Tuesday, March 30, 2010

tuesday potpourri

here we are again
normally, i am pretty much the polar opposite of an insomniac. but every time i work these late shifts, i have a lot of trouble adjusting to my new time frame. the biggest issues for me include:

light. we have a very sunny apartment (typically a plus), and i just can't deal with the sun streaming in through the window in the morning! i think i need to get a sleep mask. yes, i realize it is ridiculous to realize this at the 11th hour of residency, but whatever.

hunger. working until 2 am means more hours awake = more hours to be hungry. luckily, the emergency dept is stocked full of snax (in addition to the sustenance that i tote along with me!). even so -- some alarm inside me rings at 6 or 7 AM and i'm ravenous . . . but still completely exhausted. a battle then ensues between my whimpering GI tract and sleep-starved neurons. i guess i could get up, eat, and pass out again, but i've never been able to do that. in the AM, once i'm up, it's all over.

but: i have to say that there are some positives to this backwards lifestyle. like right now: i'm caffeinated and happy, with 7.5 hours still ahead of me to get things done during the daylight hours. i'm about to head out for an easy run in the sparkling sunlight while everyone else (it seems) is at work. i certainly wouldn't want to do this all the time -- i'd miss josh too much! -- but work that's crunched into the end of one's day isn't necessarily such a bad thing. with enough sleep, it could be downright pleasant. temporarily.

look, eye candy! or arm candy?

from orla kiely's spring/summer 2010 look book:

big beautiful bags

perfectly pretty accessories


formspring fever
i'm determined to get through my question stash! here are some studying/medical themed questions that have arrived lately.

[you can still submit anonymous ?s here: anonymous formspring page. but if you don't care about anonymity, email me! i'll get back to you much faster!]

It's always a relief to hear that someone who is currently successful in their field struggled with organic chemistry! I'm having a tough time with it. Along those lines, what study strategies did you have in undergrad and med school? Also (because I am an organization, paper and pen geek), how did you keep everything organized and what were your "school supplies"?

yep -- hated organic and wasn't good at it (interesting how those two things usually go hand in hand, huh?). in the end, help from a wonderful friend who is extremely gifted in the area (she is now an actual organic chemist . . . doing her postdoc at harvard, no less -- thanks again, e.!) was one of the main things that got me through! so if you have friends who ARE good at organic, having them work through problems and explain things to you can be helpful. bonus: the extra repetition may help them as well.

i SUCK at visualizing compounds and manipulating images in my head -- just can't do it. and i'm pretty certain that i never will be able to -- i think i'm missing some sort of spatial 'chip' in my brain! in order to make up for problems on tests i would inevitably get wrong, i focused on honing the areas that i COULD perform in to make up for it. ie: learning the concepts behind what drives various reactions even if i couldn't draw the end-product. this kind of understanding coupled with some hardcore memorization allowed me to do okay (not stellar, but okay) in organic chemistry and got me through the MCAT. the same could probably be said for anatomy.

in terms of actual study strategies, my old-school approach has always been to take notes galore, and then in med school i would take notes ON the notes (josh and i called them 'meta-notes') (yes, we are nerds). the act of writing would force me to synthesize the info (ie, identify what was most important and testable) AND just generally helped with memorization. and as you might have guessed, i was all about filling up pretty notebooks and using an array of colorful gel pens to get this job done! might as well have a little fun with it in any way you can . . .

I am a 2nd year med student coming up on my boards (May 20=D Day). ...Any thoughts? I have more or less been "preparing" all year, following through my courses using First Aid and some other review books (Goljan), but now that we're T-3 months I'm obviously stepping it up with use of a Q-bank etc... Have you got any words of advice to share?

may 20 is D-day? hmm, it's also my birthday! it sounds like you are in great shape -- first aid is an excellent resource. i used it as a sort of outline and wrote meticulous, tiny little notes all over it -- if you really know the material in there in detail, you will be prepared for the exam.

i also used Q-bank as well (got it free as a former kaplan employee). i divided the subjects up and made a big checklist and made a schedule of areas to study each day as well as questions to go through. i got through all of them EXCEPT i believe i threw in the towel on anatomy (it was a lost cause and such a tiny portion of the exam!). if i remember correctly, i was lucky enough to have 4-5 weeks to just stay home and do this.

that said, i definitely took breaks between question blocks and made time to work out and do things for myself each day, and i still did well on the exam. i think it really is helpful having a goal for each day and a plan to stick to . . .

do you think you'll stay in Durham after you finish your fellowship?

i have a lot of love for this area and would be happy to settle in the triangle (chapel hill, durham, or raleigh). however, all of josh's family is in miami beach, and there is a strong pull in that direction. whenever i tell anyone this, they're like "you? in miami?" i'm going to have to work on my salsa-dancing and mojito-making skillz. also staying up past 10pm. [i won't even mention the espaƱol -- well, except that i just did. yes, it's still a resolution! but i think i need to just FINISH RESIDENCY first.]



workout: 45 minutes of power yoga (yogadownload ashtanga session). y'all, i crow'ed!

i was feeling super-proud of myself until the voiceover announced that crow was just a stop on the way to this craziness:

um, no.


  1. Ok, seriously, how do you not have an eyemask?! I can't sleep past 7 on the weekend without one. And yes, I do enjoy sleeping past 7 :)
    I have never seen that firefly pose before! I am far from being able to do crows pose even...

  2. My key to organic chemistry success was FLASHCARDS. I had eight million of them and would review all of them before every exam...you never know when "old" info will come in handy! That and I did every single problem in the book until I was blue in the face. It worked since I rocked orgo and ended up TAing junior year.

    I will die a happy person if I could ever do firefly! That's nuts...

  3. My favorite study device was my white board. I memorizing proofs and reviewing homework problems, but I'd write, erase, write, erase, write, erase, without wasting tons of paper. I actually wore out 2 or three of them between undergrad and grad school.

  4. i can't sleep once the sun comes up. makes napping hard. totally going to hurt in med school!

    and you can't leave durham! who is going to show me around if i want to visit duke?!? (it's still on my list of i-want-to-go-there med schools)hahah i am soooo selfish :)

  5. i love reading your blog because you are donet he class/test thing and it makes me have hope! only 1 more year then clinic for me i am so excited! as for studying i do the same thing, take notes on notes and love pens and paper fun!