Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Finally some progress!

So I'm off to a productive start this week, both physically and academically! I've exercised twice this week and haven't felt exhausted. I've also completed 2 chemistry lessons although I'm not quite ready yet to start my EK testing on what I've learned yet (I'm waiting on a supplemental book of chemistry problems I ordered to accompany the course. Once I go through a few problems sets, then I'll do some of the EK material.

In addition to the medical school and personal accomplishments, I've also made some headway career wise and it started by my attendance at the NIH career symposium on Tuesday (the NIH clinical center is pictured with this post). Needless to say, attending was absolutely worth it and just to let folks know, the only reason I didn't announce it on my blog was because I forgot about it until I received the reminder email the night before! The symposium centered on careers for physicians, scientists, or both and let me say now that it was very inspiring and thought provoking. Attendees had the option of hearing a panel of about 5 folks talk about careers at their perspective organizations which ranged from the federal government to the pharmaceutical industry (of course you know I didn't attend ANY panels from industry, LOL). The panelist then answered questions from the audience.

Now I'll have to admit. When I woke up to attend the symposium, I was thinking I'm tired of the med school rat race, I'll just get a PhD and call it a day. Then I heard the opening remarks by a Harvard trained PhD in Psych, who also happend to be Black, talk about how much serendipity played a role in her career. That was almost immediately followed by a conversation I had with a classmate of mine from grad school who although I've had many classes with, we haven't really talked much, tell me that for as long as she's known me, she could sense my passion for attending med school and becoming a doctor.

So I attended 3 sessions, one from scientists seeking careers with the feds both in and out of the lab, and the last one for MD'/DO's/MD.PhD's seeking careers outside of clinical medicine. Some notable observations were that the sessions for PhD's were filled to the brim with people who were unemployed, while the one for physicians were the complete opposite. So as I'm sitting there in the rooms full of unemployed scientists I'm thinking to myself "Hell to the naw, this would NEVER work", and like my colleague told me, I would NEVER be satisfied without clinical training. At any rate, I left the symposium with a renewed focus for sticking to the plan, however that may have been amended due to...........................

my meeting with my primary mentor/adviser yesterday. She absolutely encouraged me to stick with the MD plan but added that I should reconsider sticking with my original plan to enroll in an MD/PhD program. It's also a sentiment I heard at the symposium. Of course, this would absolutely require I retake the MCAT (surprise, surprise). But my mentor/adviser (MA) also thinks I should rethink my time line for my application to med school, changing it from this summer to next summer. Her position was that I need to be very deliberate, focused, and prepared when I apply to med school and that right now, her feeling was that I was rushing preparing for the MCAT which could permanently cost me if I applied this year and don't make some substantial improvement in my score. And as Physician, she felt that I needed to get my health in order first anyway. All good points, but nothing I was really hoping to hear because I'm getting restless and impatient, but those 2 qualities will have to go if I'm to be successful.

Of course, the question of what I would do in the meantime came up and there are a few things for me to consider. I could work full-time in a lab or some other research position, take my time retaking the preq premed courses, retake the MCAT, then apply to med school next summer. In this scenario, I'd complete my MS in Pharm in the Spring of 2010. Of course, I'll have to decide on a medical intervention for my health issues in the next few months first. We also discussed my working part-time and starting my PhD program in Emerging Infectious Diseases in the Spring of 2010 after I finish my MS in Pharm this Fall, and going through the med school application process next summer after doing all the other things mentioned previously. To be honest, I probably have a preference for #2 because it feels less like I'm sitting around tittling my thumbs. Now with this plan, the thinking is that I could take a leave of absence from grad school to go to med school, or just beg the school where I'm enrolled in the PhD program to let apply to their MD/PhD program. My MA reminded me that I had some very powerful and supportive adcoms on my side and that if I do what I need to do MCAT wise and present a logical plan for the MD/PhD, I may be able to get this to work. And the biggest incentive being that the NIH had a program for minorities that could pay for it all. Finally, a third option could be to work part-time, graduate in Fall 2009, then work full-time while applying to med school for 2011. I've got many choices, so I'm going to really think through the pros and cons of each while making sure I'm listening when God gives me insight into which is the better option for me.

So I guess that just about covers what the plan is for the next year of so, and I have to say that I feel pretty good it. Now I'm off to do my Physician shadowing at a local Pathology dept!!

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