Kevin’s Blog


Nov. 9, 2014

Third Year: Part 2 of 6

I’m back after six weeks of the Family Medicine rotation. Although it was relatively short, I learned so much! It is great to get some one-on-one time with a physician, something I felt was lacking during my rotation in Internal Medicine. There was a lot of outside work for this rotation but it all added to the learning experience. I definitely think having internal medicine before this was helpful, and I believe that family medicine will be even more helpful in my future rotations. I could sit here and tell you all about the rotation, but there are some other topics on my mind (and they only give me so many words to use).

Since the last time I wrote a blog our school has lost a great mentor and teacher. Dr. Elder was the teacher of our Principles of Disease course during our first year. She really went out of her way to teach us topics on microbiology and many of us felt like this was the first time we started to learn something relevant to medicine. I think the thing I will always remember about her is the way she could come up with these creative songs for remembering different antibiotics or pathogens (you try rhyming with staphylococcus aureus). At the end of our second year, our class had an award ceremony where we awarded her with the Lifetime Achievement Award. It was an honor to be able to give that to her and she even provided us with one last song! Dr. Elder was also part of the IRB at Wright State and I often went to her with questions regarding this. I remember one time asking her if I needed to make an amendment to my protocol and submit it to the IRB. She basically said, “No. Don’t worry about it. I’m the IRB chair so if there are any issues it can come back to me.” I think I speak on behalf of all of Wright State, my fellow classmates especially, when I say it was an honor and a privilege to have Dr. Elder as a teacher and a mentor.

If any of you have ever read my profile you will see I am from a small town called Lawrenceburg, Indiana. Well, to be honest, not a lot of news comes out of my town. However, recently there has been a story circulating the internet and television news about a girl named Lauren Hill who has been battling a rare form of pediatric brain cancer called DIPG.  She has started a “Layup for Lauren” challenge similar to the ice bucket challenge for ALS. She has played in her first (and we are not going to call it her last) NCAA college basketball game. She is on her own Wheaties box. She has been on the copy of a videogame. She has even received messages from Lebron James and other celebrities.  I am not listing all of this to commend her on being famous. No, the point here goes much deeper. DIPG is a cancer that mainly affects young children. Children too young to have a voice for themselves. What Lauren has accomplished is spreading the word on a tumor for which relatively little research exists. I think her goal on starting this whole ordeal has been to increase awareness and raise money for DIPG research. I can assure you she has done that, and she makes me proud to be from Lawrenceburg, Indiana. If you would like to donate to DIPG research in Lauren’s name please go to https://curestartsnow.z2systems.com/np/clients/curestartsnow/campaign.jsp?campaign=199.

Next up for me is my Psychiatry rotation. I am kind of excited because I have never really interacted with these types of patients before.  It is another six-week rotation so I will see you again around the end of the year (where does the time go???). As always feel free to email me at bree.2@wright.edu with any questions you may have about Dayton, Wright State, or medical school in general!


Sept. 23, 2014

Third Year: Part 1 of 6

Wow! So here I am in my third year of medical school! Time has gone by so fast and I can hardly believe I am more than halfway done with school.  Since third year consists of 6 rotations I will try to do a blog update after each one. First up: Internal Medicine.

The Internal Medicine rotation is 12 weeks long and sometimes you end up working on the weekends. I have to admit it was exhausting at times but it was way better than second year. Being in the hospital and actually getting the chance to interact with real patients is such an amazing feeling! No more pharyngeal arches from anatomy. No more questions about how many people in China get diagnosed with adenocarcinoma each year compared to those in the United States. Most importantly, no constant studying! Some people might say you are studying by interacting with your patients and looking up information on their conditions. But isn’t that much more fun than reading from a textbook and taking a test every other day?

You do have tests during third year known as the dreaded shelf exams. You have one at the end of each rotation. Having only taken one I am no expert on them. However, I think the best way to study for them is to repeatedly do questions over and over. That is the best way you have to learn during third year. Do a question. If you miss it, look up the answer in another source. If you got it right, congrats! If you look up every little detail about every little thing you just won’t have the time (in Internal Medicine) at least.

The Internal Medicine rotation consists of an outpatient experience (which to me seemed pretty similar to Family Medicine), an inpatient experience, a subspecialty (my interests in cardiothoracic surgery pointed me towards cardiology), and neurology. I really think part of the experience is determined by the attitude of the residents you work with and I can say that I had excellent residents during each part of this rotation.

During this time we also met with the clerkship director and discussed what field of medicine we were interested in going into. For me, I have always been interested in cardiothoracic surgery, ever since I worked in a lab over three years ago where I got to see open heart surgeries on a daily basis. It was a good time of reflection for me. Although some current cardiothoracic surgeons have told me not to go into that field because of the long hours and intense training, I still feel it is what I am meant to do. There will always be people telling you not to do something or that you aren’t good enough to do something. On the other hand, there will always be people encouraging you to do your best and pushing you to work harder. Do what makes you happy! Sure, certain positions make more money than others, but I’d much rather be doing something that makes me happy than something that allows me to buy three houses, two boats, and four cars.

That’s all for now. Stay tuned for the next edition, which will be about Family Medicine! As always feel free to email me (bree.2@wright.edu) with any questions or comments. I love hearing from potential and current students!


June 15, 2014

One Small Step for Medical School

Wow! That is the only way I can describe the last month or two of my second year of medical school. I’ll try to describe it to you as best I can, but it all still seems like one huge blur. It went by so fast and I apologize in advance if I forget to mention something.

Once we returned from spring break we had three classes that lasted for two weeks each. The best analogy for these classes I can think of is that if you imagine second year as a 2-mile race, these courses are the final lap. You are tired and don’t know if you can go on and finish the race. You don’t know why you are even running in the first place. However, you know that it will all be worth it once you finish. (Side note: I was a cross-country runner in high school, hence the running reference).

The three courses were endocrine, reproduction, and digestion. I would say there was not much of a difference between the courses except for the fact that endocrine had a quiz almost every day. While this may seem stressful, I really think it helped in learning the material. Other than that the only major stressful item for each course was the exam. The exam was worth around 80% of our grade for each of these classes. Talk about stressful!

Following the digestive exam we had approximately three days to study for a term final. This consisted of questions based on all the courses we had taken during the second semester of second year (cardio – digestion). Three days does not seem like much (and I assure you it is not), but sometimes you have to work with what you are given. Lots of practice questions later, I completed the exam.

Now comes the part that I am sure you are all wondering about: the dreaded Step 1 exam of second year. For those who are not familiar with it, it is a test of a medical student’s cumulative knowledge over the first two years of medical school. You didn’t think they would just let you learn all this stuff and then move on to seeing patients, did you?

I took my test on June 9 and had an entire month to study. While it was hard to find the motivation to keep going at times, other days I saw the light at the end of the tunnel. I am going to briefly tell you how I studied for Step 1, but keep in mind everyone learns differently and this in no way guarantees you will get your dream score.

My first resource for studying was Pathoma. Pathoma consists of a series of video lectures about various pathology topics. It is a must have for all of second year so I would recommend purchasing this around July so that you can use it all year (including during your Step 1 studying). If I remember correctly our school got a discount so make sure you have the code for that before you go off buying it on your own.

First Aid is probably a book everyone is familiar with and I would highly recommend using it throughout medical school. The things in it are pertinent to first and second year. However, it is important to not use First Aid as your only study source. I liked to use it to review things I had learned in lecture and found it to be a great tool for solidifying my knowledge. Another thing to remember is that there will be things in First Aid that you do not learn in lecture and there will be things you learn in lecture that will not be in First Aid. Again, don’t rely solely on this book.

Finally, everyone needs a good question bank. I found Kaplan to be useful during the school year. The weekend before a test I would do all of the questions that were pertinent to that particular subject. While studying for Step 1 I mainly used the UWorld QBank. I cannot say enough amazing things about UWorld. This is not a question bank I would recommend using during the school year, but it is a must have for when you seriously begin studying for Step 1.

Before I knew it my second year of medical school and Step 1 exam were a part of the past. I am incredibly excited to begin seeing patients and doing more active learning in the hospitals. My first rotation is in internal medicine and I am looking forward to it. It seems like yesterday I was walking into White Hall for my first lecture and though I will not be attending the building as frequently now, it will always have a special place in my left and right ventricles.

As always feel free to contact me with any questions you have about anything you may have read or may have just been contemplating. If this all seems overwhelming at first then that is a good thing! Medical school is not easy, but I assure you that you can do it. Don’t ever give up! If you find yourself in Anatomy next year and wonder how you will ever learn all of the arteries or all of the parts of the heart feel free to contact me. I, along with everyone else at the Wright State University Boonshoft School of Medicine, want to see you succeed!


March 22, 2014

Yes… You Get a Spring Break in Medical School

So it has been quite some time since I last blogged. To be honest, I am not even sure what I blogged about last time. That is how fast time seems to be going in medical school. It seems like just yesterday I was learning biochemistry but now I only have 3 classes left in my second year!

I’m going to assume I updated sometime in December so I will fill you in on what has happened since then. Our first course of this semester was Cardiovascular. When my classmates and I first saw the size of the note pack for this course we were a little intimidated (it’s also the first time I had to use two 2.5-inch binders to hold the entire thing and it still barely fit). This is the longest of the second semester courses coming in at four weeks. You will learn a lot including how to read ECGs. I thought that was really cool because it is something I have always wanted to learn. There is a great book by Dale Dubin that teaches ECGs at a very basic level that anyone can understand. Look into it if you are interested. Don’t look into Dale Dubin’s past, however, because you might not like what you see.

Next up was Respiratory, a three-week course. Nothing much to say here. As always, a lot of information was learned in a short amount of time.

Renal is the course that we just finished. It was about three weeks long and the last week was spent reviewing with practice questions. This course is tough. I never knew the kidneys did so much but I now have a greater appreciation for them.

So here I am with 2 days of my spring break left (yes…you get a spring break in medical school) and it seems like I didn’t even have a break to begin with. It went by way too fast but I’m ready to finish up second year. Three two-week courses and the USMLE Step 1 exam stand between me and third year. I apologize in advance, but I know I will not be posting until after Step 1. Sorry to any of my fans out there.

Hopefully this gives you an idea of what second year at the Boonshoft School of Medicine is like and doesn’t scare you from applying. If you have any questions that are not answered here or if you are hesitant to apply because you don’t think you can do it please send me an email and I will be happy to answer your questions and encourage you to pursue your dreams. See you all after Step 1!


Dec. 21, 2013

Break Is Here!

Let me begin by saying that I apologize for not posting in so long. The last few months have been intense. We have had several two-week courses where the final exam in that course was our entire grade. Yes, you read that correctly. I said two weeks. I have food in my refrigerator that has been around longer than some of these classes.  Time sure has gone by quickly. It seems like just yesterday I was moving into my apartment the weekend before my first class at Wright State.

Without a doubt it was a difficult time and second year is much harder than first year. However, a recent conversation I overheard on one of my flights to see my wife really got me to appreciate the fact that I am pursuing my dream of becoming a physician.

The conversation between two girls about my age went a little something like this:

Girl 1: Oh what do you do in (city)?

Girl 2: I’m in nursing school.

Girl 1: Oh that’s awesome. Why did you choose to go to nursing school?

Girl 2: Well, I thought about going to medical school but I did not want to go to school for that long.

Let’s stop here. It is well known that medical school requires a lot of extra schooling. In fact, you will probably be learning throughout your entire life as a physician (unfortunately I cannot speak from experience on this yet so ask me again in 50 years). And trust me, while you are taking exams every 2 weeks, trying to have a social life, and just trying to be involved in extracurricular activities it may seem that there is no light at the end of the tunnel. However, I can assure you there is.

Looking back at myself I knew nothing about Rocky Mountain spotted fever or how Imatinib works. I entered medical school with a relatively clean slate ready to absorb whatever knowledge came my way. Here I am 1.5 years later and I am astonished at all of the things I have learned. I overheard one of our professors mentioning how many new words we have learned since beginning medical school (it is somewhere in the 1000s) and I was astonished. It seemed impossible in the beginning but now I can have everyday conversations about how Imatinib blocks a receptor tyrosine kinase. That sounded a lot more awesome in my head but you get the idea.

My advice to anyone (including this girl if I would have met her in time) is to not let time factor into your decision to come to medical school. As a medical student you will constantly be experiencing delayed gratification, but if you truly love the things you are learning (as many of my classmates and I do) it will all work out in the end. There may be times you feel like giving up (totally normal) but the key is that you and all of your classmates are in this together. If you have any questions about what medical school life is like or need some encouragement because you don’t know how you will ever be able to make it through all the things I describe in this blog please do not hesitate to email me at bree.2@wright.edu. Happy holidays!


Sept. 24, 2013

Creating the Wright Physician

There was an article published on The Opinion Pages of the New York Times recently entitled “Medicine’s Search for Meaning.” Normally I’m not a huge fan of reading online articles but this one grabbed my attention because the Boonshoft School of Medicine was in it. Who else was in this article you ask? Have you ever heard of Harvard? Yes, that Harvard.

Last year as a first year medical student I took a voluntary course called Healer’s Art. I had heard from people who took it the year before that it was a course about sharing your feelings with others and talking about the difficult aspects of being a doctor. I’m not a person to talk about my feelings often, but all my friends were taking the course so I thought I would give it a shot. As it turns out, there was much more to it than that.

The article says, “Great doctors don’t just diagnose diseases, prescribe medications and treat patients; they bring the full spectrum of their human capabilities to the compassionate care of others.” A powerful statement when you think about it. As physicians we are so much more than a scientist. In healer’s art we learned about treating our patients with compassion and being able to relate to them through a concept of a wounded healer. I’m sure many of us have been to a physician where we just felt like a number or a science project. I’m sure I don’t need to ask if you returned.

On the other hand there are many doctors who sit down and talk to their patients as human beings. They ask questions that other doctors wouldn’t just because it has nothing to do with diabetes. They introduce themselves as John Smith not as Dr. Smith. They see their patient as an equal, not as a customer.

Taking this class has allowed me to see good and bad examples of the previous statement from the Times. I’ve shadowed physicians who don’t always see their patients (they let their assistants see them unless it is a new patient) and I’ve shadowed physicians who must see every patient and share stories about recent fishing trips. I’ve met doctors who volunteer their time to treat a patient outside of their normal 9am-5pm schedules. I’ve also seen physicians who watched the clock ticking at 4:55pm and headed out the door at 5pm on the dot.

Healer’s Art is a great step towards creating a more compassionate and caring physician. The class is offered to first year students here at Wright State. However, there are many schools that do not offer the course. I remember something our Associate Dean Dr. Gary Leroy said the first day of orientation at Wright State. It was something along the lines of “Our students may not average as high as other schools on the boards, but I guarantee you one thing. We outcompete other schools when it comes to real life experiences in the clinic.” I am not bashing other schools and neither was he. I think the point is that there is much more to being a physician than being able to recite Virchow’s triad.


Aug. 11, 2013

Research, Shadowing, and Marriage, OH MY!

So second year has started and I figured I should write something before I no longer have the time to do so. That is a joke…I think.

The summer between first and second year is a time when people do a variety of things. Some do research while others do shadowing. Still, others do more personal things like getting married. I did all three. Was it a busy summer? Of course. Was it worth it? Definitely.

I used to work at the Center for Integrative Research on Cardiovascular Aging in Milwaukee before going to medical school. Since my wife was in Milwaukee this summer and she was very adamant (as was I) about spending it together I decided to check out the possibility of working with them again. They welcomed me with open arms and gave me a short project to do involving amyloid and atrial fibrillation. Seeing as how I am interested in cardiothoracic surgery I felt like this would be a very worthwhile experience.

I was also fortunate enough to take part in a program called AHEC. Basically, I worked with family medicine residents and physicians in Milwaukee. I interviewed patients and performed basic physical exams. I even diagnosed a pneumonia! As a medical student you are allowed to get excited when you tell someone they have pneumonia and you are correct. Just don’t show this excitement in front of the patient. This was a great experience and it really allowed me to see what it is like to be a family practice physician. I had always wanted to go into surgery so I thought I would use this as an opportunity to explore other fields. Don’t get me wrong. I loved the program but I cannot see myself doing that every single day. I need to be using my hands more.

Many of you might be asking if it is difficult to plan a wedding while in medical school. You bet your sweet bippy it is (if you come to Wright State you will get that reference). However, it was all worth it in the end. I would like to thank my wife for putting up with my countless hours of studying while she was looking for invitations or making decorations. If you want to get married during medical school it is definitely possible with the help of a wonderful fiancé!

As you can see I had a very busy summer. Second year started two weeks ago and we have two exams next week. If you don’t hear from me in a while don’t worry. I probably haven’t died. I’m just consumed by the experience that is second year!


May 5, 2013

There Is More to Medical School Than Studying

I apologize in advance for such a short entry but a lot has happened since I last updated my blog. I could go on and on about the happenings at Wright State but I will give you a couple of examples. While sitting here reminiscing I am reminded that right now I am four weeks away from being done with my first year in medical school. Where did the time go? Sure, a lot of it was spent studying but there were so many more things that went on this year.

The Boonshoft School of Medicine Talent Show took place a few weeks ago. It was such a fun event and I recommend going next year if you are an incoming student. You can check out all the acts and more here: http://bit.ly/10Lwr1R

The intramural softball team that I participated in wrapped up its season. Intramurals are such a fun way to relieve the daily stress of studying. If you are interested in flag football, soccer, basketball, softball, or even water polo I recommend you come to Wright State! Be warned though, my class is quite athletic so you will probably end up getting second place to us in any sport you try to participate in.

The research symposium hosted over 50 posters of students in our medical school who are doing research! Topics ranged from academic medicine to basic science research. Prizes were awarded for the top posters in each category. This was a great way to meet faculty as well since many of them served as judges for the event. There are a ton of research opportunities here at Wright State. If you are interested in research you will easily be able to find someone to work with or you can even start your own project!

These are just a few of the many stress-relieving activities that have happened since I last posted. If you have any questions please feel free to contact me or any of the other bloggers. At the Wright State University Boonshoft School of Medicine there is more to medical school than studying!


March 20, 2013

How to Maintain Your Sanity

So a lot has happened since I last wrote a blog over a month ago. I’ve gone to tons of club meetings (who doesn’t enjoy free food?), completed CaTOS, and even learned first-hand why it is important to warm a stethoscope before placing it on a patient’s chest or abdomen. As I sit here on spring break (yes, you get a spring break in medical school) watching college basketball, I find it is a good time to reflect and share my thoughts with you. Apologies in advance if there are any grammatical errors but I have not used my brain since my CaTOS final 5 days ago.

One piece of advice I would give to anyone entering medical school is to make time for yourself to continue to do the things you love to do. If you are someone who doesn’t normally study non-stop all day do not change that just because you are in medical school. Don’t get me wrong. You will probably have to study much more in medical school than you did during undergrad but that does not mean you cannot have a life. If you see your classmates studying all day at school it might be a little intimidating. I know it was for me. What you need to remember, though, is that everyone learns differently. For me, that means studying but never missing an episode of the Walking Dead or Dexter on Sunday evenings.

You may also think that you are alone and the only one who has fears about the upcoming exam over 1,400 pages of notes. I assure you that EVERYONE feels that way. If you are accepted to Wright State you will have the opportunity to take a class called Healer’s Art. The class meets in small groups once a week for six weeks. You will talk to your classmates about some very deep stuff. I used to think everyone else was so confident with their studies before I took this class. However, I learned I was not alone and made some friends in the process.

The final piece of advice I have for you is to go to as many club meetings as you can. You do not have to be president of seven organizations, have three research projects going on, and work a part-time job while in medical school. That is not the point I am trying to make. What I am saying is that you should go to these meetings to open up your eyes to new fields you may not have had an interest in before (or to change your mind about the ones you WERE interested in). There are organizations for every specialty and attending is also a great way to meet faculty. If that is not enough incentive for you, these meetings usually occur around dinnertime and have free food such as Chipotle and pizza.

I know my blog can be comical at times (at least I hope) but these points of advice should be taken seriously. You are going to feel like you are going insane sometimes. However, all of these things should help you maintain your sanity when you just want to give up looking at the difference between simple columnar ciliated versus simple columnar non-ciliated epithelium at two in the morning.


Feb. 20, 2013

Interested in Coming to Wright State?

So you are interested in coming to Wright State for medical school? Either that or you are one of my family members reading this blog for proof that I am actually doing something productive. Whichever the case may be, let me start by saying that I have never blogged before so I am not really sure where to go from here. I might ramble on about things unrelated to school. Some things you might find funny, others you may not. Regardless, I will try my best to give you a mental image of what life has been like for my classmates and I since starting medical school (with the hopes of not scaring you away). If you have any questions about anything (medical school, life, why we drive on parkways and park on driveways) feel free to email me at bree.2@wright.edu.

Medical school started with Human Development. A two week course devoted to…human development. The exam for this class will be the only time you have to write an essay. Nothing too serious so don’t freak out if you are not an English major. I assure you most of my classmates are not (although some are). Go to class and you will be fine. Next comes anatomy.

During Human Structure you can expect to spend late nights in the cadaver lab with your classmates trying to find the inferior mesenteric artery or learning the brachial plexus. There will come a point (usually after about 3 hours in the lab) when everything that is said becomes “humerus.” See what I did there? That is when it’s time to go home for the night.

Your next class is MBM or the Molecular Basis of Medicine. You are going to have several professors for this class but the notes are a great supplement for the lectures. If you want to shadow, take guitar lessons, learn to cook, or build a rocket ship, do it during MBM. You will have more free time during MBM than in any other course as a first year.

When the New Year comes you will start CaTOS, which is referred to as Cells, Tissues, and Organ Systems NOT Cells and Tissues, Organ Systems. I guess CTaOS didn’t have the same ring to it. You will put in a lot of time during this course but I feel like it is the most rewarding course we have taken so far. You are going to be amazed at how much you will learn in this class. I mean how cool is it to be able to look at a tissue section under a microscope and recite approximately 20 facts about said tissue?

When I decided to come to Wright State one of the main reasons was because of the atmosphere. All the other schools I had interviewed at seemed so competitive. Wright State was the complete opposite. Your classmates and the faculty definitely care about your success. If you aren’t getting something then anyone will help you out. If you just want someone to cry with after a week of non-stop studying I’m sure someone would oblige you as well.

That’s all I have for now. Once again feel free to email me and I will try to come up with a witty (but serious) response to your question.