ’em! Since my last post, things have been quite hectic. After the anatomy midterm on the 17th we jumped straight into cramming for our weekly physiology tests. That week in physiology we were tested on the adrenal gland and calcium metabolism. We’ve just finished up the endocrinology series and are now starting neurophysiology. By the that Thursday night, we were already exhausted – but we had to keep going! Monday the 24th was our biochemistry midterm covering the following topics:
- Na+,K+ ATP-ase I. The permeability of cell membranes, P-type ATP-ase. Structure of Na, K-ATP-ase
- Na+,K+ ATP-ase II. Na, K-ATP-ase isoforms. Regulation. Secondary active transports. Na-H exchange
- Chemical neurotransmission. Cholinergic neurotransmission. Biosynthesis of acetylcholine, receptors, acetylcholine esterase. Molecular mechanism of exocytosis
- Noradrenergic neurotransmission. Biosynthesis and metabolism of norepinephrine. Synaptic uptake
- Molecular mechanisms of adrenergic, dopaminergic and serotoninergic neurotransmission
- NO: Regulatory role of NO. Nitric oxide synthase. Guanylate cyclase. Molecular effects of nitric oxide
- Glutamatergic neurotransmission. Synthesis, transporters, receptors. Biochemistry of Parkinson disease
- GABAergic neurotransmission
- General properties of ion channels. Methods for studying ion channels.
- Structure of the K+ channels. Methods for studying ion channels. The molecular mechanism of gating and permeation.
- Biotransformation I
- Biotransformation I
Rest then? Nope! Luckily, the exam took place at 19:10 in the evening, so we didn’t have to feel guilty about taking the rest of the night off afterwards. The hours before the exam were spent at the library. We were bad and skipped anatomy so that we could be at the library from 9:00 in the morning until just before the exam. After the exam, we went for drinks and dinner at Tiki Bar. It was nice to sneak in a little break, even if we did have to cut it short so that we could get up early for school the next day.
From Tuesday we were on it for cramming for that week’s physio tests. Our seminar test covered the pancreas and whole body metabolism and the lab test covered the glucose tolerance test, which can be used to diagnose diabetes. Three students had to fast for the test and at the beginning of the lab consumed 75g of glucose dissolved in 250-300ml of water. We then measured their blood glucose level over the course of two hours.
By the end of Thursday night, I was completely beat. In addition to the exhaustion I felt after cramming for the recent exams, I somehow caught a cold. It full-on attacked me while we were studying Wednesday night (Skjalg too!). It was so hard to push through to Thursday night but somehow I did it. I took Friday off and Jannie came over and we watched Grey’s Anatomy and played playstation.
Yesterday was also a little bit of an easy day. I spent the morning organizing my study plan for the next month or so. Finals period is RACING towards us and I want to conquer the anxiety as much as I can before it settles in for good. My plan is ambitious, but I think that laying it out the way I did will help keep me accountable for what I am to do that day. So far I’ve worked in both lab exams, physio and biochem, the next anatomy and biochem midterms (which are going to be on the same day!) and a bit for physio. There is still a lot I am going to need to add….it will be interesting to see how it changes with time. I’m planning on doing the physio competition at the end of the semester. It is during the last week of school and covers all of the material we’ve learned in physio. If you pass it, you are exempt from the final exam – so it is well worth it!
And here is my plan for this weekend. I managed to do everything except the last two anatomy topics, so those will be moved to today.