MEDICAL SCHOOL TIME-LINE

Hey there!

Many have asked what the typical medical school timeline looks like, and I wanted to do my utmost best  to provide some insight on this. In every country, the route to becoming a doctor varies and since I’m familiar with the US system the best, I will be discussing that below. If you’re from another country, and your system is different please feel free to share in the comments below!

In the United States and the well established  Caribbean medical schools,  you are required to have completed your pre-medical requirements with a bachelor’s degree and an MCAT score to apply for med school. Just like how your  pre-medical coursework was targeted to prepare you for the MCAT, the same goes with your coursework in medical school and board exams.

Medical school is 4 years,  two of those years are dedicated to basic sciences and the other 2 are dedicated to clinical rotations. In your 4th year of medical school, you prepare to apply for the Match, which, if qualified, places you in a hospital for a real job. This is when you finally start getting paid, after 8 years of higher education! Here’s the breakdown:

Years 1-2

  • Basic Sciences, in classroom learning
  • Subjects
    • Anatomy
    • Molecular biology
    • Cellular biology
    • Genetics
    • Histology
    • Embryology
    • Biochemistry
    • Immunology
    • Physiology
    • Microbiology
    • Pharmacology
    • Pathology
    • Biostatistics
    • Behavioral Sciences
  • Towards the end of your 2nd year, you will begin preparation for the USMLE Step 1, which is an accumulation of all the knowledge you have attained in your first 2 years of medical school (subjects listed above)

Year 3

  • Clinical Rotations
  • Once you have passed your USMLE Step 1, you are permitted to enter the hospitals and begin your clinical training.
  • Each school is different, but every school integrates the CORE rotations into your schedule
  • The CORE rotations have shelf exams at the end of each one. You are required to pass these exams to illustrate you have gained the necessary knowledge.
  • CORE Rotations
    • Family Medicine
    • Internal Medicine
    • Psychiatry
    • Surgery
    • Pediatrics
    • OB/GYN
    • *** Rotations beyond these vary b/w schools ***
  • Towards the end of your 3rd year, it is a good idea to Take the STEP 2 CK and STEP 2 CS, for it’s beneficial to have these scores in before ERAS opens (the Match application)
    • Step 2 CK tests your clinical knowledge, it will be another multiple choice exam taken at a testing center
    • Step 2 CS tests your clinical skills, and this will be taken at various locations around the US (depending on the test date you choose). This is NOT a multiple choice exam, instead, you will have 12 patient encounters in a 8 hour time span (with breaks of course). You will be examined on your interaction with the patient, the diagnosis, and of course, the patient notes.

Year 4

  • Apply for residency (ERAS)
    • Opens September 15, you want to submit your application as close to this date as possible!
    • You are able to work on your application earlier, but can’t submit until Sept. 15!
  • Residency interviews
  • ELECTIVE ROTATIONS
    • take advantage of getting your foot in the door at hospitals you’d like to work in, for if they see your face and positive work ethic you’re more likely to match!
  • Upon graduation, you finally will have a Medical Degree and can be titled Dr.

MATCH DAY

  • This occurs on the 3rd Friday in March of every year, it’s the most exciting day for medical students because they find out where they will continue their medical education!

Residency 

  • A DOCTOR’S FIRST JOB!
  • A resident is still being trained by attending’s in the specific field, but you finally get paid for the work you do- AKA start paying those students loans!
  • USMLE Step 3
    • usually taken after your 1st year of residency
    • The test spans the length of 2 days
    • It’s 500 questions testing everything you know about medicine
    • FINAL USMLE exam!
  • After the completion of USMLE STEP 3, you are on the road to finally being able to practice medicine without supervision (after completing your residency and passing your state licensing exams).

 

Medicine is long, hard journey filled with examination every STEP (haha) of the way. That is why it’s important to enter this field for the right reasons. If you’re thinking about medicine because you’ll be making money, sorry my friend, with the amount of schooling required- med school doesn’t really pay off as much! I hope this helps to provide some perspective on the road of becoming a Doctor in the United States.

 

Happy Studying,

Preety 🙂

Writing Your CV

Creating your curriculum vitae can be daunting, especially if you have never made one before. As requested, I have decided to make it a little easier and walk you through making your very own CV!

Before we begin, I wanted to explain the difference between a resume and a CV. A resume is a quick summary of your work experiences, it shouldn’t be longer than a page and highlights your strengths related to what you’re applying for. On the other hand, a CV is far more in-depth, for it covers your education, work experiences, and awards/honors in chronological order; therefore, it will be much longer than a resume.

Here are some of my personal tips on creating a successful CV:

  1.  Don’t use the word “I” when describing what you did. Since your name is already front and center, they already know who you are.
    1. Wrong: I worked with Dr. Bob to collect data on participants during a check-up
    2. Right: Collected data on participants during a check-up (I took out Dr. Bob because you should have already mentioned the individuals you worked with)
  2. Maintain the same tense throughout your CV to describe your roles and responsibilities- don’t use past tense and then switch to present!
  3.  Only include items that will help the reader understand who you are. Avoid making it too wordy because the reader will know when you’re making things up.
  4. Avoid adding items far in the past that aren’t prevalent to what you’re applying for.
    1. If you’re applying to Med School, what you did in high school doesn’t matter
    2. If you’re applying to residency, what you did in college doesn’t matter (unless you were published).
  5. Keep it simple and concise. Make sure to check for grammatical errors, for they can take away from your CV.
  6. Keep the font professional and constant throughout! Times, Arial, Calibri and Georgia are personally the best ones.
  7. Before sending your CV over technology, be sure to save it as a PDF and double check the format.

I personally have always stuck to a CV just because it covers everything I have accomplished. When applying to research or a job, I usually just add in a small sentence above my education highlighting why I’m qualified for the position. Some people opt to add their hobbies on their CV. This is optional, but I recommend doing it only if you feel you need more content.

I have attached a copy of the template I made for my own CV, feel free to use it or refer to when making your own. Again, if you have any questions or comments, feel free to e-mail me or comment below! I wish you all success in your future endeavors!

CV Template

 

Much love,

Preety 🙂

10 minute Healthy Pizza

The words healthy and pizza never go together, especially if you’re in medical school. For the love of pizza, I’ve been experimenting a few recipes and finally found one that I enjoy and can make during a short break between studying!

 

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup Chickpea flour
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon Garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds (optional)
  • 200g Tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon basil
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1/2 tablespoon chopped garlic
  • pizza toppings of your choice
    • I used peppers, onions, pineapple, and feta cheese

Directions:

  1. Pizza Crust
    • Preheat the oven to 450 degrees
    • In a medium bowl, combine the chickpea flour, water, olive oil, sea salt, and garlic powder
      • you may add garam masala and cumin seeds or any other spices, I like putting an Indian twist on my pizza
    • mix the ingredients, it won’t look like dough, it will have a little more liquid consistency
    • Place the “dough” on a pan and use a spoon to create a round, even layer
    • Allow the dough to bake for 5-7 mins until it turns a light brown along the edges
  2. Pizza Sauce
    • In a pot, add the tomato paste, basil, oregano, chopped garlic and allow it to cook for 5 mins to allow the flavor to soak
      • it’s advised to do this while the dough it in the oven to save time
  3. PIZZZAAAA
    1. Allow the dough to cool for a little bit while you chop your toppings of choice
    2. Add the Pizza sauce and store the remaining
    3. Add your toppings
    4. Sprinkle your cheese of choice
    5. Place back in the oven for 5 minutes
    6. After 5 mins, allow the pizza to cool
    7. Bon appetit!

 

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Why the Caribbean?

Hey Guys!

As many of you know, I am now a first year medical student and will be starting my first day September 6! I have been hesitant to talk about my medical school journey, where I’m going to school, and defending my decisions. I seem that it’s so easy for others to judge me incorrectly by looking at my decisions, rather than the story behind them.

It occurred to me this summer that there are few people that earn a seat in medical school the non-traditional route voicing their story on a social media platform. I found myself, at times, saddened and often deterred from my goals because others achieved something I worked so hard to get and didn’t.  The past year has been filled with ups and downs, emotionally and mentally. Thoughts constantly eating me inside “what will I do in my life”, “I don’t see myself doing any other profession”, or “Am I built for this career”.  A girl who was once so optimistic, goal- orientated, and professionally driven entered the storm of self-doubt. I’ve had 4 months off school, spent time with the people I love, and helped others grow out of their shell. In the past 4 months I found myself, that optimistic girl that’s out to change the world. I realized that I may not be the only individual in the world that has felt that way, so I decided to write this blog today as inspiration to someone that feels that they are stuck. Here is my story:

Becoming a physician has been a life-long dream, not because my parents forced it onto me, but for the lives I can change. As a child, one visit to the doctor’s office would make my fever or cold go away in a few days, it was magical! Obviously, growing older you learn that magic is called antibiotics- haha! I wanted to be that magician in a white coat that makes all pain and suffering go away with a smile and lollipop. In middle school and high school, I was your typical pre-med wannabe. Loaded up on AP courses, volunteered at health clinics, interned at family practices, national honors society, and competitive Bhangra performer (Punjabi folk dance)- perfect was never enough. In college, joining organizations, keeping up grades, having a social life, continuing dance, creating organizations, traveling abroad, researching and acing the MCAT all became a priority. Now, a practical individual would be like “impossible”, and it was. Making everything a priority made my performance horrible in every aspect. I decided to do a B.S in Psychology with a minor in Biology, if I could back I would change that- but that’s a different story. My resume was very strong but in the midst of making that my grades slipped and my MCAT score wasn’t competitive enough.

I took the MCAT a total of 3 times, the second being my best. I approached senior year of college knowing that my grades made getting accepted into medical school difficult, but not impossible. Therefore, I applied to a post-bac program associated with a medical school. My MCAT was on par, the extracurricular’s above par, but my GPA subpar, and I just had to meet the minimum GPA requirement for the post-bac program to be admitted into their medical school- I could easily do that, or so I thought.

To my surprise, the coursework in the program was actually first-year medical school courses, along with clinical based exam questions under a time limit. Expecting a program to help me transition into medical school, I fell into a trap of being in medical school but not actually a medical student. I barely passed my first course during the first semester, but I grew and learned how to study for medical courses and ACED that final exam to bring my grades up. The second semester was much easier for me because I knew how I learned best, that’s something I failed to understand the first semester- What works for others might not work for me.  For 8 months, all I did was study all day, every day, during every second, and it wasn’t enough. After receiving scores from the second-semester cumulative final, I learned I was 1 exam question, just 1 point, away from achieving the minimum GPA to enter the program. 1 point determined my future for me, 1 point.

I returned home depressed; sat on the couch all day watching Netflix, didn’t talk to anyone, and had a difficult time sleeping through the night. I kept thinking to myself what do I do now? Should I apply this cycle and wait a year to see if I’m accepted? Should I pick a new career where I wouldn’t be happy but could move on with life? Should I broaden my scope and try for the Caribbean schools with a good reputation in the US?

After a lot of researching, and self-reflection I decided to apply to Caribbean Medical Schools for several reasons, here are a few:

  1. I would get experience practicing medicine outside the US and be exposed to medical cases I probably would never see in the US
  2. I’ll learn about other cultures, as an aspiring family physician, I find it vital
  3. My clinical rotations will be in the US, so only 1.5 years on the island
  4. An MD is an MD at the end of the day

Will my path to residency be difficult compared to US graduates? Yes. Will I be able to fulfill my life goals and become the magician I’ve always wanted to be? Yes. Do I have any regrets so far, not at all. In fact, I feel blessed that I’m able to attend medical school in an environment where I won’t be snowed in all day, or won’t be able to enjoy nature, good food, or a different culture during my breaks. I’m excited about this new journey.  Where am I going you may be wondering? The American University of the Caribbean located in Sint Maarten, and yes I will go plane watching on Maho Beach!!

 

If you feel stranded or lost please, PLEASE, PLEASE, e-mail me. I would love to hear from you,  maybe lend a helping hand, and watch you succeed as well. My journey has taught me to never limit myself, never exclude possible situations, for life may have something else planned for you- so just go with the flow.

 

So there it is, that’s my story. Feel free to follow me on Instagram @foodiewithscrubs

 

Much Love,

Preety

Vegan Matcha Pancakes

Ingredients 

  • Log Cabin All Natural Pancake Mix
  • Encha Organic Matcha- Culinary grade
  • Ground Cinnamon
  • Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk
  • Raw Coconut Nectar or Maple Syrup

Directions

  • Add 1/3 Cup of Log Cabin All Natural Pancake mix into a bowl
  • Add 2 teaspoons of Encha Organic Matcha- Culinary Grade into the same bowl
    • Mix the Matcha and Pancake Mix
  • Add 1/2 teaspoon Ground Cinnamon, mix
  • Add Almond Milk until mixture becomes a thick liquid
  • Cook on stove top pan
  • Serve with Raw Coconut Nectar or Maple Syrup

Living Life to Your Fullest

As January ends and February begins, I’m ecstatic to announce I have finished book 3 of my new year challenge!

I have grown up dreaming of one day becoming a Physician. I have never been forced to go into the field of medicine, and I’ve explored other options but don’t find them as appealing to my personality. Dr. Atul Gawande’s book Being Mortal truly opens the eyes of those hoping to pursue a career in medicine, those already practicing medicine, and for those that aren’t even in the health field. A novel we all can learn from, he explores the struggles with decision making when it comes to caring for the elderly and terminally ill. With several advancements in medical technology, many of us are under the misconception that undergoing a certain medical treatment can cure our ailments and get us back to a perfectly healthy condition. Where this may be true for several cases, those struggling or overcoming a disease that involves the major body systems, it’s extremely difficult to return to their original healthy self, which then the definition healthy attains a new meaning. With numerous treatment options, many are asked to weigh out the decisions of staying and forgoing continuous treatment (with possible side effects) in the hospital, or to live out the remaining time they have with close family and friends at home. Weighing the options of nursing homes, hospice care, and medical facilities, it really opened my eyes as to “What would I do? What would my parents do?”.  Death is something we all ignore to think about, but in reality it is inevitable and having a plan and decision beforehand makes the process much easier for the self and the family involved. From your views on organ donations to where you would like your remains to be laid, it’s important to have a conversation amongst your loved ones so they KNOW what you would want, not what they THINK you would want. The topic might not be the happiest, but it sure is necessary.

There is much to learn from this book from the establishment of nursing homes, the reality of medical training, and the lesson to instill empathy in our daily routines. I truly recommend this read to everyone, for I am not going to explain every minute detail that has opened my eyes, but I promise you’ll learn something new. The most important lesson I have taken away from this book is how to dedicate my future practice in medicine for my patients, for the people, and not allow the institution of medicine shadow over the reason I wish to pursue a career as a doctor!

My next book will be When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi.

Meditation Update: I recently recovered from a very bad cold and cough, so I have not been dedicated to my meditation challenge for the past two weeks (also had to pause on my daily yoga and workout). Now that I’m feeling much better, I’ll be starting from the beginning!

Stay Happy and Healthy,

Preety