How you can make a difference as a medical student on rotations

We play a small but mighty role in the lives of our patients!

It can be pretty hard sometimes to find your place as a member of the “team” while you’re on your rotations. Speaking from experience, it’s hard to feel like I’m making much of a difference. After feeling good about the patient encounter and presenting everything to the attending (including the correct diagnosis for the patient), they come in and ask all the same questions and do all the same physical exam! Of course I understand why, but I can’t help but feel a little undermined at times. If you’re in a big hospital on a team with interns and residents then you might feel even more useless, because the students in training do all of the real work. I remember feeling lost in the shadows my time on a hospitalist team. Technically I was following my own patients and would present on them, but after rounds I was pretty out of the loop, unless I forced myself into it (and I didn’t want to be that girl). So it can be pretty frustrating. But rest assured, there are ways that you can impact your patients unlike any other person, as well as make a huge difference for your care team.

We’re eager and fresh in this new environment. We haven’t been jaded by the system and we only want to do the best by our patients. Our hearts tug when we hear bad news; we give people the benefit of the doubt; we believe it when they say they’re taking their medicine. This is such a meaningful thing that patients actually notice! There’s a difference in the way a medical student talks to them versus an attending. We show them the compassion, care, and empathy that they truly need and sometimes don’t get. There are times we can do more for them than all of the medications and tests that the residents are ordering. We have the time to sit with them and get to know them more personally. This especially goes if you don’t have to write notes after your patient encounter. More practically, there are many things you can do to be a rockstar team member: print rounding reports, gather new data on patients, do extra research on topics you or the residents may be pimped on, etc.

I’ll always remember on my OB/GYN rotation, there was a patient whose child had to be transported to another hospital while she had to stay to recover. It was so hard for her to be separated from her child. I came in during pre-rounds and was a soundboard for her to express her feelings. I told her that she was going to be a wonderful mom and that the time would soon come for her to be reunited with her child. I stopped in again later in the day, and as she was being discharged, she thanked me so much for being her rock as she waited for the go-ahead to leave the hospital. And she gave me the biggest hug. She said people just came in and out of her room all day and no one cared what she was going through. In that moment I felt like I did more for her than any of the nurses or even my attending–who really just signed her discharge papers.

So just remember that even though you might not have access to the computer record to look up patient info, or you might be the third person to take the same patient history, you really can make all the difference in a patient’s life. Our worth as medical students is unfortunately defined by how good our oral presentations and differential diagnoses are. But our worth as physicians is really in the connections we make with patients and in the rapport we build with them. That’s what makes all the difference. While learning to be good clinicians, we are also learning to be good doctors.

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Have a wonderful week! Subscribe on your way out if you haven’t already!

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Life and Death

A week of palliative care has shown me a lot

I’ve spent a week on my palliative care rotation and boy has it been heavy. Palliative care is focused on quality of life and relief of symptoms, especially towards the end of life. I’m assigned to a nursing home, so not only am I exposed to end of life issues, but I’ve been able to learn about geriatric/elder patient care in general. I did a puzzle with a 94 year-old in occupational therapy and I saw a patient around the same age in her last days of life. It’s been quite the ride.

Earlier in the week I was part of a very delicate conversation concerning one of our patients nearing the end of life. It was a team meeting with the patient’s son and grandson. Our medical director asked questions like “how do you envision a good death for the patient?” and “what are your goals for the end of life?” They were trying to think about what the patient would want, as he could no longer speak for himself. Such a delicate time for the family.

Dealing so much with death and end of life has actually made me reflect a lot on life and how we all want to life full lives. And even at old age, after living a full life, death can still come suddenly to a family. There’s never really any way to prepare for that conversation. But it’s a reminder to live each day to the fullest and take advantage of all the ways you can make a difference in people’s lives. To pursue your passions and not put a hold on your goals for life. Because at the end, we aren’t all going to be blessed with the opportunity to plan out how we or our loved ones will leave the world.

As a future physician it’s nerve-racking to think that I’ll have to have these kind of conversations with patients and their families as soon as my first year out of school. So I’m happy to be getting the small exposure I am now so that maybe when I’m more important I’ll be able to guide a family through such a vulnerable time as this.


One more week of palliative care, then Family Medicine. Stay tuned. I’m excited for the week ahead!

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How to keep fighting the good fight

What do you do when you’re ready to throw in the towel?

It doesn’t take much time after starting school that all the excitement gets sucked out of everything and you’re just fighting to stay afloat. That’s not a very optimistic statement to make, but there’s some truth in it, especially in medical school. There are random moments when you’re reminded of why you’re putting yourself through such suffering, but they seem few and far in between, until you get to the clinical years. For the first two years of med school, lots of people use the swimming analogy: everyone is just trying to stay afloat. There’s times when you’ve got your stride and you’re cruising, and at some points (most points) you’re barely making it, swamped by the waves that keep coming and coming…and coming. It takes so much effort to stay afloat, eventually your body gets tired, and you want to say screw it. But you can’t. Because you’re supposed to get a couple letters behind your name soon, and you really want those letters.

So what do you do? Here’s some tips from my experience on how to keep fighting the good fight.

  1. Keep good friends around you–I don’t use the term friend here loosely. When Isay friend, I mean someone you can confide in, who knows your weaknesses, who you don’t have to explain yourself to, who only wants to uplift you. When we share our joys they are doubled, and when we share our burdens, they are halved. Medical school isn’t meant to go through alone. It’s important to have friends around you that can encourage you and tell you that you can do it when you don’t believe in yourself. Watch the people you surround yourself with, because negative, toxic friendships can easily add to hardship. happy dog sad hug adorable GIF
  2. Don’t rely on your own strength–We are all strong people, especially to be in this field. We know how to fight to stay up late or wake up early, study harder to get the results we want. But sometimes the fight just isn’t in us. Human strength isn’t always enough and we need to call on God to give us the supernatural strength and power we need to persevere. Surrender it to Him and let him take control. Staying faithful in the Word and strengthening your spirit can help you tap into that power on demand.
  3. Have an outlet/escape–It feels like my life is consumed by medicine, especially so back in first and second year. I found that it was actually harder for me to stay afloat when I convinced myself that I didn’t have time to refresh and do things I enjoyed. I would envy people who had time to keep up with TV series until I realized that they were making time for things to let their brains escape while I had mine on lock down. I learned that taking breaks can actually make your time studying more efficient. So when you feel like you’re ready to throw in the towel, do it. Refresh. But only for a little while.
  4. Give yourself positive affirmations–write them on your bathroom mirror, put  write you are beautiful writen GIF hem on your screensaver, leave sticky notes around your room, recite them to yourself every morning. Positive affirmations help increase your mental toughness, so when doubt, weakness, or negative energy comes your way you can easily block it out because you’re full or positivity. Examples include your favorite uplifting quotes, bible verses, or simple phrases such as: “you are smarter then you think,” “I am powerful,” “I’m going to be a doctor one day,” “You make the world a better place,” “you are important.” You get the idea.
  5. Trust the process–The road isn’t easy and it’s not supposed to be. This profession isn’t for the weak hearted. The process is meant to test you, sharpen you, grow you. We all struggle. When someone on the other side tells me that everything is going to be OK, it’s hard to swallow in the moment. But then I cross that hurdle and realize that they were right. When the going gets tough, instead of getting worn out, we have to trust that we will be better professionals because of this, and let our future selves motivate and pull us through.

Thanks for reading. If you liked this post, check out this one on Embracing the Journey! Subscribe below for more updates from The Balancing Act.

Getting into Medical School: The Interview

What you need to know to ace the interview!

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It’s interview season! The final step on the LONG journey to getting accepted to medical school, or any professional program. I’m here to give you tips to help you blow them out of the water! Remember that interviews can be offered anytime from about September all the way into April sometimes, so if you haven’t been offered an interview just yet, hang on because it’s probably still on it’s way! Interviews are nerve wrecking. Some schools are much calmer about them and others are way uptight (and sometimes rude). But it’s important to remember that if you have an interview, the school already wants you! All you have to do is prove to them that you’re not a crazy person. Anyway, get a snack and a notepad because I’m about to tell you everything you need to know.

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First, know what you’re getting yourself into

There are different interview styles to be familiar with. Who’s in the room: One-on-one vs. group interviews (multiple students ) vs. panels (multiple interviewers). What do they know about you: Closed (informal, they haven’t read your application) vs. Open (they know everything about you on paper). We are most familiar with the traditional interview where you’re faced with questions about yourself and your application. My school (MCG) has 2 interviews–one closed, one open. However some schools, like Duke for example, are using the MMI (multi mini interviews) style where you’re presented with several short practical assessments lasting less than 10 mins each. It can be draining and last up to 2 hours. Stations can include ethical dilemmas or essay writing. Learn more about the MMI here. I never did an MMI so I’m not qualified to give advice on prep for it, but I’ll link a SDN forum about it to check out what other people had to say. Everything else I’ll say is about the traditional interview.

Before the Interview

There is a fine line between preparing for an interview so you can feel confident going into it, and rehearsing your answers to 20 different questions. It’s important to prepare and the best thing to do is to use your school’s Career Center to set up a mock interview is you’re still around campus. Or you can google any set of common questions for the med school interview and have any other adult interview you with those. You need to practice eye contact, hand placement, and speaking clearly and concisely–meaning full sentences without “um” and limited rambling. You need to also practice thinking on your feet. That’s what these mock interviews can do for you. Of course you can already have your “strengths and weaknesses” down and that time you had to “work as a team” or “overcome adversity.” It’s definitely good to know what you’re going to talk about, but leave it at that. Don’t memorize your whole answer or you’ll go in and fumble or sound like a robot. It can also help to look up some current events in the field just in case they come up. But, I consider that low yield.

Closer to the day, review your entire application again, including resume and personal statement. You will likely be asked questions from it and you don’t want to get stumped by something you forgot you put in there. This mainly happens with research that you document. If you know you only pressed a few buttons and washed dishes for a project, but you still put the research on your application, then you need to be ready to explain what it was all about. So go back and re-read that abstract if you need to.

On the day of

  1. Dress the part: Everyone knows what to wear to an interview. I’m not going to waste my intrinsic hand muscles. I’ll only say that ladies in skirt suits need panty hose and it’s totally appropriate to bring a changing pair of flats if you want to wear heels but the school also offers a tour.
  2. SMILE: This is huge for me and anyone else out there who has RBF (resting b****   rihanna annoyed eye roll attitude GIFface). The interviews starts when you walk through the school doors. Be friendly and smile at all of the staff you encounter. I had a personal experience with this. I went to use the bathroom when I first arrived at one of my interviews and I was being friendly making small talk with this other woman in there. Later on I found out she was on the admissions committee! So you just never know.
  3. Learn about your interviewers: You should have a few mins to quickly Google your interviewer to at least see what department/area they’re in. Knowing just the slightest bit about your person can give you a heads up about the kind of questions you might expect (ex. if their main focus is research, they may ask about yours or your lack of research) and what kind of questions would be good to ask them at the end (ex. if they’re on the curriculum committee, you can ask them about the curriculum design or something).
  4. Protect yourself from sweat: If you’re like me and you start sweating when you get nervous, stop by the bathroom and get some paper towels to tuck under your arms before going to the interview. Especially if you’re cheap and you’re going to be wearing the same suit to all your interviews (also like me) then you want to preserve your clothes as best you can.

In the Interview

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When you meet your interviewer, smile, make eye contact, and give a firm handshake. Sit with poise and rest your hands comfortably in your lap. If you’re close to their desk, don’t put your hands on it! Speak with confidence, not arrogance. Best advice–Be yourself. Before you answer a question, pause and gather yourself–that pause will feel like a million years, but it’s not I promise. It shows thoughtfulness. If you don’t know how to answer a question, say “that is a wonderful question, I just need a minute to gather my thoughts” or something along those lines. It would be worse for you to just just sit there for 30 seconds without saying anything or to start rambling your way around the question and end up not even answering it.

Remember you have the power to guide the interview. If there’s something in your application that you know you want to talk about, find a way to sprinkle it into an answer! Because then they’ll say, “oh, tell me more about that time” and you’re in there! Or, instead of talking about working as a team in chemistry lab, talk about a mission trip you took or a research experience. Spice things up.

Be ready to defend your numbers. If your GPA or your MCAT is low, people are going to ask you about that. If you retook classes in college or the MCAT, be ready to explain. I had a low MCAT score and one school grilled me on it so hard that I actually got upset. If there is anything you’d want a clean, prepared answer for, it’s this. You may even decide to bring it up yourself if they don’t directly ask about it.


 

I hope you found this informative and useful. Please share with your pre-med friends who are going to be on the interview trail soon, I’m sure they can benefit from it. I want you to walk out of your interview feeling like this! Have a wonderful week!

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The medical tag

15 questions to learn more about me and my blog

Check out my answers to the 15-Q medical tag to learn more about me and my blog! 

  • Who are you?
    I’m Ijeoma Okoye, a 23 yo first generation American, and third year medical student at the Medical College of Georgia. I like sunsets, long walks on the beach, and the occasional ratchet turn up.
  • When did you start studying medicine or premed courses?
    I began premed studies in 2011 at the University of Georgia and matriculated into med school in 2015 directly from undergrad.
  • What made you choose the medical field?
    Both my parents work in healthcare, but really it wasn’t until high school when I decided to pursue medicine. The only subjects I liked were math and science–I was your typical nerd. I only liked math because I was really good at it, but with the sciences I actually enjoyed the study. I contemplated pharmacy because of all of the chemistry but then considered my personality–how much I like talking to patients, how I wanted to be challenged, and the level of autonomy I wanted in my career–and I landed in medicine.
  • How did you come up with your blog name/username?
    My life has been a balancing act since college as a pre-med, and I don’t think it will ever stop. I think it’s something all pre-health and health professional students can relate to–this constant juggling between our identities as students, leaders, siblings, friends, regular people, etc. It just resonates. My content is also reflective of this balance and I feature people who can speak to the same.
  • How would you describe your blog?
    I’d describe my blog as the perfect blend between encouragement and entertainment for the health/pre-health professional student. I write very casually and lightheartedly but I cover things that are important to touch on in this journey into the healthcare field. I’m honest and transparent with my followers. As a minority blogger, it’s especially important to me that I put myself out there so that other minorities on the ride with me stay encouraged by seeing my journey.
  • What’s your favorite quote?
    – In life, you get out of it what you put into it
    – In all things, we are more than conquerers through Him who loved us
  • Best memory in medical school?
    My roommate and I hosted Christmas parties for our class during our first and second years of med school and they were always so much fun! Med students party way harder than I expected. Must be something about the stress….
  • What’s one course you struggled with?
    I struggled with GI a lot. Whether it was the anatomy with the blood supply or the physiology with all of the different hormones, or the drugs, it was just so hard for me to wrap my head around. I ruled that specialty out very quickly. Even while studying for STEP1, it was always my lowest section and unfortunately I don’t think I ever really conquered it. No success story this time around lol
  • What’s your favorite book?
    I’ve read very many great books, even just in my time in medical school. I think my favorite would be The Alchemist. It’s timeless.
  • What do you do in your free time?
    What free time? HA. No, I’m kidding I do try to make free time and these days when I get some time I will read, blog, exercise, clean, cook, watch a TV show/YouTube videos, call my parents, bother my roommate, call my boyfriend, look up new hairstyles, or hand out with friends if they’re also free.
  • What do you want to major or specialize in?
    I want to do primary care, and leaning towards Family Medicine right now. But I also want to own a gym and do personal training on the side.
  • Who do you look up to?
    My sister, my mother and father. I’m so blessed to not have to look far for role models.
  • How do you study (productively)?
    First step-put my phone on do not disturb and turn my notifications off on my laptop. Second step-establish my game plan for that chunk of time, always keeping it realistic. Then I just jump in. First and second year it was one lecture at a time, one slide at a time (our school does a lot of powerpoint) taking notes on paper or electronically as needed. Now that I’m in third year, it’s watching videos/taking notes, supplemental readings, and boat loads of practice questions
  • How do you stay motivated in medical school?
    I’m self motivated for the most part. But when that eventually fails, I’m motivated by those around me, so I will study with someone and feed off of their energy. If that fails or I don’t want to be around anyone, I think about my future patients and how I need to learn this stuff for them. When that fails, I pray for strength. Sometimes I feel like even that fails and at that point I just need to take a step back, breathe, maybe go for a walk, and come back to it (maybe even the next day).
  • What are your best tips for future medical students?
    First of all, don’t compare yourself to anyone else, because we are all meant to follow different paths to our end destinations. If medicine is truly the path for you, you will get there as long as you keep working hard, surround yourself with the right people, and cancel out any negativity or doubt that tries to come your way. When you get to medical school, buckle up! This is not for the weak hearted. That phrase that the hardest part of medical school is getting in is a lie! But you will learn so much about medicine and about yourself; all of your labors will not be in vain and you’ll find that it is indeed so, so rewarding.

I hope you enjoyed the read! Please subscribe on your way out if you haven’t!

What you need to know about the OBGYN rotation

My pearls to help you be successful on the OBGYN clerkship & Shelf exam

Day 1: Approach the OBGYN physician with caution

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Most docs in the OB field are generalized to be “catty”, which of course isn’t true everywhere. But if you think about it—the long hours, being on call, constantly feeling like you’re on demand–you can imagine how that can wear on your attitude some days. So, careful as you come in with your beaming smile and radiant energy because you may not be met with the same thing. You’re likely coming off of a full nights sleep while your doc or resident was on call last night. So, use your social cues and gage the situation. Look for ways to help your people out or help the staff to do anything that makes the day run smoother. The staff will love you, and your attending will notice how much they love you.

It’s not all about the deliveries!

The first thing people say to me when I tell them I’m on OBGYN is so you’re delivering lots of babies huh? Of course delivering babies is a big part of the field (especially financially), but as a student if you go into the rotation thinking you’re only going to be popping babies out left and right, you’ll be highly disappointed. And there is so much to learn in those 12-24 hours leading up to the delivery–managing the patients labor, tracking the rate of cervical dilations, monitoring the status of the fetus, making sure mom is comfortable and gets her epidural on time, etc. The birth itself is a bloody climax to it all. So whenever you spend your time on L&D, I advise you to work closely with & learn from the nurses (or possibly junior residents) who are likely the ones keeping a close eye on everything. In my experience working in a smaller town, the nurses manage the patients all the way until about 60 seconds before the baby is ready to see the world. So I really gained a TON of knowledge and clinical experience by following patients with the nurses, much of which helped me on the Shelf exam. And to answer the question, yes I caught my fair share of babies.

You need to know ASEPSIS

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OBGYN is a surgical specialty and you spend quite a bit of your time in the operating room (at least I did). Pay special attention to your ASEPSIS training and if you aren’t getting it right before the rotation, watch some YouTube videos to help you refresh. Save yourself the embarrassment & potential scolding depending on where you rotate. I think the most common way you’d mess up (from personal experience and from what I’ve been told) is moving the surgical light with your sterile hands, so be extra careful there. Luckily I rotated at a site where the staff and doctors were chill and didn’t take pleasure in making med students cry, so when I messed up it wasn’t the end of the world.

On surgery days, learn as much about the patients as possible

Watching/assisting with procedures is awesome, but unfortunately won’t get you very far in the numbers game as a third year medical student. Take time to read each patients chart before the surgery in order to understand how they got to this point. Then go ask them questions if you can before they get all doped up. How old are they? What were their major symptoms? What things did they try before hand? If you’re doing an operative laparoscopy (op-lap), think about some things you might see based on the patients symptoms. Especially cases like dilation & curettages, LEEP and cone biopsies–learning about the patients getting these procedures can help you in your studies when a clinical vignette is asking you about the infamous “next step in management.”

SHELF advice–The name of the game is management and risk factors

What is the diagnosis? What is the next step in management? What is the greatest risk factor for this patients condition? are a few of the most common question stems you will encounter in your shelf prep. So start early nailing these things down as you study different conditions. If I could go back, I would have kept a few sheets of paper where I drew out flow charts for the management of different conditions. It gets so confusing when you follow different protocol based on age or weeks gestation or stage of cancer or grade of lesion. I found myself second guessing a lot of those types of things, even on my exam.

 math study learning exam studying GIFThe resources I used were the Beckman’s textbook, Online MedEd, UWise, UWorld, PreTest, and I read some of Case Files in the last weeks. Each of those resources were solid, but honestly PreTest really wasn’t doing it for me like it did during Pediatrics. Like in Peds, I watched all of the OME videos up front and took digital notes on them as my foundation. As I did questions and learned more, I added those notes into the structure I already had. Our school had a reading schedule for us to get through the Beckman’s text along with the associated APGO YouTube videos and UWise quizzes. I was able to keep up with that consistently. I did PreTest in the first 3 weeks by waking up early in the morning or doing questions at night when I finished the readings and Uwise. But like I sad, it’s really not something to be pressed about. I did UWorld in the 4th and 5th week and did NBMEs/UWise comprehensive exams in the last week. Lastly, you want to always have something on you to study at all times. There is down time on L&D and in between surgeries that you can use to get some of your work done, especially if you have long hours.

Nearing the end of the rotation, I had this unsettling feeling in me that no matter how much I studied, I would still be iffy on those management questions. I just felt like there was no way for me to just memorize it all (I’m horrible at memorizing things if you didn’t know). I could only really remember the things that related to patients that I worked with. That’s why I said if I could go back I’d have created something as I went and used that to review/memorize in crunch time. But hey, I did my best, which is all I can ask of myself, so we’ll see how those results come out!


I hope this is helpful to someone. If you’ve been through it and have other things to add about OBGYN, feel free to drop them in the comments!

Also, S U B S C R I B E !

Precious-medical student & creator of popular med student Vlog “White Coat Chronicles”

Popular YouTuber answers questions about how she maintains her social media presence while in school

Check out her YouTube Channel – White Coat Chronicles here!

Why medicine?

Growing up I knew that I wanted to be in the medical field, simply because that was what I was surrounded by in my family. My mom is Nurse, both of my sisters are Nurse Practitioners, and my brother is a Pharmacist. Initially I wanted to become a Physical Therapist. I loved sports, and I still do, so I thought Physical Therapy would allow me to combine two passions: sports + medicine. I shadowed a Physical Therapist during my junior year of high school and I realized that PT was not the path for me. I felt I could have much more of an impact through pursing a doctorate in medicine, so I made the decision to attend Augusta State University, which had a medical school (MCG) affiliated with it. Looking back, choosing Augusta State was the best decision I could have made. Immediately during my freshman year, I started shadowing in the emergency department at the teaching hospital and I just fell in love with the field. Emergency Medicine is the specialty I want to pursue.

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When did you start your vlog? What inspired you to get started? 

I started my vlog during my first year of medical school, at the start of second semester. During first year, I began to watch other medical school YouTubers. I didn’t even know that was a thing until I started medical school lol. It was cool seeing them document their journey, and I felt it would be nice to be able to look back on my own journey and my experience through medical school as well. I also wanted to be able to show an authentic medical school perspective. I think a lot of people have a certain idea in their head of what “med school life” is like. Medical students are diverse, and we’re not always in our books 24/7 (although we do study A LOT). Life continues while you’re in med school, and I try to stress that in my vlog. It’s important to make time for yourself, your friends and family, and to continue to pursue your hobbies. I don’t want to look back at my 4 years of medical school as a time of stress, hardship, and isolation. Don’t get me wrong, med school is TOUGH, but it is also manageable, and there are times to wind down and have fun.

Lastly, I wanted to start this vlog for the pre meds. Admissions is no easy feat. Students get discouraged by their advisors if they don’t have certain stats, or sometimes they don’t even have an advisor to seek advice from. I try to provide the best pre med advice that I can through my channel. 

How do you find time to record and edit videos with your load as a medical student?

Most of my videos are “a day in the life” type of vlogs. Which means I literally film whatever I have going on that day. If I go to class, I film that. If I go to the gym, I film that. If I go to the coffee shop, I film that.  So I don’t do anything extra for my videos (I honestly don’t have the time lol). I try to get creative with the angles I film and the music I put in the videos, but I make sure that what I film is manageable, and it has worked thus far. If I do a sit down video, then I typically save that for an early Saturday morning. What’s most important is that I don’t allow YouTube to cut into my study time. When I’m done studying in the evening, I’ll spend a little time editing. I never carve out time during the day to edit, because school comes first. Editing is done during my down time. To make things even more simpler, I do all the video editing on my iPhone using iMovie. I film with a Canon G7x, then transfer the files to my phone. SUPER convenient. I can literally edit during a lunch break at school. When I’m done editing on my iPhone, I upload it to my MacBook to add the music.

How did you build your fan base & What advice to you have for other students trying to build their presence on social media while in school?

I believe consistency is key. I started my channel January of this year and I put out a video every single Sunday during Spring semester, with the exception of one week. If you’re consistent and you have good content, then your channel/blog/social medical account will grow. When I do sit down videos, I take the time to research the topic I will discuss to make sure I’m providing my viewers with the best information possible. Quality is very important. Before I started up my channel, I did so much research about YouTube (this was during Christmas break). Camera choices, video titles, thumbnails, how to edit, etc. For me, if I was going to put myself out there for so many people to see, then I had to come correct. So my advice is to make sure you’re consistent with whatever platform you’re using, make sure the quality is up to par (do some research on other youtubers, bloggers, instagrammers, etc), and lastly, just be yourself. I’m a very chill and laid back person and I think my viewers can see that. I’m grateful that people have gravitated to my channel.

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What has medical school taught you about yourself?

Hmmm. This is a good question. Medical school has made me truly value time. With time being so limited, I make a conscious effort to only give my time and energy to things that are worth while. I’m now more appreciative of the quality time that I get to spend with family or friends.

What piece of advice would you give yourself as a first year med student? As a premed?

As a med student: Don’t compare yourself to others. Everyone has their own unique capabilities. What works for someone else may not work for you and vice versa. I’ve always felt this way, but even more now that I’m in med school…. why look at the next person’s grade? Your classmates grade or study habits should not affect you in any way. Are y’all submitting a residency application together? Taking STEP together? No. So stay in your lane and follow your own path. I see comparison a lot, and honestly it can be detrimental. We have all made it to medical school for a reason; we are all capable. Embrace your strengths and push forward.

As a pre med: Just trust the process and keep your faith. When it comes time to apply, the application process is LONG. You submit applications as early as June, and can wait to hear for an acceptance as late as April the following year (in my case). Don’t get so bogged down with the wait and the different scenarios of “what if”. I was blessed and fortunate to be accepted the first time I applied into my top choice school. The waiting process really taught me patience and my faith grew stronger during that time. God is able. 

Check out her YouTube Channel – White Coat Chronicles here!

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New rotation, new location–one week down!

Update on OB, life, and embarrassing moments from the week

First week of OB has been awesome! It started out with me being in the wrong place for orientation, which is exactly the type of thing that I would do. People think I’m really smart but in reality I don’t have much common sense. Everything ended up working out though of course. Anyways, being in a rural area as the only student with my preceptor and no residents means that I get to see all the patients and scrub in/assist with all the surgeries. I work with different preceptors throughout my time here which I personally enjoy because I learn even more. And I live right across from the hospital and 2 mins from the surgery center/clinic, which is so great for my sleep, and car. And there’s free breakfast and lunch in the doctors lounge, which I have access to! So I can’t complain.

My first day was GYN clinic which was full of women young and old with all sorts of things going on. From annual physical exams to possible ectopic pregnancies to infertility, I met so many school requirements in just one day. Coincidentally, I watched my preceptor insert an IUD (intrauterine device for contraception) in clinic, and after we finished she trained me on inserting it using a model. Then the next day I was working with a different preceptor doing GYN surgery and there’s a woman also getting the same IUD (under anesthesia)! Literally my the doctor just gave me the IUD and said “OK you’re gonna put this in.” I was praising God in my head that I had just learned about it the day before so I was able to do it with confidence. I worked with the same physician the rest of the week and not only do I scrub in each time, but she lets me operate the camera when she’s doing laparoscopies and she even let me do part (a very small part, she’s not crazy) of a D&C (dilation and curettage). Anything I want to do I just ask! Thursday morning I was in L&D (labor & delivery). I was in my first C-section and all I can say is WOW. I was just blown away. I might have even forgotten to blink. It was weird though because we were talking to mom casually meanwhile I’m looking at her insides. I was thinking if only you knew what was going on on the other side of this drape… The rest of that day was OB clinic which was pretty un-stimulating for the most part bc it’s just monthly check ups and labs. The girl we were supposed to deliver from L&D decided that her cervix wasn’t going to dilate till 8pm so I missed that chance. My preceptor just had me read and present all the fetal heart tracings so I got pretty good at those, and I watched ultrasounds, which I’ll eventually have to do as an assignment. Then Fridays are apparently office OR days so I was back there again–saw stage 4 endometriosis which was pretty gross and so cool at the same time, also sad bc it was preventing the patient from getting pregnant.

I’ve been able to stay on top of my studies without losing sleep also which I’m proud of. We have assigned readings, videos, and online quizzes to do and I also try to squeeze PreTest questions in as well. As for other parts of my life, I got 2 workouts in this week–we’ll shoot for 3 this week. I haven’t explored the city much outside of going out to dinner with my roomie. I got lots of great news this week including winning this scholarship I applied for back in June! And also, my birthday is coming up on Wednesday! So over the weekend I had a brunch with some of my college and med school friends and had so much fun! My parents also took me out for breakfast so I appreciated that very much.

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All in all I’m having a blast to far, and I’m excited to see what this week has in store! Being me, I’ve already racked up my share of embarrassing moments in just 4 days and I’ll tell the top 3 stories for your entertainment pleasure…

Pass the Scissors:
So I’m with my preceptor the first day in the OR and the nurse tells me to get ready to pass the surgeon the scissors–simple enough. Up until this moment I had never passed a surgeon anything so I didn’t know there was a special format. So it took me like 3 repositions and the nurse kept saying “no not like that, turn it the other way”. I just felt like an idiot! Then after the procedure my preceptor showed me the proper way to pass instruments, and she was nice about it so I didn’t mind.

Scrub:
I got fully scrubbed in then I touched the overhead light without the sterile cover thing and then everyone just looked at me like yeeeeeeah you’re not touching anything this time.

A way with words:
This nurse in L&D was asking me about the size of a patient (who was having her c-section that morning) and I didn’t know exactly how to describe her. She specifically wanted to know about her body size. But what I said was she’s like your size…like with her arms and stuff. And honestly she did have similar body size as the nurse in terms of arms and shoulder breadth. But I quickly realized that I basically just told that nurse that she was the same size as a lady giving birth that morning. I think I severed any possibility of a future relationship with her.


Hope you enjoyed the read! If you did, take the next step and S U B S C R I B E today!

Have a wonderful week,

Ijeoma

Experience is the best teacher

Peds experience, my Shelf prep, and what’s next for me

6 weeks of Pediatrics blew by so fast! I learned so much and really put myself out there. Clinically, it was fantastic because I had a perfect blend of outpatient (2 weeks) and inpatient (2 weeks) experience along with nursery (1 week) and subspecialty (Heme-Onc, 1 week). Personally though, I’ve been feeling more unlike myself. Once inpatient started, I lost touch with just about everything. My days were on average from 6:30-5 and I’d be pretty pooped by the end and wanted to use the little energy I had to study for my Shelf exam*. I felt like I couldn’t even sacrifice the time to go to the gym, which is so unlike me! The gym clothes I kept in the car eventually got thrown to the back seat so I wouldn’t have to think about them lol. Eventually I hit a low point of true exhaustion, which was inevitable honestly with my level of sleep deprivation. I feel like because this was my first rotation and first Shelf exam, I just had to give it my all. And it’s in a primary care specialty (and I want to do PC) so I just wanted to shine. Even when I started newborn nursery I had so much more time on my hands, but I still spent it studying because at that point I was 2 weeks out from the Shelf and I was going to be in Miami the weekend before so I felt pressure to really grind it out to keep the study guilt away. And by the grace of God I made it through! And now I’m ready to start my OB-GYN rotation in rural Tifton, GA. I’ll get into more logistic detail of my Peds rotation at the end (and my Shelf prep!), really just for other med students who wanna know. I won’t be mad if you just scroll down to the end.

One highlight of Peds was in the nursery helping a mom breastfeed her newborn after I had spent some time with our lactation consultant. It was just really cool to translate those techniques I had learned to another mom. Another highlight was seeing a patient I took care of in outpatient my first week again in the Heme-onc clinic in my last week! It was actually the little girl I mentioned in my last post. A low point was getting pimped** on diabetes my first week on inpatient and not being able to come up with the answers. I felt so embarrassed because I remember it was something simple but I was just so nervous I couldn’t think, I could just stand there and sweat lol. I bounced back though so issok! Another notable moment that was a high and low was putting in an NG (nasogastric) tube in a kid. It was a cool “procedure” to do, but the kid was so miserable that I was pretty traumatized. I’ll probably never forget his screaming and the look from his parents like “wtf are y’all doing to my son.”


Finding balance in third year is so much different from first and second year. Whoever has the secret needs to let ya girl know because I’m still trying to figure it out! It’s so much easier when you just have 4 hours of lecture material to get through and you can control your schedule however you want. I was just a full time student. Now I feel like I have TWO full time jobs! I really love working with patients all day and not being in class; thinking about them gets me out of bed in the morning. And then I come home and everything shifts and it’s like I have to start my night job *eye rolling emoji*. But I will say that I definitely learned from my experience and will make a conscious effort this next rotation to be more balanced so I can be just as happy at home as I am at work. Actually, that in itself will be its own challenge because the house I’m going to be living in is basically from the 1800s (exaggerating, but its supposedly old and dingy). I’m just going down there with an open mind and my usual positive attitude and we’ll see how it goes. Luckily I have Verizon, so even though I’ll be in the middle of nowhere, at least I know I’ll have service! I’m excited though, to get out of my comfort zone and embrace a totally different setting than I’m used to. That’s really the reason I chose (yes I did this to myself) to go rural for a couple of my rotations.


Back to Peds though: I just wanted to break down the day-to-day and also my Shelf prep for other students with Peds in their future or wanting to compare (and also for me to refer back to later tbh). I started with outpatient, which ran just like any clinic. I worked with different preceptors each morning and afternoon, which had it’s pros and cons, both having to do with learning different styles and preferences. We saw patients ourselves and had to write the notes on each patient–again, pros and cons. It’s a great skill to learn, but you wanna also see more patients so you can learn more. Inpatient was rough with the 6:30am handoff from the night team. Afterwards you had a sliver of time to research any new admissions you picked up and go pre-round on your patients before morning report and rounds began soon after. The first week rounds took about 2-2.5 hours. The second week it was 3-3.5 hours just about everyday (comfortable shoes are a must!). We had different attendings each week, so more different styles. I probably learned the most shelf-wise from inpatient because of the exposure to so many complex patients. Newborn nursery was about the same–7am to research patients and do pre rounds. I became numb to babies crying once you un-swaddle them to do your exam. You also learn to be gentle with your language because moms don’t want to hear anything that sounds even remotely negative about their baby. Lastly, Heme-Onc clinic ran like outpatient primary care did. I saw patients on my own then with the attending. You learn a lot about chemotherapy regimens and anemias. There are sad cases and also really cool survivors stories too. One day I sat with my attending as she cried for one of her patients. It takes a special person to work with that population of kids. Overall though, it was a pretty dope experience.

I started Shelf studying on day 1 with Online Med Ed videos, which I created my own notes on, and a chunk of Pre-Test questions daily. There’s ~900 Qs to get through between PT and UWorld so I pushed myself to get through them all + my missed questions, which I was able to do. I added Q bank notes to the relevant OME sections. Once I started realizing what my weak areas were, I supplemented with those chapters in BRS. I originally wanted to read the whole BRS but for me that was just unrealistic. I’m a reader, but I need to read something multiple times, so I wouldn’t have fully benefited from reading that whole book, especially if I started in early in the rotation. You gotta know yourself. The notes I had by the end were pretty golden. I went through the Emma Holiday review twice in the week leading up to the shelf (one time was on a drive from Atl). In the end I definitely felt prepared going into the exam. A lot of questions still stumped me and threw me for a loop, which I expected from speaking to other 4th years, but I definitely did my best and really put my all into preparing, so we’ll see how it turns out!


Ok I’m done rambling now! Hopefully I figure this whole balance thing out soon so I don’t have this much time between posts. I’m still human though, still learning and growing, Experience is the best teacher..

Much love & thanks for supporting me. Next stop, Tifton!

The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge

– Psalm 18:2

*National exam students take at the end of each rotation. At our school, we have to make a certain score cut off to be eligible for an A in the rotation.
**being asked questions on the spot

How NOT to check your STEP score

The madness I went through and the one who did it to me

The wait finally came to an end. That fateful email slid into my inbox this past Wednesday, holding my destiny. Of course I wasn’t going to check it right then, I had too much anxiety for that. Even during the school year, weeks would go by before I checked my test grades, that’s just how I am. I planned to check it on Friday after work, so none of my innocent patients would be affected by my results. You’re probably thinking I’m being ridiculous, but this was a hope for the best, plan for the worst kind of situation for me. I was too nervous to check it myself, so I chose none other than my older sister to check it for me. This is a common thing for us to do, so I thought I made a good choice. I was wrong.

Let me tell y’all what she put me through.

I call her as I’m wrapping up on Friday and I gave her brackets of scores. I said this is my goal-goal score that I really want (and semi-magically hoping for), this is my real goal score that I’d still be good with, and this is my OK score that I’d still be fine with eventually. Then I asked her to tell me where I am on the scale. And she says to me you’re below your OK score. In that moment I began to experience what I’m pretty sure was a panic attack. I started sweating, my heart started pounding, I got light-headed and I said what? I was hoping I misheard her but she continued this for another 10-15 seconds with yeah it’s below it but it’s not that bad.. and just as I’m questioning my destiny, trying to make sense of what she was telling me, coming to heart-breaking terms with not performing as well as I had hoped to, she says Just kidding you made your goal-goal!

At that point, I believe I had another panic attack, this time falling to my knees (in the hospital…but it was pushing 5pm and the halls were empty). My heart was in my stomach by now and I was just in disbelief. All I could do was just catch my breath, and praise and thank God. Then I had to find some place to sit down before I actually passed out from respiratory alkalosis lol. Half of me wanted to reach through the phone and choke her for that very painful and unwarranted joke, and the other half was too happy to care anymore.

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It was finally, officially O V E R! And all of my slaving from before sunrise to after sunset day in and day out–It was worth it. God used me this summer to bring glory to His name and show people what He can do when you place all of your trust in Him. I physically tapped out during my study period, and He took over–giving me the strength to wake up, placing my eyes on what I needed to see, designing my exam, and sitting right beside me while I took it. I would be a fool to take full credit for my success on this exam–an absolute fool. But wow, I must say it feels amazing. Telling my parents the news was funny because they didn’t even understand what the score meant. They just were happy that I did well and can finally stop stressing. I think I was starting to scare them because they had never seen me stress so much.

But anyways, thanks again to everyone who kept me in your thoughts and prayers! It’s DONE!

Ekene diri Chukwu! (Thanks be to God)