Sunday, April 30, 2017

Bittersweet Ending

April community service hours: 8 hours
Spring semester total community service hours: 33 hours 
2016-2017 Academic year total community service hours: 63 hours 

Hi there!

Just as the program started so quickly in July of last year, it is swiftly coming to an end. It has truly been a pleasure and an honor living in the Crescent City and experiencing everything it has to offer while studying medicine! The end of this chapter for me is so bittersweet because I've met many wonderful people throughout this program and fell in love with an awesome city. There's definitely no other place like New Orleans and I wish I had another year in this program to continue to explore the city. Hopefully I will be able to return for medical school, fingers crossed! 

As I sit here and reflect on this past year, it amazes me how fast paced this program is and how many hours of studying we had to put in. Yet, I was still able to attend many of the events the city offered, volunteer at a high school and homeless shelter, and keep up with school work. I've said this many times before in my previous blog posts, but if there is one thing this program has taught me, it is time management and working efficiently so that you have more time in a day to do the things you love.  

Aside from being able to live in one of the coolest cities ever, I am pleased with my performance in this program. As with anything, there is always room for improvement and it took me a bit to get back into the routine of going to school as I was working before. But once I did, it was smooth sailing from there. Being able to do well in medical pharmacology, the course that we took with the 2nd year medical students, has really given me the confidence boost that I needed for this upcoming application cycle. I look forward to being able to talk about this program during my interviews. Once again, New Orleans, you've been amazing to me and I'm going to miss you. Until next time!   

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Sam and I at Tulane's Crawfest, one of my favorite event of the year! Oh crawfishes, I'm going to miss you guys more than anything! 

Sunday, April 2, 2017

March-ing onward!

It's hard to believe that we are so close to the end of the program. One more month and it will officially be the end of this chapter for me. But lets rewind a little and talk about what happened in the last month! March was an especially busy month. We had the fantastic opportunity to experience Mardi Gras over spring break and when that was over it was already March 5th. The NBME shelf exam was right around the corner so I dove straight back into studying. Studying an entire year's worth of curriculum for one exam was indeed challenging but I have to admit it was kind of fun. Testing myself to see how much I actually learn this year was a great way to reflect on this program. The practice exam questions soon turned into a trivia game for me and it was fun to go through all the practice questions to see how many drugs, their mechanism of action, indications, and side effects I had transferred into long term memory. This exam reminded me that medicine is what I want to do for the rest of my life. Not only was it interesting, it made me want to learn more and master the topics I didn't know. In regards to the NBME exam, I believe I rose to the occasion and showed how much I had learned in the past year. And now we wait for our exam scores!

In addition to studying for the NBME and MCAT, I have been volunteering at the Ozanam Inn, a male homeless shelter that serves the greater New Orleans area. Working with and serving the patrons of Ozanam Inn has been a humbling and eye-opening experience. The work routine isn't difficult, we prep and serve food for those who live at the inn and those who come at 6pm for dinner. The best part about this experience for me is meeting new people and listening to their stories. It has made me realize how truly lucky I am to be where I am today and how important it is to lend a helping hand to those who need it. Everyone will fall on hard times, whether it be without a home or some sort of challenge in their life, and it is crucial to have support to get through it. The men had said themselves, even though they technically have enough hands to prep and serve the food, it is still nice to have a new face to talk to and share their stories with. And to be able to assist with that is a wonderful feeling.

March Community Service Hours: 7 hours
Total Semester Community Service Hours: 25 hours 

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Pharmacology, Tornadoes, and Beads

Happy Mardi Gras my lovely readers!

February has been an action-packed month. And not just because of Mardi Gras, which was an adventure in itself, but I guess I can start there. This was my first Mardi Gras and needless to say, I've never seen anything like it. I've been told repeatedly, "Mardi Gras is a marathon, not a sprint! So pace yourself". Lo and behold, it is indeed a marathon, a long and glorious one I might add, so be prepared if you plan on attending one. I am grateful I was able to experience this iconic event while attending Tulane. To be able to see and experience Mardi Gras as a local was definitely one of the highlights of this celebration for me. 

Unfortunately there was also a natural disaster that occurred in the month of February. Roughly 8 tornadoes touchdown in East New Orleans and left a path of destruction. Homes, schools, and businesses were torn to pieces and many of the residents were left with little to nothing. Being so close to all of this was an eye-opening and humbling experience. To have all of your life's possessions with you in the morning and then gone by the afternoon is not something I had put much thought into. Thankfully, my apartment was not on the path of the tornadoes, but to think of others who's home were on that path is a sad thought. Immediately I wanted to help. After a quick search, a couple of classmates and I found that the Red Cross was asking for volunteers to help with the cleanup and the assessment of the disaster and so we signed up for it.

In between volunteering, studying for the MCAT, and checking out Mardi Gras festivities, I am glad to say that I have been doing well on this semester's block exams. The final exam, the shelf exam, is about 10 days away and I can't say I'm not nervous about it! However I've been studying diligently the last couple of days and will continue until March 15th. Until next time, check out some of pictures I took this month!

A gas station destroyed by the tornadoes 

 What is left of a home and car 

One of the homes my team assessed for damage from the tornadoes. I thought it was interesting that the front door was so high up. How do the residents get up there?

On a lighter note, the tree of beads from Mardi Gras on Tulane's Uptown campus

February Community Service Hours: 12 hours
Total Semester Community Service Hours: 18 hours 

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Round 2

With the blink of an eye, an entire semester of Pharmacology has passed by. Looking back, the girl that entered the program and the girl that is sitting here typing this blog are two slightly different people. The beginning of the program was a little nerve-wreaking for me. There was a lot of information that we had to learn and very little time to learn it all because we were getting tested on it about every 3 weeks. I was never good at studying as an undergraduate student, but I was still able to get good grades with my last-minute study methods. However, in this graduate program, you simply cannot study the material a couple of days before the exam and expect to do well because of the large amount of drug names, mechanisms of action, side effects, and information that you need to know. So I had to learn how to study correctly this time. It took some trial and error, but in the end I was able to figure out how to digest large amounts of information in a short amount of time and commit it to memory. For me, the key is repetition. If I start studying early and can go over the material a couple of times before the exam, and not just once as I did in undergraduate, I retain the information better and can think about it more critically. An added bonus is that I can go into the exam feeling confident and get a full night’s rest as oppose to going in on 3 hours of sleep and feeling the information leaking out of my brain with every passing second. Of course it helps to have a game plan, study a little every day, and focused on what the professor will be testing you on (hint: learning objectives). I am very pleased to have this figured out now as I prepare to study for one of the most important exams of my pre-med career, the MCAT. But I’m not as nervous about it as I would’ve been 6 and a half months ago. Now I have a game plan, a strong study method, and the tools I need to knock it out of the ball park. Round 2, let's go!

January Community Service Hours: 6 hours
Total Semester Community Service Hours: 6 hours      

Thursday, December 1, 2016

The Final Stretch

Hi everyone!

Tonight, I am excited to inform you that this will be my final blog post of the semester. The last four and a half months truly flew by in the blink of an eye and has been an exhilarating roller coaster ride for me. I came into this program nervous about my aspirations of becoming a doctor, yet eager to prove that I deserve a spot in this program and a seat in medical school. As I reflect on my progress this semester, I realize the enormous amount of information I have learned. From the cardiovascular/ANS systems to infectious diseases to the renal system, I have learned about a copious amount drugs, their mechanism of action, their indications, and side effects. By no means was this an easy task, and I remember initially feeling overwhelmed by the amount of information and wondered if I could really learn it all and be able to properly diagnose a patient. After months of continuously changing and customizing a study plan that best fits me for medical pharmacology, the second year medical school course, I feel I am at point where I can handle anything that is thrown at me. And to be able to say this about a second year medical course is a wonderful feeling. It has given me confidence that I never thought of having before entering medical school. In addition, being able to master and comprehend this course's material gives me a new found confidence that I will be able to bring with me to future medical school interviews. For this, I am grateful for Tulane's Masters of Pharmacology program. 

Another part of the Masters program is a volunteering component. Being the designated tutor of my large extended family, seventeen cousins to be exact, I have grown up to love kids and helping them understand their math and science classes with confidence. I am amazed at how much a confident child can learn compared to a child who doesn't think they have the ability to learn the material. When I found out about SciHigh, it seemed like the perfect volunteer opportunity. SciHigh has honestly exceeded all my expectations. My first day was the most memorable because the students welcomed me and had no problems asking for my help on school work. But my favorite moment was when they asked me questions about college and was interested about applying after I answered some of their questions. To some of us, college was the mandatory next step after high school, or so we thought at least. But for many of the kids at SchHigh, college may or may not be something they have thought about. Thus, being able to encourage them to think about it and having a positive reaction is an awesome feeling. I understand that this isn't a conversation that happens once. This is something that has to be brought up throughout the school year and broken up into obtainable goals, which is why I plan on seeing the kids on a regular basis and volunteering at SciHigh for as long as I can. All in all, I am satisfied and happy with my progress in the program and with my volunteering experience. It feels great to be productive and I look forward to continuing this wonderful progress next semester. See y'all then. Cheers!

This month's community service hours: 16 hours 
Total semester service hours: 30 hours 

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Pharm or Treat?

Hi y'all!

I've never used the term "y'all" before I came down South and now it's something I say without hesitation. Cool beans. Where do I begin...well, where did October go? October has been a whirlwind of a month. Busy to say the least. We started the month halfway through our Cardiovascular/ANS block. That block was especially dense and complex so a large chunk of my time was devoted to studying. I must say; I believe this was the hardest block so far but it was also the most interesting and rewarding block. After spending so many hours learning about all the heart failure drugs and ANS drugs, it felt good to be able to explain it to my friends and family back at home with ease. I’ve been in this pharmacology program for about 3 and a half months now and I feel like I am getting a taste of what medical school will be like. It is all about time management, keeping up with school, extracurricular activities; while finding time to do everything you want to do in between. It is doable and to be able to do it all without feeling overwhelmed or tired is an amazing feeling. I believe it is a routine and the sooner you get into it, the easier it gets. It took me over 2 months to get into the mentality and it is something I still work on every day. But as with anything, practice makes perfect. I feel like I say this on a monthly basis (and I’m sorry about that!) but I am truly grateful to have the opportunity to experience all of this through Tulane’s Pharmacology department. This program has made me a stronger medical school applicant and that is something I sincerely appreciate.

Another activity I’ve been busy with this month is volunteering at SciHigh. The kids just had their Science Fair last week and it was awesome to be a part of it again. Science Fair was one of my favorite activities in high school and I definitely had some trouble containing my excitement for it. Being a part of it this time as a teacher was also a different but fun experience nonetheless. What I realized is that the challenge of being a teacher is getting a wide range of kids who are very curious and involved to kids who don’t seem to understand the excitement of science. So, it is up to the teacher, and the volunteer, to make it fun and exciting for those students. I tried my best and hope the kids were excited as I was. And this wraps up my October post. November feels like it’s already in full swing and it is only the 1st. But no problems here, I’m ready to dive right into it! Cheers!

This month's community service hours- 8 hours
Total semester service hours- 14 hours

Friday, September 30, 2016

Po Boys, Gumbo, Crawfish Etouffee Fries, and more!

Annnddddd just like that, another month has passed by; quicker than a blink of an eye. September has been an exciting and eventful month for this Midwestern girl. Two of my good friends visited, on separate weekends; and as you can guess, there was a lot of exploring and eating that occurred. I now understand why the French Quarters is such a popular tourism spot. There is so much life and culture overflowing in that mile-long walk and there is literally something to do for all ages. I can go on and on about how awesome the French Quarter is but I digress…I am very excited to show more of my family and friends the beauty of NOLA as they make their rounds to visit me.

On another note, I also started volunteering at New Orleans Charter Science and Mathematics High School this month, tutoring kids in Environmental Science. I am elated to have chosen this volunteering opportunity because I feel like I am really getting a lot out and growing as a person again while working with the kids and learning from them. I forgot what it was like to be in high school, with all the insecurities and distraction that comes with growing up. Sometimes the kids just need hear you say something like, “wow you’d make a great engineer with that kind of logic” to knock an assignment out of the ball park. It has truly been a humbling experience and such an honor to teach these kids and hangout with them on a weekly basis. In the future, I’d like to tutor another class when I have more time so that I can reach out to more kids.   

As with school, classes have been in full swing for a while now. We just finished our 3rd block exam. School is kicking my butt, but in a very gratifying way. Going to class and studying is part of my everyday routine now. And it is a routine I’m glad to be in because without the routine, my grades would be nowhere near what it is now. And I believe medical school will be like this so I’m glad I have this part down at least! There is always room for improvement and I’m looking forward to scoring even higher on the next block exam! Thanks for tuning in, I’ll be back soon with another monthly update!

This month's community service hours- 6 hours
Total semester service hours- 6 hours