Back in the US! …..what now?

Basic sciences is OVER! I am officially done with all of the “book work” portion of med school jk, there are still some books involved…lots, and lots of books!

Not sure if I have explained before but with Caribbean Medical Schools, we study our basic sciences for two years overseas, on an island, and then come back to the United States to study for the USMLE and start clinical rotations!

I am beyond excited to be done with basic sciences but I definitely already miss the warm weather and beautiful views! I didn’t realize how much I would miss St. Kitts & Nevis but I definitely do. And to those who are still on the island and are coming back to the States, you will too, believe it or not!

The first few weeks of being back in the States and being in a new location was a little bit challenging because I’m technically starting over in a new place. The unfamiliarity can be scary at times but it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be.

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I came only a few days before classes in hopes of exploring a little before classes began but unfortunately it was rainy and cold up here so I didn’t get to see much of the city ! Three weeks in and I still haven’t been able to see much 😦  Hopefully soon though!

Classes go by REALLY fast and so do the weeks. I can’t believe I’m already on the 4th week! The current schedule is composed of lectures, virtual clinic (a simulated clinic), clinical skills training, preceptorships, CPR and ACLS training. This schedule is for the first 8 weeks of the semester only, the following 6 weeks will be Kaplan Review Lectures that we have to attend in preparation for the USMLE.

At first, the semester seemed chaotic because it was completely different than the basic sciences schedule but then once I got the hang of the schedule, I’ve realized it isn’t that bad. As of now, there are no Saturday or Sunday classes except for when we have CPR or ACLS training which is just two Saturday’s. Once we start the Kaplan Review classes for the USMLE, I hear the schedule is pretty packed and we even have classes on weekends but not sure if this is just a rumor or the truth!

Other than that, I’m loving preceptorships which is essentially a clinical rotation, just much shorter. I’m in peds with the little ones and I can’t believe how much I have learned already from this experience. Fortunately, I have an amazing preceptor who is always teaching me new things. He’s really passionate about peds which makes it that much more fun! I’m amazed with how much I have learned in such little time! Sadly, this week will be last preceptorship 😦 I can’t wait until my peds rotation!

Midterms are just around the corner aka next week so this weekend will be spent intensely reviewing !

For any questions, shoot me an email or comment down below (:

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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 “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

 

What it’s like to be a second year Medical Student:

What it’s like to be a second year Medical Student:

My first semester of medical school was probably the most stressful with adapting to a new country and the amount of course work that I had. But by now, I have routine so its a lot less stressful trying to balance everything.

I’m sure that most schools differ in when they schedule their classes and labs but all medical students generally take the same classes so that we can be prepared for Step 1 of the USMLE and ultimately be ready to treat our patients.

With this being said, my day usually starts early at 5:30am on weekdays. I start to get ready for classes, pack my lunch, drink my tea, mentally prepare for the day, and head to campus. I usually get to campus right at 7:30am and I study for an hour or so then I eat breakfast right before my 9:30am class or lab. On weekends, I wake up at 7:30am and start studying at 9:30am.

My first lecture or lab (depending on the day) starts at 9:30am everyday until about 11:20am. We get a 10 minute break halfway through the lecture for a quick snack or restroom break. After this lecture/lab, I get an hour break for lunch. During this hour, I usually eat lunch, call my mom, and go over flashcards before my next lecture if I have time. We also have a farmer who comes to our campus to sell fresh fruits and veggies so I make sure I visit them when they come once a week.

My second lecture is from 12:30pm until 2:30pm and afterward I stay on campus until about 3:45pm either to go to office hours or just wait for the school bus. Because I attend school at a Caribbean medical school, transportation is provided to the students at my university and the majority of us don’t have cars because 1. we can’t afford to have one or 2. we don’t feel comfortable with driving in a foreign country because of our lack of experience driving here. While I’m waiting for the school bus, I usually study my flashcards.

On my way home, I’m usually flipping through my Quizlet flashcards. I love Quizlet so much because I can access any of my flashcard decks on the go. I also flip through these cards as I’m waiting for the bus in the mornings before school. I get home at about 4:00-4:15 everyday. I sit down to study for about 1 and 1/2 hour then I give myself 45 minutes to eat dinner, meal prep, and clean up a little bit. Then I study from 7-9:30 and I work out from 9:30-10 on some days. I wish I could give myself more time to exercise but because of the demands of med school, I can’t. After I workout for a little bit, I shower and get in bed and continue studying.

My schedule differs day to day but is consistent every week, if that makes sense. For instance, I grocery shop once a week, either on Wednesday or Thursday but I have an allotted time for grocery shopping. I do my laundry once a week as well on the weekend and I do the majority of meal prepping with the exception of salads on the weekend. I’m grateful for the weekend because that’s when I get everything organized for the week in terms of my personal life and academics. The weekend also gives me a lot more time to catch up on school work. Yay!

With my experience, I’ve learned t’s all about balance in medical school. I’m the type of person who plans her meals ahead of time and makes lists for every little thing but I can honestly say that that has helped me maintain my sanity because it can all get so overwhelming so fast. My routine isn’t really set in stone and flexible because it’s important to realize that there are unforeseen circumstances that arise every once in a while. With that being said, I like to try to get ahead as often as possible with school work because in case something happens that throws me off of the schedule, I’ll know that I’m not really too far behind.

I keep mentioning my flashcards because that is the study method that works the best for me. Flashcards and drawing diagrams are what I usually do to help retain the information and Quizlet has helped me so much with this.

I hope this post gave some of you guys some insight on what a day in the 2nd year of medical school is like. If you have any questions, get in touch (: