Medical School: Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine
November 16, 2014:
Wow, medical school has been something else! I cannot believe how much I've learned during my time here, how challenged I am with the coursework, and how fascinating the human body is. I don't think there's anything that could have quite prepared me in my transition to medical school, though I am very thankful for the biochem course from Northern as it helped give me a little bit of background in my basic science courses. I absolutely love the anatomy lab, the classes, the interactions with standardized patients, and much much more. Oakland has just been terrific all around and I am super thankful that I chose to go here for school!
We just finished with our third round of exams in both the anatomical and biomedical courses and are now starting a new unit. I also just took a medical ethics exam today to finish up that course as well. I thoroughly enjoyed the ethics course here because it constantly reminds you what it means to be a physician with integrity, honor, and a good moral compass. They teach how not only to interact with a patient but how to really get on their level and be a kind physician. On another note, I'm really excited to start learning about the head and neck as it is the next anatomy section.
I continue to do some volunteer work when I can and have been involved with several groups at the school and with the Make-A-Wish Foundation outside of school. We haven't learned much as far as procedures/exams go as that will start being taught to us later during the school year, but I did learn how to give a flu shot and was able to volunteer at a flu shot clinic in the inner city of Detroit. That in itself was an incredible experience. My next trip back to Detroit will be helping out with the World Medical Relief packaging of supplies.
Medical School: Wayne State
August 29, 2013:
So far, everything is great. We just finished our first week of exams at Wayne State. We had a Histology written exam, Anatomy written exam, and an Anatomy practical exam. Histology was yesterday and both Anatomy exams were held today, starting at 9 a.m. The amount of material to learn is pretty large, but not out of control.
Since the first exams are over I feel like I can breathe again for a bit and it feels GREAT to be able to do whatever I want (watch TV, relax, etc.) for at least the rest of today, before new lecture material resumes tomorrow. Overall, my exams went well. My mentality towards grades has changed. Rather than wanting to get an A, I now just want a 75%, the guaranteed passing grade without factoring in a curve - higher than 75% is obviously preferred, but right now 75% is the goal. Luckily, I've surpassed that benchmark so far. I won't know my score to the practical for a day or so, but I'm hoping the trend of scores continues. The anatomy practical was long, about 3 hours, and I made some silly mistakes, but it wasn't too awful. Dissecting cadavers has been pretty cool too. It has really helped me learn the material better than if I were to just look at pictures in a textbook.
Also, I wanted to say that I've been enjoying Detroit and WSU SOM more than I had ever expected. When we visited the school a couple of years ago as part of our Michigan med school tour, I don't feel like Wayne State did as good of a job promoting the school as they could have, maybe because there are so many things to promote and we had limited time. There's more than meets the eye though. They've got co-curricular programs and seminars for students to attend during lunch hours to learn about topics like "Detroit's Health Issues", there are so many organizations to get involved with and a variety of clinics to work in too (Spanish speaking clinics, clinics at mosques, traveling clinics where students go around and do health screenings of homeless individuals, and lots more). Oh, and the blood draw I and other students learned to do is something that apparently isn't typically taught until second year.
I can imagine that living in Detroit and going to WSU SOM isn't for everyone. A few months ago I didn't even think it was for me. But, if any applicants or other pre-meds are ever considering Wayne and have hesitations or questions, I'd be happy to answer those questions or serve as a resource for them.
One other thing, whenever I talk to students from other undergraduate schools about our pre-med program as opposed to theirs, they are always impressed. Some have even been surprised that we have an actual pre-med advisor at NMU, let alone one that we know as well as we as Northern students/ alumni do.
Medical School: University of Kentucky
October 19, 2013
Finished up anatomy a couple weeks ago, and now we’re in our Biochemistry and Genetics block. I’m missing the excitement of dissecting in anatomy now that we have 4 hours of straight lecture every day. I feel pretty good about Biochem and Genetics so far since I’ve taken both in undergrad. It’s a lot less intense studying like I was doing for anatomy, but there’s still tons of material. Taking genetics, biochem, and advanced cell bio at NMU really prepared me well for this block. Right now I’m just brushing up on the material, and learning a little more detail. I’m sure as we get further into the block the information will get a lot harder. We have our first exam in a week, so we’ll see how it goes!
Life outside of medical school is still great! After the anatomy block we had a short fall break, and it felt great to just relax and be a normal person for a bit. I also was able to get out to Baltimore to see my boyfriend. What’s great about the biochem/genetics block is that lectures are easy to just stream on your computer, so it makes my schedule a lot more flexible. The attendance at lectures definitely dropped quite a bit for our entire class once anatomy was over. Medical school is great because you do what works for you best—if you feel like you get more out of lectures when you stream them later in the day, you do it! I still go to class pretty regularly and then stream the lecture if I need to hear certain parts of the lecture again that I didn’t understand.
Feel free to get my contact information from Dr. Lucas if you have any questions about medical school or applying! I’d be happy to help!
September 4, 2013
I’m about half way through my anatomy block right now, and I’m alive and loving medical school! We have class 8am-12pm Monday through Friday, and 2 hours in the afternoon a couple times during the week for Intro to Clinical Medicine. The lectures are a mix of anatomy, embryology, histology, radiology, and clinical correlations. ICM is small group work where we learn how to interview patients, discuss ethics of medicine, and do some simulation activities. I can’t believe all the information that I’m learning right now, but it’s definitely nothing that I can’t handle. I think one of the most important things to figure out is just the best way to go about studying. There is a LOT of information, but we have plenty of time to study after class to get a good handle on it.
Anatomy lab is amazing! At first I was a little hesitant, but it is so awesome to actually see everything right there in front of you rather than in a textbook. Holding the heart and lungs, and cutting into the kidney were probably the two best things so far! It also helps you really solidify everything what you’re learning in lecture because you can picture where everything is on the cadavers that you’ve looked at. I have anatomy lab about 3 times a week, and then I’ll go into lab twice outside of class for a couple hours to look at the rest of the bodies.
I had my first exam a little over a week ago, and I’m happy with how I did. Some really stupid mistakes, but everyone makes those every now and then! We had a 2 hour written exam from the anatomy, embryology, radiology, and histology from the first 3 weeks, and a 1 hour lab practical. They say we’re pass/fail (with 70% passing), but we’re not truly pass/fail because we still get our grades and we’re ranked at the end of the year unlike other pass/fail schools. That’s one of the things that I don’t really like that much about UKCOM because it adds a little more stress to the exams, but it’s also good because it makes you push yourself to do better the next time.
Another really cool thing we’ve done is teleconference a minimally invasive surgery where they repaired a hiatal hernia. I had never seen a surgery before, and it’s amazing what they can do inside the body without even opening the patient up. Later this week I’ll be doing a small group simulation lab where we’ll be learning intubation and resuscitation.
It’s a lot of work, but there’s still time to do things you love. I’ve been able to go to the local ice rink, go out with friends on the weekend, and visit my boyfriend over Labor Day weekend. It’s all about knowing how to manage your time and know when the right time is to relax and enjoy yourself. For those of you who are going through the application process right now and waiting to hear back from schools, just know that all the stress and hard work is sooo extremely worth it to get in!
Medical School: University of Michigan
September 24, 2013
I am in my second month of medical school at UofM and am loving every second of it! We are just finishing up our Cell and Tissues sequence during which we basically cover a years worth of biochemistry and advanced cell bio in a month. Over the past month I have been very thankful for my undergrad classes at NMU as I feel as though they have definitely set me up well to succeed here…little did I know that I WOULD be seeing all of that stuff that Dr. Rebers lectured on in advanced cell. I am also serving as an admissions ambassador and would be very willing to e-mail prospective students from NMU.
Medical School: A.T. Still University-Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine
November 26, 2013:
I'm sending this e-mail to just fill you in on my perspective of being a medical student as we are beginning to wind down my first semester here. I believe A.T. Still University-KCOM really was the greatest choice for me. Being the founding school of Osteopathic Medicine, I know I'm getting a great education by a dedicated staff. The faculty here will always go out of their way and try to work with students to make time to clear up any issues a student may have with material. They are extremely dedicated to their students and I couldn't ask any more of them. My classmates are awesome. In a nutshell, these are people that I will probably reference for the rest of my life and my classmates do everything to help one another. There is no sense/aura of competition or any of the horror stories you sometimes hear about with other medical schools. Everyone here is genuine and willing to help, and even the second years assist us by passing down study guides and what not to help us with the material. We just opened a Dental School here and it is in its first year of operating and although I do not know much about it, I do know the dean of the dental school is an awesome guy and worked in Washington D.C. (although I forget what department he worked with). We also have a small bio-med masters program which is a great way for students who may not have had the best grades/profile to get accepted to medical school right away an opportunity to still reach their goal of becoming a physician.
Now, for the education side of things! First and foremost, all the analogies and everything students have probably heard about pancakes and drinking water through a fire hose are 100% accurate. I promise you, if you go to medical school, you will quickly realize that you never worked so hard in your life to just hope when the exams roll around you get that 70% passing grade! Although the workload is insane some days, I wouldn't trade it for the world though. Second thing, there still may be some people on the fence about whether or not I should apply to a M.D. verse a D.O. program and then further question whether or not a D.O. is "as good" as an M.D. In short, D.O.'s are trained the same and can do everything an M.D. can do and then some. One of my favorite parts of school is OMM lab. The ability to treat your patients with a hands on approach is awesome. When you're all sore from sitting at a desk/table hunched over your books and coffee there is nothing better than grabbing one of your classmates and having them do a little quick manipulation on you. Also, in my opinion, if a student has any desire to work with orthopedics, sports medicine, family practice and the list can go on and on; having these extra tools will come in handy. My girlfriend works as an athletic trainer and frequently gets frustrated with the sports med M.D. physicians she works with because their standard protocol is more NSAIDs, narcotics or muscle relaxers because they've never been trained in OMM (Don't get me wrong, I'm not bashing M.D. schools, but there are certain fields where it is far more beneficial to know OMM versus others). Now, when dealing with the testing side of school, we are tested in blocks. So we take our exams on our Ipads (yes we are required to have Ipads) and our blocks usually cover 3 weeks of material and cover a wide range of classes. A typical block exam may include testable material from Anatomy, Biochem, Med. Micro, Path, Histology and Nutrition. The theory behind this testing method is to help prepare us for boards because on boards you do not do all anatomy, then move on to all biochem and so on and so forth. Our faculty does try to line things up so we get similar material across the board (as an example when we were studying Anatomy of GI tract, we also covered Physiology of smooth muscle). Finally, on the curriculum side of things, one of my biggest draws to this school was the fully integrated ultrasound curriculum we have. As ultrasound units continue to be developed with enhanced clarity, ultrasound may very well be the new stethoscope for physicians in the future. Patients also like the idea that they can see what's going on as the doctor/ultrasound tech is performing the scan. As far as I know, unless things changed, there are roughly 5 medical schools in the country (M.D. or D.O.) that have an integrated ultrasound curriculum.
Sorry for the length of this email and I hope it can help you/your students with any concerns they may have. If you or your students have any questions for me, just shoot me an e-mail and I'll try to reply as promptly as possible. If you choose, you can forward this on to the students or copy/paste bits of it. One last thing that I would encourage all students applying to medical school to be mindful of is that you must do things besides medical school to keep your sanity. You will be put under an insane amount of stress, but if you like working out, drawing/painting, singing, hunting (which is my go to and there is awesome hunting around Kirksville) then you need to get out and do that! Attached here is the picture of my deer that I shot a week or 2 ago!
Medical School: Johns Hopkins
October 1, 2013
Anatomy is over! It was so amazing to be able to dissect a human being, and I’m excited for the memorial service coming up to say thank you to all of them. It’s very strange that it’s over now though. You get used to going in and dissecting everyday so you think that is what the life of a medical student is, but now I have a lot more time on my hands. It feels a lot like undergraduate work now, but we also have a class to learn the physical exam, and that is a lot of fun. So far we’ve learned the musculoskeletal exam, neuro exam, pulmonary exam, and the head and neck exam. So far we’ve only practiced the exams on each other or on standardized patients, but pretty soon we’ll be getting into the hospital and doing them on real patients.
Like I said last time, life doesn’t have to be on hold while in medical school. This last weekend in particular my girlfriend was visiting and we went to a Packers-Ravens game here in Baltimore, ran my half marathon, and went to a concert (although you shouldn’t expect that every weekend of medical school). The material isn’t too crazy – Northern gave me a really good base of knowledge so all I’m really doing now is brushing up on things I knew before and going into a little more depth. The biggest thing I need to get used to is living in the city. I’m definitely missing the Marquette woods so get out there and enjoy them for me!
September 10, 2013:
I just finished my first anatomy test and I passed! Johns Hopkins is unranked pass/fail so as long as you get over 70% you’re fine. They even give you chances to remediate so most people call it a pass now/pass later system. It REALLY takes the stress out of everything and it doesn’t pay not to collaborate with your classmates. (If you’re looking at medical schools, seriously consider what grading system will serve you best.) Every morning we have an anatomy lecture that either covers the gross anatomy, application of that anatomy, or relevant embryology. Right after that we go to the cadaver lab which is such an amazing experience. You wish you could thank the person who was willing to donate their body to your medical education, because no matter how many atlases or illustrations you look at, the 3D arrangement of everything doesn’t sink in until you can literally hold it in your hands.
Once a week we also have Clinical Foundations of Medicine (CFM) which is our introduction into patient interviews and the physical exam which we do in small groups. Tomorrow I’ll be doing my first interview with a real outpatient so that’s really exciting! I just got my white coat (we won’t be doing our white coat ceremony until the end of the year, but we get ones for clinical experiences to tide us over until then) and wore it while shadowing in a pediatric oncology clinic, and you really feel like an imposter at first. I don’t feel any different than a few months ago and all of the sudden people recognize me as a medical professional in the hallways of a hospital which is when it really hit home – I’m going to be a doctor. It’s a great/scary feeling.
While it is a lot of work, you can still have a life while in medical school. I still go out on the weekends with friends and I’ve had my family and my girlfriend come visit me without feeling like I should be studying. I’m also training for a half marathon so as long as you can manage your time well, its not like you have to put your life on hold for medical school. I’m also participating in some extracurricular activities, like welcoming interviewees and I’m thinking about getting involved in some research.
Another amazing thing about being here is the caliber of doctors that teach the lectures. Since I first came to Baltimore, I’ve had a lecture from the doctor that invented the defibrillator as well as the doctor that made important anatomical discoveries that revolutionized prostate surgeries to preserve nerves that are important for quality of life after the surgery. We also saw a doctor in the hallway that organized a 16 patient domino kidney transplant surgery. Not sure if any of this means anything to you guys, but its an understatement saying that this is an inspiring place to be. Its true that there is no such thing as a bad medical school, but when you’re applying don’t be afraid to shoot high because I can guarantee you I never would have thought I’d actually be here a year ago. I want to see another NMU grad come to Baltimore! Feel free to ask Dr. Lucas for my email if you have any questions!
Undergraduate Major: Biology/Physiology, Chemistry minor
Medical School: Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine
Residency: Harvard Affiliated Emergency Medicine Residency
Update: Viktoria was born and raised in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario. She came to NMU in 2003 as a member of the Nordic Ski Team and Cross-Country Running Team where she competed for two years. While at NMU she worked in Alec Lindsay's genetics lab and majored in Biology. After graduating in 2007 she went to the Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine (CCLCM) in Cleveland, Ohio. During her time there, she completed a Doris Duke Fellowship where she studied the effect of different methods of contraception on adolescent pregnancy. In 2012 she graduated from CCLCM and began residency in Boston at the Harvard Affiliated Emergency Medicine Residency (HAEMR). Viktoria is currently living in Boston with her husband Sam (also an NMU alum!). In between shifts, she can be found running the trails around Boston, nordic skiing, and hanging out with her fellow HAEMR residents. Viktoria recently visited NMU and shared her experiences of medical school and residency at a meeting with NMU pre-med students.
Physician Assistant Program: Central Michigan University
April 17, 2014
I am currently finishing up my third semester of PA School! I can hardly believe it, the time has really flown by. This semester, however, has been the hardest thus far. With 24 Credits, I have found it hard to find a lot of extra time to study during the week--so most of my weekends consist of catching up on school work. I actually enjoy the weekends because it gives me the chance to catch up on everything that I have learned that week! My classes this semester are Psychiatry, Pharm II, History and Physical Exam III, Clinical Problem Solving II, Diagnostics II, Scientific Basis of Medicine II, Clinical Procedures, and Clinical Medicine II. I am in class Tuesday-Thursday, have labs on Friday, and have my mentorship on Monday.
Having a mentorship in a Family Practice office every Monday is by far my favorite part about this program. I LOVE my mentorship!!! My mentor is an MD and has taught me so much already. Plus, it is nice to be able to apply what I am learning in class to real-life experiences. My mentor lets me see some patients by myself, which is a great opportunity to learn how to talk to patients, take a history, and practice doing a physical exam. This opportunity is pretty unique to CMU's program and am SO happy that I get to take part in it.
I will finish up my didactic year this summer, then start my clinical rotations in August. I have eight different five week rotations, with one week between each rotation for testing. I am nervous for clinicals but so excited to put everything into practice!I find it a little hard to believe that I now know how to take a comprehensive patient history, can do a full or focused physical exam, and am able to come up with differential diagnoses. It amazes me how much I have learned in a little less than a year.
Another extra tip to all the pre-PA's out there: PA school gets very overwhelming. Our professor's always tell us, "PA school is like putting your mouth around a fire hose and having it turned on full blast." Sometimes I feel like I am drowning in new information, but looking back to last May I can hardly believe how far my classmates and I have come. Despite the stress, I am so incredibly happy to be here. I have some amazing friends in this program and we are always there for each other. I am SO happy with my decision to come to PA school and every second of being overwhelmed and sleep deprived is worth it.
December 9, 2013
It is currently finals week of my second semester of PA School. We have 7 finals this week! After this week, I will already be halfway done with my didactic year! This semester has been truly amazing. I have learned so much that I can hardly believe how much more I know now than I did 16 weeks ago. This semester I had 20 credits that consisted of: Clinical Medicine (focusing on the topics of Cardiology and Pulmonology), Cardiac and Pulmonary Physiology, EKG, Chest X-ray, OBGYN, History and Physical Exam II, Pharmacology and Clinical Problem Solving. Along with these classes, on Monday's I spend all day following a Family Practice MD to get a feel for what it is like to start seeing patient's. My Family Practice mentor that I follow is really awesome and has taught me so many things. I love having the opportunity to get to apply the information I am learning in my classes to a patient setting. Having a mentor and spending one day a week out in the field is something that is pretty unique to CMU's PA program and I am so happy that I get to take part in it!
Another opportunity that I have gotten to take part in this semester is that I got to attend the Michigan Academy of Physician Assistant (MAPA) conference in Traverse City this October. This was a blast!!! Our school provided funding for us to stay in the condos at the site of the conference and meals were provided. I got to sit in on several medical talks, cheer for our team in Quiz Bowl (we took 2nd place), and even got to go wine tasting with some of my classmates. It was really great to spend an entire weekend just learning about my future profession as a Physician Assistant.
So far, I have learned that PA school is very fast paced. At CMU we have 4 semesters of classes before we start our clinical rotations. There is a lot of information being thrown at us in a very short amount of time, but my professors do a great job of organizing everything and making sure that we understand the material before we move on. The key to getting through so much material I have found, is to study every single day. There is always something more to learn! I have also learned to utilize my classmates when studying. We have a small class (41 students) and we all spend a lot of time together. My class has been really great about organizing study groups and I have found group studying to be very beneficial thus far.
My Advice for anybody who is going to be attending PA school or plans to apply: Work hard!!!! It is worth it. Study every day, it will pay off. Also, if you haven't figured it out yet, time management skills are VERY important.
In all, I am so happy that I have chosen this career path and I think the further I get into my didactic year, I will be even happier with my decision
September 3, 2013
Right now is the second week of my second semester. I can hardly believe how fast time has flown by! The first semester ended very well, and I have to say that I am very happy to be done with Anatomy. Most PA students in the classes above me say that Anatomy is the hardest course we take as PA students because of all the time that has to be spent studying in the cadaver lab. I finished 16 credits this summer, and all 41 of my classmates came back for the fall. (which is a good sign I guess ;) ). We had a wonderful 3 week break in August to relax and give our brains a break. I spent every minute back in the UP.
We have 20 credits this semester, so we shall stay very busy! Starting in October we all get to spend 1 day a week doing a "mentorship" where we spend the day with a Physician or PA in their clinic. I will get to spend every Monday with a Family Practice MD in Mount Pleasant. I am very excited for this because it gives me a chance to start applying and practicing some of the skills I have learned.
May 17, 2013:
I started PA school this past Monday, May 13 at CMU. So far, it has been very challenging and they jump into everything very quickly (we already have our first anatomy exam on Tuesday). My class is a group of 41 kids and we have every single class together. The PA staff is very helpful and friendly, and seems like they will go out of their way to make sure we succeed. So far, my classmates have been great as well, and we all collaborate and help each other during our studies. Most of us came straight from undergrad, but there are a few nontraditional students as well. I am really enjoying myself here so far, and am very happy about choosing CMU.