Engaging in Advocacy as a Medical Student

I wanted to write this post last week, but I had to play some serious catch-up with school work instead. I shared a little bit about the conference I attended in D.C. and the amazing celebs I met (!!) but I wanted to let you in about why I attended in the first place and why I think more medical students should be engaged in advocacy.

Prior to medical school, I worked at a policy non-profit in D.C. for three years. Part of my job included meeting with Congressional staff and legislators and running workshops to give high schoolers and adults the skills to be an advocate at the local, state, and federal level. I loved teaching about the basics of government, a little bit about a policy issue, and giving some tips for effective advocacy. [I’ll be back soon with my tips for effective advocacy!]

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Meal Prep in Medical School

I love to cook and there is nothing I enjoy more than ending my day in the kitchen with a glass of wine. But sometimes I’m just too tired or have other things going on at night and don’t get around to making dinner, which means I end up without leftovers to take for lunch. And when that happens, I end up at Panera. Now, don’t get me wrong, I LOVE Panera — I probably eat it a little too much. But I shouldn’t eat it every day, or really any fast casual/fast food on campus — it’s not good for my body and not good for my wallet. To keep myself from eating tomato soup every day, I try to meal prep, at the very least, my lunches for the week every Sunday. A food blogger I am not, so please enjoy this picture of me eating a delicious dessert instead of the horrendous photos I take of the, albeit delicious, food I cook.

Some tips for meal prep newbies:

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Day in the Life MS1: Cardiovascular System

The “pre-clinical” years of medical school are pretty similar at most medical schools — anatomy, basic science courses, and organ modules. No matter how the curriculum works, you spend a lot of time watching lectures and studying in the library. I only have two weeks left of our cardiovascular system module and then it’s Spring Break and our last module of MS1, Neuroscience and Behavioral Science! I had a busier than usual day earlier this week and thought I’d take you through it!

I like to schedule book and video reviews into my daily calendar to make sure I don’t forget!

6:30am Wake up feeling refreshed for the first time in over a week! Grab a big mug of coffee and finish a blog post about exercise and my career change.

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A Glimpse Into My Career Change

A Glimpse Into My Career Change

During my senior year of college, I took a class called Man’s Food, which was a basic nutrition course and it made me question everything I knew about healthy eating. I became a bit too regimented in what I ate for a few months — oatmeal or eggs for breakfast; a sandwich, carrots, and an apple for lunch; and then it was up in the air for dinner– but I lost a good, and needed, 10 pounds. Then I started walking on the treadmill every other day and eventually, ran my first half marathon. It was an incredible accomplishment and also some of the worst physical pain and exhaustion I have ever felt.

My mom and I after my first half marathon at Disney. She kicked butt and I dragged myself across the finish line.

Running 13.1 miles in Orlando in October can be brutal — it was still so hot and humid and my longest training runs had been during D.C.’s lovely crisp fall. But I did it, recovered, and then wanted more. I even convinced a group of colleagues to run a half marathon with me! [Yes, we’re still friends!] I eventually reached a point where I started running less and joined a the gym so I could try out Bodypump class, which I learned about years ago from Julie of Peanut Butter Fingers. I went to that class twice a week until I moved to Philadelphia — the first time I took it, I was so sore I couldn’t walk without pain for nearly a week!

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Did They Really Get Pinned?

Most medical schools have a White Coat Ceremony prior to the start of first year and that is when students put on their white coats for the first time. My medical school does things a bit differently. I’ve actually had my white coat for months now and I’ve been wearing it for clinical and professional experiences. This past weekend was my Pinning Ceremony, which marks my official induction into the medical profession. And I’ve 100% been signing Bye Bye Birdie since the ceremony. [In case you didn’t guess, that’s where the title of this post is from.]

Yes, I’ve been in medical school for over six months now, but I honestly think it made the ceremony more fun! Also, an outdoor ceremony in Miami in August sounds like pure torture — the March sun was warm enough!

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Post Bacc Basics + How it Prepared Me for Medical School

Post Bacc Basics + How it Prepared Me for Medical School

I need to thank the Clare at Fitting It All In for blogging about her experiences in a post bacc premed program. When I learned that this type of program existed for people like me — career-changers who wanted to go to medical school (or other biomedical or health sciences careers) with no science background — I got onto Google and typed in “post bacc premed blog.” Her site was one of the first to come up! Now I’m in medical school after five years in the professional and graduate school worlds, a year in a post bacc, and a glorious year spent as a nanny for the cutest two year old. So, I think it’s time to pay it forward.

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Health Fair + Sunshine in the Florida Keys

It’s nuts that just over a week ago, I was heading down to the Keys and today I’m hanging in the library. I shared a bit on my Instagram, but I wanted to give a more in-depth look at my amazing weekend. It is definitely a perk of attending medical school in Florida that I was able take an exam last Friday morning and then be in Key West by dinnertime.

One of the awesome things about my school is the health fairs that we have around South Florida. Usually once a month, our student-run Department of Community Service operates an all-day fair that offers free health care services in underserved communities — everything from well-woman exams and glaucoma screenings to bone density tests and skin cancer screenings. Students perform a lot of the care alongside resident and attending doctors — it’s an amazing way to learn clinical skills and interact with amazing patients — and then patients meet with a physician to determine a care plan or any necessary referrals.

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How I Study in Medical School

I’ve always been an early riser but I never had to be an early studier — I didn’t have many courses with tests that required memorization in college or graduate school, I wrote a lot of papers. And so it took a lot of trial and error to figure out how to study as I made the transition from a career in public policy and graduate school to memorizing the Krebs cycle and trying to understand anything about physics. Over the course of my post-bac program and studying for the MCAT, I realized that my challenge was the fact that my productivity took a nose dive around 6pm. I could review notes over dinner, but I wasn’t taking new notes or doing serious active studying.

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How I Keep Up With Health Policy Happenings

I may have hit snooze a few times this morning, but eventually I rolled out of bed, made some coffee, and started my morning routine of skimming the news and some journals for about 30 minutes before diving into my study tasks for the day.

I wish I could make this for myself. Italians just do coffee better.

I planned to post a short recap of this mornings offerings on Instagram, but there were just too many great reads that I wanted to share. Here is a brief glimpse at what I’m reading this morning [if I told you what was on every open tab, we’d be here until tomorrow morning]:

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On a Scale of Pass to Fail, Many Medical Schools Fail Students on Health Policy

The U.S. Capitol is a site of health policy discussion and legislative action.

We are in a time when physicians are increasingly speaking the language of health policy and public health — “value-based care,” “co-payment,” “social determinants of health,” “accountable care organization” — and are increasingly asked by patients to ensure that a particular treatment or procedure is covered by their insurance before moving forward. This dizzying list of health policy terms (and the responsibility of a physician to understand the lingo) just keeps growing. And there is no better time to introduce students to this world than in medical school, when they are primed for learning and not yet overwhelmed with patient care.

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