My trip, White Coat Ceremony, and Financial Aid

Melbourne, Australia
Originally uploaded by semperjeffrei.

These past few days I have been in Melbourne, Australia. My sister and I are here with my Uncle, Aunt, and cousin. We are on a trip that begins here in Australia and will take us to Indonesia before concluding in Thailand. This is a photo from downtown (or as the Aussies call it: the Central Business District).

As far as medical school goes, not too much is going on. The beginning is just around the corner though. I just completed my background check last week and I still need to order my white coat for the ceremony that will be held on August 4.

The White Coat Ceremony is a program in which someone will put on a white coat in a symbolic gesture of one’s entrance into the medical community. The feeling I get from reading some messages from current med students is that it is a useless ceremony that signifies nothing and only really means anything to parents, spouses, and significant others. So much for my excitement…

Another thing that I have to do is sort out my financial aid. I just got an email from Loma Linda University that said that I had an incomplete financial aid file. Last week I sent in what I thought was the last remaining document, the Master Promissory Note (which I am able to borrow against throughout the four years of medical school). Well this week, Loma Linda’s website still says that I need to turn it in. This whole process is quite frustrating. Thus far, I would say that Loma Linda needs to update its web services website. Not user-friendly enough.


It ends, It begins

Today was commencement. I am now a college graduate. I am now an Alumnus of Walla Walla College. As I sat on my chair during the program, I told myself to look around and remember everything I could. After all, you only graduate college once.

The whole wekend culminated in the commencement that started at 8:30 AM on Centennial Green by the side of Peterson Memorial Library and in front of Sittner Hall.

The speaker for the ceremony was Jose Rojas. He has spent five years as an advisor to the President of the United States. He reminded us that although this marks the end of our college journey, the word “commencement” means a beginning. And this is a beginning. And since I am now a college graduate, I’m sure the Alumni Association will be calling me and asking for money soon.


Medical Humor – Prescription Medication

A distraught patient phoned her doctor’s office. “Is it true,” the woman wanted to know, “that the medication the doctor had prescribed was for the rest of my life?” She was told that it was. There was a moment of silence before the woman continued, “I’m wondering then just how serious is my condition? This prescription is marked ‘No Refills.'”

– Another true story brought to you by the medical community


Medical Humor – Urine Sample

A call laboratory from a distressed husband. “My wife is collecting a 24 hour urine sample. Well, she has waited 23 hours and she can’t wait any longer.”

– Another true story brought to you by the medical community


Medical Humor – Pregnant Woman

A very pregnant patient arrived in our busy ER. While being wheeled from the waiting area, the baby’s head emerged, sending the woman into a panic. “I’m so embarrassed,” she sobbed.

“Don’t be embarrassed,” the nurse told her, “we had a woman deliver a baby on the front lawn last year.”

The woman again broke into tears, “That was me!”

– Another true story brought to you by the medical community


How AIDS changed sex in America. Or did it? – AIDS –

AIDS is now 25 years old! And over the past 25 years, it is estimated that 25 million people have lost their lives because of AIDS. I was gonna write some commentary about this but its late and I’m tired. An excerpt is included with the link to the whole article hosted on’s health section.

How AIDS changed sex in America. Or did it? – AIDS – “At first, AIDS appeared to be a disease of gay men. But by the time the virus responsible, HIV, had been identified a few years later, fear that sex, whether gay or straight, would kill millions of Americans shadowed every discussion of the topic. America’s sex life seemed poised for a dramatic change.”

An example of how AIDS has changed us:
A ‘get well’ card is not appropriate to someone with AIDS… We proposed a new line of cards to say things like, ‘I admire the way you have lived your life and I admire the way you are facing your death.
– Ginnie Job, Hallmark writer


More On Shadowing

I wrote about shadowing and volunteering a while ago (GUIDE: Shadowing and Volunteering) and found some more material to add.

Recently there was a student who posted a question on the forums. The student asked for advice on writing about his/her (gender is so hard to tell online) shadowing experience. Some answered that they did not write much on their application while others described how they elaborated about the details of their experience.

I am posting a reply that caught my eye. It was written by Panda Bear (online name) and is reprinted with his permission.

His blog can be found at


Shadowing is very important. I had a lot of shadowing experience. Well, I called it shadowing but as the physicians I shadowed had no idea who I was or what I was doing I guess some might call it stalking. Nobody ever called security though so it was all right. If anybody asked me what I was doing I just got a sad look and said, “Breast cancer….mother…not doing well,“ and then slowly retreated under the cover of reverential silence.

I actually spent most of my time hanging out in waiting rooms or the hospital gift shop eating peanut M&Ms. Except when I was trying not to vomit because sick people give me the gags, especially the ones with digusting skin thingies. People with skin cancer are the worst and they are very inconsiderate. “Ooooh, look at me everybody! I’ve got skin cancer!”

I really tried to minimize my contact with patients and doctors. Still, I had to put something down for extracurricular activities so I figured this was the least difficult way to go about it. I just made up names for hospitals which sounded good but which don’t really exist. You know, like “Mercy Hospital North” or “Johns Hopkins.” I also searched through the obituaries for physicans who had recently passed away and listed them as my sponsors.

My medical school’s registrars office has an AMCAS verification department and I wanted to cover all of my bases. When they called me in after first semester to say that they had been unable to contact a physician who I shadowed I got an incredibly tragic look on my face and said, “I’m sorry to report that Dr. Wondalaski passed away several weeks after I shadowed him.”

“Fine, fine man. Did you know he won the Nobel Prize?”

That usually put them off the scent for a semester or two. Eventually they must have discovered that all six doctors I shadowed as well as my mentor from the the NIH and all of the authors of my letters of recommendation were deceased but I never heard anything about it. Just to cover myself whenever I went into the registrars office I always adopted a wistful, care-worn expression and muttered thngs like, “So much death….how can I bear it?”

Medical school admission is a difficult process. You have to be smart about it.

Glad I could help.

On a side note, the whole application process can be a stressful experience. Studying for the MCAT, paying exorbitant fees to apply, and running to meet the mailman each day hoping for that acceptance packet (yes I said packet, its not some thin letter like you see on TV) wears on you.

So if you really want to be a physician, relax, do your best, and be persistent.