My Doctor Reading List

Tuesday, October 6, 2015


It hit me today that I have just one week of lectures left.

Spring is in the air in New Zealand (so weird when to me October is usually the first real month of fall) and students are getting ready to finish up another year (perhaps their last ever?) of university.

 I have to admit, I'm looking forward to being done my course even though I've thoroughly enjoyed it. The pregnancy is starting to tire me out and the 2.5 hour round trip commute is starting to be more uncomfortable than not.

BUT I'm in a great place mentally - I feel very motivated to study and do as well as I can on the final. On Monday I got my results back from our lab test and recent group report (that I wrote). I got 100% on both and was especially proud of the test, as I was one of only two people to get the perfect score (the other was my lab partner!).

The final is worth 60% of my grade though, so I do need to do very well on it even though I'll be going into it with a 96% average. Still, I think its totally doable!

One thing that I'm starting to realize - and it both excites and scares me - is that I actually have the ability to do this. A part of me really wondered if I have what it takes to do well in science. In high school, I was good at biology and did well in physics but my real strengths were in the social sciences. My IB courses focused on English, History, Economics and French. I always took a backseat in the sciences because they didn't come as easily to me.

I'm excited though, because if I do well on this final - and there is no reason for me not to if I study appropriately - then my gamble of taking this course will have paid off. I'll be able to apply to the program and show the admissions committee that while, yes my background is in business I can ALSO science. And hopefully, taking this course will allow me to lessen my course load in that first year of health science courses.

I'm scared, on the other hand, because of what it means if I have a real shot of getting in, that I will get in and the changes that it will bring. It will mean uprooting and moving my kids again. It will mean moving away from extended family again - but this to a place where there is no support. It will mean pressure to do well at school and hold it together on the family front. It will mean taking on debt and it will mean several years of not contributing financially.

However the reason I'm pushing for it is because the alternative is just coasting. Sure, being a mom is awesome and keeps me busy. But soon it will no longer be enough. I don't think I would be satisfied if my life's long term focus was just my kids. As it is I spend way too much time engaging in debates about GMO's, vaccines, gun control, alternative medicine etc online just to scratch that itch to use my brain. I want and need a bigger challenge.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Hard time

I've been having a bit of a hard time in my personal life.

The move, being away from close family and friends (and realizing that I'm "out of sight, out of mind" for some), being pregnant, not getting as much exercise as I used to and being overall a bit bored created a perfect storm of low feelings recently.

Things came to a head a couple weeks ago when my husband left for a two week long business trip back to Canada (I was so jealous!) which also coincided with a two week break from my course. I was very lonely and bored and all those feelings which I'd been keeping at bay just started to overwhelm me. I would get sad and cry for no reason, I started to sleep poorly and just felt like I was in a bad mood all of the time.

I decided to take my midwife's advice and sought some counselling. The counsellor was a very kind and sympathetic person but got me a bit worried when she decided to refer me to a psychiatrist for further assessment.  Luckily he told me that he really didn't think I was clinically depressed and that all that sadness was a result of a perfect storm of what I've been through recently plus being pregnant. I was actually incredibly relieved to hear him say that because I know that being depressed is not healthy for the baby and because I was nervous about being put on anti-depressants.

He was also very encouraging about me applying for medical school and even made a follow-up appointment with me in a months time specifically to talk about it and to share some advice on what to do to get it.

One thing though, that is always in the back of my mind is what I'm going to do if I don't get into medicine. Right now its the force driving me forward and gives me hope and motivation...I do worry about what I'll do if I don't have that any more. The doctor told me that I'm a high functioning person who needs a lot of stimulation and that is part of the reason I was feeling so low - because of a lack of it.

Ugh. Life is not easy eh?

Monday, August 24, 2015

First grade is back

So I got my first "real" grade back.

What I mean by "real" is that it was real test of my knowledge via a proctored test. I've had online quizzes and labs, but the online quizzes are a guaranteed 100% since we are allowed to do them as often as we like and they will take your highest grade. They said the whole point of them is to encourage people to keep trying and that there is a direct correlation between the number of attempts and grades (so even if you got 100% of an attempt, they encourage you to take it again for study purposes).

So, so far I've been able to post a 100% on the first 3 of my 8 quizzes. They are worth a total of 10% of the whole grade, so no insignificant but still not a real test of my understanding or knowledge - since I can have my notes and take my time.

For labs we pretty much get full marks for attending and doing the lab right. Again, I'm averaging 100% on those (also worth 10%).

But my test, worth 15% was a REAL test and I got 89%. I was a bit disappointed because I know exactly where I lost marks - I left the test knowing that I got at least 87% but I remember blanking on something easy and of course remembered just after I left the test and was a bit confused about the instructions on another question (it was easy but I was a bit uncertain about what exactly they meant). Since the test was out of 30 marks, losing just one mark affects the percentage.

Anyway, all in all, not a bad mark for my first foray back into school and since the test was only worth 15%, my 89% is like 13.7/15 so I lose a whopping 1.3% off my total mark. It was also way above the class average, so that makes me happy too.

Mostly I'm just happy that I still *know* what to do to get a decent grade and that I'll have to make sure I do the same thing when it comes to the final exam (which is worth 60%!).

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Patience and Impatience

Wanting to go to medical school requires a ton of patience.

Even if you go the traditional route, it requires so much patience.

When you want to go as a mature student or a non-trad, it requires even more.

Today I had a bit of a meltdown. My toddler has a bad cold and yesterday my husband and I agreed we would keep him home from daycare today - my husband would take care of him while I went to class. Except my husband (who works from home) was on a work call that was taking forever and it forced me to be late for my lecture. I couldn't just dump a sick two year old in front of the TV because when tried, he would freak out and cling to me (hello mommy guilt) and I couldn't obviously take him with me. In the end I did stick him in front of the TV with some chocolate to buy me the time to sneak out and my husband to finish his call.

I hate being late so this put me in a bad mood. I was actually angry at my husband for not making my class a priority for him. Its silly I know, since he is earning all the money now and can't just hang up the phone on his boss because *I* need to leave - and I'm doing this for myself more than anything.

But I'm mostly just feeling so impatient with the process. I've given up a lot to move to New Zealand but one of the trade offs was that I'd have another chance at medical school. But its not a guarantee that I'll get in. I'm doing what I can within my limits to get in and its a major balancing act with two kids, a baby on the way and navigating a lot of uncertainty in general. I wish I could look into the future and KNOW what's going to happen so that it would be easier for me to be patient. I'm actually borderline terrified of what I'm going to do if I don't get in.

Anyway, vent over, time to hit the books. First exam is a week away!

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

3 Advantages to starting Med School later

I love reading doctors' and medical blogs and books, both fiction and nonfiction. I feel like it gives me a good insight into the good and the bad, the rewarding and the ugly sides of medicine.

One thing that I've definitely realized from reading these blogs is that even though I'm going down the med-school path a bit later than most, I feel like I have some advantages or at least, there are some benefits to doing medical school later. I never really thought about there being any positives to starting later - I always focused on the negatives (more responsibilities to attend to than just my studies, less time to get in, being older than my classmates and all that comes with being older in general...).

But I do have some advantages:

1. I'll be done having kids before I start medical school. I never really thought about this as a positive thing, but I've seen more than one mom doctor mention that having a kid during medical school is a terrible idea and having one during residency is very, very hard to manage and stressful. I believe that, because kids, and especially babies, require SO MUCH attention. That being said, I also understand that biologically and logistically, women only have a certain window of time to have children and that happens to fall during the med school/residency years and they can't afford to be picky. Not to mention that many students/residents aren't in serious relationships or married during this time, adding even more time and uncertainty to the process. And as someone who has suffered from multiple miscarriages and have seen friends suffer from infertility, I know that not everyone can depend of being able to plan exactly when to have their kids even if they are in a relationship and ready to have kids. So I feel lucky that I get to experience the joy of parenthood for sure because I'll already be a parent when starting and it's something I won't have to worry about missing out on. And bonus is that I got to stay home with them all, at least for the first year of their lives, and have that experience. I think that would be almost impossible to do in med school, residency or even as a full-fledged physician. I'm very grateful to have had that opportunity.

The flip side is that I'll have kids while in medical school that will need attention, but at least my youngest will be 7 years old by the time I'm in residency, which is when I'll be the most crunched for time. Hopefully if I am able to treat med school like a full time job, I'll be able to get away with being a med student during the traditional "work" hours and a mom during the traditional "home" hours - which wouldn't make life for my kids any different than if I were working as an accountant for a big firm.

2. I'm financially stable. I'm incredibly lucky to have a solid financial foundation. My family will be able to afford for me to not work for the entire time that I'm in medical school because a) my husband makes good money and has a good amount of work experience in his field under his belt (so we aren't living on the low starting salaries that many young couples do at the beginning), b) we have a bit of savings and equity already which I won't even have to drain to attend school and c) I discovered that I'll be able to qualify for the student loans for the entire time I'm in school, which will be another burden off my family's coffers and because I won't have to be paying off living expenses as well, the amount of debt at the end won't be crushing like for many traditional students who not only have med school debt, but also undergrad debt and the cost of living debt. I won't have to "post-pone" my life like many med students have to - when starting med school, I'll already have a house, car, family, travel...

Flip side is that I won't be making any money and in a sense, holding my family back. Luckily neither my husband or I are particularly materialistic, so it doesn't bug me if I have to drive a KIA when some of my other friends are driving Audis.

3. I'll have some decent amount of relevant life experience under my belt. I've lived on three continents, I've worked in a profession with responsibility, I've suffered miscarriages, I've had babies, I've experienced death and cancer in my family as an adult. I know that many traditional med students may have also had some of these experiences, but less likely to the same extent. I've been pooped on, vomited on and yelled at for messing up. I've had to deal with bad or worrying news myself. I've had to support myself and have learned how to multi-task (though this is something I can definitely improve on!). Its made me more understanding and less judgemental. This may not necessarily make me a better med student in a classroom setting but I think it will in a patient setting.

Flip side is that I've realized that medical school and becoming a doctor isn't the be-all and end-all of life and that may take away some of that drive and determination to succeed. But I guess time will tell!

So I'm glad that there are some positives to this path. But anyway, must get back to studying :)

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

So it begins again

Right now I'm sitting in the library of the university that I am taking a Chemistry course.

Its so cool to be a student again and I'm glad that the things I'm learning are starting to click. And its nice to see that I'm not nearly the oldest student in the class - there is a woman in my class that has to be in her 40s and even brings her kid along to class!

 I'm also so excited to officially be on the medical school path again. The desire to become a doctor has not gone away.

My goal with this course is to get as close to 100% as possible. I only have this one course and I'm determined to prove to the admissions board that I have the academic potential to do well in the medical course. And if I get a least one class credited, then my work load will be that much easier in the first year (when I would need to do the first year Health Sciences courses required by all students).

And I've set myself up for success.

My oldest son is in school (poor kid - we left Canada just as school was finishing up for the summer only to enrol him in school mid-year in New Zealand!). Luckily, he loves it (he is actually on a two-week school holiday).

My toddler has been enrolled in daycare full time. I felt a bit guilty about this but even if I hadn't been taking this course, both my hubby and I feel that its good for him to learn that independence and the social skills that come with attending daycare. And he's been doing very well (apart from some crying at drop off, the teachers tell me that he calms down very quickly and is awesome until we pick him up).

My course is 4 days a week, which is a bit of a bummer because the commute is an hour away from where I'm living some days I only have class for an hour. On Wednesdays though, I have a lecture at 11AM and then a tutorial at 5PM and even though attendance at either is not mandatory, I plan on attending every single one. However, this is the day that I plan to get a lot of my studying done since I have that huge gap of time to kill and will have no excuses being on campus and with access to the library etc.

Next I need to find some sort of volunteering opportunity. Fridays I have no classes or labs, so this will be the perfect time.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Because its already crazy

Life has been incredibly hectic and busy. We are now 10 days away from leaving to New Zealand and I've had zero opportunity/energy to blog about my progress. I've decided to write a quick update now since I find myself with 20 minutes before I have to pick my oldest up from school, which isn't enough time to really accomplish anything else I have set for the day. So blog it is.

My main thing is getting accepted to do the chemistry program that I want to do so I have at least ONE pre-requisite done for the medical program I want to get into. However that has also proven to be a pain, since the school requires pretty much everything single piece of ID I have and it all has to be notarized by a notary public. Luckily a good friend of mine is a lawyer and notary and was able to do it for me, but it was a huge hassle. Especially since they didn't mention one document which I then had to send at a later date - as a result, I STILL don't have an offer of admission from them! And the silly thing is that since I'm over 25 they have NO reason to reject me because its just a single course. Not to mention that I meet all the criteria even if I was younger than 25. Ah well. Nice to see that bureaucracy is consistently annoying all over the world.

However, to add to the craziness, I'm also now officially 12 weeks pregnant with baby #3. While this was totally, 100% planned, sometimes I wonder what I've taken on more than I can handle. We decided to do this because if I DO get into medical school, the process will take 6 years. I'll be done when I'm 38/39 and that is too old for me to have a baby, especially when I consider that my oldest will be 16 then! Plus I want to be able to focus on my career and have the infant/baby days behind me. And I've always wanted to have 3 kids. Both my husband and I come from families of 3 and it just seems like the right number to complete our family. I remember discussing this with him when I decided to try again with medicine and asked him if I'm crazy to consider it. And he said "Well, its already crazy, so why not?" So we went for it and on the first month of trying, boom. Positive test. Even if I don't get into med school, well we wanted to have 3 anyway, so its not a big deal either.

Unfortunately I forgot how awful the first trimester is. I'm exhausted, hormonal and constantly nauseous. Throw in a sub-chorionic hemorrhage and partial bedrest, the whole experience so far has really stressed me out - especially with all that needed to get done before our move. I'll admit I had moments where I thought that if I lost this pregnancy, it would almost be a relief (but only on bad days - most days I feel incredibly blessed).

But I can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel. The dog will be off tomorrow (importing a dog into New Zealand is probably one of the craziest and most expensives things I've ever done), the house is rented out to awesome (seeming) tenants and our car is sold. On Wednesday the movers will get the things we've decided to take with us and then Friday we move out of our house and into my parents house where we will stay until we leave.

Hopefully now that the university has all my documents I'll get my offer of admission and will be able to start my course in July. Next I'll need to find a great volunteer opportunity to get myself immersed into the New Zealand community and show my commitment to being in New Zealand. Ideas of what a pregnant woman would be useful for?