I have a pager and a white coat with my name on it???

Kristina, Third Year Medical Student

First year – check. Second year – check. Step 1 – check. Orientation week – check. Tomorrow, with white coat on and pager in hand, I step onto the wards.

It’s both exciting and scary that these mile markers for medical school have passed already. For so many years I have been learning from behind a desk, and now it is time to actually do things.

As I look back on the last two years, it is pretty incredible to see how I’ve changed and been molded to face the changes of medical school. The experience has enabled me to get to know myself in a more raw and vulnerable way. I’ve discovered strengths and weaknesses that I didn’t realize during my college years. If this has only happened in the first two years, I cannot even begin to imagine the changes I will experience in the last two years!

With Step 1 (part one of three board exams that dot the path to becoming an MD) behind us, it’s so interesting to even see the changes my classmates went through in such intense stress. I saw some burning out, some are peaking just at the right time, some in a panic to get the highest score possible, and some at peace with just getting it over with. I realize that we have all come to this point in order to become physicians by mostly studying, studying, occasional OSCE…studying, studying, …and more studying. Yet this is one of the first mile markers of many that REALLY stays with us significantly into the future. I really try not to think of that too much as I wait for my score to arrive sometime in July.

Although it has been draining, I have gained some of the valuable things this year. One of the best things I have experienced is making new friendships and strengthening existing friendships like never before in my life. My friends that I have made in medical school are definitely ones that I will keep for the rest of my life. This is one thing that I have absolutely loved about second year of medical school. In college, I had a harder time getting and maintaining friendships. I’m not sure why. Maybe I spent too much time in the chemistry lab, or maybe I just wasn’t a friendly person! But this year, the hardships have made friendships stronger, and that is something that I will always treasure. Because it’s these friendships that get you through the rough times, and it’s these friendships that make the good times even MORE awesome.

Another thing I’ve really learned this year that has been VERY important for me to “turn off the chatter”. There are always people around you suggesting the newest and best resource for preparing for classes and step 1. The class nearly goes into a panic at the beginning of second year trying to find the best books and notes and flashcards and dropbox pdfs in order to succeed in classes/boards. Early on, I found that this kind of talk reallllly gets to my head. And even though I managed to turn the chatter off first year, I had to do it all over again second year. As a result, my days grew to be spent entirely at home with studying from 6am to 11am, working out, eating lunch, studying from 1pm-6pm (with an occasional 20 minute power nap thrown in), dinner break, then studying from 7pm till about 10pm. Repeat the next day. Yes, it did get a bit lonely at times, but I was MUCH more at peace and much more focused.

This past week we had orientation, which was…..interesting. We had a lot of lectures about smoking cessation, preventive medicine, ethics, and some about how to succeed on the wards. There were ups and downs in my attention span, I will admit.

Thursday night was the clinical commencement dinner for our class at Castaways restaurant. It was so awesome to see everyone in nice outfits, all done up for the occasion! But what I think I loved the most was seeing how relaxed everyone was. Seriously, I don’t think I’ve seen such relief on our faces in all my time here. Now, come our first presentation to our attendings in a few days, I don’t think that will be the case! But, I loved seeing so much happiness then.

The program consisted of a vocal rendition of “Let it go” by some of my classmates (Hans, Ben, Vincent, Jackson, Vanessa) and I along with an encouraging and educational speech given by Dr. Werner on how to succeed in third year (probably the most informative speech of all orientation week). It was an awesome evening of no studying, good food, awesome friends, and a gorgeous sunset.

So in short…third year starts tomorrow. Without a doubt, I am SO happy second year will be over and behind me. But about third year, I’m not going to even pretend like I know what is going to happen, because frankly, I have no idea! I’m sure I will miss the days that I could completely control my schedule and plan my fun activities around my studying. However, at the same time, I so appreciate the first two years of molding me into being a better doctor and a better friend. I have grown in my solitude of prayer and study this year, and now I’m ready to continue growing around patients, attendings, residents, and nurses.

And the saga continues…


Kristina…now MS3


My Clinical Commencement

Ryan, Third Year Medical Student

Smiling. From ear to ear. 🙂 That’s what I’m doing as I try to figure out the best way to start off this post! It’s as if I can’t help myself… I can’t believe I’ve made it to the halfway point! Step I is in my rear-view mirror, endless weeks of lectures & labs are over, and my long legs are done with squeezing into the seats of Alumni Hall. I’m excited for a new year of adventures and that I once again have the opportunity to share them with you, the readers of this blog.  Welcome to season 3!


Getting Coated Before MS1. Feels Like I’ve Come Far Since That Day…

For the first 20 years of my education, all I have known is sitting in a classroom, doing my best to pay attention, then taking some sort exam to show what I have learned.  I’ve had short-term jobs here and there, but even though I’m more than half way through my 20’s, I still don’t know what it’s like to go to a regular job and make a paycheck.  Most of my friends from high school have already been at that for a few years now, but I honestly have no idea what that is like! With that said, here I stand at the beginning of MS3, my third year of medical school. Everything I know about education is about to change.

Med school is unique in that after you finish the first two intense years of classroom based learning, the curriculum transitions into a hospital/clinic based scene.  The best comparison I can make is to call our third and fourth years a sort of apprenticeship, where a mentor takes us on as students and coaches us through the actual practice of medicine.  I’ll see real patients, take histories, do physical exams and procedures, recommend treatment plans… essentially everything a real doctor does! Instead of clicking in my answers to a lecture quiz, I’ll be getting paged while running around a hospital! We’ll still have the occasional lecture and exam (and of course USMLE Step 2 at the end of the year), but for the most part, I’m finally going to start doing what I came to medical school for in the first place.


Time to Trade In Clickers…


…for Pagers!

Now, I obviously won’t have very much autonomy; I have next to no actual clinical experience.  Medical students learn the practice of medicine in a highly supervised and structured manor in one of many teaching hospitals and clinics across the United States.  There is a specific chain of command that must be followed to ensure the best care goes to our patients.  Typically I’ll be working under an intern (aka a first 1st year resident), a senior resident, and an attending, not to mention all the nurses, techs, and other hospital staff who have much, MUCH more practical experience than I do.  This system is a great way to learn, because I can work with real patients, but not worry about making any kind of mistake that would ever put a patient in harm’s way.

Now even though I will have a lot of help and teaching along the way, I have to admit I’m quite nervous about getting started.  After years and years of lectures and exams, I have no idea what to expect other than what I’ve been told.  There is a steep learning curve one must go through in the first couple of weeks, like figuring out how to use the charting system, how to write orders, even how to use that first pager!  It’ll probably be a bit scary at first, but I’m confident I’ll learn and adjust as I continue my training.  It’s all part of the journey!


This Year’s “First Day of School” Door Photo… My Smile Couldn’t Look More Nervous!

To commemorate the beginning of MS3 and clinical training, the School of Medicine regularly hosts a special banquet the week before we hit the floor.  So donning my favorite linen suit and tightening the knot on a freshly tied bowtie, I escorted my gorgeous wife to the Castaway Restaurant located in the hills above San Bernardino.  A large portion of the building was reserved just for us, and the evening was spent in friendly conversation complimented by a gourmet meal.  Looking around, the excitement of our upcoming challenges was almost tangible; we were FINALLY ready to begin a new chapter in our lives. I had such a good time with my classmates, who really are a great bunch of people. There were raffles (including winning an afternoon of golf with the Dean of the School of Medicine, Dr. Hadley), a med school inspired remix of songs from an impromptu band formed by some of my classmates, and Dr. Ngo (one of our clinical instructors) reminding us not to be afraid to “be a little foolish sometimes.”


Clinical Commencement Dinner, c/o 2015


Some Classmates Pose with Dr. Hadley, Dean of the School of Medicine


My Gorgeous Wife Brianna Makes Me Look Good!


Dr. Ngo’s Words of Wisdom

So now with orientation week in Loma Linda coming to a close, I’m heading off for the initial portion of my first rotation (rotations are our assignments to various medical specialties), which will be Internal Medicine. I’ll be spending three weeks in Kettering, OH, working the inpatient side of things, and I couldn’t be more excited.  I was born in Kettering Medical Center, and I have many random memories of wandering the halls of that building when I was still a child, waiting for my mother to finish work so we could go home.  Things will look quite different now that I am much taller!


Kettering Medical Center

Just keeps getting more and more real! #MS3 #medschool

K fo’ Life!!

It’s going to be scary, challenging, rewarding, and tiring all at the same time.  Even though I’m still not making a real paycheck (grumble), I’m going to be “working a job” for the first time, and that feels like progress to me.  I can’t wait to share all my stories with you throughout this year, I know I’ll have lots of them, so I invite you to continue along with me as I journey through MS3. Thanks to all you faithful readers of this blog; it’s been a lot of fun for me, and I hope it’s been fun for you too.

Once again, welcome to Season 3!