ross university

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

Oh hello, Blog.

Yup. This by far has been the longest break from the blog since starting it back in December 2014. 

Life has been crazy. Medical school has been hard. Blogging has honestly been the last thing on my mind, but then other days it is on the forefront. 

I have realized that I do not need these elaborate posts, that go into minute detail of my adventures, but more of a way in saying: " Hey, I am surviving, thank you for reading, I am doing okay." When I went home in August this past year due to my grandpa's passing, there were so many people that hugged me at the funeral and said they read my blogs and love following my adventures. I truly feel like I let a lot of people down by not writing, and with 2018 coming into full effect recently, I knew I needed to write. 

I don't blog like other bloggers you see making thousands of dollars on social media, bloggers who get sponsored to say which products work for them, I blog for my family, my friends, for prospective students and present students. Thinking not many people read my blog posts, I have gotten so many emails asking me when I am going to blog again? I checked my stats online today and I have had over 600 views on my blog just in the past week. WHAT. 

So here I am, saying that I will blog post more. I promise. 

To quickly update you all, I am 10 weeks away from my fourth year of medical school. Third year has flown by, with my Internal Medicine, Surgery, OB/GYN, and Psychiatry core rotations complete, I am currently in my family medicine rotation. The amount of information that I have gathered in the past months is something that I never saw coming. I never thought I could absorb so much material and put it in practice with each rotation that comes my way. Life is truly beautiful that way. If I had listened to everyone before my medical school journey, I would be three years into a job I didn't like and instead I graduate this December 2018 with an M.D. ! Life is way too short to live it for someone else, for doing something you don't like, or being too scared to do something you are most passionate about, due to the time it takes to complete it. NEVER settle, do the work now, for success later. :) 

I am surviving people! I promise! My head gets sometimes too caught up in my notes and going through the motions of third year, going to the hospital day in and day out, but just know that I am keeping my eyes on the end goal. I CAN'T wait to become a physician. Thank you all for being on this journey with me. 

Bye for now,

-E xo


I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel. —Maya Angelou

Third year: 1 Confidence: Getting There

Hello my lovely people!

It is Saturday morning and I just finished my first 30 hour trauma surgery shift. I am slowly becoming less zombie-ish and becoming more human. That was an adventure. Before I jump into details, I wanted to update you on what stage of schooling I am at as I have gotten a couple emails about that and how I am handling third year of medical school.

It is Oct 1st tomorrow, which means only 12 more days of trauma surgery, and which makes it half way of third year. I have almost done six months of core rotations already, and with 6 more months to go, third year has completely hit me by surprise with how fast it has gone. I am slowly becoming more familiar with standard protocols, understanding the different orders of fluids and which patients get what, how each attending likes to be presented to, and making my way around the different hospitals. Third year is honestly just trial and error, and you can't be afraid of making mistakes and asking questions. 

Surgery is a whole other world that I never thought I would have liked. In my previous post, I talk about how I was nervous for this rotation and that I was not looking forward to it. I have definitely learned my lesson to never have preconceived notions about a rotation and to keep an open mind when starting something new. I have absolutely loved it so far and with my first week in trauma surgery down, it is safe to say I would never do trauma as a career, the experience has been unreal. Here is an example of a day shift and night shift in my current rotation:

DAY SHIFT:
4:30am-get up
5:30am-at hospital rounding on my patient and writing a note (by myself)
6:30am- trauma surgery lecture with whole team
7:00am-sign out-where the night team hands over the night admissions to day team
8:00am- ICU rounds, where we go to each patient's room and chat about them, this is where I would present my patient in front of everyone [can be more than 15 ppl] and chat about if they had any acute events overnight, their labs, if they are scheduled for any surgeries that day, etc. 
9:30am/10am-6:30pm-the rest of the day is filled with trauma calls [mind you trauma calls can happen at any time, and there have been days where we would not finish rounding or lecture as a trauma would come in] and helping the residents with procedures at the bedside, ex: central lines, A-lines, suturing wounds, etc. And if your attending is in the OR, you must scrub in to each case with him/her, so we have to check the OR board frequently. 
IF ON NIGHT CALL:
6:30pm-night team arrives and you STAY all night. This is exhausting as traumas seem to happen more at night, and you have been up since 4:30am that day and you stay throughout the night. The med student's job is to help the intern on call (the first year resident) with little procedures, helping with notes and trauma admissions. This can be so tiring. If there is absolutely nothing to do, no trauma calls, nothing the intern wants you to do, you can try and get some sleep on the fifth floor, but as soon as you put your head down, the trauma bell will go off! It always seems to happen to me lol
6:30am that next morning-lecture again with whole team
7:00am-sign out (we hand over our new admissions to the day team)
8:00am-9:30am/10am- ICU rounds- I would present one of the new admissions overnight
THEN LEAVE AFTER ROUNDS. 
Total hours: 30. 

Whew! It is quite the experience, folks! There is no other feeling that being up for a total of 30 hours and running to the trauma bay when the bell goes off. I didn't drink any coffee as the adrenaline just keeps you awake. The injuries included multiple motor vehicle collisions, gun shot wounds, drunk driver on a moped who crashed himself into a tree, transfers from another hospital as we are a level 1 trauma center with more resources, and more. It was an experience like none other and even though I know I don't want to do this for a living, it has given me the perspective I needed to confirm that trauma surgeons are pretty badass. Holy moly. The level of knowledge that these surgeons have and the residents blows me away. 

All in all, third year has been a whirlwind of an experience. It has taught me to be confident in the times a question comes along and everyone is waiting for an answer. It has taught me that I CAN do this, and it has taught me that I would not want to do anything else with my life. Have I missed birthdays, holidays, weddings, the birth of one of my best friends babies? Yes. But the people I have in my life understand my commitment, they understand that I am putting my life on hold to help the lives of others. I am in school at age 29 when a majority of my friends have houses, full time jobs they have had since graduating college, kids, even multiple children, and I am here getting over a 30 hour shift knowing that I am going in tomorrow for a 14 hour shift [4:30am-6:30pm remember!?]. Life in med school is such an indescribable experience that you have to be here to follow me around to really get a grasp of how taxing it is, but with every passing day, my confidence builds, my answers get stronger, my critical thinking improves, and my vision as a doctor gets closer and closer. 

Thank you all for being on this journey with me, and thank you all for believing in me since day 1. I am so happy to take the time to update you all on my adventures, and when I walk across that stage in a little over a year and a half, May 2019, you know I will be thinking of you. 

Get after it today, even if that means doing the long days, the dirty stuff, the hard stuff. 

It will be worth it. 

Bye for now,

-E xo


 


Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you are right.
- Henry Ford

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!

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

 

Hello From the Other Side

Okay, I know what you are all thinking..."Where has this girl been?!" "She has a blog...why doesn't she write?!" "Hellllloooooo?" "Anyone there?" 

Hi everyone! I am here! A lot has happened since December, and I am eager to get talking about it so without further adieu, I am here to chat. I am alive. I am well. I am surviving!

This has been the most whirlwind of a time in my life, from getting engaged, getting married, writing Step 1 [or "taking step 1" for you Americans], and moving to Florida. It has been hectic, but some odd reason, I like this pace. I like being forced out of my comfort zone, and being expected to figure it out quickly. I got engaged at the end of November, and Stephen and I decided to get married on New Year's Eve that December...yes...in less than a month I had to plan a wedding, study for my USMLE Step 1 exam, get all my immigration and health documents read to move to Florida for January.....you can see why I pushed my exam date back until February and moved our scheduled departure to Florida for the March IMF intake. [So so so happy I did this]

So here I am! Married, onto year three of my medical studies, and I am [im]patiently waiting for my Step 1 score to come out this Wednesday morning. [Positive vibes welcome] Medical school off island has definitely been different, and I have heard from a lot of my classmates that it has been hard to focus or study for our massive board exam when being on island was much easier, less distractions, less temptation to go watch a movie with friends, etc, more motivation to study hard and get off that island as fast as you can. Staying on island to study for my COMP exam was the best thing that I ever did, and it allowed the foundation I needed to come home and study hard for my board exam. 

That exam was tough, guys. Extremely tough. You needed to know the ins and outs of every topic, every drug, every pathological symptom that you can imagine. But the board exams take it a bit further, they test you on not only your knowledge, but the way you critically think and integrate that information. There were times where I would look at the computer screen and just stare at the question, trying to figure out exactly where they want me to go with the information. Seven blocks, each block had 40 questions, and we had an hour per block. Seven hours of straight testing and a 45-60 minute break , so it ended up being an eight hour day. It was extremely exhausting, but making sure I had appropriate snacks, adequate sleep, and confidence was the reason I felt okay on test day. I will make sure to update you all when that score comes out!

For the people asking what my next steps are of my medical journey I will outline it below:

Currently: IMF-Internal Medicine Foundations- 6 weeks-Miramar, Florida
Core Rotations- 6 core specialties at ONE hospital for an entire year (hoping for Atlanta Medical Center-we found out this Tuesday)
Elective Rotations- I choose the area of medicine I want to study and where. These electives can be anywhere from 2, 4, or 6 weeks. This is for an entire year. 

So in short, I have two years of schooling left, all in the hospital setting and interacting with patients. I am extremely excited to be on the other side of learning, as the island was tough and studying from textbooks upon textbooks was hard to keep the motivation up. I am eager to hit the hallways and interact with as many people as possible, learn from the best, and soak it all up like a sponge. I will keep everyone posted with each core elective that I do and see which area of medicine interests me the most. 

This post was more of an update post I guess, letting you all know where I am and where I go from here. I cleaned up my website a bit, and organized it better and getting the camera ready for some YouTube videos. I will end on one final note: time has literally been flying by, and I want people reading this to know that anything is achievable in your life. Whether it be school, an occupation, a hobby, a business proposal, anything that you 100% commit yourself to can be done, it will be hard, but it can be done. I have made a point in my life to never put an expiry date on anything that I do, I was 27 when I applied for medical school, and turning 29 this year illicits only one emotion: I am proud of where I am, how I got here, and how I continue to help you all, one post at a time. 

Bye for now,
-E xo