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Thursday, May 22, 2014

Moving Forward

         First and foremost, let me apologize for being terrible at updating this blog. The Spring semester was not that busy so I had all the time in the world to post something but nothing was blogworthy. Let's recap the semester: did well in classes, left my research lab forever, handed off the Editor-In-Chief-domship (is that what you call it?) for my pre-medical journal to next-in-line, continued working at the soul-sucking ophthalmology clinic, and watched all the quality T.V. I could find time for. It's been over a week since my last final ever of college and it's all so surreal. To think I was just sitting in my Molecular Biology class learning about miRNA and siRNA (which by the way is riveting!) and now here I am waiting for medical school to start August 1st. This whole doctor thing is about to start and I don't know whether to be elated or running for the hills. Reading all the books and hoarding all the advice I can from SDN and elsewhere has been my mainstay for preparing myself as I mentioned in other posts. But as the weeks pass by and it gets closer to D-Day (which reminds, god do I miss my US History class from High School) I'm realizing no matter how many "you can do it" pep-talks I get or nonchalant "you'll be fine" (emphasis on the "eyyyyyyyne") hand waves there's no way to adequately prepare myself.
        There were two gems that were extremely useful. One went something along the lines of:
"Don't let other people's anxiety get you; it's self-destructive, not usually appropriate, and not usually indicative of what's really going on."
        For me, I've always had trouble letting go of what other people are doing around me or how much more they know than I could ever possibly know. I constantly had a chip on my shoulder about how I wasn't good enough and I still do but it weighs less now than it ever did. But this piece of advice is especially true for medical school and it's been said ad nauseam. Never let other people's fears are hold-ups get in the way of your success and stop comparing yourself to your fellow classmates. People are smarter than you. Deal with it. This is the real world and there is no quick-fix pacifier to give you solace from your own mental issues. Medical school is no doubt difficult but what's more difficult is overcoming personal issues while learning at a mind-boggling pace. The importance of being "calm, centered, and confident" (a line I picked up from Med School Confidential, a book) cannot be understated. As for myself, I still struggle with that bad habit but I'm slowly learning as I get older that I need to forge my own path and sometimes have to remind myself that I'll have my own patients who will rely on me and not Mr. AOA who honored everything. Obvious life advice I know and maybe a little sad that I can't follow it perfectly myself but this is one of my issues I'm working on before medical school starts.
          The second pearl of wisdom talked about how the worries you have in medical school will not be the same worries you have now. So everything I'm overobsessing about currently could be stricken from thought the day medical school starts and a whole new set of goals and ambitions may come to mind. That perspective is important to keep in the back of your head because you'll eventually adapt once you begin to start medical school and then you'll have an entirely different outlook on those same things you were concerned about prior to matriculation.
         On a lighter note, my plans for the summer are wide open and I'm still trying to figure out how best to spend it. The possibilities are travel, work (if I can find any), or all of the above. I can't drag any of my friends along with me so the travel idea will probably have to be a solo trip which I'm not looking to do if I can avoid it. As for work, a miscommunication caused me to lose the last month of pay I may have gotten at the clinic but what's done is done. So far, summer has been good and I was able to finish my summer reading assignment for medical school which involved writing an essay. Monday my lab-mates and I went on a day trip to NYC which was a blast! Besides that, my days have been littered with nothingness and existential thoughts. Here's to hoping these last two months are all I'm hoping for. Until next time!

Sunday, March 23, 2014

No News is Good News

So after a look hiatus from blogging I've finally returned and in the time between my last blog post and now not much has changed, thankfully! I've just been chugging along through my last semester, studying like there's no tomorrow as my usual self does. Luckily, I haven't caught any senioritis. Actually let me rephrase that, I haven't caught any extreme form of senioritis. A little laziness never hurt anybody, right? Classes so far have been very relaxed, although I have this frustrating habit of making every class seem like the end all be all of my future so I make a big deal out of every little lecture detail I misunderstood or missed. Everything else has been pretty much routine and business as usual. Wake up, go to class, pay mild attention, go to research lab and stare at the computer screen for hours on end pretending to do meaningful science-y work, go home, study the day's lectures, get engrossed in the latest TV show or Dan Carlin podcast, sleep. Rinse with Listerine mouthwash before going to sleep and repeat. I take my dental hygiene very seriously!

So what else is new? Today is the last day of Spring Break but it doesn't really feel like it to me since all I've done this whole break is pretty much work at my research lab for some extra cash flow or at my good ol' ophtho clinic I love and despise so very much. Although lab work for during the school year consists of mindless staring at the computer and acting as a glorified custodian, paid lab work is a whole different beast. See, at the rate that they're paying me I can't afford to not be productive so instead of mindless staring at the computer I engage in mindless productive staring at the computer! What is that you ask? Is there a difference between the former and the latter? Why of course! The latter involves a basic repetitive process where I take raw data and mine out of it a polished gem of a neuron if one exists! Sounds complicated right? Well it pretty much involves clicking and pressing the same buttons over and over again so that is what I do ad infinitum (at least that's how it feels).

But, for more exciting news, I recently built my own PC! The backstory to that is my old PC just crashed on me and had been doing so for a good amount of time so after weeks of nagging from my mom to get a new PC I decided, hey why not just build one, right? Can't be that hard? And actually, it really isn't. Granted, it did take me a dozen hours or so to learn everything I needed to know, watch all the necessary videos and read all the necessary articles so I didn't make a huge blunder in ordering the stuff (which isn't cheap!). And if any of you are interested in building your own, visit It's basically what I used to learn everything I needed to know about ordering the parts and such. But if you're really strapped for time just check out Tom's Hardware (google it) and educate yourself on all the different parts of a PC and what each one does (there's only about 8, including the case):

Here's a cursory overview:

1.) CPU-Central Processing Unit, A.K.A. the "thinking" part of the computer that integrates information sent to it and carries out basic computer operations
2.) RAM/Memory-Random Access Memory is the place where information is transferred to from the hard-drive when you open a picture for example and the CPU (processor as it's colloquially known) accesses this information to actually open the picture. RAM can range from 1GB-16GB and the more you have the faster you can access things on your computer and the smoother it runs since RAM is more easily accessed than your hard-drive (another component of your computer!). Most people have 2GB-4GB of RAM and I personally have 4GB which is good enough to do most things and even great for gaming in my experience (Crysis, Mirror's Edge, Dead Space).
3.) Motherboard- It's called a motherboard for a reason and that reason is because all of the other parts of your PC connect back to the motherboard which acts as the major circuit for everything and basically innervates all the other parts (sort of like a Central Nervous System for the body).
4.) Hard-Drive-This is where you have the bulk of your memory and where all of your data and files are stored long-term. Most people nowadays have 1TB hard-drives (at least I do) and they're not that expensive to snag.
5.) PSU (Power Supply Unit)-Self-explanatory. Gives power to all of the parts in the PC
6.) Optical Drive-The outside drive you put your CD's/DVD's into. There's even BluRay optical drive players which blew my mind partly because I'm a technological dinosaur when it comes to PC's and because I never knew BluRay could be had for your PC!
7.) GPU/Graphics Card-Graphics Processing Unit/GPU is an important part of your PC if you want to have a kick-ass video display and potentially game. Best ones are nVIDIA and GeForce video cards.
8.) Case-Where everything goes! That rectangular prism shaped metal contraption where the motherboard and everything else fits!

After you've done that, go to for a great look at your options and which ones fall into your price range. From there, go to and pick all the parts you're going to buy, and find the lowest price for each! The best part about it is that the site makes sure all your parts are compatible and will notify you when they're not so it doesn't go all to hell.

Check out parts I used for my PC:

So, at this point you should know what each part does, have your budget squared away and the parts chosen, and have bought all of them! Before you buy anything though, remember to check the warranty policy on each part because some are very delicate! Ideally, you want them to be replaced even if the damage is your fault.

Fastforward a week or two and all the parts are now in! Time for the fun part! Set aside a day or two and watch Carey Holzman's video on "How to Build A PC" (link in the guide on reddit) to really make sure you do it correctly. Someone said it's like putting together legos the way he shows it to you. The video's a couple hours long but so worth it because it's one of the few videos you'll need to reference. With that, you should be done! For me building a PC was a huge accomplishment and something I thought I'd never ever do seeing as how I'm barely qualified to use a screwdriver. But after many hours of hunching over I managed through it and now it works like a beauty.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Swan Song

Alas, Winterbreak is over and with it ends my cherished days of lounging around watching endless hours of prank YouTube videos, movies, and redditing. Allow me to take stock of what I accomplished this Winterbreak: made a few bucks working at an ophtho clinic, obsessed over my plan for the first year of medical school and got my hands on as many resources as possible to figure out a gameplan (including but not limited to spending hours on studentdoctornetwork looking for advice, reading MedSchool Confidential, Iserson's Guide to Getting A Residency, and watching my favorite YouTube medical professional DocOssareh), and finally got to read Catch-22! I hope I spent it well because I guess this is my last true college Winterbreak that I'll ever have in my life. Man, that's depressing!

So dear reader, for the question you're dying to hear the answer to, which is what I gleaned from my "extensive" research into doing well in medical school, I shall pass on the pearls of wisdom I learned. Take everything I have to say with a grain of salt as I'm not a medical student nor do I have any first-hand experience with any of this advice. First and foremost, the biggest question I had was "How will I have to adjust my study habits in medical school?" The answer to this question I found was fairly simple and it was that I should test out a few strategies when school starts and find my own equilibrium. The waters will be rough for the first few weeks but after a month or so I should be able to tread at a steady pace. There is no one size fits all approach but one's study methods is highly individualistic. Also, annotating board review books such as First Aid (apparently a godsend as stated by hordes of medical students and physicians) while studying in M1 is a great way to review material for Step 1 while saving yourself a huge burden come Step 1 study time. As for other tips, exercise and a healthy diet is a must if for nothing else but to prevent muscle atrophy. Finding a mentor from the faculty is also critical to doing well in the future and in the first year of medical school because you'll have somebody you can go to for guidance on key decisions in your life and be steered in the right direction from a seasoned professional. However, the mentor, according to Iserson's, should be:  a clinician hopefully in a field similar (not necessary but recommended) to what you desire, available, well-connected, and invested in your future. With regards to your classmates, the biggest suggestion I found was to become good friends with them (as best you can) and not to antagonize anybody. You never know when you need a favor so you should be as helpful to everybody as you can. And after all, these people will be your future colleagues who you'll refer patients to so it's in your best interest to be nice! Luckily, thankfully, my institution is Pass/Fail. For competitive specialties, research is especially important so if you were gunning for Neurosurgery or Dermatology, obtaining a first-author publication or equivalent is a huge plus for marketing yourself during residency application. With all that said, I still don't feel nearly ready enough for the transition but I suppose many soon-to-be medical students feel that way. I'm not going to let it frighten me but I'm learning to embrace it and of course I'm excited to begin this journey that I've looked forward to my whole life!

Looking ahead to the near future, my final semester classes are all hardcore science classes which should be good for maintaining my study habits into the first year of medical school and making sure my brain doesn't turn into a gelatinous mass of goop. I'm going to suck every bit of freedom that I can out of these last few months and try to even squeeze in a vacation possibly in Pah-ree (Paris for those of you uncouth folk). Oh and did I forget to mention I have my Accepted Students Reception this Friday?! Super stoked and can't wait to meet all of my future classmates! Until next time, see you soon!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Inaugural Address

Hello world! This is my first blog post and I want to once again introduce myself if you haven't already checked out the "About Me" section. I am currently an undergraduate in the last year of university before I head off to, wait for it, MEDICAL SCHOOL! Before I begin to talk in more detail about what I hope to accomplish this year and the next four years with this blog, I just want to talk about my background some more. For most prospective medical students, the desire to become a doctor is either something you decided on at a certain point in your life or you gradually came to the conclusion that you were good at nothing else. I fell into the latter category and after a whole lot of exposure to medicine through shadowing, working in an ophthalmology clinic, and first-hand advice from physicians themselves, I eventually decided why not become a doctor, right? I did everything I could possibly do to get myself that acceptance letter: volunteering, holding office in clubs, research, maintaining the best academic record I could, etc etc. I know it all sounds very generic and vague but in the interest of privacy let's just say if there was an activity or opportunity that could potentially get me into medical school, I had explored it. But what I regret most about my journey towards medical school is that I did many of these things with an end-game in mind and every single day in college I always had this monkey on my back near driving me to insanity about getting into medical school. It was the one constant thought in my mind I couldn't get rid of and it made me spend ridiculous amounts of time on academics that were completely unnecessary because I was always stressed out. Definitely not a good look and I attribute my receding hairline to that zaniness. Nevertheless, after many sleepless nights and fluctuations in weight, I got to my medical school interview for my dream school and luckily did well. The "plan" worked out and now I'm on my way to getting an MD!

So where am I now mentally, you ask? Much less stress, more relaxing, enjoying life, and not letting the little things get me down. As I prepare for the victory lap (i.e. my last semester in college) I'm also gearing up for medical school and all the inherent difficulty that lies within. Maintaining balance in school, being on top academically, retaining information, and of course becoming a great doctor! Right now, it's Winter Break so most of my time is spent sleeping, reading (currently Catch-22, highly recommended!), and redditing. I'm loving every second of it and trying to squeeze enjoyment out of every hour I have before hitting the books everyday. Next semester should be pretty hectic since I intelligently took three hard science courses so we'll see how that works out. 

And before I forget, the last thing I wanted to do is explain the title of my blog! Since I decided I wanted to become a physician, I always thought of medical school as this dreamworld where everybody is happy and college was the real hell. To me, being in college was always an obstacle and I truly hated much of it because of all the self-imposed expectations I had of myself. Now, I'm enjoying it A LOT more than I ever did but am sorry that I didn't realize the stupidity of my thought-process earlier. So with that said, after many candid discussions with real medical students and reading on blogs and in books, I realized (although I knew it was hard beforehand, I always brushed the idea aside) medical school is the true test of your mettle. And since I'll be stuck in what I thought was the greatest place on Earth for four years, you have Trapped in Paradise! 

Hopefully my writing gets better but until my next blog post, see you soon!