New Zealand Map

365 Days of (Mobile) Photos – Week 4

July 20 – July 26

iPad2 Keyboard
Day 22: Anniversary gift - keyboard case for the iPad. Useful and awesome!
Wrigley Thief
Day23: Sleep spot high-jacked while I was brushing my teeth. Crafty ball of fur he is...but, I'm bigger and have opposable thumbs.
Chili's Gift Card
Day 24: Date night at Chili's with a gift card from our family. They rock.


Text Mesage
Day 25: Best "good morning" text ever.
New Zealand Map
Day 26: This map took over our office wall a while ago, but today it became official - we booked our flights! We have talked about going here since we met and in December we get to. So excited. So blessed!!
Sheridan's Ice Cream
Day 27: Our favorite ice-cream place!
Sad Puppy Dog Eyes
Day 28: Think he practices sad puppy dog eyes in a mirror while we're not home?


ER24 South Africa EMS

Medical School in South Africa

Medical School in South Africa

I am beyond excited to have Medical Education Monday back this week with Renate from “The Regatta” as our guest. Renate is a 20 year old South African medical student in her second year of medical education. She is interested in Pediatric Surgery, but makes sure to let me know that at this stage in her education she has a lot left to experience and is keeping an open mind. Renate speaks two languages fluently (English & Afrikaans), knows enough German to get around and is in the process of learning a couple more languages in order to better communicate with her future patients. How are ALL of my Med Ed Monday guest posters so talented? They never cease to amaze me. When she’s not suffocating underneath a pile of heavy, international edition medical textbooks or practicing a new language, she enjoys swimming, quilting and playing the flute. Thanks for stopping by to read about Medical School in South Africa, if you have questions, feel free to shoot me an email or contact Renate directly!

But first, vote in the poll from yesterday! Pretty please. 🙂

[polldaddy poll=5261349]

ER24 South Africa EMS
Photo Courtesy of Flickr CC User: ER24 EMS (I chose this picture because I found it really awesome that South Africa's first responder team drives the same model of car as me).

Getting In:
How old is one when they begin medical school?
The majority of students study medicine straight out of high school or a couple of years after high school. Most people are around 18 years old when they begin medical school.
What exams does one have to take to get in?
The prospective med student must pass the National Senior Certificate (aka “Matric,” “Grade 12,” or “The Standard 10” if you happen to belong to an older generation) with university exemption.
Is there any required pre-requisite coursework?
You must have both Science and Maths as matric subjects.
Is it a competitive occupation?
Yes, getting into med school is really tough! You must be a top student (85-90% average for matric, preferably 90% or more). Community service can also help. All students applying for med school must fill in what they call a “Value Added Form” (this always made me feel like a taxable object) which covers all extra-mural activities, leadership positions, extra qualifications, etc. There are also all sorts of rumours regarding quota systems for student intake divided on the basis of ethnic groups. I have no idea whether these rumours have any factual basis or not, it’s simply another interesting part of living in South Africa!
What are you called at this stage of training?
One very stressed high school student!

Being In:
How long is it?
The MBChB degree takes 6 years.
How are the years broken down?

  • The first six months of first year are devoted to basic sciences (chemistry, physics, biology) as well as a bit of philosophy, sociology, medical terminology.
  • The second six months of first year and the entire second year the medical student painfully acquires knowledge in the area of the basic medical sciences like Physiology, Anatomy, Immunology, etc.
  • Third and fourth year, as well as the first six months of fifth year, are devoted to more clinical knowledge.
  • From fourth year onwards the student rotates through different sections of various hospitals for morning rotations. In the afternoons there are lectures and evenings are for studying.
  • The second semester of fifth year and the entire sixth year is spent in the hospital as a student intern, once again rotating through hospitals and departments.

Note: This describes the medical program at my university. This is not necessarily applicable at all South African medical schools!

Describe your typical day.
I’m in second year right now, so my day is not particularly exciting! We usually have lectures from 8:00 until 13:00. Lunch break is from 13:00 until 14:00, followed by practicals or tests on some afternoons, depending on the schedule of my particular group. Usually we’re done by 16:00.
This does change periodically though, depending on what block we’re doing! For instance, during anatomy block we finished at 5 ‘o clock in the afternoon almost every single day, while in Block 1 (the very first block at med school) we would often finish at one ‘o clock and be home in time for lunch!
If you choose a specialty, when do you have to decide by?
I’m only second year, so I’m not totally sure. Our undergraduate degree is six years. However, before a doctor can practice in private practice or specialise, we have to complete 2 years of internship as well as 1 year of community service. (Also known unofficially as “Zuma years”, not so affectionately named after President Jacob Zuma, who may or may not have had a hand in prolonging this time period.) As far as I know, any time during the Zuma years is a good time to apply for a specialty position.
What are you called at this stage of training?
While completing the MBChB degree you are known as a med student or student intern (during the last year and a half.)

Getting Out:
What exams do you have to take?
Uhm…Finals? I don’t think we have a fancy name like USMLE…
Do most people graduate?
According to the upbeat and encouraging “welcome to med school” speech that we had to suffer through on the first day of med school, yes, most people do graduate. (I can’t remember all the statistics they bombarded us with!) Having said that, not all students finish the degree in six years.
When are you finally considered a “doctor?”
Once you have completed the six year MBChB degree, then you are a doctor. However, you cannot move into private practice or specialise until you have completed the “Zuma years.”
Do you have additional training or do you start working immediately?
Zuma years are paid work, although I’m told the pay is not very good.
What’s the average debt for attendance?
Lots! I’m not actually sure what the precise number is. Working on a very generalized average, it would cost about R20 000 ($2,953.40 USD) per year of study, which would work out to about R120 000 ($17,720.40 USD).
Is the job security good?
In South Africa, there are not enough doctors for the population, so you should always be able to get a job. It might be somewhere really rural though!
Other random facts:
What the USA call residents we call registrars. Attendings are consultants.

Other Medical Education Monday Posts: Announcement – I Need Your Help!

A few weeks ago, while I was consumed with memorizing what causes a left shift on the O2 Dissociation Curve, I received an email that made me giddy with excitement and overwhelmed with gratitude., a site I’ve frequented many times since deciding to apply to medical school, contacted me asking if I’d consider coming onto their team as a weekly blog contributor. I am ecstatic to have this opportunity and can’t wait to get started over there.

The blog there will be separate from Mind On Medicine and, among other things, I’ll be writing more about topics related to being a woman in medicine. Don’t worry, though – this blog isn’t going anywhere! This is still my personal outlet and I’ll be here just as much, but I’d love to have your support and encouragement as I get started as a contributor for this rockin’ resource.

In the mean time, I would love it if my awesome Mind On Med readers would help me choose a name for the new MomMD blog! Vote for one of the options below, or add a new one. If you come up with something great, I’ll definitely add it to the options!

Later on I’ll announce the winner and let y’all know where you can find me on MomMD!

[polldaddy poll=5261349]

365 Days of (Mobile) Photos – Week 3

July 13 – July 19

Day 15: Passed USMLE Step 1!! Finally officially a 3rd year! Glad that's over...
Day 16: Sign on our coffee bar reminding us that, like the Bible verse says, with caffeine all things are possible. ... Wait, I think I may be mis-quoting that.
Day 17: Date night! Who's that handsome guy standing next to me? Maybe I can con him into marrying me.
Day 18: Ritual weekend visit to Red Box.
Day 19: Call day coffee care of gift card from my little sister (no patient info was shared in the staging of this photo - blank form is totally HIPAA compliant).
Day 20: Anniversary flowers from the hubby.

Day 21: Wonder how many packs of G-2s I'll have to pay for before I finally learn not to leave pens lying around in the hospital...

A Medical Student’s Role

Medical Student Role
Photo Courtesy of Ambro

As a medical student on the inpatient Internal Medicine floor my job is not just to learn about history-taking and practice my physical exam skills, it’s to be a part of the team caring for real, live patients. I actually have the chance to make a difference. Since I’m a noob I am usually only assigned to a couple of patients at a time. This small patient load plus my low magnitude of responsibility means I have the time to sit down with people and tell them, in layman terms, what their diagnosis and plan is.

I’ve had two patients in as many weeks specifically ask me if I could be their doctor. While I know that the patient’s health would be severely at risk if I were their primary caregiver, it is eye-opening when a patient grabs your arm and thanks you for explaining their diagnosis in terms they could understand.  What this tells me is that patient’s value our time as much as they value our knowledge.

As I continue in my career and get more accustomed to the lingo and ways of medicine I hope that I can hold on to the ability someone new to medicine has to educate in understandable terms. I want always remember how much patients value our time and dedicate myself to efficiency in other areas so I can still devote an acceptable amount of time to patient questions and concerns.

What has become most apparent to me in the past two weeks is that patients are confused. They don’t understand their conditions, which is terrifying to them. I’ve seen that if I can give them my undivided attention for even 5 minutes and hear their concerns and questions I can play a huge role in putting their mind at ease. So, while I know I will not have this much freedom in terms of time as my future responsibilities continue to expand, I hope that I can focus my care on ensuring my patients are informed and involved.

The role of a medical student on the healthcare team is undeniable. While I know it may be scary to have someone as young and new as me offering you healthcare, as a patient you should take advantage of the person in the short white coat…they have time to give you and are in a unique position to directly relay information to your doctor. I enjoy talking to you, I enjoy answering your questions and I have a true desire to improve your quality of care.

I truly adore sitting down with patients and ensuring they understand what’s going on. It overjoys me to hear a patient tell my attending “that girl right there…she explained this to me and I feel like I can go home and deal with it now.”  Statements like this don’t make me happy because the attending may take a mental note for my clerkship evaluation, but because, for the first time since I started my journey into medicine, I finally feel like I’ve actually made a difference in someone’s life.

365 Days of (Mobile) Photos – Week 2

July 6 – July 12

Day 8: Homemade fajitas with sautéed veggies and tomatoes from Granny’s garden. Delicious.
Day 9: I’m not a doctor, but I play one on TV…and by TV I mean my imagination.
Day 10: Dinner at the Dean’s house.
Day 11: In honor of my first “on call” day of Internal Medicine – the scrubs vending machine.
Day 11: Dinner on the back patio with hubby and dogs = 100x better than a candlelit dinner inside.
Day 13: Sweet puppies…I feel sorry for people who never know the happiness of a dog that becomes part of the family.
Day 14: Homemade scones (some orange, some cinnamon) for Step 1 score release day.

We Have A New Home!

Photo Credit to Ambro

Mind on Medicine has FINALLY moved over to it’s new WordPress home.

If you’re reading this in a reader you probably didn’t even notice. If you will, I’d love for you to click on out of your reader and come see the new crib and let me what you think!

I still have some furniture rearranging, unpacking and bug-exterminating to do, but I think I have the majority of the large issues covered. If you find a broken link or something else that seems off or isn’t working, please let me know!

Your subscriptions should redirect, if you notice an problem, please tell me so I can look into it!! Email subscriptions won’t change…so nothing special you need to do there.

I hope you like the new site, I’m looking forward to being able to interact with you all more efficiently around here. If you have any amazing suggestions for making the most of WordPress, let me know…and in the mean time, I’m still learning my way around, so bare with me if you can!

What Kind of Doctor Do You Want To Be?

Photo Credit: digitalart

Since the day I started medical school…actually probably more accurately since the day I started telling people I wanted to go to medical school…people have been asking me what kind of doctor I want to be and I have been giving them a generic answer of “I really don’t know, but today I’m interested in XYZ.”

Understandably, the further I get into school the more common this question becomes and, ironically, the more fabricated my answer becomes. 

Simply put – I have no idea…but I feel this distressing compulsion to come up with something I think I might do just to keep from sounding like my life has no direction.

Likely due to some cruel joke the universe has decided to play on the already tortured medical students of the world, many of us get to our 19th year of school and still have no idea what we want to be when we grow up. 

Sure, as first and second years most of us can blurt out some random specialty we think we might enjoy but, by and large, nobody knows for sure what kind of doctor they really want to be until at least part of the way through third year…and the ones who think they know usually end up changing their minds.

I know I like Pediatrics, I think I will like Ob/Gyn and Reproductive Endocrinology and I had fun in the ER last summer…but how do I know I’m not better at surgery or psychiatry? 

That’s where 3rd year comes in. 

This year is hands on – we get to experience the ins and outs of six different clerkships (Internal Medicine, Psychiatry, Ob/Gyn, Surgery, Family Medicine, Pediatrics) and some of their various sub-specialties and decide the pros and cons of each before committing to one or the other.

So, half-way through each of my rotations I’ll share what I’ve learned about the service I’ve been on that month and, as we move through the next year, you will all get to experience the process of deciding on the rest of my life with me. Lucky you. Don’t act like you’re not pee-your-pants-excited to witness this.  

And, hopefully, by this time next year I’ll have a better answer than “a doctor” when someone asks me “What do you want to be when you grow up?” 

365 Days of (Mobile) Photos – Week 1

June 29, 2011 – July 5, 2011
Day 1: View I woke up to this morning, spoiled much?

Day 2: First snow cone of the year & it’s almost July…how!?

Day 3: New baby niece, Jaycee – 9 days old and completely precious. 🙂
We had a nice little swing outside, she’s such a happy baby!!

Day 4: Newest member of the family…”Max” (father-in-law’s puppy).
Day 5: Horse races at Harrah’s Louisiana Downs!
Day 6: Granny (mother-in-law’s mom) sent us home with lots of
delicious, home-grown veggies…so excited to cook with them!!

Day 7: First day of 3rd year – back to school for orientation.

Life As I Know It…

is about to drastically change.

My job is no longer simply learning about the basic science of disorders and regurgitating answers on exams…starting next week I get my first real taste of what a doctor does. 

My first clinical rotation is Internal Medicine and I am very excited to see the ins and outs of hospital work. I’m ready to get into the nitty gritty of what I came to medical school for in the first place – patient care. 

Original Photo Courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons user Plutor

A few things I need to tackle before next week:

  1. Clinic Clothes: The past two years I have mostly been able to get by with hole-ridden jeans, casual t-shirts, and Toms. Starting next week I will be dressing nice on an almost daily basis and it’s high time I hunt down a wardrobe that doesn’t make me feel like I’m playing dress-up in my mom’s church clothes every day. 
  2. Confidence:Confidence is a huge part of success – you’re entirely more likely to be taken seriously, to learn and to accomplish if you’re confident in your abilities to do so. I’m trying to stay cognizant of the fact that I’ve come a long way in the last two years and maintain an attitude of humbleness, while reminding myself that I am capable.
  3. Sleep Schedules: hate getting up early (I know…wrong profession), but it’s much easier when I’m doing it on a schedule. Some medical students claim to sleep 4 or 5 hours a night and well, that just won’t work for me. I need a reasonable amount of sleep or my brain literally feels like a fog machine…and we all know an 80’s dance party is no place to learn the art and science of doctoring.
  4. Time Management: As I discussed earlier my time is no longer my own and, as such, it is going to be absolutely pivotal for me to maintain schedules of time management in order to keep spending as much time as possible with my husband. I also want to make sure I have adequate study time and free-time to devote to my furry children and to this blog. I should probably also work towards devoting a little time to some form of …*gasp*…exercise (not that I want to or anything). So, scheduling and efficiency becomes my newest obsession.

And, because I have no witty or creative way to end this post, I’d like to put it out there that I was carded while buying a 5-Hour Energy yesterday. 

From this experience I learned two things:

  1. Must be 18 to buy energy drinks.
  2. I look somewhere in the vicinity of...”I just got my driver’s license!” years old. 

I know, everyone older than me is saying “you’ll appreciate it when you’re 50,” but people have been telling me that since I was driving myself to restaurants and still getting the “12 & Under” kid’s menus and it’s never made me feel better.

Right now all it does is make me think that I’ll be a 30-year old doctor pregnant with my first child and still getting the stank eye from old ladies for being pregnant before I can buy lottery tickets.

And, just so this is a completely random, how about you share some tips with me as I go into 3rd year? I’d love to hear your advice!

2nd Photo Courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons user rynosoft (attributed here due to Blogger formatting issues).