Aug. 16, 2011
No matter how high your grades in chemistry and biology, no matter how solid your MCAT scores, no matter how many activities you join, you still might be missing the important “stuff” to become a doctor. So while you are writing your kick butt essay, think about where you are going to find the right amounts of these 6 ingredients that one needs to become a really good doctor...
Feb. 10, 2011
I have to confront the realities of my chosen M.D./Ph.D. career path. After an extended medical school career, do I want to add a five- to seven-year residency training period? Can I maintain surgical competency while also pursuing anthropology? Will a life in social science work better with the flexibility of shift-work (as I would have in emergency medicine or anesthesia) or with a more rigid OR/clinic/on-call schedule? What specialty will mesh best with my social research interests? Does it matter or will I just make it work?
Jan. 11, 2011
Before becoming a medical student, even before applying to medical school, from the very first moment you proclaim “I want to be a doctor,” you hear the same question repeatedly. What kind of doctor do you want to be? The simplest answer would be, “A good one. A kind one.” You might get a chuckle and perhaps some relief from prying minds, at least temporarily. But that question will quietly nag you through your long and difficult journey until it is finally decided.
Nov. 30, 2010
From the hospital wards to the ivory tower, I consider myself lucky to be in such rarefied places and privileged worlds that most people don’t see. And then I also feel overwhelmed by the hundreds of pages of weekly reading or the towering responsibility of my own fieldwork (which I have yet to nail down to a topic or a location). In moving from medicine to Anthropology, I stepped off the well-trodden path of clinical training into the wilds of academia. But I find solace in the incredible scholars I get to read, the stimulating lectures I get to attend, and the many cups of coffee that get me through.
Nov. 05, 2010
Dana’s PhD is in medical anthropology. Never heard of it? Neither had I until Dana found one of her several passions. It all started in college, at Barnard, when she took an anthropology course. She loved it. And she also loved biology. And she wanted to become a medical doctor. And she found a way to do it all. She is becoming a medical anthropologist. She will study and advance the knowledge of the many ways in which “culture and society are organized around or impacted by issues of health, health care, and related issues.”
Jul. 15, 2010
Hi, Mom. Hi, ether. On my first clinical rotation, I did step into a whole new world. And while I’m back to real life, I definitely brought a little part of the wards back with me. But I also left a little part of my former self there, too. For better or worse, these past few months have been some of the most intense (and the most rewarding) of my life. I wish I could write one blog entry that could capture how much I’ve learned or what I saw, but that would be impossible. Instead, I’d like to share a few reflections on, and a peek into, the very privileged world of hospital medicine.
Jun. 22, 2010
Dana is finishing her surgical clerkship this week. Has it really been eight weeks? It went by so fast. Well at least for me it did. I don’t know about Dana, because she has surfaced for air (and some time talking on the phone) only a few times during these past several months.
May. 06, 2010
What’s a clerkship? It’s the first educational experience when a student doctor spends her days (and nights) involved entirely in patient care. Each clerkship is based on a major area of medicine—pediatrics, general surgery, surgical specialties, obstetrics/gynecology, internal medicine, psychiatry, and in some schools neurology and family practice medicine.
Apr. 22, 2010
Yes, getting the basic science in is important. But (some of) the most valuable skills I gained from my college education included learning how to think, write, and critically engage equally with texts and the world outside of the college gates. And BOTH biology and anthropology taught me these. Inside the lab—a place all pre-meds will face at some point or another—I took part in curiosity, scientific inquiry, and how ‘facts’ about the world around us are made.
Mar. 11, 2010
Our friend Rosalee Washington asked, “Should I major in something that has to do with science if I want to become a doctor?” This is a really good question. Do all doctors need the same skills? The same talents? Have a certain personality?
Mar. 01, 2010
From the SATs to the MCAT and the Boards exams, I’ve been a career student. Tests have become a way of life, in a way. (Is that sad?) From multiple-choice to essay to true/false to oral exams, tests have been the predictable pacemakers of my career from high school through college, from college to medical school and graduate school.
Feb. 22, 2010
I have only one more test left in med school! Well, I should qualify that: it’s the last test of my pre-clinical years. (The first two years are called pre-clinical because we don’t see much of the clinical side, because we don’t really know too much.) So, for two years we sit mostly in lectures, labs, small groups, and the library, learning the basics of human biology and illness. The cycle is predictable: three weeks of cramming, test, repeat. In our last block Life Cycle (our curriculum is organized by topic or organ system), we can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel.
Jan. 26, 2010
No one likes taking tests. Unless you are really well prepared and know the answers to all of the questions. And then it can be fun as an affirmation of your hard work, perseverance, and mastery of the material.My first big, important, life-changing test occurred in the 8th grade. The DATs—tests to help you figure out what career you might be good at. Don’t remember what the “D” stood for. On this 6 part test, I scored in the 99th percentile in spatial relationships, mechanical thinking, ...
Jan. 05, 2010
School let out a week ago, but my life is still quite busy. Especially with singing in the Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir. We have numerous holiday concerts in Oakland, the South Bay, even the San Francisco Jail. To keep up the momentum and energy, before every concert we ‘circle up.’ This means that the entire choir—all 50-60 of us—in our teal, purple and gold robes joins hands in a circle while our director leads us a pre-show pep-talk-like prayer. Any member who’s going through rough times—cancer, ...
Dec. 10, 2009
Yes, my daughter the doctor-to be, if it were only our career choices that created confusion and uncertainty! How your words (and your angst) resonated with me and my own daily struggles in caring for patients. Even after a lifetime of practice (nearly 30 years), not a day goes by that I don’t feel humbled by a problem I cannot solve or a patient I cannot heal.Learning to deal with the confusion created by the rapidly changing science of medicine which needs to be practiced on the ever changing ...
Nov. 30, 2009
I know in my last post I expounded following one’s own interests, without any particular roadmap. This approach definitely has its positives. But sometimes confusion and uncertainty appear, and choices can be difficult to make. Solution? Mentors as my guideposts: While I may not be sure what might lay ahead, for the immediate future, they have helped me to know that at least I was in the right place.Times have changed. And so have the kinds of advice and guidance that young people need. ...
Nov. 10, 2009
Does anyone remember the scene in the movie Bye, Bye, Birdie, when the MacAfee family learns that Kim is going to be on that really big show, The Ed Sullivan Show? Does anyone remember how, transported to a scene in heaven, likely cloud nine, they sang, in four part harmony, “We’re Gonna Be On Ed Sullivan!”Not a totally unbelievable scene for a family in the 1960’s. It was exciting to have a TV, much less to be on it. Back then the media consisted of print newspapers, magazines, ...
Nov. 09, 2009
The first mentor ever mentioned is found in Greek mythology. When Odysseus begins his journey, his son, Telemachus, is left in the care of Mentor, for guidance and protection. The story unfolds with the goddess Athena intervening and assuming the form of Mentor in than she could encourage Telemachus to assert himself and take charge of his role in the lives of his mother Penelope and father Odysseus.Is it an accident that the very first mentor in literature is both a mortal man and a female god? I ...
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