motivation

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

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!

Settled

As I sit here looking out the window of my apartment in Atlanta, Georgia, with a wine glass in hand and my dog by my feet, I look back at the last couple years and I all I can say is: "wow". 

Life literally passes by in the spur of the moment, when we are so busy investing our time into something else, time escapes us each day. There are so many times where I would wish the day away, that it would go faster, or the days be shorter, then I look back and see how many weeks have flown by, and it amazes me. I always tell students who write me who have trepidation about entering medical school, and how long it takes to complete the program, I always make sure to ask them: "What else would you be doing in the next four years?" I get answers like a Master's to bump up their GPA, studying and retaking the MCAT, or working in a job that they are not happy in. Why wait? What are you waiting for? Who are you waiting on? YOU have to make the decision to be happy and that may mean applying to a medical school in the Caribbean. It may mean leaving your family, friends, missing weddings and birthdays, but the thing is...people will always understand. The sacrifices that we have to go through to obtain our M.D. are limitless, but that one day when we finally have the ability to book time off and never miss another function, will come faster than you think. 

Whew! Okay, got that off my chest! Hello everyone! I know it has been a hot minute since I have written, but what I have realized is that I may have to do shorter blog posts to keep you updated with my crazy life adventures. I have always set aside a couple hours to work on my blog posts, and in third year of medical school, those hours are slowly dwindling away. I have started uploading more videos to my YouTube Channel [Search: "From D1 to Dr" on YouTube] and have gotten a lot of feedback to upload more and continue with my "How-To" videos. I will try my best! 

I wanted to let you all know that I am surviving. Third year is intense, as the hospital hours are long, but being able to learn on the spot is great. I have had the most amazing experience with my last preceptor and I recently asked her to write a letter of recommendation for me. She said yes! I am extremely excited as a lot of attending physicians do not have time to sit down and write a letter, and very few will agree to do it, but she gave me a hug and said of course! Letters of recommendation are extremely important in our application process, and we only submit a total of three, so they play a crucial role in residency program directors' ability to get to know us on a personal level. 

Steve and I have settled nicely in Atlanta. The city is definitely growing on me. I love it ALMOST as much as Denver ;) I am halfway through my Internal Medicine core rotation, with my surgery core rotation looming in the background. I have learned so much in the past six weeks and I am extremely grateful to be here. Not a day goes by where I don't look around the hospital and walk the halls with a smile on my face, because according to my MCAT, I should not have made it thus far. I should not have been granted acceptance to any medical school, so when I walk the halls with my white coat on, and seeing patients everyday, it just makes me that much more determined to keep proving people wrong. 

I am off to read a bit more before bed, yes, it is after 10pm, but the learning never stops! I want to thank each and every one of you for reading my blog. I have been on a roller coaster, with moving countries, cities, one exam after another, but I want you all to know that your love and support does not go unnoticed. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart. 

Bye for now,

- E xo

 

Atlanta Braves 

Game time! 

Hotlanta

Hello everyone! 

Thank you for your patience with my blog posts, I am starting to finally get in a groove in Atlanta and I am making a schedule that I can actually stick to each week. There will be more YouTube videos for the people emailing and asking and more blog posts on a regular basis! What I have realized is that when I get ready to write a post, I am emotionally invested with everything I write down. There have been so many times where I had my blog up and ready to type, but I just wasn't feeling it, but I have to learn to write when my emotions are authentic, whether I am frustrated, sad, stressed, and of course when I am happy. I'm working on it ;) 

So here I am, on a Saturday night, just getting back from the Sports Medicine conference in San Diego, California. Excited, exhausted, motivated, and extremely happy that I attended. But let's rewind for a second, let me update you on my Step 1, IMF, the move to ATL, and where I am now in my studies. Grab a glass of wine [I may have had two already...woops], or a tea, a coffee if you are board studying, and just sit back and relax, as I have some stories for y'all. <--I gotta start sometime people, I am in the South ya know ;)

So that USMLE Step 1 exam, let me tell you....it was beastly. It was probably the hardest exam that I had to write in the history of my test taking. The good news is: I PASSED. I passed and now I am able to move on to my third year of medical school, which are core clinical clerkships at a corresponding hospital. For the people that have been following me for awhile, you all know how terrible I am at standardized exams, and this exam was no different. It was the mother of all standardized exams; a really, really grumpy mother. It was hard. But it was doable if your study schedule was followed exactly as you had planned. I was confident in my studying that I felt comfortable going into that exam with the knowledge base that I had created while studying at home in Canada. It was so critical thinking heavy, minute details, tertiary questions, and some that felt like quaternary, that you just left the exam center feeling defeated. Overall, the biggest tip of advice that I can give people studying for the boards right now, take it sooner than later. I was feeling a bit burnt out at the end, and my score definitely reflects that. I am glad I pushed it back to enjoy Christmas and get to get married, but I was about three weeks overdue. I still did fine, but for me being my own worst critic, I should have done better. My effort and my studying habits, I should have scored higher, but that is the beauty of two more board exams, there is always room for improvement. The fact that I passed on the first attempt is huge, and now I need to study my buns off for the next Step exam, which is next July for me. 

Next is IMF, what exactly is it? Good question, as I still haven't figured out an exact definition for it. It was a six week course in Miramar, Florida where we got introduced to the clinical aspect of medicine. We had daily readings from the textbook IM essentials and had one written midterm and final exam. We also had an OSCE exam, which is set up in the same format as the Step 2 CS exam, where we would do a 15 minute encounter with a standardized patient, do a full interview, physical, and type up a note in the exam room. We also had a clinic site that we had to go to 2-3 times/week, in which 20% of our grade comes from the attending physician. Thankfully, we had an amazing clinical site. We were with a neurologist that owned his private practice in Florida, and I fell in love the physical therapy/pain management side of neurology. Another student and I also got the opportunity to do some research, which we are in the process of finalizing our second draft by the end of the month. Super exciting! IMF was great in the fact that it allowed us to experience being with patients on a more complex level, and allowed us to be prepared for core rotations. 

Now being in Atlanta and two weeks into my Internal medicine clerkship, I can say that I do not like internal medicine haha I like the patients, I love the people I work with, from my amazing attending, a soon-to-be fourth year student (she is just finishing up her last core), and all the nurses and respiratory techs. Everyone is super friendly in Atlanta, the southern hospitality is actually a real thing, guys. But overall, I do not like being in the hospital for 12-13 hours straight. My end goal is to own a primary care sports medicine outpatient center, with a gym/rehab facility attached. I am learning a TON and trying to soak it all up,  and at the same time I am trying to keep my options open as much as I can. Being in the hospital and dealing with real patients is so rewarding, and every day, even the days are long, I know this is what I am meant to do.

The blog post is getting quite long, but I will end it with a sentiment from the Sports Medicine conference that I attended these past couple days. NO ONE CARED WHERE I ATTENDED MEDICAL SCHOOL. The first thing they said to me at the fellowship fair was: "Wow! Good for you for coming so early in your medical education and asking all the right questions now, to help your process later". The first thing I asked them was, does your program accept IMGs? Since being Canadian AND from Ross, I wanted to make sure they honored the international visa for me to work as a resident being from another country, but I also wanted to make sure that they had no bias towards Caribbean grads. They honestly did not care. A fellowship is the highest form of medical education that you can receive in your training after residency, and they range from one year up to how many sub-specialites you want to complete. After residency, you have the option of doing a fellowship and that is where my primary care sports medicine fellowship comes into place. It was so refreshing to see big name schools accept Caribbean grads and not even bat an eye. There were numerous AUC, SGU, AUA, Saba, and Ross fellows in attendance, and the community is absolutely amazing. One Medical Director had the best response to my question:

Me: "Hello, my name is Emma, I am a third year medical student interested in the sports medicine fellowship program at your facility, I was just wondering if you accept IMGs?"

Director: "Well, are you a good candidate?"

Me: "Well, I think I am. I have gotten Dean's List for all four semesters on the island, won the Devry Scholarship award for two consecutive years, I started a brand new Sports Medicine Club on campus while simultaneously studying the basic sciences, I have passed Step 1 on my first attempt, and I am here proving to you that this is what I want to do." 

Director: "Oh wow, wait...you are only in third year you said?" 

Me: "Yes, sir" <--- working on that southern accent ;)

Director: "I do not care where your medical education comes from, you standing here today proves to me that this is important to you. We actually just matched a Ross grad into our fellowship program and he starts with us in July, and you coming here today just shows how hard working Ross students are, and we do not discriminate based solely on the location of your school, we look at YOU, the candidate as a whole."

Me: *Trying to hold back the tears* "Thank you. I needed to hear this today" 

Director: "I'll be looking for your name in the next couple years, don't forget about us, okay?"

Me: *Dumbfounded and wanting to give him a hug but didn't*  "Thank you so much."

Connections work. Point blank. Me showing up to this conference proved to them that I was serious about pursuing this route. No matter what school I attended. This is FELLOWSHIP, people. This is a big deal. The fellowship program directors care more about you as a person with a passion, your commitment, and your tenacity to get there. I have gotten so many high-fives the last two days from residents, program directors, fellows, and some AMSSM staff, as I was the youngest student there. I know this is what I want to do, so why not start making the connections now? Next annual meeting, I will be there showing my face to the same people, giving a strong hand shake, and telling them my name once again. When interviews come up next year for residency, a lot of the same fellowship directors actually oversee the residency program as well, and they will hopefully see my name and picture, and know my perseverance to climb to the top of their list. 

All in all, Ross University will get you where you need to be. It is the road less traveled, it is a scary jump, but it will give you that M.D, it will allow you obtain residency, and it will give you the opportunity to pursue medicine as your career. Third year has just started for me, the hours are long, the studying never stops, board exams linger over my head every day, but I would not change a thing. I am extremely happy I listened to my gut and applied, I am happy I shut that inner voice in my head down that was telling me that maybe I made the wrong decision, I am happy that I didn't listen to any of the online forums bashing the Caribbean route, and I am sure as hell happy that I made it this far. I made it. I made it halfway to becoming a physician, and no one can take that feeling away from me. It is so worth it. Every tear, every frustration, every sticking point, as time moves forward- so do you. 

Happy Saturday night friends! Get after your dream, no matter what anyone says! You CAN do it. You WILL do it. You will be AMAZING at it. 

Bye for now,

-E xo