Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Exponential growth!

This graph which serves as the image for this post was copied from a paper I had to review/present for one of my courses this summer. But it also accurately depicts the personal and educational growth I feel I've experienced over the last 5 years.

Little did I know how significant my knowledge base would grow in the years since I took my first programming course (~ 2010?) to bring me where I am today, able to use knowledge from almost everything I've done both professionally and academically. And I couldn't be happier by the synergy of it all given everything I had to go through to get here!

That said, I have no words for the utter exhaustion I felt at the end of last week, where I'm now a full-time student for the first time in years. Combined with the intellectual requirements for my fellowship, and I'm using brain cells in ways I thought I had LONG since put behind me, like my Chemistry background. I use it EVE-RY-DAY and I LOVE it! I'm also using PubMed and PubChem and since I LOVE to read journal articles this is kinda nice too! Add to it the "foot" my Health Informatics Prof placed up the collective butts of my ENTIRE class with the our first assignments, then it probably makes sense why I was up till' midnight reading, writing, and thinking while I put the final touches on assignments that were due at Midnight on the 26th. Whew!!!!

Movin' on, I think I now have the minimum 3 members I needed for my dissertation committee and that's great. But the realization that I will likely NOT Have the health disparities focus I wanted is kinda disappointing. The short story is that to get what I need to get done academically the way I want to do it, something HAD to be compromised. And the fact is that folks with health disparities focused projects just ain't getting published, thus funded much these days. And this is the game I have to play if I'm going to get through this MD/PhD with a research career in mind. I simply have to do what I gotta do to one day do what I wanna do!

Other news is that I have an Orgo student for the entire summer and with my MCAT prep occurring simultaneously, this is a fantastic (and lucrative) thing to have on my plate right now! Of course, that contributes to my weekly exhaustion especially since I work 6 days a week, but then I thrive in controlled chaos like environments. At least so far.:)

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Old hollywood soul!

Of the MANY blessings I have in my life is having a kid that I pretty much NEVER have to worry about when it comes to her choices and behavior (but then that may be because I'm THE Black Chinese Tiger Mom, LOL!!). Anyway, when it was time for us to go shopping for my daughter’s prom attire I didn't worry about a thing. I knew it would be classy and tasteful because that's how she was raised. But let me be honest here, this gown in the pic was not her first choice, the first one gave her father heart palpitations, so it was changed, LOL!!! I didn't think it was that bad, but in retrospect, it probably was a little too much for a high school prom.

Another really cool thing about my kid to me but that was kinda difficult for her especially in high school, is the fact that she's "out of the box" in her style choices. And these days in the era of kids "dropping it like it's hot" and wearing attire that says just that, this often meant that she stood out among her peers in ways they thought was weird. So as an example, her love of Asian culture meant that chinese style jackets like this one below were apart of her wardrobe:

And when you're a Black girl, speaking Chinese and dressing in Chinese style clothes, it may cause problems in finding your "crowd" in high school, LOL!! And there were definitely some years where it was troubling for her to not have much in common with her peers, but as she got older and more confident in herself, she began to embrace who she is.

So when it came time for her to decide on the "statement" she wanted to make at her prom, I wasn't suprised that she decided on going "old hollywood" in her style. And no one in my opinion says old hollywood like the beautiful lady below:

Now what's ironic is that I had NEVER talked with my daughter about Audrey Hepburn, nor did she know that Breakfast at Tiffanys was my favorite AH movie! DD simply decided on her own to duplicate that look for her prom:

And that means that it took me almost an hour to get the hair just right, ROTFL!!!

So after prom (where I crazily offered to be the designated driver for her and her girlfriends), she told me that she got a ton of compliments from the teachers and other staff at her school which didn't surprise me because I figured older folks would "get it". But that almost every other girl at the prom wore the exact same strapless mermaid style gown which meant that once again, my kid stood out like a sore thumb. Oh well, thanks goodness she can handle it now.

Anyhoo, this was yet another in a long list of recent reminders that my little girl is almost a woman which has been a little tough because she's my only child. But in a world of crazy young people doing whatever comes to mind, I'm very thankful to God for the young lady she has grown up to be!

Friday, May 9, 2014

Deuces Spring 2014!!!

So this semester is FINALLY over and I'm sooooooooooooooooooooo happy! Honestly, I don't think I've worked this hard since I was taking med school courses. Now though, it's time for me to look toward my VERY bright future as things start to fall into place as far as my MD/PhD goals are concerned.

First things first, I will NOT be applying to the joint MD/PhD program this year for a number of reasons, the primary of which is money is just SUPER tight right now. Second, my new department and PI want me to spend ~ 2 years in their department, getting all the preqs for the PhD out of the way, before I go to the med school anyway. In other words, they want me to be sure I'm committed and given my track record in this regard, I can't say I blame them. Third, I AM Still taking the MCAT this year before the exam changes (and because my old scores expire for many schools this year).

So now my unofficial MD/PhD program looks like this:

F2014-S2016, PhD 1, 2

F2016-S2018 MD 1 &2, with PhD research in the summers, though I'm going to be busting my arse to finish the PhD before my clinical years.

F2018-S2020 MD, PhD

And in the Spring of 2020, I'll be the ripe ol' age of 53, LOL!! WOW 53, if someone had said to me that I would be a new MD/PhD in my 50's, I would have laughed! But I'll be the one getting the last laugh here, better to have completed a lifelong goal in one's 50's, than not at all!!!

PS- Because I'm certain I'll have the letters "Dr." in front of my name by 2019, I don't feel especially compelled to change my name from Doc201X!!! ;)

PSS- I finished the semester with 2 A's and 1 B !!!:)

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Terrific Tuesdays May 2014

I was having such an unusally FABULOUS Tuesday, that I forgot to post  this gem earlier today!

Sunday, May 4, 2014

I wanted to become a what?!?!?

This was my first thought as the last lecture for my clinical healthcare class was being given by a Pathologist last Thursday, "How in da' HE!! did I EVER think I wanted to be a Pathologist, LOL"???

Being in the clinic/hospital for rotations these past few months, really honed in the idea that I need to work around "people people" with people/patients. And as much as I hate to stereotype Paths, they just usually ain't "people people"!!! I justified my stay in the field all these years because I thoroughly enjoyed the science in/of pathology. But in retrospect, I should have been looking for gigs with a balance between working with people AND scientific stimulation. The problem is that outside of being a Physician, I can't think of a field I could have had that combo in. Nursing, Physician Assistant would have given me a TON of patient contact but not so much about the science of the diseases I was seeing patients with. So I thought I had found a happy medium in Pathology which at the end of the day, was just "medium", as I don't have much "happy" to say about it outside of my love for science/medical research. And that's kinda sad given how short life is!!

Movin' on, I've also changed my interest in EM/IM to IM/???? And the ??? is feeling more like Peds these days. Again, all this early speculation is done in fun, I'm going to keep a reasonably open mind about speciality choices. It's just funny how my interests always gravitate to the most challenging things like a dual residency program. Go figure!!!

I've also started "lite" studying for the MCAT, randomly going through BS questions and doing extremely well on the ones I've done so far. I also did a VR problem and that was just ugly. But VR requires a certain kind of thinking process, one that has to be learned or relearned in my case. After my last final this coming Thursday, I plan to start MCAT review in earnest this weekend. I'm also planning to order my transcripts to send to AMCAS over the next 2 weeks.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Just HAPPY!!!!

So I decided to unofficially start my fellowship on Monday even though I haven't officially cleared the background check yet, LOL!! And I spent most of the morning working on an assignment that was just a LOT of fun! The best categorization of the work I do in my current position is ChemInformatics and Pharmacogenomics which means that for the first time in my ENTIRE career, I'll use what I learned in MS programs in Chemistry and Pharmacology. Now how cool is that?!?!

Yesterday was the last day of the semester for me and I have NO words for how happy I am about that. Yes, I enjoyed the academic challenges this semester and my clinical healthcare course couldn't have come at a better time. But it's an understatement to say that it was EXHAUSTING!!!

Yesterday was also the day that I finally let my department know what my academic and professional plans are (MD/PhD) and I'm VERY happy to say that they are behind me 1000%!! I'd be the first MD/PhD student from the department so there's that. But the fact that a few of the faculty in my department (including the Anesthesiologist I shadowed last week) are so involved in the interface between Health Informatics and Medicine, it's a just great surprise to me that no one else had thought of this earlier. Incidentally, I saw that prof yesterday and had forgotten that he and the other prof for my class both direct the class and well as the newly formed residency in Clinical Informatics the med school. And that put into perspective all the questions he asked me when I was shadowing him about my short and long term academic goals. It also turns out that he's an acdom member, so I've longed since saw all these blessings in my life as a coincidence.

Of course, I thought the "problem" would be that the official MD/PhD program at my school doesn't "recognize" my department as an academic option which is why I considered jumping ship to a new one a few weeks ago. But I've been told that my joint program just needs to be "packaged" properly for special approval.

At any rate, it's an understatement to say that I'm happy about the way things are going ! :)