Sunday, November 30, 2008

Medicine, The Calling

Last week, I finally told my dad about my plans for school; told him I was nervous to fill him in because I'd taken such a circuitous route in life and was worried I'd get the rolling of his eyes, or a blank stare. At the tender age of 44, this is no small undertaking.

He listened, as he always has.

When I was done talking, he asked his questions that appear normal: what do you want to specialize in, where do you want to go, what classes do you need to take to apply, when will you apply, are you going to work while going through pre-reqs, how are you going to pay for all of this, and finally, how can we help?

He knows all too well my desire to travel internationally has been well met. In the Philippines, I saw poverty that is beyond describable. Trying to articulate the sites and smells, and yet the utter happiness of the Filipinos is rudimentary and difficult at best.

Dad also has known my interest in helping the poorest of the poor often commenting on how I'd always talked about being a doc in Africa if only for a month or two.

He knows I've wandered through villages in "real" Mexico, worked in impoverished areas of my own Minnesota which sadly, are more akin to 3rd world countries than US.

So, as we talked, I wondered what it took to be a part of the DWB group. Fearless, confident, brilliant, and understanding, these physicians undertake a sometimes dangerous and heart-wrenching tour of duty to help those who otherwise, might never see a ray of hope, or a dawning of a new day.

In the end of my discussion with Dad, he asked me if the "burning bush" had finally wrapped it's branches around me. I smiled and said, "You know? I read somewhere on a forum that medicine is a calling. I'm finally answering, "Yes!"'

http://www.doctorswithoutborders.org/

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Continuing The Journey

A few weeks have passed since my decision was made, I've let my closest friends know and have been amazed at their support. I've yet to tell anyone in my family except for my 16 year old son who simply said, "I always wondered why you didn't try."

With bated breath, I waited for their rolling eyes, sighs, and any other outward signs of disbelief and received none. The comments ranged from, "It's about time!" to "take it one class at a time, one quarter at a time and you'll make it. You know that."

I think it's that last comment that is so critical for me to remember:


So often I've focused on the end result rather than enjoying and focusing on the present, especially when related to school. As an incoming freshman to the U of MN, I had my entire 4-year program mapped out, scheduled, teachers selected, etc by the first day of my first semester... What I forgot to do was focus on the present and instead got wrapped up into the what-could-I-do and took 7 years to graduate.

Focusing on one day, one class, one semester will keep me grounded in the "now" and when I reach the "end" (matriculation), I will start the process all over again.

December 5, 2008 is a big day - registration day for returning students at the U. One more little step toward realizing a dream and going for it, one more little step towards getting out of a career that has taken good care of my son and I, but always left me yearning for something greater.

Someday, I will join this -

http://www.amsa.org

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Links For MDs & Those Pre-Med

Seminar Registration

http://www.pesihealthcare.com/index.asp

For Registered Physicians Only (peeking behind the curtain!)

http://www.sermo.com/

Medical School Admissions Information

http://medschoolready.com/app/default.asp

Student Doctor

http://www.studentdoctor.net/


Chemistry Prep Tests Online

http://antoine.frostburg.edu/chem/senese/101/index.shtml

Organic Chemistry Prep

http://www.chemhelper.com/practicetests.html


Match Statistics

http://www.oldpremeds.org/fusionbb/fbbuploads/1206897324-advancedatatables2008.pdf
------------------
The SERMO site was shown to me some months ago by a registered, and practicing, physician.

I'd love to know what has been updated on the site including new technologies (voice activated paging, and other handy tools of the trade that have come out in the past year); also interesting, would be the propensity for the site to allow med school students access.

Chemistry tests online gave me some decent reference test questions. In reviewing the questions, it helped to understand what types of questions are asked, what might I expect to see myself on paper exams, and additionally, what types of resources are out there for those times when the TA or professor is not readily handy.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Med Links

As promised, here are links found:

Older Pre Meds

http://www.oldpremeds.org/fusionbb/portal/index.php?

Medical Magazine Subscriptions - One Place

http://www.acclaimsubscriptions.com/usa/catalog/showCategoryMagazines/?id=103177

Clearing For Med School Applications

http://www.aamc.org/students/amcas/

Listing of all med schools accredited in US and Canada
(does not include Caribbean schools)

http://services.aamc.org/memberlistings/index.cfm?fuseaction=home.search&search_type=MS&wildcard_criteria=&state_criteria=CNT%3AUSA&image=Search

After reviewing the list of each state's medical schools, I selected seven of them (three are shown), printed out their specific pre-med guidelines, mapped those requirements into an Excel spreadsheet with the first column containing the courses, and the top row containing the school names. This allows me to double check that classes I take now, will be potentially agreeable to the other schools I app, and if there is a disparate course, I know I'm only taking it for one specific school.

SCHOOL U OF MN WVSOM WAKE FOREST



COURSE






Biology 4 4 4



Chemistry 8 8 8



Genetics 4





Zoology
4 4



Botany






Parasitology






Biochemistry 3 3




Organic Chemistry 8 8 8



Physics 8 8 8



Cell & Molecular Biololgy
3




Math






Saturday, November 1, 2008

Step One - Breathe

Some 39 years ago I remember playing house down the street with my friends, I was five. While my friends played mom and sister, with my little red bucket of bandages and tape, I played doctor and dreams were born.

Sometime in the beginning of the 4th grade my teacher told me I was not a problem child but bored and then put me on a schedule to get me energized and tracked. I finished 4th grade math and science sometime around Dec. My teacher, Garry Ranthum, was diagnosed around the same time with leukemia. Curiosity getting the better of me, I started doing research on that word at the local library. I was still only 10 years old but I was hungry for more info.

Garry did great things for all of his students gifted or not, mediocre or over-achievers. I ran into old classmates of mine in the 80's and all of us thought we should have a reunion to honor him. For sadly, as we were then beginning 7th grade, he passed away.

All of my papers throughout elementary, junior and senior high revolved around oncology. I became a medical explorer in Bismarck, ND, watched childbirth, rode in ambulances, and "knew" I was headed to medical school in the future.

In 1982 I started my undergraduate work some 500 miles away from my parents. Newly minted with the stamp called "Freedom" I lived the life of the "Animal House" party girl. Med school became a distant reality for me. The hunger to become a doc was still there, the drive was not.

Mid-1993 and one of the most honorable people I've ever had the pleasure and good fortune to know, Dr Robert Heller, told me he had this "thing" in his throat but I was not to worry. He was sure it would go away, he was sure it was nothing. I'm not sure how long he lived between that and his passing. Oncology a word that I researched and hated risen up from the past to hit me again.

Through the next 15 years I've meandered in and out of wondering, "Could I" and, "What if I tried" to "What am I thinking?"

So here is my first post on a blog about trying at the age of 44 to get pre-reqs done, show that I'm capable of getting the grades I need, and hopefully, an acceptance letter for matriculation in 2011. Along the way I'll link other forums, things I find, and post my thoughts. Wandering around the University of Minnesota campus today I remembered why I love school - and then I had to remember:

Step One, breathe!