My Doctor Reading List

Monday, October 1, 2012

Application...submitted!

Well, today I submitted my med school applications finally. With just over 3 hours to spare! Woo hoo!

Yes, I know today was the deadline but I'm a procrastinator by nature and it wouldn't feel right to NOT finish at the last minute. Its not a good idea to do this, as I thought I was done early this morning and then realized I had to input EVERY. SINGLE. COURSE. I've EVER taken, including the course number, grade received and number of credits earned! Ugh! It took over 2 hours - but luckily I had the time and LUCKILY I actually had most of them in a Google doc, so it wasn't as brutal as it could have been. But I absolutely hate the OMSAS website. Its so primitive, its embarrassing. And it just looks like there would be so many errors in it.

I'm hoping for the best but expecting the worst. At this point unless I absolutely KILL the CASPer I doubt I'll make it for Mac to get an interview. Which sucks because my biggest asset is my speaking (interviewing) ability and everyone I talk to (med students, consultants, other doctors) ALL say that if I get an interview I have an excellent chance. But it really looks like I won't get that chance, not this year at least.

I've also applied to NOSM (Northern Ontario School of Medicine). Now, I KNOW its a major stretch because I'm not from Northern Ontario or a rural area. However, I did spend over 8 years in a small village in Poland and I really think that it gave me a good idea of what remote/rural life is like. Especially during the early post-Communist times when infrastructure was so bad, a 20KM journey may as well have been 200KM. I know its a long shot, but my husband is really rooting for moving to Thunder Bay because he's dying to get out of the city. One of my best friends is from T-Bay and her whole family is up there, which would be great to have some friends in a strange place. But I'm getting ahead of myself. Like I said, its a major, major long shot.

So what are my plans till January (when I find out if I get an interview)? Lots. I'm going to continue volunteering at the nursing home, because I really enjoy it. I'll brace myself for another MCAT attempt (but not yet...I just need a break). I'll pursue some business ideas I have (hey, I need a solid back up in case med school doesn't work out this year....or ever). And I have some other stuff going on in my life which I'll share at a later date.



Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Failure

I got my second MCAT test results back. And I did worse. Worse than I expected and WORSE THAN BEFORE. I knew I would do worse in the sciences (except I remained the same in Physical Sciences) but my verbal reasoning score went down.

I'm sitting in tears now as I write this because my score is now so low I'm sure I don't stand a single chance, not at McMaster, not anywhere.

I don't know what I'm going to do. I wish I never re-wrote.

I feel like such a failure.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

No, I'm not dead

But I have taken a break from being "med-obsessed". So much going on in my life right now, med school daydreams have sort of taken a backseat. I'm still in the process of finishing up my applications and I promise to update you all on whats been going on soon.

I have to admit, staying away from the forums has been especially nice and relaxing!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Catching up

MCAT attempt #2 is done and now I need to spend some time catching up in other areas of my life. Need to catch up on work, finish up my applications for med school and plan, plan, plan for some major changes coming to my life!

Back soon...

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Losing steam

The last few days I feel like I've lost a lot of steam, a lot of the drive I had when I decided to pursue medicine.

A few things have changed in my life and with that, my perspective. I'm beginning to question what the right path for me is.

Plus, I'm just SO SICK of studying for the MCAT. Yesterday, I did a practice verbal and I got a 9. Which, at this point in time, is terrible. Terrible for me and just made me really doubt myself. I want to get a least a 10 or higher. My GPA is slightly lower than the mean for Mac for last year and the mean MCAT was 10.58 or something. Unless I kill the Casper test, then my shot, my one and only shot, seems very unlikely.

Also, I'm getting really sick on the online premed forums. Except for a handful of users and some excellent tips, most of the people on it seem like spoiled, sheltered, naive brats or just assholes. Complaining that the system is unfair - like it should be designed so that they would be accepted and not, oh, whoever best meets the NEEDS OF OUR COMMUNITIES. Do I think I could be a great doctor? Absolutely. Do you hear me whining about how unfair the process is? No. Because I can't change it and whining isn't going to get me in. Why don't other people see that? Or people so clearly obsessed with how much money doctors make. Or those who truly and honestly see being a doctor as the most superior profession out there. And one person today who I think has made me decide to just swear off the forums all together, some jackass complaining about natives getting special treatment but then not knowing what a reserve is. Seriously, face-palm.

Ugh. Do I really want to be surrounded by these people for 6+ years? And I thought investment bankers were bad.

I want my positive mood back! That and my confidence that I can do better on the MCAT. I'm going to take a couple practice tests today and then the real thing will be determined tomorrow when I write.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Blessed

Life can sometimes throw a curve ball at you, and its usually when you least expect it. It always makes me think of that saying "If you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans."

I've had such a ball thrown at me recently but I'm so lucky because for some reason, its made me more confident about the future and I feel even luckier with my family and marriage, especially the latter, which have really proven their worth in being supportive of me. This curve ball may end up being the biggest blessing in disguise.

Its funny because on one hand I've been exploring other options to med school more actively now than ever before and yet, I feel more confident than ever that I am going to get in. I don't know where this feeling has come from, but it has and its great.

Also, my great husband told me the other day when we were having a date night out, how he thinks I should just keep applying, over and over and over until I don't want to anymore. How awesome is that? Obviously, I'm not going to put my life on hold until it happens, I may have to get a full time job, have more children, take on new challenges, but its such a relief to know that if I don't make it right away, it doesn't mean it will be over.


Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Scratch that

I've been looking into the details of applying to Poland and it honestly doesn't look like I'll be able to apply.

First of all, all their 4 year medical school programs require pretty much 2 years worth of all the sciences and math, which I don't have.

Second of all, the best school isn't in Warsaw (where my family live), but Krakow which would make any family help impossible. Also they require the MCAT.

Thirdly, I'd need to take an entrance exam in biology and chemistry.

There is also the option of doing a 6 year degree, with the first two years being just the sciences, however that is reserved for students straight out of high school AND they also require IB Biology (which I have) and IB Chemistry (which I don't). Plus I'd be starting the program with a bunch of 17 & 18 year olds and I don't know if I could handle being a full 12 years older than everyone.

Sigh, its just NOT a good alternative for a non-trad like me. And it sucks 'cause I really hoped it would be a good alternative.

It really looks like its Mac or bust for me now...

Another option...

Yesterday I was chatting with my husband and telling him how antsy I've been feeling lately about not working. Yes, I have a small part-time job for my dad (that takes like 15 hours max per month) and a child to rear, but I really want to be out of the house and doing something productive. Like work. I started to talk about back up plans because I can't do this for much longer...In truth I'm getting bored and whats worse, I feel like I'm wasting time. Ok, yes, I'm in the process of applying to med school but then what? I'm going to go back and try to do some volunteering again but I want to do more than that.

He agreed with me and said he too wants to see me out and doing something too. And then he asked me why I wasn't considering applying to med school in Poland. I have to say I was really surprised because I just assumed that he wouldn't want to be there - he's is from New Zealand and knows only enough Polish to get by, but is not even close to being fluent. But he said he's willing to take an aggressive course and of course, would look for the type of job that would mostly require English.

Its given me another option - this one would actually be better than Australia because in Poland I have family who would be able to help us. Also, as an EU citizen I could do both my residency or just work in any country in Europe afterwards, including Ireland or the UK. And since I'm 99.9% sure I want to do family medicine, maybe, just maybe I could apply as an IMG and come back to Canada for residency (which would be ideal).

I'm not sure yet, but I'm glad to see that another option exists...

Thursday, August 2, 2012

To Do List

I have so much to do with applying to medical school this year - and even though I still have like 2 months to do it, I know I need to get on it...I've made a start, but I would rather be "done" and have time for last minute things I forgot about rather than realize when its too late*.

1. Letters of recommendation - draft all 3, as all 3 of my "recommenders" want an outline and points about myself that I want mentioned. I hate this, it seems a bit unfair but I hear its very common. It honestly makes me question the purpose of these letters.

2. Contact all the verifiers for my extra curricular activities and see if they are willing to verify that I participated in said activity.

3. Start drafting my essay responses for the universities I plan to apply to. I think this I will enjoy the most.

4. Refine my list of extra curricular activities - I think I need to cull the list a bit and only focus on relevant stuff.

5. Keep studying for the MCAT. I'm happy to report that my verbal marks keep getting stronger and stronger with each attempt. Hurray!

6. Contact the out of province university I did courses for and order my transcripts and makes sure that they get delivered to OMSAS.

7. Register for my 1.5 worth of credits for U of T - though with the MCAT cut-offs, this is going to be a LONNNNGGG shot.

* I wonder how many people miss the application deadline every year because of stupid mistakes?

Monday, July 23, 2012

Shameful


My grandmother is in her early 80's and has really declined in health over the past couple of years. Her health  has never been great (largely due to her very sedentary life-style combined with a smoking addiction) and as she aged and moved less, took more pain killers and continued to smoke, got worse. Recently she developed some nasty bedsores and my mother (who is her daughter-in-law) was so shocked when she saw them, she immediately rushed my grandmother to her family doctor. 


My mother told me that what happened next, and over the next few days, has left her livid and speechless with disappointment.

At the visit to the family doctor, she said that when the doctor came in, instead of greeting her and my grandmother, he asked "Why on earth isn't she in a nursing home?" My mother, totally caught off guard, didn't even have time to answer that my grandmother is wealthy enough to afford two full-time caretakers to care for and help her in her own, comfortable home and did not WANT to be in a nursing home, a decision that her children (my dad and aunt) respected. The doctor just marched over to my grandmother, and with a totally disgusted look on his face, gingerly lifted the edge of the bandage covering the bedsore, glanced at it for a second and dropped it. He told her there is nothing he can do and she should take my grandmother to the ER - but then added "Though I don't know why you'd bother...they usually die a few months after developing them anyway." My mother told me she was horrified, that firstly he grouped my grandmother into this group of "they" - meaning the elderly (who for some reason don't deserve to have treatment) and to do so in front of my grandmother!

My mom didn't want to drag my grandmother to the ER (knowing what the wait times in Ontario ERs are like and didn't want to subject my grandmother to that unless absolutely necessary) just because the doctor clearly just couldn't be bothered with her, she took my grandmother to a walk-in clinic to get a second opinion. She said this doctor, was much nicer, examined my grandmother and prescribed an antibiotic.

However, after two days my mother thought that the sores looked worse, so she decided she would take my grandmother to the hospital and called an ambulance (because doing so cuts down on the waiting time a little).

What happened at the hospital she said furthered her anger. My grandmother was left on the stretcher for hours and no one would come to check on her. She said when she finally was given a "room" (i.e. a bed with a curtains on both sides for privacy) she again waited for hours until the doctor would come. Finally she said a young doctor entered and she was relieved. She said she went over to my grandmother to help turn her over, and was surprised the doctor didn't budge to help her. Without introducing himself, acknowledging my mother or my grandmother, grabbed a swab and, just like the first doctor, lifted the bandage, swabbed the wound and went out. Without saying a WORD to my mother. My mother said she was baffled and thought that he'd come back. But then when the nurse came in and started to hook my grandmother up to an IV, my she asked if the doctor would come back and was told "No." and that he just said to start my grandmother on antibiotics. Now, my mom said "Ok, but wait a minute, she is already ON antibiotics - can she be on two? Is it safe?" The nurse looked surprised and said he wasn't sure - he wasn't aware that my grandmother was on antibiotics. This set my mom off. She had had enough. She told him she was just so frustrated because she didn't know what was going on. First of all, she was insulted that the doctor wouldn't speak to or acknowledge her or my grandmother. That he recklessly ordered antibiotics before even checking to see if she was on anything. That he disappeared before my mother had a chance to ask any questions about the treatment, next steps, how long my grandmother would have to be there...She said the nurses heard her annoyance and stepped it up, being extra attentive to my grandmother (and my mom said that they were great) and who finally she managed to persuade to find the doctor.

Finally he came, looking annoyed. But my mother pulled him aside and kindly and calmly said "Thank you for taking the time to come back a second time. I know you are busy." Then she went on to tell him everything from her perspective. That when he  first came in, how he ignored them and didn't help even turn my grandmother over.  She pointed to a sign above the nurses station that read "Introduce - Acknowledge - Explain" and was wondering if that is supposed to be a practice of the hospital, because NONE of those things were done with her. That he just seemed so annoyed to be there. She told him how he can't treat people like this - that she is NOT a doctor, she didn't know what was going on but that she WAS worried and just wanted some answers. Her mother-in-law is in pain. And no one seems to care. She asked him why he became a doctor, because she thought doctors become doctors because they want to HELP people? She also reminded him that a doctor is a civil servant - and his job was to serve his patients.

This "I'm disappointed" speech resonated with him, she said, and he had the decency to look ashamed. He stammered out a half apology, explaining that he was just so busy but that she was right. Then he gave my grandmother a proper and thorough examination and explained to my mother why he took the swab, what they were looking for and next steps. All that she wanted in the first place. She said that when the doctor left, one of the nurses (who had overheard the conversation, even though my mother told me she intentionally spoke softly because she didn't want to chastise the doctor in front of other staff) gave her a grin and thumbs up and said "Good for you for standing up for yourself - they need to hear it sometimes!"

I was so sad to hear this, though I know this must happen all the time. Its shameful.

I understand that being a doctor, especially in a specialty like ER where they are over-worked and often exhausted, is hard. But most jobs are hard and no one forces people, at least here in Canada, to become a doctor. This is a choice, a choice made with free will.

I hope that if I ever do get the privilege to be a doctor and practice medicine I will remember that. On those days and nights where I'm tired and possibly will hate my job, I need to remember that this is my JOB and that no-one forced me to do it and to remember why I did it in the first place.

One thing that bothers me sometimes, when people discuss these types of stories, is that they excuse the manner or attitude of the doctors away and say they don't care, as long as they are smart and good doctors and ask, "well, wouldn't you rather have a smart doctor who is rude over someone who is nice but dumb?"

Obviously, I'd *rather* have a very smart and competent doctor who is an asshole over a nice but stupid one, however I also think that its possible to be both. I really hate when people use that argument, as if somehow being kind/compassionate and intelligent are mutually exclusive. Or that being an asshole is a sign of intelligence.There are smart people in every industry and let me tell you, no matter how smart you are, if you spoke to your client the way some doctors speak to their patients, you'd be fired faster than you can roll your eyes. 

My husband thinks that its inevitable that most doctors will be assholes because they are witness to so many awful things and they are over worked etc. But I disagree. Sure, most will become a bit desensitized to a lot of these things, but that doesn't mean they can't at least pretend to care and be polite to their patients. Like I said, in other industries, people do it all the time, why shouldn't doctors be held to the same standard?

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Forums

In my prep for applying to medical school, one of the resources that have been the mostly helpful are premed forums. Members can assess your chances, they can give you advice on everything from best courses to take to informing you on changes to med school policies, their personal success stories (I especially like reading the stories of other non-traditional applicants such as myself) and they often even post their stats (GPA, MCAT score, what extracurricular activities they had etc) and whether they got rejected or accepted to med school with those stats. Its definitely useful because med schools usually post averages and highs/lows only so its hard to tell what individual accepted candidates really looked like. I even found a great Organic Chemistry tutor via a forum.

To be honest, though you really have to take EVERYTHING said on the forums with a grain of salt. There are trolls, people who just don't know what they are talking about (like high school students) and people who are just speculating. At the end of the day, NONE of them are on admissions committees and really don't know for sure what the admissions committees are going to be looking for and prioritizing.

And forums can be a MAJOR time suck. Its hard not to get involved in debates that sometimes spring up and hard not to be very judgmental (i.e people with a terrible GPA in their first 2 years announcing that they will for SURE get a 4.0 for their last two years, or worse, people who compare themselves to Einstein or other exceptional individuals) and just telling people to get a reality check.

I often need to take a break from the forums because I find when I've been spending too much time on them, I end up anxious and just negatively affects everything from my motivation to my mood.

But all in all, they are very useful and I'd recommend them to anyone pursuing medicine, whether they are high school hopefuls or other old non-trads like me.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Ugh. So confused!

So I was reading the OMSAS instruction booklet today and I realized that one university that I had written off as a potential to apply to was University of Toronto. U of T requires 2 full year credits of Life Sciences (among others requirements, which I have met) and at this point in time, I only have 0.5. So I thought U of T was out this application cycle.

But - in the booklet it said that you can still apply if you are ENROLLED in the course at the time of application. And since applications aren't due until the beginning of October, I can still enroll into my remaining 1.5 credits worth of Life Science pre-requisites. Which would be great, because MCAT wise, U of T is the most forgiving, only using the MCAT as a flag instead of a hard cut off.

Another thing I learned is that Western won't post their MCAT cut-offs until AFTER applications are due - in fact, probably after they select people for interviews. And Queens just doesn't post their stats for MCAT at all (though word is that they are high)! Not only that but I won't even know what my MCAT score will be until after the applications are due anyway.

Ugh  - so here I am wondering whether gunning for a great VR score is in fact the best approach. I think it still might be, because the minimums required for U of T are still 9,9,N,9 and at the moment, the highest I've ever gotten on either PS and BS is 8 (and its only happened once, I usually range between 6-7 on those in practice tests). And Mac is still my first choice, so I really should focus on that this application cycle - especially since I'm convinced that I won't get in anywhere this time anyway, and am kind of treating this like a practice run for the "real" thing next year.

But then again, I definitely won't get an interview to U of T, Queens or Western if I don't apply and I keep reading about people getting invited for interviews at those schools who didn't expect it...

Sigh. Its all so confusing.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Signed up for my OMSAS account today!

Today I created an account for OMSAS! It's exciting because it means that I'm officially applying to medical school this year.

I was really excited to fill out the whole thing but I decided to just start with the easy stuff (name, address etc) and added the info for all the universities that I've attended in Ontario, which unfortunately is 3, since I had to take courses at a bunch of places while getting my pre-requisites for my CA designation in addition to the university I did my degree in. I wish I didn't have to add them (well, I don't mind one, that I got an 3.8 in but all others are 3.3's and they bring down my average). This took surprisingly long since I had to dig up all my old student numbers.

I'm still debating how to best study for the MCAT. I want to sign up for a verbal only prep course to help me  ace verbal, but I think I'll keep practicing the other subjects in my spare (read: rare) time. I might focus on just high yield areas like genetics in BS and try to memorize as many formulas for PS as I can.

I'm going to spend the rest of the afternoon reading the OMSAS booklet and then doing some verbal passages.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

MCAT study dilemma

My second attempt at the MCAT is just over a month away and again, I'm not at the stage of being really ready. I think I'll do better this time, but not well enough to get a great score or balanced score.

So I'm facing a bit of a dilemma - do I just give it my best and study like mad for all the sections to MAYBE (by some miracle) get a good enough score to apply to 3 universities that I'm eligible to apply to (based on my GPA, prerequisites and location) OR do I just skim over the sciences and really focus on the verbal reasoning section, to increase my chances at the one university that only looks at the verbal score (which I got average for on my first attempt without really studying)?

I'm starting to lean towards option #2 - why? Because this school is my first choice anyway, its the closest to where I live now and because I really like that its a 3 year program. Also, because I think that I really COULD nail the verbal with a lot of practice.

However, the idea of not studying the other sections makes me a bit uneasy...it just goes against my nature to completely abandon studying certain sections of the exam. I want to do well on it all! But realistically, for the other two universities, I have to do exceptionally well on the other sections too, since unfortunately, these two schools have high MCAT cut-offs.

Sigh.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Be back soon!

Sorry for being MIA lately. My in-laws from New Zealand have been staying with us for the past 3 weeks and we've been busy doing fun stuff with them. Any spare time I've had I have been trying to squeeze in some studying in, so just haven't had time to update the blog. But I'll be back soon!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Back up plan

This weekend my husband invited a couple of his friends and their wives over to our family cottage to discuss some business ideas. He and his friends are all sick of their jobs or just sick of working for someone else, they decided to try and come up with something of their own*.

I have to say, listening to them talk about it got my ambitions juices going. It gave me hope that if med school doesn't work out, that there really might be something else out there for me. Don't get me wrong, medicine is still something that I really want - and in fact because my husband wants to take the risk of going on his own it would be great for me to have a steady job to ensure our family would be comfortable.

On a different note, we are here at the cottage for the whole week since Jordan's parents are visiting us from New Zealand so I've taken my study materials with me to study for the MCAT. It's really taking a LOOONNGGG time to get through the material but I feel happy because at least I'm really starting to understand the material and I only wish I had more time to study. I have a feeling I won't be ready for this second attempt either and it will take a third try to get it right. But it's ok. I'm 99.9% convinced I'm NOT going to make it this year (since I will only be able to apply to one university) which means I will have all of next year to take prerequisites for other universities, beef up my volunteering and, if necessary, study for the MCAT again.


*Of course we are at the cottage so the brainstorming did include consuming fairly large quantities of beer while sitting on the deck, so after a while the discussion went from discussing business ideas to discussing the type of office they would have and the requirements (which include a fire man's pole, a ball pit and dress themes they would have every week).

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Back in the true north, strong and free!

I've been back in Canada for a couple days now and and loving the hot weather we are having.

I had an absolutely fabulous time in Poland though and do miss it already. That's the thing about Europe - culture exudes from every corner. I love how I could be walking somewhere and stumble upon a significant war memorial or beautiful church. The history of the country, both the good (the gorgeous churches and other architecture that's been reconstructed since WWII) and the ugly (the communist era buildings), is something that I just love.

It was also so exciting to be there during Euro 2012! I was, however, sad to read so much negative press in Canadian media about racism and violence because there honestly wasn't that much - and there has definitely been less than most other soccer matches. I remember reading in Victoria Beckham's autobiography (don't judge me, I was a huge Spice Girls fan as a kid and Posh was my favorite) about the taunts that were yelled at David Beckham during Manchester United matches - cruel things about his family, how they hoped his kid/wife would get cancer and many other horrible things. Recently in Egypt fans were killed after a soccer match because of the rowdy fans. But I went to the Poland vs Russia match and the atmosphere was amazing, people only yelling positive things about the team they were supporting, not negative things about the other team (at least where I was sitting) and after the game Polish and Russian fans shook hands, exchanged jerseys and congratulated each other on a good match. I wish that at least some of THAT was mentioned in addition to reporting the minimal violence. But I guess this was the Canadian media's way of making up for the Stanley Cup riots in Vancouver.

But I digress. It's a bit of a shame that it would be hard to come back to Canada after doing med school in Poland cause I think I would really enjoy being there. In all honesty, if I didn't have Tubes and Jordan to think about, I probably WOULD try there. And I'd be ok with staying there or moving to somewhere else in the EU afterwards. My shadowing experiences there really opened my eyes up to the fact that medicine does exist in other parts of world, and that it exists on an equally high level (though if I said this on a Canadian med forum I'd probably end up banned).

I'm just so frustrated right now with having to study for the MCAT - God, I can't wait to till its over so I can stop being such a broken record! As it stands it looks like I'll only be able to apply to one university this application cycle and it's one that only cares about the verbal reasoning score (which I did OK on in my first attempt). But I still want to get it over with - and I can always write it again (though I shudder at the thought).

The next few days are going to be busy as I'm going to have to get ready for my in-laws from New Zealand who are coming to stay with us (read - clean entire house), run a bunch of errands as we are going up to my family cottage for a week and try to squeeze in some studying as well.

Anyway, here is to a great summer even if I DO have to study for most of it. Cheers!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Trust myself

I'm going back to Canada in 6 days and I really wanted to be further along with my MCAT study than I am. So my mom suggested that I skip out on my cousin's birthday BBQ today while she and my dad took my son along with them, leaving me to take advantage of some peace and quiet to study.

I decided that I really want to focus on doing MCAT problems and not just reading the text books, like I did last time, since I think that especially for physics (what I'm focusing on at the moment) its the only way to really learn to do well on the MCAT.

But over an HOUR into doing ONE problem, I was sitting here, almost in tears, because I just couldn't get it. I kept looking at the answer key and the explaination and it just DID NOT make sense! I would flip back through the text book and re-read the same thing, than look at the problem and then the answer again.

Before I flung my textbook out of the window, I decided to take a deep breath, make myself some tea (and sneak a piece of cheesecake*) to see if it would help clear my head a bit.

And while I was sipping my tea, I remembered that my the physics prof from my MCAT course had at one point in time sent us an email to alert us that there were a couple of errors in our review book. I immediately found that email and lo and behold, but the question I had been stuggling with was the very first on his list and the reasoning was exactly what didn't make sense (basically, they had a typo in the formula they used in their answer key).

I was so relieved but also a bit annoyed with myself. Wasn't it Einstien who said that the definition of insanity was doing the same thing over and over but hoping for a different result each time? Why didn't I trust my intelligence enough to realize it was a mistake and just move on? Instead I've wasted a whole hour of child-free studying - which any student parent will tell you is priceless.

Anyway, I think that to be successful I really need to start believing in myself more.

Ok, now back to studying - I want to get enough done so I can watch some of the Euro 2012 matches tonight guilt free!


*About a week ago I started the South Beach diet, Phase 1 to help me shed some of the weight I've gained since being in Poland (bread here is amazing and there is no such thing as low fat/low calorie products plus my parents have been having dinners parties almost every night since I've arrived). I wish I'd read that email BEFORE succumbing to the sugar (absolutely not allowed during this phase of the diet).

Monday, June 4, 2012

Dusting off

As part of my attempt to refocus and reatrategize my prep for the MCAT, I hired tutors for physics, biology and chem (already have a great Ochem one back home). This was actually my mom's idea and she actually found the contact info for my science teacher from middle school (!!) who still teaches at that school and who said she would be happy to give me some tutoring in and recommended some of her colleges for the other sciences.

So far I've had two physics sessions and they were really great. I'm loving this tutor and wish I had taken physics at university cause I really do enjoy it and he told m that I really do have a good head for physics, but that I need to practice more to get the theory more stuck in my hear. At the moment it's all swimming around in my head but at least I "get" physics.

Anyway...I feel a bit more positive about my potential for the next attempt at the MCAT (though I still will try t defer it for a later date if possible).

Most of my shadowing opportunities are done, just one day left. I've decided to opt out of watching the brain surgery as I had a little ethical dilemma about it...I put myself in the shoes of the patient and thought that while at a teaching hospital I'm ok with observing along with other students but obviously wouldn't have any contact with the patient. But the even though the neurosurgeon is the head of his department and has given me permission, it's not a teaching hospital that he works at, therefore I don't think it's fair for me to watch. I don't know if I'd want a random person observing in that situation. In any case I will have more time to study and I intend to use it well.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Looks like I'm rewriting :(

I got my score back and it was pretty much what I expected (I.e. crap). Sigh. I'm not disappointed per se... OK fine, I AM disappointed. But mostly because it means that I have to rewrite and I really, really don't want to.

I totally deserve what I got. And the only silver lining is that it was still the highest score I've ever received compared to all the practice tests I've taken (but don't take this to mean that it was good, it wasn't - it was below 30 - by a lot). But it sucks to have to face this reality.

The only section I did really well in was in the writing section, which of course is the one section no one cares about. I was hoping for higher than I got in verbal reasoning but I will admit I just didn't practice nearly enough, especially towards the end of my studying.

Well. So that's that. I've got to pick myself up, dust myself off and try again.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Ugh...results day tomorrow

I realized today that a month has passed since I wrote my MCAT. The realization was followed by a feeling of dread.

However I pushed that feeling aside and when on the AAMC website only to discover that the results won't be available until tomorrow evening (or late at night for me because of the time difference).

So now I'm in suspense. On one hand I really want to know and a part of me (a teeny, weeny part) is still hoping for a miracle but on the other hand I don't want to know because a very big part of me is convinced the score won't be good and it will make rewriting definite as opposed to just probable.

So now I wait...

Monday, May 28, 2012

Awesome!

Today I saw my first, real live birth! I was allowed to join med students doing their pediatrics rotation at the hospital to see the cesarean section birth of a baby girl.

I was really excited because I had no idea that I'd be allowed but when the director of the unit asked me if I would be interested, I jumped at the chance!

Because I was there with the neonatal team and not the obstetrics team I didn't get to see much of the actual c section itself as we were standing behind the mother's head and our focus was the child and not the mother, but it was thrilling nonetheless to see the baby come out and take her first breaths.

However, the neonatal team was there not out of routine but because it was known that the baby had both Downs Syndrome and a heart defect. My heart went out to the parents because not only was this their first pregnancy but also because they were both only 31. Luckily they were well aware of this but still.... Made me wonder about what I'm doing, if putting off having more kids till I'm in my mid 30s is such a good idea.

All that aside it was an amazing experience and I feel so privileged to witness something so spectacular.

And... There is also a chance that I might get to see BRAIN SURGERY next week!

I met with the head of neurosurgery at this well known children's hospital and he asked if if be interested. It's not definite but he said to check in with him at the end of the week and he'd let me know. Speaking of him, I want to write about the great talk I had with him but I'll leave that for another post. But I'll say that its was such a privilege to have that chat - I learned so much in a span of just 2 hours, it's incredible.

Now I'm off to do some more sight seeing around Warsaw :)

Monday, May 21, 2012

Swamped!

I've now been here for a week and have already seen and experienced so much! Two days I spent with my mom's friend, the pediatric orthopedic surgeon and today I just finished shadowing a bunch of neonatologists.

So far my schedule looks like this:
Monday & Tuesday - shadowing and observing various neonatologists and pediatrictions.
Wednesday & Thursday - shadowing and assisting the pediatric orthopedic surgeon.
Friday - studying/resting.
Also one Saturday I'll be shadowing a pediatric neurosurgeon, which I think might be very interesting too.

I have to admit, that orthopedics probably isn't something that I find fascinating enough to pursue as a specialty (though it is definitely interesting, its not something I think would be for me day in and day out), based on what I've seen so far. Also, speaking with the doctor, she told me in general there are very few women in orthopedics - even in pediatric orthopedics because its physically very hard and the surgeon has to be very strong. She said its especially true now that children and youth (since pediatrics treat up to the age of 18) are often overweight and its just hard to get to the broken bones. Not that this in itself would discourage me if I was truly passionate, but I'm more interest in illnesses I think as well as preventative care.

Neonatal however, is a different story. I love babies and thought it would be hard to see so many sick babies. But even though I did see some sick babies (which I will elaborate on in a minute) it didn't put me off at all and its amazing to see these little things, some born as early as 25 weeks (when the normal gestation period is 40 weeks) thrive. So far, I love it and think I would enjoy working with newborns -  both healthy and ill. But obviously its too soon to make that kind of call (let's get into medical school first!).

Anyway, I was lucky to see a set of twins, born a few minutes before I saw them, at 29 weeks via an emergency C-section. They had something called "Twin-to-twin Trasfusion Syndrome" , which is a rare condition and has a high mortality rate. I watched as the doctors interested IV's into them via their belly buttons and start treating them. It's amazing that these little ones are alive, especially after doing a bit of research about the condition. Apparently, the mother (who has had a miscarriage and then had a child die of a heart defect at age 20 months) wasn't aware that her twins had this problem and had come in for a routine follow-up. The head of the Neonatal unit at the hospital that I'm shadowing at was very concerned, as this is usually a problem that is discovered much earlier in the pregnancy, during a time when some treatments can be applied - but at 29 weeks it was too late, so they had to deliver the babies.

I'm going back tomorrow morning and am curious to see how they are faring. They were both stable when I left and I pray that they are going to be ok. While at the hospital, I read many letters and cards from parents who had children born so early (one set of twin at 24 weeks!) with updates on how their children are doing 6, 7+ years later. I was very uplifting to see.

Unfortunately, as a result of my busy, busy schedule, my MCAT studying has been sadly lagging and I'm going to have to figure out how to balance everything. The first two days I was so jetlagged and then was thrown into the shadowing immediately and I've been returning totally exhausted. I didn't expect such an overwhelming response from all these doctors and now have too much planned! But I'll take it as this has been as an amazing experience and I'm lucky to be able to see it all.


Wednesday, May 16, 2012

first days in Poland

It's amazing - I've been here a grand total of two days and have already spent 10 straight hours in a hospital!

My mom really pulled through and organized for me to shadow/assist her friend who is a pediatric orthopedic surgeon.

First of all i have to say that this woman is the nicest person I've ever met. She is blonde, bubbly and incredibly friendly and her patients absolutely love her. Heck, I absolutely love her!

Anyway, I spent today with her doing follow ups in her office. Mostly patients with breaks and sprains came in for follow up from minor operations, breaks that were set and some miscellaneous joint pain.

This was very different from the work I was doing with my family doctor because there was a lot of very similar cases - it got to the point where I could probably give the recommendations of what the patient should do following the removal of their cast.

I also learned a lot about the Polish medical system, which unlike Canada is two tier - public and private. I'd like to write more about it but I'm exhausted because of my long day and jet lag so I've decided to leave my musings on the Polish medical system for a different post.

Oh! One thing I forgot to mention is that one day this month I'm going to shadow the chief of pediatric neurosurgery! I met him today and he agreed as a favor this this orthopedic surgeon. That should be really interesting. I don't think neurosurgery (or any surgery for that matter) is going to be my thing but I still find it fascinating.

Anyway, my eyes are starting to close, so I'll finish up for today.

Oh! On a side note, I want to congratulate to all those who received acceptances to medical school yesterday! I hope this time next year, one of those lucky people will be me.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Back to the grind

I'd like to say that my week off was nice and relaxing and got a lot done, unfortunately though, it wasn't.

We have a basement apartment that finally, finally, finally was finished. We had some expensive renovations done to our house and had banked on renting the basement to help pay for them but soon found a TON of problems down there, which took almost a year to fix and cost us MORE money. But we were finally able to put it up for rent this week.

We live in an awesome neighborhood, so it wasn't surprising that we had a lot of interest in it. We found a great couple who wanted to rent the basement, however they were looking to rent it furnished AND needed it immediately (i.e. two days after viewing it!) so my husband and I had to really scramble to get it cleaned and find the necessary furniture. We got it done, but it was exhausting!

Then to treat ourselves, we went away for an overnight trip to Niagara Falls. Jordan and I had wanted to do this for ages but something always came up - no one available to watch Tubes, funds were short, had to work etc.. Finally the stars were aligned and we jumped at the opportunity. It was fantastic (though we both agreed that one night isn't enough and we need to plan something for at least two nights next time).

But now I'm really behind on my list of things that I wanted to do last week and those tasks are spilling into this week. This includes coming up with a study schedule for my second MCAT attempt. And speaking of the MCAT, I've registered for it again to be taken on August 17th. I was hoping for the 23rd, however there were no spots and I didn't feel like playing the waiting game, so I just bit the bullet and chose the 17th. The positives of this is that at least I'll have a few weeks of summer to enjoy afterwards. And who knows, maybe all my praying that my MCAT from my 1st attempt will be amazing might pay off :)

Anyway, I need to get started on catching up and planning for my month in Poland.

Monday, April 30, 2012

My week off

I'm taking this week off from all things med school related. I need a break and need to catch up on a bunch of administrative stuff. I need to catch up on my work, need to sort out some sort of childcare for Tubes for before/after school (my baby is starting kindergarten in September!) and just do some stuff around the house I've been meaning to for a while, but never felt I could justify doing instead of studying. Like organizing this one drawer in my kitchen that's full of random documents, hanging some pictures on the wall in my living room and preparing for my trip to Poland in 2 weeks. I also want to do something for me, like get my hair cut and get a massage.

Lastly, I want to develop a good, realistic study schedule for MCAT attempt #2 (and need to register for it as well). My definitely learned my lesson with being too optimistic. I need to make sure my schedule is not too daunting and has enough buffer room in case my son gets sick, to factor in in-law entertaining (they are visiting us from New Zealand for a month) and for those days when I just can't be bothered.

Anyway, I'm sure this week is going to go by really quickly so am going to enjoy myself as much as I can.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

MCAT - 1st attempt done

So I just finished writing the MCAT. It went as well as expected (i.e. terribly).

That being said...I feel surprisingly good right now. I feel proud of myself for actually doing it - actually writing the MCAT. And even though doing those questions that I clearly didn't know the answers to most, I did understand for the most part what was being asked - which is a huge improvement. I remember when I did my first practice exam, I literally had no clue what was going on. None of the questions made any sense to me and I would guess them all. I was especially surprised at myself regarding the chemistry questions - I was actually able to work through them and I think get the right answer.

I'm mostly a little worried about the verbal section since I got stuck on a really hard passage and then ended up having to guess on one completely (and it looked easier) but I guess we'll see. Also because I really have no excuse to do badly in verbal. I'll be honest - I'll be very disappointed if I get anything lower than a 10 in verbal.

I was a little tempted to void my score when I got to the end, and I DID hesitate for a second - but I still want to KNOW how I did and see where I stand, so I didn't. Anyway, I'll find out in 30 days.

Now I'm going to go out for dinner with friends, forget about everything and hope for the best.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

I think I'm getting sick

Not sure if its due to pent up stress and general roller coaster of emotions I've been feeling lately, but today I had to leave the library (after a really decent O-chem study session) earlier than planned this afternoon because I was feeling like crap. Sudden on set of a headache, my throat sore and lymph nodes swollen. I checked in the mirror and my throat is red and tonsils have ballooned. I even thought I was going to puke when I got home but luckily that nauseated feeling passed after I sat on the couch for a while.

If my Saturday exam was "for real" I'd be really nervous now, but honestly at this point all I can do is shrug my shoulders and just hope whatever I have passes before Saturday because I don't want to be sitting in a room feeling like crap for 5+ hours.

Anyway, am going to eat another peanut butter cookie my husband made, watch Modern Family and go to be early.



Tuesday, April 24, 2012

This is gonna be painful

I'm so mad at myself right now. My first attempt at the MCAT is on Saturday and really, I shouldn't even bother taking it. I'm only really taking it at this point because a) I've paid for it and can't get a refund if I cancel and b) I'm secretly hoping for a small miracle that I guess correctly enough to get a 9. For the verbal reasoning section I might be ok but I know I'm screwed for biological sciences and I'm probably going to get a 3 in physical sciences. Seriously, its that bad.

And its all my fault. I had a course, which I didn't take advantage of enough. I had TIME which is a luxury and that so many people would kill for. I'm just disorganized and when push came to shove, I just didn't study enough.

I have some "excuses" but who cares? This is all on me and I've let myself down. I knew I wouldn't be prepared by this point but I didn't think I'd be THIS unprepared. I don't know why I couldn't motivate myself enough to study just that little bit more. I'd let myself be distracted by thoughts of being a doctor, browsing med school web pages, forums and blogs instead of doing the things I need to do to actually get in, like STUDYING FOR THE MCAT.

I know I wrote in a previous post that I'd not be too hard on myself...but deep down I know I could have done more, even with everything that is going on in my life. And it scares me because I wonder, if I didn't put the effort in for this, the MCAT which is so important, does that mean that deep down I also don't want it? Because I feel like I do, I really do want this and yet I'm NOT proving it. At least, I'm not proving it to myself.

I guess I'm lucky because I still have the time to redeem myself. I'm going to take next week off and try and come up with a reasonable study schedule so that I can rewrite some time in August - I think my worst mistake was thinking I could study everything in 6 weeks. So unreasonable - and not only because I have a husband and child but because I am not one of those that can focus for 6-8 hours per day every day, which is what would have been required for that 6 week schedule to work. A perfect study schedule (for me) would be 2-3 hours per day MAX with an exam day thrown in once a week for practice.

But UGH.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Studyin'

For my last 5 days before my first MCAT attempt am going to be studying like mad at a local university library. I found a great spot right next to a Starbucks and hope to cram as much info into the limbic system of my brain (the part of the brain that helps with memory storage and retrieval - see have learned something!).

Wish me luck!

Friday, April 20, 2012

This is a marathon - not a sprint

How true. I'll be honest - I really and truly thought that I'd be able to do what I needed to do in the 9-10 months before the next application cycle, because 9-10 months just seemed like such a long time - at the time when I started.

I naively thought that "all" I needed to do was to do a couple prereqs, the MCAT and throw in a bit more volunteering and I'd be set. Ok, I still thought my chances would be a long shot, but I thought I'd have it all "down" and it would only be a matter of waiting.

But its been hard - especially as a mother and wife - to just get those things done. Maybe all of the above would have been doable if I had been single and with no one to answer to except myself. That's just not the case in my situation and I should have factored in more family incidents that would undoubtedly pop up and take me off course and slow me down.

Take for example, me getting that nasty GI bug. I was pretty much out of commission for over a week. This caused me to have to reschedule my Bio final. And then studying for it started to overlap with my MCAT course. Which I then started to fall behind in. Then Tubes had the visit to the ER that pretty much took up the entire weekend (and caused me to miss two MCAT sessions - more falling behind). Sprinkle in a few more sick kid days, public holidays and just days when I didn't have the energy to study due to having to deal with many errands and other life stuff, its no wonder that I'm NOT ready for the MCAT next week and that I won't be done my prereq's for the one university I wanted to go to the most.

Not to mention the mistakes I made along the way. Registering for the MCAT course while trying to get my first Bio prepreq done. Taking Tubes out of daycare part-time to save money...only to completely lose those days for studying (best decision ever was to put him back in!). Not preparing properly for my MCAT course and letting distractions hold me back.

My advice to anyone who is pursuing medicine as a second career and later on in life, especially if you are a parent, is to prepare for it to be a marathon. Life does not stop just because you want to do something else with your life. Groceries have to be shopped for, meals prepared, houses cleaned, laundry done...your spouse will want to spend time with you, your child will demand your attention...your family and friends will still expect some sort of participation in their lives too...you will get sick and have days when you just don't want to do anything. And that's OK.

So I've decided to take a step back and let life happen without stressing over the consequences. I'm trying to study everyday, but instead of hoping to cram in 8 hours and cover off a bunch of topics, I'm ok if I only manage 2 or 3 and get 1 topic done. At this rate I should be ready for the MCAT in August even if there are days I get precious little done. Because being stressed out is so counter-productive - I lose my focus and don't absorb the material anyway.

So just like in a marathon you might get cramps, sore muscles...you might need to walk in places and stop for a drink. But at the end of the day, what matters is that your crossed that finish line. Who cares how long it took?

Friday, April 13, 2012

Catalyst

When I first started this blog, I alluded to some major life events that led to me taking the drastic step to quit my job and pursue a career in medicine.

And these were:  my second and third miscarriages and the toll they had on my health, both physical and mental, as well as the indirect affect on my marriage and overall happiness.

Its hard when you are 26 and have had 3 miscarriages. I always thought that the first miscarriage I had was just bad luck. But after the third one I started to worry that there was something wrong with me. It seemed so unfair, I'm young and healthy and I wanted those babies so badly - why did it keep happening to me?

Looking back especially after that third miscarriage I was desperately unhappy. Nothing seemed to be going well with my life, even though on the outside it looked great. I had a gorgeous kid, great new house, a handsome husband, a prestigious career. I acted normally around family and friends because I didn't want anyone to worry about me and kept telling myself it will get better.

However I hated my job (and was stuck with it as I had signed a commitment to stay for 2 years in return for my relocation costs from Australia) but had no idea what else I would want to do. Nothing CA related really appealed to me. I felt a bit desperate about my future and hated the uncertainty of what I should do with my life. In a sense the pregnancy was a bit of a relief as I thought it would buy me time to think about it.

Then I had that third miscarriage and never really properly had time to grieve it (nor the one before it). I had the D&C on a Friday and was back at work on the Monday, having convinced myself that I needed to get on with my life as soon as possible (and because I felt guilty having had already taken a week off because of all my doctors visits, ultrasounds etc). Looking back, I think I was legitimately depressed. The amount of times I broke down crying at work would be embarrassing if I hadn't gone through what I had and I really had a hard time keeping it together.

The emotional toll the miscarriage had compounded the unhappiness I felt from my dislike of my job. Jordan, I think just felt a bit helpless because I was constantly sad - and bitching about how I hate my job, how there was something wrong with me that I couldn't seem to stay pregnant. It definitely took a toll on our marriage for a while because I started to internalize my feelings when I noticed how he seemed to be a bit tired of hearing me complain about it. And I resented him for it.

At the time I started this blog, I just wasn't ready to talk about it yet, other than with a few close friends and family and just didn't want it to be "public" knowledge. I was still just too raw emotionally and needed time to do its thing before I could discuss it.

Its weird how things work out. If I hadn't had those miscarriages maybe I wouldn't have quit. Maybe I wouldn't have been pushed to my emotional limits so much that I couldn't bare it anymore. I probably wouldn't have been pushed to such an uncomfortable state in my life that I had to change it. For the first time I started to think about what I really, really wanted to do and I kept coming back to medicine.

So in many ways that miscarriage was the catalyst for making this change and putting me on this course. It has also made my marriage stronger as I saw just how much Jordan's support of everything has meant to me - what great evidence of how much he loves me and wants me to be happy. Because let me tell you, supporting your spouse through such a commitment is HARD. And yet he has not wavered with his support. He told me that he's willing to move wherever I get in, be it Kingston, Ontario or back to Australia.

Even if it doesn't work out I feel like the process has been healing for me in many ways and I'm grateful for that.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Some positive news

One of the reasons I've been feeling so discouraged is because I realized that with my lack of pre-requisites and potentially terrible MCAT score, I'd be left with pretty much one university to apply to. Its my second choice (but only due to location, the program itself is my first choice) but its also the hardest to get into in Ontario because of its favorable admissions requirements (low GPA min, only verbal score of MCAT counts etc) so way more people apply there than other universities.

But today I found out that for the 2013 application cycle, an awesome university has abolished their pre-requisites requirements AND don't have any MCAT cut-offs! Mind you, that doesn't mean I can tank the MCAT (they will have their own internal cut-off for sure) but just the knowledge that they won't toss my application because of one bad number is uplifting (and the fact that they take your best MCAT score only). And this ironically makes me more motivated to study harder. Also, I have heard that they really value extra-curricular activities highly and I think mine are pretty solid. That's one thing I'm really grateful to my undergrad for - we were required to keep a certain level of activities during the year, so at least I tick that box.

So all in all...feeling  a bit better about it all today.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Feeling discouraged

I'm feeling really discouraged today and having one of those "what the HELL am I doing?!?!?" moments. Honestly, the MCAT is scaring me so much that I've started researching other options if I don't get accepted here, such as applying to Australia where my GPA is higher, MCAT minimums are lower and competition (for international spots) is less fierce, but its also not without its downside.

The reality is that it takes the average Canadian applicant 2.7 attempts to get accepted - and as a "below" average candidate (I'm being realistic), I'm sure it would take me longer to up my ante, unless I'm extremely lucky. And I don't want to wait 3 more years! I feel like my life is on hold until I know if I get in or not and I can't "not know" for 3+ years. Its just not fair to my family, and I don't think I could take it.

At first I was really excited about the prospect of Australia. I've lived there before and really enjoyed it. Yes, it was hard being away from family and friends but at least I know what its like, and if I went to Brisbane, I already have some family and friends there already. I think I'd get a great education and luckily even if I were to do my residency over there I'd be able to come back and practice here in Canada without redoing a residency (in family medicine). Also, as the wife and mother of New Zealand citizens, I could actually get permanent residency standing in Australia very easily, which would allow me to do my medical residency training, if I were to not match in Canada or if we decided to stay. It also qualifies me for cheaper tuition.

That being said, after doing some research I've since found out that while I am able to apply as an international student and can switch over to being a PR/domestic student, the tuition benefits are not as great as they initially appeared to be. That is because domestic students get what is called CSPs (Commonwealth Supported Places), which are heavily subsidized by the government. But, the only way to qualify for that would be to become a PR first (meaning I'd have to move there first) and then apply in the same manner as Australian's - which is again very competitive, plus I'd have to write the GAMSAT (the Aussie version of the MCAT) and would have to physically attend interviews (as an international I could have my interview via Skype). If I were to apply as an international and switch over to PR status, I'd only qualify for a "full-fee" paying spot, which is still very expensive (and more than in Canada). I'm still trying to determine exactly what the cost of doing this in Australia would be but I'm worried that if its too expensive, I'm not sure if I'm willing to do it.

I don't know. Maybe I don't want it badly enough. Maybe my struggles with the MCAT are a sign its not meant for me. I can totally see why some people would give up this dream because, man is this hard.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

To write or not to write....

The MCAT. My nemesis.

I've been studying pretty hard for the past two weeks and honestly, things are not looking good. At all. In fact, I had a mini break down the other day because I realized I was falling pretty behind in my schedule and yet still couldn't figure out how to do those projectile motion physics problems. I just kept getting them wrong and all I could think about was how the prep course physics instructor kept reminding us that its a majorly important concept for the MCAT and serves as a foundation for future topics.

I realized how much I still have to learn, not just review and honestly, I know I can't learn it all before the exam. Its physically impossible.

Jordan thinks that I should just not write in April and post-pone it till August and I'm strongly leaning in that direction. But on the other hand, I have already paid for the test and won't get a full refund if I cancel- so I'm also leaning towards just writing it and basically treating it as a trial run. Who knows, I might get lucky (though that's wishful thinking - I think the same thing each time I buy a lottery ticket and so far, the most I've won was $120). I don't think it would be a wasted experience and I think it will keep me more focused to still study and not lose steam by having to write it in 4 weeks. But I've pretty much come to terms with the fact that I'm going to have to rewrite the goddamned thing. And that sucks.

I'm just realizing how major of an undertaking I've taken upon myself and however optimistic I was about doing it all in a year, its just not possible. I've had to reassess some of my goals. Like the Life Science pre-requisites for one university that I was planning on taking. I still have 1.5 full-time course equivalents to go and if I need to re-write the MCAT, there is no way that I'll be able to do them. So I may actually just end up NOT applying to the one university that I wanted to go to the most. But its that, or NONE, because if my MCAT sucks, I have no chances anywhere.

In any case, please send out good vibes my way on April 28th. Cause I'm desperately going to need them.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

And...panic!

Ok, so I'm officially starting to panic. The MCAT is just over 6 weeks away and I'm no where CLOSE to being prepared.

I mean, yes I have been taking my prep course but for so much of it I'm learning these concepts from scratch - they aren't a refresher for me like for some many people in my course who have done a degree in the sciences. And when I think about how the MCAT is a relative exam, it makes me panic more. How the HELL am I going to be competitive when I'm going to be up against people for whom this will be second nature?

Ok, I'll be honest. My studying (other than attending my course) has not been as good as it should have been. I think a lot has to do with knowing how to focus my studying. Should I be re-doing my readings? Just pounding out practice problems (which is difficult if I don't fully understand the concept)? A mixture of both? I just don't know and I was hoping that the course I'm taking would give us more in that department. So I've kind of been doing a bit of everything and its just not been effective. Plus I just haven't been putting in the amount of hours that I should have. I'm still volunteering twice a week, still have a family to take care of. Balancing it all has just not been easy. Its an excuse for sure - but excuses aren't going to get me into med school. I know that its not harder for me than other people, or at least its not THAT much harder. There are others who have had way more hurdles to over come and managed to succeed, so there is no reason why I shouldn't either.

So I'm going to start stepping it up a notch. I think my aim will be to focus on a subject a day and spend a part of the day redoing the readings and refreshing the concepts and the other part just pounding away at practice problems. I don't know if this is the best approach, but its AN approach and I need to stick to something now before its too late.

But I'm still really, really daunted by this and where I'm sitting right now I don't have a good feeling about it. I'm going to give it my best shot and if I do really terribly at least I can try again before this application cycle. Though I'm slowly preparing myself that I'm just going to end up trying again next year.

STUPID MCAT. Honestly, if it weren't for the MCAT I think I'd have a fighting chance, I really do. But I guess everyone has a weak spot that if eliminated, would give them a better chance too - and since I obviously can't change the system I have to accept it and make the best of it.

Anyway, if anyone out there is reading this and has ANY suggestions, please send them to me!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Learning something new

One of the hardest things about this process is that I really have no one to ask for advice - that is, I don't have any real people friends who are going through it too to ask for or have volunteer information. So I rely a lot on forums and blogs that I read for tips. And hope that what I write will help others learn from my mistakes and things I've learned along the way.

And I have to say, I've actually learned a lot so far - and  wish  I had known a lot of these things before. Like today, for example, I learned that I can do my prerequisite courses as Pass/Fail - especially since I already have a degree and these courses I'm taking won't affect it.

I'm glad I found this out because it really takes the pressure off me for my 1.5 credit course requirement remaining for one university. Even though the grade I get wouldn't count for the one university that has the requirement, for another university in my top 3 the grades for every course ever taken at the university level count, whether or not taken as part of your degree. But taking it as Pass/Fail is win/win - I get the credit and it won't affect my GPA for ANY program. Also, lets face it but I think a Pass looks way better than a 60. Both lead to credit for the course but a 60 = crap and Pass can mean anything - and the university can't judge you on it. Also, I ran the numbers and even if I did amazing on my 1.5 remaining course requirements (4.0) my cumulative GPA would hardly budge at all.

I only wish I had known this before I did my Biology course. I ended up with a B+ in the course which I know isn't terrible but it does lower my GPA ever so slightly. But also I spent so much time on labs and assignments, which, while were great for helping me learn, also took a great deal of time. So the benefit of potentially increasing my GPA is tiny compared to the risk of it dropping and the effort it would take to get the amazing grades.

Another benefit of knowing this is I may actually be able to take another course such as Chemistry or Physics which may help me with letting me apply more broadly since I won't have to worry about a terrible score.

I know I shouldn't get ahead of myself - I'd still have to actually pass the course and I have to do some research because many courses don't have the Pass/Fail option. But I think it would be much easier to pass 3 courses (i.e. get 50%) than do amazing in two courses (90%+) or even one.  Lets face it, its easy in general to pass, slightly tough to get over 70, even harder to get over 80 and damn right difficult to get over 90.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Words of encouragement

I'm funny when it comes to being encouraged. I mean, I love being encouraged, knowing there are people rooting for me and am flattered by people when they say they think I can do something. However, it really doesn't hold much water with me if they don't know much about what they are encouraging me for. For example, with this MD pursuit, hearing "oh, but you'll get in for SURE" is actually a little annoying because the majority of people who say it clearly have NO idea how competitive it is (on the flip side though, I think that is still better than hearing "Well, I don't mean to discourage you but I don't think you'll get in" like my grandmother said to me, also have no clue about the process but just to be negative). But  I much prefer hearing "Good for you for trying this - I really hope you get in".

That being said, I recently received some amazing words of encouragement from my family doctor, who I've been volunteering for in his clinical trials research and helping out as a physician's assistant. He not only told me that he's very proud of me but he really thinks that I'll make it - and when I do, he said he wants me to work with him in his practice! He was very sincere about it all and reminded me to get him to write me a letter of recommendation. He also mentioned that his is an associate professor at two universities in Ontario (one of which is one of my top choices) so this gave me a lot of hope that it will really stand out.

What he said to me meant so much because he has been through it all and he's a current medical student teacher (he teaches the family medicine rotations for two universities). He knows what they look for in students and he thinks that I have what it takes. This is the first time that I've had encouragement that has real depth to it and its incredibly motivating, especially since I have incredible respect for him as a physician. He is who I hope to channel if I become a family physician.

On that positive note, I'm going to sign off. Unfortunately, today I have to take Tubes back to the children's hospital for a follow up ultrasound of his bowels. I'll write about our little scare last weekend with him later.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

MD or bust - title explained

My husband, as supportive as he is of me pursuing this goal, does not read my blog. He is not a blog reader at all and to be honest, I'm glad he doesn't read this.This blog is an outlet for me, something I do to keep me motivated and accountable. I let myself worry and wonder on it. I write out my feelings. And its also a way to keep some of my friends up-to-date on my process without having to repeat myself.  In any case,  he doesn't need to read it because he knows about everything anyway. But he does know about it and he asked me something the other day that made me think...

He said "You know, I'm a bit worried about you...your blog title, 'MD or Bust' suggests that if you don't get into medicine, that your life will be over somehow. Is that how you really feel?"

I have to say right away that it is NOT how I feel. I'm doing this, giving this my best shot but if it doesn't work out, I'll be fine with it. I'll be able to make my peace with the fact that I tried and while I'll be disappointed (and probably shed not a few tears over it), at least I won't have to live with regret of not trying.

I read on a forum that I venture onto occasionally about another med school hopeful who did pretty much say his or her life would be over if they don't make it to medicine. How his/her life was so bad now, that the hope of becoming a doctor is the only thing keeping him/her going. But some wise poster, also a med school hopeful responded with something that really echoed how I feel about it all. He said that while its his dream to become a doctor, it is not a pursuit of happiness. He said he is already happy with his life and becoming a doctor would just be the cherry on the top. I too, in every aspect of my life except my career path, am happy with my life. I have a great marriage, a fabulous child, supportive family, wonderful friends...I've had some amazing experiences and know that even if my medical school dream doesn't work out, I'll still have all those things. I'll just have to get creative with improving my job situation.

As for the title then, why did I name it "MD or Bust"? Because its catchy. Somehow "MD or maybe something else that will make me equally as happy, I just don't have an idea of what that is" just doesn't have the same ring to it.

Friday, January 27, 2012

The evolution of my ambitions

I used to be very ambitious when I was in high school and then when I was in undergrad. I had these dreams of becoming the CEO or CFO of a large corporation the likes of GE or Coca Cola. But slowly as I grew older and matured and started to really think about what I really want from life, I realized that these goals were not in-line with those aspirations.

Money started to be less and less of a requirement. This became reinforced over and over when I started working in audit - I could see how hard everyone was working but how responsibilities and work load went up exponentially as you were promoted. Except for a handful of people, most seemed miserable. The glamour of becoming a company executive began to disappear as I saw what it was really like. And honestly, the money wasn't that good. At least, it didn't seem worth it.

I have to admit a lot also changed when Tubes was born. I had always vowed that having children wouldn't change me and that I could totally be like one of those female CEOs who has 5 kids and still spends "quality" time with them. But I changed. The importance of everything else just paled in comparison to being with him, watching him grow and develop.

So, why the hell do I want to be a doctor then? Because I still am ambitious. That part of me hasn't gone away, though I do think it was buried a bit first by becoming a mom and also just disliking my job so much. Maybe had I pursued a different route (i.e. not accounting/finance) maybe I wouldn't be here today.

But  my ambition has changed. I still want to have an important job that challenges me, that keeps me engaged and interested and that is something that I can be proud of - but I don't need to take over the world.

With medicine, I don't aspire to be a neurosurgeon or cardiologist or whatever. Just a humble family physician with a smallish practice somewhere in a medium-to-small sized town. As I grow older (and hopefully more mature!) I realize what my limitation are and I feel clearer about what I want from life. Obviously the few years of training will be hard and demanding on my time.

Even if medicine doesn't work out and I don't make it, I'm still going to seek out other options that complement what I want. But hopefully I won't have to.

Monday, January 23, 2012

getting into the rhythm of things

I realize that I haven't been blogging much lately, and that is mostly because I'm sort of getting into the rhythm of things and things are finally starting to fall into place.

I still have to take my Bio final - I ended up postponing it because of my illness and then found out that I had to give them "at least 20 days" notice. So, while I'm not too happy I had to push it back that much, I will benefit from the extra study time.

I started working at that nursing home and have to admit its been a bit boring so far, but I guess it was to be expected.  I'm still volunteering at my Dr's office and its still my favorite thing. The staff are awesome at letting me help - I'm getting to be a pro at giving tetanus and B12 shots! Plus there is a few new people at my Dr's office, so when he is teaching them, I listen and have really been learning a lot.

I restarted my MCAT course and this time there are way more people in it than last time. At first I was a bit  bummed but I think it will be a good thing because a) there are more people like me (i.e. pursing medicine at an older age) and b) maybe I'll get some good study partners out of it. But I'm reminded of how much work this will be so am again anxious to get my bio stuff finished so I can focus on it 100%.

So that's me at the moment. My next big task is to organize my trip to Poland to work with one of my parents surgeon friends.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Registered for MCAT!

I registered for the MCAT today! The big day will be April 28th, 2012!

Friday, January 6, 2012

New Years Resolution

My New Year's resolution, like for many people, used to be to lose weight. But this year I am going to change it up a bit and make my resolution "to make the healthy choice".

I figure that if I want to be a doctor, I really need to practice what I (hope) to preach. So, while I do want to lose some weight, I also just want to force myself to make the health choice when presented with options. Walk wherever I can. Fit in some more intensive exercise into my schedule. Pass up on the brownie at Starbucks.

What are your resolutions?