medschool

2-0-1-9

I can’t believe we are here. The year that I officially graduate medical school. 2019.

I remember back starting the MERP program in December 2014 in North York, Ontario thinking of 2019 and how this year will be the best year ever. I knew I had a lot of work to do and a lot of exams to finish before then, but this year was always in the back of my mind. Fast forward to present day, and I am one week away from obtaining my M.D degree. WHAT.

These past couple months have truly been amazing. I have been traveling across the U.S for residency interviews, and although exhausting, the feeling of a program wanting you for residency is such a great feeling. I have interviewed here in Atlanta, all the way to Wisconsin, New Hampshire, Alabama, etc. It has been such a neat experience learning about the various programs and how they differ according to their mission statement, location, and direction of the program. Every time I finished an interview, I would make a list of things that I really liked about the program and made a final list last week of the programs that will go on my rank list.

I officially submitted my rank list last week which is a big moment for all medical students. Now the worst part is waiting until March 11th to see IF I matched into a program and then March 15th is the email detailing WHERE I matched. Let the waiting begin! (SO hard)

Overall, this medical school experience is such a journey. I really can’t explain it. You honestly have to live it to really get an idea how taxing it is, how draining it is, and the sacrifices that us medical students have to go through. It is tough, no doubt about that, but now being on the other side and being SO close to being done…I can look back now and see that it is all worth it. I get numerous emails a week asking for my advice, my study tips, being a confidence booster, and how I managed to do well throughout my four years. But the most common theme that I get asked is: “is it doable? Will I fail?” I always try and comfort those who email me about this topic, as I try to be a voice of reason for those needing comfort. I can’t make decisions for the people who email me asking for my advice, but what I can do is let them know that it is in fact doable, but it does take an incredible amount of work.

These last five days as a medical student, I am taking it all in. The experience at Atlanta Medical Center has been amazing and I tried to gain as much knowledge as possible for my future patients these past two years. In only a few short months (okay…like five months) I will be a resident physician that is putting in orders by myself, managing my own patients, and consulting with other physicians. I seriously can’t wait!

Even though this chapter of my life is closing, the next BIG chapter is just beginning. Thank you all for being on this journey with me!

Bye for now,

-E xo

The scariest moment is always just before you start.
— Stephen King

Two. More. Electives.

Hey everyone!

I am starting a brand new elective this month-pathology! I already have a lot of down time (waiting for gross preparation in an hour or so), so I thought I would do a blog post. Fourth year is pretty awesome once your board exams are over and your interviews for residency are going well. (Thankfully!)

Life has been good. I have less than two months of medical school left. I still can’t believe it. It has been a long journey, but one that I wouldn’t change. Every time that I get tired, I think how lucky am I to be studying medicine? How fortunate am I to continue my learning at a higher level? I know there are girls around the world that are denied an education. I remember that and keep pushing harder to make a difference.

I remember exactly four years go starting the MERP program, in which I had no idea what to expect. Questioning if I made the right decision to enter medical school at the of age 27. Living in the smallest basement apartment ever in North York, ON, that Stephen and I had to duck under some piping to get to the restroom. Yup. It was close quarters and I am so happy that we stuck it out, finished MERP, moved to Dominica for two years, now finishing my two years of clinical sciences in Atlanta-I can say that it was all worth it. Not every second in medical school is happy or exciting, a lot of the work is delayed gratification, no affirmation that you are doing a good job. You have to show up each day, learn as much as you can, go home, sleep, eat, workout, and repeat. It is tough, but now being on the other side of the bridge, with entering the 2019 MATCH, I truly can’t see myself doing anything else as a career.

As I finish my schooling and entering the next phase of training: residency, I am excited, nervous, anxious, pretty much every emotion you can think of. Next July…six months from now…I will be taking care of my own patients. Putting in orders at the hospital, taking call where I make solo decisions, create treatment plans, etc. It is such a surreal feeling.

I honestly would not be here without the support of Stephen, my amazing husband, who truly has taken on this journey as it were his own. He has been with me every step of the way, has seen many tears, frustration, and doubt during some really stressful times. He has experienced the happy moments, the revelations, the confidence that I have slowly built up along the way. I am so thankful for him, more than I can ever write in a blog post.

My parents, Lynn and Leslie Cronk, who are most selfless humans that I know. They ALWAYS put others before them and ensure that all their four daughters are doing okay. They told me I could do this at times where I didn’t think I could. Always available for a phone call, a Skype session, a Duo chat, or a last minute flight home-the feeling that they support me 100% is such an incredible comfort. My three sisters: Jessie, Aleris, and Savannah, who know I am always the sister that is gone. I have missed countless birthdays, family gatherings, events, etc. but they know I am always a phone call away and that I am following this passion of mine, even if it means not being home on the farm.

My friends back home and all over the world from basketball, know that we chat every couple weeks or even months at a time, but it is like we chat every day once we do connect. I am so thankful for such incredible friendships that are constantly cheering me on from afar. They understand my sacrifices for this career choice and I seriously can’t wait to see a majority of them at Christmas!

Life is hard. Medical school is hard. But sometimes…all it takes is showing up every single day and surrounding yourself with an amazing support system.

You CAN do this. Whatever it may be that you are trying to achieve.

Bye for now,

-E xo

If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.

-John Quincy Adams

Perspective

Hey everyone!

It is a chilly Sunday evening in Atlanta, Georgia and I thankfully have time to write a blog post and give you some updates of my medical school adventure.

Even though I am at the end of my medical school training, it is still busy as ever. Interview season is upon us and I am getting ready to plan my next couple months ahead. As you might have read in my previous post, I explained the usual trajectory of not only interview season, but medical school as a whole. It is a long and arduous path, but once it’s done, it is such a surreal feeling.

As I reflect on the past (almost) four years, I am reminded how far I have come. From starting the MERP program in December 2014, living and studying in Dominica, moving to Miami for the IMF course, and then a majority of third and fourth year in Atlanta, I have never wanted to buy a house and stay put for the time being like I do right now.

I have said it before and I will say it again- medical school is HARD. A hard that makes you question if you made the right decision. A hard that takes you away from family events, friends’ gatherings, and many special occasions. After the first couple of times saying the word “no” with some trepidation, it is sad how effortlessly I can decline an invitation and so quickly. Knowing that there is no possible way that I would be able to make the occasion, I would rather say “no” upfront than wait until the last second to decline. Medical school has a way to test you, both mentally and physically, to see if you are cut out to make it in this wonderful world of medicine. It has caught me a couple times..okay…probably more than a couple…where I would be wishing the day away, or hoping that I would be let go early of an already long day at the hospital. Not only did that negativity slowly start to get to me, I had to stop and think- I am wishing away the time to learn. I am wishing away the time to make mistakes. I am wishing away valuable life lessons, where if I make this same mistake next year-it is someone’s life. As soon as I told myself this mantra, my whole perspective changed. I had the ability to wake up each day and make a difference in a patient’s life. Even though I was tired, or that I have worked ten days in a row, I was able to walk into the hospital and be a part of a wonderful healthcare team that is making an incredible difference in the world.

Perspective is huge. Especially in terms of how you view your life. We have the wonderful ability to wake up each morning and decide what mood we want to be in. We can choose to be happy and excited for the day, or we can choose to feed our negative thoughts. If there is one thing that I have learned along the way, it is to be thankful….and happy. (So I guess two things). Thankful to be in this position to study medicine, because there are A LOT of people who want to be here, but can’t due to finances, location, other commitments, etc. And to be happy, because I have the ability to genuinely and honestly help people when they are scared, feel defeated, hopeless, and in their most vulnerable state. This responsibility of being a physician is something that I take great pride in, and there will be no more days where I wish away the time spent learning even though I am tired. I am soaking up every moment like a sponge to one day (aka next year) make decisions on my own, and not having the security blanket of being a medical student.

In three more months I will be Dr. Emma Mackenzie Cronk, M.D.

Three. More. Months.

Bye for now,

-E xo


You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.

-Mae West

Five Long Months

As I begin this blog post, I am in shock of how long it has been since I have written. You have read it in the title...five long months. FIVE.

A lot has happened, A LOT since I have last written a blog post. I will definitely get you all up to speed, don't worry! I have a tea in hand (ok, ok, it may be a cider) and I am getting ready for the first day of my new rotation at Emory University in Atlanta tomorrow, so I wanted to take a minute and update you all.

Medical school is something that is incredibly hard to describe, unless you are in it yourself. The amount of material we need to cover for each exam, the dreaded board exams that linger over our heads, and the commitment to leave no stone unturned in the hospital during clinical rotations is exhausting. There is the constant battle with yourself to do well and let me tell you, it is a very HUMBLING experience to see your classmates and peers do exceptionally better than you, when you worked your butt off to "just pass". I think it is our inherent nature as humans to have a quick reaction to something, that when something goes right for someone, we are quick to judge and want that same thing in return. I have realized that we are all wanting the same thing in life- to be happy and successful and I have no doubt that we will all obtain that at some point, and I make a reminder to myself not compare myself so hard to others, or don't compare myself to others at all. We are ALL on a different timeline, whether you failed a big board exam, whether you failed a semester, whether you took time off because school was insanely stressful on you, WHO CARES. The fact that you are following your passion, whatever that may be, is amazing and never compare yourself to people who obtain that goal faster than you. 

Whew. Okay, had to get that off my chest. I get many emails that tell me how amazing it is to watch my journey and follow my steps as I check one thing off after another so "effortlessly". I try my best to detail everything about medical school, the good, the bad, the ugly. I have had my fair share of ups and downs with multiple crying sessions either on the phone with my parents, with Stephen, and honestly, by myself sometimes. Medical school is hard, school in general is hard, but the one thing that I keep reminding myself is that when it is all over, education is one thing that is sacred to you. No one can take that feeling of achievement away, no one can tell you anything different, because you did the work, you put in the time, no matter how long it took you to finish it. 

I am currently applying to residency programs right now and for the people that follow me and have no idea what I mean by that let me just give a run down of a typical journey to an M.D degree:

Undergraduate degree: 4 years
Medical School: 4 years
Residency training: 3-7 years (depending on specialty)
Fellowship: 1-3 years (depending on specialty)

After graduating from medical school, you have an MD degree, which is a Doctor of Medicine Degree. With this degree, you cannot practice clinical medicine until having residency training and passing your certification board exam, this is where applying for residency comes in. You apply to programs during your 4th year of medical school (AKA right now for me) and Oct-Jan of that year you will be invited to interviews across the country that like your application and want to learn more about you and to see if you are a good fit for their program. After interview season you "rank" each program from 1-10 (or however many interviews you attended)  and then the programs "rank" you as well, both ranking systems are confidential, so you are not sure where programs rank you in their list. You submit your rank list by February of that year and then in March you will get an email saying: "You have matched!" or an unfortunate case: "You have not matched". So this means you can go an entire four years of schooling and not match into a program for residency and you will have to reapply that following year. Not nerve-wracking at all right?! 

The stress associated with medical school does not end with medical school. Securing a residency spot at a program of your choice is on your mind Day 1 of medical school. But with hard work, passing your board exams, making connections, volunteering, showing leadership skills and being KIND to people along the way will get you far, and having confidence in yourself that you have put the work in is something that is not taught. 

Life has a way of figuring itself out. Trust the process. Trust in yourself. You CAN do this, no matter how much doubt creeps into your mind. There are hundreds if not thousands of people around the world that would love to be in your shoes, and I take that sentiment with me everyday. I have been put on this earth to give back through medicine and I will stop at nothing to make this a reality. Five more months of medical school, graduation in March of 2019, graduation ceremony in May 2019 in Miami! So surreal!

Happy Labor Day everyone! Have a great week and never lose sight of your end goal!

-E xo


Success is how high you bounce when you hit bottom.

-George S. Patton

Is This Real Life?

Hey everyone!

It is Sunday night, and Domi just got a fresh new bath, Steve is working on his lessons for work tomorrow, and I finally have time to get back to about 25 emails from prospective students. 

Life has been busy. 

I have had an exam almost every week this past month, and not just little quizzes, more like really big and important exams that determine my life. I am officially finished third year of medical school, as I have passed all of my clinical clerkships at Atlanta Medical Center. I have started my fourth year at Emory University with an elective in Sports Medicine-the area of interest as a future career. I think it is safe to say that I found my calling. The early mornings, the late nights, the struggles, the stress, the missing birthdays, life events, not being able to come home to Canada, everything...has been so worth it. I honestly can't see myself doing anything else with my life, and at almost 30 years old, I am happy that I chose to go on this journey. 

Back in November of last year, I saw that I had an opportunity to apply to the AMSSM (American Medical Society for Sports Medicine) medical student scholarship. I had to write an essay about my accomplishments, my desire to pursue sports medicine and not only my volunteer work, but my extra-curriculars as well. I was applying against all of my U.S counterparts, and never in a million years did I think I would win it. This is the INAUGURAL award for AMSSM, and a Ross university student won it. I WON. I remember so many people saying that I would never be able to get an Emory elective as this institution is too prestigious, I remember everyone saying that this scholarship would be a long shot as not only is this the first year they are awarding a medical student, but an international student? No way. When I got that email that I had won, I knew that I just proved everyone wrong-yet again.

My whole life has been people telling that is it not possible, but then my stubborn self would never let them be right. I would never be able to get a scholarship to the U.S, let alone a full basketball scholarship; I will never graduate with a B.Sc in Biology with my basketball commitment, but I made Dean's List; I will never get into medical school, but will graduate and get my M.D in 8 months; I will never succeed in medical school, but I have been high honors since first semester; I will never be recognized for my hard work, but I am receiving the first ever AMSSM medical student scholarship in 2 weeks in Orlando, Florida.

NEVER listen to the people who doubt you. NEVER let them dim your light. NEVER let them dictate your life. And NEVER let them win. 

This journey has not been easy. This is the hardest that I have ever worked in my life. I have never spent so many hours with my head in a book, with my fingers typing patient notes, with my brain being constantly challenged every waking hour that I am at the hospital or clinic. No one really talks about the struggle, no one really wants to share the non-glamorous side of medical training, but I for one would not change a thing. I am going to be a physician, with hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt, while a lot of my friends and family are starting families of their own. But I know one day, I will look back and say to myself: "it was all so worth it."

With that sentiment my friends, I am off to watch a movie in bed with my husband, as I honestly have not seen him in what feels like forever, even though we live together. Hug the people around you, call your friends, and let people know how important they are to you. Life is too short. I see it all the time. Be kind-it really is that simple. 

Bye for now, 

-E xo
 


If you hear a voice within you say “you cannot paint,” then by all means paint and that voice will be silenced. —Vincent Van Gogh

Twenty Eighteen

Hey everyone!

I have resurfaced yet again to write a blog post tonight and it honestly feels so amazing to sit down with a tea in hand and update you all. 

Things have been busy, as always, and if you can believe it, it is about to get busier. 2018 is going to be my busiest year yet, with two board exams to go, traveling across the country for 4th year electives, submitting my residency application to various programs across the U.S (ah!) and then traveling yet again for interviews. Knowing myself, I have to take things one at a time, one day at a time and one month at a time. If I look ahead and see everything that I have to do this year, I freak out and curl into a ball, and try to avoid the thoughts that creep into my head, the doubt, the insecurities, and the "what-ifs". I have learned to let all that go, and I have learned to embrace the journey, no matter how crazy it is about to be.

These past few months have been hard. I have realized that I stayed to myself a lot, I have felt sorry for myself sometimes, and I have doubted myself more than ever before. I think it is a mix of "oh my gosh I am actually going to be a doctor" and "I don't know if I have what it takes to take care of patients by myself starting next year." Having only 5 more weeks of 3rd year of medical school left and then only 9 months of 4th year electives to go, time has honestly escaped me. I remember my first days on the island of Dominica, just trying to make it through the first exam, and just wishing I could be entering 4th year and almost being done with medical school altogether. Now that this time is here, it is almost like I wish I was back on the island and my only worry was passing that first exam. What thinking is that?!

Thankfully, I talked with myself and told myself to toughen up. As my Dad would say whenever we were in a rut or felt like we couldn't accomplish something: "You are a Cronk girl! You can do anything!". That sentiment alone has gotten me through so much over the years and I am extremely thankful to have the most supportive parents on the planet. I would not be as successful if it was not for their unwavering support and pep talks throughout school and for those skype calls where they both try to fit into the screen so they can talk with me. I will hold those memories in my heart forever. 

So here I am. Feeling better than I have been and getting excited for the next adventure. I am currently in pediatrics and am loving the little kids that come to clinic. Thankfully this rotation is not as intense as my other core rotations, which gives me a chance to plan my electives and simultaneously study for my Step 2 CS board exam, which is coming up in April. Medical school is no joke, there will be times where you are tired, there will be times where you doubt your decision, and there will be times where you cannot even think about going back to the hospital that day. I have realized that when those thoughts come into my mind, I have to remind myself of how truly fortunate I am. I get to wake up each day and help take care of people, talk with family members and make a difference. No matter how tired I am, how much I have on my plate, or how much I have to plan for, nothing exceeds that more than seeing a smile on a patient's face that you helped that day. THAT is what makes it worth it. How lucky am I to have a job that challenges me every single day, both emotionally and physically, that teaches me something new each day and gives me a chance to grow. I think I am pretty lucky. 

Thank you all for being on this journey with me and thank you for believing in me since Day 1.

I am almost there, and I could not be more excited. 

Bye for now, 

-E xo

 


The question isn’t who is going to let me; it’s who is going to stop me. —Ayn Rand

August Rush

Yes this is a movie title, yes it has been forever since I have blogged, and yes, it is almost the end of August. WHAT. IS. HAPPENING. 

Hey everyone! 

I have caught my breath enough to sit down on this lovely Sunday evening with a wine glass beside me and the best meal made by my husband ready to update you on what has been happening. I am currently on my surgery core rotation, which is twelve weeks and I am entering my sixth week tomorrow with a lovely general surgeon. I was very nervous about surgery, as I thought I would be super fainty and have to sit down half the time, but who would have thought that I actually really like it. I think having a comfortable environment is essential, and getting to know the scrub nurses, surgical techs, anesthesiologists, etc, made the OR room less intimating.  My preceptor has been very patient, kind, and welcoming to surgery and I am forever thankful for his guidance and his knowledge, he truly made this experience memorable. 

Stephen, Domi, and I are still loving Atlanta, but the drivers here are CRAZY, as I have been driving to work this weekend to the hospital, and I just go slow enough to have any reaction time to people swerving and not using their blinkers. Being in the hospital, the trauma bell goes off way too frequently, and motor vehicle accidents [MVAs] happen to be the majority of those admissions. Also, don't text and drive, PLEASE, I see it way too much here, for some reason I do not think it is illegal, which I think is ridiculous. 

I had some unexpected news this past week, as my grandpa passed away. My preceptor was nice enough to allow me to go home to Canada and I attended the service. It was absolutely beautiful and much needed family time. Being in medical school, students miss a lot of important events, and before I left for the U.S my grandpa had a talk with me that if anything were to happen to him, to know that it was okay that I may not be able to make it home to his funeral. Being back in February, I said okay and understood that he knew it may be tough for me to get the time off. As soon as I heard the news of his passing, I had to go home. There was no question, I had to. I left for five days last week, and it was the best thing I ever did. I got to see my dad after his surgery, my sister's new house, my cousins who I have not seen since last Christmas, see my sisters and hug my mom and aunt. It was tough to say goodbye to one of my biggest supporters, as he knew I could do medical school even before I applied. Every time I called him he would always say he was proud of me, and as much as I wanted him there physically at my graduation, I know he will have the best seat in the house come March 2019. 

Overall, I wanted to let you all know that everything is going well. With third year rotations, you just have to put in the time. The work is hard, the hours are long, but it is amazing to walk the halls of the hospital, critically think, challenge yourself day in and day out and truly help people in need. Everyone always asks me if I would do it again knowing what medical school is like, and within a millisecond I would say "yes". Yes, not only because I have realized I would not want to be this tired doing anything else with my life, but because the journey is so worth it. The growth that is experienced with each passing day is indescribable, and the foundation of knowledge that I have sequentially built is so fulfilling. Never settle for anything in life because it is the easier way out, trust me, it is rewarding to see yourself grow. 

Hope everyone has a great Sunday evening, I am off to bed!

Bye for now,

-E xo

 


If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door.

-Milton Berle

Three Months

Hey everyone!

It is Monday morning and with a coffee in hand, I am ready for my next core rotation. It has been the busiest three months of my life so far in medical school, and I know that it is only going to get harder. I have officially finished twelve weeks of internal medicine and I have realized how integrative medicine really is. I am tired, but I am ready for surgery! (But am I though?)

So let's go back to the beginning of core rotations, starting at the hospital in May was an experience of its own. From studying day in and day out from a textbook, learning from my attending, residents and patients was a completely different experience. My note taking improved, my history taking was more thorough, and my interactions between the hierarchy that is medicine got a lot smoother. It is such a neat dynamic being on this side of the fence, as I remember being a patient in the hospital, you always see a bunch of white coats walking around but are not really sure what they are doing or talking about. I can assure you they are talking about patients, the attending asking the medical student insanely hard questions and the residents letting the attending know what they have done for each patient from the day before. Internal medicine was such a structured rotation, you go in, you see your patients, you write notes on your patients, you present each patient to your attending, and then you discuss the treatment plan going forward. You have long call days which are overnights at the hospital, you have short call days which are from 7am-3pm (which always went longer), and you have post call and float days. I was pretty tired by the end, not to mention trying to study for our shelf exam at the same time. 

I try and take each core rotation with an open mind, as saying " I NEVER want to do this as a career", completely shuts off a little motivation inside you. Whether you know it or not. I know I can be a hypocrite when I say with certainty that I do not want to be a surgeon, but I will always tell myself as I go in each day for my core surgery rotation, I will try my hardest to learn everything that I possibly can for my future primary practice. Whenever an attending asks if I am interested in this rotation long term, I will always say yes, as I do not want them thinking I will hate the next twelve weeks. I know I will have a hard time with surgery as I have a problem with fainting, not due to the sight of blood or seeing a patient cut open, it is the smells, the lights, the environment, and the fear of being in that situation is what I have a hard time with. I have bought myself some compression socks to be able to help my venous blood flow from not pooling in my legs [that is why you see people who stand for a long time faint, as the blood is pooling in their lower extremities]. I will let my preceptors know that I may need to sit down from time to time and I hope they are okay with it! I also have learned some breathing exercises for me to calm down and ease my anxiety, as I have heard from other students that this is super beneficial. Being in Atlanta, you see some pretty gruesome violence, from stabbings, to shootings, to pretty messy car accidents. Wish me luck guys, these next three months are going to be tough.  *Sigh*

All in all, third year of medical school is pretty sweet. Yes you are still studying as after every core rotation we have a 25% exam to make sure we are learning enough material for the Step2 CK  [another board exam next Summer-yay], but the shelf exams do keep you up to speed with studying. My score from Internal Medicine comes back this week, let's hope what I learned at the hospital pulls through! I am trying to upload more to YouTube, one video will be coming this week, so keep a look out, and I wanted to say thank you for all the kind messages so far!

This post is more of an update post, but I have a motivational one coming for ya soon ;) 

Happy Monday!

Bye for now,

-E xo

As always, some pics!