What should I bring with me from home for EBS 5?

Are you about to start EBS 5 and are completely clueless as to what you will need like I was? A few of my friends have asked me about the EBS 5 semester at UMHS so this post is going to be dedicated to incoming EBS 5 students. EBS 5 is such a chaotic semester so please read these next few posts I will be writing to help clear some confusion that you may have!

This first post is about what I think you guys should bring with you to the island before EBS 5 so that you can have an easy transition into EBS 5 and a smooth semester with less worry.

“What you need” are things you absolutely need for the semester with no questions asked! “What’s recommended?” are just things that I found to be helpful. I recommend getting these things while you go home for the break and bringing them with you to the island because once the semester starts, you are going to be incredibly busy!

Like many of my peers, I don’t have a money tree growing outside in my backyard so these things that I have listed are the bare minimum requirements!

What you NEED for EBS 5

Stethoscope

You need a stethoscope without a doubt. It doesn’t matter which brand, just make sure it has a bell in addition to the diaphragm! Mine is the Littman Cardiology III Stethoscope. You will use this a million times through out the semester.

White coat (THE SHORT ONE)

I have 2 white coats. My original white coat, which I used for PD, Physio lab, neuro lab, etc. is the same coat that I use for ICM labs. Over the break between EBS 4 and 5, I bought a SECOND white coat because I just wanted to have a newer coat that fit better and looked better for the hospital and presentations, etc. This is most likely the coat I will use when we do Clinical Rotations in the States.

You DON’T need 2 lab coats, I’m just extra. If you use the same lab coat that you used in PD and are planning on using it again in ICM labs, and hospitals, just make sure it is “durable” or will last and doesn’t have holes in it or anything like that.

Professional clothes

If you’ve seen the EBS 5 students, you probably thought that we dress up all the time but we only dressed up for the hospital, presentations, and practicals. You go to the hospital 5 times, there is 1 midterm practical, 1 final practical, and 1 presentation. So, you actually only need 8 professional outfits or mix and match and make 10 outfits just in case and you will be more than fine.

Dressing up those times is NOT optional. You can’t go to the hospital in scrubs and you can’t take the practicals in scrubs either. Of course you can wear whatever you want as long as it is professional but I highly recommend comfortable shoes because you will be standing a LOT in the hospital.

Guys, make sure you have ties. You can’t just wear button ups without the ties.

Females, FLATS > heels. Your feet will thank you. Also, the doctors and people on the island are conservative, this means your professional clothes have to be modest. I’m not saying cover from head to toe but make sure the skirts aren’t too short and cleavage isn’t showing. The patients in the hospital are already suffering, the last thing they need is someone to come in looking as though they are going to the club. I know that sounds really harsh but professionalism is very important.

Scrubs

This is not negotiable! You need about 2 or 3 pairs of scrubs. I used TWO pairs of scrubs the entire semester and survived. I was afraid people were going to make fun of me or talk bad because I only had those two scrubs BUT in reality, most people did too. You are in ICM lab at the most two times a week. You can wear professional clothes to the labs but scrubs are easy to get in and out of. Please get them.

Clipboard

I thought long and hard about whether I should put clipboard under recommended or required but I think I’m going to say it’s required. You will be standing up and writing a lot in EBS 5 for ICM. So you really do need this especially when you go into the hospital to take notes on your patients.

Not needed but RECOMMENDED:

Robbins Pathology Hard Copy textbook

This is the reference book for everything path. Dr. W loves this book and her powerpoints are based on this so I highly recommend having this book for Dr. W’s lectures. Dr. J, doesn’t use it so much because he gives you everything you need to know in his powerpoints. He recommends pre-reading it before class.

UWorld Qbank

I recommend doing lots and lots of UWorld questions for pharm as well as for path AND for preparing for USMLE STEP 1. Getting your subscription now and doing just 10 questions a night puts you ahead of the game. By the end of the semester you will finish HALF of the UWorld question bank. When you get to Maine, you can finish the second half. Trust me, there is no negative aspect about purchasing this set of questions. Please budget it in somehow!

Before the exams and quizzes, I did these questions and they were helpful. You can’t go wrong with UWorld.

Flashcards

I am a strong advocate for flashcards because this is the method that works for me. I use both hard copies and electronic flashcards such as Quizlet. If you’re not a flashcard person, that’s okay, we all have our own methods of studying but if you are, make sure you stock up before coming to EBS 5.

I used them for all of the EBS 5 classes because there is so much information so in a way they helped me with organizing each topic or disease or drug. I used Quizlet for pharm and hard copy cards for Path and ICM.

Pathoma book and videos

I didn’t use the Pathoma book or videos for path at all. BUT I am using it for reviewing for NBME final. Pathoma is a review resource. Because the final is cumulative and we have learned everything we need to know, I’m using Pathoma to review the material. I will let you guys know how that works out after I take the NBME.

I think this is it. You don’t need a reflex hammer, opthalmoscope, otoscope or any of those things but if you can afford them, please get them because it would be nice to have your own to practice with on your friends and family and while in lab; however, these items are provided to you in lab for practice.

Get in contact with me if you have any questions!

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Transitioning from EBS 4 to EBS 5

First off, I want to say congrats to everyone who will be making it out of EBS 4 into EBS 5! You are one step closer to finishing basic sciences and another step closer to fulfilling your dream!

EBS 4 was TOUGH!!! This semester was packed with information but you did it and I am so happy for each and every one of you because I know the struggle!!!

When I was heading in to EBS 5, I didn’t really have a guide. I didn’t have anyone to say, “Hey, heads up, this is what you need and don’t need for EBS 5 and by the way, don’t do this but do this instead.” I think it’s so important to have that because not only will you mentally prepare but it is also motivational. You will be so much more prepared for the semester if you know what to expect.

After EBS 4, I was just chilling, super excited that I am about to enter my final semester of basic sciences and more determined than ever to finish successfully. I don’t think I mentally prepared for EBS 5 though because from the very first day, I was already exhausted.

Here are some tips that I recommend for a smooth transition from EBS 4 to EBS 5 and if you follow some of this advice, I guarantee you will be more prepared than a lot of students starting EBS 5.

First: Take a deep breath. You did it. You passed EBS 4! But wait, before you take that deep breath, go ahead and email the school’s nurse and ask her if your immunizations are up to date or which titers and immunizations you NEED to get for the hospital rotations here on the island and for Maine. If you’re reading this and are on campus, don’t even email her, just run up to her office, ask her to look at your file too see which vaccines, titers, and boosters you ALREADY have. In my experience, she’s horrible with emails so it’s best to go up to her office to ask.

The reason that I recommend taking care of this now BEFORE the break, while you are still on the island is because if you need a vaccine or booster and it is available on the island, it is a lot cheaper to go ahead and get that taken care of on the island than back home.

Okay, now that you already went and asked her or emailed her, you can proceed reading this post.

Over the break, get all of your vaccines that you need and titers, get your updated immunization records from your doctor, and bring these papers with you on the very first day of classes.

On that first day of classes, as soon as you get to campus, go upstairs and hand those files to the nurse. I’m not joking when I say go up there on the very first day as soon as you get to campus or as soon as the nurse gets there. The key here is that you want to be among the first 30 students to turn in your forms because you will be in the first group to rotate in Maine.

Why would you want to be in the first group when you get to Maine? BECAUSE would you rather be doing your preceptorship, ICM II class, CPR class, and getting all of that out of the way and then doing Kaplan alone and studying for STEP 1 during the second part of Maine semester OR would you rather do Kaplan, studying for step, and going back and forth to preceptorship?

My reasoning is that I would knock out preceptorship, ICM II, CPR class and anything extra so that during the second half of the Maine semester, all I am doing is Kaplan and studying for STEP. I want the second half of Maine to be dedicated only to STEP studying. Of course, when I get to Maine, I’ll be able to tell you guys what exactly what you should do. But for now, this is the best advice I can pass down.

I think this is about it for the transition between EBS 4 to EBS 5. EBS 5 is an intense semester and time is a huge issue. I’ll make another post about what I recommend you should study or how you can prepare for classes over the break.

Enjoy the break, get your things together for the semester and start with the mentality that in just 4 months, basic sciences will be over!

Email me with questions if you have any!

Study schedule for the week downloadable

I have another free downloadable for you guys! I’m old fashioned so I still like to write out my schedule on pen and paper.

I print one of these out every week and fill it out. I also have my schedule on google calendar, but with the printable, I can hang it on my wall in front of my desk or stick in my binder along with my notes.

Study Schedule

You can download this planner for free here: Weekly Schedule

Let me know what you guys think about this one (:

 

Weekly meal planner

Below is my custom weekly meal prep planner. I made this a while ago when I was bored and I use it for meal prep now. I have a bunch of these printed and I fill one out every Sunday to help me organize what I am going to eat that week.

It also helps me organize what groceries to get so that I stick to my budget rather than buy things I’m not going to eat. In the past I would just buy whatever groceries and then make what I can out of them to eat. A lot of times, I would end up throwing away stuff that went bad because I wasn’t really eating them and I hated doing that!!

Having all my meals laid out in front of me helps me narrow down exactly what I need to buy so I don’t overspend or waste food. It also helps me visualize how healthy or unhealthy I’m eating and it really takes the hassle out of thinking about what foods to eat that day.

It’s super helpful for block weeks when there is no time to do anything but study!

Weekly meal plan

If you want to try this, you can download for free here: Weekly meal plan

Let me know what you guys think (:

The Medical Tag

So! I’ve decided to do this medical tag to answer some questions you all might have. Thank you Doctorinspe for creating this tag and inspiring us medical students and new bloggers. I love Doctorinspe‘s blog. It highlights some important aspects of medicine that we must all consider like mental health and the importance of blood donations. Thanks again Doctorinspe!

Who are you and where do you study?
My name is Alli. I am a 2nd year medical student and I attend medical school in the beautiful West Indies!

When did you start studying medicine or premed courses?
I have wanted to become a physician for as long as I can remember so it has always been the goal for me. I started my premed classes in undergrad and took two years after undergrad to complete those courses in a postbacc program.

What made you choose the medical field?
I chose medicine/medical field because I found that it was the best way for me to give back while still receiving gratification in return. Also, coming from a developing nation has always played a HUGE role in my decision to pursue medicine. I have a passion to serve underrepresented populations, especially seeing as how I come from one.  I feel that medicine is the best way for me to contribute back to my home the best way I possibly can!

I’ve shadowed a variety of physicians and volunteered in different hospitals/hospital departments throughout high school and undergrad. There wasn’t a single day where I didn’t see myself working there as a physician.

How did you come up with your blog name/username?
Coming up with my blog name was probably the hardest thing I have ever done LOL I brainstormed so much. I wanted something to connect back to where I was from and to showcase my identity. As Sudanese people, we refer to ourselves as “children of the Nile” because the Nile River runs right through our country. When I finally came up with “Nile Child” and saw that the domain was available, I definitely had to stick with it.

How would you describe your blog?
At this stage, I’m not sure exactly how to describe my blog. It’s both an outlet for me and an advice source for anyone seeking advice. It’s without a doubt geared for pre-meds or med students. I want it to be a source of inspiration for students.

What’s your favorite quote?
I have a lot of favorite quotes but my favorite one lately is: “Surround yourself with only people who are going to lift you higher” by Oprah Winfrey. I really like this quote because I believe that every goal driven person should not waste his or her time with people who are bringing them down, especially not in medical school. It is stressful as it is. There is NO TIME for drama.

Best memory in medical school?
My favorite memory in medical school so far is when I attended a volunteer event with the Muslim Student Association of my university. We went to an orphanage where we spent time with the children and had dinner with them. This was the first time I had ever been to a children’s home. It definitely opened my eyes. Sometimes we don’t realize how lucky and blessed we are. Those kids had hardly anything but they were still smiling and laughing.

What’s one course you struggled with?
oh. em. gee. Organic chem was the worst for me in undergrad SMH! I still don’t understand it. SO GLAD IT’S OVER. In med school, Neuroscience was a struggle as well. All of those tracts and such confused me and took me SO LONG to learn but once I was able to get it, I got it!

What’s your favorite book?
hmmm….this is a hard one. Can Shakespeare plays count? “Taming of the Shrew” is probably my favorite one but I like a bunch of them. The Alchemist is another book that I like. Thanks J for forcing me to read that book because turns out I really like it.

What do you do in your free time?
What free time? LOL After block exams I usually clean and get my life together to prepare for the next block which starts the next day LOL. I also like to catch up on shows on Netflix, bake/cook.

What do you want to major or specialize in?
I’m not sure exactly what I want to specialize in just yet but stay tuned. Once I get to clinical rotations, I think I will have a better idea of which type of medicine I’d like to practice. I’ve always wanted to be a pediatrician though (:

Who do you look up to?
I look up to a lot of people. For instance, Oprah Winfrey. Who doesn’t look up to Oprah though? I look up to my mentor who has guided me through life since I was 10 years old. I owe her the world. She embodies everything I want to be! I also look up to my parents who have worked and continue to work so hard so that I can succeed. Writing this, I realize how incredibly blessed I am to have these people.

How do you study (productively)?
Flashcards! Flashcards! Flashcards! and rewriting notes in different colors. I believe in active learning as well so sometimes I’ll talk to myself while reading my notes out loud. Medical school teaches you how to study. The one thing I’ve learned about studying during my time in basic sciences is that repetition is the best way to succeed.

How do you stay motivated in medical school?
A friend of mine asked me this recently. I have a huge fear of failure so I honestly, that motivates me. I’ve worked so hard to become a physician and I’ve gotten this far. Failing is not an option. I also look at my life and see where I am now and where I want to be. This motivates me a lot because I don’t want to be stuck in my current situation.

What are your best tips for future medical students?
Don’t ever let anyone tell you that you can’t do it or that you are not cut out to become a doctor. You can and you will. With this being said, you have to work hard. It’s definitely not easy. There are times where we feel like giving up but thinking of the end goal helps us out. Take it one day at a time. Another tip that I think is important is working on discipline. It’s easy to get distracted but having discipline will keep you focused.

I hope this answers some of you all’s questions. If you have any more questions or need advice, don’t hesitate to email me or leave a comment (:

The perfect gifts for medical students

It’s that time of the year again and if you are looking for the perfect gift for your medical student, you’ve come to the right place! Here’s a list of a few gift ideas (in no particular order) that may help you in search:

1. Stethoscope

As medical students, not only do we wan’t a stethoscope but we absolutely NEED one. A lot of us use Littman stethoscopes but there much more affordable ones out there and that doesn’t make them any less than Littman. No matter which stethoscope you purchase, you can make it more special by having the student’s initials or name engraved on it.

Make sure to check with the school before making this purchase to see which stethoscope they require their students to have.

2. UWorld Subscription

Medical students worldwide use UWorld to prepare for the USMLE (License Exam). These are a set of retired USMLE questions that help the students figure out where they stand. A subscription to UWorld is a little on the expensive side; however, almost every student who has taken the Step 1 of the license exam would recommend it!

Image result for uworld logo3. Scrubs

Depending on the school that your medical student goes to, he or she is more than likely required to purchase their own scrubs. A lot of schools have a specific company that ask their students to purchase from but if not, I recommend Cherokee Scrub tops and bottoms. I love the way these fit, the variety of sizes they have, and how comfortable they are. A lot of people opt for unisex scrubs as well.

4. First Aid book

I think most medical students can agree that is their copy of First Aid is almost practically their bible for USMLE STEP 1. From the beginning of basic sciences, we each purchase this book and annotate it so that when it is time to study for STEP 1, it’s ready…at least we are supposed to anyways. Make sure to purchase the latest edition of this book.

5. Coffee Machine / Espresso Maker

A friend of mine who was already in Med school laughed at me when I told her, I would get through medical school without drinking coffee. We are always so tired and sleepy and a coffee is the answer to our problem. A coffee maker would make a great gift for your medical student, no matter which year he or she is in.

6. Gym bag

Exercise is truly the best stress reliever and why not give the give of stress relief? I have the Adidas Squad III gym bag and I love it! It has so many pockets for literally everything that you would need to bring to the gym/locker room. Plus, the bag is really cute!

7. Stethoscope Heart Art Decal

Almost everyone I know has this art decal on their laptop. It’s just a cute way to proclaiming to the world that we are medical students. We are passionate about what we are doing! This is a cute and inexpensive gift.

8. Noise canceling headphones

If you are thinking about getting your medical student noise canceling headphones, you will definitely be appreciated I guarantee that! A lot of us use these in the library or coffee shops because event though we like the environment, we like to study in total silence. Here, here, and here are some cool ones that I’ve seen my classmates with:



9. Crockpot / Slow cooker

A crockpot would make a great gift for anyone who does not have a lot of time to cook. With the help of Pinterest, there are so many different crockpot recipes that can be made. I purchased my crockpot before coming to medical school and I use it for my meal prep every week. I just place whatever ingredients a recipe calls for, go and study and come back to a cooked meal. Most crockpots are also rice makers so you get a 2 in 1 deal. Such a great investment!

10. Dissection Kit

So this gift can be for pre-meds or incoming medical students. When we first start medical school, we start anatomy lab and our first human dissections. I purchased this dissection kit from Amazon for my anatomy lab. If you get this kit for pre-med students then I believe its a motivational/encouraging gift that says “soon you’ll get to use this!”

11. DNA Pendant / EKG Pendant

This makes a cute gift for a friend or significant other. Who doesn’t like jewelry?

12. Pens / Highlighters

Without a doubt, your medical students will need colorful pens and highlighters. I would like to argue that there is no one on earth who takes more notes than us medical students. We will appreciate this gift because 1) its practical and 2) we need it.

13. Watch

It looks really bad in clinicals if we don’t have a watch. This is another thing that we need. We learn to count heart rate, breath sounds, etc. and having a watch makes it much easier. I have had my Seiko watch for the longest time and it has definitely came in handy in med school.

14. Reusable spill-proof coffee tumblers

Like I mentioned before, we drink lots of coffee and/or tea. Over these past two years, I’ve accumulated a number of coffee mugs/tumblers but nothing beats the spill-proof ones I have. These are great for the library or computer lab where we are not allowed to have drinks unless they are in a spill-proof container.

15. Reusable Water bottles

No one likes to be dehydrated! Water bottles much appreciated from all of us. I love my Camelbak water bottles!

16. iPad / Tablet

I purchased my own iPad in the very beginning of med school when I realized almost everyone had either an iPad or a tablet of some sorts. A lot of people take their notes directly on the iPad; however, I use it because it is portable and I can study from it virtually anywhere. It is probably the best investment that I made and I am sure any medical student will love an iPad or tablet as a gift. When I head off to clinicals, I will invest in an iPad mini instead of the larger one I have because it can easily fit in the lab coat pocket and can be used for quick reference.

               

17. Gift Cards

Gifts cards are always the safest gift to give. If you don’t know which kind of gift card, one to a restaurant would be PERFECT!

I hope that this list gave some of you ideas! I know a lot of these gifts are pricey and honestly, a lot of us can’t even afford them, that’s why they would make an extra special gift!

The “I just graduated college but I don’t know what to do now” dilemma: Pre-Med Edition

Okay so, the title to this post was definitely shorter in my head lol

Anyways…

A friend of mine recently reached out to me asking for advice about what to do during a gap year between applying for medical school and graduation. Another friend reached out to me asking for advice to make herself a better candidate for medical schools now that she has finished college.

So I thought, “hmm…I wonder who else needs help with this dilemma and could potentially benefit from me sharing this bit of  type of advice?”

Let me start by first saying that I am so proud of anyone who is still chasing after that MD or DO or that PA despite the obstacles. You are going to make strong physicians because you are the ones that persevere through tough times. You are the ones that the world needs.

Not everyone has a straight path to medicine. I know I definitely didn’t. What’s important is that it is still the goal.

I’m here to tell you that even though you’re done with college and everyone of your friends seems to have their lives together, you can still reach your goals of getting into medical school.

Don’t be discouraged just because your GPA wasn’t flawless or you did not get a perfect MCAT or money is the obstacle. If you wan’t to be a doctor and you feel it from the bottom of your soul, you will become that doctor.

This dilemma is one that most of us in medical school has experienced before. Not every doctor you have met went straight from college into Medical School and if a student did go straight into medical school after college, this does NOT mean they will make a better physician than you, it just means they got there earlier and will finish earlier. But remember, it’s not a race.

Because  I have personally experienced this dilemma, I am here to offer some words of encouragement and tell you that yes, you will get into medical school and yes, you will be that doctor.

So, you just graduated or about to graduate but have no idea what to do next. Your academic advisor has told you that there is no way you will ever get into medical school with your GPA and you should explore other career options. You go home, and are both hurt and determined as ever by this news. You decide that you can’t give up on your life’s goal.

Lets pause here at this moment and figure out where to go from here. Below are some steps that I believe everyone in this situation should look at to help figure out what the next moves are”:

Realistically examine your situation

These are questions that you should step away from everything and ask yourself:

Where am I?

  • Have I finished college or am I going to graduate soon?
  • What does my GPA look like?
  • What about my MCAT score? Have I taken the MCAT?
  • Did I gain something meaningful out of my extracurricular activities?
  • Did I complete all of the medical school prerequisite courses?
  • Would getting a Master’s degree enhance my GPA and my competitiveness? What about completing a post-bacc program?

What can I do now?

  • Now that you have answered those questions and realistically examined where you stand, think about what can you do now in the short term before applying to schools. For instance, before I graduated college, I knew that I didn’t complete the pre-reqs for med school and I knew I would take about two years to complete them and I also knew that I didn’t have enough meaningful extracurricular activities. So, what I did was immediately contact places where I could volunteer so that I can start ASAP.
  • Also, start gathering information on medical schools immediately if you haven’t already been doing so.

What do I NOT want to do?

  • Are there some things that you consider deal breakers? For instance, I know a lot of people will not come to the Caribbean for medical school because they believe that it is a scam and that they will never be doctors. This is of course not true but for those that want to continue believing this without doing the proper research, then I can’t say much to you.
  • Also, do you NOT want to do a master’s program? Why or why not?
  • Do you NOT want to do a postbac?
  • Can you work and take pre-reqs or is that NOT an option.

As you are realistically examining your situation, you can kind of lean toward something whether it is completing a post-bacc or taking a break from school to work and getting back to it.

Whatever you decide to do, you should still follow the next step:

Gather information

Now that you have realistically examined where you stand when it comes to medical school requirements and how competitive of an applicant you are, it’s time to gather information based on your stats.

  • Going back to the first question, “Where am I?” you have to figure out what you need to do now. If your GPA is low or MCAT is low, you want to research schools that are more lenient in accepting students with low GPA’s and MCAT scores.
  • If there is a medical school close by, I would drive up to their admissions office, show them who you are, tell them what your intention are, why you are interested in their school and ask for advice about how to become more competitive to be admitted to that school.
  • Have you researched about Master’s programs and post-bacc programs? If not, this would be the time to do so. If so, which ones are you looking at and what are the requirements for them? What I did was make a long list of Master’s programs and another long list of post-bacc programs. From there, I started figuring out which programs would take me based on my stats and which wouldn’t and started crossing ones off.
  • Here, I would also research Masters or Post-bacc programs that are directly tied with medical schools. Some of these programs guarantee admissions into their medical schools assuming that you successfully complete the program with a certain GPA. Some of these programs also offer MCAT tutoring.

AAMC has great information on Post-bacc programs.

UAB School of Medicine has another list that is worth checking out.

Don’t be afraid

My last piece of advice is DO NOT BE AFRAID. There is a quote out there that says something like, “if your dream doesn’t scare you, it isn’t big enough.” I agree but then again I don’t agree with this quote.

Of course, the process to getting to medical school is a little scary because it isn’t guaranteed immediately; however, my biggest motivator is seeing those before me who have been successful with getting in and becoming doctors. I believe that if there is someone out there who made it, there is nothing stopping you from doing it.

Don’t be afraid to take a leap. I definitely did when I decided to move to the West Indies for Medical School. I never ever ever imagined that I would be here. But here I am.

Anything new is a little scary but keep reminding yourself of the goal. Keep praying. Keep believing in yourself. A little anxiety is normal, healthy, even because it motivates us to keep pushing.

You got this!

Email me questions/comments: Contactnilechild@gmail.com