Friday, December 31, 2010

Dangers of eating out

Living in Portland, there is an enormous list of gluten-friendly options.  Check out this site to prove it. I have become a regular at some places and have had good dinners with no issues.  It is easy to forget that I am so sensitive to gluten.  So, the other night we went to one of my favorite Portland chains that was super busy due to the holidays.  We had a couple issues with our plates, but nothing major and they seemed to be receptive to taking care of the gluten bun that came on my plate.  So I ate the dinner staying in my pretend world that nothing can harm me, not even gluten.  Of course later that night, I woke up with an attack of all the symptoms of gluten. For me, this reaction (though not as dramatic as the initial) will last 2 weeks to a month.

The dangerous word for me right now is complacent.  I have been eating out so much, and had no issues that I forget how important and major this is.  Celiac disease is not something to mess with, I do not want to be dealing  with the "hangover" of gluten constantly.  I want my body to be healthy so that I can fight off other bugs that I may be exposed to.  Working in a hospital, that is a very large number of bugs.

Since I am working on saving money, moving back to home made food is relatively easy.  In some ways it feels like defeat to me.  I want to master this gluten and prove (I'm not sure to whom) that I don't have to take any special precautions.  Of course this is wrong, I'm afraid gluten will be in my nightmares forever.  And of course I have to take very special precautions and be very careful every time I order food - even if I am a regular at a place.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Maybe it was too much time spent perusing Student Doctor Network yesterday, or maybe all this is finally sinking in.  I want to give a little more details and maybe some advice on how I got here and how other students can too.

The first part is to do your research, know what requirements the schools have, as well as the type of students they accept.  I did this by spending lots of time on individual school websites as well as AACOM and AMCAS.  I talked to my undergraduate advisor and other students.  I had a bit of a challenge initially since I am not a traditional student, I didn't know many others going through the process.  I was initially ready to apply during the spring of 2009.  I had all of the requirements complete and was waiting for my MCAT result.  The one part that I had not yet researched was my heart, and between some family events and my place in life, I realized that I was not quite ready to apply.

I decided to wait a year and apply in 2010.  That year was not spent waiting at all.  Besides college, it has been my busiest year yet.  I am volunteering with a gluten intolerance group, something that I feel very strongly about.  I am working full time and I found a way to shadow and meet several physicians.  Also in that year, I retook the MCAT.  Sometimes all of these activities led to 14+ hour days filled with writing volunteer emails on my work breaks.  It was exhausting, but very fulfilling!  I learned more than I though possible about the world and about myself.  I have grown more confident and more ready than ever for the next step of medical school.

A couple notes of advice for those who are approaching these steps.
  1. Know who you are and what you are passionate about, you will need to explain this over and over to many different people.
  2. Observe proper etiquette - always.  Send thank you notes to pretty much every person who helps you.  Be respectful to everyone.  For example, MA's can be a good ally if you spend much time in a physicians office. Be especially careful during interviews, you never know who might be in your interview or might have a say (especially in small towns).
  3. Spend time on the details, but don't worry about the details.  For example, edit edit edit all of your essays, especially the primary one.  Make sure you have the correct schools name on the essay or paperwork that you are submitting.  With so many secondaries, I was able to copy and paste a few paragraphs but had to really check to make sure it fit the school's prompt and didn't have a different schools name. 
    1. Dressing for the interview is interesting. Wearing nice, professional clothes, it was hard to feel like myself.  It was hard to choose something that fit my personality.  I also had to learn about business professional dress, I had little idea of the details of it. As a biology major at an oregon school, learning business etiquette and dress was not covered.  We were the ultimate future tree hugers anyways.  As I enter the business"ey" world, I am realizing how important these detials are.  I think it is an area that should be covered for all majors, we all enter the business world after college, no matter our major.
    2. Back to "don't worry about the details."  I hear questions often of "how many activities did you list in your primary?" or "what exactly were the questions asked at this school?".  First, there is no point to compare numbers, it is quality that counts and everyone is unique.  Especially if you are "being yourself" through this process. For the questions, it was nice to have a general idea (espeically of the list 3 positives and 3 negatives of your personality).  Beyond that I found that answering on the spot helped me answer most questions with an insightful answer. 

Friday, November 26, 2010

Three for three

I realize that I need to post here more often. I will work on that, I have no excuses since the business of applying is over.

So, for the news... I got into all three schools that I interviewed at! I felt like I was too blunt in the last 2 interviews, but they still liked me. I guess they could tell that I was being truthful and that I am totally ready to go to medical school. So the big question remains, where will I go next year? I feel blessed that I have the opportunity to make a decision. I thought long and hard about the decision, made a pros and con list of the three schools. What really made the decision was my heart and my boyfriend being okay with it.

And Des Moines University, here I come! I already made the first payment to hold my seat, and I'm trying to get mentally ready for the weather. We will have a move next summer and a "small" trip before that. I plan to use this blog to keep everyone posted about our trip and the adventure of school following.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Thinking back

Right now, things are sailing along smoothly. I just got another interview to Western University of Health Sciences. At times, this seems like it is too easy. When I look back at the long hours, the frustration, and the worry, I realize that I sat everything up and this is just reaping the benefits.

At work I began reading a textbook on Histology and Cell Biology. Sometimes, I have lots of downtime at my new location. Just as I got to page 2, patients began coming in and they didn't stop. Yesterday turned out to be the busiest day ever for my lab! It is good that we are busy, but it was a bit crazy too. I am able to get most of the pokes, even on very tough patients. Of course, I still have a ways to go before I can say that I'm experienced and really good.

Fall is coming, and the rain is beginning. I think I am ready for it. A move to indoors tasks which means organizing and preparing to consolidate and move. Projects that I have left partly finished will get worked on… starting NOW!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010


I got accepted to my first school! Of course that would be Des Moines University. The nagging thought in the back of an applicant's head is, "what if I don't get in anywhere"? I didn't have to wait long to get my answer. One interview and one acceptance under my belt! The most refreshing thought here is that I will eventually be a doctor! At least one school thinks I can make it!

It is still early in the process. I am still considering 3 more schools, all in the Pacific NW. I have an interview next week, and am double checking my other applications to make sure everything has been received. I just noticed that one school hadn't processed my reference letters. That would explain why I haven't heard anything from them in a while. Those double and triple checks are really important.

My plan from here is to interview at a school if I am invited. If I am accepted to any more, I will discuss it with my boyfriend and family. I know that location is very important, staying in the NW is the long term and short term goal. I also want to make sure that the school in the NW won't short me on a quality education. I have a strong feeling that this is possible, I can't wait for the schools to show me what they have to offer!

With this also comes the reality of medical school. It will be a difficult and long trip. Last week, at a pre-medical information meeting, several student doctors talked about their experience in their residencies. The reality of the second half of medical school really sunk in as they told their stories. That reality is: long weeks, always trying your best, almost always in a type of long job interview. I am nervous for this step, but I am sure that I have the support and determination to succeed here as well.

I am tough!!!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Knee Deep

I am going... going... ... to Des Moines, IA this week! Who in their right mind would be excited to go to Des Moines, but I am. I am excited about the school, their programs, and how smoothly things seem to run. I am excited to check out a new city, from what I read, it seems like an up and coming place. The other part is my interview, I have some idea of what it will be like, but a lot of unknowns - especially how I will be able to handle it. :)
I have my outfit, my shoes, I will have a new haircut. I am a new girl since recovering from at least 1, likely 2 bacterias that were attacking me last week. I do have to state how amazing antibiotics are - even though these days there are issues, how could we survive without them?

Maybe part of this excitement is that this is the first real step beyond the paperwork. I am getting closer to my goal. That short term goal is medical school, the long term goal is a life as a doctor in a small town. Having these amazing goals to work towards makes all the difficult paperwork and expense worth every minute. This really is happening!!!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Since the interview is coming up fast and I had a random day off, I decided to look for my suit. Of course, it isn't easy being such a small size to find any professional clothes. (yeah, I know it is a random issue to have). I got lucky today, found this dress and a nice black blazer to go over. Granted, I spent more money than I hoped, but this outfit should last me forever. If the outfit helps boost my confidence, and it helps me get into medical school, then the cost doesn't matter. (I'm not sure if this reasoning really makes sense, but it does in my head).

I am also STILL working on essays. The two Oregon schools are the current two. I wrote a lot today, hopefully can get one sent off tomorrow and the other by the end of this week. There seems to be so much going on that I am having a hard time getting enough quality time to finish these. I can and I will do it.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010


I got my first email inviting me to an interview in September! I am excited, but nervous. I haven't thought about all the details of actually going to an interview. I feel like I have so many things going on this month that I can't catch my breath. I am still working on essays, I have the 2 Oregon schools to complete, and 2 more in the midwest that I think I should apply to as well.
Looking at all this, money is going to be tight for a while. Oh boy. Getting an interview seems like a very good sign, hopefully things will continue to progress this smoothly for the next step as well (getting accepted)!!!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Touching base

Things have been quite crazy lately. Balancing life with these secondary essays and applications. Enjoying every moment of summer and the garden, keeps me outdoors instead of inside writing essays. I am getting there though. I believe I have about 4 more secondaries to submit. The schools I have applied to have sent confirmation emails that my file is complete. Things are moving along smoothly.

I'm off to run some errands before work. I finally got a week to train, gain skills, and most importantly confidence. (and of course a break from my regular location!).

Thursday, July 8, 2010


Working on a new set of essays now. My secondaries all came in at the same time. Of course my internet decided to be flaky that same week. I am on day 11 since receiving these secondary emails. So far I have submitted only one. It is even more tough to be organized for this round. All separate emails, all different requirements. I have discovered a few more applications that only need a picture and no essays. That makes the picture a top priority for me. From there, I am working on the essays one school at a time. These are difficult, I have a different kind of time pressure here... no due date, just ASAP. I want to include enough information without repeating things from my first essay (the most difficult part) and without saying something unnecessary.

I'm getting focused on this. Things should move faster now that I have the first essay done. Time for bed since I just got a call that I am starting work earlier than planned.

Friday, June 18, 2010

It is ALL complete! My application was submitted Sunday. I recieved notification that AMCAS has processed my application. All of my recommendation letters are in and being submitted as we speak. Thank you to those who wrote them for me! I was editing that crazy essay until the minute before I submitted it. It was a relief to have it done, no more going back and editing little picky words. I am quite proud of it too, it really speaks to who I am. It is kind of weird letting someone read it because it seems so personal to me. I think it may be because I am not used to sharing information of who I am, and that really got there.

Another part of the process is my job. I now have patient experience. I see them, I perform a procedure (however simple it may be). I get to talk to them and see the other side of the workings of a laboratory. I am enjoying my new position! There are a few struggles here and there, patients who are tough pokes, and adjusting to a new schedule and new set of people. All in all things are going well. I am excited for the next part of the application process. I am really looking forward to the interview, I hope that I will be able to show my true colors there, and I know that this really is the career for me!

It is finally sunny out today, and warm enough to hang out outdoors. It is also NOT raining for the first time in a week. Portland has recieved 4 inches of rain in the month of June, so far. The rain never seems to end!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Essay time

I forgot how much an essay can be edited. I read it over and over until I have it memorized. Of course I have found several duplicated sentences. Maybe I have been working on it too long since they were almost word for word. I kept one of each and removed the duplicates, the admissions committees probably don't want to read the same thing over and over. I decided to send my essay to a professional editing service. This is worth too much to skimp on the essay. I still have the essay done to my best ability and have gone over it word by word with my boyfriend.

I am ready for this experience. (by the way, that is the key word in my essay) I am excited to move on to my next stage. I am ready for the road trip next summer after I quit my job. I can't wait to begin the school experience. I know it will be hard, but I am sure it will be worth it!

I am stuck waiting for the essay to be edited. I still have a bit more work on some details. I am hoping to turn the thing in by next week! Oh yeah! Time to celebrate with some wine and ice cream.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Uplifting Meetings

I went to a pre-med meeting this week, of course it was about the essay. I got a lot of advice and heard some very good essays written by others. I also got a confidence boost. Having experiences after college seems to enrich my story and give me more ammunition to fire at the committees. The best part is that everything I have done is genuine, and I feel good about where I have come from and where I am going.

I went to another meeting this morning at work. Grand Rounds, a talk about IBS by an MD. This was wonderful to compare with recent talks I have been to by an ND. I learned a lot from both, but I understand the MD reasoning better. I really appreciate the backing of studies behind statements. This talk hit close to home since I am so involved in the gluten free group. The talk got me excited about the path that I am embarking on. I found some time to write down more thoughts on my essay. I am constantly working on it or thinking about it. Luckilly, the thing is taking shape and is now ready for its many revisions.

So much excitement! Plus, this is my last week at my job! Change all around, and all positive!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Getting into the groove

The application is moving along. I have entered the schools that I am applying to. I have all my undergraduate classes from UP entered – and whew, that was a big task! It is strange reliving those semesters. I worked hard all 4 years, I can tell the semesters that I overloaded myself. Not just class work, but 4 labs, crew, a college social life, and a full schedule. I definitely came out of that semester a stronger woman.

Kind of a look back and a look forward. Back was what I mastered in college, the experiences I had, the struggles and the fun. I am looking forward to dreams of surviving med school in an unknown city. Of exploring, of living minimally again and meeting new friends.

I'm also keeping up with my mentor program emails. Procrastinating is becoming more overwhelming to me than actually doing the task. I sent out a couple emails today which turned out to be super easy. I still have small projects ahead, but I'm realizing that keeping up on my emails will make my life significantly more simple. I even made cookies with my adopted celiac today. The sugar cookies turned into snickerdoodles, but they are my most successful cookie yet. Of course, snickerdoodles have been my favorite the past few months.

This weekend is amazingly productive. Lots of paperwork tasks accomplished, and time for ice cream with cookies to finish off the night!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

The application is open!

I thought I was busy before. This week is just a little overwhelming. I am so excited to be able to dig around the applications, but I'm having to pull my organization skills back up. I finally got my transcript requests ready to go tomorrow. I am replying to requests of people who are writing my recommendation letters. The list goes on. I am applying to both allopathic and osteopathic schools, which means I get to fill out 2 separate applications. I am trying to manage the parts together so that when I have information for one topic out, I complete the same section in both.

Of course it wouldn't be fair for me to have just one thing happen this week. Last Saturday was the food fair for the local Gluten Intolerance group. I have a lot of small projects staring at me here too. I know how important communication is from the view of the one being communicated to. From the other side, it is a lot of work – not only the email note itself but deciding how much people want to hear and how often. So far, it seems like I am under communicating. This is another area for me to figure out a good system of organization and keep it going.

The most talked about topic of the application is the essay. Now I know why. I wrote a strong application for a nursing program a couple years ago. I did get accepted into the program, but that essay is missing so much of my story that I have decided to start fresh. So far, I am trying to go backwards into the essay. I can picture what I want it to be like and I wish I had something to proof. How do I write an essay that stands out, but talks about ME. I don't usually talk myself up, which makes this essay all the more difficult. I am still in the brainstorming and writing phase. Talking with both my boyfriend and mom this week has helped. Simply talking about the subject brings out ideas and themes for me to try out. My question of the day is: how does one put into words, that emotion and desire for wanting to be a physician?

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Quick note.

I am continuing to feel successful about this process. Everyone I talk to lately is enthusiastic about my medical school application process. I have officially asked one person for a letter, 5 to go. I also have some pretty packets prepared for 3, I am quite proud of them (thanks for the help, Jarrett). Maybe asking one person a day will be best for me so I don't get overwhelmed.

Of course, I'm writing this from Starbucks, working on my "second job" of my mentor program. I have a never ending amount of work and emails to send to keep things going. I really wish I had another day in my week to devote to this program. It is exciting that I do have positive feedback from several people, that the program is working. It is so wonderful that I am able to make some impact in this area before I get a medical degree.

Things are moving, not much to report, but it feels like it is moving faster than I am ready for.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Sitting here at work, half working - half continuing my break. It has been a rough night - actually day. I got here at 9:30 to get a latte before I started my "late" shift. I got a random text along with my latte notifying me that a co-worker called in sick again. I told my boss that I would cover this shift if she did again. So, here I am 10Pm and tired as can be. My morning between 9:30 and 3pm was productive, however. I got started reading my phlebotomy text. The first step to my new position! (The new position that won't require these odd shifts with notification after I'm already here).

I am getting all the paperwork and leg work done for professors and co-workers to write my letters of recomendation. I just got the details worked out with UP advisors and will get the packets ready to go for next week. That will give my references 1 and a half months to write my letters and get them to UP.

I also did some research into the schools I plan to apply to. Looks like about 20 total, although a few still need more website investigations before they are for sure. I'll post that list sometime soon. In that I also came across details information for the upcoming application that opens May 3rd.

I can feel my adrenaline pumping harder these last few days. This is really happening, the applications aren't available to fill out yet, but I am preparing for everything that I can. I like to be prepared, and look back at where I was in this process a year ago. I was studying for the MCAT and had no idea where I was going to apply. Good thing I waited. This year, my grades and numbers are the same, but my resume and confidence are dramatically stronger. I don't just have the regular education and volunteer experience. I have more, a long-term job in a lab, (will have direct patient care with Phlebotomy), gained leadership and much more with my mentor program... and the list goes on.

After days like today, I look forward to being a physician. I know the long days will become more common, but the problems (or at least paths to the solution) will be different. When I make I call, I will actually have the authority to get my point across. Hopefully I will actually be paid appropriately for the work I do as well. I am currently working on a project that a supervisor should be doing, I like these kind of projects and know I will get a successuful outcome, but the project is larger than the expectations of my position.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Moving Faster

Thinking back to last week, SO very much has changed. The original plan for school was to continue working in Client Services, my current job in the lab until I got in to medical school. From a simple conversation with my Manager last Monday, I was offered a job in Phlebotomy on Wednesday. The biggest twist of this is that I have not yet drawn anyone. I am familiar with the job, but I have not done any of it yet. Everyone I know who is a phlebotomist is sure that I will not have any problem learning it. I am still a little anxious though. (And I should be working on my application for it instead of writing.)

In terms of Med school, this will give me the first hand, and hands on experience that will move me to another level. I still have the average scores, but I am confident that I have a strong experience set. I am beginning to set up my file at UP, the first step of paperwork in this process. I am so excited! I am basically giddy all the time about how things are turning out.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Shadowing and Lessons Learned

Things have been busy lately. Between working full time and shadowing for a couple weeks, I have barely been able to catch up with myself. Of course last week, I went to Reno with my friend Emily to get away for the weekend. It was a great time, we played and got some gambling in. I also learned a lot about medicine, more about that later.

What I got out of shadowing will definitely help me with interviews. One doctor kept saying that he might change my mind about going into the profession. All that shadowing did, was affirm to myself that this is what I want to do. The last round of shadowing, I followed a Gastroenterologist, a General Practitioner and an Oncologist. I felt that I got a good view of medicine. I was able to glean a few medical conditions and words, but simply observing how they handled different patients and what their typical day consisted of. The Gastroenterologist had a tight schedule with as many patients as she could fit in, and half of her day consisted of doing procedures. She saw specialized problems, although most were the same types of things, all to deal with the gastrointestinal tract (of course). The General Practitioner had long term patients, whom he saw through to end of life care; dealt with lipid management and general health. The Oncologist was the most interesting. She followed patients through their diagnosis of cancer and afterwards. During their cancer, she sees them usually every 3 weeks (all depending on the type of cancer they are diagnosed with). She talks to them to make sure their medicines are working as they should, then does a general exam and Okays them for their Chemotherapy. It is amazing how far the science of treating cancer patients has come in recent years, from 2 types of Chemo, to many – which can be specific to the type of cancer they treat and therefore give the patients with fewer side effects. I do have to say that Oncology would be a rewarding profession, although it would be very very challenging to cope with the emotional aspects as a physician or as a person. Overall, all of my shadowing experiences have been rewarding and I feel have prepared me well for my next step in this, which will be the application.

So, on to the Reno adventure… It ties in with my Celiac Disease and issues I have been having lately with my health. I got sick on Saturday morning, more than just a hangover, and it got worse throughout the day. Of course the medication I had discussed with my doctor was back at home in Portland. After a point I decided to go to an urgent care, but the friend who was with me decided that an ER was closer. I was miserable enough to not care; I just wanted some fluids and meds to manage the pain. I ended up having a really long wait, and having to beg to get any kind of attention at all (like the meds I had been promised when I checked in). I finally did what I should have done before I left the hotel, which was to call the on-call physician from a clinic in Portland. I quickly told him my story, and the 2 types of drugs that I needed. He checked my chart and called them in to a pharmacy that was close-by. Everything ended up working out just fine for me, and I was even able to get a little gambling in that evening with Emily. I am out a few hundred dollars from that mistake, and a little pride. I also learned my lesson about what medical help is available during the weekends, even if I am far away from home.

Monday, February 8, 2010

So it begins...

I have been working on this process for quite some time. In college I loved learning about plants and Ecology, so I figured I would go in that direction. Since college, I have discovered how much potential and wonder is in the health care field. It is a direct way to care for others as well as to bring science into my daily life.
I work in a hospital laboratory and so see the background scenes of health care. I also have volunteer and shadow experience to see the front lines of medicine. I have average grades from college and MCAT scores. This is due to the fact that I chose the difficult Professors and classes over the easy ones because my focus was on learning over grades. These average grades plus above average medical experiences should hopefully get me to my short term goal of getting into medical school. I am excited to see what the future brings and to share it on this blog!