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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 StudentDoctor.net 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 www.pandabearmd.com.

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Hi.

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.
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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.

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Anxiety and Sleep Loss

This is just a random post. It’s 3:14 AM on June 4. I cannot sleep. I have finals this week and I also present my Final Project on Wednesday. For the past month I have had trouble sleeping. I think its anxiety.

I figured I’m probably stressed out about my senior project because if I don’t have that approved, I don’t graduate.. which means I don’t go to Loma Linda in August.

The whole sleep thing is frustrating because I cannot fall asleep at night, but I’m so tired in the afternoon so I take a nap. And then the cycle just keeps getting harder and harder to break.

Wonder how my sleep pattern is going to be during medical school…

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Medical Humor – Pharmacy

A mother called the pharmacy inquiring, “My son was given chewable tablets, but unfortunately, he swallowed them. Should he get a new prescription?”

– brought to you by the Medical Community

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The Student Doctor Network

This is just a little advert for The Student Doctor Network website. Lots of info for students. The time I do spend on that website, I am visiting the forums.

There is a section for Premed, for Medical Students, for residents, etc. But you are free to browse all the sections and check out how things are going and even ask questions.

Lots of good info. Though like any website with user-submitted content, read it with a grain of salt…

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GUIDE: Shadowing and Volunteering

Peter Pan and his shadow had a somewhat antagonistic relationship. It made me want to have a shadow like that. Looked fun. Just don’t have an antagonistic relationship with the doctor you end up shadowing. I never got a chance to do it, but “they” say you should. In theory its a great thing to do. It will give you the chance to see firsthand what it is like to work in a hospital as a doctor. So try to shadow the specialty you’re interested in.

Now on to volunteering at a hospital. For some reason ADCOMS absolutely love this. I’ve heard that it shows your desire, compassion, and other qualities they are looking for. It also gives you exposure to hospital life. Most people end up volunteering at the
emergency room because that’s where the action is. I guess that’s fine.

As you volunteer think about what you see. You might think that volunteering is the most useless way to spend your afternoon because all you do is sit around waiting to change the bed sheets. But at least think about the things you see and hear. When I had my interview with Loma Linda, I was asked about my volunteering experience. The interviewer wanted to know what lesson I took away from my experience.

Again, shadowing and volunteering are good in that they give you some exposure to hospital life. But take advantage of the proximity to doctors. Talk to them about medicine. Ask them for advice. Ask them how they chose their specialty. Most doctors are eager to talk to young people who are hoping to one day become doctors as well.

Related Post: More on Shadowing (Not a serious post)

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GUIDE: Thinking about Medicine?

So you’re in college. Your whole future is ahead of you and now you’re thinking about becoming a physician. You’re probably really gung ho about it and want to run to the Records office and officially declare yourself “Pre-Med,” right? Well that’s fine. But there are things you should know.

The quest for the M.D. initials after your name begins with college. Every single class and grade will be up for review by the Admissions Committee (ADCOMS) of the medical school you apply to. Talk about pressure, right? So make sure that you do your best even when you think the class is a waste-of-time-general-study class. It does show up. But everyone should choose the major that they enjoy. DO NOT choose Biology if you’re not interested in studying about plant and animals. If you’re interested in business than pick that. If you’re a thinker, be a philosophy major. If you’re good in math, think about Mathematics, Physics, or Engineering. YOU DO NOT HAVE TO BE A BIOLOGY MAJOR TO GET ACCEPTED INTO MEDICAL SCHOOL. Actually, one book I did read (which is maybe ten years old) claims that the ratio of those accepted to those who applied is highest for philosophy majors.

Getting into a medical school is not easy. You must stand apart from all the applicants — and your undergraduate grades are probably the first criteria ADCOMS will look at (unless you’re like the Dean of Medicine’s son or daughter). For those non-geniuses out there, you might have to sacrifice nights where you wanted to hang out with friends to study for a test.

My point is that you need to be sure that Medicine is something you wish to pursue. Be persistent. As an engineering major, I saw lots of people declare themselves engineering majors during my Freshman year. Before the first quarter ended the mass exodus had already begun and by the end of the year almost 1/3 had switched to business. I see the
same thing with people who declare “pre-med.”

Someone once said this about working hard to become a doctor: “You do it because underneath the surface of a young person who loves life and fun there is a compassion to reach others. Medicine is something you can envision yourself doing. You can picture yourself in that respected white coat and you hear the sacred calling of the profession.”

Some view Medicine as just a career choice. Some view it as a calling. I think the way you view it will have huge impact on the success you have in getting into Medical School, in excelling in Medical School, in being a physician, and in the happiness and satisfaction you feel as a physician.

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January-May: The Missing Months

So as I wrote in the last post, there is a huge gap where I posted nothing. Basically I got caught up in school work — at least that’s the good answer to give.

But there wasn’t much going on as far as medical school was involved. But in the next couple weeks I’ll post about what did happen.

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