My Doctor Reading List

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Sick

So my "not feeling too well" in the previous post turned out to be a fairly severe case of some sort of GI bug. I ended up in the ER with pretty bad dehydration and they had me connected to an IV for 7 hours. Fun times.

But honestly it was a rough 4 days - and I did zero studying. I don't even feel guilty about it because I was totally incapacitated. At one point I was lying in bed and watching only what was on whatever channel we had left it on the day before because I couldn't muster the energy to reach for the remote and change the channel (that had to be conserved for my trips to the bathroom to vomit). I ended up watching Jeopardy, a couple of episodes of "Last Man Standing" (not that bad actually) and an episode of Anderson, who I guess is trying to be a male Oprah replacement and I'm disappointed by what I saw (in between bathroom trips).  But I digress. I decided I'm just going to post-pone my final by a few days (and since I have till the end of March to write it, I know it won't be a big deal).

I'm so thankful Jordan was able to take care of Tubes the whole time.  On the third day we made the trip out to Newmarket to my parents house so I could sleep (or rather, run to the toilet) a bit more because of the extra distractions for Tubes so he wouldn't insist on seeing me as much.

Honestly, being sick when you have kids is a whole different ball game then before kids. They don't understand (and frankly, they don't care) why you can't get up, they just want you to be up. You feel guilty that all you'd rather do is just stay in bed and not move. And you can't even indulge in a post-sickness lie-in in bed when you're feeling way better (though not quite 100%) and where you regain that last bit of strength. You are up and taking care of them. It sucks. I'm so much more careful now about not getting sick than I once was - I actually get the flu shot every year now just in case.

The only silver lining is that I ended up losing almost 8lbs because of this (and its not even water weight) and I'm on track to lose a couple more since I only just started eating solids yesterday evening (lol, I sound like I'm going through my baby milestones!) and even those I can't have too many of because I don't want to upset my stomach.

Anyway...HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Merry (belated) Christmas!

Hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas!

I had a good one too (and the trip to the Dominican Republic was a big success!). Unfortunately I've come down with something and am feeling terrible today. Its days like this that I wish I were a teenager again living at home with my mom making me feel better....

Ok am going back to bed. More updates soon!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Off for a week!

On Thursday am flying south to the Dominican Republic for a week of fun in the sun with my family. Am very excited! Haven't been to the beach in years.

Anyway, can't make this long because I need to pack - and after a convincing argument from a friend, have decided that I won't be studying during my week there so need to get caught up on my readings today and tomorrow.

Then once I come back it will be revision time - I write my final on January 4th.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Productive day

I'm feeling pretty good right now because today has  (surprisingly) been a very productive day. The reason its been so surprising is because I have Tubes home with me today.

To digress a bit, as part of my "re-strategizing" I also decided that come January, Tubes will be going back into daycare 100%. Jordan had initially convinced me to take him down to 3 days per week to save some money and also because a part of the reason I'm doing this IS to spend a bit more time with him (because I know if I get into med school, my free time with him will definitely be limited). So I tried it out, but to be honest it wasn't working so well. I love spending time with him, but my visions of me reading my text book with him quietly watching a TV show or playing in his room (without interrupting me more than once an hour) sadly never materialized. And looking back I don't know what I was thinking. I was rarely ever able to get any work when if I had to "work from home" because my dear child would constantly need something ("mummy, I need to peeeeeee, mummy I want to watch the Wiggles, mummy I'm huuuuunnnngrrryy, mummy my toy is broken fiiixxx ittttt!").

Don't get me wrong, a part of me has loved hanging out with him so much. And, its terrible but I used the Tuesdays and Thursdays that he wasn't in daycare as rewards "Tubes, if you're a good boy and go to bed now, you can hang out with me ALL DAY tomorrow!" (Works like a charm).

I do feel a bit guilty about it - and selfish too because I'm sending my child off to daycare so that I can pursue something just because I want to. But I figured I'll be a) way less stressed because I will have more days to study and volunteer and b) I'll be able to drop him off later/pick him up earlier because I'll just have more time in general, instead of trying to pack everything I need to get done into the days I have to myself.

But to get back to the point of this post...I was able to complete two of my home labs for my Biology course today and only have one left to do! The bonus with that is that I've already started it and its mostly done so a bigger woohoo.

Days like this make me think it IS possible....

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Deserving it

Most people who apply to medical school have been working towards it pretty much their whole lives. Many have decided to do it in high school and apply to science undergrad degrees. They usually spend their undergrad studying like mad, spend all their spare time volunteering and their summers in research labs.

In short, they work damn hard for a long time to try and get the approximately 1 in 10 spots available for the number of people who apply. Unfortunately many won't get in - some will have GPAs that aren't good enough (for medicine - though probably good enough for anything else). Some many not do that well on the MCAT. Some may just bomb the interviews. Most try again - going back to school or getting graduate degrees.

So...what must they think of people like me? While yes, wanting to be a doctor did cross my mind in high school and even in university, I didn't spend the same number of hours in the library, all my spare time volunteering. I had a lot of fun! My summer jobs consisted of being a camp counselor and travelling around Europe (as well as some crap jobs).

I wonder sometimes, do I deserve it? If I get in, will I be taking the spot of someone who worked much harder than me whose dream it has been for much longer than its been mine? And the answer is, if I get in, I will be taking the spot of someone just as good as me and probably someone who worked much harder to get that spot.

The consultant I met with said that they always have way more deserving candidates than spots. They will often resort to methods such assessing whether the sexes are properly represented, if there enough minorities and even if there are enough people of certain ages. So someone may not get the spot simply because they filled their quota of men, Asian students or over 25 year olds. Its incredibly unfair, but it has to be done. The government decides how many medical school spots are available and there is nothing else that they can do.

Sometimes this frustrates me so much. I actually feel a bit guilty when I think about it, though at the end of the day, I know that if I get in I will deserve it. That is what I want to prove with this year.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Taking the day off

Today I am taking the day off from studying...its Tubes' birthday party tomorrow and I want to get ready for it. I've taken on a big challenge of making him a pirate ship birthday cake in addition to cleaning the whole house.

I feel a big weight off my shoulders since dropping out of the MCAT course and post-poning it till January.

So I'm going to enjoy myself and channel Martha Stewart for the day.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Re-strategizing

Not sure if its even a word, but I've come to the conclusion that I need to rethink my strategy. What I'm doing now is just not working - I am not able to do anything one thing well because I'm just doing too much.  Currently on my plate:

MCAT Hyperlearning course - 6 hours a week of class time plus homework, pre and post readings
Biology university course via correspondence
accounting work for my dad's business
payroll for my dad's business
volunteering at the family doctor's clinic (one day a week)
volunteering at the nursing home (one day a week)

and that doesn't include my family responsibilities laundry, dinner, being a mom, being a wife (I DO need to be there for Jordan too)...

Anyway, I've decided I need to cut back because I can already see that everything is suffering. So I think tomorrow I'm going to call the MCAT course people and ask if I can drop out and change to a course that will start in January instead. That will give me the time to finish up my Biology course and have one more thing crossed off my list. Then from January to April I can focus JUST on my MCAT course and I'll post-pone signing up for another university course until after I write the MCAT. That way I'll again only have one academic commitment at a time and I think I'll be able to handle that much better.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Discouraged

I got my bio midterm back and I'm so disappointed - I got a 69%. That's like an F in med school terms. Ugh. I know that I'm just getting into the swing of things but I just feel like I don't have the time to screw up now! I need to get at least an 85% overall as that equates to a 3.9 and will bring my mark up for Mac.

The midterm was only 20% of my mark but I now I just have that much less wiggle room for the final.

Jordan thinks its because I'm not in a traditional school setting and he may be right. It's hard to make myself study in a consistent manner and truth be told I'm completely out of practice when it comes to studying. I honestly don't even remember how I used to study for science - its so different from from the social studies and business classes from university.

Sigh. Anyway I go still have a lab report, an assignment and the final to redeem myself.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

MCAT prep

An important requirement for most medical schools in Canada is the MCAT, which is a mostly multiple choice based exam that covers biological sciences (biology and organic chemistry), physical sciences (physics and general chemistry), has a "verbal reasoning" section and a writing sample. I heard that in 2015 they are totally revamping the exam, however, as that is still like 4 years away, I'm not going to go into those details.

Anyway, given that currently I'm only taking Biology at the university level (and all the sciences will be tested on a first year university knowledge level) and the last time I took chem or physics was literally over a decade ago, I knew that I needed to take a course in order to prepare me for this exam.

A friend recommended one and said that you can go from zero knowledge (which is pretty much where I am in terms of knowledge) to a decent score.

I have to admit though that the MCAT is the one thing that really worries me. My GPA is ok, my extra-curriculars are decent (and I keep reading about stuff that others post and remember, oh yeah! I did that too! I also got that scholarship etc).

But the MCAT is a different beast and every school has a different requirement (along with their different GPA calculations). And its the one thing that is still undetermined and how I do on it will decide my fate. If I do poorly I may have to kiss my dream of med school goodbye. If I do well in some areas but poorly in others, I may have a chance at a school like U of T which only uses the MCAT as a flag (though still has a minimum requirement). Others like McMaster only look at the score of the verbal reasoning sections but then UWO has a strict MCAT score cut off (i.e. if you get even 1 point below their cut off you will automatically be disqualified).

I think MCAT wise, my best shot will be McMaster. I hope to do really well in the Verbal Reasoning section because its literally just reading a passage and then answering questions. Since I spent a lot of time reading in undergrad and also just for fun I've developed great reading skills (I'm good at picking up important info, I read fast etc). That being said, McMaster looks at ones cumulative GPA - of EVERY SINGLE university course ever taken. Which sucks because as part of my CA requirements, I had to take some online courses but I wasn't too concerned about doing well, I just wanted to pass. And I'm pretty sure most of the marks were in the 70s which will bring down my GPA quite a bit - and I'm nervous that I'll lose my competitiveness. For UWO on the other hand they calculate based on the best 2 years and my GPA there is quite high - but their MCAT cut off is very high and I'm nervous I won't do that well.

But I digress...back to the course itself. So far, its been good - but its also shown me that I'm quite behind in chemistry, especially. Plus I didn't love the teacher. He was nice and funny etc, and he's the only teacher I've had so far that is an actual medical student but he really rushed through it - some people (who've taken chem before) seemed fine but to me it was like he was speaking a different language. Sigh. It means more hard work for me.

The good news is though, that I've been so scared by all this stuff I'm definitely going to be intent on really learning it - whereas if I remembered a lot I think I'd probably get complacent.

Still, its going to be an uphill battle for sure.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Some dream - some do

I came across this quote today and thought it was very apt. I'm glad I'm finally a "doer" and not just a "dreamer".

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

A good day

I had a great day today.

I mentioned to my family doctor a few weeks ago that I was considering switching my career to medicine while I was seeing him to get my flu shot and I asked if there as anything I could do with him (like shadow). I was pleasantly surprised to hear him not only encourage me but also said he thinks I would be a great doctor and ask would I be interested in working in his clinic to get some experience?

Well, I jumped the at the opportunity. One of the things he does is clinical trials of certain drugs and said I could help out with that. He also said I can join the nurses in his practice when they admit patients and later, will be able to do it myself.

So today was my first day. I wasn't quite sure what to expect though...it was my first day there and I know next to nothing about clinical trials - everyone else doing the clinical trials is either a science grad or a doctor (well, two people are doctors from other countries who aren't licensed to practice in Canada, but still).

Anyway, it was a very eventful day and got going very quickly. I saw a patient get injected with the trial drug, had a patient come in with genital herpes, a guy with severe migraines and...the best was I got to watch the doctor do a minor surgery!

I have to admit, I did get a bit faint while watching the surgery, even though I thought it was so cool (the doctor had to remove a sebaceous cyst from a woman's head). I tried to hide it by leaning against the counter and dropping my head a bit, but the nurse saw me after as was like "Uh, are you ok? You look like you are going to pass out." Great. I laughed it off (she didn't believe me) and said I was fine (I was). But I am a little worried about this reaction and hope that its something that wears off. God, what kind of doctor would I be if I can't deal with blood and cuts? And its weird, I can't help the reaction. The whole thing really fascinated me - but its like my brain just did not like the sight of the doctor slicing into this lady's head and made me feel like I would faint. Hopefully I'll get over it though.

I think what made the day so great was that I really got a feel for what its like to be a family doctor. I really enjoyed talking to the patients, I liked seeing how directly the doctor was helping them. But not only did I love it (I can't wait till next Wednesday when I get to go back!) but also I felt so relieved at the end of the day - because it reaffirmed my desire to do this.

The only problem is that now it will be that much more crushing if I don't get in to med school. But I'll try not to think about it just yet.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Hacking it

As part of my journey towards becoming a doctor, one thing I've been doing is reading blogs of doctors (or at least people who claim to be doctors). I like to see the not-so-glamorous side of what it means to be a doctor and the process of becoming one, because most of the blogs I read out there do focus on these topics, I suppose, as an outlet for these doctors. I admit that sometimes I might do too much of this blog reading (it gets a bit addictive) and what I really should be doing is studying, since at the end of the day, if I don't have the prerequisites and MCAT scores to get me it, the closest I'll get to being a doctor is reading other doctors' blogs. But I digress.

A lot of what is out there is funny - doctors who complain about having a hard time in medical school or as interns...but I feel like in a way, it will prepare me for the time when I'm being yelled at by an attending or a senior resident and will hopefully be able to remember that all doctors go through it and not to take it personally.

But recently, I came across a different, more serious type of blog while I was reading another one and noticed it on their blog list (and which incidentally is called "Incidental Findings"). Its a great blog and many of the posts that I've read are truly inspiring. But this doctor also has a bunch of posts that are part of a series called the "Don't Become a Doctor" series. In it, he goes on to describe the ugly side to being a doctor.

Reading this series is hard for someone like me. Hard not because I don't want to know it or that I like being in denial about this side to the profession. But hard because I still really want to be a doctor and this type of stuff can really put a damper on my motivation. I haven't read all of the series yet because its hard to read about all the stuff that I will  have to deal with if I ever obtain my MD.

One thing that he writes about is that as a doctor you fall into a group of people who have to keep secrets. The law protects the conversations with your lawyer, your priest, your spouse - and your doctor. And he mentions that in this capacity he has heard some horrible things that happen to his patients: spousal abuse, drug abuse. Greed. Infidelity. Rape. And worst of all, child abuse.

This is probably the one side to being a doctor that not only sucks, but that can destroy a person and I worry about how I would be able to deal with it.

Indeed, I worry in general about how I will be able to deal with a lot of the hard stuff.

I started my MCAT course today and Jordan and I were having a conversation about it. I think that if we both took it, even after studying, Jordan would probably do much better than me on it, at least on the science parts. So I said, You should do this too!

But Jordan says he couldn't. He says that one thing he doesn't think he could ever stomach doing is telling a parent that their child is going to die. He said he would rather shovel garbage for a living than have to do that. And it made me think. If I become a doctor, this is something that I will undoubtedly have to do one day. As a parent, I know that the worst thing that I could possibly ever hear is that my child is going to die and there is nothing I can do about it.

So I wonder - will I be able to hack it? I hope so. Because I really think that I can do some good.

But I guess if I don't get it and this dream doesn't pan out, at least I will be thankful for not having to deal with that ugly side.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Roller coaster ride

As I do more research into this whole "getting into medical school" journey, I've learned that there is a LOT of conflicting advice and opinions out there, especially when it comes to evaluating my chances.

For example, I met with a special career consultant to specializes in medical schools. He came recommended to me by a friend and I must say, was very good. He told me that 32 of the 33 people who he advised over the past 2 years have been accepted into medical school. And he told me he thinks that I have a shot (woohoo!) and will be happy to help me with the process. BUT he couldn't stress enough about how competitive it all is and basically said that while I DO have a shot, I'm not a shoo-in. Which is exactly how I view myself. Obviously, I wouldn't be applying if I didn't think I had SOME chance. But on the other hand my grades (while impressive in every other field) won't be stellar in the eyes of most school admissions committees. My lack of science courses may not matter for some schools but others may hold it against me. I haven't written the MCAT yet so who knows - if I do well, it may really open some doors for me, if not, well I guess it depends how badly. And I can always take it again.

But when I post my grades on medical school forums, most of the moderators/members think I have a great chance at getting an interview, which is my goal. I think I interview well - I'm confident, I don't get flustered and I know how to sell myself and I think (I hope) I'd be able to convince an interview panel that I would be a terrific doctor.

Its hard though. I'll have someone post and say that I'll definitely get an interview and I'll think "YES, this is GOING to happen!!!"  Then someone else says, well maybe for University X, but its slim for University Y...I'll read statistics on the accepted applicants and my heart will sink, because I'm definitely on the low end of the spectrum. But then I'll talk to someone who wasn't remarkable (in terms of a med school applicant) and they got in, so I think, if SHE/HE managed to do it, why shouldn't I?

Its definitely a roller coaster ride. One moment I'll be so excited and feel confident, then next having a minor panic attack, wondering WHAT THE HELL AM I THINKING and worrying about what I'm putting my husband and child through.

But I've started and there is NO turning back. I'm in it for the long haul. And I just really, really, really want to be able to post "Medical school bound!" as a Facebook status come May 2013.

Wish me luck!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

First exam!

Today I have my first real exam since I wrote the UFE. EEk! I'm a bit nervous but hopefully it will go well. Jordan did say to not put too much pressure on myself as I'm just getting back into the swing of things...but I am worried about the stupid Krebs cycle. It may prove to be my undoing.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Balance

One thing that I'm having a bit of a hard time with lately is balance. Sigh. Which was my problem before I quit my job too. Though its a different type of balance that I'm having trouble with.

I guess my problem is everything now is pretty much on my terms and my schedule. While on one hand that's a great thing, on the other hand everything falls on me. I can no longer blame my job for not having the time to study or even to keep the house clean. If I do badly on an exam it will be 100% my fault for not being prepared enough and that's a tough pill to swallow.

My mother-in-law (who I absolutely love) asked me the other day what it felt like to be a lady of leisure, assuming I just have so much free time now, I must be a little bored. She even suggested I look for a part-time job in a shop or something to keep busy! I almost laughed (though I think she just doesn't realize a) how serious I am about this process and b) how much work is actually involved). Because really, I feel way busier than I ever did when working.

I think a lot has to do with the fact that I've set much higher standards for myself now. When I was working, my goal was to do my job well, but I wasn't out to go above and beyond. I felt perfectly happy to meet expectations (it was the smart thing to do - the effort it takes to be considered exceptional was not worth the additional $2-3K in higher salary). Also, because I wasn't physically at home most of the day, I didn't give myself a hard time about the state of my house, whether dinner was made from scratch and even if I opted to spend free time surfing the net or indulging in a good book.

Now my goal is to do the best possible in my courses. I got an 85% on my first lab report and I have to admit  my first reaction was one of disappointment, though really it is a good grade, especially since I'd never written a lab report before. I also want to spend quality time at the nursing home, make a proper dinner for my husband and son when they get back from work and preschool and want the house hold chores that I was forever playing catch-up with to be done.

I realized recently that this is just NOT going to be possible. Especially since I'll be adding both another course and also doing research work for my family doctor's clinical trial company (which I'll go into more detail about in another post) in addition to taking over the accounting responsibilities for my parents family business. When I assess what my new work load will be it honestly looks like way more than I've ever done before. And I'm constantly going to have to juggle these things, which ultimately will perpetuate this unbalanced feeling.

But at the end of the day, I'm still happy. I'm growing more confident every day that I made the right choice and feel content with it. Though the days of TV marathons in my PJs, and hours strolling around malls are just not going to materialize like I think my mother-in-law thinks (ah, who knows - maybe I'll give myself a day one of these days...Boxing Day maybe?).

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Volunteering

One of the requirements for a strong medical school application is some sort of volunteer work. Although there is no magical number of hours required or places for volunteering, from what I've been reading (and honestly its common sense too), consistency is better than haphazard volunteering, and there are better and worse places to volunteer for sure. Experience where you can get hands on experience dealing with patient or really, just people in general, is much better than sitting in an office or doing administrative tasks. Areas that give you a glimpse of what it is like to be a doctor are also good because it will give you real experiences to mention when asked in an interview  "What do you know about what it is that doctors do?".

Anyway, in So you want to be a Doctor, eh? The author also notes that its important to get a meaningful experience out of the volunteer work. So in researching places to volunteer, I definitely kept this in mind. My mom made a great suggestion that I should look to volunteer at this Polish independent living and long term nursing home. Its an excellent choice (at least, I think so) because a) being of Polish background and speaking the language fluently will make me useful - plus it makes it more meaningful, b) it will give me the opportunity to deal with the residents there, most of whom will have some sort of medical issues (they can't help it, they are old) and c) its close to my house.

I went there today and met with the volunteer coordinator who was very excited for me to join. She was incredibly nice and was very enthusiastic and supportive of my desire to be a doctor. I was honest and told her that I'm looking to get this experience because I need it to apply to medical school but also because it will be a great way to see what it is to deal with sick people. To be honest, this will be the first true test for me to see if this really is something that I want to do in practice and not just in theory. Luckily she completely agreed with me and said that they will write me a very strong and positive letter of recommendation too (and she volunteered this without even my asking!).

I'm really looking forward to it actually. On Friday I go for orientation and then I was asked to attend a lecture on palliative care on Saturday morning, which should be very interesting.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Whoa there horsey!

Ok, so I may have been a bit too optimistic when I planned my study schedule. I was looking at my course outline for the Biology course and even though the recommendations were to do a chapter a week, I thought, hell I can do a chapter a day AND throw in some labs and assignments.

To be fair, I had started reading my text book while I was still working so that was obviously hard to do a lot of. But since Monday was my first day not working, I thought, WOW I have SOOO much time, OBVIOUSLY I'll be able to do this hardcore. And I really thought I could. Except I also actually still have all the responsibilities of wife and mother on my plate so I can't just focus on my courses. Not to mention I have a ton of administrative things to do related to this process: signing up for my MCAT course, calling an exam proctoring center to make sure they would be able to proctor my mid-term, registering for my mid-term...

And the course text book isn't exactly a Marian Keyes novel (I love her books by the way). I mean, its interesting for sure and I like learning (or rather re-learning) this stuff. But 10-15 pages of bio does take a while, especially when one actually wants to understand the words that they are reading.

But today has been a bit frustrating. I had decided to write up a lab report on the first lab I did. I have to submit two lab reports on two of the seven labs I have to do as part of this course and thought, why not get one out of the way? The lab was easy and it was fresh in my head. But since its been a decade (I chose decade instead of 10 years to highlight how long ago this was) since I've written a lab report, I wasn't quite sure where to start. Besides I'd never done one at the university level before. So something that I thought would take an hour or two max has turned into over four hours. Its done though, and submitted. Now I just hope the grade on it will reflect the time I spent on it!

I do want to get as good grades on these courses as possible. Even though I know that for U of T they won't factor it into my GPA, they will for McMaster. This would be such a good opportunity to  boost my average.

Anyway, back to studying. Chapter 4 - Enzymes isn't going to read itself.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

And so it begins!

Whew! The last few weeks have been a real whirlwind. But....I'm DONE with work! I have to admit it took me a while to decompress and de-stress after that last week. I'm always like that. I remember even in University, after mid-terms or finals were over, I never felt that instant relief of being done...it always took a few days at least.

But I'm done, and have started full steam ahead with my prep for getting into medical school. Yesterday I finally got a chance to do my first lab for my Bio course. It was a lot of fun actually and I can't wait to do the next one. I've given myself a fairly aggressive schedule and timeline to finish this course because 1) its just a 1/2 course and I need to complete it to start the second half, 2) I signed up for a "hyperlearning" MCAT course that begins in less than a month and 3) I also need to sign up for another Life Science course. So my goal is to write the midterm by November 8th/9th if possible and the final before Christmas.

So I'm going to be busy. My mother-in-law asked me what it feels like to be a "lady of leisure" the other day but to be honest, I don't know because I just have so much on my plate.

Next up are finding some volunteering opportunities. There are two things that I really want to do. The first is to volunteer at this Polish nursing home. We have a family friend who is there and he is the nicest man. I'd love to go there on a regular basis even if just to see him and make his day a little less boring. Being of Polish background myself may also be a big bonus. The second is that I really want to shadow my family doctor, who is also a great guy. He also has a research company and am hoping that he might have a few projects that I could help him out with. Third is that I want to get in touch with some people who I would like to ask for a letter of recommendation. Even though I'm pretty much a year away from applying, I don't want to spring this huge request on these people who I respect and admire - and also want to have time to find a back up in the event that they can't or don't want to do it.

So...I'm really excited to finally be able to focus on this!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

If I become a physician

Today I had to take Tubes to the doctor. He had been running a fever for the last 2.5 days and his cough seemed worse and I reached that point where it would not longer be over-reacting to take him.

But that's not the point of this post (he's fine by the way - just a virus that seems to be on its way out). The point is that I realized today how important it will be to have a great receptionist if I ever become a doctor. I dealt with two of them today and had a complete 180 in terms of my experience.

The first was with my family doctor. I called as soon as his office opened to see if they could squeeze me in. The receptionist told me that unfortunately they couldn't because except for a couple hours in the morning, the doctor would be away at a conference the rest of the day. She was polite, apologetic and suggested alternatives.

The second was at the clinic I was forced to go to as a result. I had never been there before and as soon as I walked in I knew by the look on the receptionist's face that she clearly did not want to be there and did not want to talk to me. After walking up and saying hello I was interrupted by the receptionist with "Have you been here before?" and just I finished saying "N-", I was interrupted again with "Health card." So I meekly handed it over. While she started typing away, I bravely dared to ask, in my meekest voice possible, "So how long will the wait be, approximately?" She looked up at me, as if I'd just asked her the stupidest question on earth and replied with "He just got here." Ok, so that means....what, that it will be fast because we're one of the only patients? Or long because he's already seeing a bunch of patients?

Anyway, luckily the doctor was incredibly nice and efficient so it was worth the visit but I couldn't over the stark contrast of the two receptionists I dealt with today and vowed should I become a doctor, the first thing I'll do is hire an awesome receptionist.

Friday, September 30, 2011

The count down begins!

Yay! As of today I have only 10 business days left of "real" work!

So excited to finally be able to focus studying (and wearing Lululemon everyday)!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Thankful

Its been a slow week in some ways. Since my parents' generous offer last weekend, I've been living in a whirlwind of decisions and plans for my next steps to get into medical school.

Except that I haven't actually done anything tangible - I've been so emotionally drained since my decision to leave the firm and in general so busy, the closest thing I've done that's medically related is watch the season premiere of Grey's Anatomy (and its the first time I've sat down and watched something on TV since the last season of Biggest Loser). And I haven't seen Grey's Anatomy since that season where Izzy had cancer so I was really lost. But still it was nice to just watch TV and lose myself in something. But I digress.

I'm so relieved that I won't have to keep working and doing all I need to do to get into medical school at the same time. And I'm also so thankful that I have the support of so many people in my life - my closest friends cheering me on, my parents providing the financial and moral support, my sisters so excited for me and mostly importantly, Jordan just respecting me and my decision to pursue this. Everything I read, everyone I talk to who has any idea of what it takes to become a doctor says that its vital to have a good support network and I'm so thankful to have one.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

I QUIT!

So yesterday I unofficially told my bosses that I've decided to resign. It took 2.5 hours and to be honest, I was so drained afterwards I didn't even have the energy to write about it, even though it felt wonderful to finally do it.

The funny thing is that I didn't intend to tell them yesterday - I was planning on doing it on Friday because I have been nervous about how to broach the subject with them. And in the end, when they asked me, pointe-blanc if something is wrong, I figured I owed them the truth. I told them how disappointed I was with the role not being anything like they promised - I'm a Chartered Accountant not a personal assistant or secretary. I said that I've reached a point in my life where I expect more from my job on all levels. The senior manager tried to see if there was anything she could do to make me change my mind but I said no. Or rather I gave them some conditions which I knew they wouldn't be able to promise (which were basically what I was promised when I took the job) and they accepted it. I was surprised because the senior manager actually seemed to understand and just apologized to me about how unfairly I've been treated - which I wasn't expecting. The other manager though, I think, is just pissed at me.

Anyway, long story short, I'm just glad its over. I'm going to hand in my resignation letter tomorrow to make it official. October 14th will be my last day.

Monday, September 19, 2011

I`ve been handed the moon

So...something amazing has happened and its taken some time to sink in.

My parents announced to me on Saturday that they`ve been thinking about it and said that if this is truly what I want, they will give me the equivalent of my net salary so that I can quit my job and focus on doing what I need to do to get in. They said its absolutely unconditional and that its a gift from them to pursue my dream without worrying about how my family will be affected financially.

When they first told me, I felt a bit like Anne, in Anne of Avonlea when Marilla tells her she can go to college to pursue her BA - she`s so surprised to hear that she can go, when asked how she felt she said ``I feel as though someone's handed me the moon... and I don't exactly know what to do with it.``

I was so overwhelmed that besides stuttering out a ``thank you`` all I could say was that I`d think about it. But think about it I did. To be honest, for a moment I was a bit scared. Because although this gift is an amazing opportunity, it also means that I have no excuses...I won`t be able to say ``Well, I want to but....(not enough money, don`t have time to volunteer, no time for MCAT prep etc, etc etc).`` It really confronted me with myself and forced me to really ask myself if this is what I want.

Once it sunk in, and after a few more chats with my parents, I realized that it really is. Not only do I feel incredibly excited but I feel like some tremendous weight has been lifted off my shoulders. I called them yesterday and told them that I will be taking them up for it. And that I`ll be doing it soon.

I do have to explain one thing that made me hesitate at first and indeed, is the main reason I really had to think about whether I wanted to take it. I feel a bit guilty because I feel like I`m an adult now and should be doing this on my own. Sure, I`ve been supporting myself for the last 5 years, but my parents did already pay for all my undergrad school and living expenses...they lent Jordan and I money to buy our condo, and told us not to worry about paying them back any time soon. And I feel like a bit of a hypocrite because I have been known to rag on people I know who are completely supported or at least, heavily subsidized by their parents.

But I realized that if this is what I want, then something like this would just be an excuse and reason not to do it. Especially when I ran it by some friends - everyone said, without hesitation, OMG DO IT! Plus my parents said, that I am after all their child and that they want to help me, that this is what they worked for - to give me (and my sisters) these kinds of opportunities. And really, when I take the perspective of a parent, I know I would want to do the same for my son.

So...here we have it. This journey just got a LOT more exciting! Next up...drafting my resignation letter!


Thursday, September 15, 2011

This is gonna be hard...

What I think hit it home to me that this journey was going to be hard was realizing what the MCAT really was. I'll be honest, all I knew about it was that it was a standardized test and figured, whatever I'll just study.

So I bought a study guide for the MCAT and started to read it. And realized I didn't know ANYTHING. Seriously the guide I bought was review of the main concepts in organic chemistry, biology and physical sciences and I didn't understand any of it. This was when I decided that I need to sign up for a course just to think about having a chance at doing well at it.

Most people who write the MCAT write it after their second or third year of a science undergrad and will likely have it fresh in their minds and since its a relative test, I'm going to be pretty screwed.

While the MCAT isn't required for every Canadian med school, its still a flag for UofT and a portion of it (the verbal reasoning score) is factored into the requirements for McMaster (the two schools I'm most interested in at the moment, though to be honest, any school that wants me will be where I want to go!)

So wish me luck.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Whew! One thing I was relieved to discover...

The other day while procrastinating at work, I decided to calculate my GPA. Now, since your GPA is probably the single most important factor in determining whether you'll be considered for an interview, you'd think that I'd have checked if I even have the required grades to even think about applying. But this definitely was not something I even considered when I decided this is something I'm determined to pursue.

To be honest, I kind of assumed my GPA was good enough. I did very well in university and graduated with distincition from a tough honors program. With this assumption, I started making plans for things that I actually need to have in order to apply, such as registering for some prerequisites for certain programs, brainstorming organizations to volunteer for and wondering who I could ask for a letter of recommendation.

But as I was reading this great book ("So you want to be a doctor, eh?" by Dr. Anne Berndl), the author really put a LOT of emphasis on grades in undergrad and had listed the minimum required GPAs for all Canadian medical schools, all on a 4.0 scale and I started to wonder...hmmm, am I really sure I even HAVE the grades for medical school? Because if not, doing all the other stuff will be a huge waste of time.

So I quickly logged on to my UWO website and downloaded my grades. Then I prorated them to be on a 4.0 scale. AND FROZE when I looked at my average GPA. It was about 3.4 and for the first UofT, the first university I looked at the minimum required was 3.6. FUCK.

BUT....then I read the fine print. The GPA is based on the OMSAS scale and I thought, ok maybe I just calculated it wrong. And luckily, I was right! Based on my OMSAS GPA, I actually have a GPA of 3.7, if you take the straight average. However all medical schools have different methods of calculating the GPA (i.e some take a straight average, some take the best 2 years, some let you knock off your lowest mark every year, some only take the average of years where you did full time study etc). So, still using UofT as my test, I recalculated based on the UofT method and my GPA went up again to over 3.8!

This was a huge relief but also a major lesson to not just assume. Because honestly, even though my GPA is good and gives me the chance, its still not exceptional and will definitely not give me an edge.

"The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step."--Chinese Proverb

After dealing with a bit of a crisis at the beginning of this summer (which I will touch on at a later date), I realized how unhappy I was with a large chunk of my life, namely, with my job and the career path I was on as I blogged about as a guest poster on Mothers in Medicine.

However, I realized that I'm NOT too old to pursue medicine and really started to believe that being happy is the best thing I can do for my family (even if it means pursuing a career in something thats so demanding of time and emotion such as medicine). And for me, having a fulfilling career is an incrediblely important component of my happiness. I only get one shot at life and don't want to look back in 10, 20 years regretting not even trying.

So I've decided to chronicle this journey - the first step, deciding to do this, I've taken. Now I'm in the process of taking the next steps. I've signed up for my first prerequisite course (Biology!)via a correspondence program and I've started to study for it. I'm planning on signing up for an MCAT course in January and hope to take the MCAT in April.

I know it will be hard and I know at times I'll really question whether I'm making the right choice by pursuing this. I also know that I may fail. I may not get into medical school despite doing everything I can. But I'm going to try and if you are reading this and have been there, please send me some words of encouragement!