A Day in the Life
Hi everyone. We are back with another episode of Admission Granted. I'm Christina. I'm Brittany. And I'm Natalie. And we are so excited to be chatting today. Um, before we get into our topic of the day, I'm gonna go ahead and ask my other co-host, how has life been going? Give me some semester updates.
Anyone have any? . Yeah. Um, life's been going really well, thankfully. Um, I really enjoy second year, I'll have to say. Everyone has different opinions on, you know, the different years, and I'm really enjoying it because it feels a lot more clinical based, so everything's going well. I am pursuing more research now.
Um, Doing a little more volunteering. I'm cooking a lot. . I'm staying busy. Yeah, it's been good. Yeah. Thanks for asking. How about you, Brittany? Yeah. Yeah. Things have been busy. Uh, on my end, we had two students who graduated from the lab, so meaning that they defended their thesis successfully in front of a committee, and so they have their PhD now, and so now that.
They're gone. I'm the senior student and I have to do a lot of things, especially help them like finish their publications. So I'm doing a lot of their experiments while they finish up writing and editing their thesis. Very nice. Yeah. Yeah. So just I guess my updates also, I wanted to comment, um, Natalie is a fantastic cook for anyone who is listening.
Oh, thank you. . Um, wanted to mention that, but no, I, I think I kind of take a different look at it than you, Natalie. I think that second year so far has been, , definitely the most challenging for me. Mm-hmm. , because for anyone who's not aware, at the end of second year of medical school, you take what's called step one, which is basically your first medical board exam.
And so the entire year you're basically preparing for a test that you're not gonna have until the end of the year. . Oh God. So yeah, it's definitely a little bit different. I like the material, but it's been a challenge, kind of having this sense. Delayed gratification in a way because we're not gonna know how we're doing on this exam.
at the end of the year, . Um, yeah. But other than that, I think it's also hit me this year that I really need to start focusing on building my application for residency. So I've started volunteering, um, at a local soup kitchen this year, and it's been a great experience for me, aside from my residency application.
It's a great. Place to volunteer. I also have been jumping into some research projects and just trying to keep busy spending time with family and friends. So I'm glad it's been a good semester for all of us so far. Yeah. Yeah. I can't wait to dive into more like what your guys' day looks like, cuz I as me as a PhD.
candidate. I wanna know like what you mean by research. So I'm excited to talk about what we're going to today. Yeah, me too. So, without further ado, I think we should just jump into it. So, Natalie, if you wanna talk a little bit about what the four years of medical school look like and kind of what we're doing.
Certainly. So as Christina mentioned, medical school is four years and each year is very different. I'm gonna go into the first year a little bit, one of the preclinical years, the first year is when we learn here at upstate, at least about physiology and how things are supposed to work. So we have eight distinct units that are based on different body systems and throughout the units.
We also tie in gross anatomy and microanatomy. So we get to look at cadavers in the lab. We get to dissect and just see. Physiology and anatomy of things. We also look at things under a microscope, so we get to understand histology and tie those things in together to each unit that we're doing. And just to give you an example of one of the eight units, we have a neurology unit, which focuses on the central nervous system and the peripheral nervous system.
Then we also have longitudinal courses, one of them being the practice of medicine. or palm as we call it. And in this course we learn about medical interviewing, physical exams, communication skills with patients, and we get direct feedback from something called a standardized patient, which is an actor.
So this goes on throughout the year and we have different experiences with the standardized patients. Um, as I mentioned, we get feedback. We also have some clinical competency exams during which we have to present the information that we gathered from the patient. So this really. The chance to learn and practice how to gather information and present it either in a written or an oral form.
And also they integrate clinical experience. So during these, we shadow physicians in clinics or we learn skills in a clinical lab. Wow, that sounds incredibly busy. Like nine to five, nonstop. That's, that's intense. Mm-hmm. . Yeah. It's just a once a week for the most part. But it is very helpful and it definitely gives you the sense that.
Practicing for a career. Mm-hmm. not just learning in a classroom and memorizing information or understanding concepts. Another course that we have that's longitudinal is called the Foundations of Reasoning in Medicine. And in this we meet in small groups with physicians and sometimes some fourth year TAs.
Um, we learn clinical reasoning skills that are. used to evaluate patients. We understand diseases, we make evidence-based decisions, and it's really based on participation. In the first year, also for each meeting, which is around once a week, we partner with a peer to make a presentation that pertains to one aspect of a specific disease.
So each week we focus on a different disease that coincides with what we're learning about in the unit. So that's F frm, as we call it. And we also. Patients to population. So another small group activity. And this relates to bioethics law, population health, epidemiology, healthcare policy, and other related disciplines.
And this just helps us prepare for difficult situations that we may encounter in medicine. And again, we meet with either like different physicians or PhDs and we get really good insight on how to face these situations. Yeah. So those are the longitudinal courses that we take and second year's a little different.
Christina, do you wanna tell us a little bit about second year? I will, yes. But before I talk about second year, I wanted. You, did you have a, a favorite course during first year that you took that you liked the most? Yeah, I did. I really liked ptp, the patients to populations. Um, I like that one too. Yeah, it was really cool because we learn a lot about things that are happening, like in the real world outside of medicine, and we tie it into practicing and just how to empathize and understand, just.
The determinants of health. So things that might impact health that might not always seem so obvious, like poverty is very linked to health and things like that. You know, different disparities in different communities. So I find I found that course to be really interesting. I like that one too. Yeah. , how about you, Brittany?
What does your curriculum look like? Yeah, so our curriculum changes, I would say vastly over the set of your career. So five, six years at PhD school. Our first year, similar to you guys, it's very, it's very course heavy. We have foundations and biochemistry. So basically the point of that course is to get everyone on the same.
level education wise, so that they're all given the same content to know. We also take a journal club, which basically teaches us how to read papers, dissect them, present them, which you'll obviously need down the road as you're developing throughout your PhD career. And then you also take a biostats class.
And then there's also some nano courses that you can take during the spring semester. They're more focused on a topic like how to use this instrument or how to use this computer language program. And they're only like eight weeks. They're very small, but they're very influential throughout your PhD career.
and then there's always the department specific classes that you can take the spring semester of your first year. Especially for micro, I took a couple needed for that department cause I knew I was going into micro on, on top of those classes, you have three rotations, so you go into three different labs.
You do research projects with them. Just kind of find how you interact in the lab, how you interact with the pi, the students, and you have. Just minimal experiments, just learning experimental techniques. It seems like a lot. It is a lot. I feel like a lot of students get overwhelmed, but everyone goes through it and you just have to get through it.
That makes sense. Yeah. Do you feel like it gets easier with time as you go on? I mean, looking back at it now, I would say the courses like your course though, gets lighter, so it. , yes, in a sense it gets easier, but I feel everyone has the same response as to, Hey, how do you feel about your first year? And it was hard.
Okay. Yeah, that makes sense. Yeah. It sounds like the MD program too. Mm-hmm. . Yeah. Yeah. So what did your guys' second year look like then? Yeah, so I can jump into that. Before I mention about the second year, I will just briefly mention just some details about third and fourth year, because obviously Natalie and I are both second years and haven't gotten to third and fourth year yet, but it's worth mentioning.
So once you finish your second year of more classroom-based learning, you jump into your third and fourth year, which are both clinical based, so for a majority of your third year, and then going into. Most of your fourth year, you have what are called clerkships, which are basically mandatory rotations through a collection of different specialties in medicine.
And then at the end of that few weeks of a block, you have what's called a shelf exam. , which is an exam based on what you learned in that specialty. In addition to those core clerkships, you also have different blocks that you can use for electives. So if there's a specialty that's not necessarily a core clerkship, but that you're very interested in, you could in theory do it in that specialty of of medicine there.
And then once you get into your fourth year, you have an elected time to apply to residency as well. Fill some upper level credits that you need to graduate. And then in the spring you graduate. And again, this is not all the details of third and fourth year, but again, we can't speak on personal experience cause we haven't done it yet.
Yeah. So yeah, to jump into second year, so second year looks very different in my opinion, than first year in the sense that for a majority, if not all of the year, you are studying for your step one exam, which at this point is pass fail. So you have your core classes, your core units, Like that similar block schedule that you had first year plus you have your few longitudinal courses.
You know your F frm like Natalie mentioned, your palm, like Natalie mentioned, and you also have your blocks. And the blocks cover a majority of the same material that you saw first year, but it takes a different spin in second year. What I mean by that is in second year you cover pharmacology and microbiology, so you learn more.
You know, drugs and interventions and like real clinical medicine as opposed to first year where you were learning mo, mostly the anatomy and physiology perspective. So that's kind of how second year looks different. Mm-hmm. , did you have anything to add about second year, Natalie? Yeah. Second year is also a time when you have a lot more free time, so I think it requires a different kind of discipline.
We don't have the micro or gross anatomy lab. So that definitely frees up a lot of time and we don't do the P two P, but as you said, Christina, we are preparing for the step one exam. So it is more time, but there's more things to learn. So that's, yeah, that's one way that I think second year is different as well.
I would say though, the second year for PhD school, similar to what you were saying, Christina, it is vastly different. than first year, just like structurally, our second year of PhD school, you've joined a lab, yay. Like you're, you know, you're on your way to be a PhD candidate, so maybe you're doing some experiments every day or every other day, but you still have some classes that are required.
So ethics, Some advanced classes that are needed for the department. And then you start your preparing for your qualifying exam, which is basically the test that says you have what it takes to be a PhD candidate or you don't. So if you don't pass your qualifying exam, there is a chance you could not. , get a PhD.
So there's a lot writing on this test. And so we start a class called grant writing, which is you formulate how to write a grant, what's needed in a grant, and you go over this with your pi. And it starts the foundation for what you'll need for your qualifying exam, which occurs at the end of your second year.
And this is different at every university, but for upstate you need to do a essay response. So here at Upstate, if you study, like I study a DNA virus, so my essay response was not just focused on DNA viruses, but it was focused on like all virus. So it's a more broader scope for your essay response. And then branching off of that grant, you started writing in grant writing, you'd add a third aim, so it split into three sections.
So in grant writing, you do the first two aims and by yourself during your qualifying exam, you do the third one, and then you have a two hour oral defense to a committee. And basically they decide if you like this package, you've prepared is enough, and you've proved that you. , be a PhD candidate and you can move forward with your research.
Yeah, so that's second year, and like I said, it is different than first year, second years. I feel a little more taxing on you mentally versus. , right? First year you're taking classes, you're learning information, and second year you're starting to grow and like formulate questions for yourself. Mm-hmm. and how to portray them to others.
So second year is definitely hard, but I feel like after you get over that hump of second year, it's a lot easier. Like your third, fourth, fifth. Mm-hmm. Sometimes sixth year is more focused on your research and easier for you to complete because you're not bogged down with classes. . That's good to know.
Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. Which do you think has been more difficult so far? You mean as far as first versus second year? Mm-hmm. . Yes. I think first year was harder for me. I agree. Do you? Okay. Yeah, because I feel like we had to like learn how to learn in medical school. The adjustment period is definitely difficult and you have a lot of places to be during the week, so you have to wake up early.
A lot of times this year. We can wake up kind of whenever we want. , , but we do have to be more disciplined. I mean, we d we still have to get through the materials, so it requires a different kind of discipline. Mm-hmm. . Yeah. So that's a perfect segue, I think, into our next topic. We're gonna talk a little bit about what our days in the life will look like with a focus on kind of how that looks different as you go through grad school.
So, Brittany, I'll, I'll put it on, uh, the spotlight onto, , how is your day? Yeah, how does it look? Yeah, so I would, I think I'm gonna phrase it more like a week, just because a week is more representative than a day for like PhD candidates. So, you know, I come into lab around nine. It varies between people, between labs, but I'm not a morning person.
So yeah, I come in around nine. I set up some experiments that either I need to be. that day or need to be done over like long term, like several days. We have two students, new students in our lab, so they're starting their second year. So I'm doing a lot of mentoring now that I'm the senior student, guiding them with their project, like how to be efficient, going through experiments and classes, how to manage their time better as well as prepar.
them for their qualifying exam, just like the senior students did with me. There's always like other tasks that I need to do throughout the day, like on the computer writing in my lab notebook, make sure I'm organized, organized some events in clubs that I'm in, or. order some reagents on the computer, call repairment, fix instruments that break.
Oh wow. It happens a lot of use over time. Um, and it just sounds like you have a lot of like responsibility in the lab. Yes. Yeah. And independence. And it's different like, so our lab, we have a lab technician who's able to also like, take some more of the like responsibilities off our shoulders as students.
Mm-hmm. . But some labs don't have that, so they have to do it themselves, which, you know, it hinders your ability to get experiments done. But these are things that need to be completed. Like you need the centrifuge to be fixed in order for you to do this experiment. Right. And it's a good skill to have, I think, right?
Yeah. If you have your own lab one day, you're gonna have to be responsible for all of that. So that's really cool. Yeah, that's a great point. And then every week we have a journal club, so a. Or a faculty presents a paper and we like discuss it and talk about the experimental design and whatnot. And then also we have department talks.
So students give a talk on their research and we ask questions, so it gives them experience. Like giving an oral presentation. And then we also have faculty, like guest lecturers that come in or our own faculty in the department to talk about their research and that gives us a better chance to see what we could collaborate on.
Mm-hmm. or network. Other than that, I really like, I really like fifth year. I like that I have my own project. that I can like pitch ideas to my pi I, I can bounce ideas off of other students, or they can come in and ask me for help and I can assist them with their experiments. I really just like having the freedom of research.
That's really cool. Yeah. Thanks. So Christina, what does your day look like? Does it change every day or is it similar to mine where like a week is more representative of your day-to-day? Yeah, I think, well, for starters, I think that first and second year, my day in. Kind of looked different, so I learned very quickly when I got to med school that I'm a morning person, which is very strange to say.
But I think when I first started, I, I had found myself in a tough place because I would get up, go to class in person. , go to lab, do all the extra things, you know, get home, buy six or seven, eat food, shower, try to exercise, you know, do all that stuff. And then it would be late at night. Mm-hmm. like, it would be like seven, eight o'clock, and then I would have to sit down for hours of studying.
And for me, by that time of the day after I've. You know, gotten up early and done all this stuff that's too late for me to like actually really, truly get meaningful studying. So what I would do instead, and something that I'm actually doing now is I would wake up early, go to the library study in the mornings, then I would go to lab.
I would come home in the evenings and I would just. in the evenings. The only thing that I would do work-wise is I would watch all the lectures from that day. So then I knew that my meaningful, really good studying that I was getting in was when I was really fresh minded and like well rested and like really my best self.
And that's something that I've definitely carried on through. Second year, there was a period of a few months where I was going to class every single day in person. Mm-hmm. . And I think that the reason that I was choosing to do that was because in third, , you have your clinicals all day, kind of like I mentioned.
And then at the end of the year you have a step two exam. So your real study time to study for step two and for your shelves and stuff is when you get home from a long day at the hospital. And if you're in surgery all day, cuz that's one of the rotations you'll have to do meaningful studying when you get home.
So I've been trying to. Train myself. Mm-hmm. to do like hardcore studying when I get home at the end of a long day. Yeah. But it's honestly been tough. So I've been struggling with that. But like I mentioned on a previous episode, I do take Friday and Saturday nights off. I am religious, so I go into services every weekend and that's pretty much kind of my day in the life.
And I also work on my research projects. Kind of when I have extra time. So like Sunday evenings, I usually, I'm not in the frame of mind to do work, I just wanna rest. So what I'll do Sunday evenings is I'll work on my research because it's not, you know, quote unquote hardcore studying my material, but it's being productive and getting work done as well.
Mm-hmm. . So how about you, Natalie? What's your day? Look like a day for me in first and second year looked very different. Mm-hmm. in first year, I was waking up and doing all the things, like going to the classes, going to lecture. I quickly realized that I think I worked better when I watched lectures at home because I'm able to pause and take notes if I need to.
which I'll get into. I stopped taking notes, but we'll talk about that later. . But yeah, pretty much, just to give you a gist of it, I wake up, I make breakfast and lunch to take to school with me. Food is very important to me. , . Um, I make my coffee, I feed my cats. I head to school. And although I do study at home sometimes I find that I, I study best at school in a quiet, in a quiet environment in the library.
So I'll go there. And I like to start with like my flashcards. I use like a spaced repetition. Flashcard application, which is quite popular in medical school. I've been doing it since first year, and I think it works really well for understanding and grasping all the information that we have to, I also use, uh, like visual memory aids, that kind of.
Work like using storytelling. Mm-hmm. . Um, actually in the, one of the previous episodes, Christina, you asked me if my creative background at all, like kind of informed my learning now, and in a way I didn't realize this, but I would use storytelling. Like in my mind, and I think we do this when we study together too, sometimes like, oh, that's cute.
We like give like personalities to different selves or like, you know, things like that that help us remember mm-hmm. . So, um, I'll expand on that. . Yeah. So we'll get into that later. Yeah. These are just like the ways that I study. I use the flashcards, I use those. Picmonics as they're Calder photo pneumonics and a lot of videos.
I do listen to podcasts whenever I can on physiology and pathology. That's been really helpful. But in general, Just a little aside, pneumonics are your best friend in medical school. . It's the best way to remember things, and I'm a hands-on and visual learner. So first year I would definitely go to lab every day or whenever it was required, and I would study a lot in the lab and I do like to study alone, but like I mentioned, we do group studies sometimes and I find that really helpful, like teaching other people or having it explained to me.
Helps me understand concepts. Mm-hmm. , which I think is really cool. So, yeah, I'll study in the library if I can. I'll squeeze in volunteering throughout the week. Um, I've been fortunate enough to be able to volunteer at the Rama Clinic, which is a free clinic in the community. And lately I've also been volunteering at a foot clinic, at a local homeless shelter.
I like to work out at least a couple days a week, so I try to squeeze that in before going home and making dinner and having some me time. Mm-hmm. , I, I recognize also, like you, Christina, that I don't really study well at. . I think I'm just like ready to wind down by the time I get home. Yeah, yeah. You're just so stimulated throughout the day, like Right.
Learning everything or remembering what you need to remember. Exactly. And throughout the week, I also like to make time for fun things. I know this is so nerdy of me, but I really love trivia, so I like to go to trivia, whatever I do. We have a big, we have a big trivia night here at Upstate. Yes, we do. I've heard about it.
Yeah. Um, and just like throughout the community, there's like a lot of trivia nights at different pubs and stuff like that. Yeah, yeah. Yeah. That's my day in the life pretty much. Do you do research like Christina? I'm not currently working on any projects. Uhhuh, I am like in touch with some people that, um, I will potentially do research with.
Mm-hmm. , um, as I mentioned, I did a review paper over the summer, but Right. I am not working on any research right now. Okay. I like to focus on. My school and like focusing on step studying as well. Right. So that's where my, a lot of my energy is going. That makes sense. Yeah. Mm-hmm. . So just for our listeners, Christina, what does research look like to you?
I think that the really, one of the benefits of Upstate is we have a research. Department that you can go to with a liaison for medical students to get involved in research. So different physicians in the area or different doctors and and scientists will kind of pass along their. Research opportunities to this one department and then that will get forwarded on to the students.
So my research opportunities, one of them actually came from that department. Um, I had heard about this paper that was being worked on and they needed another person. So I hopped onto the project. Another one of my research opportunities actually was, From a professor that I knew from my undergrad in Binghamton, who does work in a kind of another capacity at upstate.
So I hopped onto that project as well, as well as, uh, I had been shadowing and I had seen a case and I, so I hopped on the case study mm-hmm. that was being done as, as a result of my shadowing experience there. So that's kind of what research looks like for you. Yeah. So it's not, it's not like my. F Like when I talk about research, I'm at the lab bench.
I'm pipetting, I'm like treating cells with different drugs. Like for medical school, is it more case studies and like reporting and writing? Is that, I guess that's the kind of question I was more aiming towards. Okay. Yeah, it, it depends. I, I'm not doing any bench work right now. Mm-hmm. , I did do bench work in undergrad, but I do know people who are, I believe, yes.
So I think it's kind of the world Is your oyster there? Yeah. That's awesome. They. That kind of opportunity here. Yeah. In upstate. Yeah, for sure. I also just wanted to kind of piggyback a little bit on the study methods that Natalie mentioned. Mm-hmm. just kind of talking about day in the life. So like Natalie, I do use space repetition, flashcards.
I think that one of the really key things for me in terms of being successful academically in med school is the idea of space repetition, number one, and also active recall. Mm-hmm. , I think for me, a lot of. Study methods look very similar to undergrad. You know, in undergrad, like I would get up early, I would use a whiteboard and do a lot of memorization just strictly from the notes.
I integrated a lot of practice questions in my studying in undergrad, and I think that that helps me a lot. And I do a very similar thing here, so when I get the material, after I've watched the lecture, I. , I do take notes. I know Natalie. Mm-hmm. you, you don't, I take a little bit of notes, but I'm mostly listening.
I think one thing that I've learned about myself is I'm definitely an auditory learner, so if I hear something or someone tells me something, I usually will remember it, as opposed to people who are more visual learners. So I learn. I learn by my ear, so I will watch the lecture. , I will whiteboard out the main concepts and like try to quiz myself there.
And then I'll get together with friends like Natalie , um, and we'll just kind of try to active recall, talk to each other. Mm-hmm. about the high yield concepts. So like, for example, we're studying viruses or whatever, studying on mm-hmm. . We'll ask Natalie, what fusion protein does this virus use? And then, Say it, the answer to me, and then I'll remember the answer vice versa.
So that's, that's a thing that I think helps, but, so Brittany, how does your studying, has it changed since undergrad? How has it looked different? Yeah, I think you hit a very good point is that my studying really took root, like my studying habits took root in undergrad, and I kind of just used the study methods I learned in undergrad through graduate school.
One thing I try to tell student, when they come to upstate is that you need to study early and you need to study often. So those foundations exams, they sneak up on you, you know, so all of a sudden you have all this information you need to learn in a week. It's better to start studying as soon as you get the information and recall the subjects of the lectures and make sure that you know the material going into the exam.
It's not beneficial to you to crunch, and that's definitely something you need to learn in PhD. , especially for a coughing exam, it does not benefit you to read 10 papers a week before you need to do your oral defense. And all of a sudden, like you have all this information in your mind that you have to recall, like when they're asking you specific questions about like, what does this virus do?
So yeah, I found studying early, studying often I do like writing everything out cuz I am a visual learner, drawing everything that works well for me and especially. since I do a lot of reading, like you have to read papers, you need to stay updated in your field. You need to read all the papers that the lab has published, especially the lab you have joined.
So I found that basically writing the main topics of that paper and glancing back at them every now and then has been very beneficial for me, especially in those library study intensive rooms. Mm-hmm. , like Natalie was saying, I need quiet and I found. . I study better here at school than I do at home.
Mm-hmm. and I learned that the hard way when we were quarantined at home. , . But I agree with the group study, you know, it's beneficial for you, especially with those foundation courses where everyone's taking the same material. It's easier to study and bounce subject material off of other students that are also learning the same thing.
But as you take. Higher advanced courses throughout your PhD, the students in your lab or the students that are a year or two above you definitely asking them like, Hey, you went through this class. What was it like? Like, can you help me study? I think that's very beneficial for students in a PhD. . Nice.
Yeah, I totally agree with a lot of what you said. So I think that if I've learned anything in med school, it's two of these basic things that I've, that have really helped my studying. Number one, one thing that I started doing, and this could apply to you, whether you're in high school, undergrad, med school, it doesn't matter.
This is this, I think this is pretty universal. What I started doing is every single lecture, let's say, 30, 40 lectures in a unit and they're all about an hour long, give or take. I started writing them down on a piece of paper and kind of just jotting down what the main focus of lecture was. So if it's about cardio toxicities in drugs, I'll just.
Quickly write that down. And then every single time I go to a lecture, and I know right off the bat that I'm not grasping the material, I'll just quickly make a note of that so that when I go back, I'm not just studying what I already know. Well, for that instant gratification, like when I first started in med school, there'd be, let's say 30 lectures, I would purposely go to the 15 lectures that I understood really well because when I would get those flashcards right, it would feel so good.
like it's a lot harder to force. To do the thing that you don't know because it feels uncomfortable, right? But really try to keep track of what exactly it is your week on. Like it's a work smarter, not harder game, right? Mm-hmm. , yes, definitely you spend six hours doing things that you're pretty good at and really make no progress.
but you could also be spending those six hours doing things that you truly don't know. Mm-hmm. and make way more progress. So I would say that also, I think one of the challenges for med school in second year, I do like second year, but I'm just saying that it's definitely a lot different to me because now it's not just a matter of, for us, like knowing the science, you know, knowing what's going on in the lungs, knowing what the lungs look like, what they do, how they work.
Mm-hmm. , it's being able to say, , if this person comes into the office, you don't really know anything about them other than you know what, what they're telling you about what's going on. Can you, from that information, what you get out of the interview and the physical exam be able to say what's going on in their lungs?
Mm-hmm. looking at it from a clinical picture is a lot more challenging than looking at it from just scientific perspective. So that's where I think practice questions come in because practice questions, at least first step really get. The opportunity to see what those clinical pictures look like and identifying what's going on scientifically from a clinical perspective.
So whether you're studying for the MCAT or you're studying for step, or you're studying for whatever. Mm-hmm. , definitely, definitely focus on practice questions because I think the, the way to learn is, By doing. Yeah. I don't know if you agree with that. I 100% agree. I'm glad you mentioned that because I did forget to bring that up, but that's another huge part of my day is doing practice problems.
Me too. Yeah, so there's different question banks that you can use that are specific to step one, and they definitely help you with the unit exams as well. It's all the same material, just the units are broken down to different systems, but it helps to kind of jumble things up and be able to recognize patterns in questions.
and be able to answer a pulmonology question and then a cardiology question and then like, um, gastroenterology question and you know, just be able to adapt to each question. Mm-hmm. . Mm-hmm. , if that makes sense. It totally makes sense. Okay. I would also mention one resource that I found really helpful, not only in med school but also in undergrad.
I think this is one of those examples of where what I did an undergrad really worked and still works for me, is I take advantage of tutoring. Mm-hmm. , there was a tutoring center at my undergrad. So helpful and I definitely, I would go and I would do practice questions and the tutor would help me identify more high yield concepts.
And high yield is a phrase that gets thrown a around a lot in med school. And I just wanna say what that means right now. For people who don't know, high yield is like topics that are often, you know, the main focus of a unit or like the things that you're expected to really take away from a unit. And I also use that service in med school.
I don't know if either of you like have ever used it or. . I don't know if if they have that in PhD. I mean, they have tutoring, so like the students that are in their fifth and sixth year can help tutor the first and second year students on their like foundational courses. But I don't really recognize like kind of tutoring that you're talking about.
What about. . I haven't used tutoring myself, but I know that a lot of people have benefited from it, and I know it can be really helpful just to hear things in different ways. Mm-hmm. . So, yeah, that's a, that's a great point to bring up, Christina. I agree. Yeah. So does anyone have anything else that they'd like to add on this episode or any advice that you would give to students who are pursuing a medical slash scientific curriculum at all?
I do wanna expand on, The things you can do now that you're in your third through sixth year of PhD school. And one of those is go to conferences. I didn't touch on that earlier, but when you reach like your fourth or fifth year, you finally have some like data that could be published and so you have enough to put together a poster or an oral presentation.
And my boss, Gary, he actually. All the time. He goes, I know you wanna go to this conference. You always need to put in for an oral presentation because you don't know if you're going to get it or not. Cause they select certain people based on what the conference is about and like how the topics would fit into that conference.
So it's beneficial for you to apply for. Presenting your data orally because not only will it give you the opportunity to grow intellectually and be able to communicate, but it'll also help you build a network because someone will be able to see your face and be like, oh, I remember they presented on this topic at this conference.
Maybe I could talk to 'em about a collaboration or something like that. But going to conferences and presenting your research is such a key point in your PhD career. And not only are they fun, cuz you get really good food and you get to hang out with other people that are just as passionate about your work, but you get to present your data that you've worked so hard in.
and I just really like these pivotal years of my PhD career because I get to take classes that aren't just focused on viruses that I'm studying. I'm able to take a class that's, I just finished this class actually that's quality control and biotechnology. So what does quality control look like in a clinical setting in a pharmaceutical company?
Last year I actually took a class on how to teach college students. So if you're pursuing a career in research, academic research, or if you're su pursuing a career in industry research, you have classes here at Upstate that you're able to take at a later time point in your career, in your PhD track, that will benefit you for the long.
Very nice. Yeah. Medical students also get to go to conferences, so that's a, a nice benefit as well to share our work. Thank you for reminding me. I wanna share this as well. In your third and fourth year, you have the opportunity as a medical student to do what's called an away rotation. So away rotations are basically you apply, I mean, don't quote me on all the details of this , cuz I've never done one obviously, but you apply.
Basically do one of your clinical rotations at another hospital anywhere that you want, any participating hospital that is available to you at the time. So that gives you an opportunity to spend a good chunk of time in another city or another place that you're interested in maybe pursuing a residency there.
So that's cool thing as well. Did you have anything to add, Natalie? Yeah, for away rotations actually, on that topic, I think it's also a good chance to get to know a program and. Almost like a part of the interview process, and I think you have a better chance of matching in a program that you've rotated at as far as I know.
And another thing I just wanna add, in general, for anyone who is thinking of applying, there is a big adjustment from undergrad to a graduate program or a medical program. And one thing I just wanna encourage everyone to do is to foster discipline if they can in themselves, because it's very different, like I mentioned, the second year or even in the first year.
There's a lot of free time and it's really up to you what you do at that time. So I definitely recommend. , just finding ways to structure your yourself. Mm-hmm. and structure your time and making the most of it. Yeah. It, it definitely is a big transition. It was for me too, and I went right from undergrad to medical school, so I can't imagine what it would be like having years in between.
Mm-hmm. that had to have been tough in and of itself as well, but even coming straight from undergrad, it was tough for me and I think number one, If you know that you're struggling or if you're sitting in a study group with people and you know that they understand the material way better than you, and that's becoming a pattern that you, you know, that you're not grasping the material as well as everyone else that you're round, don't get upset, go get help, go get help, go to a tutor.
Go to a professor, email a course director and express like get help early. That is a sign of strength, not a sign of weakness. Absolutely. Yeah. I think, yeah, and I feel, especially when you're getting your PhD, everyone wants to see you succeed. Like everyone's trying to harbor this environment for you to learn and to grow.
And if you need help, there's help to be given. Mm-hmm. , that's great. That's a great. Thank you so much for joining us for another episode, and we will see you all soon. Yeah, talk soon. Bye