Every moment is the paradox of now or never

December 2, 2017 § 6 Comments

It’s been one week since my exam and it has not been an easy one for me. I started writing a post on Wednesday but had to stop because it was just too soon for me to write about everything. I’m extremely, extremely hard on myself. I always have been. Over the years, I’ve learned to direct my focus to the constructive self-critique and ignore everything else. Well, at least I try to. It’s a constant battle. I’ve learned to appreciate this quality. I think its one of the reasons that I push myself so hard, that I am constantly striving to be a better version of myself. But every great strength can also be a great weakness and this week has been a heavy one for that.

I’m going to post what I wrote here. I don’t mind sharing my low moments with people. There are only a select few that I turn to when I am actually deep in the thick of it, but afterward, it’s a learning experience. We all encounter periods like this at one point or another and pretending that we don’t doesn’t make us stronger. I’ve always believed that acknowledging and embracing my weaknesses takes away their power. If I own them no one person or one situation can use them against me. Then I am free to work on them at my own pace.

At this point in time, this is as much as I am going to share about the exam. I still have another two weeks until I get my results and I have plenty of other things to focus on now. Now is not the time to relive the experience, to criticize myself or even to reflect on these past few months. In two and a half weeks, I will have the result, I will have finished with my final exam in internal medicine, and I will be on the way to the US to spend three weeks with my mom and brother. I’ll be traveling with Amir and Baloo and am looking so, so forward to spending so much stress-free, quality time with some of the people I love most in the world.

Unpublished post: 124 hours

I’d been told what to expect when I finished the exam. I’d been primed for the feelings of inadequacy, the sheer disbelief, the relief of it being over and the anguish at the thought of having to wait three weeks for the result. I’d been warned of the flashbacks that would hit me in the days that followed and that the wait would be heavy and torturous. If you’re expecting this to continue into a more melancholic post, you’re correct. If you were expecting it to take a positive spin, this won’t be the post you thought it would be. Unless you count pushing through hell as being positive.

I’ve been in a bit of a daze since Friday. I’m finding it hard to put my feelings into words. Coherent is the last word I would use to describe my thoughts these days. I just feel very, very…sad. Maybe a bit shell-shocked. Empty. Low. Defeated.

The exam was…I can’t even think of a word to describe it. I thought I was ready to write about it. I thought sitting here now would be cathartic…

That exam coupled with my intense self-critique broke me. I was stripped of all my armor and skill and thrown repeatedly back into battle with every block. Dragging myself through those 9 hours was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. It was so different than what I expected or what I’d prepared for that it honestly felt like they’d given me the wrong exam. It felt like I’d studied Spanish and was getting tested on French. After the first block, I locked away my pride and told myself it would get better, that I just had to stay positive and keep pushing through. But then the second block was the same. And then the third. And the fourth. It wasn’t until the 7th and final block that I finally got questions that I felt confident on. Questions where I knew what they were asking. Questions where the answers made sense. Questions that finally made me feel like I could show what I knew. But by then, there was honestly hardly any of me left.

Everyone keeps saying that they think I did well, that it’s a good sign that I felt it was so difficult. Right now, I don’t agree with any of them. I feel so, so strongly that it didn’t go well. There are weeks and weeks worth of learned material that I didn’t get tested on. It wasn’t like any of the question banks or practice exams I did. The questions were such that there wasn’t even any point of quickly browsing through my quick-review notes or looking in First Aid during my breaks. Those couldn’t help me. I did the best I could. I really mean it when I say that I dragged myself through it. I took several short breaks rather than one long one and used those to inhale water and a rice cake, rub my temples, take a deep breath and jump back in.

I do want to end this post on a more positive spin, so I am going to share something else I wrote: a letter to myself. In the days before the exam, I found my thoughts getting more and more negative and a special sort of panic begin to set in. One night, after two hours of not being able to sleep, I asked myself what I would say to someone I cared about if were him or her going through this and not me. Then, I wrote those things down. It felt silly at the time, but it worked wonders. I read it to myself several times a day after that.

Letter to myself

This is not something you get lucky on. This is a fully comprehensive exam with 280 questions that span almost every subject you’ve learned in your entire medical education. This is not a “pick two topics and hope you get the ones you studied” exam. This is unlike anything you’ve done before. So you need to have a different mentality about it. You have been preparing for this for months now. You’ve done thousands of questions – and done them well! You’ve learned so much from when you first started and your brain has adapted so amazingly well. Of course there are going to be things you wish you could improve upon, things you wish you could do differently. But that is not an indication that you HAVE done something wrong. In fact, it’s just a testament to your growth, to your ability to evolve. You can look back on any situation in life and see how things could have been done differently, at what you could have done better, at how things could have been more streamlined. And you can do that because it’s in the past. Now, you know what happened. It’s easy to criticize after the fact, to see exactly what went wrong, but only because you already know the outcome. What you can’t do is let that criticism stop you from progressing. There is literally nothing that comes out of allowing it to debilitate you. So why would you let that happen? Why would you let yourself be weakened now?

Now is not the time for critical reflection. You’re not done yet. Stop trying to rush things. Look ahead. Look at the time you have left and what you can and WANT to do with that time. Literally anything you decide to do is good. You could get tested on anything, so it doesn’t matter what you do. I promise you, when you are done with the exam, you will have time to analyze how you prepared. Even better would be to wait until you get your result. Why? Because you can’t trust yourself when it comes to evaluating your knowledge. And B, there is no possible way you can manipulate this exam in your favor. This exam is way, way bigger than you. It’s sole purpose is to evaluate and quantify the knowledge of medical students. So trust it. Let it do what it is supposed to do. Do what you can now. Take care of your mind and your body, remember that this exam is as much about endurance as it is knowledge. Your mind will not work in a hostile environment, so remember that you need to create a safe space for it. No fight or flight response. When you’re there in the exam, that is literally the only place in the world you are supposed to be. Nothing else exists. It’s just you and the question you’re working on.

All the anxiety you are feeling now is the result of you thinking that you have control, that you can somehow determine what is going to happen in the future. You are taking responsibility for something that has not happened yet and for something that you are not even supposed to be taking responsibility for. Who do you think you are that you think you control the future? Let it go. This is not what the battle is. The battle is preparing yourself to the best of your abilities at that point in time, challenging yourself, and then evaluating the outcome. You have done exactly what you should have done when you needed to do it.

If there is a lesson to be learned, let it present itself in due time. Let the lessons of this world appear when they are supposed to appear and stop trying to predict and control them. There is no shame in saying you were wrong, in admitting you could have done something differently, in apologizing. We are dynamic, forever evolving and adapting creatures. You are not perfect now, nor will you ever be. You will never be done learning. You will never be “done” or “complete”. There is always going to be a better version of you down the road. So stop looking back. Stop looking at where you are now and obsessing over if it is the right place or the wrong place or if you made a mistake somewhere that you need to fix. Leave all that noise and move forward. Embrace the self-development, embrace the humility and the strength that comes from enduring these challenges. You live for this. You know you do. So let yourself breath it in!! Right now, you are the most perfect version of yourself that you could be in this moment. And tomorrow, there will be a new, stronger version that is perfect for then. Leave things to grow and develop at their own time – yourself included. You are not in control and you never will be.

Tomorrow is a Wednesday. Wednesday is the third day of the work week (depending on what country you live in). Some people call it “hump day” because it’s seen as the hump of the week. There will be another Wednesday next week, another one after that, and another one after that. Tomorrow will have different meanings for everyone in the world. Some people may remember it forever while others will never think of it again. For you, it happens to be the second to last day before your exam. You’re going to do some practice questions, go to the gym, take a hot shower and maybe take a short power nap, pack for your trip and review some notes. Then it’s going to be over. You’ll never live that day again and it will never hold more meaning to you than it did while you lived it. It’s as simple as that. Find peace in relinquishing your perceived control of the uncontrollable.

10 days to go

November 14, 2017 § 4 Comments

The time has finally arrived where I can answer “next week” when asked when my exam is. Do I have time to be writing this? Not really. But I don’t have time for anything. Not sleeping. Not eating. Not washing my hair. Accepting that was crucial. This is not an exam for which you can be “done” studying. It is not an exam for which you can perfectly prepare. It is not an exam that will allow you to feel confident with every question. So, I’m simply doing the best I can. And that is going to have to be enough.

I’ve had dips of panic in the past few weeks when examining the discrepancy between the days I have left and the things I want to get done. There are so many different recipes, techniques, methods of attack for this exam that it’s possible to lose your mind trying to figure out what you should do, how you should handle your last days. I’m lucky enough to have people in my life who have been through this and who knew exactly what to say when I needed to hear it.

Preparing for this exam has been unlike any challenge I’ve experienced before. I look forward to being able to fully reflect on this experience and to finally entertain and indulge those fleeting moments of reflection I experience throughout the day. There are so many thoughts I want to express now, but if I’m being honest with myself, now is not the time for reflection.

At present, I’m a perfect blend of anxiety and calm. The anxiety is self-explanatory. The calm comes from taking a moment to step back and appreciate how lucky (yes, lucky) I am to be where I am now. Seeing how I’ve progressed since I first started, to experience how quickly my brain works to diagnose a case, to witness how I recall and store information has been such an amazing and humbling experience. Sometimes I will actually laugh when a question comes up because I can so vividly recall the first time I dealt with that same topic in a different question, how much guilt and shame I felt then for not knowing the answer. I’m so proud of my knowledge now. I feel confident in areas I felt so weak in before. My knowledge is so much more accessible and my differentials so succinct. I have to appreciate where all of that came from, from all those moments of weakness, of feeling worthless and stupid, from all of those incorrect questions… I’m stressed, but I’m also really happy and genuinely enjoying myself. I’m giving it everything I can, I’m learning from my mistakes, I’m evolving and most importantly, I’m growing, personally and knowledge-wise.

My brain has noticed that this is not USMLE-related, so I have to go back to UWORLD, but I’ll leave you with this picture and amazingly accurate description of what these questions are like (discovered by my reddit pirate younger brother):

Original Post

Hey guys, I just took the beast a week ago. I’ve been using this forum as a resource for a while now, and I just wanted contribute those who have yet to take it.

I also posted it on SDN. This is for those want to have a “feel” for gauging the test.

One thing very difficult to grasp and that I’ve wanted to know prior to my exam was: What is the STYLE of questions compared to the practice tests. Here is personal interpretation from my exam:

Type 1. Straightforward knowledge-based question. Seen in typical NBMEs, and a good deal of questions on the Step.

What’s the state capital of California?

a) Kathmandu

b) New York City

c) Sacramento

d) San Francisco <– The only other “PLAUSIBLE” answer

e) Beijing

For these questions, if you read that paragraph on FA or heard Sittar’s beautiful voice on Pathoma, you’ll get it. Pretty straightforward.

Type 2. The verbose stem but straightforward type. Good deal of questions UWorld, some on the real Step 1.

State capitals are really nice. Some are big, some are small. The patient comes from some the state capital, and he really likes them. He also likes dogs and cats, but not skunks. Why not skunks? Because they smell. Here’s a map of Nevada:

By the way, what’s the capital of California?

Same answer choices.

For these questions, it’s simply a matter of skipping to the end (if you’re confident) or skimming it (if you’re a fast reader) and ignoring irrelevant BS. The trouble is not getting bogged down. I distinctly remember a handful of questions on my test that had the key facts in the middle of the literary novel.

Type 3a The straightforward question with HARD answer choices. Some Uworld, a large minority Step questions.

What’s the state capital of California? “OOO I KNOW THIS”

a) a large commune sitting at the base of the Himayalas. <– “OH **** can’t be Himalayas”

b) New York City <– easy elimination

c) a population center which has a subpar NBA team windward of the Sierra Nevadas. “WTF…this..maybe?”

d) a metropolitan area closely associated with the MUNI transportation system. <– you gotta know MUNI is SF and NOT Sacramento

e) a city in a province <–Classic vague answer choice.

As you can see, the QUESTION itself isn’t hard. But the answers PARAPHRASED with additional facts that you must know to answer that question. You might know that the Sacramento Kings are a bad NBA team which would help. You may have never heard the word “windward”, but you can sort of guess what that means. This is when good ELIMINATION and INTUITION come in.

Type 3b. Straightforward ANSWERS but vague QUESTIONS. A large minority of Step.

There’s areas that may determine the legislative future of its surrounding area. That large region around the Pacific that’s part of the US, what’s that legislative-area?

a) California. “What? no?”

b) Oahu. “Well, it is around the Pacific…but legislative?”

c) Sacramento

d) the White House. “It IS politically-related…but it’s not an AREA?”

e) Dolphins <–easy elimination

I would say 3a/3b are why people come out of tests so unsure. Notice how it’s awkwardly phrased with non-specific words. It’s not terribly long, or terribly anal in its wording, yet it’s hard. I suspect there’s only so many ways you can test one fact, so they gotta soup it like this.

Type 4. “WTF?!” Only seen in real Step 1.

Who’s that one construction worker who worked on that capital building of the capital of California? <–super specific

or…

Where do you get sandwiches around the capitol building? <– easy if you KNOW the answer but WHY WOULD YOU?

I would argue there’s NO DELIBERATE WAY to study for these questions, other than having incidentally heard it OR having closely listened to professors during your first two years. It helps to have good long term memory too.

On MY TEST (YMMV), I would say the approximate break down would be:

40% Type 1 questions.

15% Type 2 questions.

40% Type 3a/3b questions.

5% Type 4 WTF.

These are obviously arbitrary classifications (just as in a lot of medicine). There’s overlap and some questions can be a combination. But I hope you get the idea.

So in summary, MOST Step questions (Type 1/2/3a/b) can be answered with UFAP studying, but a good amount require ADDITIONAL processing of the question or the answers. And obviously some questions are next to impossible (type 4) but I wouldn’t worry about those.

Hope this will help someone with a similar mind to me 🙂

Still here? Let’s take a look at some snapshots from Biancasfantasticsuperamazingexcitinglife.

Berlin

September 7, 2017 § 4 Comments

The date is set! There’s no turning back now.

Registering for Step 1 is a pretty long process (really a lot of waiting). First, you have to register with ECFMG. Once that is assessed, you are sent an ID number and eligible to apply for a three-month exam window (I chose September to November). Then you need to submit a form to your university, who then has to send it to the US for further processing. That’s where the waiting comes in; I completed my application in mid-June and didn’t receive my scheduling permit until the end of August!

(Studying for USMLE: You know you’re in deep when you get really, really, genuinely excited about seeing “cerebral amyloid angiopathy”!)Screen Shot 2017-09-07 at 19.30.03

I already knew that I would be taking my exam at the end of November, but I didn’t know the exact date or location. Amir took his Step 2 exam in Berlin and really loved the city and the testing center, so I decided to follow suit. I’ve been putting off setting the date because….well, there is really isn’t a good reason. Once you set the date, things suddenly become very, very real, and I was probably trying to put that off for a little longer.

I’m extremely nervous for the exam. I want to do well and I have so much going on in my life right now that I’m worried I won’t have enough time to prepare myself. But there is nothing I can do about that. I can only push forward, maximize my time and hope that my best is good enough.

My final exam in surgery is on Tuesday, so I’ve switched over to exam cramming for now. I am so, so thankful that studying for exams doesn’t mean covering an entirely different subject! The surgery exam consists of three topics (out of a possible 168) and we are examined orally by one general surgeon and one trauma surgeon.

That’s all for now! Be nice to me, Berlin…

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Berlin

 

Library wormhole

April 13, 2017 § Leave a comment

I’ve fallen down the rabbit hole. I met up with my friends Stephanie and Amir for a drink on Sunday evening (after a weekend of study-fighting against myself). They are both only a week or two out from their Step 2 exams (for the USMLE) and the weight of that was almost palpable. When Stephanie told me that she had been studying at the school library, I made up my mind to join her the next day. I love the comfort of studying at home, but lately, that comfort is just slowing me down.

Fast forward to now. Every day, I get up at 6:00 to have breakfast, shower and prepare my food for the entire day.  I hop on my bike and then before I know it, I’m seated at my favorite spot in the library. I’ve gone every day this week and it’s already starting to feel routine. In fact, I hardly even know what day it is. I feel like I could continue on this way forever. On top of that, my focus has been almost robotic. After 4.5 years in medical school, I’ve learned to take breaks for the sake of increasing my overall productivity. But this week? Totally not needed. I’ve been sitting – with lazer focus – for over 10 hours – almost everyday. The only time I’ve gotten up is to go to the bathroom. I’m not on my phone, I’m not napping or talking to friends – I’m not even leaving to eat my lunch and dinner (I eat them while I’m reading). Healthy? Not so much. My body hurts from all that sitting, no matter how many different positions I can come up with. Productive? Absolutely. And it’s honestly just what I needed. It’s only the end of Thursday and I’ve already put in 48 hours and 14 minutes of high quality studying. I find this so strange – and almost shocking – but I’m going to milk it for as long as I can. Like I said, this is just what I needed. Pure, productive and uninterrupted study time.


After Easter, we only have 4 weeks of school until exam period starts. We have 8 (or 9?) exams that I need to power through as fast as humanly possible in order to reach my holy grail: dedicated Step 1 study time. I need it so badly – and I’m so close – I just need to attack these hurdles head on. My plan of attack is to study for my exams as much as possible now so that I can finish all of my exams within the first two weeks. If I can do that, I will have 6 or so weeks of pure USMLE prep goodness until rotations start in the middle of July.

Enough of an update for now! The wormhole is calling…

The Transition

March 23, 2017 § 3 Comments

During a break on Tuesday, I mentioned to an Erasmus student from Germany how brilliant Budapest is when Spring really hits. I told her, “There will be one day where the temperature jumps and the parks fill with people – that is the day where everything starts.”. Wednesday was exactly that day. After class, I came home, opened up the doors to our small balcony and laid out a yoga mat. For two hours, I soaked up the first real taste of spring while listening to a samba mix. It’s amazing how much a difference the sun makes!

I took the rest of that afternoon to work on my study schedule (the one I was supposed to do Monday). I’m always searching for ways to improve my studying and I stumbled across a USMLE blog presenting a technique that I am going to try. It’s really common when studying to designate “days” for a subject. Whether it’s a certain day of the week, a certain number of days a month or a chunk of days for cramming before the exam, using “days” as the base study-time unit is extremely common. This new technique involves breaking up each day into sessions and studying different topics during those sessions. What I liked most about it is that it gives several opportunities to “restart” during the day rather than waiting until the next day to start fresh. If the 1st session doesn’t start on time or isn’t successful, the rest of the day can continue without that guilt and negativity trickling in to the rest of the day’s tasks. I’m definitely one of those people who gets thrown off if things don’t work out like I planned, so something like this is perfect for me.

I’m going to put a little more emphasis on preparing for my finals (which will take place during the middle to end of May). I want to get those out of the way as soon as possible so that I have more *pure* USMLE time. We have 8/9 exams, 4 of which are oral. During oral exams, we usually have to draw a certain number of topics from an assigned topic list and present each of these topics to the examiner. Thus, the best way to prepare for oral exams is to write out a plan for each topic that includes major points/info you should mention. For forensics, obstetrics and gynecology, pediatrics and internal medicine, I’ve divided up the topics over 6 weeks. If all goes to plan, I will be done preparing a week before exam period, which means that I won’t need as much time between exams during exam period.

My tentative plan for next week

Today was my first attempt at this plan and it went really well – in spite of not actually going to plan! I slept an hour longer and took a 2-hour walk with Baloo, but still managed to get a chunk of topics done within different subjects. It felt really good to be able to look at my schedule for the start of the next session rather than waiting until the next day. No more entire-day sabotaging for me! It was also really nice to mix the subjects (5 years of medical school and I still haven’t figured out how to successfully study multiple subjects at once). I was tempted to repeat gyno for a session because I was really enjoying it, but now I’m happy I moved on because I really look forward my next session with it (and it feels good to have made progress in other subjects).


I’ve been a bit more reflective this week than usual. Fifth year is not what I thought it would be. It feels so much more final than I ever could have imagined. We still have one year left, but most people go back to their home countries to do their final rotations there. As such, most people are treating this as the last semester. I notice so many different ways of coping with this transition, of cutting ties with Budapest, of closing out this chapter. We’re going to be doctors soon. An overwhelming fact that weighs heavier with each passing day. And with such an immense transition ahead, it’s hard to focus on the present. Every effort is placed on cushioning the inevitable blow that follows graduation.

In autopsy on Wednesday (our current block is forensics), we had two young men, only 21 and 22 years old, who had been killed in a car accident. One of them had just gotten a new haircut. The day before that, we had a 18-year old male that had died from complications associated with his almost decade-long history of drug use. The fact that I am almost 10 years older than them was not lost on me. It’s so important to savor the present, to soak it all in. The sights, the smells, the sounds. To just marinate in the moment. Life is too short to rush through a transition, even one as big as this.

Here I am, maximizing this moment 😉

 

World, stop.

March 19, 2017 § 4 Comments

This weekend, I finally took some time to breathe. Since I last wrote, I’ve been busy studying for Step 1 of the USMLE (which I’ve been planning to take in June), studying for my classes and enjoying some time with friends and family. Step 1 requires many, many months of dedicated studying and trying to manage that in addition to my normal “life” load has been really difficult – and exhausting! I’ve been waking up every morning at 5:00 am to complete a block in UWorld (the quintessential question bank). After that I work out from 6:00-7:00, go to class and then come home to review my questions from that morning ands study. Each block is 40 questions and reviewing an entire block can take a really, really long time. Sometimes, I’ve even used up to 8 hours reviewing a single block! Each question comes with detailed theory pertaining to the correct answer, as well as information behind each wrong answer. In addition to doing my blocks each morning, I should be reviewing the various subjects. I had planned to cover at least one subject each week. Have I been able to do that? Nope!

In the beginning of March, we visited Krakow with a group of friends. I kept my studying up during that time, but it was not easy! Waking up at 5:00 while everyone was still asleep for a least a couple more hours was…lonely and frustrating.

Outside of that, the trip was amazing! The city has so much history and it was such a unique experience to visit Auschwitz. It’s really something I will never forget.

After we arrived back in Budapest on Sunday evening, I only had a couple of days before my mom and brother arrived (from the US and Oslo, respectively). We haven’t been together – the three of us – in 4 years, so this was an extremely special trip for me. In the beginning of their visit, I tried to balance studying with family time. By that Friday, I gave in. This past month has shown me that I’m not going to be ready for the exam in June. I’m not planning on going back to the states in the immediate future and you can only take the exam one time, so I would rather push the date and take it when I am more prepared. It felt good to check out of my study world for a little bit and fully enjoy time with my family. They mean the world to me.

Their visit was perfection. We tried out new restaurants in Budapest, including an AMAZING new one called Makery where you make your own dinner. You are supplied with prepared ingredients and a fully stocked workstation. Each person chooses their dishes (just like in a normal restaurant) and then follows step-by-step video instructions to make it. Such a cool concept! We also did some escape rooms, had a cocktail night with all of our friends and took a day and a half trip to Vienna.

We even got to celebrate Christian’s 27th birthday on the day! Our friend Amir brought over a bunch of fresh goods from his favorite bakery, which we served alongside a collection of cakes we’d brought back with us from Aida in Vienna. Then we watched Chef (one of my favorite movies, which Christian had never seen before). After that it was shopping on Vaci utca, two escape rooms, drinks at a roof top bar close to the basilica and dinner at Iguana with Dushyant and Amir (including the dogs! My mom’s dog Romeo and our dog Baloo).

My mom and Christian left on Thursday and I spent the rest of the day reviewing for Friday’s anatomy exams. Since I have my own group, I’m a main examiner during midterms. This means that I may be in charge of examining an entire group (other than my own). I like to vary my questions as much as possible, so I try to do a thorough review of all the topics before the exams.

In addition to exam day, Friday was the day of Baloo’s surgeries – yes, surgeries! Technically, there was only one surgery with three parts, but when your dog weighs less than 1.5 kg (3.3 pounds) you worry a bit more! On top of being neutered, he had two baby teeth taken out (some of them have been a bit stubborn) and a suspicious lump on his head removed. Luckily, the lump turned out to be nothing more than a hair follicle that had grown inward! If any of you follow Dr. Pimple Popper, then you’ve seen these before. If you’re curious, check out this compilation video.

I was so thankful for the distraction of examining students for the anatomy midterm during Baloo’s surgery. I was so nervous that something would go wrong! When Skjalg picked him up at 14:00, the vet told him him that everything went smoothy and there were no complications at all! Afterwards, he was a bit loopy, but by Saturday he was almost back to normal and even playing fetch!

​The only problem now is dealing with his cone. Because he is so small, the cone they had that fits him is really hard and narrow. He absolutely hates it. While it’s on he will stand in place for 10 minutes then get tired and try to lay down somewhere (but never really get comfortable). I slept on the floor with him the first night, since he can’t navigate the stairs leading up to the bed in the dark. Last night, we tried putting his jacket/harness thing on instead. He was able to sleep through the night, so hopefully that is enough of a “blocker” for any licking or scratching he might try.

Otherwise, week 8 (already!!) of the semester starts tomorrow. I’m starting with new material for my students, which I will prepare tomorrow morning before my class at 12:00. We are in the middle of our forensics block, so I might start with preparing my notes for our final at the end of the semester. I’m considering October for Step 1, so I will start studying more for my current course load (I’ve ONLY been studying USMLE so far this semester). I’m going to have to sit down tomorrow and make a study plan for the rest of the semester.

 

 

What a difference a day makes

January 11, 2017 § 2 Comments

This morning I woke up to find a message from one of my friends asking me if a certain picture she’d seen on Instagram was mine. It doesn’t seem like such a big deal so far, but it ended up being a picture of my notes posted by an amazing board review source I use and love (and have mentioned many times before): SketchyMedical. The kicker? They’d re-posted the picture from someone else who was taking credit for it. To be honest, it’s not a huge deal – especially because the picture and notes are mainly from SketchyMedical (and therefore not entirely my material). But, the fact that someone found the image on google and then took credit for it (in comments that have since been deleted) made me a mix of angry and sad. This person even thanked SketchyMedical for admiring/acknowledging his/her work!

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Fast forward 10 or so hours. The sun has risen on the west coast, awaking SketchyMedical employees. Suddenly, my picture is shared on their Facebook page and I’m credited in their instagram post. At this point, I’m just honored. It’s really cool that my notes have found their way from the dark corner of the internet where this blog lives to the social media pages of the source I used! Then, while finishing up an application for a residency position, I get a notification that I’ve received an email from “Dorothy from SketchyMedical”. To be honest, I thought it was spam. At least that is what I prepared myself for. Keep your expectations low and you’ll always be happy, right?

In the email she complemented my notes and asked if I would be interested in being a SketchyMedical brand ambassador. As one, I will write for their blog as a guest blogger, share on social media, get a free subscription and get a discount code for my followers! I was so, so happy when I read this! Especially because USMLE cramming has begun and I was just considering renewing my SketchyMedical subscription. So, a sort of bad start to the day but an amazing, surprising end! You really never know what the day will bring.

That said, I’m back – I promise! I can’t tell you how disappointed I’ve been with myself for not posting more. I have so many drafts containing a few or so paragraphs that I’ve started and left to be forgotten. I was even planning on getting back into the groove with a “blogmas” – where I post one blog every day in December until Christmas. Leave aside the fact that I had two abstracts to turn in for February’s research conference and 3 exams BEFORE exam period even started. Then there was exam period. And now? USMLE. Oh and applying for rotations for 6th year and residency positions for after graduation. And I can’t forget about that thesis! Oh and actually preparing my presentations for the research conference. And helping at the anatomy exams every Tuesday and Thursday. And preparing my curriculum for anatomy next semester. And sleeping. And working out. And reminding my family and friends that I still exist and love them, even if I don’t talk to them for 3 months.

I wish I could remember all the big things that have happened since I last wrote and make a sort of summary…but I know I am going to forget something. I will probably bring random things up in future posts as they come along. I do know how I will close out this post though – cause I’m saving the best for last!

Our exams this semester were the following:

  • Pediatrics – we were lucky enough to be in the department that lets you take this exam at the end of your block (all the other exams have to be taken in exam period). As such, we were done with this one in October!
  • Neurology – we got to do this one in the week before exam period. That Friday was INSANE! I had my gyno semi-final at 8:00, neuro semi-final at 10:00, then I had to run to my last anatomy class and teach for 1.5 hours, then at 12:00 I had my forensics semi-final.
  • ObGyn
  • Forensics – our year was split into two large groups for this exam. I took it in the first round, which, for some reason, was extremely difficult! I ended up getting a 2, which I was really bummed about. When I retook it a week later (to improve my grade), the examiner apologised for the exam and said that somehow, all of the difficult questions had ended up on our version and the easier ones on the second, rather than an equal mix between the two. I’m so, so happy with my decision to retake it!
  • Surgery – For this one, I also ended up retaking it to improve my grade. Crazy girl! Unfortunately, I missed a 5 by 1 point… #stillbitter
  • Anaesthesiology and Intensive Therapy – this one almost drove me crazy! It’s written and they do whatever they can to trick you. Like changing a small detail in a possible answer. Somehow, I got away with this one.
  • Psychiatry – such a fun subject to study for!
  • Urology – my last exam before Christmas. I was so exhausted by this exam that I was beginning to lose it. Luckily, it went well. Do I remember anything? Hematuria?
  • Internal Medicine: Gastroenterology – this was my last exam and it was amazing! It was my only exam after Christmas and I had 10 days – so I got to take some time off to celebrate Christmas and sleep! Studying for it was really, really nice. I genuinely enjoyed myself. At the exam, I was nervous – as always. It ended up being perfect. My friend Dushyant and I were the last two examined and the vibe in the room was amazing. We were told we got 5+ when we were handed our grades ;).

Other than exams, I submitted two abstracts for the International Student Research Conference in February. The first one I did alone with help from my advisor and the second is one I am doing together with Amir.

  • Department of Public Health: Personal Health Practices of International Medical Students in Germany and Hungary: A Cross-Sectional Study
  • Department of Surgical Research and Techniques: Can Serious Games like The Kheiron Training System Enhance Skill Acquisition from Traditional Box Trainers?

To be able to do these, I had to learn how to use a statistical database program called SPSS. I spent so many hours feeling so incomprehensibly stupid during this. I once spent 3 days doing nothing but reading articles and trying to figure out how to analyse our data – and I felt like I got nowhere. But, somehow, I was able to submit the abstracts before the deadline!

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It’s time for bed, so I’ll touch on other things (like my students!) in future posts. To close out this one, I’ll introduce you to: Baloo and Joseph!

I’ll start with Baloo: we’ve wanted a dog for years but it never felt like the right time. Then, when we were visiting my mom in October we suddenly realised how possible it was (she has a teacup yorkie). So, we made the extremely impulsive and exciting decision to get one. We’ve had him for 3 months now and honestly could not be happier. There hasn’t been one negative consequence of our rash decision – thankfully! He comes with us almost everywhere and sits with us when we study – even when I get up for 3 a.m. cramming – and he’s so calm and quiet! Plus, he makes us laugh everyday. Because dogs are amazing.


And last, but definitely not least! Meet my nephew, Joseph!! It’s times like these that I hate living so far away from family. Still, I’m thankful that we are able to stay in touch with all these media forms today. I’m really hoping I can make a trip to the west coast soon.

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