Free Book- Iserson's Getting Into A Residency (with bonus thank you cards!)

I know, I know.... I just can't stay away from this blog. I am moving in just a few weeks and have a few things that I will no longer need and am trying to find suitable homes for. Case in point, this book!

Isersons-Getting into Residency (amazon)

Today is your lucky day because you my dear reader can have it for free, free I tell you!

A friend recommended this and while I found it fairly useful I only wish I would have gotten it before 4th year. I think early in the clinical years is the perfect time....

Leave me a comment if you have a blog or profile with email that I can notify you by. Otherwise email me (see my profile for my email address). Deadline is Memorial Day- May 27th. 

I will have a drawing and the winner will get Iserson's plus a brand new pack of Thank You cards because I want you to have it all.

P.S. If you are interested I may have other clinical give aways. Pocket surgery cards or The Sanford Guide to Antimicrobials, anyone?


my bags are packed, i'm ready to go....

Medical school is over and this blog title doesn't really apply any more. It is time for me to move on. I will continue to blog over at http://neurochick-kiddoc.blogspot.com and hope you will join me.

Thank you for reading and commenting.

Spice Island Queen


Addendum: Reflections of a a medical student who went abroad for her MD

I have wanted to write a post about what it was like to be an IMG and the pros/cons of going off-shore for an MD for some time. Yes, officially I am done with this blog but for those future SGUers that may be reading later or lurking this post is for you...

My List of 10 Things to Consider:

1. SGU or another Caribbean medical school (but be careful because they are not all created equal) offers you a chance to earn your MD, a CHANCE to become a doctor. Getting accepted and going to SGU is by no means a guarantee that you will achieve your dream. I think this is an important point to make and for future and contemplative students to understand. I could tell you about a boy that came to SGU but left after a term because it was just too hard, I could tell you about a girl that left her fiancé to attend medical school and could not figure out how to be in a relationship with 1500 miles between her and her betroved. I know a student that left and is now in PA school. I personally know several people that despite graduating are unmatched and trying to figure out a way to secure residency in 2014. The say the hardest part of medical school is getting in. That may be true for US schools but I would not same the same for SGU.

2. Medical school is hard. You have to want it. And you have to be doing it for yourself. Otherwise, see above.

3. Even if you succeed and graduate, you MAY NOT MATCH. This is the truth and it is sucks. So if you have options, are young or simply don't want to be in this situation figure out how to get into a US Medical School. Go to DO school. Get into a medical masters program and try again. Being an IMG is a disadvantage and unfortunately this situation is only going to get worse.

4. You are one of many. The class sizes are large and growing each semester. There were 418 students at my white coat ceremony and another 86 that joined us second year from the Global Scholars Program in the UK. That means I am one of 500+ students in my term. The good- you can find your own click, study group, friends, out of 500+ this just happens. The bad-you never know everyone, you may rotate with fellow classmates that you never knew on the island. The professors and faculty will not know you unless you happen to do research (which is no small feat during the basic science years) or go to office hours incessantly. Individual attention is not going to be given to you so if you need small class sizes or personal help think twice before choosing SGU.

5. Your medical school only exists as an umbrella. Once you leave Grenada there is no campus, no SGU events or official student get togethers. You must seek out your own mentors and get advice on how to apply for which residency. For me this was not much of an issue as I was already decided that I would do Child Neuro and Dr. Boyfriend had gone through the whole process so I had support and mentors from my past research job, etc. For some students this was difficult and they struggled figuring out what they were going to do, what to apply for, how many program to apply to, etc. US medical schools tend to have academic advisors and small groups of students that meet throughout the four years and this type longitudinal support is lacking at SGU.

6. Medical school is DIY. I am sure that this is somewhat true for all medical schools but being an IMG in a class of 500+ students accentuates this aspect. There is no personalized instruction or mentoring. Sure you have an assigned faculty advisor but this is mainly lip service. I  was able to meet with mine a total of two times in two years.  One of the meetings was a lunch for all of the advisees. My advisor did not know my name. When I emailed him, his secretary responded. I had friends that had slightly more involved academic advisors but it really comes down to the fact that there are SO MANY students and that you are only on the island for two years. Resources are limited in this regards. Once I left the island I thought maybe I would find a clinical mentor but since I rotated at nine different hospitals and was continually moving this was a difficult proposition.

7. You have no medical center home.  I was continuously changing hospitals during my clinical years.  I rotated in county, state, community, private, and inner-city hospitals and saw a variety of patient populations. In doing so I learned different ways of accomplishing similar tasks. I believe this was a huge advantage and as I interviewed for residency I was able to apply my knowledge of different programs and know what I was looking for. Learning a new computer system or finding my way around the hospital was no longer a daunting task but simply part of each new rotation. Sure it was a pain to live out of a suitcase and move every 4-12 weeks but I liked the variety and exposure. For some, this is a disadvantage and there are work arounds.  Note, you can choose to stay in one area but if you do this then you are limited to some of the less desirable places to train, in my opinion. I think moving around gives you a more diverse education better chance to network, etc. This worked for me but it was not always ideal.

8. You get to live in a foreign county. This was good and bad. I loved the experience and enjoyed Grenada. Many of my classmates did not. I missed my grandmother's funeral. I missed many birthday parties, weddings and family Holidays. There was no option of going "home for the weekend". This means that I was freed from many social obligations but it also meant I missed out on those special family moments. I lived away from my husband for two years and we joked about our "marriage by skype" this worked for us, but it was difficult.

9.  You will most likely enter primary care or IM. This is simply a fact. If you desire to become a neurosurgeon or a dermatologist than SGU is not for you. Sure a token few in the top 5% of the class will match into a couple of highly competitive residencies but the vast majority (over 70%) are going into Family, IM and Pediatrics. Surgery, ER and anesthesia are possible but very competitive. This is the reality of becoming at IMG. (Note-I based my calculations on the 2013 match list with a denominator of approximately 700.)

10. You will be in debt (unless you are a trust fund kid or have independent wealth of course). This is really not unique to SGU as all private medical schools are expensive but living in a foreign country and having to move around during 3rd/4th year adds to the expense. My medical school debt is over $350,000. I just finished my exit loan counseling and my monthly loan payments will be over $2000 (which is the graduated 20 year plan.  Note, you do have the option to defer these loans during residency and accumulate more interest or pay based on salary but these options only apply to Federal Stafford loans not any Direct Plus or private loans you may have taken to subsidize expenses or apply to residency, etc.)  Also note #9. As a PCP you will not make the big bucks to pay off your loans so unless you do a loan forgiveness program you will most likely be paying off your education for a very long time. I never really thought of this aspect or spent too much time worrying about the debt that medical school requires as money was not my reason for choosing the field. Yet I now believe this topic is worth the mental exercise.

If you can be happy doing something else, do it. If not, well then choose carefully, have a plan and may luck be with you!


The End...

The time has come. This is good-bye.

It is hard to believe that I started this blog over four years ago. It hardly seems possible that so much time has passed. I went to Grenada. I came back to the States. I took Step 1 and 2 and CS and did my clinical rotations. My grandmother passed away. My father had heart surgery. We got a puppy and he turned one. I figured out what I wanted to be when I grow up. I applied and matched into what I believe will be be perfect residency program for me. I made amazing life-long friends while I ventured to a foreign country and back. I regret none of it and would do it again in an instant.

Medical school is over. Complete. No more. I don't even think I know what that means. Someone called me "Doctor" yesterday and I started to correct him but then as I thought about it, well technically.... wow. I don't think that has sunk in yet. I mean I feel that I am done with being a student. But am I ready to be Neuro Chick-Kid Doctor? I don't know but I hope so?!?! Regardless of how I feel I WILL be. And in just seven weeks time.

I finished my last rotation and today I get my diploma (officially it is dated today, I won't actually get it in the mail for another week I suspect.) The graduation ceremony is still a month away but by then I'll have moved to Texas and started residency. So this is it.

I don't have anything profound to write or an amazing finish for this blog. But thank you for reading and accompanying on me over the past four years.

I do plan to continue blogging and will post a link to my new blog soon but for now, good bye. I am signing off. Cheers!


Not a fairy tale but something like that

Life may not have fairy tale endings of happily-ever-after.


Plus, there is happiness if you know where to look.

I have just two days of medical school left and I recently found out that my first medicine patient is home and no longer on dialysis. This is good news, the best news possible! I expected for him to be on a kidney transplant list or worse by now. But instead he is living his life and his kidneys are functioning well enough to allow him to skip dialysis. He is so young and has so much life ahead of him. I can only hope that he gets to live it.

I also found out that one of my neurosurgery patients is making amazing progress at rehab. Prior to being a neurosurgery patient he was an amazing, smart, able-bodied father and grandfather. And then he fell off a ladder while doing some home repairs. He left the hospital with very limited control of one extremity and was largely non-communicative with a trach and G-tube in place. I  really didn't know know what kind of life he would live again.  However he is now in a wheelchair, wheeling himself around, as well as eating and talking. I saw a video of him yesterday and could not believe it was the same patient that graced the service the entire month I was on.

I am so glad I have some happy patient stories to end medical school with. (I have plenty of not so happy endings to share too, but not today.)

Today is about reflecting on the good.

The amazing, brave and resilient patients I have met.
The thoughtful and helpful nurses and staff.
The dedicated professors and attendings.
The mentors that have taken the time to inspire and help me become who I am today.
My wonderful support system: my husband, my parents, my dear friends.

I did not get here by myself. The end of medical school is around the corner but it is not my celebration alone. I appreciate everyone who helped me along the way. There were dragons and they were slain.

Life may not be about fairy tale endings but my end of medical school is happily-ever-after or close enough to it for me.