Step1 | WSMRF | snowman

Janna, Second Year Medical StudentOne more day of tests! Then, second year will be officially 2/3 completed which means only 121 days 12 hrs and 29 minutes and 14 seconds til the looming Step 1. Step 1- it seems like the biggest test of my career. But then again, I felt that way for the SAT, MCAT, my weekly spelling tests in elementary, this set of tests I should be studying for right now, and basically every test I’ve ever taken… which means there will probably be another “biggest” test to come: Step 2?

On another note, I am excited to say I had the opportunity to present a poster and oral presentation at the WSMRF conference in Carmel, CA. There were over 20 students from my class at the conference and some of our mentors even came up like Dr. Blood. We had a great time learning from each other’s posters, attending presentations, and hanging out. It was a mini-vacation!

And, we have another mini-vacation after this test set. Our officers planned a retreat for our class at Camp Cedar Falls. I can’t wait to frolic in the snow with my classmates. Maybe we will build a snowman!

Disclaimer: I didn’t actually calculate the countdown to Step 1, but it’s around there. 🙂

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Nikoleta Brankov presenting her poster to fellow student Casey Harms.

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Michael Giang in front of captive pulmonologists.

 

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Anthony Yeo with mentor Dr. Blood.

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Me rolling up the poster.

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Olaf from Frozen. Maybe we will build a snowman at our Camp Cedar Falls retreat!

 

Communication Convention

To and back from the sunshine state, specifically Orlando. This past weekend I took a brief break from my med school studies––sort of, I still studied on the flights and in the airports––to revisit my college major, Communication: Public Relations and Journalism. Part of my course work included conducting a quantitative research study which I was now going to present at the National Communication Association 98th Annual Convention.

My co-author and I had been invited to a panel under Lambda Pi Eta (the National Communication Association’s honor society for four year colleges and universities). We had submitted our paper last spring not expecting a response since only a handful of papers are selected from the worldwide submissions. But, our paper was accepted! Upon arrival, we were even more pleasantly surprised to find our paper had made it into the top four papers for Lambda Pi Eta, along with another research group from our class at Pacific Union College (PUC). Our professor, Dr. McGuire, also presented her own research paper at the conference, so she was able to come personally support us at our presentation.

We presented our research on a panel for 8-10 minutes, listened to a respondent, and ended with Q&A. The experience of presenting was very educational, as well as the exposure to the other various communication research studies. I even attended panels on health communication. The studies in these categories looked at improving physician communication in the context of end-of-life care and health care websites.

So, I’m probably a bit behind on my studies, but this experience was definitely worth the extra time I’ll put in over Thanksgiving break. I stopped off in numerous states and Disney park shuttle stations, reconvened with old friends, and furthered my communication knowledge. I was even offered a full ride to a communication university. And, while the thought of no debt is intriguing, the reason for my interest in communication is to facilitate better healthcare and patient interaction, so I’ll stick with pushing through med school. 🙂

When Are You Graduating?

Like every other student, I’m always being asked when I’m graduating, how many more years I have left, or what class year I’m in. As an MD/PhD student, however, the answer is more angst-producing than straightforward. Sure, the four years of medical school are a given, but the graduate school portion is highly variable. The unpredictability of research could potentially add years onto the overall time I’ll spend “in school” before leaving with my degrees.

I’m now entering my third year of graduate school, at the point where there’s little between me and my PhD aside from Data. Data, that fickle, errant wisp flitting behind such obstacles as Unreliable Technique, Incomprehensible Results, and, of course, Bewilderment. When I finally break through, I have four years of medical school waiting for me on the other side.

If there’s anything that sticking with an MD/PhD teaches you, it’s ensuring that you are actually living each day. With clearly defined endpoints, I could try and keep my head down and power through, saving other things for “when I’m finished with this.” My path doesn’t really have an endpoint; there’s always one more thing after each stage, from research to residency. Thus, I’ve had to learn to try and live my life now instead of in a mythical future state. Maintaining such a balance is a battle, but I think it’s the only way to maintain the endurance. After all, I’ve got to keep it up for 26 miles.