White coat

Yup, we got our white coats the other day with our names embroidered and everything. Pretty fancy shmancy.  Even though it’s a short coat (indicative of being medical students), I think my classmates and I all feel a little bit more like we’re actually in medical school now.  And it’s not just because we got our white coats.  We’re all preparing for our HB1 exam just over one week away, and HB1 is pretty much biology, biochemistry, and metabolism with a little tissue biology thrown in.  There’s really not a whole lot of “medicine” per se.  But we’re all starting our clinical training at our SCP sites where we actually get to interact with patients.  Add in the fact that we’ll soon be starting Anatomy and studying more medically-relevant science in HB2 in a couple of weeks and it just feels more like we’re in medical school.

And as much as I didn’t want to seem like a stereotypical MSI who’s super-excited for something like picking up my white coat, I can’t lie because I was totally pumped.  To see my name (spelled correctly) on the white linen definitely put a smile on my face (and still does).  But I think it’s better to be smiling like a stereotypical first-year who’s looking forward to the years of work ahead than to be indifferent.

Whatever, call me a dork but I’m still excited.

SCP

We just received our “tentative” SCP placements yesterday, where SCP (Student Continuity Practice) is where we actually travel off-campus to practice our clinical skills.  Most med schools don’t really offer the opportunity for first-year students to touch patients.  Well, some do, but UConn really pushes for it.  Like, they push for it hardcore.  It’s really an invaluable opportunity to be able to take what we’re learning about in the classroom and be putting it to use as first-year medical students.  I was fortunate enough to be placed within my desired discipline of pediatrics, although my SCP site is in Norwich which is about an hour from campus.  So that’s a little far, but then again I got the discipline I really, really wanted so I’ll take the good with the bad.  No complaints here.  (Plus it’s an opportunity to have an hour-long dance party in my car once a week which I surely will not pass up.)

Our first visit to our SCP site is the week of September 26, and I’m already looking forward to it.  We’ll finally have the opportunity and privilege of rocking our white coats (names embroidered, of course) and stethoscopes even though we don’t know the first thing about actually working with patients.  But I’m really curious to see what it’s going to be like working with infants, children, and their parents as well as what it’s like to work with a healthcare team of nurses and staff.

I wonder if this means I get to wear ties with fire trucks on them or something now.

Injections

Well, you have to learn at some point I guess, right?  I mean, giving injections and shots is kind of like Being a Doctor 101.  So of course we get to practice giving injections to our very first patients: our fellow classmates.

Part of the curriculum here is to take PCM (Principles of Clinical Medicine) which corresponds with SCP (Student Continuity Practice).  Basically we learn about all kinds of stuff in PCM in the classroom such as interviewing skills, ethics, and all that kind of stuff.  But then in SCP we actually get to go off-site and practice our skills on real patients (with guidance from an actual physician, of course).  So far we’ve only been learning the basics in PCM, and I’ll be finding out my SCP placement sometime early next week.

So anyway, this past Thursday my PCM group got to learn some of the basics like checking vital signs (blood pressure, pulse, and respiratory rate).  But then we got to the fun part: injections.  We started by practicing intermuscular injections (you know, those fun shots that go straight into your arm) on pieces of chicken.  That was all well and good, but then came the fun part.  Intradermal injections on each other.  Yup, time to not suck and stab my classmate / “patient” multiple times.  Using some simple saline we all injected each other without too much harm and only a little bit of blood here and there.  I’ve injected mice before in lab experiments, but injecting a human being was kind of weird.  Plus it was my classmate, so yeah, weird.  But still fun to actually be learning real doctor stuff for sure, and apparently us eager and naive first-years get recruited to administer flu shots (or so I’ve heard).

Get ready to get shot up, world.

Reality

So today at work my phone buzzed violently, and when I checked I didn’t recognize the number so I sent the call straight to voice mail.  It was like an automatic reaction.  I hate answering calls from random people and then getting annoyed with having to deal with something at their convenience, not mine.  I’d rather call back on my own time and when I want to take their call.  Plus half the time it’s someone calling from this program set up by my health insurance for people with chronic illnesses, and honestly they only tell me information I already know.  (Yes, I know to take my medication.  Yes, I know to get a flu shot.  Yes, I know to see my doctor on a regular basis.)  So today when I didn’t recognize the number, I didn’t think anything of it.  So I swiped up on the screed to decline the call.

But then at lunch I figured I’d check to see who it was, mostly because there’s this little icon on my phone screen that doesn’t go away until you actually listen to the message.  That little icon really annoys me when it’s there.  Well, it turns out that the message was from a nice woman at UConn calling to ask for (get this) my sizing for my white coat.  Yeah, my white coat.  Because I’m going to med school.  It was a holy-crap-this-is-really-happening moment.  I was stunned.  I mean, I knew it was going to happen, but now that things are really moving forward and things are being finalized, going to med school is becoming more and more a reality.

Now I just need to find an apartment.

Launch

Alright I gotta be real for a second.  I’ve got a lot of friends who have blogs, and to be honest some of them are pretty dang good and I enjoy reading them on a regular basis.  So I’ve decided to join the masses and start my own.  I’m not going to have a theme because I feel like it’s too restrictive, and there’s more interesting stuff to life than focusing purely on one particular topic.  I want be able to write about things that I find interesting to write about.  Seems pretty blatantly obvious, but that’s exactly why I want to have an open, honest blog.

So basically here’s the deal.  I’m a 24-year-old living and working in Boston for one last final summer before heading off to pursue my dream of getting my MD/PhD at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine (that’s what’s up).  As a graduate from Boston College in 2009, I’ve sort of fallen in love with everything about Boston, from the crazy drivers who essentially ignore all traffic laws, the reliability of the Green Line (yes that’s a joke, you can laugh), the way the Citgo sign lights up Kenmore at night, eating canolis from Mike’s Pastry down by the waterfront, to just chilling out on the Esplanade along the Charles River.  Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate and cherish my roots of growing up in good ol’ Byram (NOT Sparta), New Jersey, where no, there aren’t sewage plants and run-down industrial buildings next door.  Rather, home for me is on a beautiful small lake where the waves of passing boats lap in rhythm against the dock and bulkhead, where the swans and ducks bob for food with their butts in the air, an occasional fish breaks the surface to snag a dragonfly, and where Mom still greets me with something freshly baked right out of the oven.  It’s a rough life, I know.

But I don’t really like to let anything define me.  There’s not one part about me that’s “who I am,” so to speak.  There’s more to me than just science nerd, marathon runner, BC alum, Crohn’s patient, hockey fanatic, or professional badass (just kidding on that last one).  Sure, they contribute to my life, but picking out a single one of them doesn’t really define who I am.  That’s why this blog is going to be whatever I want to write about at any given time, of course with contributions from some of the bigger things going on in my life.  Just as my life changed when I moved to Boston to go to BC for undergrad and I knew absolutely no one up here, I’m doing the same thing again in a few months when I move to Connecticut (for the next seven to eight years of my life OMG).  I’m 24.  I’m young(ish).  I’m fortunate to have some fun experiences with friends while still pursuing my professional dreams.  So it’ll be fun to share stories and experiences from my life on things that I find interesting to write about.  Enjoy.