Monday, May 14, 2012

What Next?

Looks like Google changed the design behind the scenes, and I haven't taken the time to figure out how the new set up works. Hmm. Anyways...

I'm going to be finished with my Job in roughly two weeks now, and I'll get to move back up to DC. I'm happy about that, since I've realized I like living there a good deal more than out where I am now. I'll miss my job a bit  - it really was fun and neat - but I won't complain about the extra sleep/time. I'm sure I'll be able to eat better and, as fun as being on the night shift was, I'm not going to complain about going back to a regular schedule either. It makes it a lot harder to take care of basic things like getting groceries, cook meals, or exercise when you're up all night and asleep all day. It was fun, but a bit harder to keep up than I'd expected.

I'm probably going to have surgery on my right shoulder to fix that up at some point in the near future; that's the main reason I'm finishing my job now, although I have various other less legitimate reasons as well. At any rate, I decided I didn't really want to stick around for the new company taking over our contracts, so I'm off.

What happens next?

Well, I'm becoming more and more anxious over the MCAT. I'm close to ready, but not quite there yet. There's too many equations that I memorize, and than realize I've forgotten two weeks later. I've certainly made progress, and can probably get an average to slightly above average score at this point. The problem with that is that an average score is too low to get accepted anywhere in most cases. So, I have to decide if I want to take it as scheduled, or put it off two months or so (no way am I putting it off a whole year again, I'd just get lazy and stop studying if I had that much time. An extra two months would be very helpful though, and I feel confident I'd do well enough with that time).

The problem is that if I put it off two months, I pretty much can't apply this year.

I don't want to put my application off another year. I really really don't. And I don't want to deal with the feeling that I failed to get ready in time (although, apparently, I sort of have. And it's probably best if I can just come to terms with that). The upside is that if I apply next year with a score from this year, I can apply at the very start of the application cycle. That would help out because most schools have rolling admissions, and I'd be at the very front of the line before any spots were taken up. If I take the test as scheduled in June, I'll be close to the back of line. Then again, it doesn't look that great on my part if I've taken two years to get this test over with - even if I do get a nice score on it. I'd have to get a really nice score to make people gloss over that fact entirely.

So, looking at all of these facts, I went to talk to my premed adviser who said.... nothing.

Yep. That's right. I've still been trying to get in touch for nearly a month now. I've been leaving e-mails, and physical papers. I've been trying to drive up to DC to stop by in person. No luck on any count, I just can't manage to get in touch. I'm not sure why. It definitely leaves me feeling like things have dropped through the cracks somewhere, somehow. That alone makes me lean towards taking the MCAT a bit later. I have no idea how my committee letter is going, or if it's even being done as I was told it would be. I'm very hesitant to send out an application not having a clue what's going on with the people I need to back me up behind the scenes.

I can't really explain how frustrating this is, but you can probably guess.

Anyways, I /think/ the last day to change my test registration is June 7th if I understand what I've read correctly, so I have enough time to try getting in touch with people a little bit more. If I can't get in touch with anyone before June 5th, I'll probably postpone the test by default. If I can get in touch, I'll see what they think should happen. I'm still leaning towards putting it off two months, since there's really no reason to take the test if I'm not positive I'll do well on it (there are even good reasons to not do that, since it would stay on my record).

I'm just so unhappy at the thought of putting it off more. But we'll see. Maybe that's the best choice, unpleasant as it is.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Or... Hard to Wrap Up

So I thought it would be fairly simple to streamline my old 5200 word personal statement, fashioning it into the required 5200 character one. Since I had (and still have) so much MCAT studying to do, and since I didn't expect this to be much of a challenge, I put it off.

The other day I decided I'd drive up to my old apartment and work on it on the little net-book there, so I'd be free of all the distractions that can jump up when one is trying to write. Big mistake. I'd never used the net-book for word processing before (it's not mine, it's my father's, and it's just been laying around my old apartment), but it turns out you can only see one paragraph or so at a time on its monitor.

Needless to say this drove me crazy. I got some basic outlining done, but no real work, and essentially wasted the day driving there and back. Working on the statement at my home computer today, I realized it's actually a lot harder to distill a 5200 word essay into a 5200 character one that you might think. I'm practically having to do a new one.... only I don't have the time for a new one, since this has to be done by the time I leave for work tomorrow evening.

I'm confident I'll have something done, so in the worst case scenario it will at least be finished. It's my sincere hope that the April 15th deadline is a "soft" deadline though, and I'll be able to snag two or three days more to edit this. I won't be able to find that out until April 15th though.

Unfortunately though, it looks like I finally have an application blunder I can't pin on anyone but myself.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

All My Cards In Place

I had a chance to talk to the last person who needed talking to today; the professor who I needed to help me with my committee letter. She's still up for it, and I e-mailed her the necessary papers today. So, more or less, all that I need to do now is find a way to manage my MCAT (and edit something I wrote last year by April 15th, but that will be easy enough to wrap up).

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

A New Employer

So we got an e-mail today saying that we (the scribes) are going to shift from being EMA employes to being employees of a company called (I think) Scribe America. I don't like change, just in general, so that was a bit stressful to find out. Especially because the e-mail didn't really go over any details.

I followed up with someone in HR and it looks like we're guaranteed employment with the new company (at least initially), and will remain employed at the same hospital we're at now. Both of which came as a relief. Apparently the actual change won't take place for roughly three months, so it's not worth stressing over. If I'm going to stress over something for the next three months (and I am), I want to make it the MCAT, not this.

My initial feeling is that it's too bad though. I liked the company that hired me for whatever reason. Even named my adopted cat after them... but guess that's not enough to prevent change.


I followed up with the premed people at AU who (hopefully?) will get my e-mail this time. Sent them an updated copy of my resume and tried to check in on the status of my letters of rec again. I tried to talk to my faculty mentor there last week, but she was out because of car troubles. Hopefully I'll be able to see her in person next week, since I have a few things I'd like to discuss with her.

I'm rapidly doing some physics review now, and plan on starting my fancy expensive online MCAT course by March 21st. I wanted to quickly do my own physics review before I start though, so I can have gone over all the topics on the exam in at least some detail.

I might have talked about this earlier, but physics really is magical. I lost sight of that in the midst of exams, and stress, and stuff, but it's neat. Where else can you be "we need to find the distance/acceleration/whatever of this block going down at this angle, but to do that we'll pretend it's going down and horizontally in two separate vectors rather than the one vector we actually see.... and that will let us solve for one variable, which won't actually give us an answer.... until we decide to plug that into the equation for the second one!" And then all the answers just suddenly crystallize.

I don't know exactly how to describe it. It just seems so arbitrary/forced/nonsensical, but then all of a sudden it all comes together so perfectly. It's neat.

At any rate, I feel like I can do the basic problems I've looked at now. Or will be able to, once I sit down and memorize the equations and get some practice. Will I be able to do them fast enough to score well? That's another question. But I'm hard at work on it.

Monday, March 5, 2012

My Day's Been Made

Well: I'm was plagued by insomnia (bad start to the day), so I got up and called my post-bac's premed office one last time before driving up in person, in the hope I could get an answer and not the voice mail for once. I was pleasantly shocked and surprised when that's what happened. I was even more pleasantly surprised when they confirmed that I could, indeed, still get a committee letter. That puts a /lot/ of recent stress I've been having to rest. A /LOT/.

I also found out they still didn't get my physics teacher's letter of recommendation after he submitted it twice (really?) and it looks like one or two other things might have gotten misplaced over the last year. One or two other things yet need updating (like my resume). But all that bad news pales in the knowledge that I can actually get my committee letter as planned.

I also talked about the MCAT date I signed up for (June 21st; oops, forgot to post about signing up for it again, but that's when I'm up). It sounds like it's not too late to use. And I can get the old "meaningless" fluff letter of rec from my personal physician replaced by a much more professional one from the doctors I'm working with now (if their letter is received... grumble... I'd better get ontop of that post-haste, actually, since the dead line is April 15th and I wouldn't be at all surprised if they told me it hadn't been received).

And lastly, I definitely need to get in touch with my faculty mentor (something I should have done months ago, but was just too stressed out over thinking I no longer had a mentor or committee....). I'll try getting in touch with her by e-mail asap, and if that doesn't work I have two days off work this week I can use to drive up to DC and try to say hi.

So there's a lot of stuff that needs to get done. But overall, I feel great right now.

In slightly unrelated realms work has been going great as well. I keep getting to see all sorts of interesting cases, people, and procedures. I get to pick up a few basic things, and find out all sorts of tidbits (three or four consecutive ribs in an area can get broken and left to heal with just pain medicine - body casting was used for that decades ago, but it found that hurt much more than it helped because disease was induced as contraction of the rib cage was prevented. More recently, another study was cut short in which we were trying to treat slightly irregular EKG's of the type produced by having a bit of hypertension and excessive caffeine, where you have occasional skipped beats. It turned out that most of the medicines resulted in premature death, and there was very little adverse affect to having your EKG be slightly off baseline in this manner in the first place.)

Some people are really fun to deal with. Some interesting. Some you just have to. And very occasionally someone comes along who you wish hadn't. Someone who'll harass the nurses, or hit them because they're drunk or in an altered mental state or for whatever other reason. When you're working with people for 12 hour shifts most days of the week, you can end up seeing them more than your own family, so when someone comes in and does anything like that it's incredibly upsetting.

Of course, that's just a randomly chosen example that by no means necessarily occurred. But the ED staff works hard, and occasionally has to put up with various stuff they shouldn't. It's tough work, and people there can really empathize with one another. That's one of the nicest parts of the job too though, I think - you really do get to spend a lot of time under stress with the people you work with, so they do become like family. In a way.

As for me.... I guess I'm going to go have lunch and try to fall asleep again. I have to do this whole work thing tomorrow, plus get back to studying for my MCAT on double pace now that my biggest concerns have been cleared up.

Friday, February 17, 2012


Well, my cursory chemistry review is continuing on pace - I'm a bit over half through. I remember everything I'm reviewing, although there are a few types of problems I won't be able to do without some more in depth studying than I'm giving them at the moment. That doesn't worry me too much though; I was able to do them in school, and am quite sure I'll be able to do them again with a more in depth review after I finish this cursory sweep.

The chemistry section is somewhat naturally more given towards problems and equations than the general biology section was. I'm not sure how this will play out in the actual MCAT questions on chemistry yet (will they somehow be broadly generalized and passage based, as in biology, or will the passages involve the need to have more equations memorized). While I'm not worried about it, I am interested to find out - it could have a big impact on Physics, where I'm not half as confident in my ability to review and remember things that I never fully understood in the first place.

If the chemistry questions are largely broad-based though, then it's very likely the physics ones will be as well. And that would be good news.

As far as other studying stuff goes, I looked around the Kaplan site a bit and they have a few packages. The one I'm leaning towards costs a somewhat painful $1900 dollars to sign up for (although there's a $250 rebate of sorts). I'm pretty positive I'll be signing up for that in a few days nonetheless though, once I get my checks to post at the bank. Given the test design, this seems too helpful to not take given the opportunity.

I've still had no luck getting anyone from AU's premed office to reply to me, despite leaving a voice mail and e-mails. Fun. So I went and e-mailed my old undergraduate premed office at Vanderbilt with a few questions today. Hopefully they'll get back to me next week sometime - they've been good in the past. I'm going to wait on that before registering for the MCAT, although that needs to get done really soon too.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

First Practice Test (Segment)

So I finally took a practice segment for Biology. I didn't do great, but I did ok. Or I would have apart from one set of 7 questions that I bombed. Had I gotten those though, I'd be happy (enough) to move on. So what I'll do now is review DNA/RNA again (since those 7 questions came from that area) today and tomorrow. The other few questions I got wrong were, for the most part, things I either should have got right or could have with a bit more review. But the review neccesary to cover every complete set of possible questions like that is time consuming enough it could go on for months, which doesn't work. Getting 2 or 3 more questions right by spending another month on Biology doesn't make sense when I can spend that month on Chemistry and get an extra 10 right (or however many). At any rate I'll start working on Chemistry on the 13th now, almost on schedule, and will keep looking over my Biology notes periodically.

The biggest thing I got out of this though was that it's not a science test. At all. I know I posted that earlier from reading it and being told that, but since I hadn't taken any practice segments I didn't really know what the test was like.

Of ~40 questions maybe only 8 or 10 required "know this" knowledge. The rest was largely stuff you could get from passages if you had an idea what was being talked about. So most of the questions I got wrong (apart from that section on DNA) ended up being things I could probably get right just by taking a hundred practice tests - a lot like the LSAT. A lot of the stuff I spent the last few months looking at was talked about (Lutenizing Hormones and Follicle Stimulating Hormones, for example), but it was looked at in the context of a passage and not as a "LH is created in the a) anterior pituitary, b) thymus, c) pineal gland, or d) hypothalamus". You didn't (really) have to know what LH did either, you just had to have a hang of the basic concept.

This steers me a lot towards buying Kaplans online program. Or at least looking at it closely in the next few days. It also steers me in the direction of rushing through my traditional studying in favor of spamming practice exams once I've got a very rough hang of the basics.

I'll try doing Chemistry fast in ~2 weeks, and we'll see how that goes. If it works just as well as having spent ~2 months on Biology I'll be very happy, because time's a commodity here.