A Black Female Medical Student

Posts Tagged ‘medical school

So…. its cold and snowy in Chicago, and I’m right smack in the middle of finals. Blah.

I’ve been here in Panera studying with my big sib (who is so awesome by the way…. I like her so much) ALL DAY. But its not too bad! Nice ambiance, good food and good company make for happy studying.

If only the weather weren’t so…. stupid.

One thing that has (negatively) surprised me about Chicago is how much it snows.

Don’t get me wrong, I knew it would be cold. I just didn’t know HOW cold. It was in the TEENS yesterday! The TEENS!

Its ridiculous! I was happy and enchanted after the first snowfall, but since like… Monday its just been snowing incessantly and in all different kinda ways! Snow flurries, snow showers, sleet, freezing rain….

I find it annoying. I’m used to getting like one big snow and everybody gets all excited and then its over. Not this unending…. froth.

And the worst thing about it is that we get all this snow and no snow days.

But yeah.

So in other news….

I went to the club last night. It was fun, I guess. The music was good, but there were just all kinds of shady characters milling about. I mean sketchy people all around! And I have never seen so many (seemingly) straight guys dance with each other and seem happy about it. Not that there’s anything wrong with it, but that behavior is generally reserved for females. And, dude, they were amp’d.

But the music was good…. I think I would have had more fun if I was just a little more drunk. Only cuz my inhibitions would have been lowered. I was dancing, but not too much. I just had this lingering fear in the back of my mind that if I got too jiggy with it, one of those shady characters would have tried to dance with me.

I went with a one other female classmate and a whole bunch of male classmates. They were having fun using the “I’m a medical student at [insert name of prestigious unversity here]” line. The girls were just loving it.

And the guys were just loving it that the girls were just loving it.

Sketchy.

But yeah, thats really about it. I’ll be back home again in a week and I’m really trying to do something fun and refreshing. No more loafing. Maybe I’ll go visit my sister or visit some of my friends that I have scattered about the US.

Anyways, its back to studying for me.

Smooches!

I had my Biochemistry test today. I think I’m going to shoot my undergraduate Biochem and Cell Bio professors a thank you e-mail because if I hadn’t taken those classes in undergrad, I would probably be feeling a lot different. Not that I really retained very much information from those classes in undergrad, but my Cell Biology professor’s testing style seems to be very similar to my current Biochemistry professor so I wasn’t too freaked out on the exam today.

Its a completely different type of class from Anatomy, and I know I felt frustrated the night before. I was going over old exams with one of my classmates, and they were hard! We had the book, lecture notes, lecture sildes, and reading notes all laid out in front of us and it was still hard! For the life of me, I could not figure out some of those problems.

Our professor will give you a whole bunch of information by way of lectures and a note set he prepared, but will not tell you what to do with it. He does expect us to read the book, and while I didn’t for this exam, I think I will for subsequent exams because its the only study source with all the information he may choose to cover. I have found it to be an easier read than his note set, which has grammatical errors, incomplete sentences, and is just poorly worded in some areas. The lecture slides fill in some gaps that were left in the note set, but I feel it would just be too easy for me to miss something, especially since I retain very little from in class lecture. I do much better by reading. I can sit in a class for an hour maybe only pick up like 30% of what they’re trying to teach me.

For example, last night, my friend and I were trying to understand the reaction mechanism of aspartyl proteases (HIV-protease is a example of these), and I stared at the picture for about a minute to no avail. He picked it up a immediately, but I didn’t until I read the notes, and then it was like a light bulb clicked in my head. He couldn’t believe it and called me weird. He said it was akin to him showing me how to open a bottle of Gatorade or reading out the instructions like: “Grasp the bottle at the neck and at the cap…” Lol.

Okay, back to Biochemistry. So we do have access to past exams, but he never repeats questions, so the exams are just a huge test of your problem-solving ability. My classmate said, it’s just a test of your ability to make up “plausible explanations”, a statement which I agree with. I probably came up with at least 3 or 4 different answers to each question before I settled on one.

Anyways, the test was okay. I don’t know if I got that 90% I was shooting for, but I should make it into the 80s somewhere. I think. I hope. 🙂 I don’t even know how our class felt about the test overall. There was little to no discussion afterward. Generally, after our Anatomy tests, that would be ALL people would talk about for the next  hour or so. I think its because in Anatomy we have definitive answers, while in Biochemistry there are definite concepts. Memorizing doesn’t really serve you as well, it most about understanding the how and the why and applying that to whatever random scenario he throws at you.

Our last Anatomy test is coming up this Monday, THANK YOU JESUS!

I am not a big fan of Anatomy. I like Biochem so much more. I don’t know how I feel about Physio yet, because I haven’t been to class. 😛

What I do like about having taken Anatomy is that my memorizing skills have increased like… 100-fold since coming here. Anatomy was just a test of how well you can memorize massive amounts of information and then regurgitation of those details on the test. Also, I know a whole bunch of just really random stuff! I’m glad we got it out of the way first though, I cannot fathom having to look forward to 3-4 more months of lab. That would be horrendous.

Okay, I have to get back to studying. Have a great weekend!

So I have decided to get to work on building my own mini- support network. I didn’t realize that I didn’t have one until I started encountering some issues in my anatomy class, and I didn’t really know who to talk to about it. I have made some friendships within my class, however, generally they are just as clueless about stuff as I am. It may be a personal thing, but I think having a support network has been one the most important factors of my success as a pre-medical student and will have the same role as I matriculate through medical school.

Its more than just having friends in your class. I have found that other medical students can be some of the best and the worst people to decompress with. On one hand they know what you’re going through and can identify with your frustrations, but on the other hand, we can be extremely narcissistic, stressed out, and annoying, not to mention tired all the time. Its like you can vent out stuff to a fellow med student, but really all they can say is “You better just go ahead and suck it up… cuz I am.” :-/

Medical school is extremely stressful, much too stressful to go through it alone. Since Ichose to attend medical school 1/2 across the country from my alma mater and home, I am fairly isolated from old friends and family. I’m working to reconstruct my support network now.

First off, I’m looking for a new church home and I do think I’ve found one. I’m a Christian (flawed though I am), and was raised in the church. As for my personal walk with Christ, its been difficult to find time to commune with the Lord on a daily basis, but I’m working on it. I have to, for the sake of my sanity.

As always, I am striving to maintain a close relationship with my family. We’re scattered all over the country (and at times the world since my parents travel so much). Its hard, and I have a large family. I have 5 sisters, and I have decided that I will try to talk to at least one of them everyday.

I’ve also been trying to maintain a relationship with my old friends. I guess I got caught up in the new people, the new city, the new  experiences and the massive amounts of studying I’ve been doing on a daily basis, because I didn’t realize that I was losing my sense of self. Personal growth is good, but for awhile I kind of forgot who I was. I plan on going back to my undergrad for homecoming (omg…. I can’t wait. The Midwest is cool, but I need to get out of here!!!), and I text my old comrades on the daily. Of course time is limited, but you make time for who/what’s important.

I’ve gotten to know the Dean for Colored Folk. These people go by many different names at different institutions. This person could be a Dean/ Asst. Dean/ Director of Diversity/ Minority Affairs/ Multicultural Affairs… they have a lot of different aliases, but their purpose generally to make sure that minority students are adjusting well. They are generally very busy, but try to seek them out. You definitely want to come to them before they have to come to you. If you’re struggling will want to have an advocate if you every have to come before the review board for whatever reason.

I’m trying to move out my comfort zone and talk to my non-black classmates more. As it is, I have gotten very close with my fellow black classmates, it cannot be denied that my class as a whole is awesome. I was talking to someone today, and they said that our school is the 3rd most diverse medical school in the country (outside of the HBCUs) and I was not surprised. Even though sometimes my classmates do things that make me raise an eyebrow, I must admit they have taught me a lot of things and introduced me to knew experience. Who woulda thought this chick from MD woulda have every tried out for an a capella group or intramural football?

So thats pretty much it in a nutshell. I have 2 tests this week, both Biochem and Anatomy so I probably won’t be back here for a few days. If I do, it will more than likely just be to vent lol.

Best wishes!!!

I go to a Top 20 institution, and most of my classmates came from prestigious undergrads; I have quite a few classmates from Harvard. I definitely felt intimidated when I first got here, because I went to a small HBCU in the South. I loved my experience, and if I had the choice, I would do it again. Still, my undergraduate experience was very different from a lot of my classmates, some of whom had no idea what an HBCU is.

I had a conversation with the Dean of Multicultural Affairs, and he told me that the medical school had not had very good success with graduates from HBCUs, leading me to think that the small representation of HBCU here might be intentional. While they have had students from HBCUs in the past, they have not had many, and I believe I am the only student they have ever had from my undergrad.

Anyways, I do feel some pressure to do well here, because my performance here could very well influence their attitude towards HBCU students in the future. I would hate for a talented and hardworking student’s application to be called into question because of my performance here. So I tried to work a little harder this week. I think it paid off, because I scored higher than the class average for the first time on the test this week.

Unfortunately we’re almost done with Anatomy so it doesn’t mean much, but I hopefully will take this attitude with me through the rest of the year. I came in here with the expectation that I wasn’t as competitive a student as the rest of my classmates, and that’s wrong. While there is a steeper learning curve to step up to, that is the case for anyone who enters med school. We’re all new at this lol.

My lack of confidence in myself and my abilities isn’t new. There was a point in my life when I had a very low self-esteem and was always putting myself down. My self-esteem isn’t low anymore, but many people do disparage the education at HBCUs, and I think I allowed myself to internalize that.

We may have come from different places, some of my classmates may have come from prestigious backgrounds, some from lots of money, some from exotic places, but we’re all here. My experiences may be different, less glossy, but it doesn’t make them any less relevant. I forgot that, and I think it showed in my grades.

Either way, I’m on an upward trend, and I believe it will continue. My goal is to score above 90% on my next 2 exams. I mean, above average is cool, but not cool enough.  I have one next Friday and the other a week from Monday so I have quite a bit of studying to get through.

Oh and in response to that last comment, in the words of Eric Cartman: “Whateva! Whateva! *snaps fingers*, I do what I want!”

I have soooo been meaning to update. And I guess it hasn’t been THAT long since my last post, but let me tell you. Medical school is like a non-stop…. obligation!

I just started classes last Monday, and my first test is this Tuesday. In addition to studying (and this is a real test, not a “let’s ease you in/ give you some time to adjust” type test), we have orientation meetings, community service obligations, K.I.T. with friends and family and feed myself with some kind of regularity. I have yet to completely move into my house (my roommate and kinda just camp out on the living floor to study/ watch TV lol). Then you have to be social, as you are constantly making first impressions and you don’t want negative ones to follow you for the next 4 years. I still don’t know HOW I’m going to incorporate cooking into my daily routine as I’m in class from 8-5 every day (yes, antiquated… I know).

But really though, med school has been fun. I love my medical school class for the most part, and as I said in my last post, Chicago is an amazing city. I found this jerk chicken place down the street that I love, and on Saturday I went to a birthday party for one of the 2nd year students at this club downtown. Let me tell you, that night was just so crazy/fun/ funny on so many different levels.

I graduated from an HBCU so I am not too experience with partying with white ppl. Neither is my roommate, but primarily because she moved Oklahoma from Nigeria when she was 17 and apparently there’s not much clubbing going on there lol. Anyways, white people love to party. And they have no shame in dancing even though, quite simply, they can’t lol. Also, they can get away with so much stuff that black people can’t…. like, you know how black guys will barely move their feet or their body while dancing. Why were all these white boys wiggling their hips, waving their hands, and (lmao) practically break dancing???? I was DYING.

But it was a good time.

I have to pack it in and get some sleep…. I have class at 9am tomorrow morning, and I still have a bunch of studying to do so tomorrow’s gonna be another long nite.

God bless!!!!

Posted on: August 6, 2008

Insomnia sucks. *cries*

And I am soooo tired…. however, I can’t sleep. I had a nice (although long) day today. I got walk around my new neighborhood for a bit and I even stopped in the grocery store and bought some grapes. Grapes are great at cheering people up…. usually. I had never had any person refuse an offer of grapes until today. I offered them to my roommate and she refused…. said it was bad for her voice.

So weird…. my throat is slight sore now. Huh…..

But seriously, try offering grapes to a person who is unhappy about something…. it generally will work in your favor.

Tomorrow I will begin my third day of medical school classes. As nerdy as it sounds, I kinda love it thus far, lol. I live in Barack Obama’s neighborhood, Chicagoans are (for the most part) intelligent and friendly, and THERE IS GREAT SHOPPING HERE. Seriously, I cannot wait until this wknd when I can go downtown and spend more money. ***preens… Bill Cosby style***

I am so excited.

I have yet to try out the nightlife here, but I heard its pretty nice. I just realized that my college nightlife was kinda boring. I mean, I definitely had fun, but we didn’t really do anything particularly mind-blowing…. just floated between one another’s houses and drank.

Well, the alcohol made it seem fun.

I don’t know about going out this weekend like that, I have a test next Tuesday, and failing is not an option. We’ll see how much peer pressure I will have to withstand. Hopefully, its a lot and I will have to succumb lol….

Tata!