This past weekend is yet another fun one to go down in the books! The weekend started Thursday night, but no pictures were taken- oops. I need to work on that! Friday was a busy day of homework, meetings, running 7.5 miles and Pre-Med Club Alumni Night!
I just recently joined the Pre-Med club at my school, but I joined at the right time because on Friday night, I had the opportunity to attend the Alumni Night. It was held in a nice location on campus with delicious food, but the best part of the night was being able to talk with West Chester pre-med alumni and various M.Ds and D.Os.
The night started with 45 minutes of schmoozing, eating and meeting and greeting. My friend and I sat down at a table with one other student and shortly after, three alumni joined us. Two of them are in their third year of medical school and one is in his first year. We asked them question after question about being in medical school, the number of hours they put in, if the workload is significantly higher than that of undergraduate classes, if their classes here prepared them for medical school. They all spoke very highly of the education that they received at West Chester and the way they felt extremely prepared going into medical school. About medical school itself, when we asked what they thought of it, they said there is so much bad, but there is also good. When we asked if they ever feel like they can’t do it anymore, they said they feel that way every day, but there are also plenty of reminders as to why they should stick with it and they have a goal they are excited to reach, although that may be twelve years off from now.
After speaking with them for a while, our attention was turned to the front of the room where there were a panel of M.Ds and D.Os that answered a number of questions. When asked what the hardest part of medicine is, all five of them answered that it is when they need to be the person that tells a 23-year-old woman’s family that their daughter died during childbirth because of a mistake made my an intern, or when the neurosurgeon needs to tell a seven-year old boy’s mother that he will be in a vegetative state for the rest of his life due to head trauma. They all agreed that the hardest part is the human interaction and being the person to break bad news. On the flip side of that, they said that the human interaction is also the most rewarding- being the person that heals people and saves lives is the best feeling in the world.
In addition to that, the paperwork and administrative stuff is pretty tedious, but needs to be done to avoid being sued.
When asked how they balance work and life outside of work, the first person to answer was the neurosurgeon, who said that his typical workweek is 80 HOURS per week since he does surgery for 50-60 hours a week and then does research until 12 or 2 am each night. I think I gasped when he said that, but was comforted when another one of the doctors stopped him and said that those kind of hours might be how some doctors choose to live their life, but for him, when he leaves work, he leaves work and works around 50 hours per week. I commend the neurosurgeon for his dedication to his research, but I don’t think I could possibly do surgery, let alone surgery on someone’s brain, if I worked 8 hours per week!
Some tips that they gave:
- Have persistence create a goal and associate yourself with people that have a similar goal or the same work ethic
- Make your classes your priority, but enjoy your time as well.
- Significant others don’t matter (says the neurosurgeon)
- It is okay to change your mind about what you want to do 2, 3, 4 times, but if you plan to change your mind after you are done medical school, maybe it’s better to become a physician‘s assistant. They make it so it is very difficult to change specialties after finishing residency.
- Find a balance between family and work, because without family, you won’t enjoy your work.
- Deciding what you want to do comes down to deciding what bodily fluid you want to work with. Cerebral Spinal Fluid is the champagne of body fluids- it’s not slimy, smelly, or weirdly colored.
- Don’t let a bad rotation with rude and mean people turn you off from a specialty that you may have had an interest in. If you have rude attendings, go back to that specialty for an elective and try it again.
- On the other hand, don’t let great people make you fall in love with a specialty, but then you realize it was the people and not the specialty. Separate your emotions for the people from your emotions for the work. (I’m so glad they said this because I am the type of person who associates good or bad experiences with the people involved)
- Make sure you are ready to do the same thing, every day, for the rest of your life.
- You need to be able to process information very quickly because in medical school, it’s like trying to drink water from a fire hydrant. (GULP).
- You must have an internal drive.
- Getting into medical school is the biggest hurdle. Once you do that, medical school and residency are kind of like conveyor belts- it’s really hard to get off and most people make it to the end.
After about an hour of panel questions, be had to opportunity to speak with the doctors and network a bit. I spoke with one for about 45 minutes who did a post-bac program at West Chester. He didn’t feel any less prepared for medical school even though he didn’t have the opportunity to take all of the extra courses that most traditional bio and chem students take. He also said that post-bac is post-bac, so do it where it is the least expensive.
I talked to one paramedic turned D.O and his biggest piece of advice is to have one person who can be there to tell you that you’re taking on too much, or to tell you to keep pushing. Oh, and he said don’t fall in love with a doctor if you’re also a doctor.
After a solid three and a half hours, I felt pretty overloaded with information, but I also felt like I had a new found drive to work hard in my classes and get the grades I need to get to get where I hope to be one day.
It was really great to be able to ask so many questions and pick up a few business cards, which I will hopefully be using to set up a couple shadowing opportunities. There is only one thing that I wish I would have had the opportunity to ask- there was only one M.D on the panel that is a woman and I really wanted to ask her if and how she dealt with the the dream of becoming a doctor, but also the dream of having a family and how she found a balance between the two, because that is definitely something that I worry about.
Anyway, after the Alumni Night, I walked back and met up with my friends and had another fun night, again with no pictures..
Saturday was spent babysitting ALL day- so exhausting and as soon as I got back, I was STARVING. I immediately threw everything and anything that looked good into a bowl and heated it up. I’m not even going to put up the picture of it because it looked SO unappetizing, but it was delicious. I mixed the remainder of the butternut squash soup with barley, oatmeal, lentils, and a masala veggie burger and threw it in the microwave. Processed food at its finest!
This morning started with a quality workout after a good night’s sleep (which I really needed). I ran 2.5 miles with Christine and then did a shoulder workout with 30 second bursts of cardio interspersed between each set. After working up a nice sweat, we headed to brunch and I couldn’t decide on any one thing, so I had everything 🙂
I spent the entire day doing little odds and ends, as well as studying a ton of nutrition, so after a few hours, I started feeling hungry and heated up one of my new soups.
I’m happy to report that this flavor is SO MUCH BETTER and doesn’t have a boxed-soup taste like the last one did. It’s a winner!
I spent the afternoon learning about the vitamins in fruits and vegetables, so dinner was a big bowl of iron, lycopene, carotenoids, carotene, flavonoids, chlorophyll, anthocyanins and anthoxanthins! A.k.a a big salad 🙂
Studying and seeing Silver Linings Playbook is on the books for tonight!
Enjoy the rest of your night!