Sunday, July 25, 2010

Goodbye's Are Always Hard

Sunday, July 25, 2010
So, to give a bit of background information on this post, I was born and grew up in a fairly large city, so I had a really great university to go to that was right inside my own community. As such, I'm one of the select few who have never had to move away from home for undergrad or for medical school. I suppose many people who had to move away for their first degrees may have experienced friends leaving or having to leave themselves, but I haven't really had to experience that thus far.

I suppose I am coming to the age where instead of moving away for university, friends are beginning to move away for work (after having graduated). I just recently had to say goodbye to a long term friend of mine and it was hard for me to do. We had met each other back in high school and have been friends ever since. It's crazy to think of all that we have went through together, and how much we've both changed since then.

What makes me sad is that I realized although we would try and keep in touch and that we would always be friends, time would make us grow apart.

My friend would go off to a brand new city and become a different person. He will go through hardships and joys that I will no longer be a part of, or perhaps only remotely, and make new friendships and experience new things. Maybe he'll even meet the woman of his dreams there and get married and start a family. Likewise, I'll be stuck here and going through clerkship and residency will also make me a different person. Even if he decides to come back and visit home a couple years into the future, will it be as easy to talk as before? Or will it seem like we've spent a lifetime apart, and that really there is little for us to connect to each other with again.

So I sit here wondering if that's whats meant to be? Do people just move on and leave their old lives behind? As the next few years pass, more and more of my friends from long ago are going to be moving on, to get jobs perhaps even in different countries much less different parts of the country. Where will the future take my friendships? Will I grow closer to only my medical friends and lose touch with all the friendships that have been dear to me since my childhood?

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Wednesday, July 21, 2010

What in the World do Med Students Do During Summers?

Wednesday, July 21, 2010
So, as I'm sitting bored in my lab and browsing around random websites with not a thing to do (but hours to kill), I decided to write an article on what in the world medical students do during the summer!

1) Research - We're all still keeners and the most hardcore of us can't get away from the idea that we have to make our summers productive and useful to our careers. Best way to do so? Do research. The most hardcore medical students will get themselves into clinical research and then some will do benchtop research.

2) Volunteering - So all those who decided research wasn't for them but were still hardcore will volunteer overseas on medical trips. They get medical experience and get to see the world, what could be better?

3) Shadowing - Some people just decided to ditch any formal jobs or arrangements and just spend all summer shadowing doctors instead. Great ways to build connections and gain clinical experience. Unfortunately not the best way to make money.

4) Working at high paying jobs - We all know research pays crap. Tons of us decide to just make a huge sum of money to tackle the debt. Often these jobs have nothing to do with medicine and are construction, serving jobs.

5) Travel for Kicks and Giggles - While there are still a lot of us that are hardcore, tons of people just decided to 'screw it' and see the world, not to volunteer or to be keen, but just for fun. It's one of the last summers you will ever get so why spend it working?

6) Nothing - Couch, beer, chips, tv.

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Thursday, July 8, 2010

Long Time No See!

Thursday, July 8, 2010
Hey everybody... so for all those who do follow my blog, I know I haven't been posting very regularly. I got caught up in finishing up the year and was traveling for lots of the initial part of summer!

Anyways, I hope that for the rest of summer, I'll be on and posting a lot more!

This post will be about a video I found on another blog I follow. Here's the link to the video



Seeing the composition of a lot of medical schools across Canada, I think that this video really hits home on a lot of us. While I am in a slightly different situation since I was born here, I can still appreciate the difficulties and the tribulations that my parents had gone through in order to make a new life in Canada, the one where their children could have limitless opportunities and a secure place to grow up in.

I remember stories of what my mother used to tell me, how she came to Canada for the first time and couldn't stop crying everyday for the first few months. How she had left everything behind, her friends, her family, her hard-earned position in her previous career all to come to a brand new country, where she had no friends, no relatives, no secure job and reforge a new life.

It really strikes me that I have never even though of how difficult life could have been for our parents. How what we achieved now, couldn't even be possible without the work that our parents had done for us. While I like to believe sometimes that it was my hard work that got me into medicine, where would I have been had my parents not found the courage to abandon their old life and come to a new land where opportunities were available to their children? I suppose I'll end this post with a message of thanks to my parents and to their courage in abandoning everything to come to Canada.

I will try and post more often now that I am back in school. I've also been playing a lot of Starcraft 2 (I got picked into Beta!) lately and I might be trying some projects with that. Perhaps starting a fanpage for strategic discussion or maybe integrating that here!

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Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Hallmarks of a College Student

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

It's 'that' time again. Things are starting to get tough and exam/school-related stress is beginning to heap up. Without further ado, I introduce to you the hallmarks of a successful college procrastinator:

1) The value of a nap is contrary to popular belief, not measured by the amount of time you spent in REM sleep, rather the amount of textbook pages that your drool managed to seep through.

2) Friends or study buddies are for chumps. Everyone knows the social area of the library isn't where it's at. It's that deep dark quiet corner in the top-most floors that's the place to study. You hope that once you have annexed your seat, not a soul will walk onto your floor, and since it's about 6-7 flights of stairs up, nobody ever does.

3) F**k facebook. Why-o-why must you tempt me to spend meaningless hours scouring through random people's pages?

4) Nobody uses pens anymore for notes. We all use the pretty little Staedtler fine liners so we can color code our notes (neurotic anyone?)

5) Tim Horton's is for posers, we all know the best way to stay awake is a direct IV drip of caffeine (this one is a joke, please don't try this at home, you will probably kill yourself :P ).

6) The extra weight you gain from eating unhealthily during exams and forgetting to go to the gym isn't something to be ashamed of. It is a trophy and testament to your ability to sit in a library study for hours on end and eat McDonalds, microwave burritos, and drink coffee.

... Written exams are driving me nuts. I hate studying, I can't wait till clerkship!

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Sunday, February 28, 2010

CANADA TAKES GOLD IN MEN'S ICE HOCKEY!

Sunday, February 28, 2010
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jr9j-MRTxz8

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We Work Hard, Party Hard. Friends, Booze, and Good Times

So, it's no mystery that med students are generally ranked as some of the most caffeine-fueled, sleep-deprived, and crazy stressed students on campus. But what may not be known is the social life of med students!

With the amount of parties and conferences that we have (practically one a week minimum) it's not hard to meet a group of really good friends. I think I've grown closer to my group of friends in the last several months than to most of my friends I met in my entire undergrad degree.

Aside from that med parties are perhaps some of the best ones on campus, rivaling that of fraternity/residence parties. You usually have a party every week and there's probably at least 50 people at attendance at any one of these parties. Perhaps it's because we all get so close through the year, but med students get crazy wild and there's at least one good story to tell from every single one of the parties. By the way, the picture just looks hilarious.

Of course boozing parties aren't the only ones that happen. There's tons of people who also organize other types of gathering such as potlucks, movies, and board game nights for those that are less inclined to go out boozing.

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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Google and it's Approach to Search

Wednesday, February 24, 2010
I'm an avid reader of wired.com; recently, they posted an article on google and went into a never-before reported depth on the inner workings of the algorithm and how Google actually interprets your query and comes up with the most relevant sources. The full article can be found here: http://www.wired.com/magazine/2010/02/ff_google_algorithm.

What I found interesting was how intelligent the algorithm actually was. Google started off with the first breakthrough with having the search engine look at the popularity of sites by looking at how many links pointed to them. Later it moved on to do such things as even learn context and underlying meanings of words. For example it has been built to learn human-made synonyms. For instance, they talk in Wired about the meaning of dog/puppies. A puppy and a dog are two distinct words, but google uses the fact that when users search up a term such as pictures of dogs, they go back, delete the term dog and replace it with pictures of puppies. Google uses this to learn that to human beings dog and puppy are in some ways similar. This doesn't seem as difficult but Wired goes on to talk about the association between boiling water and hot. Google has learned enough that it can also seperate a hot dog from a boiling dog. In addition, it understands that a hot dog isn't a dog that is very hot, but rather a type of food. Similarly when you search up "strcraft", google has learned that this is a common misspelling for starcraft and tells you to change your search term. Google has been built in such a way that everytime a user enters a search term, it's learning from the user associations between words and the meanings of words. The last example I'll use shows it's learning of word associations. For example, the search engine understand the word horse to be an animal and white to be a color. However, when you pair up the two White Horse (even if you leave a space between them), the search engine recognizes that it no longer has it's old two meanings but is instead the name of a city (and incidentally a song by Taylor Swift lol). Additionally it's also realized the difference between the order of the words. Typing in horse white will give you similar results to before, but one of the top choices now talks about horses whose color is white.

What is interesting is the evolution of computers. The first computers were really basic calculators. Anything even slightly creative or different than what they have seen before would bring up errors. However, in the past few decades, algorithms have gone on to achieve much more complexity, I would daresay, some extent of intelligence. Google essentially has developed a capacity to think and even to LEARN! It seems that movies like Terminator and AI aren't so far-fetched after all...

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Monday, February 15, 2010

It's that time of year again!

Monday, February 15, 2010
So, lots of my friends who were previously un-admitted (as well as the slew of posters on pre-med101!) are all going through the interview phase of med school admissions now.

For all those non-medical people out there, this time of year is perhaps one of the most stressful times of a pre-meds life, but it's also a pretty unique time of the year. I'm going to dedicate this post to describing the process and the "fun" that you actually experience (although of course it's a very stressful process as well).

One of the biggest perks of interviewing was getting to travel around and seeing some of the cities and schools. Many of them were quite a bit different than my school and it was really enjoyable to walk about the campus or the city. I had already decided on my first choice prior to interviews but I took a look around these other campuses to know what my ranking of the other schools were, in the event I was not admitted to number 1 and had a choice between the others.

The other really enjoyable experience was to meet the other applicants. There were always a lot of social events around interviews and I went out to some of these (although I never did any of the drinking, thought it would be a bad idea to show up to an interview hung over). Talking to other pre-meds you'd realize that everyone was actually pretty cool and I made friends that I ended up going to school with this year and also friends who made it elsewhere. It's pretty cool because you often introduce yourself to someone at an interview earlier in the year and you end up bumping into them again in some random other school later in the interview cycle.

Of course the entire experience was also a very stressful experience and the interviews are among some of the most important you will ever have, but also try and enjoy yourselves!

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New Layout!

Had some free time and I decided to tinker around on my blog. How do you guys like the new layout for the blog? A semi-med post follows immediately!

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Monday, February 8, 2010

Celebrity Role Models

Monday, February 8, 2010
Anyways, sorry for the delay in posting, but the last month or so has been absolutely crazy!

My next post is about celebrity role models. Who is yours? One of mine would be Bill Gates. Someone who's truly changed the world we live in, who came up with an invention that perhaps defines our civilization today. On top of that he is an amazing business administrator. He has retired from Microsoft since, but he's taking up more roles in global health and charity work, and I can't wait to see what he brings to this second career of his!

I shall try and post soon on updates from med school!

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Friday, January 15, 2010

First Cadaver Day

Friday, January 15, 2010
As medical students, we are given many privileges over normal students. While I remember learning anatomy from a textbook in undergrad (often times with drawn rather than real pictures), we are given the unique opportunity to learn anatomy from actual bodies.

We started off by discussing dissections in general and talking about conduct around the laboratory. We were told the sacrifice and altruism the donors had when they donated their bodies. They were in full knowledge of what would happen to them and agreed to donate themselves after death to train a new generation of doctors.

We headed downstairs towards the basement, where our labs were situated and were given a chance to group up and find our cadavers we would be working with. Each station was equipped with a hand washing station and a monitor with which we could observe our instructors and the dissections they were doing.

Anticipating seeing a dead body for the first time, I was feeling a bit queasy and uneasy; however, what I found was that the cadaver was fairly far removed from what a human looks like when alive. The skin is hardened and frozen in place from the formaldehyde and the skin is just a shade of grey. The face is covered up and the only exposed areas were the torso.

Overall, I think today was a very humbling experience, to see the body of a deceased person, and also a very unique experience, one that only a few members of society will ever experience.

To end this post, I would like to post a thank-you to all those who donated their bodies and to the families of these people. Not only to my cadaver, but also to all the people out there, the medical schools cross-Canada and also internationally, that have made the altruistic sacrifice to help us learn.

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Monday, January 11, 2010

Journeys

Monday, January 11, 2010
Have any of you ever worked like hell for something and when you finally get it, you realize the end-product isn't as important as you thought? But in self-reflection you find that the journey itself is what was truly important?

Let me take you through my experiences. Of course for the past few years, I've dedicated every waking moment to making it into medicine, to get that letter in the mail affirming my end goal of becoming a doctor. But in reflection, what was really important? Was it the piece of paper with patterns of black ink on it? Or was it rather the journey towards it, the experiences you had, the growth your character has experienced, and who you have become as a result of the journey that matters?

My journey towards my letter has hardly been a easy one. I've experienced crushing failures, gotten up from them, and learned from my mistakes. I still remember applying for my first time and receiving the letter of rejection. I had poured my blood, sweat, and tears into making it into medicine and having a letter telling me I wasn't good enough felt like being hit with a sack of bricks. While I moped and cried for a while, I realized that I could not give up, I needed to get up and try again. Looking back to this experience, I'm glad I was rejected, the failure (while it hurt) was one of the most useful experiences I could ever have had. I took a long hard look at myself and improved myself, made myself into a better person, and a better future doctor.

I sincerely believe that due to the journey, whether I had made it into medicine or not, I would have become a better person.

Now, I'm walking along another path, one where I know the outcome, but the path is hardly going to be easy. I've already hit obstacles already. I know that the next 6-9 years (residency + med school) will be tough, that I will stumble, and I will fall, but I know that after these years, I'm going to be a different person. A better person, and perhaps one that is equipped with the character to help make a difference in the world. And this time I know that it isn't just the MD that is important, but the experiences and the lessons that lead me to that MD.

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Sunday, January 10, 2010

From Science to Emotion

Sunday, January 10, 2010
Throughout my undergraduate program medical school so far, I learned about human physiology and (to some extent) disease. I found the material interesting, but nevertheless bookish and abstract. It was intriguing to learn about masses growing in the brain, to read about case studies of patients in far away places and what behavioral deficits it resulted in. For instance the famous cases of HM (seizure patient, surgical intervention, leading to permanent loss of long term memory formation) and Phineas Gage (pole through the frontal lobes leading to a complete change in personality) that have probably been written about in every brain-related textbook in the past few decades.

But reading about these cases is so completely different than approaching a patient. It's so easy to sit in a room, discussing amongst doctors about an interesting brain tumor they find on a patient. But walking up to a human being, sitting down, and telling someone that they have brain cancer is a completely different story. As doctors have a multiplicity of times told me, you learn to separate yourself from the emotions, from the patient. But how do you do that, is it possible to completely distance yourself? I have thus far been lucky not to have seen someone get bad news and am far too early in the game to have given someone bad news, but how do you completely emotionally distance yourself from a situation like that? Back to the brain cancer example, you probably have sat down and given the person and maybe even the family, the worst news that they have ever heard in their lives. How do you not emotionally respond, how do you not empathize with that person?

But by the same token, we can't. Everyday, especially if you work in a hospital, you will be surrounded by people like this. You'll be walking from cancer patients to trauma patients to coma patients etc. If a doctor empathesized and felt the sorrow from every single person they saw, well they probably wouldn't last for too long...

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