Monday, September 25, 2017

Fall Off then Bounce Back

This is my first Blog Post in a while and this is actually my first post as a Second Year Medical Student (Drum Roll and Round of Applause!!!!!!!!!!)

As I am writing this post I am thinking of all of the items on my Monday Sept 25th, 2017 "To Do List" that I still have to do ;-) but I definitely want to share my thoughts on 2nd year so far.

Class started Mid August and I am currently taking Pathology, Medical Microbiology & Immunology, Pharmacology, and Fundamentals of Medicine. In about 3 weeks we will begin Pathophysiology. I will share with you all in a later post more details about all of the classes. 

The last 5 weeks have been crazy, when I say crazy I mean crazy and to top it off we just completed our first set of exams for our year long courses. I can only speak for my school and my curriculum but 2nd year is completely different from 1st year, there is 5x more material to cover, longer class hours and did I say 10x more the material. 

But Five exams in 3 days does not sound that bad at first but it was definitely more challenging than I thought. And guess what I did absolutely... .....HORRIBLE (well not super horrible but bad enough on 1 exam to really make me rethink everything for a quick second). 
Learning to balance the new load of material was a challenge but the most demanding or worrisome part of the past 5 weeks had to be "other" issues I had to deal with equaling to an undue amount of stress, from financial stress, to home stress, to work stress, to financial stress, to just extra stress leading to an unfocused mind. And to be very honest I did not study everyday like I should had. Nope I didn't, on days when I was just completely over it, I might have studies for 30mins- 1 hr.  I was not getting adequate sleep, all adding up to not so ideal circumstances. 

A few good/not so good things that I did prior to this exam block was:
1- Met with a tutor to get an idea I how I should tackle studying for my courses. I received a few good tips but ultimately the tutor and I were not the same type of learner of many of the tools mentioned were not ideal for me.  Try out multiple tutors, until you find your match!
2- Attempted group study. This was not effective for me either (at the time) because I was the weak member of the group, I was ill prepared and honestly couldn't keep up. I could have more effectively used that time to catch up on material. Going forward I will use group study to review questions (share common or differing point of views) and topics that I don't fully understand. 
3- I did quite a bit of practice questions. Initially, I did practice questions to early before we covered all the material (so I could not answer many of the questions) and I didn't thoroughly review my answers afterwards. I plan to go back to my trusty MCAT question review method: Review all the questions and take brief  notes on topics I get incorrect, if the topic is in my "REPEATEDLY MISSED" list, take more in depth notes and discuss the topic with a tutor, professor or another student.  

Immediately after my exams, I emailed my advisor with revisions to the my study plan for the next test block, I met with one of my professors to discuss best practices for doing well in their course,  I reached out to another tutor, received tips/guidance and then I reviewed my missed exam questions. AND I GOT SOME REST, or simply put did something none school related.

My transparency is to let you know that life will continue to happen whether we are students or employed adults. I mean this isn't my first time failing an exam but as with any time that you fall short of your goal, you have reevaluate your actions and work harder the next time. 

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

New School Year!

Its that time of year again, the little kiddies are heading back to school, college students will be back in school also and so many scholars will experience the illustrious first day of their new school, new program, etc!

I start school in less than two weeks and I am spending the remainder of this limited free time getting my son prepared for his first day at a new school (starting next week) and my first day as a 2nd Year Med student.

How I am prepping (Him):

  • Organizing all of his school clothes
  • Buying school supplies
  • Registration/Tour of the New school
  • Starting our morning routine a week early
  • Finding/registering for after school care
  • Random reading, vocab and math quizzes 

How I am prepping (Me):

  • Reviewing my school schedule and planning all his medical/dental visits
  • Handling all/most of my Non-profit work now
  • Resting 
  • Buying school supplies, books etc
  • Calculating my yearly budget
  • Resting
  • Finalizing my scholarship applications
  • Looking for other streams of income
  • Running endless errands for my grandparents while I still have free time
  • Resting
  • Reviewing pathology, microbiology, and pharmacology material
  • And did I say resting

In actuality resting comes far and few in between but I am definitely getting more rest than I would if I was in class Mon-Fri and when my son starts school next week I will have more time to rest and work on my projects.

ADVICE TO 1ST YEAR Professional School students:
Whether you have started already or will start in the coming weeks or days:

  • Review your financial aid information, make sure everything is accurate and never be afraid to ask for more free money (grants, scholarships etc). Also Do you know how much debt you have entering school? If youre like me an have a few degrees and have dabbled in federal pool money quite a bit, this is need to know information because there is a lifetime cap on federal education funding.
  • If you haven't already apply apply apply for as many outside scholarships as possible, money matters. Yes we are all(majority) going to leave school with some type of debt but thinking about debt in school can be burdensome, especially if you have family or extra unexpected bills. 
  • Make a budget, the frequency/timeline of your budget should depend on when you anticipate a refund check from your school. Its better to over estimate expenses than underestimate, by over estimating and moving my scholarship money to separate accounts, I never find myself in a position needing to request more funding.
Academics (keeping it simple because everyone is different)
  • Pre-read before class, this doesn't mean you have to read the whole chapter but as least scan through majority of it, pick up on new topics and graphs/pics, after lecture if you notice one topic was more stressed than another and its unfamiliar information for you, read that chapter, watch videos on it or whatever works best for you.
  • Its better to keep up than to play catch up. Our school Psychologist said this during orientation last year, and it didn't really hit me until I was knee deep in old material that I was seeing for the first time. Try your best to keep up with the class material each day, review and read, take notes or whatever works for you, each day after class. I know sometimes we get tired after a long day of being in class but try to at least review something before dozing off, that way it leaves less for you to catch up on. If you plan according Mon-Fri and stay on track, you have less work to review on the weekends and you are able to review some/all of the material for a second time (repetition is key) and when your exam nears there will no (or less) material that you are seeing for the first time!
  • You are human and you body needs care just like you brain! Schedule time to enjoy life, whether it be an hour or 1 day a week!
These were some of the hard lessons I acquired after struggling a bit to find what study methods worked best for me. I found myself always fighting to catch up, give it a try and let me know how it works! 

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Birthday Cake Please!

Hello World, I am happy to celebrate another year of life, another day to learn and grow and to work on being great (however and whatever I define greatness to be)!!

Something AMAZING, AWESOME and SUPERCALIFRAGILISTICEXPIALIDOCIOUS was that I launched my non-profit organization website!

So please check out Conceive A Dream Foundation's new home! Learn about the organization, the work we plan to do in the community and with youth and women, and of course make a donation towards these efforts!

Overall life is life, I am taking the good with the bad and making sweet dessert out of it! My goal for this next year is to devote time and energy into self care, self love and participating in healthy activities that will me bring joy and fulfillment and by doing so I will be a better mother, family member, student and friend!

Friday, June 30, 2017

Beyond Thankful

God is Absolutely Amazing so Remember not matter what storm comes your way (or even a beautiful sunny day) praise him for the good and the bad, and spread the joy and love from his sacrifice with the world!

I am thankful that I was able to wake up today 
I am thankful for my family, friends, associates
I am thankful for the good health of so many
I am thankful that those with ailing health, have the strength to keep going

P.S I have tons of great things to look forward to: 2nd year, Leadership positions, Non-Profit work (Finally YAYYY) and immense personal and spiritual growth 
I am beyond thankful and All praise, honor and glory goes to GOD because I could not have made it on my own!

Thursday, June 29, 2017

June the Rollercoaster!!

A sample of my June. 
June you were filled with humps, bumps, twist and turns!!

My June kicked off great! MPF Scholarship Recipient!

Me and my mini-me at the Scholarship Gala, Hyatt Regency Atlanta

Myself, fellow MSM classmates (rising 4th year and recent graduate) and a undergrad student from my alma mater Spelman, and the President and Dean of my school Dr. Valerie Montgomery Rice
Scholars Forum Washington DC

The illustrious and historic U.S Congressman from my home state, John Lewis

The illustrious and historic U.S Congressman from my home state, John Lewis
cameo appearance by recent MSM MD graduate Dr. G

Washington, D.C

Random Washington DC Cuteness

Random Washington DC Cuteness

Year End Research Culminating Ceremony

Year End Research Culminating Ceremony: Physicians, future physicians, leaders and future leaders!

Introducing Shan,
2nd Year Medical Student
 2017-2018 Co-Director of the student run H.E.A.L Clinic
Family Medicine Interest Group Vice-President
MSM SNMA Chapter Treasurer
 and Founder of Conceive A Dream Foundation, Inc. (official website coming soon 😊😊😊)

Friday, June 2, 2017

Hello June

Hello June
Hello to another awesome month
Thank you spring for wonderful things
Soon Hello Summer and all its magnificent wonder

Signed: Shan A.K.A Rising Doctor

Big Moments in June History (for me)
June 2016- First Year Orientation for Medical School
Trip to Mexico
June 2015- Summer APEX Program
June 2014- Began my AMSA Just Medicine Fellowship

Big Moments in June (to come)
Diverse Scholars Forum- I will (maybe) present my research! 

Wednesday, May 31, 2017


It has been several months since my last updates post. This was definitely not intentional. I honestly had so many things I wanted to write about but could not organize my thoughts in the form of a post. The last 11 month of school, my first year of medical school to be exact, have been very challenging, from navigating through first year curriculum, to constantly worrying about how I will fund the next 3 years of school, family illnesses, personal struggles, parent guilt, granddaughter guilt and the list goes on, but here I am.

Did I survive my first year of medical school, hmm well I am here to write another post. This year has definitely not always gone in the direction that I wanted it to go in but as hard as school has been this year, I still think the hardest part of this journey for me was actually getting into medical school. No, I am not saying that this has not been the most challenging/rewarding academic year of my life but once you get into school no matter how hard it will get, you're there, you're in school, you made it (well semi-made it).  And, when I didn't perform how I wanted on an exam or even failed an exam (yes I said failed an exam in medical school 👀), of course I felt disappointed but I know from experience that Failure is not Final. My grades in undergrad were not the most stellar, my first attempts at the MCAT were not run-and-tell-your-mom scores, I had a child in college and most people thought I would not even finish school let alone be working towards my life long goal, had I let those encounters permanently stifle my dreams and goals I would have not made it into medical school today.

After a year of classes I can't say that I know the keys to surviving your 1st year medical school but what I can say is that I know this is a continued learning process. Learning about yourself, learning about others, exploring your interest, learning new strengths, discovering new weakness. I am still figuring out what works for me, how to balance school, parenting and other obligations. But I did discover for me one major key to balance in school is finding time to be happy, even if that is just an hour a day/week, and eliminate things/people that bring the complete opposite into your life.

What brings meaning to your life? If you have this figured out already, GREAT, you have half the puzzle already mastered. If, not then that is ok too because you have time. Find what brings meaning to your life, embrace it and allow that to be your solace during the stress of school, training, and everyday living.

If you only remember one thing from this post, remember: Not matter what the next year(s) may bring remember to celebrate your accomplishments and do not dwell on misfortunes because Failure is not Final and your success should be measured by your perseverance in the face of adversity and not by how high you score, how many likes you get or the recognition you receive from others. You are the only person destined to Run Your Race!

Completion of Undergrad- Completion of Graduate School- 1st year of Medical School 

Monday, May 29, 2017

Lown Conference May 2017

Beyond the Bottom Line: Defending the Human Connection in Health Care

I had the pleasure of attending the Lown Conference a few weeks ago in Quincy, MA. This is the 5th Lown Institute Conference (click the link to learn more about this great organization).

Background: I attended the conference in 2013. This was before I entered medical school and I was working and volunteering heavily in healthcare at that time. I became aware of the Lown Institute after hearing a presentation from Shannon Brownlee during an AMSA Pharmaceutical Policy Leadership in Medicine event and became so enthused on the Right Care movement based on her presentation. I became even more excited about during the conference and enjoyed being able to interact with medical students, healthcare advocates and physicians. During the 2013 conference there was an emphasis of over-usage of medical services etc., and in my personal experience from living and working with mostly underserved minorities, I witnessed more under-usage of services than over-usage of services, so it was good that I was able to see the other side of that coin during the conference. I am also glad to hear that in more recent years, under-usage has been presented on a more in depth level.

I have been able to stay current with the organization and all of the great work they have been involved in over the years through weekly email updates but unfortunately, I was not able to attend the any subsequent conference events following my first in 2013. So I was very happy to reconnect with the organization through conference attendance. Additionally, when I attended the conference years ago, I was coming from the lens of a patient advocate and my experiences were vastly different. Since then, I have had the chance to work in different environments and even on projects that delved into interactions between pharmaceutical industry, medical education institutions and teaching hospitals, and began my training as a future physician. Despite having a different title now, I still consider myself to be a patient advocate first however now my perspective has slightly evolved to encompass a more dynamic viewpoint. I was thrilled to be able to attend the 3-day conference this year and learn about the progress that the Lown Institute has made over the years!

The conference kicked off events on Friday, during which there was a great Research Symposium where participants showcased the work they have done in the advancement of Right Care. That evening there was a mixer where many of participants were able to wine down and chat.

On Saturday I attended workshops during the day and had fun bowling that evening. There were so many great workshops available it was hard to just pick two 😕

But I narrowed my selections down and I attended the following workshop:
The Community Cafe: An Innovative Method for Harnessing the Power of Community Engagement.
I really enjoyed this session because it allowed me to learn about how this particular community in Camden, NJ empowers their community members, which consists of mostly Latino and African Americans, through education and healthcare. There approach is very community orientated and they take a very hands on approach in working to bridge the gap between access and available resources. Listening to the women speak so passionately about their community, the inhabitants and the work they have done, reminded me so much of the communities where I live. There is so much resilience despite so many of the "shortcomings" others see when they come to those areas.

Discover "What Matter" Instead of "What's the Matter" to Improve the Patient Experience.
This session started off very anecdotal, where the speaker used her experience with her son and a medical condition he was facing to shed light on simple things that everyone in healthcare (from the front desk clerk to check out) and patients can do to make sure that the patient experience is positive and reflect the true essence of what healthcare should be. Then it became very interactive, each table of attendee were able to correlate an emotion to the points of contact during a medical visit, that were experienced by the patients, the parent or event the staff. 

On Sunday there was Right Care Alliance Congress. I was able to stay for some of the activities before I had to depart for my flight. I heard from some of the new steering committee members and about their plans/interests and interacted with other attendees during a very interactive icebreaker!

Overall, I enjoyed my time at the conference. One thing that I will note is that communities that are underserved (whether medically, educationally, or economically), have a large population of minorities or both , are very unique. The obstacles to right care in Quincy, MA or Portland, OR maybe quite different than those faced in Camden, NJ or Atlanta, GA. And, it is great idea to have a wide range of experiences and people represented because Right Care may look different depending on where you are geographically and may sound different depending on who you ask but Right Care is Right Care. What I most enjoyed was being able to attend the workshops and hear from the speakers and take time to reflect on how I thought the Right Care Alliance could be applied to the communities I serve, as a patient myself and a patient advocate from an underserved community: what I thought right care looked like for me and as a future healthcare provider that will care for patients from all walks of life: how I could manifest Right Care for a diverse patient population!