Monday, August 8, 2016

Movin' to Twitter!!

With a super busy schedule ahead over the next few years, I've decided to create a Twitter account where I'll be posting my progress on this looooooonnnnnnggggg road I'm on. And with the 140 character limit, there's NO danger of me getting too verbose or not having enough time in my day to post an update on a more regular basis!

My Twitter info is: Doc201X@Doc201_X

Sunday, July 10, 2016

The looooonnnnnggggg road ahead to MCAT greatness..............

So with my database class out of the way (OMG, that class was KILLER!!!), I'm now pretty laser focused on the MCAT, MCAT bio to be exact for the rest of the summer. For now, I'm using the Khan academy videos, cliff notes in bio subjects, and my tried and true EK materials. I still don't have a "formal" plan for studying for my retake because I decided that I could not do a lot of time consuming things at the same time. But I am making sure to do something MCAT related 3X/week during my super busy weeks, and 5X/week during times like those I'll have between now and the Fall semester.

Needless to say I was HIGHLY disappointed at my performance on the first passage and I completed it with a 3/7, but quickly averaged 5/7 on the remaining passages I completed. My goal however is ~87% or higher which amounts to missing at most, 1 question on any given passage. And with my years long experience is preparing/taking this exam along with tutoring other students, I think this is a realistic goal.

Movin' on, with everything going on in Texas and around the country last week, I opted out of going in to work last Friday. Knowing both DART and Dallas police officers made what happened just a tad bit more personal than it probably would have been otherwise. My kid was also supposed to be in Dallas for a field trip during her internship this weekend and I was so happy when they decided not to come. I'll also be so happy when she comes homes, because her cat is really working my last nerve:

This is the cat that acts more like a kitten with each passing day, lounging on MY favorite TV spot. Then when you nudge her into moving so you can sit down on YOUR chair, she hisses at you, gives you the evil cat eye, then sashays to another area of the family room, LOL!!

Sunday, July 3, 2016

And just where do you think you're going to put THAT?

This post has a gyn flavor, so if you're the squeamish type, you may want to skip reading this one. ;)

To the VERY few people I regularly talk about finishing medical school with (no one close to me except my kid these days), I always get asked why a medical school goal at such an older age. And the answer is pretty extensive based on the medical experience I've had over my entire lifetime. But it also comes down to 3 personal and career reaffirming gyn appointments.

The first occurred when I was a married graduate student studying Chemistry at one of the best Chemistry departments in the US. I went in for my yearly pap a year after the birth of my daughter, and was asked the standard questions at these types of appointments. But there's one question which to this day. seems to absolutely leave my health care providers surprised and flabbergasted. Actually let me correct that, it leaves my non Black healthcare givers surprised and flabbergasted and the typical exchange goes a little something like this:

Provider: "How many children do you have?"
Me: "One".
Provider: How many pregnancies have you had?"
Me" "One".
Provider: "That includes pregnancy terminations?"
Me: Deep sigh, followed by a LONG pause..................................................................."One".

Now my providers typically know I'm educated because it often comes up in conversation during that awkward chit-chat that occurs when you have your legs spread wide open during the pelvic exam. So this idea that I don't know that abortions count toward the number of pregnancies is complete racially tinged bunk IMHO.

And so this has gone on since 1996 up until a few weeks ago except after 20 years, the exchange went like this:

Provider: "How many children do you have?"
Me: "One".
Provider: How many pregnancies have you had?"
Me: "One".
Provider: "That includes pregnancy terminations?"
Me: Deep sigh, followed by "no shit, the answer is still one".
Provider: "Ma'am, I just needed to make sure you knew what I meant".
Me: "Thank you I appreciate that, but truly you don't think I'm almost 50 years old and didn't know that".

For the record, I'm not making ANY judgments about people who made the decision to terminate a pregnancy because I realize that it's probably the most difficult decision a woman can make.

Here's another experience that helps solidify why we need more Black physicians or at the very least, culturally astute ones. This also occurred when I was a Chemistry graduate student:

Provider: "Your test results have come back showing dysplasia?"
Me: "Really?".
Provider: "It's due to the presence of HPV" (a sexually transmitted virus that can cause cervical changes including cervical cancer).
Me: "I don't recall you mentioning that I was being tested for that, so how do you know that's the cause? ".
Provider: "I didn't test you for that, I just know from experience that most cervical changes are caused by HPV".
Me: " You can't assume that's the cause without proper testing". And there's nothing in my medical history what would cause you to draw that conclusion without laboratory confirmation. Thank you for you time, I'm going to follow up with another Gyn".

Now I'm not saying you can't be a married graduate student, with only one pregnancy/birth, and not get diagnosed with HPV. And having spent time in a rural health clinic in a college town and having basic common sense, I know that anyone sexually active is at risk for an STD, married people too. But I also know that this Physician "diagnosed" me with HPV because I was a Black female. She also never asked if I was a "DES daughter" which given my age, is a common sense question  to me (I had a first cousin that died from cervical cancer at 15 who was a DES daughter).

My final "bad gyn to medical school experience" occurred more recently and this one may not be as racially obvious as my other 2, but suffice it to say that if teed me off (and hurt like hell) too!!
The image of this post shows a variety of different sized speculums, which for the uninformed, are instruments used during gyn exams. Now I usually don't have "issues" with this exam but I did this time because the FP trained in Gyn decided to use the largest speculum on the tray. Now if I had birthed an baby Elephant, that would make since to me. Or if I had had 15 kids, that might make sense to me. Or if I was a prostitute, that might make sense to me. Maybe being 400 pounds and 8 feet tall, might make sense to me! But assuming I needed the largest speculum on the tray is like assuming that because I'm a Black woman, I also have a very large ass. And if I had a large ass, would that necessarily mean I require a large speculum? Needless to say two things will never happen again. One, I will NEVER see another FP trained in Gyn and two, I will ALWAYS check the size of the speculum the Doc is going to use BEFORE they do the freakin' exam!!!!

Edit: Now that I'm doing research again in infectious diseases (ID) especially HIV, I know all to well what "the numbers" show are far as the rates of ID in the Black community. But I also know that if I go to a rehab clinic and take a sample of the number of injection drug users (IDUs) in the group, that rate/number will probably be pretty high. So as a person becoming an expert in stats, I can say that sampling is everything when it comes to drawing medical conclusions. And when I look at the data (which I have access to given my current position/educational endeavors), the ONE commonality that is pretty glaring to me when it comes to IDs/STDs are the rates of infections when the data are (And yes, "are" is the right word, data is plural ;)) stratified by education and most especially, income. OTOH, I also know having lived in one of the richest counties in America (in the Metro DC), that a LOT of what should get reported in a medical record, never does..

So for numerous reasons including those I just mentioned above, I just don't trust stats derived from populations I know for a fact, aren't truly normalized. Put another way, I can't trust it!

Friday, June 24, 2016

How to pick a medical specialty?

I saw this on Linkedin in a few months back, but I'm only now getting around to positing it.

Seems pretty accurate to me, what do you think, LOL??

Saturday, June 18, 2016

10 Randoms thoughts

*Image from the SNMA website

So in the absence of a real post, I thought I'd post 10 of the random 10 million things that are running through my mind at any given moment of a day. Here they are in no particular order:

1) I wonder if finishing med school will "cure" my mind of always having 10 million random things running through it, or will it just create 10 million more?

2) My kid has been away at her internship for almost a week and I miss her terribly.

.........after a brief moment of tears before I continue....

3) It was the DUMBEST idea EVER to take an advanced database class in only 6 weeks! URGH!!!

4) The weekly HIV clinical conference I attend is getting SUPER interesting!

5) I was finally approved to attend the Ryan White HIV/AIDS conference in DC and I can't wait to get back home! Turns out that as a non clinician (Imma' fix THIS!!), I get last "dibs" on everything, thus I'll have to stay at a hotel different from the one the conference is being held in.

6) Looks like that gyn surgery I've been putting off for a while will have to be scheduled sometime in the near future. Major BUMMER!!!!

7) The 2 HIV related research projects I'm working on are coming along quite nicely!! :)

8) I've been approved to volunteer at the local indigent hospital in a position to be determined starting in August. I'm leaning toward the baby cuddler program, but I'm leaving that open until I have to make a decision.

9) Formal MCAT review has been nonexistent except I'm learning a LOT in my med term class.

10) It's hot as fish grease in Texas right about now, but I still LOVE living here! :)

Monday, May 30, 2016

Preparing for hades, otherwise know as summer in Texas

So with my academic summer plans set, I prepare for what is supposed to be the hottest summer on record here in Texas. And to all who don't believe global warming is real, I say spend a summer in Texas, you'll quickly think otherwise, LOL!!

Update: Some of my readers may be wondering how things worked out with the student from hell I had last semester. In the interest of professionalism and privacy, all I'll say is that she flunked the ACS (American Chemistry Society) created final exam. And with that, nothing more needs to be said.

Movin' on, one of the classes I'm taking this summer for my HIT certification is medical terminology and this class is definitely NOT the same as the one I took in the early 90's. Based on what I've seen in the book so far, it's more like anatomy/physiology "lite". And that's good since I'll be taking A&P I/II next Fall and Spring (in retrospect, I'm glad to not be taking these classes this summer as I originally wanted before the classes were cancelled). I'm also taking advanced courses Health Data Science as needed/required for my research and for my PhD. Most exciting for me, is that I finally get to learn EPIC in detail, one of the most popular electronic health records systems used in US medical facilities.

Yeah, this summer is going to be GREAT!!!

Friday, May 20, 2016

Done and DONE!!!

Last week, I submitted my final grades for the chemistry class I taught this past spring semester and let me say that I've NEVER in my ENTIRE life been so happy to be done with a teaching assignment! And with that said, I'm just gonna move on but suffice it to say, I'm so looking forward to a summer of NOT teaching!

Movin' on, my schedule for the summer is a somewhat moving target as I'm waiting to hear back from my PhD adviser about whether or not additional sections of a course I'd planned to take this summer will be opened. I'm good either way but can admit that I could definitely use that time in MCAT prep. Speaking of the MCAT, my course schedule for my HIT certification did get changed to require I repeat A&P I & II( that's anatomy and physiology 1 and 2) for this Fall and next Spring. And that could be a blessing in disguise since that would by default include some MCAT subject material too. But that would also mean that my exam date would get pushed back until May 2017 at the earliest which really isn't that big of a deal since I'm not planning to apply to med school until 2018/matriculate in the Fall of 2019, after I finish my PhD.

As for my abstracts, while I certainly have been able to generate some promising results in the 3 short months I've been on this research gig, we just don't have the statistical power to publish anything substantial just yet. But I've been given permission to attend the two meetings I was submitting abstract for anyway, one of which is the Ryan White 2016 HIV/AIDS meeting being held in August of this year in DC. So this will be a trip back home for me and since I haven't been back since we relocated to Texas in 2013, it's a welcome opportunity to visit one of my favorite cities in America, Washington DC!!

Finally, I know I blogged a lot about how frustrating my teaching experience was for me this past Spring, but I think I'll be able to get my "mojo" back over the summer and teach again this Fall. I'll just be doubly sure to teach only 2 classes and NOT 4!! :)

Friday, May 6, 2016

Looking forward to the hot (a**) summer in Texas!!

So with the semester coming to an end I'm now thinking about my VERY busy upcoming summer! And I am sooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo excited!! Between getting feedback from my THREE abstracts, to my classes in healthdatabases, advanced medical terminology, and health informatics, to studying for what is going to be my LAST MCAT, to trips planned to Austin, DC, and San Antonio, to FINALLY getting up to par with the HIV database called CAREWare, I don't have words to say how GREAT I'm feeling about how so VERY BLESSED I am! :)

But after getting the following reading the day after my meeting last week with the Dean of the department where I teach, I realized that there are some SERIOUS lifestyle changes I need to make NOW.

Now for clarity, my diet, exercise habits, and weight are ALL in check. But my ability to deal with unnecessary bullcrap stress like I had last week, needs some work. So this week I started meditating again, I walked longer than I usually do to the point where my shins started to hurt, and now I'm back down to where I need to be:

And here is where I plan to STAY.

Moving on, I got some new specs after 10 years of wearing the same style frame:

The fam (family) is calling me Dr. X, since these are the same style frames worn by Malcolm X. I got them in a royal blue color to flash a little personality with my "reading glasses" style, LOL!!! I also got some new everyday glasses in a larger, more cat eye style, but I won't have those until next week!

So with summer right around the corner, I'm channeling this 90's jam BIG TIME!!!

Sunday, May 1, 2016

The devil is a liar

So this Wednesday, I have a meeting with the Dean of the STEM department. And while I'd LOVE to say it was about the exceeding performance standards eval I got a couple weeks ago, it's unfortunately due to a student complaining that "I don't like them or treat them fairly" with 2 weeks left in the semester. And not just any student, a female student. And not just any female student, but a BLACK female student. Uh huh.

Apparently, some of the students in this generation are HIGHLY entitled and think they deserve good grades with inconsistent effort, as opposed to having to earn them like all the other top students in my class do. And when you won't give them what they asked for, they go to your Supervisor, a situation I had heard other faculty at my school complain about earlier in the semester. And if after that meeting they're still not satisfied, they go to the Dean hence my meeting this coming Wednesday.

Now besides the enormous amount of disappointment I feel about this situation given my demonstrated goal of increasing minority representation in STEM especially women, I also recognized that there are some people that have other agendas. All I can do is show my Dean this student's progress in my class along with the email she sent me complaining about "not getting the grade she deserves". The fact that I had to ask her and 2 other students to leave my class for ignoring my repeated (since early March) requests to stop talking during lecture, is just the icing on the proverbial cake as far as her character is concerned. Added to that is the fact that 2 of the 3 students I asked to leave my class that day have apologized for their behavior, but not this student. And that says FAR more about her as a person and her intentions, than anything else IMHO.

What I do know is that with an MCAT coming up this summer, 3 abstracts due in the next 2 weeks, summer classes toward my HIT (Health Information Technology) certificate, and a PhD course, I realize that my decision to not teach this summer was a damn good one. But this "hiatus" from teaching will likely extend FAR into the future as I simply don't have time for bull*hit like this. Not. At. ALL! I'm also reminded that of the 20 or so Black female PhD's I know, only 2 of them teach at the collegiate too. Put another way, the weight of double standards that Black faculty often feel is one thing when it's something you can control to a certain degree, like your research. But teaching is a subjective in nature, and a LOT of what others think about what you do is completely OUT of your hands. At age 39, I may have had the motivation to "gut it out" anyway. But at 49, ANYTHING that isn't positive and moving me in the direction of medical school, can go straight to he**!

With that said, I'll have to figure out another way to reach underrepresented students interested in STEM. I'm tossing around a couple ideas now, but won't follow through officially until after I take the MCAT later this summer.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Summer breeze!!

So with temps in the 80's here in Texas, it's feeling a LOT like summer already here in Texas! And with the knowledge that I'm taking classes for my HIT certification and PhD degree along with the MCAT later this summer, I've decided that I'm NOT superwoman. And that means that I won't be teaching this summer as I had originally planned because I ain't superwoman!

Moving on, I'm working on my first, first author abstract in years for an April 29th submission deadline. At this point, I'm not sure if I will make it in time, but I'm certainly giving it my best!

Other than that, everything is everything is a the young people say and life is still pretty d*mn good!

Sunday, April 10, 2016

I. Am. EXHAUSTED.....................................................................................AND I LOVE IT!!!!!

I think the title (and image) pretty much sums up how I'm feeling these days, I have MANY moments when I feel like there aren't enough hours in a day for me to get all the things I need to get done! But there isn't much I'd change about it because I'm learning so much and growing in so many ways!!

One of the things I'm most proud of is how much I've improved as a professor over the last few months, and I can admit that it did take a LOT for me to get adjusted to the "Demographics" of students I teach. I say it to my supervisor all the time, this particular experience has been more a lesson in adjusting my teaching in ways that would prove most helpful to my students who are not only minority, but come from the lowest of economic backgrounds. I understand much better how an attitude of mediocrity gets passed on from generation to the next and is often mistaken from people from higher SES (socio economic status) as laziness or being unmotivated to learn. But it's almost impossible to maintain motivation to study when you're taking care of family, working, AND going to school. Being a minority myself, I can empathize with what they deal with in life, but trust me I have NO problem being tough when I need to be. So it makes my day when my students tell me they look up to me and I even have one who told me she wants to be a Chemistry professor just like me! :) 

Moving on, I mentioned that I frequently walk in my downtown neighborhood and even though I'm from the south, I'd never in my life seen the following on trees growing up:

If my daughter hadn't spotted this, I'd never EVER notice it myself, so I guess nature/evolution has a way of making sure delicate/vulnerable species survive (there's an MCAT topic here, ROTFL!!) The tree I saw must have had 500 caterpillars all clustered together in "packs" of 3 or more per tree! And on this note, I'm going to end this post because this picture makes my skin crawl REAL bad, LOL!!!!!

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Get your freak on.......but do it safely!!!

* Image from the site GetDownPSA

Now 2 weeks into my dual roles of chemistry professor and data analyst/PhD student, and it still feels surreal to be in the place I've prayed about for so very long! And at the top of that list is working with genuinely kind people which hadn't happened to the extent I'm experiencing now since I left the NIH in 2005. And 11 years a LONG time to mostly "swim with sharks" but with God's grace, I SURVIVED!!!! :)

I also realized this week that because of the nature of the patients my group works with (people living with HIV (PLWHIV) I won't be able to be as forth coming about my experiences as I would like thanks in large part to the stigmas that still exist for people who are HIV positive. But I will be able to talk about all the interesting things I'm learning about the disease and the measures many large cities are taking to decrease incidence in our communities.

By being back in the HIV clinical research game, I recall alot about the nuances of human sexual behavior from my time as a volunteer AIDS educator at a large urban center and at the University of Florida in the early 90's, and also as an administrator at the state level for an HIV/STD/TB program. But though I lived in a known "swingers" neighborhood in the metro DC area for almost 11 years in the 00's and 10's, I'd forgotten until recently just how much people like to get their freak on. Now let me state on the onset I'm NOT making judgements about people's sexual behaviors. But the idea that HIV prevention organizations send folks out to "sex houses" to distribute condoms and provide on the spot HIV testing, blows my mind!! One "establishment" even requires everyone there be completely naked not long after entering, so that one was taken off the list of possibles places to provide services! But what would REALLY blow people's minds (or perhaps not) is the fact that the people who also frequent these places are NOT your run of the mill crack hos and IV drug abusers. The patrons of these establishments are also MARRIED CEOs of major companies and board members of national organizations. In other words, don't believe the hype of who's at risk for HIV infection!!! IMHO, if you're having sex married or not, you're at risk the only question is how big (or small) your risk is!!

Sunday, March 20, 2016

It's getting hot in here!!

One of the really odd aspects of my life these days is going through menopause ie hot flashes. And I say odd because I can't recall too many women talking/blogging about it.

But I'm thrilled to be aging reasonably well and I'm one of the few middle aged women I know actually looking forward to being 50 years old:

In fact, I wouldn't wish to be a (FAR less) confident 20 or 30 something for all riches in the world!!

Movin' on, my kid has had a crush on these two (Les Twins) for as long as I could remember:

Which is very interesting because: 1) She NEVER dances anymore and these guys are AMAZING dancers and 2) She NEVER sings out loud, and these guys are featured in vidoes by Beyonce' and Missy Elliott. So when she learned they were coming to town and wanted to go meet them I thought it was a little odd. When none of her friends could go with her (they're all out of town for Spring Break) and wanted me to go with her, I thought it was REALLY strange, LOL!!! But I decided to go anyway, and we had a GREAT time!!

Now I was a dancer back in the day and was cofounder of the dance team at the University of Florida, a group I started after years of trying out for the majorette squad and not being selected (they'd only had one Black majorette since the school became coed in the 50's). In fact, the majorette squad used to perform at basketball games, in addition to during half time with the band during football games). But they were displaced by the dance team for b-ball games, so it was a GREAT bit of sweet revenge for me, LOL!!! Anyhoo, I still dance as a means of getting exercise and hip-hop dancing is a good for your core/abs. So while was I was super adverse to going, it turns out there were quite a few Moms/Grandmothers (probably former dancers too) there too with their kids/grandkids for the dance workshop and meet/greet. Needless to say, it's an experience my daughter and I will both remember for the rest of our lives!!!

Here's a Beyonce' video with Les Twins and they're also dancers on her tours:

Saturday, March 12, 2016

They mean well, but they're REALLY out of touch!

This is what I was thinking as I was sitting at a regional meeting of AIDS researchers and Physicians this past week. And my other thought was that of the 5 Black people there, not ONE had much to say about what I was hearing that literally left my mouth hanging open. Things like the fact that according to CDC data recently published, Black men that sleep with men have a 1:2 lifetime risk of contracting HIV. That's 50:50!!! WTH?!?!??!

I'll keep this short, it's IMPOSSIBLE to affect adequate change in the health status of a community when you don't thoroughly understand its "culture", even when your intentions are in the right place. Put another way, I'll fit right in as an Internist that happens to have an AIDS/HIV research background too. Interestingly, I haven't been "active" in the HIV/AIDS community for over 20 years and it's an understatement to say that things have really changed! From the drugs used in treatment (there were very few back in the day) to who's more likely to be infected with HIV (when I was an AIDS counselor in the 90's, gay, White, men topped that unfortunate list), the field has changed in a TON of ways that leave me giddy with excitement with all the new things I'm going to learn! Yes, my role will be primarily an analytical one, but I'll also have opportunities to go into the field and work with the Physicians that lead the team I'm working on. And that is SUPER cool!!

Movin' on, my MCAT study is going well so there's not much to update there. I'm going to register for the exam as soon as I find out what my summer PhD class schedule is going to be and that should be by the end of March/early April. I'm still thinking about a late June/mid July exam at the latest, since I don't want to be bogged down with final exams for my Chemistry students as well as my own final exams.  Again, having to set a specific schedule works so much better for me than having too much "freedom" of choice.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

On second thought...........

Although I questioned it at first, I now understand why my adviser didn't know I would soon be conducting research at one of the top medical schools in the US. I've had so many interviews that seemed promising only to be let down in the end, so I guess I really didn't believe it myself until I got the contract by email last week. And I suppose I'm really not all that surprised that with this "new realization", he's now encouraging me to complete my dissertation with this infectious disease(ID) group despite the low publication rate of my adviser. So now that I'm thoroughly confused about what I should do dissertation research wise, I've decided to put the dissertation issue on the back burner and focus on 4 things over the next 1.5 years: 1) Scoring well on the MCAT later this summer, 2) Learning as much as I can in my ID data research gig, 3) Finishing up my 2 health data certifications by the end of the year, and 4) Finishing all my PhD courses/passing my written and oral exams. And that is MORE than enough for ANY one person to do in 1.5 years!

Movin on', in what is now my 6th week teaching general chemistry at a predominately Hispanic college, I'm realizing that the challenges many of my students face outside of the classroom are pretty damn difficult to overcome. And with the knowledge that many of the students at the wealthy predominately White university where I last taught, not only have supportive parents encouraging them toward excellence but also attend regular tutoring, I'm getting a better understanding of why Black and Brown kids don't pursue careers in STEM. But when I learned at a faculty retreat this past Friday that only 13% of the STEM students at my school graduate, something else in me started brewing, something that became a FULL blown anger at "the system". I have "a few" college degrees all obtained at predominately White universities, including some of the best universities in the country. And at NO time in my tenure at ANY school do I think a pass rate of 13% in STEM would EVER be acceptable! EVER!! So why in the hell is it "acceptable" at this college?

URGH!! Anyhoo, I have a couple ideas about what they need to do to turn this thing around starting with getting a better Chemistry textbook! The book we're using now (General Chemistry by McMurry et al) is just terrible in it's organization. Yeah, McMurry has a fantastic textbook for Organic Chemistry (it's in my Orgo collection, though I've never used it for a class). But just because you can author a great orgo book doesn't mean you can effectively author any other chemistry textbook, especially general chemistry. And I know this book well because my kid "used" it in her AP Chemistry class in high school a few years ago. Actually, she ended up learning chemistry from my Petrucci Chemistry textbook from the 1980's and only last year did I update to the 4th edition of Petrucci just to modernize my general chemistry textbook collection. Here it is in case someone reading is looking for a good chemistry textbook, just make sure to order the solutions manual too:

This experience like so many others I've had in the educational field, are a reminder that while I do enjoy it to a large degree and welcome the opportunity to mentor and "give back" to women and/or minority/disadvantaged students, committing to it full-time isn't something that will ever be on my long term goal list. Because like Big Pharma, I find far too many "unnecessary" obstacles to success that people in these industries not only find acceptable, they seem indifferent too. The "as long as I've got mine, you get yours the best you can" attitude, is simply more than I can tolerate.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Slow your roll!

So my adviser emailed me to say that I'm putting "the cart before the horse" with this research project stuff and that over the course of the next year I need to focus on: 1) Getting the rest of my classes for my PhD completed, and 2; Passing my written and oral exams.  So, in the words of Nene Leakes from Atlanta housewives, BLOOP!!! :)

However, that isn't going to stop me from submitting an abstract to an AACR (American Association for Cancer Research) meeting to be held in the early fall. But of course, that's going to be HIGHLY depended on what I get done this summer with more certification classes to complete (as a Data Analyst/Health Info Management) and an in depth MCAT review, BOTH with definitive placement on my "summer plate" too.

Still point VERY well taken, I seriously need to slow myself down!!

Thursday, February 18, 2016

More scribble, scrabble!!!

"Sure, I'd much rather work on a project related to cancer, but I accept the fact that right now, I don't have any support in that area unless I want to leave Texas."


So not even 48 hours after I came to accept that I won't have a cancer research project, did my graduate adviser pretty much veto DOWN my choice to have an HIV focused dissertation project. Not only that, one of my mentors did the same thing adding that my new PI hasn't published enough. D*mn!

So while this may appear to be a major set back of sorts to some, it actually really isn't because I haven't officially started the research gig yet, LOL!! And I obviously won't mind continuing with cancer research. :)

Right now, I'm going to stick with the HIV gig for my "day job" because of the opportunity to have regular interactions with patients and my VERY strong interest in staying "clinically oriented". And the fact of the matter is that I don't have time to volunteer in a clinical setting, as much as I'd love to do it. But we'll see how this "Jeckel and Hyde, Infectious Disease/Cancer research existence goes moving forward!!!

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Keeping my expectations grounded in reality!

This is the story of my pre-med life to many people, LOL!! However I've learned to accept that, not because I think this image is in any way accurate to ME, but because the way God planned my life has nothing to do with how others think He should have planned it. The fact is that save for one too many disappointing research endeavors, it's been a pretty interesting ride. And the most important fact of my journey is that I succeeded remarkable in raising my kid to become the fabulous and successful person she is today, receiving MUCH more family support for her life and goals than I received. More than that, I'm resolved myself to the fact that my med school journey will not include my parents (for reasons I've mentioned before but won't elaborate on again, my father is deceased so that's one part of it) and it's just taken me until very recently to accept that and MOVE ON anyway!

Speaking of which, my MCAT review is going  at a pretty steady clip and I mix it up to keep myself motivated. One of the sites I'm using is the Khan Academy website which now has all of the new sections of the MCAT included among their materials:

Of course, being a college chemistry professor keeps me on my MCAT toes and I remain very grateful for the opportunity to not only teach/mentor other minority students, but relearn some things myself.

The other really cool thing going on is that I've settled on a new research group for my dissertation and it looks right now like I'm back in the infectious disease (ID) arena. I finally came to the realization that besides not taking the advice I give students to pick your research group based on support first and interest second, I was causing an unnecessary delay in getting things going (my target date to finish my PhD is December 2018). Sure, I'd much rather work on a project related to cancer, but I accept the fact that right now, I don't have any support in that area unless I want to leave Texas. And that's the other part of this, my unwillingness to move placed me in a situation of not having many options but I accepted that because I LOVE the people and living in Texas, and hope to practice medicine in this state as well.

While enjoying my last bit of free time (I start with my new research group next week), I spend a LOT of time walking in my downtown neighborhood. Out home is about a block from dog park and I snapped this pick on the way back from picking up a package from the post office:

Again, it's so mega cool living blocks from the arts district!!!


Sunday, February 7, 2016

Sunday, January 31, 2016

And your Wii fit age is...........


This was so NOT the answer I was expecting, LOL!!! But between the fact that I haven't exercised regularly over the past month or so, AND I was using the Wii fit board backwards (duh), I wasn't very surprised!!! That was 4 days ago and yesterday morning with the board in the proper place, my Wii fit age was a nice 32. Here's a screen shot of what that looks like when you're exercising (I'll try to screen shot mine next time):

I've set a goal to have rock hard abs by the time I turn 50 in September by doing a combo of walking, boxing, and yoga at least 5 days/week. And between my MUCH better diet and regular exercise, I'm on my way!!!

Thursday, January 28, 2016

A different kinda Chem professor.

So I had my first day of class this week and not only was it a LOT of fun, it was just the coolest thing I've done in a LONG time! The pic above is what I took just before I entered my classroom, so needless to say, I probably wasn't what my students were expecting, LOL!!

My new Supv is an equally fly middle aged woman with an agenda very similar to mine, get more minority students into STEM careers. And my department dean is a high heeled boot and mini skirt wearing former Biologist turned administrator. So it's an understatement for me to say that for the first time in a VERY long time, I fit right in with my new colleagues!

I've said many time before that Texas has some of the nicest people I've ever met in my life and the people on this new gig are NO exception! But the thing I like most is that we're all pretty different culturally, representing every race, religion, and creed on the planet. And yeah, I think diversity makes the workplace a MUCH better place!!

Movin' on, I'm neck deep in Bio and Biochem review for the MCAT and I'm also considering teaching an MCAT course at my new school. And even though I'm enjoying this educational experience, it doesn't decrease in the slightest or take away my desire to also finish med school. But it does make my goal of staying connected to 2 year colleges for the remainder of my career pretty much a done deal.

So due to my reasonably flexible schedule (outside of med school/residency I can't EVER see myself in a "traditional" work environment again), I get to explore the downtown of my city again and have decided to post some pics of all the new and interesting things I see in a given day. I'm no photographer, but here are a few:

Substance abuse is a HUGE problem in Texas, I saw this empty bottle of Jack at the metro station earlier today.

I live very near the ARTS district, so unusual sightings like this one are quite common, LOL!!!

These are my absolute favorite pair of sneaks, I don't wear shoes like this often except when exercising. But my knees have been bothering me lately so I decided that comfortable/healthy was better than cute in this case.

Finally, in an effort to make Chemistry interesting, I decided to at the beginning of each of my classes to play a song/video related to the topic we're going to discuss in class as the students are entering the classroom. One of those songs was this one by Rihanna, since we were talking about carbon:

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Welcome to 2016!!!

I'm not usually the kind of person that has negative feelings about one year ending and a new one beginning, but that's exactly how I felt at the end of 2015!! Last year was one hellva' year for me on every front possible, mentally, personally, emotionally, physically, academically, and most especially, professionally!! So I was VERY thankful to end the year on such a high mental and emotional note with my teaching gigs lined up, my academic goals moving forward, and my health in a MUCH better "glad I no longer need to have an immediate surgery" place!! WHEW!!! :) Best yet, we're leaving for our multi-state vacay later this week which had to be postponed because I had the dumb arse idea to take 2 courses over the winter break.

Movin' on, the chemistry class I'm teaching this semester will be my largest EVER, in a room that looks a LOT like this:

This is also my first time in a LONG time, teaching chemistry for chemistry and engineering majors which could potentially be challenging since premeds, ect, tend to sometimes be "know it all" kinda students. Still, I'm really looking forward to it since I've been given free latitude to teach however I want as along as I'm getting the message across to students. Along those same lines, I'm going to also start posting again on my Chemistry with Kimberly website on a regular basis too! So anything related to my teaching experiences will be discussed there.

Interestingly enough, I've also started a blog in health data science though I'm not quite ready to go public with that one yet! Turns out there aren't ANY blogs by women in health data science that I've been able to find, so it will be interesting to see how much "traffic" I generate! Speaking of health data, I'm going to a meet-up later today to see a demonstration of  IBM-Watson Analytics. My interest in this platform started with IBM Watson Oncology which I learned about while working at The MD Anderson Cancer Center. I'll let you click on the links to see for yourself what it's all about, needless to say in interface between computers and healthcare is here to stay and I'm so excited about the future holds for someone like me, with a strong interest in both!!

Speaking of medicine, I've already started back with my simultaneous review of both general chemistry and biochem for the MCAT, and will start with practice tests in those subjects when I finish my current course next week. Yep one thing ends, another begins, that's how I'm happily rolling these days! :)