Sunday, July 20, 2014

Sunday Post: Family Brunch

Hello everyone! How's your weekend so far? I had a pleasantly relaxing (rare) weekend off at home and I was able to entice my parents to have brunch at Ihop in Alabang.

My parents and I enjoyed dining al fresco where the breeze was cool and where the diners were few. I only wished their hot chocolate had refills! 

What did you do over the weekend? :)

Saturday, July 19, 2014

How To Survive Medical School

This one is for you. Yes, you, the one who is currently in medical school or wants to get into medical school.

This is for you, the one in medical school who may be in his/her first, second, or third year (heck, maybe even in fourth year!).

This is for you, the one in medical school who may be having trouble studying until the wee hours of the morning (don't we all?).

This is for you, the one in medical school who may feel down and depressed because he/she got his/her third (or fourth) failing grade in a row in one subject (let me sympathize with you).

This is for you, the one in medical school who still hasn't gotten his/her study habits down pat yet.

This is for you, the one who aspires to enter medical school but feels he/she is not genius enough to make it.

This is for you, the one who aspires to enter medical school but has inferiority complex issues and feels that he/she will not measure up like his/her classmates (I felt the same way).

This is for you, the one who aspires to enter medical school but is having second thoughts because he/she isn't sure how to survive in it.

I don't claim to be an expert in such things and I may certainly not be the most qualified (ie. the smartest) to tell you these things. But I just want to share some of the things that I learned during my 4-year journey in medical school; what worked best for me, how it helped me, and other tips and tricks that may be able to guide you along the way.

So whether you are already a medical student or someone who wants to get into medical school (and is already having second thoughts), then this one is for you. :)

1. Take notes during class
With all the book chapters and transcriptions that you have to read and memorize (for a single subject alone), how could you possibly retain all that information come exam time? I sometimes take shortcuts and skip the book altogether (bad idea but it saves time) and focus on the powerpoint lecture and the transcriptions made by my classmates. During the lecture, write down important information and details so that you can review them later on. Sometimes the exam questions come from the things that the lecturer says. They aren't written on the powerpoint slide and can't be found in the book either.

My dorm room table swamped with books and notes
2. Choose your study place wisely
Choose a place where you can concentrate and focus on your study material for long periods of time while staying comfortable too. Avoid couches and beds because studying in these places will guarantee that you will be asleep in no time. Choose a place with good ventilation and good lighting. For me, it was in my dorm room, specifically in a chair in front of my table, or sometimes the library.  I was halfway through 3rd year when I realized that I studied better at HOME, of all places. Most of my classmates avoid studying at home because there are all kinds of distractions: TV, internet, good food, good bed, parents, pets, etc. But it's precisely because of those things that I was able to focus better at home (or maybe I was just plain home sick). Well, to each his own.

I also know of some people who frequently study in coffee shops but I find that those places have poor lighting and how can you concentrate with all that noise? I make an exception to coffee shops when I have already gone through my reading material once or twice. Only then can I enjoy my cafe latte with hazelnut while reading and recalling the signs and symptoms of appendicitis.

My kind of writing material: colored pens!
3.  Select your weapons of choice
By weapons, I meant ballpens, highlighters, and sticky notes! You know that first day of school feeling when you have brand new school supplies and you can't wait to use them? Well, I felt exactly the same way. For my ballpens, I preferred purple and pink for underlining/encircling words and phrases. For my highlighters, my main brand and color was Stabilo in blue-green while I had Dong-A Gel Highlighters in yellow, orange, and green for my "sub-colors". Yes, I figured that highlighting is an art in med school. I also used sticky notes for reminders and marking my books/transcriptions.

Needless to say, my pencil case was always bulging and ready to burst inside my bag but what's important here is that they can make you feel at ease while studying and you can devise a way with the colors to know which topics are important and which are must-knows. Another plus, the bright colors prevent you from being bored while studying!

4. Create a study schedule
I strongly advise that you do not procrastinate just like what you may have done in college. There is so much material to be covered that you cannot possibly absorb all of them within 1 or 2 nights of studying. In most medical schools, they give out a schedule of when the lectures will be, when the exams will be given, and what will be covered in the exam.

Create a study schedule weeks before the exam and I suggest to read in advance. Read the chapter on the topic that will be lectured the following day so you already have a grasp of the material. The next day after the lecture, if you still have time when you get home, go through your lecture notes. This will reinforce your learning and it's as if you already had two readings of the topic.

Create a list of the topics per subject that will be in the exam. Once you've read a particular topic, cross it out then proceed to the next topic. This way, you can see how many topics you still have to cover. Time management is the key.

On the day of the exam, it's quite difficult to learn new material so reading your books/transcriptions would be useless (and will only make use of short-term memory). Besides, you already feel too nervous and on edge to focus anymore so I suggest to go over past exams of the previous years. This way, you can test yourself on your mastery of the topic and who knows, maybe they'll repeat some of the test questions!

5. Ask someone to help you
Make friends with the upper classmen! They've been through what you're going through now and they can offer you loads of advice. They can give you feedback and tell you how Dr. A makes his exam questions or how Dr. B wants your patient histories written. In addition, you can borrow review material from them, especially their previous exam questionnaires if they have them. Consider them your big brothers and sisters in medical school.

6. Don't be afraid to approach your professors
Whenever I sensed that I was on the verge of failing a particular class (which thankfully never happened), I always make it a point to approach the department and talk to my professors. We discuss my current class standing and how I can improve my grade. This shows that you are pro-active and willing to be guided by your seniors.

 My group mates during junior internship were some of the best ever
We're still together through college and medical school
7. Surround yourself with good people
Remember, you entered medical school to become a doctor. You're in this for the long haul. One way to help you survive this grueling (and rewarding!) journey is to be with friends who will stay by your side through the good and bad times. I cannot stress this enough. If I didn't have any friends during medical school, maybe I would have graduated all the same but I sure would've been hell of a lot lonelier. Hey, the friends you make will be your colleagues someday. Patient referrals, anyone?

There you have it! I sincerely hope I have helped you in some way in your journey through medical school. Do share some of your experiences, I'd love to know about it. :)

Sunday, July 13, 2014

My Top 5 Photo Editing Apps

What do you think of my custom-made monogrammed design above? Granted, it doesn't look like the 'original' monogram designs but I like this one very much so this will do. :D If you're curious on how I did this, go check out Monogram It. :)

Side note: "Pie" is what some of my close friends call me!

Anyway, I have decided to compile my Top 5 list of photo editing apps I love and frequently use. It's a highly techie world we live in today and, naturally, we want the photos we post and share to look beautiful and post-worthy. So here goes! (Bonus: these apps are all free on iTunes!)

1. Snapseed
This is my most-loved and most frequently used photo editing app to date! Snapseed is so easy to use and it offers a variety of tools such as Selective Adjust, Details, and Tune Image. Feel free to adjust the brightness, ambiance, contrast, saturation, shadows, and warmth of the image of your choice! They have a whole range of filters as well so this app will keep you occupied for awhile. 

2. Camera360
Heads up to all selfie addicts! Camera360 has several filters namely Glossy, Light, Sunshine, and Fresh to name a few but all are guaranteed to make you look as if you had eight hours of sleep and have facials regularly!

3. Retrica
Now this photo editing app may be similar to Camera360, but Retrica contains a whole slew of filters that are not seen on Camera360. Retrica focuses more on the mood of the photo, compared to the 'beautifying' effects of Camera360.

4. Vintique
What I love about this particular photo editing app is its textures. In addition to the usual brightness, contrast, saturation, etc., you may add bokeh, flowers, rain, and even snow! You can add text and frames too. The possibilities are endless.

5. Pixlr-o-matic
Now, this app doesn't get as much loving from me as compared to the others but Pixlr-o-matic does have its own merits. I like the ease of use this app gives me since it has ready made filters with unique names. It has several textures as well, quite different from the ones seen in Vintique.

So that's my top 5 photo editing apps! What do you use for photo editing? I'd love to hear your suggestions! :)

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Paging Surgery Senior Intern!

They actually say "Surgical senior intern" over the paging system instead of "surgery" but the former sounds like "cervical" so I'm going with the latter instead.

I had my first duty as a surgical surgery senior intern the other day and I. think. I. just. died.

I was assigned to two floors, one of which was the charity ward. I had a total of 35-40 patients and about 90% of them were post-operation. I started my chart rounds (which included making chart entries and checking lab results) at around 9am when everything was still peaceful and the nurse station didn't look like a war zone. It was my first day and I was still trying to get my bearings, thus I was a bit slow. I took a break for lunch and after which I resumed my chart rounds. I ended at 2:30pm. I trudged back to the Surgery office where I knew for sure the air conditioning will be on at full blast. I dropped on the couch to give my weary feet a rest...

Ceej: "Kamusta?"
Me: *feeling proud and waved my census in the air* "Tapos na ko mag-chart rounds!!!"
Ceej: "Ngayon ka lang natapos mag-chart rounds?!"
Dr. Ilagan: "Ceej, start tayo afternoon rounds ng 3:30pm."
Me: "HA?!" -________-

I was a bit nervous during rounds because I might have missed relaying labs or misread the chart entry or mixed up Patient A with Patient B and so on, and our residents might call me on it but thankfully, afternoon rounds was smooth sailing. The rest of the night, however, was not. I had a patient in the ICU who needed close monitoring and hourly updates to my residents, late night admissions/referrals, histories to write, JP drains to drain, chart entries to write, wounds to dress, and a census to update constantly. All of the above mentioned tasks needed to be done before morning rounds start. Needless to say, I didn't get any sleep at all. Oh, I had the occasional 10-15 minute snooze in the surgery office but that was it. We started morning rounds early the next day at 5:30 am and I'm pretty sure my face was showing the strains of the previous night. I was frustrated, annoyed, irritated, exhausted, sleepy, and hungry. We had a 10:00 am interns' exam that morning too.

It was just perfect. Just perfect and dandy.

I went straight back to the dorm after that, skipped lunch, buried myself under my bed covers, and fell into a coma. When I woke up, the sun had disappeared and the stars were beginning to twinkle in the sky.

Tomorrow I do the same thing all over again. I love my job.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Things I've Learned As A Senior Intern

So, it's been almost two months since I've started my senior internship. I've been through ENT, Orthopedics, Anesthesia, Ophthalmology, and Psychiatry and I've been enjoying it so far. There are a lot of learnings to be had, academic- and skills-wise. But what about the rest of it? 

Here's a list of things I've learned so far in internship:

1. Prepare your outfit the day before
Internship means wearing anything you want underneath that crisp white short-sleeved blazer. Of course, we must always dress appropriately and professionally but sometimes it can be hard to choose what to wear, especially if you have a limited wardrobe. I've learned that solid colored t-shirts and tops does the trick (as compared to printed ones). People are less likely to remember that you just wore it last week.

2. You gain more respect now as compared to junior internship
The white coat does work wonders. People have no hesitation in addressing you as "doctor" or "doc". I remember when I was still a lowly junior intern, I get addressed as "nurse" every so often...and the nurses think they can boss you around too. But as a senior intern, you get a little more respect. :)

3. There is less workload but more responsibility
Senior interns don't get decked patients therefore, the paperwork is lessened. But somehow I feel that we are more responsible for all the patients in our floor, whether it is merely charting down IV fluids to follow, or doing chart rounds, or knowing whether the patient is coding or not.

4. The junior interns are our responsibility too
They say that it is the residents who are in-charge for the junior interns but I think senior interns still play a part in guiding our juniors. We are the ones who teach them how to properly dress wounds, how to properly do tracheostomy care, how to properly do minor skills, how to properly do their papers, how to properly interview patients, etc.

5. You're freer than you've never been before since junior internship
Senior interns only go on duty for 24 hours, as compared to the 29 hours that junior interns do. So when you're off duty, you have the whole day ahead of you! The whole day to sleep, eat, and do whatever you want to your hearts' content. Frankly, I still wonder what to do with my time everytime I'm on post-duty status. That's why I took up swimming again.

6. You begin to feel the weight of the upcoming medical board exams
Granted, the board exams are more than a year away but you start feeling it when your school begins to schedule board review classes and mock exams for the upcoming months. You are then pressured to start ordering review material and reading up on the basics.

7. There is still much to learn
Yes, we know more than the junior interns but definitely less than our residents. Medicine is constantly updating and evolving so continuous learning is a must. Never get tired of learning and acquiring knowledge!

So, that's that. I really hope to learn more as the months go by. I'm already done with my minors rotations. Surgery is up next! :)

Sunday, June 22, 2014

What Do You Want Out Of Life?

Where do you want to go?

Do you know what you want out of your life? 

Disclaimer: I feel this is going to be a heavy post.

How many of you out there has actually got their whole life planned out in front of them? Get a college degree, graduate, get a good (and high-paying) job, get married, have kids, own a big house, and the list goes on. And then what? Where do you go and what do you do after that? What do you do to break the monotony in your daily activities? Or are you satisfied with the wake up-survive-sleep cycle? 


Personally, I've done about two-fifths of the initial list: get a college degree and graduate. Heck, I've even moved on to getting a graduate degree and graduating from that degree. Yet I still feel somewhat...unsettled. I've fallen and succumbed to a monotonous cycle, day in and day out. I guess it cannot be helped. How else will we get through the day (the SURVIVE phase of the cycle) if we fail to do what is required of us? By browsing a couple of social platforms online (ie Instagram, Bloglovin, and Pinterest), I've seen people who clearly live an inspired life. Feel free to check out Grease and GlamourPaper FashionThe Londoner, and Paris in Four Months. I find them to live such enviable lives not because of the clothes they wear (although that's a given) but because they clearly do what they love to do and what makes them happy! Some of them turn their hobbies into a living while some of them travel making each day different and special. I guess you can say they all took a risk in order to be where they are now.

Are you brave enough to risk stepping out of your comfort zone in order to live the life you want?

If I were to be asked that very question, I would probably answer you with a tentative "Maybe." The reason is that I am very comfortable in my...comfort zone. My daily activities consist of waking up, going to the hospital, work for the next 24 hours, then go home, sleep, repeat. I have programmed my mind and body to function that way, and I happen to like it. But I am not satisfied. The world is huge and I want to explore it. I want to be able to experience different cuisines, places, cultures before I settle down with a stable job and family. I am scared that I won't be able to do those once I have real responsibilities in front of me.

If I need any pushing and coercion to take that big step out of my comfort zone, this article does the trick: Three Reasons To Travel While You're Young

But I am happy to say that I'm ready to make my travel dreams a reality, starting with the decision to do so! My fingers and toes are crossed that God will lead the way. :)

I have a strong feeling that I will continue to bombard this blog with wanderlust posts until I ACTUALLY get to travel haha! Forgive me. This humble blog is my only space for actual creativity. I am a frustrated artist! But perhaps I can work on that? :) Hmmm.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

On Swimming, Weddings, and Balesin (A Life Update)

...And I'm back! Wow, it's been awhile since my last post and I have no excuse to offer except for my laziness/lack of inspiration to blog. As usual, I have been caught up with my intern duties in the hospital and their wifi connection seems to have gone conkers making it difficult for me to have access to important sites (ie Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.). :| 

Lately, I have started swimming again in the pool right behind our dorm. The pool location and my slightly lax schedule whenever I'm from duty makes it easy and convenient for me to swim. It's been years since I last trained and I'm making it a goal to swim 40 laps each session! 

In other news, one of my closest high school friends is graduating from De La Salle University-Manila's law school and another one is getting married next year (and we get to be bridesmaids!)! Time flies by so freaking fast. We used to talk about which universities we want to get into and what courses to take until we moved on to talking about our careers and now, one of us is finally settling down! Are we getting old?

Chorrize's graduation dinner at Manila Yacht Club!

Taking advantage of the full-length mirror
Friendship is timeless and I'm glad that we're all still together after 8 years since graduating from Zobel. :) The bride-to-be was sadly not present last night but we still had fun discussing color schemes and other wedding preparations! I'm so excited! One of us is getting married! :) This should be in a movie haha!

**Wanderlust Sunday: 

Gorgeous, right? My favorite would have to be Mykonos because who WOULDN'T want to go to Greece? Experiencing Greece and Greek culture goes to the top of my Bucket List.
But with the members-only accommodation in Balesin, then Greece is probably more attainable!

Happy Sunday, everyone! :)