Professional Fraternities – Do I Join?

Hi everyone!

Today, I wanted to touch on the subject of professional fraternities and what they’re all about. I was presented with the opportunity to join a professional pharmaceutical fraternity in my second semester of my P1 year. It actually was a real challenge for me, deciding on whether I should pledge one of our fraternities or not. I wanted the friends, I wanted the networking opportunities, and I wanted the chance to make a difference in the fraternity’s chosen philanthropy. On the negative side, I didn’t know what pledging actually entailed, I didn’t want a boatload of extra work, I didn’t want my bid to be rejected for my chosen fraternity, and I certainly didn’t want to be hazed. What was a girl to do?! All of these decisions and all this stress on top of everything else I had going on with school…

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Long story short, I did end up pledging a fraternity, and became a full fledged member before the semester was over. The honest truth? The meetings and the extra work were definitely time consuming, some of the pledging requirements were difficult to complete, it was expensive, and of course the process start to finish was filled with anxiety-ridden moments that I can’t even share with you due to the nature of the fraternity.

All in all, though, pledging a professional fraternity is a good idea in my opinion.

If you are wondering if this is the right extracurricular to get involved in, I encourage you to think about a few things – Does the fraternity have a philanthropy that you care about? Do you have the money to pledge right now? Do you plan on being active for the following years of schooling or was this just a temporary venture to put on your CV? Are the people in the fraternity people you don’t mind spending a lot of time around? Will you take advantage of everything that the fraternity has to offer, such as regional conferences, volunteering events, leadership workshops, and career networking opportunities?

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When deciding between fraternities, or just deciding to pledge a fraternity in general, think about those things. Once you pledge one fraternity, you can’t pledge another professional one. Take the decision seriously. Do your research before you make any big decisions. Take the time to talk to fraternity members to get a feel of what the culture is like once you make it in. You don’t want to devote all of your time, money, and efforts getting into a fraternity, and finding out it’s not what you expected or wanted it to be. This is not only a chance to make new friends, it is also a chance to grow professionally.

Till next time,

:)Lauren

 

 

May: American Stroke Month

Someone in the US has a stroke about once every 40 seconds.

– American Heart Association

Strokes. One of the most devastating, yet mystifying conditions out there. With strokes being so common, it’s shocking how little concrete information we have on its causes, its treatment, and its prevention.  Although we know more about strokes than ever, there is still a lot to learn.

May is American Stroke Month. Being in pharmacy school, you learn about strokes all the time. But, seeing it affect someone you love opens your eyes to the hurt it brings the victim and their families. Some strokes have no identifiable cause. We find that more young people than ever are falling victim to this condition. Some strokes cause simply cause memory loss, while others cause life-long disabilities or even death.

Strokes can affect anyone, anywhere. The American Heart Association has done a great job providing statistics and educational information online. The sad thing is, we probably don’t frequent their website, unless it’s too late.

If I can pass any bit of information on to you that is worth remembering, it is the F.A.S.T. acronym of stroke symptoms.

F-Facial Drooping

A-Arm Weakness

S-Slurred Speech

T-Take Action, Call 911

Other symptoms of stroke include a severe headache, sudden confusion or vision problems, trouble with walking or balance, and one sided weakness or numbness.

Time is everything when it comes to strokes. If you suspect you or a loved one are experiencing the symptoms of a stroke, please call 911 or go to your nearest emergency room. The faster you are able to receive medical care, the more likely your symptoms are to be less debilitating.

Click HERE to read more about the different kinds of stroke, prevention strategies, and support for life after a stroke.

Thanks for reading!

:)Lauren

For all the Indecisive Students out there…

There are two types of regrets in this world: things that you do and things that you don’t do. The best way to live life is to only regret the things you’ve done.“– an obviously very exhausted Radiation Oncology physician who wanted to say something profound to a room full of 1st year med students

Hey guys, Theresa here! It’s been awhile, I know, but I thought I’d blog about something that’s been on my mind a lot lately: choosing a specialty. I think this topic isn’t just something that medical students have to deal with, but literally everyone has the dilemma of deciding on a career. It’s a lot of pressure to choose something that you’ll end up doing for the rest of your life.

You’d think that going into professional school, you basically know what you want to do for the rest of your life. And truth be told, some do. When I started medical school less than a year ago, I was 100% sure that I wanted to become an orthopedic surgeon. That didn’t last long, however. As the year has gone on and I’ve had more exposure to other specialties, I can say that I do not know what specialty I’ll apply for in my 4th year. Honestly, I feel like it was easier to decide to become a physician than figure out which kind of physician I want to be.

Deciding on a specialty would be much easier if Ryan Gosling was pressuring you into choosing.

At the same time, as a rising second year, it’s still early enough in my medical education that it’s fine that I haven’t chosen my specialty yet. In fact, many of upperclassmen and residents I have talked to did not make a decision until the end of their first year after they had rotated through the different clerkships and taken some elective rotations. This makes the most sense — deciding only when you have had real exposure to the different specialties out there. And trust me, they are all completely different! I mean, would you want your dermatologist fixing a valve in your heart? Probably not. But both of these specialists all took the same classes in medical school, yet their respective careers and lifestyles are vastly different.

This all being said, there still is a lot of pressure to choose your specialty early, especially if you want to go into some of the more competitive ones like ENT or ophthalmology. Applicants are for these residencies are so competitive that students even remotely interested are encouraged to engage in research and shadowing as early as possible (like 1st year early) in order to have a fighting change of matching.

One of the great things that my school provides for us indecisive students is a program called Careers in Medicine (CiM). The directors of CiM put together programs like “Residency Speed Dating” in addition to specialists panels that correspond to the organ system block we are studying at the moment (for example, for our pulmonary block, the panel consisted of pulmonolgists, critical care internists, anesthesiologists and thoracic surgeons). These programs are wonderful because the physicians don’t try to sugar-coat anything. They will tell you the absolute worst things about their field. Sometimes it can seem harsh to hear things like a doc chose emergency medicine so that he wouldn’t have to deal with a patient for a long time, but it’s something that we need to know as medical students trying to figure out what is best for us and will make us the happiest in the long run. You want to choose a specialty that fits your interest as well as your personality and lifestyle.

I’ll end with this: it’s okay not knowing what you want to do. Go out and explore different things and don’t settle for anything less than what’s best for you. As a physician once said to me, “If you can imagine doing the worst part of your job everyday for a week straight, then that’s the right job for you.”

That’s all for now guys! I’ll probably be MIA for a little bit since I have T-minus 25 days left of school with two quizzes, two tests, an OSCE and a shelf exam all crammed in there. But when I’m all finished up, I’ll post a recap of my first year along with what I’m doing with my “Last Summer” as well as what’s ahead for year two. Until then, thanks for reading!

❤ Theresa

What They Don’t Tell You About Pharmacy School: Semester 2

Howdy guys!

I can’t believe it, but I actually made it (almost!) through my first year of pharmacy school! I only have 4 more finals this week and then I can officially say that I am a P2!

So, on to the good stuff –what are some things to expect while in your second semester of pharmacy school?

  1. You start to come to the realization that there are more facets to pharmacy than just your usual retail setting. We were exposed to the world of personalized medicine/pharmacogenomics, job opportunities in specialty pharmacy, the art of modern compounding, and the very sterile world of IV/infusion pharmaceuticals.
  2. Prepare to have your blood pressure taken by your classmates an unhealthy amount of times. I’ve had my blood pressure taken approximately 1.2 million times this past year, and I am confident in saying that some of my classmates still need to learn how to do it. My limp arm can’t stand to be the guinea pig any longer.
  3. The alarming amount of paranoia you begin to feel after taking pathophysiology courses. After every lesson, no matter what it’s concerning, you start to feel as if you immediately are having symptoms of whatever disease state you just learned about. We learned about pulmonary embolisms one day, and accordingly, I started having unsettling pains while I was breathing (turns out it was probably just a panic attack…or really bad acid reflux). You learn about intestinal parasites, and all of a sudden you can’t stop itching all night and have severe diarrhea for the duration of the lessons. You see my point.
  4. Not only did I get to compound my first capsule and mix my own cream, I also got to make my own natural remedy for insect bites. Ah, the wonders of natural medicine!
  5. Suddenly, you realize that pharmacy school isn’t as hard as it was when you first started. You start to remember more things. Old lessons from last semester are coming back to haunt you … I mean, coming back in greater detail so you can build on your knowledge. You actually start to learn about how medicines work. You are actually starting to learn what you came here to do!

Stay strong! If I can make it, so can you!

:)Lauren

Biosniffers – The Future of Disease Diagnosis

Hi, readers!

I have another new medical technology advancement to share with you guys today. This new technology is called the “Biosniffer”. Of course, with a name like this, I am instantly curious as to what this thing is. I have to tell you, the imagery I get when I hear this word is not all that pretty. I needed to set the record straight. So I did my research.

Professor Il-Doo Kim of South Korea is developing a small sensor device that is not only very sensitive, but also very selective to diagnosing very specific disease states from the gases we emit from our breath. More specifically, the sensor is looking for volatile organic compounds within our breath. The presence of these compounds are a potential indicator of a disease state, since volatile organic compounds are not usually found in the breath analysis of a healthy individual. The information about the Biosniffer that I found online gave a few specific examples of information that it could yield — if ammonia was recognized from the breath analysis, it could indicate some kind of kidney malfunction, or the presence of toluene may indicate lung cancer.

Images from its debut article reveal that this piece of technology is not only portable; it could potentially also be wearable. Sensors have been embedded in objects, such as watches and smart phones. What’s also great about these Biosniffers is that they are noninvasive, and they are able to provide instant results. I mean, what could be easier than just exhaling onto a sensor? Amazing!

We have to keep in mind that all diagnoses of conditions must be confirmed by a health care professional, but this is a great way to begin self-monitoring for diseases, as well as potentially catch a condition in its early stages. The sensor is very sensitive, meaning all abnormal levels of gases present in your breath (or even the environment) may show up, but it doesn’t necessarily warrant a firm diagnosis. Although the Biosniffer is still in development, this would be an amazing way to catch a previously undiagnosed condition without the hassle of endless lab tests!

A more in-depth description of the way the sensor works can be found HERE.

Until next time,

:)Lauren

Future of Smoking Cessation

Howdy!

Ah, smoking cessation — a crucial intervention to be done by the pharmacist, yet one of the most awkward  and dreaded patient encounters you can imagine. Nobody wants to be cursed by a man (or woman) low on their nicotine.

Actual smoking cessation is not what I wanted to talk about today. Rather, it is the new methods of smoking cessation that I find most interesting.

An interesting study was done in late February about the effectiveness of text-message based smoking cessation. Now, if you’re anything like me, you might actually write that study off as bogus right away. Who wants constant, annoying text messages that are reminding you to take a break from your daily nicotine fix(es)? Who wants a faceless “person” telling them what not to do?

I did read the study and found the results to be shocking. 26% of the test group and 15% of the control group actually reported an 8 week period of smoking cessation all together after beginning the text message program. According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, these results are actually comparable to the quit rates seen while using traditional methods of smoking cessation such as the nicotine patch, gum, lozenge, etc. I don’t know about you, but those results are pretty staggering for a text message program.

If people can use a simple text message program to quit smoking, what else can we do with this kind of technology? How else can we integrate our cell phones, laptops, iPads, and other technologies with programs and apps that are developed with our health in mind? People use health based technology very regularly – those people who check the WebMD Symptom Checker to try and self diagnose their latest ailment (and end up regretting it because WebMD always tells you that you’re having a medical emergency), those people who use their phones or FitBits to track their steps and activities every day, calorie counting apps, the list could go on and on. Why not create specific text message programs, like the smoking cessation service, that provides daily encouragement, support, and friendly reminders for those with a specific disease state or those trying to make positive lifestyle modifications? Not to mention, these text message programs are free (standard data rates may apply) as opposed to traditional methods of self-improvement.

Do you like what you’re reading? Find out more information HERE.

If you’d like to check out the study yourselves, you can find it HERE.

I hope you guys find this as interesting as I do. Technology can be detrimental, but used correctly, it can lead us to better health.

Till next time,

:)Lauren

On the Art of Studying

Hello everyone!

First I want to apologize for being MIA for well over a month! I had fallen into a false sense of “I’ve got this whole med school thing down” and then BAM we switched into a new block of courses which dumped clinical and laboratory work on top of our lectures. and my studying habits had to change yet again. With that being said, I thought I’d make this post about studying and what resources I have found over the past few months. Some of these I use, some I don’t. It’s all about finding what works best for you! So here’s a in-no-way comprehensive list of study tips! Just a note, some of these are med-school specific, in terms of question banks and board-prep materials, but I’ll try to keep it general too!Find a good note-taking programThis is #1 for a reason. The heaviest part of school (no matter your field of study) is going to be lectures and taking notes. And what worked for you in college will most likely not work for you in professional school. For instance, I used to print out PPT slides and directly take notes on those print-outs. But in med school, there are just too many lectures to validate killing that many trees. Additionally, professional schools in general are increasingly incorporating more and more technology into how they teach (as well as in clinical practice), so it’s a good idea to get used to using a computer all the time. Instead, I highly suggest finding a computer program where you can take notes. Some kids go very basic and take notes on Word or directly annotate through PowerPoint or Adobe Reader. I personally use OneNote, especially since I have a Surface where I can type and/or use a stylus to highlight and it lets you easily organize your lectures into “notebooks”. Similarly, many iPad or Mac users have found the app Notability to be a great tool as well. At the very least, by using a computer program, you will get really, really good at typing quickly and if professional school doesn’t work out, you could always become a stenographer.

  1. Anki. If you like flashcards, this is the program for you! Similarly to the whole “wasting paper-embrace tech” notion, you would have a slew of flashcards for all the info you’re learning, so you might as well computerize it! The very simple and easy program is completely free as an app on your computer or android phone (sorry iPhone people, you have to pay for the phone app). But it’s more than just a back and front card. You can easily format the card (or “notes” in Anki language) with different fonts, copy paste images onto the cards, tag the cards with keywords, etc. The “decks” of cards are searchable and the program also creates a study-plan for you. But maybe the best part is that each deck is a file that you can share with your classmates. That way, if you are too lazy to make cards on your own (like me) you can just wait for your altruistic friends to share them with the class!
  2. Take breaks. This is probably not a new study tip for anyone, but it’s always worth repeating. I’m sure most of us have looked up from our notes after studying for an hour and realized that nothing is sinking in anymore and you have to re-read the same bullet-point a few times before you think you got the concept. Many studies have shown that taking short breaks between studying helps you retain the information better because your brain has time to process and store more of the information you just reviewed. For me, I usually spend about an hour studying then take a half-hour or so break and watch a TV show, cook a meal or basically anything that will get my mind off studying.
  3. Outside Review MaterialOk so here is where it’s gonna get a bit more med school specific, so if you’re not interested in med school, go ahead and skip over this, I won’t be upset! I have only recently started using more outside resources for reviewing, mainly because I was nervous that the stuff my school was teaching me would not be the same as other sources. In reality, they are really similar since the main goal of my school as well as these resources are to prepare kids to do the best on Step 1 at the end of 2nd year. First Aid is a must as it will be the book you will use (at the very least) to prep for Step 1. Pathoma is a set of videos that go hand-in-hand with a book that wonderfully explains pathology and histology topics. Netter’s Flashcards and the app Essential Anatomy are beyond great for learning anatomy and quizzing yourself on structures. For physiology, many kids use BRS Physiology and say it really helps explain some difficult concepts (I haven’t used it yet, but I should try it). One of my favorite resources is called Sketchy Micro which is a series of videos that teach you all of the important concepts microbiology and pharmacology. it’s very thorough as well since each bacteria, virus and drug has their own video. Basically, the Sketchy writers make up these ridiculous stories that they draw out throughout the video that are wonderful memory devices. For instance, the video on ß-lactam antibiotics was centered around a Star Wars theme with Penicillin G represented as “Princess Ella” with “G” shaped hair buns along with ivy around her neck to signify it’s given intravenously (IV). It’s so dumb, but no joke, it works. If it wasn’t for the sketchy videos, I probably would not have passed our virus/fungi/bacteria unit. As for question banks, the best one’s I have found so far are UWorld and PreTest. The NBME also puts out old questions that are very useful when studying for Shelf exams. And if you want to shell out a few hundred dollars, there are some more comprehensive review programs/websites like Firecracker or Picmonic. Most of the subscription resources, however, have free trial periods so if you try it and realize it doesn’t work for you, you didn’t waste the money (especially since we’re all poor students in a lot of debt).
  4. Write it out. Writing things out and transferring things in your mind to something physical by writing it out does wonders for helping me remember something. Adding different colors and drawing pictures/tables really helps with memorization as well. I would suggest using a whiteboard or chalkboard, since they you have such a wide space to write on and it’s (obviously) reusable. I love my school for the fact that there are a number of small classrooms that are rarely ever being used, so it’s very easy to commandeer one the day before an exam.
  5. Teach it outIf you have the opportunity to teach someone about a concept, it immensely helps you both learn and understand the concept. Think about it: when you teach someone something, you have to fully understand the material and then figure out a way to convey it clearly to your audience. Even if it’s just another student or a family member, teaching makes it stick!

Those are the big hitters for me! What about you guys? Have any study tips that have worked really well for you or resources that have helped you master material? Share them below! Just remember that what works for me or someone else, may not work for you. Half the battle is figuring out how you learn and which methods help you remember the best.

Until next time!

❤ Theresa