Officially a Medical Student

Hello world! In case anyone was wondering, I am indeed alive and well.  I’m just a very bad blogger.  Sometimes life gets in the way, and other days I’m not quite sure how to say what I want to say.  In the last couple of months I have started and discarded numerous posts for various reasons.

I imagine most of you know by now that in the end, the choice I made was to accept the place at the local medical school.  Throughout the decision making process my heart was telling me to accept the interstate place, while my head said the local option was best.  I’m a practical sort and clearly my head won out.  I think largely because having my friends and family around will be invaluable.

Before I knew it, the start of medical school was here and I’m now almost finished my second week.  In the last couple of weeks I have run the gamut of emotions from excited to nervous, confident to terrified.  Mostly though, the last couple of weeks have really eased me into the course and I’m excited to get into the first real module next week (my course has two weeks of introductory lectures).

I am humbled by the generosity of past students who have shared with me not only copious amounts of data (past exams, notes, useful youtube videos etc.) but also their time.  The second year students have organised not only peer tutoring, but dedicated anatomy tutoring and I am so grateful for the extra assistance and advice provided.

The campus itself is absolutely beautiful and the library incredible – it is unlike any library I have ever seen before.  There is so many computers and study spaces. Everyone is so friendly and helpful.  On my first day, the security guard waved at me as I drove past (at first I was freaked out wondering what I had done wrong!) and then later gave me directions to the room I needed to find.  I’m feeling very comfortable with my choice, even if it was initially made out of practicality.

Tomorrow, our medical society is holding their welcome, with lots of prizes on offer including Littmann stethoscopes, Oxford handbooks, Clinical Examination books and numerous vouchers and the like.  I’m looking forward to meeting more of my cohort and hopeful that I may be lucky enough to win something awesome, because really, what student doesn’t love a freebie?  That’s it for now, but I hope to update again on the weekend in a bit more depth about the beginning of medical school.  Stay tuned for more adventures of selenocentric, medical student.  😉

Choices

Starting this year, I had said that it would be my last attempt to get into medical school. I studied for the GAMSAT harder and smarter then I ever had before and saw a corresponding increase in score.  I begun to hope that I might just have a chance at this medical school business after all.  I submitted my applications, and played the waiting game.  The absolute shock I felt when reading those emails inviting me to interview I will remember for a very long time. Not one, but two of them.  I didn’t think it was real.  A large part of me still doesn’t believe it is real.

So I went, and I interviewed and tried to answer the questions I was asked as thoughtfully and as honestly as I could.  Walking out of those two interviews I was sure I had blown both of them.  I was sure that I wasn’t as smart, or as eloquent, or as impassioned as the other candidates I met.  That my responses were somehow lacking and not what the interviewers were looking for. It was such a strange feeling, this thought of not measuring up.  Of being somehow lesser.  I suppose my confidence has taken more of a beating from my unsuccessful attempts than I realised. That, and I’ve med so many incredible people in my lifetime, I feel pretty mediocre in comparison.

To my absolute disbelief, this year I am in the enviable position of being given the choice to choose between two very old and well established medical schools.  I never thought I would find myself in the position I now find myself in.  And it still doesn’t seem real.  Any moment, I expect the universities to say sorry, we’ve made a mistake. We never should have offered you a place. I feel incredibly lucky to have even one offer, let alone two.  In some ways, I kind of wish I only had the one offer, so then I wouldn’t have to choose.  I suspect there will be many moments over the next four years when I wonder if I made the right choice.

For now I’m writing lists of pros and cons.  The main two considerations for me at the moment are finances and location.  You see, one of the offers is at a school whose campus is about a 30 minute drive from my house, the other requires a few hours on a plane to get there.  Which isn’t exactly a reasonable daily commute.  The costs of relocating/ living in one of the most expensive cities in Australia while on a tight student budget are very big concerns, although I think academically the far away school would suit me better.  However, I could live with my parents if I were to go to the closer school, and my workplace would facilitate a job for me (not the one I currently hold of course, but there would be something that would fit with my uni schedule) making the finances thing less of a concern.

These are just the main items on my list of considerations.  There are many other aspects to this decision, and it is certainly not one I am making lightly.  At the same time, I feel a sense of urgency to have this settled.  Not only to enable me to plan either way, but also because I know there is another candidate out there somewhere who would love to have my place, once it is offered to them. I want them to have the time to plan and organise a move if necessary.  It would also make one hell of a Christmas present for a lucky someone.

And now, it’s back to my lists.  If all else fails, I suppose I could flip a coin to determine my fate. 😉

Tools & Textbooks

I almost can’t quite believe we’re heading into late October already.  Where has the year gone? On the one hand I can’t wait to start medical school in a few months, on the other I can’t help but think of all the things I need to prepare in the interim and I do wish I had just a little more time before I start.  Planning an interstate move is a much bigger undertaking then I originally thought it would be. Amongst the whole moving thing, vaccinations and such thoughts have inevitably included the items I’ll need to purchase for next year and I figure while I have a disposable income I may as well get a head start on the things I know I will need/ use for sure.

Namely textbooks and stethoscopes. Being somewhat of a bargain hunter I have always been a fan of booko an Australian website that searches a number of online retailers worldwide for the cheapest book prices and returns a list of cheapest to most expensive including shipping.  It’s a brilliant site and I highly recommend it to those who don’t already know about it. Anyway, recently I decided to randomly have a look for a couple of the textbooks that have been recommended to me over the years by friends in medical school.  One of them, a book released this year I am told is very helpful for PBLs and the like.  The book?

 

While browsing booko I discovered that bookworld had the cheapest price at the time, as they had a monthly special happening in September. With an additional discount if you joined their free “citizen” loyalty program.  I purchased the book for a measly $46 including shipping.  It is now $70.39 for the citizen price, and booko informs me that currently $61.06 is the cheapest price – from US Amazon. The only downside to the cheap price I paid is that the book was not expected to be back in stock for 3 – 5 weeks.  Since I don’t need it immediately I was happy to wait.  I notice the book is now back in stock so hopefully it won’t be long til it reaches me (Note to self: I should follow up on it’s progress).  There are still a couple of textbooks I want to get my hands on, but they can wait until I find a good price for them.

The other purchase I am considering is that of the stethoscope.  Of course, the all important decision for me was always going to be which colour? I decided long ago, after reading many reviews and recommendations that a Littmann Classic II SE would suit me very well, and I love that there are many choices of colour.  Since I don’t have a favourite colour, many of the choices appealed to me, and while I know that it’s just a tool, a large part of me wants to get the prettiest damn stethoscope I can.  Enter the rainbow chestpiece – it just sparkles and shines. I do so like things that sparkle.

I thought that had narrowed down my choice to a Caribbean blue tube. Until that is, I discovered 3M (the company who manufacture said stethoscopes) had recently released a second stethoscope with a rainbow chestpiece – one with a raspberry tube.  And how could I resist? Strangely enough, the colour pink has played a large part of my journey to medical school (some of you will know what I’m talking about) and it has popped it’s head up all over the place.  I think it only fitting that my stethoscope have a pinkish tube.  Behold the beauty that will be mine:

Isn’t she pretty? Alas, I have been informed that while she is available in the USA/ UK she has yet to make it to the Antipodes, although the local suppliers are hoping that she will soon be available.  Since I still have some time, I have decided to wait a month or so and see if she arrives.  If not, I suspect I shall turn my eyes to international waters to acquire the above beauty.  Unless the stethoscope faeries decide to deliver one to my doorstep before I get the chance. 😉

Edited to add: Any textbook recommendations etc. will be greatly appreciated. Share away.

Dishonesty

This week, I was starkly reminded how much I hate dishonesty, especially when I’m forced into a position of feeling like I’m being dishonest.  Although I suppose technically I wasn’t lying, I was just omitting a few very pertinent truths.  I suppose I should start at the beginning.  It’s just as well I got into medical school beginning next year as my position at work will no longer exist next year.  Well, not in it’s current guise at any rate.  The business is streamlining and as a result the job I currently do will involve looking after three locations, as opposed to the one it currently is.

This of course encompasses further responsibility while negating a lot of the administrative tasks which seem to constantly bog me down.  It is definitely a good thing.  Of course the downside is that three qualified and competent people will now be competing for that one role.  If I hadn’t of gotten into medical school I would have thrown my hat in the ring and taken my chances as in all honesty it is a fabulous opportunity.  I can see how you’d be asking where does the dishonesty come in? Well, I’ve known now for a couple of months or so of these changes.  However I have been asked by my big boss to keep it quite, and currently only my direct supervisor, the big boss and I are aware of the impending changes.

The plan was to tell all the important players at once, in a meeting the next week.  However, since then many meetings have come and gone and no one is the wiser.  I’ve been in the dubious position of having to skirt around the truth with these players a few times over the last couple of months and have found doing so quite dishonest and a position I hate being in.  However, what I find most reprehensible is having to skirt around the truth with a particular colleague.

You see, this colleague was the one I competed against, and I use the term loosely, when I originally was given my position.  He has not hidden the fact that he really wants my job, and over the last year or so I have groomed him to take on my job if and when I got into medical school or move on to my next promotion.  Luckily for me, he went away on a five week holiday overseas, and only returned to work late this week.  Meaning, he didn’t know I’d gotten into medical school and as such I had hoped that the big boss would tell all the other players before he got back to work allowing me to let him know the change in my position, and my acceptance into med school.

Of course, this wasn’t to be, and he came back before this has occurred.  So when I saw him, I asked him about his trip and what not but didn’t tell him my news. Not long after this conversation as I was walking by he congratulated me on getting into medical school and my heart plummeted.  I’m not sure who told him, but I could see from the look on his face and his excitement that clearly he thinks he’ll soon be taking over my role.  Which won’t be the case at all.  The job will go to one of the two other qualified people, and he doesn’t have a chance.  And I couldn’t tell him.  I felt like the biggest, most dishonest person and I absolutely hated it.

I don’t know how long it’ll be until the big boss decides to tell the other important people, but until then I can only imagine his happiness and excitement will grow only to be quickly deflated when he finds out the truth.  I wanted to avoid this, and now I feel partially responsible.  Logically I know that I am not responsible for what he things, and  that there are no guarantees things will stay the same, or that he would indeed get my position, but emotionally I feel a bit like I’m giving him a long wanted gift only to snatch it away. And it disgusts me.  I abhor being put in this position, and I’d love to take him quietly aside and inform him of the facts, but I also know he is a pretty big gossip and that it won’t stay confidential for long.  Urgh pretty much sums up how I feel about the situation nicely.

I like presents

Gosh.  I’ve become one of those things I really hate. A bad, inconsistent blogger.  You know things have gotten bad when people take to your facebook asking for blog updates!  Sadly, I’ve been a bit sick with the flu, although I appear to be on my way to recovery.  Recently, I dragged myself out of my sick bed to catch up with some of my very good friends.  One was recently returned from a vacation abroad, and another had a new boy to introduce to the group.   Travel stories and new boys were enough to lure me from home and I trekked off to a very lovely afternoon of wine, beer and gourmet burgers.

A lovely afternoon made that much more special by the congratulatory speech and gift I was unexpectedly presented with on this occasion.  My friends have been with me through my several failed attempts, and were hesitant about my applying again this year. Only because they knew how devastated I had been upon each failed attempt, and didn’t want it to happen again.  Yet they supported my decision, and have eagerly awaited news at each step in the process.  They were there with me through GAMSAT results, GEMSAS applications, the wait for interview offers, and then place offers.

At each step of the way providing support, encouragement and distraction when needed. There may have even been a few 5am wake up calls to ensure I was up, exercised and ready for a big day of study in the lead up to GAMSAT.  I am and always will be so grateful for this, and their presence in my life.  As I am with all of the encouragement, support and advice I’ve found from everyone else on this roller-coaster of a ride that has led me to accept my place as a medical student.  I don’t think I would be here right now without them and all of you.

So anyway, want to see what reduced me to almost tears (well the speech did that before I even got to the gift)?

Presents? For Me?

So this is what I was presented with after a lovely speech about how proud and excited they all were for me when they heard the news, how they would have no hesitation in my treatment of family members (from a friend who is a doctor) and the to be expected jokes about free medical advice and scripts as befitting those close to you. It really made my night. So What did I find inside?

How awesome is this card? I love it, and it has taken pride of place upon my noticeboard above my desk.  Inside the blue bag, I found a present wrapped in gold paper.  Upon painstakingly unwrapping the box, this is what greeted me nestled all snugly in it’s box:

Wow. A Pandora bracelet with charm for me 🙂

Let’s take a closer look shall we?

So shiny.

Now, some of you may be aware that I’m not the biggest fan of the whole Pandora fad, or the completely over charmed bracelets and the common addiction of getting the next charm. And the one after that.  However, I have always liked the sentiment often proclaimed in their marketing campaigns.  The one about special and memorable moments.  And this was most definitely a special and memorable moment, and a gift given with a lot of meaning behind it.  For that reason, I have acquiesced or perhaps suspended my dislike of the trend and very much love this bracelet.

The one charm is enough for me, and has plenty of meaning behind it making this a gift I will always cherish. Although probably not wear too often.  I suspect this group of friends will celebrate milestones with the addition of charms, and I’m ok with that, and even look forward to it. I just have no plans to add to the collection myself (well, except maybe the addition of the bracelet clasp opener – that thing is impossible to open).  I trust in their taste implicitly, and don’t expect to end up with anything over the top.  I will remember that moment always.  More so I think, than my actual acceptance.  Definitely worth dragging myself out of my sick bed for!

You’ve got Mail

Today I received in the mail my first physical piece of evidence that I am finally going to be a medical student next year:

Yep, it’s my vaccination card.  Sometime next week I shall take it to my GP (who I know will be ecstatic to see it) and get started on the jabs.  I’m pretty sure I’ve had most of them though.  Hopefully my serology shows it, and I don’t have to get too many jabs.  Any extra dollars I can save before next year will be welcome.  I’m already cringing at the cost of moving interstate plus all the random bits and pieces I’ll need to organise.  Luckily for me I have a current first aid certificate and I completed my CPR refresher through my workplace just yesterday so that’s one less thing to worry about.  Interesting side note – do you know how difficult it is to perform CPR on a mannequin on a tabletop? I much prefer the floor, and not trying to stand on tip toes in steel capped boots!

It has taken a while to set in, but I’m finally starting to realise that it is real.  I am going to be studying next year and I’m beginning to get excited at the prospect.  I’m also humbled by the absolute support and genuine excitement on my behalf that I have received.  No one has reacted negatively, and only two of the people I’ve told about medical school have responded somewhat ambivalently.  One is my former boss who really wanted me to pursue the management track with my current company and the other is a somewhat moody colleague whose only interest appeared to be whether or not I’d be pursuing aforementioned management track – while I’d love to, I think it’s a little beyond my capabilities.

Among the many people who are happy for me is one particular colleague whose response was “finally, you’re absolutely wasted on this place” which of course worked wonders on my ego.  Particularly when another colleague asked me about it, because the lady in question was quite happily telling everyone what she told me.  I’m still a bit stunned by the reactions I’ve received actually, especially the encouragement and excitement on my behalf.  I kind of expected some congratulations and whatnot, just not the overwhelmingly positive experience I’ve had. I can’t deny it’s been nice, and I certainly appreciate it.  However a part of me questions it all, and the expectations they have of me – I just hope I don’t let them down!   I suppose we’ll see soon enough.  Bring on the next four years, I’m more than ready for you medical school.

Ah, technology how I love thee…

Hello blogging world! I apologise for not posting in a while – I have been busy working 50 hour weeks, often in front of a computer.  So as you can imagine, the very last thing I want to do when I get home is spend even more time with my laptop in front of me.  But it’s Thursday night, and I have been chastised quite thoroughly for my absence so I thought I’d update you all while I await the arrival of my pizza (and while I decide which colour I should paint my nails next).

Currently, I am browsing the web for information on the soon-to-be-released iPhone 5.  From my research there does not seem to be a huge difference between the 5 and the 4S.  Most obviously there is a new design, and updated power connection which is annoying for people with accessories that dock but since that’s not me it doesn’t bother me too much.  Well actually, it’s annoying that my 3m hot pink charging cable will no longer be compatible but a. I paid $7 for two of them inc. postage via eBay and b. I can now recycle it for use with my iPad.

The screen is bigger – 4 inches across the diagonal as opposed to 3.5 inches of the 4/4S and fits an extra row of apps.  The only upgrade to the rear camera is panoramic views – it’s the same 8mp as the 4S although the front facing camera is improved with a HD mode.  An A6 chip makes it faster, and it apparently has a better battery life  despite the increased screen size.  It will also be compatible with the 4G network in Australia with faster wireless connections also.  And that’s about it from the look of things.

So will I be upgrading when it’s released in Australia next Friday?  Absolutely.  I’ve long been a fan of apple products, there simplicity and the way they talk to each other easily.  I’ve become accustomed to the operating system and I am honestly confused when attempting to navigate friends android / windows phones.  The main reason I’m upgrading though is my current phone has had it.  For months now, the home button has been pretty dodgy working only intermittently.  From googling the problem, it appears to be quite a common issue as the connectors don’t touch and seem to fall out of alignment pretty easily (there are far better descriptions out there than mine btw).

I have been giving my phone the old “hard knock” treatment to get the button working again which isn’t the best solution – especially when you have nothing to knock the phone against handy! The screen also has a crack in it from one of the multitude of times it fell out of my pocket and under my car as I attempted to leave my vehicle.  I’ve been holding out, waiting, putting up with both of these issues because I knew a new iPhone was imminent and now that it’s hear I can’t wait to get my hands on it.  I’m thinking the white/ silver version will be coming home with me in a couple of weeks.

After the iPhone, I’ll have one other big technology purchase for the year.  I have plans for the new iMac to become mine (an updated version should hit the stores before the end of the year I’m told) so I’m holding out for that.  Also, I’m having trouble choosing between the screen sizes so a few more months of waiting won’t be the end of the world, and in fact will be quite beneficial.  Of my technology purchases for the year, the iPad I wanted, the iPhone I kind of need, and the iMac is my celebratory present to myself and is also fits into the “needs” category.  Although my trusty old macbook pro is still powering along like a true champion.

What am I celebrating with a computer I need?  I got IN! To medical school.  I’m still in shock to be honest, and I’m sure they’ve made a mistake and will revoke my firm offer at any time.  But for now I’m running with it.  I haven’t really had a chance to celebrate (due to the aforementioned long work weeks) but am looking forward to letting my hair down soon in celebration.  All of the people that I’ve told have been so happy for me and incredibly supportive.  One lady I work with said it was about time, and that I was wasted in my current workplace which was lovely.  My boss chastised me and then gave me a big hug.  The chastisement was because I covered off on all work related updates before I said anything.

You see, I’ve had problems telling people I got in, even though I knew they’d be supportive once I did.  No matter how hard I try, I just can’t work it into conversation, and it really feels like I’m dropping a bomb out into the middle of space.  I’ve tried the casual, “blah blah blah yeah so I got in to medical school”.  And the excited “I got IN” as soon as I caught up with others.  I’ve texted, emailed and tweeted but I am yet to find the happy medium.  The perfect way of letting people know, subtly and without fanfare.  I wonder if the perfect method exists? I guess I’ll have to practice some more…