Recommended Reading

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Compared to this time last year, this month has been a breeze.

I have one exam, an important one because its a final exam and its a graded class, so not pass fail (cytophysiology).

But I've had a decent amount of time to study. Its the first time I've had the kind of time to study the way I'd always wanted to. Slowly, bit at a time. Of course, now I'm three days out and a bit behind of where I'd hoped to be at this time but thats ok. A friend of mine made some excellent flash cards for Anki (best thing ever for any student - check it out) and I'm going to focus on them when I get to the point of, ok now "its time" to review what I've learned.


A friend of mine from high school who is also a graduate of my medical school (however from the Polish division) is now a successful OB-GYN and Instagram celebrity (and an amazing business woman - she has developed a whole brand around pregnancy, postpartum and infant care products). She has over 400K followers on Instagram and recently made news headlines because she raised over 1.2 million zloty for this amazing charity that raises funds for equipment for children's hospitals. If you speak Polish, check out her instagram @mamaginekolog.

Anyway, she recently ran a contest to promote awareness for cervical cancer, in honour of Cervical Cancer Awareness Week here in Europe. It was the "pink lips challenge" and she challenged us to post a selfie with pink lips and spread the word. I love this kind of stuff - I'll even admit that its social media posts that reminded me to get my most recent Pap smear, so I wanted to pay it forward. She also said she'd choose her favourites and showcase them, and she chose mine! I was flattered and she also posted about how I'm her friend from HS and that I'm doing med school after having 3 kids.

Doing so suddenly brought a flood of people liking my Instagram profile and women contacting me about pursuing medicine later in life and after having kids. Its been so nice to tell people, YES, DO IT! So many of them are even way younger than I am and thought they were too old.

I hope I've inspired at least one to go for it.

But it has also made me wonder if I should maybe tailor my Instagram a bit more to show the life of being a mom and med student? And should I focus on just my life or should I add an educational component to it?

My sister really wants me to make an Instagram account or use my current one to dispel all "Wellness" myths out there. We talked about how one of the biggest problems with the medical and science communities is that they are so uncool and often, cold (ironically, ha!). She said she's not surprised that people are leaning towards woo and pseudoscience because it sounds so much more interesting than the boring stuff that doctors and scientists say.

I personally love the science and find it fascinating but I see what she means. People want to hear that celery juice has magical properties, that eating organic will prevent cancer, that taking turmeric supplements will cure arthritis AND depression. Even if there isn't a shred of evidence to support this or the "evidence" is based on incredibly weak studies or just based on personal anecdotes, people love it. She says that there is this element of hope in it that people are drawn to and many turn to it when medical doctors don't offer solutions and don't even seem to care.


Which sadly brings me to my next thought. And that is how many people there are out there that just shouldn't be doctors. Unfortunately, being in medical school, it's made this realization bigger. A HUGE chunk of the people in my program shouldn't be there. Some are smart but doing medicine for the wrong reasons, but most who shouldn't be there (and are doing it for the wrong reasons or don't even know why they are doing it) are just plain stupid and it's terrifying to me that they will one day be responsible for people's lives.

I'd also love to think that it's just this program, as the relatively easier admissions process attracts many who just couldn't get in anywhere else. I mean, I'm one of them! Hopefully though I'm not one of those people who are totally in denial about their abilities as a future physician. The frustrating thing is that I really believe its a great program if people follow it properly and didn't try to cheat so much or just learn to the test - but actually learn so they can use this information to treat their future patients. But many don't see beyond scraping by and passing. However from what I read in other blogs and on med school forums all over the world, it's not that dissimilar here. There are just too many people who become doctors who shouldn't be doctors and they are hurting the profession and are part of this distrust of medicine and science that has been trending lately. I hope to be part of the change.

All that said, though, there are some amazing students in my program that will be wonderful doctors and will do great things. They are the shining light of my program and what makes me love it and makes me completely NOT regret taking this path.

Monday, January 14, 2019

New Year,

I've been experimenting with the style of this blog and I kind of like this new style of just writing a bunch of thoughts that I have running through my head.

I'm in this group called Balance 365 Life (which is a group that literally supports just that - balance in the areas of fitness, nutrition, self care etc - its amazing and I'll definitely devote a whole post about how its impacted my life sometime soon) and one person there suggested that instead of New Years Resolutions, she will have a "word" for the year. I liked the idea a lot and have decided that my "word" is going to be Consistency. Consistency with studying, with my exercise, with blogging, with the healthy nutrition habits I've developed. I've noticed its all all easier if I just do the things consistently.

Because I studied pretty consistently before my physiology test, I did pretty well on it. I noticed how after going to the personal trainer consistently has improved my overall fitness and appearance. I find I don't feel the pressure to do this huge update on my blog and wonder what to write about if I just jot down my thoughts consistently.

Now, consistently doesn't necessarily mean intensely. In fact, consistency trumps intensity every time. Going to the gym once a week, every week for 4 months is much more effective than going to the gym 5 days in a row once and not at all the next 3 months, for example. Studying everyday for a couple hours is more effective than cramming everything the night before a test (lol, kind of like I am doing now for a biochemistry test I didn't realize we are having tomorrow).

That said I do have some goals for the new year. I want to spend less time on social media, so have decided to focus on reading more to crowd out my social media use. That and I've finally decided to just put the screen time limits that the iPhone has to use. I also have some goals to do as well as possible on my graded courses. My first big course that I will be tested on is cytophysiology, the final of which is on February 1st. I have started studying - and planned on getting a couple hours in today until I found out we have a less important but still important biochem test. But its ok. Hopefully I'll be able to make up some of the time tomorrow.


While I was in Canada, I emailed two IMGs who were successful in getting residency positions back in Canada, at the very program I want to get into. Neither of them have emailed me back yet even though it's been over a week.  I didn't contact them blindly, my friend's friend (who is a Canadian med grad and who put me in touch with the IMGs) had asked them if I could and they both said yes and gave her their email addresses to pass on to me. So I'm wondering why they haven't even acknowledged the email. I hope they are just busy or maybe don't check their email that frequently (though I don't know how anyone can NOT check their email frequently - I check mine several times a day).  I'm starting to wonder if/when I should send a follow up email? I'm not in a crazy rush but I do want to know what they did and start planning.


I had an interesting chat with a friend about my involvement in the student government at the med school. She's not a med student but she did tell me that she thinks I should just not be involved and focus on my own thing. That the systems in Europe are so slow to change that it's not worth the frustration. It made me think...I had been wondering about how to get involved next year but I think that my goals of getting a Canadian residency and the work involved with that should trump something that may not help me much in the long run.


I finally got around to reading Secrets from the Eating Lab by Traci Mann. It was awesome and I will have to post a book review soon. Highly recommend.

Sunday, January 6, 2019

Reading etc

I love to read and one thing that a lot of people told me when I got accepted into medical school was that I wouldn't have time to read. Not me. I find the time. Mostly because I just love to do it, so I find the time. I love to read all sorts of things - in fact, I need to up date my "Doctor Reading List" for medical/science-y books I've read in the past while - and have a stack of books that I want to read this year. I don't believe in New Year's Resolutions but I do believe in having goals for the year and mine is to read more and use my phone less. I waste waayyyy too much time mindlessly scrolling through Facebook and Instagram. I really need to limit that. So my goal is to read all the books on my nightstand and then some and I think a good place to start would be during the evening before I get ready for bed. I do read often before bed, but I'd like that to be the dominant habit.

Today I was browsing an Indigo book store in my hometown and came across this book called Secrets from the Eating Lab by Dr. Traci Mann. that I've been meaning to buy for ages and it was on sale. I'm excited to read it.


I'm currently studying for a physiology test that I have this week. I was supposed to have it tomorrow (Monday) but our flight back to Warsaw was cancelled and rescheduled for Tuesday night. Luckily my teachers were understanding and said I can write it on Thursday. Took a bit of pressure off as I hadn't been able to study as much for it as I had wanted to. Still might go to my dad's office on Wednesday after I get the kids settled so I don't have to wake up at the crack on dawn on Thursday to make it for the test. Not looking forward to the jet-lag though.


Overall we had such a great trip back home for Christmas. Makes me more and more convinced that coming back home to Canada would be the best for my family. I've been lucky because my best friend from childhood is good friends with a doctor who did the family medicine residency at the hospital that I want to do it in. And she put me in touch with the two IMGs that she did the program with. Hopefully they get back to me and give me some good advice! Even if they just share what they did to be successful would be great for me.


In less than a month, I'll be half way through 2nd year! Its really flying by...

Thursday, December 27, 2018


I don't talk too much about my husband and our relationship on this blog. For one, its because he is a fairly private person (other than Facebook messenger and LinkedIn, he has no social media) and the other is because marriage is complicated and hard and wonderful and messy and fun and I just think its way too beyond the scope of this blog, so I just leave it all out.

But I couldn't help but share and gush about the amazing gifts he got me for Christmas. He usually gets me good gifts, however often with my input (literally would tell him what I'd like and he gets it or tells me to just go ahead and order it). However this year he totally surprised me. He told me a couple months ago he thought of a great gift for me but I didn't think too much of it because usually when he says something like that, it ends up being a gag of some sort.

He got me a stethoscope and an otoscope. I'm only in my second year of med school and sometimes still can't believe its all real. And he will often joke with me about "whoa there you're not a doctor yet!" whenever I discuss anything medical with someone (or tell him what he should or shouldn't be doing haha). But it touched me. Not just because of what it means to me but the effort he went to to get it. He did bunch of research on the specific items he got me, he contacted my mom and let her in on it (he ordered everything to my parents house) and kept her updated on delivery etc. And I had no idea.

My husband wasn't the only one to get me a thoughtful medical gift. My sister also got me this awesome poster, which I can't wait to have framed. She told me there is a whole serious of these and if I like them, she will get me the others for other occasions. I'm so excited!

My other sister and parents also got me some great stuff and I just feel so loved and lucky. I really do have it all.

Monday, December 17, 2018

7 years ago...

I was chatting about my blog with a classmate recently who mentioned to me that she reads it regularly. I was touched and for some reason it prompted me to look back at my very first post. A post that I entitled "A Journey of a 1,000 miles begins with one step" and made me realize how far I've come. And how aptly named that first post was, written over seven years ago.

I then skimmed through some other posts and I realized, man I've definitely taken a LOT of steps since then, and not all of them forward. Some were backwards, some were lateral. I reminded myself of all the mistakes I made, the set backs, the times I really felt that it was all over. Then the resurgence of hope, the new plan, the renewed motivation and the steps forward.

And I'm HERE. I'm doing this thing that I wanted to do so badly and I'm so happy. I feel overwhelmed with gratitude. For my parents who were so supportive - financially, emotionally. For my husband for putting up with me during the setbacks and for being the one who actually convinced me to try in Poland - and then moving half way across the world to a country where he doesn't even speak the language so I could pursue this. For my sisters and my friends who have encouraged me and supported me and who continue to listen to my stories, who let me vent and cry to and share my victories with. For my kids who just accept it as normal that mummy has to go to school too.

The intense privilege I have is not lost on me though and it motivates me to think about how I can help others who want to do this but are less fortunate than I am, in the future.

Lots of challenges still face me. I've realized that as my children get older, I face different challenges with parenting and figuring out how to balance that with my career as a student and later a practicing physician. Figuring out the best option for post-graduate medical training and then getting in. And the countless exams that I have to still write.

But I wouldn't change anything, wouldn't change one minute of what I've experienced.

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Attention med students!

Even though I'm in medical school in Europe, there is a lot of similarity in the course curriculum when I compare to Canadian medical schools and US medical schools. The main difference is that our program is spread out over 6 years and you can start right out of high school.

One of those courses is Anatomy. And in our program, it's the single most important course we take during medical school because if you fail anatomy, you fail the first year of medical school even if you've passed every other course. They use the course to weed people out (a lot of people do end up dropping out when they fail). If you've read this blog, you'd know how stressed out I was by this course (even though I loved it)! I've never felt a greater relief in my life than when I found out I passed.

Recently two of my classmates (and friends!) started a wonderful Facebook and Instagram page, called AnatomyWithA&D, with the goal of helping students studying anatomy in a fun way. It's a great combo of informative, academic posts and practical applications of anatomy, tips on how to best study and much more. And the two founders know what they are talking about - they had the highest marks in anatomy in my year and they were selected to represent our program at a national anatomy competition, called the Golden Scapula.

Anyway, I highly, highly recommend you check them out and follow!

You can find them on Instagram here and on Facebook here. Go and check them out!

Monday, December 10, 2018

Today is my daughter's 3rd birthday and I'm missing it. I have a fairly important exam early tomorrow morning and decided to stay in the city overnight to study for it and so I don't have to get up at the crack of dawn just to make it on time.

I do feel a bit guilty about it because its her birthday and also because she's sick. She developed a nasty case of pink-eye yesterday and I had to take her to urgent care to get the antibiotic drops she needed. I thought I would be in and out but there were 31 pediatric patients ahead of us! We were there for almost three hours. I had planned on doing some studying yesterday but that pretty much went out the window because of the visit.

But I'm not going to beat myself up about it too much because we actually celebrated her birthday last week when my in-laws were here and thats when we did cake and presents. Still, it tugs on my heart a little to know that I'm not there.

Man though, its a bit of a foreshadow of what I'm going to miss when I start residency. I know thats still a ways away but it really makes me that much more determined to try and do it in Canada so at least I can do it in two years. And makes me that much more determined to do family medicine.

And I'm excited because the family medicine residency program where I want to do it the most states on their website that they have 9 residency spots and 2 of those go to IMGs! I didn't realize they actually allocate those spots, I just assumed that the CMGs get first pick and then if they are left over, then I can apply. But it looks like I may actually be able to try for dedicated spots.