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Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Moving right along

This path that we take to medicine is a long marathon. 

Your first year is a training on how to study for medical school. Your second year, combined with first year,  is a training year for your first board exam. The second year also has practical applications for your next two years. 

The clinical years are exhausting! 

I am sure they are preparation and training for your future career, and I am planning that I will likely be a very exhausted first year resident in 2016. 

So I am moving right along in this marathon. I have completed my cores (except for psych which was just a scheduling snafu) and 10 weeks of electives. I have about six months left of my medical school education. I have been compiling tips along the way but I have not yet had a chance to write them down. Here is the short list. 

  • Get rest now and watch your favorite shows. 
    • I know some people who have time for television and movies, but I do not. I also have a lot on my plate. If I had the extra time I would be studying for step 2 every night after my clinical hours. 
  • Don't be too confident in the wards. 
    • I didn't know what this meant when I read it in all of my books. This means that you have to gauge the physician. They like for you to answer succinctly with no frills. 
  • Never leave early-even if the physician says to, don't. 
    • I wish that I had known this trick. When my physician would say, "no really, go." I would go, because why else would they be so insistent. Because who cares why. Just say, " I would really like to see more patients before I go if it wouldn't cause too much trouble" or something to that effect. They will love it. 
  • Be helpful but not too much
    • there are so many interesting political moves at play during the rotations- if there is a script being printed, get it off the printer, if you can help with something then do, but do not do anything that you do not know how to do, and do not offer to do something that would put yourself at risk. We hear this stuff all the time, but seriously, if a physician says, "can you please put in the pharmacy orders for this patient you can. The only thing is that if you do not know how to and you do not feel comfortable then you should say so. The one thing that would be a huge problem is that you offer and then can't follow through or worse you create a pharmacy order incorrectly and the patient gets the wrong medication or no medication.
  • Don't ask too many questions
    • I made this mistake. I like to ask questions because my mind is reeling with questions. I learn best by doing, thus when I am doing or watching someone I have many questions. Some preceptors are ok with asking, some are not. They view your questions as accusations that they do not know what they are doing and that you are questioning their reasoning or actions. Some preceptors really just like for you to be quiet and not say anything. Just do your best to be quiet. Speak when spoken to and try to be humble and gracious. It is hard. I have heard other students that stand up to these types but I not sure I could be that person and as such, I think I will just not say anything and move on to the next rotation when it comes. 
  • READ. 
    • just read all you can about procedures and disease processes. Be prepared to answer questions when asked and recall information from one day to the next. 
  • Have fun
    • some rotations allow you to be yourself and have fun. Try to use discernment and only allow your jovial side to come out in the proper channels, some physicians view this as "blowing off" your rotation. With this type of physician you have to maintain a serious attitude at most times. 
I think these are some short ideas. I have more, I know, but I can't think of them at the moment. If anyone reads this and has other tips for students in clinicals please comment. 

Until Next time, 
Amy White Jones

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Moving to 'hot'lanta. . .

Wow!! I love to write and to share information with you all. Sometimes, I have to write after the fact; that is the case with tonight's post. I have already moved to Atlanta for my medical rotations. In fact, I have been here two weeks. There was so much going on while I was moving that I didn't have time to write, but don't lose heart, I took notes--mental and written- on what I thought was most pertinent to share.


What a major headache!!

I have five children and I knew that they would be going to school here so my situation is a little different from most students. So while I have a little different perspective, I'll try to address both situations adequately.

  • With Children-

I researched the location of most of my rotations with my university and found that mostly they are located in close proximity to Decatur, Ga. (An awesome suburb just on the outskirts of Atlanta metro.)

The best school districts based on my criteria- free, diverse, free, good test scores, free, myriad of activities- were Decatur High School, Lakeside High School, Grady High School. 

Further research and with much help from my realtor Sandra Durham and Frank Golley at Golley Realty revealed that Decatur High School and Grady High School districts had very little for rent and the homes were either too small or too, too, too expensive. 

Sandra was a huge help with the logistics of where the best neighborhoods were and where we could get the best place for our budget. She has kept in touch and is just fantastic! I have linked there website above and I was not paid for my review, but I so apreciated all that they did for me.

Basically you can expect to shell out about 1500-2000 per month for a three to four bedroom home that is in a nice suburban style neighborhood. If you want to live closer in the city prices increase considerably and the size of the apartment decreases.

At the final moment I found an a apartment at Embry Hills. It has been a headache and I am suffering through some growing pains, but it is large (2200 sq ft) and it has a pool and my apartment that I will be living in has new flooring and will be basically a brand new interior, but not without much ado and considerable amount of time in negotiation.

If you choose to look here make sure you ask to see the apartment that you are renting. Long story short- the model homes in apartments look amazing, the apartment that you will be renting . . . eh, not so much. Save yourself a headache and look at the exact apartment. The price is about 1200 per month and the layout is great and the area is nice. It would  also be a good choice for roommates due to the spacious rooms and the number of bathrooms. There are two and half bathrooms and four bedrooms. I am close to I-85 and I-285 (both major routes aorund the city) but I am also in an area that has multiple other ways to get around the city which is nice because Atlanta traffic is horrendous!!  

  • Without children-

This is much easier. Pretty much there are many nice neighborhoods in Decatur, Ga. You can live anywhere near Emory, CDC, Midtown, Oak Grove. If you look in the same high school districts listed above you can find many places with one bedroom reasonable. You will be close to town and in a good location.

One thing to consider.  TRAFFIC

If you can find a place that will allow you to be traveling away from the city in the morning and toward the city in the afternoons then you can save yourself a lot of time. 

I have more to add but for now this will have to suffice. It is late and I finally have a sleeping baby and family medicine rotation in the morning.

All the best,
Amy Jones

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Whats Next? ? ?

So I have passed my USMLE Step 1. What is next?

The first thing I had to do was send in documents to the clinical department.

Things like :

  • TB test results current for this year
  • physical current for this year
  • Proof of Vaccinations 
  • National Background Check
  • ACLS certification
  • Drug Screen

Once all of the documents are in and after my tuition is paid; the clinical placement director/team will assign me to a location to begin rotations. -

---> For a complete list of the required rotations you can visit the UMHS website. <--- p="">
I will spend roughly 18 months in rotations during which time I will also take the USMLE Step 2 CK & CS (it is a two part exam).

Normally it works out that the student is studying and doing rotations the same time, and then towards the end of the year they begin the Match process.

My understanding of the Match process-

Match consists of applying to residency-post graduate education- through a website much like you use to apply to medical school in the states. Every residency program that uses ERAS is in the system and available for you to send your credentials. They select the best candidates from their applicants for interviews. Then the applicants and the residency program create a list of their favorites. This is the "rank order list". Each student ranks the programs that have interviewed them in order from most desirable to least desirable and the residency programs do the same. If the students and the programs "match" their rank then the residency program extends an offer to the applicant. You can read more details about Match on the NRMP website.

How UMHS helps us become good match candidates-

I spoke with our clinical department and from my conversation with them they will help us to find programs they think we have a good chance of matching with in our chosen field. They also help us to plan out what electives we will need to make us good candidates. Of course the preparation is upon the individual student, but it helps to have someone who can help guide us into our chosen field. Good scores and letters of recommendation will only come from hard work.

I hope that this will help you all understand the process of what happens after USMLE Step 1.

Until next time,
Amy Jones

Thursday, January 30, 2014


Well, here it is February almost, and I have just finally taken and recieved my USMLE Step 1 Scores.


Unfortunately, I didn't score as high as I wanted, but in the end passing was my ultimate goal.

Other News

 I have had an addition to my family!!!! Lilly "Kate" Katherine Andrews was born on August 13, 2013.

But what you really want to know about ---> THE TEST. 

I stayed at a very nice hotel (thanks MOM) the night before my exam. I couldn't sleep very well. So I read first aid and did some Uworld questions until I fell asleep.

I arrived at the testing center early only to be met by a very rude attendant. I had to keep my infant daughter close to nurse her on breaks but I was rudely informed that no one can wait in the office, they have to wait outside.

There was no microwave or refrigerator. I was only allowed to stuff everything into one locker. If I had needed to pump milk it would have been terribly inadequate.

Luckily, I didn't let her attitude get me down and laughed with the other employees about her rudeness.

I took a short break after every block and had a snack and went to the bathroom. Every second block I had to nurse Lilly Kate. My mom came to help me out with her and they went back to the hotel which was only a minute away to wait for me.

I was so nervous at the conclusion of each block, I had almost no time left and was nervous to move on.

The end of the final block was the worst. It comes up with a disclaimer that ending the exam doesn't mean that you have answered all of the questions or completed the exam. (I double checked to be sure).

I couldn't even remember many of the questions. I didn't know if I had passed or failed when I left the testing center. I just wasn't sure.


The first day I spent thinking about questions and I was really upset because I had watched some study videos and was told some specific information that was incorrect. I missed one question due to listening to that advice.

Bad advice. See this post for more information on advice.

Waiting was the hardest part. I really felt like I was going nuts just waiting to know what I had made. I really just prayed and had others praying and everytime I let the "what if I failed" thought creep in I just redirected myself to thinking about how many people were praying and let my faith carry me.

Honestly, I do not know how people relax without faith.

So this is what my days looked like in the waiting period.

  • check my email at 9 am on a Wednesday. 
  • check forums for other peoples exam experiences
  • check my email
  • text a friend and tell them I am so nervous and ask a million annoying questions- thanks for still being my friends, CT and HK. 
  • check my email. 
  • check the ECFMG website. 
  • finally realize that I am going to have to wait another week.
  • eat lots of junk food
I really did do other things because I have a five month old daughter and four other children but for the most part this was my thought process. On days that weren't wednesdays I tried to find crafts that I wanted to make and watched tv. I also tried to have a plan B and tell myself that failing wasn't the worst that could happen.

I did use "the trick" and it indicated that I had passed. I didn't trust it.

My advice (REALLY? If you haven't learned that lesson yet)

I felt like some things that I studied in depth were tested very broadly and some things were tested broadly that I had studied in depth and mostly it seemed to be the easier concepts were tested in minutiae.  That was just my perception.

(Please don't trust my judgment and study everything.)

I didn't feel like First Aid was enough, but that doesn't mean don't use it. Many people like it and I just am not like many people. I think I do better when I make my own study guides and notes. I am pretty sure that I will do that for the step 2. I will use the study guides but Ill rewrite even though it is time consuming, I think I would do better if I did. 

I recieved my results on a Wednesday. It was about 1pm. I don't think there is any rhyme or reason to time but the day is almost always according to all of the people I know -Wednesday. So you can use the 28 day formula and Wednesday for knowing when to expect your results.

Whats Next?

I have to get my student loan paperwork filed and I have get my ACLS, TB test, and health form completed. Send in all the paperwork and get my placement. I hope to begin rotations by the end of February!!!

Thanks for following on my long journey. It has been longer than expected with bumps along the way, but I am so happy and glad to say that I haven't given up and I am still getting there.

Never ever quit.

Until next time,
Amy Jones

Saturday, December 14, 2013

A Christmas Miracle!

I got the best news ever yesterday from Facebook- of all places-. . . . WE HAVE LOANS!!!!

I began my journey with UMHS in 2010 and they had student loans available at that time. In my first semester of ARP Citibank canceled their contract with UMHS in light of the student loan situation in the states. I was devastated. I ask my (at that time) husband and he suggested I continue- he could help to support me with tuition and living expenses and I could work a masters degree to fill in the gaps.

We divorced. The gap became larger. The task of paying tuition was monstrous. I was devastated, but committed.

Many of our students went seeking other schools that had loans. I stayed. I had faith. I had spoken on numerous occasions with Mr. Ross and his family and they were all very reassuring that we would get loans again. They were very helpful and I believed that Mr. Ross would work tirelessly until he came through for us- the students.

Three years later, I had not given up hope. I have been at home with my children, and a new baby for the last year. I have been studying for the Step 1, but mostly I just had not felt the timing was right to take it.

Just recently I began feeling that I had to take the step by the end of December. I just knew that this was it. I have scheduled my test date - again!- but this one I am feeling much more optimistic about. I know that this is the date that I have been given to write my exam and I am so excited that the news of student loan availability came only two weeks after sending my notice to UMHS that I had an exam date scheduled.

Once I get my test results back I can immediately begin my rotations. Money is no longer an issue! I am screaming hallelujah. A huge prayer has been answered, not just for myself but for so many UMHS students and future students.

Do I recommend UMHS?  A resounding HECK YEAH! Would I have recommended them even without loans, yes indeed.

I have so much respect for the Ross family and for what they have been able to accomplish. I am honored and blessed to have been chosen by them for my medical education. I have never regretted a moment of caribbean medical school. I have never regretted not applying to US medical schools. I highly recommend UMHS. I have nothing but wonderful things to say about UMHS.

Missing my island friends quite a lot. Hugs to the bookstore women- and the library ladies- I miss you all tons and I wish I were there to hug you and jump up and down and celebrate with you.

All the best,
Amy Jones

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Step 1 Study Lingers

Ok so I know I have not updated in a while, and I have been feeling a little guilty for leaving you all hanging.

The truth is I have set many Step 1 dates and I have had to postpone them. My original date was for November, but I didn't feel like I was quite ready yet. After Maine I came home and played with my children for two months. I didn't even look at a book. So I postponed and decided to step up my studying and set a new date for January. I was so sure that I would be ready by January. I studied more Kaplan and really had to review some of the subjects which I felt I was really weak in. I didn't account for Christmas, New Years, and a child turning 15. So as luck would have it I postponed again.

I took two months and studied twelve to fifteen hours a day. I did all of the Kaplan Qbank questions, all of Uworld, and nine days of DIT. I took my practice NBME 15 seven days before I was scheduled to sit for the exam and I only scored 186. I was scoring 50% overall in Uworld and had improved to about 60% every block. I couldn't go into the test with my NBME score so low, so I postponed again.

Currently, I am studying with an online partner. I am reviewing Uworld again, but it is summer and I do have my children all day and I know that my study time is not as good as it was when I was locked in my house for two months alone. My hopes are to take it by the end July or first of August.

My plans are to review all the subjects again (we are almost there, this week has been a terrible week for both she and I). We are reviewing First Aid, Kaplan notes and Uworld questions on the same subject matter at the same time. Take my last Uworld practice, and take another NBME, probably 13. If I make above a 210 equivalent Ill schedule my exam (I have to pay the fee again, so I am being much more cautious in my scheduling).

I am also trying to get my masters classes finished for the summer. I wish that I had just waited for the fall.

So, that is where I am, and I wish I could tell you more. I have been trying to keep notes on what I have done and how I studied so that I could give you all the details when I finally finish. Having a family makes it a little harder because I seem to take time to spend with my children on special occasions, as I have missed them so much on this journey.

Ill write more later as I have MAJOR updates on my life in general. But you will soon see when I post pictures.

Thanks so much for reading and following!

All the best,
Amy Jones

Friday, December 7, 2012


Ok, so a while back I said that I would be taking the Step 1 in December. I am now studying for a January test date. I reserve the right to change that based on my NBME practice exams that I am taking at the testing center. I am using a study schedule made out by Topher for my last six weeks of study. His blog is fantastic! I know the exam has changed a little since he took it, but the concepts are the same and most of the material is the same. Plus, it is a huge encouragement when I know that he made a 240/99.

My study materials, Goljan audio coupled with a little rapid review, First Aid Organ Systems, Kaplan for each subject (provided as part of my tuition) and the Qbank. Uworld Qbank. First Aid.

I took two months off between finishing my fifth semester and beginning my serious studying. I began reviewing all of biochem, slowly. I made my own notes and drew out pathways. I then went to Immuno, and then I kind of got off track and started bouncing around. I have come back together and I am studying all of cardiovascular including blood disorders, and continuing with the schedule that I mentioned above. I am also using my Kaplan Qbank to help guide me to where I need more review as well as my Uworld assessment. I have been annotating my first aid with everything. I plan to try to write out the notes that I need to review eliminating the stuff that I know I know. Maybe Ill just mark through them in the first aid so that I have a visual of my progress.

My biggest "aha" moments have been understanding material that seemed so foreign in my Medical classes. For instance, I had a terrible time learning cell signaling ("This is important, you better know this"). I didn't understand Gq, Gs, or corticosteroids vs hemorrhoids. Just kidding. But you get the point. It was incredibly difficult for me to understand. Now I completely, well almost, understand and I can tell you which drugs use which receptors and the cell signaling mechanism.

Another area when I thought I would never understand the material was ANS. I thought I would die before I ever understood it completely. I get it! (mostly).

There are many other areas where I can tell you that during the classes I struggled to make sense of it, and now it just all comes together and makes so much sense.

My advice is to take it slow (as slow as is possible in four weeks) and learn it well. You may not feel like you know it, but trust yourself. Do the end of chapter questions and review the material if you don't understand it. The best way to learn is to get questions wrong. Prepare well for your exams on the island, and you are preparing well for the Step 1. I haven't seen anything in the text books that wasn't covered at some point in my time on the island.

Others suggest making a schedule and sticking to it. I am trying, but it is very hard to study all day everyday. I am away from my family with another family who is a great support. They make dinner every night and I make my own breakfast. They do the dishes and clean the house, and buy the groceries-pretty much everything. I cannot emphasize enough that that it is exactly what you need. It is imperative to have your mind clear for studying.

I am cutting it short, but I hope you can glean a little information from this short entry.

Until next time,

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

How to Enjoy maine from an upperclassman.

To all of my fellow classmates and underclassmen: 

Enjoy Maine!!!!

I hope that you can look back on your time in medical school with fond memories, as I know I will.

Remember to see everything you can while you are here. I know that the weather may not be great but Portland is a fantastic place. 

For those of you who are coming next semester there are many places to ski.

There is an outdoor ice skating rink at one of the local recreation centers. I think the one in Yarmouth. 

The nightlife is eclectic and artsy. Go to Matthew's- tell Mike and the bartenders, "Amy Jones the med student sent you in to say, 'hello'". 

Go to Oasis, check out the life size beer pong, jenga, and connect four. They usually have great entertainment. Upstairs is a dance club with a Dj, and outside (in the summer) is live music.

Amigo's. They have pool (billiards) and real Mainers go there. It is the place where real men with beards hang out. Most of the women have tattoos and piercings. Just throw on some jeans and throw back a beer. 

There are a multitude of other little pubs and clubs and bars. Most have their own feel and regulars. I enjoyed hanging out in the old port with buds after a long day of studying "a million and one diseases that will make you feel bad when you get old".

Have a PBR (Papst Blue Ribbon)- PBR is to Maine as Carib is to St. Kitts. 

Never wear high heels to the Old Port.

Go to Reggae fest after breakfast. Reggae fest is on Peaks island in the summer on sundays. It is awesome! Trust me. You will love it. 

Try to spend less time at the Maine Mall than I did. 

Macaroni Grille has half priced bottles of wine on Thursdays. 

If you get the chance to eat at Four Street - the restaurant- it is the best food you will eat in your life. 

Also, check out East End cupcakes and Duckfat

There is an Imax 3D theater less than 30 minutes from portland. 

There is also a water park if you are here in the summer. 

Get a tour-guide book of maine and it's attractions. There are tons of lighthouses and some pretty spectacular sights to see up the coast, if the weather is nice enough. Great photo ops.

There is a Whole Foods, Trader Joe's, Hannafords, and Shaw's for groceries. Most of the time you can find a Hannafords and Shaws. The Hannafords is located across the street from where you have class. That was a no brainer for me. 

Transportation by bus is possible but would be a pain. Bring a car or rent from Hertz. Some have found pretty good deals if you buy your plane ticket through something like priceline.com they usually have a rental car deal.

Some people live in Old Orchard and I think they love it. I prefer to be closer to the city and classes. 

I think this about sums up what I can think of right now. I hope that I haven't created a post like this one before. In preparation for my board exam, I have returned to Maine, and I was reminded of all of the great places I went when I was here before. Studying this time is different and I haven't even been to one of the places I mentioned. With my estimated test date at the end of December, I really have put off all things for another time. I have one more blogpost to write and then I probably won't write for a while. I hope you will join me again, when I post about my first USMLE board exam experience. 

Thanks for continuing to read my blog. I wish each of you all the best. 

Until next time, 

Quick Update

A quick update-

All apologies for not updating you all sooner. I am sure you all were wondering if I passed the exit.  It is challenging to come from studying for two years and then study harder ( trust me it is much more intense than studying for that final block exam or even more intense than studying the first block exam in Med 1.) than you have ever before.

I have been asked multiple times for advice about the exit. Here is my advice. Refer back to this post for my thoughts on advice. Take away what you want.

  • I went to all of the ICM classes. 

    • These are really good for helping to make the information that we learn on the island tangible. The information becomes a little more 'real', if you will. So some of the cases, especially the one where I didn't get the correct diagnosis has burned primary adrenal insufficiency into my head. I didn't really understand it completely before my virtual clinic case. 

  • I went to all of the ICM lectures and small groups. 

    • These are great for learning the labs. I never knew enough about labs, and it is more memorization than concept in some cases. Each small group discussion will be different, but for me it was fantastic to have that interaction. I used that information for my virtual clinic patients. I tried to ask myself "what labs should I order to confirm my diagnosis?" and "what would I expect the results to be?". These lab values can be very helpful when studying pathologies that have minute differences where the lab values can be a very quick way to differentiate between two different diseases.

  • I went to grand rounds.

    • Lets face it, no one really wants to go. Sometimes the discussions are interesting and useful. It is also good practice for the future. As a physician we should continue to learn and be well educated in medicine and health care. The best way is to read studies and keep up with research. That is basically what grand rounds help to do for physicians, residents, and medical students. 

  • I enjoyed virtual clinic.

    • Virtual clinic is the place where you get to practice doing what most of you will probably be doing for the rest of your life. Obviously there are branches of medicine where you may not see your patient alive or in person-pathologist and radiologist-are the two that come to mind. I used that time as a time to understand how all of the systems work together which gives me a fuller understanding of the process of disease. Also, writing the SOAP notes helps to show illustrate where some improvement could be made. Getting first hand feedback from a physician was priceless for me. In most cases it was confirmation that I was created to be a physician. 

  • I tried each Kaplan professor and attended the classes that I felt would be most beneficial to me.

    • I decided to take control of my life and make a choice. I went to most of the Kaplan classes, but there were a few where after I attended the first lecture I knew that I could read the book myself in shorter time. I made a decision based on what my midterm score said I needed to study and based on the amount of time I had left. I don't regret my decision. I am not suggesting you do this. Many of kaplan instructors will help you decipher which information is tested every exam. That is a good way to make sure you know the basics and the most important facts. I have began my intense board exam study now, and I make sure to highlight those and at the very least have a list of "I know that if I get a question on this subject matter I will get it right". 

  • I studied my weakest subject the most and for every organ system. 

    • Phsyiology. It was my weakest subject area, so in the beginning when we did organ systems, I read my physiology BRS for each organ system as we covered it in ICM. I tried to link physio with every other subject during Kaplan. For example: in biochem we discuss metabolism which deals with hormones and control of metabolism. I reviewed the endocrine physiology behind the secretion of these hormones. I believe that made a huge difference. 

  • The night before my final exam I read up on the subjects that we had not covered at all. 

    • We did not discuss embryology or behavioral science or anatomy. So I read First Aid for those subjects. I just read. I didn't make notes. In fact, I was in my bed relaxing trying to fall asleep. 

  • Plus I made sure to do all of what I did for the midterm as far as sleep and food and breaks

Clicking the end test button was somewhat forced and if it had not been, I am not sure that I would have ever clicked it. I signaled for the proctor to come over to ask a question which was interpreted as I was finished (my test was complete). She went to get my score sheet, so I had to click the button which would reveal my fate.

I had a complete Sympathetic (ANS) reaction. My heart was racing and my blood was pumping. You can figure out all of the other actions of the sympathetic nervous system, suffice to say it was a very intense moment.

And then I saw my score - 53%.

I had passed the exit. I would be allowed to sit for the USMLE Step 1 as soon as I felt ready. I was deemed competent and in that moment, the grade confirmed that I had some small gift, talent, or knowledge that would allow me to become a doctor one day.

For those of you who are in Maine now, I know that this post is a little late, but perhaps you can glean something from it.

To all of the Med 4's still on the island and coming to Maine next semester, I wish you all the best.

Until next time,

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

My fav step 1 study books so far

Plus First Aid USMLE Step 1. Almost all of the BRS series. The Kaplan books as well.

What you need to know before you come to Maine

The biggest worries for me in fourth semester were "am I ready for maine?" "do I know enough?". The answer is yes and yes. I wasn't an A+ student. I studied as much as I could stand (probably less than most of my classmates) I made ok grades (B and C). I took masters classes all the way through. I struggled in some classes and had to retake neuroscience. I had every right to be worried. 

When I got here, I was stressed about money (that will never change), and I had to finish up a paper for a master's class. I wasn't sure that I was even coming to Maine until the day before I left. I bought my plane ticket one night and left only a day later. It was a whirlwind. I had a place to live lined up so that wasn't a problem. I hadn't worked out any details of transportation and I didn't know where anything was, and there wasn't a "Welcome Committee" or even many last semester's students here to show me around. It was a real "you are on your own" type of feeling. It took about a week to get acclimatized to the weather (think cold, then think you can not imagine, but colder), and to my surroundings. Moving anywhere new takes time to adjust and this adjustment was just a bit more difficult than I had prepared for, or imagined. 

Luckily, I can read road signs, even though they are very few, and I have a GPS. I made it to the UMHS Building and got my paperwork taken care of and then Friday came. 

The big test. 

  • You get a print out that tells you exactly what your percentages correct are so you can use that as a guide to build up your weakest areas. 
  • you can look at the answers to the questions ( not explanations, just letter answers) at the end of the test if you click analysis. 
  • If you write your password and Id down then you can go back and look at the numbers that you missed each block and the correct answer choice. You will see if you changed the answer. This is an important note of information that I didn't know at the time. 
  • Also, if you finish a block before you run out of time, you don't have to end the block right then, you can use that time to plan or write information that you may have missed from earlier questions. 
  • Use all the time allotted. 
  • You will have plain white paper and pencil provided for you, you can take this with you when you leave, so make notes on what you are unclear about so you can look at it later and use it to study by. Especially if you see a question that you have no idea what they are talking about. Make sure to bring snacks with you. 
  • You only get 45 minutes of break with the Kaplan sims, it isn't an hour.
Here is what I did the first time.

I ate a light breakfast and took two blocks (2 hours) of the test and then took a break for 10 or 15 minutes. I didn't realize right away that I didn't have to end the block so I finished in under two hours for those two blocks. I did block 3 and then I took a 20 minute lunch. block four I finished in 30 mins and I took a 30 min nap. on the clock. I realized that I didn't have to end the block and I used the remainder of the time for a rest. You cannot leave your seat during that time, but you can sit in your seat and wait for the time to tick down. I took a bathroom break after block four and my nap, and then took block 5 and 6 and took another short bathroom break. My score was 43%

I wasn't prepared to sit for 7 hours, to read questions straight for 7 hours, or to manage my stamina for 7 hours. I came out feeling zonked and defeated, but I didn't do poorly. I didn't pass it on the first time, but I was ok with that. 

Last week was our Kaplan optional midterm. This time I tweaked my breaks and snacks and it helped tremendously. I also tried to slow down a bit and use all of the allotted time during the blocks for question answering and reading. (I am a fast reader, but I can miss important information by reading too fast). I am not going to say that our clinical exposure didn't help at all, but my primary focus of study was to read the Kaplan physiology (my weakest subject on the entrance) for each organ system of the week. 

My midterm went as follows:

Breakfast- protein, coffee, my regular breakfast. After block one I took a short three minute bathroom break. block two, I took another break, had some protein and cheese crackers. block three I took another break, and had more snacks. a salad and protein and cheese, coke zero. bathroom, and block four and five I did back to back, took a short break with more snack with protein and bathroom. Block six and took a short bathroom break, and then block seven. Done. My score 48%. 

  • I didn't nap, but I wasn't tired. I had the energy, because I was taking frequent short breaks with protein, to power through it. 
  • I didn't eat any sugar and I limited my carbs, I only had whole wheat crackers. 
  • I used all of my time in each block except for a few where I had five or so minutes left. If I had time left over at the end of the block I used it to plan my break time. 
  • I took notes on topics and questions, and I made sure that if I didn't know the answer that I had written down something about the question so that I could make sure to know it later. 
I attribute a large part of my improvement to my test taking strategy. 

I will write more later, we start Kaplan in two weeks, and I will let you know how that goes. I also want to share with you about my preceptorship, and about the information and how it is tested on the Kaplan practice exams. I will do that later. 

Hope this will help you fourth semester students as you prepare to come to Maine, and encourage those of you in the earlier semesters to study hard and do your best. 

Until next time, 

Monday, June 11, 2012

Maine! The post we have all been waiting for...

Maine! The post you have all been waiting for. 

Ok. So this will have to be a series of posts, I just can't fit it all into one. So Ill start at the beginning. When I first got to Maine it was much more stressful than I had imagined.

I thought that being back in the USA would be this great feeling and that I would know and understand the culture and I would be able to get around much more easily. I figured I would know where to go to get things like groceries and clothing.

But the truth is that in every place that you go there are different "best places" to get what you need. So having to figure that out once again, was very stressful, and I have only recently discovered that I have succumbed to the fact that I will not have the time to find all of the best places because my time here is so limited.

So, I usually go to Hannafords for groceries. It is close to the UMHS building so it is convenient. I get coffee at Dunkin Doughnuts for the same reason. I eat at Panera for the same reason. See the pattern? It is too much trouble to loaf around trying to find neat places to eat every day. I want to eat at the places that are "must see" but I don't really want to spend the time finding them.

The bus system seems doable, but with the weather being so unpredictable all the time, I would recommend getting a car or renting.


It is much more like an informal lecture type meeting. On Monday we listen to the lecture on the system of the week. It is a very general overview and geared toward clinical not step one. Not that it won't help with the step one, as I am sure it will. But the focus is on the clinical aspects of that system as opposed to the anatomy, or the physiology. This is a stark change from the lectures we have endured on the island. The professor that gives most of the lectures is Dr. Thompson, and she is very good. She is an oncologist and very knowledgable.

After lecture we break into groups and work with a physician talking about the different tests that can be ordered to dx diseases from that system. We also discuss the physical exam for that system.

Virtual Clinic

On Tuesday we have virtual clinic where we see two patients in the presence of a Physician. We work in teams of two where one person is a note taker/presenter and that is their presentation patient and the other is the student doctor for the patient. The next patient the note taker is the student doctor and the student doctor becomes the note taker/presenter. As a presenter you keep track of the SOAP note as the student doctor performs the Hx and physical exam. At the end of the interview and physical exam by the "student doctor" the note taker/presenter presents the case to the Physician that has been observing. The rotations take about an hour, thirty minutes per person.

 It is a great way to practice history and physical exam skills because you know that someone is taking the notes so you can focus on the interview. As a note taker it is good practice because you don't really have to focus on coming up with the diagnosis, the doctor should do that, but if they don't you can add that in at presentation.


Wednesdays we have cases. The cases are given at the beginning of the week in powerpoint format. We are to research the cases and come in ready to discuss them on Wednesday morning. The morning begins with a quiz on the cases and then we discuss them. Usually we discuss answers to the quiz questions as well.

We also have grand rounds at 8 am on wednesdays. It is free breakfast at the hospital, and maybe you can scope out a handsome intern. You are guaranteed to feel very much like the low man on the totem pole.

There are few afternoon items that I haven't mentioned, but generally you are finished by noon. I haven't started Kaplan yet, but when I do Ill make a short blog post on that too.

Next time I get the chance Ill write about the Maine life. I have so many observations and places I want to share with you all, but I just can't fit into one post.

Until next time, Mon,

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Go Fund Me

A friend sent me a message about her new way to fund her medical education and I jumped on board. Go fund me is a website that accepts donations and allows you to post updates and information about your goals and the process all along the way. I joined GoFundMe.com as a way to get funding to pay for my clinical years. This post is copied from my update there. I have plans to post about Maine and my experience so far but honestly it has been a little more difficult to get back into writing since being here. Ill write about that later. (ha, such a vicious cycle).

The next several weeks are going to be a huge learning experience. I am working with a pediatrician in Windham, Maine, through Maine Medical Center on Fridays. I saw 19 patients last Friday. Our patients ranged from well children to children with serious behavior problems to ear infections. The best part was seeing that the parents left with hope. Hope that it would get better, whatever "it" was. I have been that parent that just needs a moment of hope that I wouldn't have to be up another sleepless night or that my child would soon stop throwing up every hour. Being the person who offered that hope was exhilarating. I could have stayed 8 more hours.

To help me continue to offer hope to families donate any amount that you can spare. It could be as simple as cutting out a daily coffee stop, or donating the cost of one meal out for the month. Also, it doesn't have to be a one time donation, you can make a personal pledge to meeting a goal amount for the year, and make small donations to that amount every month. Thank you in advance for your support and belief in my success.

To view the cost of my tuition you can visit http://www.umhs-sk.org/index.php/admissions/tuition-fees.html. I am going into the clinical semesters.

If you would like to donate but want to be certain it goes for my tuition, then you can make a donation on my behalf directly to my school. Please be sure to include my full name- Amy Jones.

University of Medicine and Health Sciences. Magdalena Rosario
University Bursar
460 West 34th Street, 12th Fl.
New York, NY 10001
Phone: 212-868-4720 x623
Fax:      212-868-0928
Email: MRosario@umhs-sk.net

Its all relative

Having been a science major in a university, I met many people who were planning to go on to medical school. Of all of the students that were planning to go to medical school, I only know two people who have actually made it. I went away medical school and at the same time one of my friends when to medical school in the states. Then another of our friends went to DO (Osteopathic Medicine) School this past year.

Watching her transition reminded me of mine. Once I began the medical school application process my life became relative. Everything that happened was relative to medical school.

Med school takes over your life. Facebook posts become test related or study related as early as during the application process. All future events are viewed as a time away from studying or in light of what you have learned. Conversations undoubtedly remind you of some diagnosis whether it be a bacterial infection or a psychiatric condition, you can bet that some medical condition will become a part of your conversation every time!

I often wonder if people like hearing all about my medical school experience, or if they wish that I had something else to talk about. :)

Until next time, mon,
Amy Jones

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Curious Prospective Student

Curious Prospective Student

        Every once in a while I get an email from a student that is interested in applying and want some kind of reassurance that they will be going to a real school. I know I felt the same way. I was afraid that I would apply and come to realize that there was no such entity and I was taken for my money, but even worse, my dreams. Well, the university is real and has real students. 

     Todays post is from an email that I received today. Hope you enjoy and feel free to ask me any questions.

Hello Amy,
I'm applying to UMHS for the fall semester. I was wondering if you could share your experience with me. I graduated Rutgers with a Cell Biology and Neuroscience Degree. How were the classes? How do you rate the effectiveness of the professors? Was moving there an easy experience?
My response:

     I believe that education is a personal experience as much as it is a social one. I believe that each person is individually responsible for their own learning and education. I believe that our professors are as good as any you will find in the states and as bad. I have had the personal experience to glean from each one of them the most that I can and use books and other resources to make up the difference. I believe that I would have had the same educational experience at any University in the states.

As to classes:

     I suppose by classes you mean the students. The only variables between classes are the students and the professors and classrooms. The classrooms and facilities are as good or better than any that I have ever had the experience to sit in. I have already mentioned the professors, so the students are all that is left. I would say that the students are respectful during lecture usually and if not it isn't tolerated so they usually shape in a short time. There is a lot of information and you will be studying mostly so I wouldn't worry too much about anything else as it pertains to classes. The tests are fair and written in board style. 

Moving down here:

     That is also and individual experience. Life is pretty much what you make it. If you want to be miserable you can find a way, and if you want to be happy and enjoy life you will find a way to do that also. It is up to you as to how to view long waits and no fast food. For me I have loved living here and the transition wasn't very difficult at all. I don't believe there is any formula that I can offer you to make that transition a good one for you.
      I made note of my own preferences and found a place to live that suited them. I have a post about where to live on my blog. It really takes a lot of self analysis and commitment. I also would suggest that you come with no expectations, then you will be pleased and not disappointed.

     I have been here almost two years so it is very difficult for me to look back and try to see what I thought was the hardest, and for me it would be different probably then what might be the most difficult for you. 
     I don't regret coming and I love the island and I love the staff here. I used to listen to country music when I was little and as Reba McEntire says in her song, Fancy, "Just be nice to the gentleman, Fancy, and they'll be nice to you". Replace gentlemen with Kittian and staff. Remember that you are a guest in someone elses country and you are just passing through. If you constantly put down their country where they must live then it is disrespectful and only solidifies what they already believe, "America is better", "i would be richer", "my life would be easier if I lived in America". The truth is there are problems in America, too. There is poverty in America, too. Some people have to work very hard in America and they are still poor. 

      The one thing that I am so thankful for is that I have had the opportunity to live in a foreign country for almost two years. I have gotten to know some of the customs and culture. I have grown to love the people, the climate, and the geography. I see the differences as just differences. I don't pity the people here, and I don't feel like I am better than them when I go back to the states. Living here as allowed me to grow, and to be content. I see the options that I have in the states now which I had never seen before. I relish only having two different brands of chips and feel completely overwhelmed when I go to Wal-Mart. I also realized that I don't need that much. I live a much simpler life with less clutter. I am much more aware of my needs vs my wants. Is that an important thing to be reminded of? Only you can answer that question for your self.
Until next time,
Amy Jones, B.Sc.
Future M. S., M.D. 

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Why Caribbean Medical School?

Why Caribbean Medical School?

The first question I get asked when I say that I go to medical school in the caribbean is " Why caribbean medical school?".

I went to undergrad in the US ( I am from the US). After my undergrad degree I realized that my grades from early on in my undergraduate times were not the best and I felt like I really didn't have a great chance at getting into medical schools in the states. I didn't have the money to pay for the Kaplan MCAT review so my score for the Physical Sciences section was low. I probably could have taken a prep course or studied for it more and increased my score high enough to have a chance, but that would have taken another year and I would have been two years off from entry into medical school. I still wasn't sure that I would even get in based on my grades in some of the prerequisite courses.

My other obstacle was the cost of applying. Just the application process alone could have cost me thousands of dollars. So a friend jokingly said in class that he knew of a guy that was going to medical school in the caribbean, and I got to thinking about it.

I love the ocean. I love the beach. I love warm weather. I felt like I would probably love the caribbean even though I had never been out of my country. Ever. I wanted the experience of traveling and learning about a new culture. I love adventure and I am pretty adaptable. It seemed like a good option.

I researched, researched, researched, and researched more. Then I asked my sister to research. I wanted to know how it would affect my chances at a US residency, and what my chances were of passing step 1. My ultimate goal was to become a doctor and taking a different path wasn't a problem for me as long as I was sure that I could get there.

From that research I learned that I could still practice in the U.S. and that I would probably get a residency as long as I kept up with my studies and did my best in my rotations.

I found several caribbean medical schools that I liked. I found St. Georges, Ross, AUC, and St. Matthews and University of Medicine and Health Sciences. I visited Wake Forest medical school in the states for comparison. All of them I felt like had good programs compared to Wake Forest. I wasn't crazy about St. Matthews because they didn't have real cadavers, but I had seen that some programs were going to that method due to the increased focus on the radiographic imaging. It was on a nice island, Grand Cayman. I felt like it would be a good option. The application fee for most of these was anywhere between $75 and $100. So given that it was costing so much less to apply, I applied there.

Then, I went to a Ross informational meeting and felt like Ross was a good University, but they wanted an application that looked similar to the schools in the states.  I didn't have that, so I didn't apply. AUC was similar to Ross, they wanted higher MCAT scores, and they didn't start in May only in August. St. Georges was the best in my opinion of the schools but they also wanted applicants to look very much like a US applicant. There start date was in August as well. So I didn't apply there. For all of the previous schools the class size was anywhere from 200-400 per semester that came in.

I also liked UMHS, I liked the campus and I liked the fact that it was owned by the Ross family who began Ross University, which had a good reputation. Their classes seemed to match up with schools in the states. I liked their facilities. I could start in May 2010. I could interview over the phone. It was cheap to apply. The class sizes were smaller. The island was just nice enough to have the essentials, but not overly touristy. The island had a high petty theft crime rate, but serious crime was pretty limited. I didn't have to worry about my MCAT because at the time it wasn't required. In comparison to Wake Forest they were fantastic!

I applied and it was my first choice.

I interviewed and was offered a place in the ARP class. I had to pass ARP to be accepted into the following semester. I was also offered a spot at St. Matthews. I felt like I could pass the ARP and I would rather be on the island from the very beginning rather than transfer. So I accepted the ARP offer and thus began my journey here.

I had planned on moving my family with me so ARP was a nice way to transition to the island especially given that I was trying to familiarize myself with how the schools worked and where to put my kids in school. It gave me time to see where I would like to live with my family, which parts of the island were the safest. Ultimately, my family never came down, but it was still a good way to find an apartment and get all of that settled before having to deal with the real challenges of medical school.

I love UMHS. I am so glad that I came to the island for medical school. I am sure that there are challenges ahead, but I believe that God has a plan for me to be a doctor. I wouldn't trade my experience on the island for anything. My biggest regret is not forcing my husband to come here or bring my children. I believe I would have done fine with them here and they would have loved it.

The island is gorgeous! There are so many beautiful beaches and places to lay out in the sun. I haven't even seen everything. It is a small island but you don't have time to take island tours and go places because you are studying so much. So even though it is small it is plenty large enough for you to have something to do when you need to go out.

My accommodations have been spectacular, and I know that not everyone has the same experience. My experience has been an unbelievably wonderful ride. I could never have imagined that I would love it so much. I hope that everyone could be so blessed as to have the experience of living in a foreign country and in caribbean once in their lives.

I will truly miss my island life. The weather. The people. Best buy (a grocery store). My taxi driver, Uncle Millie. And everyone that I see here.

Until next time,
Amy Jones
80 something days before I am no longer an islander.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Where to live?

       Where do I live?
     I think this is a huge questions for most new students. I have had the experience of living in basseterre and frigate bay and the Royal. So this is my honest assessment. I will also tell you what I have heard from other students.
     My first semester on the island I was an ARP student. At that time I thought my children and husband would be joining me on the island for the next semester so I opted to live short term at the Royal to get to know the island and find a home for my family.

     Living at the Royal my first semester was a great way to get to know people that I went to school with. I lived above and next to many of my friends so it was easy to knock on doors when you were going out and meeting up was easy. We rode the bus to campus together every morning so there was the time waiting for the bus that we talked and socialized. All in all it was a good experience for me. I didn't have some of the problems that others experienced. That has been two years ago. At the time the staff would clean your room for you once a month, and I had some change go missing and others also had stuff missing at times. So if you live at the Royal I would suggest you lock up any money or valuables if they still do house cleaning. Some people experienced a mold problem, and I think this is pretty common on the island due to humidity. It just seems amplified at the Royal. I didn't have a problem with it. I would suggest you keep a keen eye out in the beginning and tell someone at the first sign of any problem. Also if you pay your rent on time or early it is easier to get what you want ( IMHO).

Royal Bed: Day 1
Royal Room Day 1
     For my Med1-Med4 semesters I lived in a nice apartment in Frigate Bay. Still on the same stretch of road as the Royal, but I had more space and a kitchen. A big plus for me was having separate living space. I like to cook and I like eating at a dining room table. I like to watch tv from a couch or chair. I like to sleep in a bed. At the Royal I did everything on the bed or at the little table. I think they may have changed the furnishings since I was there so there may be a desk in all of the rooms now. My apartment was great. I loved living near restaurants and being able to walk to the Bamboo lounge (a night club) was great. I never had to worry how I would get home or who I would have to ride with to get home. I had some freedom to come and go even though I didn't have a car. I had a pool and an ocean view. I used the pool some but not a lot, and I hardly ever used the beach by my apartment. It was a nice view though and I would stand on my balcony at times and enjoy the beauty. The nice thing was that my apartment was quiet and relaxing. It was well decorated as a vacation home and it felt like home away from home. That was also important for me.

My View of the Ocean from my balcony in Frigate Bay Apt.
Frigate Bay Apt.
Frigate Bay Apt.
     This semester ( I am staying one extra semester due to a failing grade in Neuroscience) I live in basseterre. I am very close to the value mart/ IGA and the town of basseterre. I can take an H bus to campus and home. I like that. I like that I can walk to a real grocery store, although I do prefer best buy or Rams to IGA. It is a bit noisy here compared to my frigate bay apartment. I can hear everything. I hear my neighbors, I hear the dogs outside barking, and I hear people working their garages. There are cars on the street next to my apartment that I hear zooming by. I didn't have that in my apartment in Frigate Bay. I don't know if the street was quieter, I suspect not, but I believe the building was more insulated against noise, and the ocean probably masked a lot of the noises that could have been heard. There were occasions where I could hear people outside or my neighbors in my Frigate Bay apartment, but it was usually noises like moving chairs across the floors or going up and down stairs. So all in all there are pros and cons to either location. I miss being able to walk to my favorite restaurants, and being close to the strip or club. Just because I like the freedom of dropping in for an hour and then leaving when I want to. I have to take a taxi now and I don't like not having that control.
Corner of Frigate Bay Apt.

What I have heard others say:

     Some people really like living closer to campus. They like walking to school everyday and being able to go home and eat lunch and come back to campus. They don't mind being a little removed from the Frigate Bay area. They are ok with taking taxis to the beach when they want to go and come home. For me it is a financial thing. To go to the beach and home is ten us dollars minimum. Just getting there! Not to mention that if I were to be there all day it could easily cost me $50 to $75 for a day at the beach.  

     Most people that I have talked to do not like living out farther away from campus and Frigate Bay. They feel very isolated and they feel like they aren't in with the other people.

     Usually people end up with roommates when they live other places and they generally don't like living with that person down the road. We all change when we get to the island so it is very difficult to know who you are going to get along with best once you get here. We also grow up a little. So someone who you feel like you have a lot in common with before you get here, may grow faster or slower than you and you will end up having differences that could make it difficult to live with one another. Also, I would suggest that if you are looking at roommates that you be very honest with each other. If you are messy say so. If you like your living area to be well kept but you are messy in your bedroom then put it out there. To live with others you have to be willing to lay out some ground rules in the beginning and then it is up to each individual to respect those rules so that there can be harmony in the home. Remember both or all of you have to study and are here to become doctors, don't let petty stuff like dirty dishes get in the way of that.

My Two Cents:

     Live at the Royal your first semester, or in Golf View or the White "Crack Houses", Island Paradise, Sea Lofts, St. Christopher's Club,- for the ballers- Ocean's Edge. You will be close enough to the Marriott to walk and get food (american food) and you can ease into the Caribbean lifestyle.

     Get to know the island and yourself and your friends. If you choose to live with friends your next semester don't ditch the ground rule conversation, you might regret it later. Your friend whom you thought you knew so well might have some really crazy living habits that you weren't aware of.

      Don't sign a year contract unless you know you are going to love it and then you only have to be there one semester. In fact, if the only thing you take away from this post is don't sign a year long contract, then I have done my job. Do not sign a year long contract with anything here on the island. You never know what might happen and getting things like deposits back is almost impossible. Even if there is a problem and you would think that you should be given the option to move with your deposit, it may not happen that way here. Stick with a semester lease until you have lived there a semester.

     I personally like Frigate Bay the best, but you may like living closer to campus, so examine yourself and what you like to do to relax. Through a very thorough examination of what makes you happiest you can determine where you should live.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Post Block 3 Slump!

Block 3 was a week ago yesterday and I still cannot get my brain back in gear to study for finals. I am not sure if it is that I have the Christmas spirit like Santa's Elves or maybe even Santa himself, or if it is my inner desire to be home with my children, but something has me preoccupied. I feel like I need a long vacation to get myself back in the mood to get back down to business and interested in medicine again.

I have done two hours of Goljan today and sprinkled in "house decorating" and "Christmas idea" blogs.

I know that I had things that I wanted to share with you guys about block exams and finals, but for the life of me all I want to tell you about are these neat little Christmas ornament and gift ideas I have found. So head over to my other blog to find out about those.

Ok, ok, I am ready to tell you about finals. The smart thing to do where finals are concerned is to start at the beginning of the semester. I have been in both the position where my final wasn't a big deal, and I have been in the position where I needed to rock the final. So I can attest to the fact that when you have already passed the class you will be much more relaxed during finals than if you need to really blow the final out of the water. Also, if you have done well on the previous blocks, chances are you know the material and you only have to learn the new material for the comprehensive final. This means much less work. But, what if you find yourself in the place where you need to really do well on a final?

If you are in the position where passing or failing depends on the final the first thing is DO NOT PANIC and drop the class right away. I really believe that there are some classes that you learn from taking the tests and once you have figured out what you don't understand you do better on the final. The way it works for me is just like that. I may make a C on a few blocks and I meet with the professor and find out what questions I missed and why and then I understand the material better. Which then brings me to another point which is to talk to your prof after the test to try to understand why you got questions wrong. You may have just misunderstood the wording or you could have been completely confused about a concept. The first is not a huge problem the latter could cause you more errors later on. So it is important to know why you missed what you did.

Back to final preparation. If you are taking a shelf examination I strongly encourage Board Review Series. I used it for Physio and it was priceless. I also used BRS for anatomy (not a shelf for me, but I used the BRS to study for my block exams). I am using Goljan for my pathology shelf, Ill let you know how that goes later. I try to cover all of the material and questions. I am not going to classes the last week b/c I can study at home (usually) better than being on campus. I am a social person and I tend to socialize when I am on campus. Let's face it only so many people have time to be messaging you on facebook and skype, so there is a limit to how many distractions you can come up with at home (for me anyway, I am not a huge fan of tv so that isn't even a problem.) You may find that you can study better in the library or on campus and that is fine. Find your study zone and go there every day, and plan to study for certain subjects based on the number of days/ hours you need and have to study.

I have five days of goljan to listen to, (kill me now) but I have six days to study, so I am going to do all the lectures every day and spend the last day with more questions, and reading. I find that doing questions after I finish a section helps to solidfy what I have read/ heard.

Basically that is it. The long and short of it is use your time wisely in the beginning, and if not use it wisely in the end. Study until your brains fall out and pick them up and study more!!

Until Next time,
Maybe med 2. studying for block 2 I think. 
Amy Jones

Monday, October 10, 2011

Seasons of Change

        I am not sure what has happened to my blogging lately. I have a lot on my mind and have I guess taken a short hiatus from thinking about blogging. There are a few things that I sometimes think about at random moments. I guess, and perhaps I have blogged about this before, during this season I really begin to miss the seasons.
         I love the island weather, but I really love fall and this is the second fall that I am missing. I will have  more interesting things to blog about, but for all of you who are about to face the gripping cold of winter, I urge you to embrace the chilly kisses that the crisp winter air offers, for it is a blessing. Enjoy the crispy crunch of fall leaves beneath your feet as you walk in to your house. Take a moment to just stand and embrace the changes that come with the seasons. So as the seasons change we do also.
         It helps us to remember the past and look to the future. When there are no seasons it seems like life is stagnant-never moving forward and forgetting the past. I am more and more thankful for the seasons that keep me moving forward and ever reminding me of the past. Helping me to focus on how to do better next season, and what to keep the same. Reminding me that this time will soon move on and there will be another season. Reminding me to relish this season for all the changes that it will bring.
         They even keep me realizing what month it is, and what to expect later. For example, as the weather begins to cool and the leaves begin to change- my brain knows that halloween is coming and then thanksgiving, and as it is gets even colder, Christmas is on the way.
Without the change in the weather I forget about halloween, and thanksgiving, and other holidays that I generally look forward to.
           I know that this message isn't my usual, but hopefully for you who are about to embark on this journey, and for those of you who are already here, you will have time to really enjoy the seasons in your hometown.

Until Next time,
Amy Jones, B.Sc.,
Future M.Sc., M.D.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Professionalism in Social Networking

This blog is hard one to write, but I think it is necessary. I read a few blogs in my spare time . . ok well not really my "spare" time, but you get the point. One that I particularly like is Mothers in Medicine  for the most obvious reason--I am a mother and I am going to be in medicine. But I also like it because they write about issues that women face in the workforce as mothers. Topics such as taking maternity leave, dealing with the children while dealing with the ER patients, and other topics that are more about parenting than medicine. The mothers are all physicians but have different specialities so there are some topics that are specific to certain specialties, which I also like. Somewhere in reading that blog and diverging onto others from there I found my topic for today. Professionalism in Social Networking (as a physician in my case but for others too.)

YIKES!!! A medical student and social networking, and professionalism should not all be in the same sentence. I know. I am guilty too. But the truth is I am aware of the fact that future resident directors and colleagues will be seeing my facebook page and even though I have my security set high, I know that if someone wants to know something about you and it is on the internet it can be found. My sister is an attorney and I have learned that internet content, in many cases, is the secret weapon. Usually, the silver bullet.

The reasons for being careful are obvious. We know that the pictures we post on facebook don't represent our entire lives or our whole being. For instance, when I look at my facebook pictures I see that  in most of them I have been "prepared" for the photo. In other words they aren't of me when I am studying or when I am in class or hanging out at my house all day. No. Those pictures are boring and not attractive to say the least. I also post to my facebook wall frequently about my daily events and goings on , thoughts, and also a lot of scripture and references to my religion. Now, I am not ashamed of my religion or having children/ a family, but I might choose to not disclose this information to a residency director. While relgion and sex and having children are not supposed to factor into the equation, I fear that in some people's minds, whether they admit it or not, does creep into a decision. For instance, if you know that your resident has four children and is married, you might not think too much about it, but what if she was a single parent? Would you question whether she could handle the load? Would you think about what she would do when one of the four, or all of the four, had a virus? And how many sick days will she take vs the candidate without the children?

But it can be followed beyond your resident years, what about when you are physician? Your patients have access to your facebook postings via a friends, friends, sisters photos. The swear words, and half written words and your hatred for drive through wait times, are not what your patients want to know about you. Nor do they need to know if you have a great sex life or a terrible one.

I am guilty of all of these things.

Your patients that want to know that you have more than a good looking physique, and you know how to spell that, the and you. What if your facebook pictures and posts (in txt lingo) don't really say to them, "I am qualified to have your life in my hands"?

That is the point. I think as future physicians we must realize that our patients respect us as doctors and expect us to be "smart" and to know how to treat their illnesses. They have to first trust us in order for us to treat them. We rely heavily on their trust. We need for them to tell us what is going on with them. If we are blogging about X patient and speaking about patients or our job in a negative way on facebook that could negatively affect our practice, and moreover, how our patients view us. We need to command respect, honorability, and trustworthyiness.

Furthermore, when we enter the workforce there are going to be standards that the hospitals and offices we work in have set for us.

I understand this, and I know that my blog and my facebook and my twitter are all open to the public and I need to be reminded of this ever so often.

If you want to know what the American Medical Association's stance is then check it out here. 

So today I challenge my fellow classmates and colleagues to hold to a higher standard in social networking. May you be viewed as you are : Honorable, trustworthy, dependable, respectable with a brilliant, bright mind that has the ability to make the tough chioces when it comes to medicine. I commit to keeping my blogs, facebook, twitter, likdn (and what ever other social networking site that I join) an outward expression of my desire to help others and be deserving of my patients' trust.

Until next time,

Amy Jones, B. Sc.

Future MD.