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


The Power of ‘Meaning’

Angie, Fourth Year Medical StudentWhile boiling raw beets for my mom- she swears by them for helping lower her blood pressure- I came across a Google news story titled, “Tearjerker! Angelina Jolie’s Speech at the Governors Awards Will Make You Cry.” Curious, I clicked on the link and found myself indeed moved by Angelina Jolie’s speech.

Above all [my mother] was very clear that nothing would mean anything if I didn’t live a life of use to others. I didn’t know what that meant for a long time… it was only when I began to travel and look and live beyond my home that I understand my responsibility to others. -Angelina Jolie

I could not agree more with her words about living a purposeful life to the fullest. During the last couple months, I have asked myself too many times why I am choosing to pursue a career that will daily ask demand me to choose between two jealous loves I love most- my patients and those I call family. The next four years of residency will be brutal, exhilarating, and exhausting because it will be the time to try to learn everything in the field of obstetrics and gynecology to come out ready to practice or pursue fellowship. I am realistic- it will be stressful making sacrifices and feeling like I may not be able to make everyone 100% happy all the time.

So why am I still here? It is because the pursuit of medicine in the field of obstetrics and gynecology brings my life meaning. With the skills, experiences, and support I have been blessed with these twenty-seven years, I find greatest peace and energy when I am placing the wellbeing and comfort of my patients before that of my own. This seems counterintuitive, but a TED talk by health psychologist Kelly McGonigal recently helped me see that the new science also supports this idea that stress- when attached to something meaningful- may actually be beneficial. One study looked at the impact of stress on longevity: overall, there was a 43% increase in the risk of death for those who believed they had high stress and that stress had a large impact on health. However, those with high stress who did not perceive stress as negative were amongst those least likely to die. Furthermore, another study found the positive impact of giving to others on stress-related mortality.

I have been so thankful for my parents who have not asked me for anything more than to come home to have dinner with them when I am free. I am also so thankful for my sister who has taken the time to travel with me to some of my interviews; my significant other who helped me first survive, then taught me to thrive in medical school; and my lifelong friends who have forgiven me for my selfishness and stuck by me through the toughest times. These people bring my life meaning, and will continue to balance the negative stress that I will inevitably face at times.

This interview process has been ‘stressful.’ When I talk with my interviewers about my passion for women’s health and medicine, my heart begins racing and the rate of my words speeds up. But I remind myself that this stress is positive, and just a natural response to my perception of a worthy challenge in the pursuit of living a meaningful and responsible life helping others.

It has been a wonderful experience meeting my fellow applicants and and I wish you all the best as we continue to pursue the common goal of becoming excellent OBGYN doctors!

You can trust yourself to handle life’s challenges. And you’re remembering you don’t have to face them alone. –Kelly McGonigal


Now We’re Family

Danny, First Year Medical Student

We’ve just completed our first set of tests and let me tell you something – it’s a whole new ballgame. I was reminded of this every step of the way, but truly experiencing test week for the first time is something different and very difficult to describe. It’s quite draining, and it brought on a whole new perspective to the Sabbath, and emphasized the importance to unwind.

That following Sabbath, I visited one of many beaches near Loma Linda (one of the many perks of Southern California that is not available to a Ohioan like Ryan Babienco and I). While at the beach, I was enjoying the company of some friends, when one of them said something that brought a smile to my face.

“You’re a part of the family now.”
“What do you mean,” I replied.
“You now know what it means to be a medical student – you’ve completed a test cycle – now we’re family.”


Tiffany, First Year Medical Student

So this weekend was the big day. On September 1st 2013 I married my best friend and biggest supporter. I must preface this by saying that I would never in a million years recommend getting married during the school year. Save yourself the headache and get married during the summer. That being said, everything was perfect. Our photographer was fabulous, the wedding was beautiful, and the reception was a blast. Juggling starting medical school and the last minute logistics of planning a wedding was no picnic but with the support of my amazing family and friends we pulled it all off.  Luckily I have two weeks until tests so that’s plenty of time to catch up right?

One of the best parts of the weekend, beside getting married of course, was getting to see all our family and friends that we moved away from so that I could attend Loma Linda.  I know Blake (that’s my Husband) must really love me to leave behind such a wonder family and such great friends to be with little ole me.  I only hope that I can give him as much love as they have. Balancing a marriage and medical school will be hard I am sure, but we know that no matter what we will make it work and we look forward to getting through medical school together. So far 2013 has been the best year of my life. I got accepted to medical school and got married to a wonderful man. I can’t wait to see what else this life has in store for me!

Thanks to my friends for posting pics so fast.
wedding 2

Square One, Revisited

Abby, First Year Medical Student
January 1 is a day of newness, a day of oldness. A day when eyes dart forward and behind all at once; no wonder I always wind up in such a blur. I feel like new years are quite a lot like snowfall. They drift down—fresh coats of white on the packing ice. Everything light, feathery, pure, and haunted by minutes flapping their wings. Time holds us in calloused hands. It weathers us just by its cradling. Breathing, blinking, simply being—it all stomps down our snow. The process doesn’t change. The trend governs us. There will be breaking and there will be building, all in the arms of days going by. But I think that this year, I want to get out and tromp my boots around in the white a bit more. I want to see the glossy cold blanket as a field for new footprints, not just a bit of frosting on a cake not meant for eating. I want to soak it in, then run through it with both arms open. Until my nose is cold and cheeks flush roses and the yard is thoroughly stomped on. I want to live richly and deeply, with an urgency to taste life and be love. I willingly put my hands in the ones that fashioned them, ready to be led forward.

When I took a few minutes to recap the highlights of 2012, I decided that I’ve never had a bigger year. Finishing college. Changing cities. Falling in love. Heartbreak and hurting and healing. Romania. Becoming a pen-pal. Having a best friend get married and move. Learning guitar. Starting medical school. Adding feverishly to my friend collection. Dubbing caffeine the base of my food pyramid. Finding out that morning devotions are like air. Seeing Jesus as my reason for living. Letting it slowly sink in that I am loved by Love itself.  2013 is going to have to really slap on its game face if it plans on being anywhere near as stunning as the past 365 days of life.

"Taste and see that the Lord is good" Psalm 34:8

“Taste and see that the Lord is good” Psalm 34:8