My Doctor Reading List

Monday, January 22, 2018

Sigh of relief

A huge weight was lifted off my shoulders today. I got the results back from my Histology theoretical exam. I got 80%, which was the 5th highest score out of 117 people who wrote it AND only 30% of the people who wrote passed. So I'm very proud of myself. I got 100% on the practical, but it was really easy and most people passed (we just had to correctly identify 3 out of 5 histological slides). The theoretical had me worried because I found a lot of the past tests to be difficult.

I have my anatomy exams, both practical and theoretical tomorrow, so I'm not out of the woods yet. Anatomy is much harder in my opinion but I feel now that I have a renewed energy and confidence that I know what I'm doing.

Anyway, back to anatomy! Wish me luck for tomorrow.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Of course this would happen.

Ugh. I've been away for just a few days and already am feeling wretched for leaving the kids. My mom called me just now to inform me that my two year old daughter has croup. She has been coughing badly for a few days and my mom called the doctor (we have an amazing insurance that includes free house calls) and she just called me to tell me that the doctor diagnosed croup.

I really wish I could be there, just to cuddle her. My husband told me that she has been in an awful grump today, likely because her coughing caused her to have a poor quality sleep, and she practically dove into her crib for nap.

I know this is what I signed up for and I knew that my kids would have to make sacrifices. I know that my daughter is getting excellent care from my mom and my husband. But I want to be there too.

Sigh. Back to studying. Hopefully she'll feel better soon, once she gets her meds. In the meantime I'll just have to deal with a bit of an ache in my heart.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Moving out

My midterms are starting in two weeks, so I made the decision to move out of my house for those two weeks so I can focus on studying.

I've found myself an Airbnb a few blocks from where I have class and plan to hole myself up here and study.

I was hoping to get some studying done over the holidays and I barely got any in. First my husband and I fell sick and then my parents did. Any time I would try and get some quiet time to do some studying, I wound up getting interrupted so I just gave up the attempt.

At first I planned on just taking a week but when I realized my exams were earlier than officially posted (gotta love that shitty admin - luckily was mentally prepared for this), I knew there was no way I'd be prepared well enough.

Its hard though. I already miss the kids so much and can't shake the guilt tugging at my heart. Even though I know they will be totally fine with my mom, my husband and our wonderful nanny. They're more than capable of taking care of them.

Still. I do feel a bit guilty about being able to get the proper sleep and time to relax and get ready for these exams. They will be the first "real" test of my progress and I'm nervous. Not panicky, but still, nervous.

To make the most of my time, I also booked myself a tutor from Anatomy to help me prepare.

I definitely get a wave of gratitude washing over me when I think about how lucky I am to have the support that I do. That my husband was totally ok with me moving out - and in fact was the one who encouraged me to do the full two weeks -  and paying to live away from home for such a long time. That my mom volunteered to come and help. That we can afford our incredibly flexible nanny.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Reality check

I knew that being a mom and med student wouldn't be easy. That it would be hard to balance and that I will have to make sacrifices. I would spend less time with my kids, less time with my husband, less time doing things I enjoy (like watching certain shows, reading, exercise).

But one thing I didn't consider was the sacrifices to my studying and potential grades. I am a pretty competitive person and I always liked to be the best or one of the best students. All through high school, all through university. I never had a "C for degree" type attitude. And I'd feel guilty and angry with myself on the rare occasion that I did let my grades slip.

This has also been the case with medical school. I have a LOT of stuff to learn, and my classes are very demanding. I have two tests from Anatomy and one test from Histology every week. Both of these require a lot of memorization and learning of different systems and is very fast paced.

And I haven't been able to be as prepared as I'd like to be for some of the classes. Don't get me wrong, I'm doing well so far BUT I want to be better, to be the best. I wish I had more time to study, to properly learn certain concepts that I just get a rough outline of. I want to be 100% prepared for every class.

However I've realized that I can't be. That while I do need to do my best, my best might not lead me to be THE best. I can't. I don't have any more time available for studying. I often have to use time when I don't have class or lectures to do adult stuff, like take the dog to the vet or the car to get serviced or attend my son's Christmas concert. I can't study till the wee hours and then sleep in the next day. And that's ok.

I mean, I do laugh a little (on the inside) when I hear classmates complaining about lack of sleep or not having enough time to study. I wonder what the hell they are doing? I forget that I was young without any responsibilities once too - and luckily social media or Netflix weren't really a thing (read: time suck) so in many ways it was easier than today.

Anyway, back to the grind.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017


I recently posted on my Instagram account of how grateful I was to finally be able to do this and in it I acknowledged the huge amount of support I've received that enabled me to do it - including the straight up financial help that I've received from my parents.

One person made a comment about how nice it was to see me mention that. She said people often look at people like me who accomplish something huge (because being a mom of three and starting medical school is a huge thing) and wonder how we are able to do it when they struggle with much more attainable goals.

It is because I strongly believe in being open. In this day and age of social media it is so easy to show only a tiny part of the story - and people end up filling in the blanks themselves. A friend posts adorable photos of her and her kids at the park or zoo and we think "wow, what a great mom she must be to spend such quality time with her kids." What we don't see is whether or not she's suffering from postpartum depression, or that she is struggling with her marriage or that she hates her job. We see a friend constantly posting photos of recent travels and we marvel at how they seem to have so much disposable income to be able to afford it when just a weekend away in the nearest city wouldn't be possible without depleting our savings. What we don't see is that the person maybe hasn't gotten over a bad breakup years before and can't find someone special and is using travel to fill the void. We don't see that maybe they are racking up huge debt and that it keeps them up at night. Social media is our life's highlight reel and its often heavily airbrushed and edited.

So I believe in being a bit more transparent and show that there is more to the story. I've obviously posted about getting into medical school and moving half way across the globe to do so. I knew that people must have been asking themselves how I did it. 

So I want people to know that I wouldn't be able to pursue this dream of medicine later in life like I am without incredible support. Yes, its great that I had a lot of cheerleaders - my sisters, friends who didn't try to make me feel crazy about it. But I've had real, tangible help as well. My husband for carrying the burden of being the only income earner as well as devoting a lot more time to childcare and housework. My parents for letting us live for free in their house (and earlier for hiring me to work for their company so I could continue to earn money when I first started the journey) and stepping in with childcare too (for example when I had to study for my entrance exams they offered to watch the kids for a week so I could go away to study and sleep in peace).

Plus a lot of luck was involved. We have a house that we own that has gone up a lot in value. It gives us a great sense of security because if we ever find ourselves in some financial trouble (such as my husband not being able to work) we could sell it and live off the profit for several years - enough for the time it would take for me to finish medical school and possibly even residency. Plus we are currently renting it and making a comfortable surplus from the rental income. That, plus the fact that we don't have to pay my parents rent means we have a lot more disposable income which we are using for a full time nanny, housekeeper and private school/preschool. This frees up my time so much so that I can focus on studying and spending time with my family.

Basically, I have a ton of privilege. I was born into a family with means. I was born in a country where I was able to get an education and was able to build my wealth and know its secure. Raised to believe that even though I'm a woman I have equal right and ability to pursue whatever I want. I've had the luxury of time. The luxury to experiment.

Also, while it does look like I'm living the dream, there are of course some challenges. Sure, we can afford for me to do this but there is a huge opportunity cost of me doing so. Not just the years of income forgone on my part, but we've limited my husband's career growth and even prospects. I've struggled with some guilt and even some fear of failure because the stakes are so huge. What if I can't hack it? What if one day my husband resents me for holding his career back? What if my kids resent me for putting a career ahead of them (my son has already grumbled about "this is what he was worried about" when I told him I couldn't read to him one night because I had to study)? Not to mention if we DO have a financial catastrophe, how will I feel about it then we we have to sell the house for real and not just in theory? What if the market crashes and its not worth as much as we want?

But I guess the point of this post is to acknowledge my privilege. I don't want to take away from my accomplishment, because I did work hard for this - but I want to own the fact that I would not have been able to do it on my own. And that there are many people who would love to do it but really can't and its not for a lack of hard work on their part but purely because they aren't as privileged as I am. And I hope I never forget that.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

The first month

I can't believe a month of medical school has gone by!

I love that I can officially call myself a medical student. Though its funny, I don't feel the need to announce it unless someone asks me specifically what I'm studying. I think its because I'm doing this 100% for ME and I don't care who knows or doesn't know.

I really like my core classes this semester, which are Molecular Biology, Anatomy and Histology. Anatomy is the hardest as we have to memorize a ton (who knew that the humerus had 27 parts?!) each class. It was incredibly overwhelming at first but slowly I've gotten into the swing of things. Its an incredibly demanding class though because we have a test from it at every lab, which we have twice a week. If we pass the test, we get a "credit" if not, we don't. Then the sum of our weekly credits plus our scores on the midterms is what determines whether or not we can write the final exam and the our final grade depends on only the final exam. One cool thing though, is that the three students with the highest class credit + midterm exam results will be exempt from writing the theory portion of the anatomy exam (will still have to take the practical, which is identifying parts that have a pin stuck into them). While I'm definitely aiming for that, I'm also trying to be realistic about how much I can study whilst still balancing being a mom and wife. Its funny, my competitive side is coming out again and I want to be the best but I also need to be ok with the fact that I won't be. Because I can't study all night and then sleep in the next day. I can't cram or even "get ahead" by studying all weekend like some of my classmates can (and do).

I'm finding the transition to be easier than I expected though. I don't know if its because I take it very seriously and study a lot - I'm treating med school like a full time job where I go in in the morning and study regardless of when I have class. If I have class in the morning, I go to class and then study in the afternoon. If I have class in the evening, I study during the day. I try and get a bit of study time in on Sundays but I'm trying to keep the weekends to be about family and relaxing. Because even though I'm loving every minute so far, I know the novelty will wear off and I don't want to burn out. Because I can see how easy it would be if one put things off too much and then tried to cram. Plus, I've been able to have a lot more time for myself. To reflect on my life, to do personal errands, even just shopping in peace.

I'm not going to lie though. I do miss my kids, especially my daughter. She is still so little and I do get a bit of a tug on my heart when I think of her. The boys are in school/preschool anyway, so I don't feel like I'm "missing out" on them as much but I do with her. The good thing is that she has gotten a lot closer with my husband, who is loving the one-on-one time with her.

But I'm so happy. Everything about this feels right. Its an amazing feeling to be doing something (or at least working towards) something you love. We'll see how feel when midterms come around though!

Friday, September 29, 2017

First Impressions

The last three days have been so interesting. The official Orientation events have been fairly low-key so far but they have definitely been informative.

Its been fun getting to know people. Our class is about 120 people, 20 of whom are people who are repeating the prior year. We were also divided into five groups of about 20 odd people and these are the groups we will be having all of our classes with.

I really like the people that are in my group that I've met and talked to so far. They all seem like smart and determined people and I look forward to getting to know them better.

I'm definitely the oldest person in my group though. However, I was pleasantly surprised to see that its not all 18 years olds like I expected. In fact, in my group there are only one or two 18 year olds and the rest are all in their early twenties, even a couple that are 24.

We also had some talks from the professors of Anatomy and Histology - the two core subjects and the hardest ones that we will be having this year. Its one or both of these subjects that lead to people failing and repeating the year.

At first I got a bit panicked because I found out that last year only 40 people passed the anatomy final on the first attempt. But then I found out there are three attempts, so its not THAT dire. That said, 20 people did not pass any of the attempts. And I could tell from the presentation that its a class that is going to move incredibly quickly and in order to be successful I'll need to be incredibly consistent with my studying.

Something found a bit odd though was how much time was spent talking about missing classes and/or exams and the proper protocol for obtaining and submitting doctors notes for absence due to illness. To me it seems obvious that missing class in medical school should only be due to extreme illness or emergency. I don't know, maybe its because I'm older and know that in the real world you can't just have a cold or headache and not come in to work or because you don't feel like it. But clearly this was a problem in the past since they stressed it some much.

One thing for sure, is that these past few days have made me excited to start classes - even though we will have our first test on Thursday!

On a totally different nanny and I were going over the schedule for next week and we both noticed that my 21 month old daughter was very quiet...because she had found my (brand new!) histology text book and a highlighter and I guess decided to "highlight" what she thought I should know, lol. Luckily it was just highlighter and amazingly I was able to easily wipe it off with a baby wipe! Sigh, this is definitely not a problem most other students will have to deal with!