Tag Archive | stony brook

Just My Luck … With Graduations

If I am a black cloud in something, that something is graduation.  My gloomy graduation history dates back to 2006.  What are the chances that every landmark graduation ceremony in my education process elicits tears from the sky?  Count them, thrice – high school, undergraduate (Baccalaureate AND Commencement) and last week, medical school.

High School Days

Out of all my career graduations, this was the least I cared about; hence, I was the most okay with nearly missing it.  At that time, I was a girl of few needs:  1) go to an Ivy League college, or somewhere close enough to a prestigious brand, 2) be valedictorian, or settle for salutatorian and 3) get off Long Island.  I fulfilled about 1½ points on that list.  I was most bummed that I did not graduate in the top 2 of my class to attain the lofty title of valedictorian or salutatorian (I was ranked #3, with no Olympic bronze medal recognition for that achievement).  The gunner in me then forever held a grudge against the high school that cheated me of my accomplishments, especially since I clean-swept all the senior awards with the highest, nearly perfect grades in all my classes.  Connetquot was unfortunately still on a “quality points system” that year, as opposed to the more mainstream “weighted average system.”  I still remember Connetquot as the school that essentially dinged a student for trying to be well rounded by playing in the orchestra (a lowly level 4 course), while another student with less stellar grades who was able to take more advanced classes received more points and ranked higher.  It was also the school that held me back from taking more Advanced Placement (AP) classes early enough to count more before college applications went out.  Except for a few special teachers who nurtured my potential and vision for success, there was nothing memorable about the high school that tethered my wings to a wall.

Now you have a basic understanding of my residual bitterness and how I could careless about graduating high school?  Maybe I did not get into my top choice of colleges (Cornell) and yet, I was happy and looking forward to life and school in the city (NYU).  Let’s not forget, I was bouncing off Long Island after 18 years of suburban, if not rural, life.

Excellence My Ends

Excellence My Ends

The morning of graduation was cloudy, humid and rainy.  I looked out the window and heard the pitter-patter of rain … and rolled back to sleep.  I assumed the graduation ceremony was cancelled due to inclement weather.  Nope, it was on.  In haste, I rinsed my curls and threw on my white cap and gown and ran in 4-inch heels.  I was not the only idiot who thought there was no graduation, seeing girls and guys getting dropped off and running into the school.  And here were the beginnings of my tardy tendencies.

I rushed to find my spot on line, somewhere amongst the honor society gang.  Because I was late, I also lost the spot I had on stage, one I personally requested and squeezed from the principal to make something worthwhile out of being #3.

The graduation could not have been more of a drag. The only family spectator was my father; my mother and sister did not come, given how rushed the morning was.  My hair was frizzing from the humidity.  I was nervously looking up at the sky, believing it would shower at any moment’s strike.  What was I proud of?  Getting through with perfect grades and off the island?  My school failed me and perfect grades did not get me on stage where I belonged.  In a deviant way, I was glad that it was dark and gloomy, for I believed the heavens above saw it befitting to make the day miserable for Connetquot and it’s Class of 2006 Graduates.

Wow, I still sound bitter 8 years later …

NYU Memories

The little chunk of campus I experienced

The little chunk of campus I experienced

Every May in honor of NYU graduates, the Empire State Building lights up Violet!

Every May in honor of NYU graduates, the Empire State Building lights up Violet!

College epitomized my glory years.  It was a fresh environment with a much more intellectual and social crowd.  I was happier, the butterfly that emerged from a tight, suffocating cocoon and spread its wings to fly and discover the world.  Come on, I was going to school in the middle of Manhattan!!!  I had no campus, but that did not matter, because my fun-filled campus was uniquely all of NYC.  These were the years I spent finding myself, exploring the city, reconnecting with my Asian heritage and making awesome friends to last a lifetime.

Four years bounced by, and now I was part of NYU College of Arts & Science, Class of 2010.  My Baccalaureate Ceremony took place at the famous Radio City Music Hall.  Center stage and Magna Cum Laude.

While the ceremony was indoors, outside it was again, dreary and gray. There were a few sprinkles, but not significant enough to ruin my wonderful graduation day.


Commencement was a different situation, that fateful Wednesday in May at Yankee Stadium.  It was cold and horribly wet and more like May showers.  Ponchos and caps were passed out for barely enough coverage.  I was freezing in my violet gown that did nothing for insulation.  There I sat, for the next few hours, under a bright yellow umbrella ready to break or fly away, listening to Alec Baldwin and other VIP people give speeches about inspiration and success.  Where was the sunshine I so anticipated for my huge and memorable college graduation?  Apparently, it was playing hide-and-seek in the ultimate hiding spot and refusing to budge.

Okay, it was pretty cool to graduate at Yankee Stadium

Okay, it was pretty cool to graduate at Yankee Stadium

All the special people get FULL coverage from Mother Nature's wrath

All the special people get FULL coverage from Mother Nature’s wrath

President Sexton, meet Dr. Alec Baldwin, crowned Doc of Fine Arts in 2010

President Sexton, meet Dr. Alec Baldwin, crowned Doc of Fine Arts in 2010

What you giggly about Alec?

What you giggly about Alec?

Here are my previous blog entries back in May 2010:

End of a very Violet Era, Part 1

End of a very Violet Era, Part 2

Those days were less okay for rain to ruin, but I had another 4 years to gain graduation redemption, with medical school.

Freshly Minted MD

Fat chance.

The forecast for my medical school graduation on Thursday May 22, 2014 was just as glum as my luck with the last two cycles of graduation.  The morning started off bleak, but relatively dry.  Just as my fellow soon-to-be doctors assembled for the Class of 2014 photograph outside by the campus fountain, the droplets of rain started to pitter-patter.  Perfect timing.

At least the ceremony took place in the Staller Center for the Performing Arts, with a stable enough roof for coverage.

Fat chance again.  We had just finished the hooding process on stage, the ceremonial initiation into Doctordom.  Then something epically unprecedented happened:  the fire alarm went off in the middle of the Hippocratic Oath.  It did not cease to stop, in case it was a false alarm, so we all had to evacuate.  Into pouring rain.  Perfect timing, again.

On top of my day of unfortunate occurrences, my dear sister missed my graduation.  She rushed to take all her finals in order to catch a flight out from California in time for my once-in-a-lifetime graduation from medical school.  Except en route, unprecedented and unseasonal weather in Denver derailed her flight (and many other travelers with important, but less so, itineraries) into New York and in time for my special day.  Inclement weather in the form of wild tornadoes and shooting hailstorms was rarely seen in Denver, except on that one fateful Wednesday.  I was bummed my sister could not make it to my graduation, the one person who has put up with my shenanigans all these years, like stressing out and taking a marathon of final exams back to back just come home in time for me.  After the chaos that comes with flight cancellations and angry mobs of travelers, it took her a grand total of 24 hours and hopping through 5 cities before she touched down safely.  Now I’m beginning to wonder, would I just be a bad luck charm for her graduation next year?


Ray of Sunshine Despite being a black cloud given my dark history of graduations, finally a sliver of sunshine peeks through the gray clouds. My education has taken a grand total of 20 years (if you count kindergarten), but it has not stopped there.  Learning is a lifelong endeavor, an ever-changing process.  It has been an uphill trek, with each step building a foundation for the next higher step.

Elementary school was defined by the basics of the alphabet and arithmetic.  For me, it was also learning English as a second language.  If I put a brown paper bag over my head and spoke, I would sound like any young white girl off the streets.  You would not guess I was in ESL for 3 years.

The large chunk of time defined by middle and high school was all about mastering the SATs and AP exams to get into the best university personally possible.  Those were my hard-working, gunner days.

From college onwards, there was a gradual decline in my gunner ways.  I still worked my butt off for good grades, but I valued my youth and social life more.  There, I built a nice liberal arts foundation and fulfilled rigorous premedical requirements, and took too much time for retail therapy and bubble tea and culinary excursions.

And now, the last 4 years have been defined as my medical enlightenment saga, where the real beginnings develop for a young doctor-in-training.  From burying my brain in books and medical lingo to falling asleep in lectures almost on a daily basis to roaming the wards and chasing after residents who think you’re a pestilent ghost, medical school have nurtured fine memories.  I graduated at the tender age of 25; I have learned so much, and yet so little.  Just as there’s always wiggle room for dessert, there’s also room for personal and academic development.

Thank you to my family and friends for their love and support.  I have made some wonderful, intelligent, compassionate and talented friends who I am glad to call my dear physician colleagues.  Together, we will be friends to last a lifetime, forever connected by our beginnings at Stony Brook Medicine as we journey forward on a magic carpet ride into the world of medicine.

Haha, my Mama's donning a white coat!

Haha, my Mama’s donning a white coat!

Proud Mama and Papa at Graduation Din Din

Proud Mama and Papa at Graduation Din Din

(Gray) Graduation Day!!!

(Gray) Graduation Day!!!

Sister, Sister

Sister, Sister

Sister, Sister ... Take 2

Sister, Sister … Take 2

WORLD, prepare for some awesomely bad ass doctors coming your way! 

Congratulations to all 129 Graduates of Stony Brook School of Medicine, Class of 2014!!!

At the end of the alphabet, where the cool kids are

At the end of the alphabet, where the cool kids are


Still at the end of the alphabet

Still at the end of the alphabet

The obligatory, Connie Yu MD graduation selfie

The obligatory, Connie Yu MD graduation selfie


Boo Ya, Anesthesia

As a 3rd year medical student, life and work can be demoralizing.  You are a perfectionist by nature; you dare not succumb to failure.  To you, failure could mean the inability to stick a vein, not being able to spit out the criteria and numbers for different stages of sepsis, or simply being … average.

Popping my bubble

Popping my bubble

It’s hard to admit, that I’m simply mediocre now.  I’m no longer the magna cum laude student, rockstar laboratory extraordinaire, artistic organic chemist on paper, or master calculus calculator.  I can excel on the hospital floors, writing the perfectly organized (and legible) SOAP progress notes and spending quality time talking to the patients, taking their histories, and doing a very thorough physical exam.  I can attain the perfect clinical grades and positive evaluations, on Surgery, Ob/Gyn, Pediatrics, Psychiatry, and Medicine.  And you know what pops my blissful bubble and leave me deflated like a breathless balloon?  That’s right, the dreaded shelf exam.  At Stony Brook, your final course grade practically depends on the final shelf exam.  Each rotation is very variable. In Ob/Gyn, the shelf exam is worth 10%, versus in Surgery, it’s a whopping 30% and the main determinant.  Heck worse, in Pediatrics, which I totally should have attained an Honors, the shelf exam is  not even factored in; it’s a mere qualifier! That means, no matter what your final tally is, if you don’t reach a certain percentile, say 50th percentile, you absolutely cannot get a High Pass!  And these shelf exams are long, stupid, and arbitrary, where you are compared to the whole nation of medical students taking the exam.  Many times, I learned more about patient presentations and management on the floors, and not from these stupid shelf exams.  If you are a good subject test taker, the odds of doing well are in your favor.

For me, I suck at taking tests.  I’m at a clear disadvantage already.  With each rotation, I go in with enthusiasm and determination; I come out slumped and slugged.  I cannot say I’m satisfied with my mediocre passes, because I know I could’ve achieved high passes and honors.

I did make one simply, yet playful promise to myself:  the first clerkship you get Honors is the field of your destiny.

Guess what?  It finally happened today!  Interestingly, the two fields I’ve been debating between happened to be the ones where I’ve attained the highest grades this year.  Both happen to be my elective clerkships, where, surprise, you don’t have shelf exams and heavily based on clinical experience!!

Time to Celebrate!  All I wanted to do was top of a fine day with ddukboki, kimchi and rolled eggs, but it's always the cork and my nonexistent biceps that defy me!

Time to Celebrate! All I wanted to do was top of a fine day with ddukboki, kimchi and rolled eggs, but it’s always the cork and my nonexistent biceps that defy me!

So destiny has spoken … ANESTHESIA it will be!  I did 2-weeks in January, and absolutely loved it.  I was very much involved in patient care, took initiative to do procedures and ask questions, and worked hard to study the basics of anesthesia.  Even after my 2 weeks, I was still attending the Wednesday morning Grand Rounds (I was not there simply for the morning coffee and muffins).  It is a specialized field with a set knowledge of physiology and pharmacology you apply to patients of all kinds, from young to old, sick and healthy.  You learn to take care of sick cardiac patients, see through the delivery of healthy babies and care of the mother, manage pain, and much more.  With so much diversity in patients and cases and opportunities to jump into emergencies, you become the master artist of resuscitation.  That’s what I realized I loved.  It feels mighty exhilarating to finally see the light at the end of the tunnel, the light that you can reach your potential and succeed, personally and academically.

Here’s a snippet of my clinical evaluations, which has also helped boost my self-confidence that I am making the right decision for myself, and not anyone else:

“Connie was enthusiastic and eager to learn about anesthesia.  She was a bright student.  She had excellent interpersonal skills.  She was engaging, inquisitive, and personable.  She was always behaved in a professional manner.  She was well prepared.  She was successful to perform careful endotracheal intubation  in the operating room. She also successfully mask ventilated patients in the OR , and place ivs. in the OR as well as oral airways, nasal airways, LMA, spinals and epidurals.  She also particpated in the pre-procedural time out.   She was a great team member-always helping out and was attentive to her patient.  she showed great enthusiasm in procedures and “hands on” patient care.  she was actively engaged in discussions of relevant clinical topics.”

Now popping my precious balloon

Now popping my precious balloon

My mother has always been tough on me.  She wants me to enter a field where I can accumulate the moolah.  She wants me to do hematology/oncology.  Never has she supported me.  She’s been good at poking a needle into my blissful bubble and making me feel inadequate and terrible.  She’s good at pointing out my mistakes and saying, “See, you have a terrible memory… you can’t be a good doctor, let alone an anesthesiologist.” It hurts when I don’t have her support and confidence and she doesn’t listen to my interests.  Publishing compliments and gloating over my first Honors are not to boost my ego or show off; it’s to prove to my mother and myself, that I am capable of realizing and following my dreams.  I can be good with procedures because I’m not clumsy all the time.  I can be good with patients because I like to talk and comfort people.  I can be successful because I believe in myself.


Be Aggressive

That’s what the doctor said to me today… I finished my Pediatric Gastroenterology sub-specialty rotation this week with Dr. Daum of Winthrop. I enjoyed Gastroenterology out of all my courses in my first two years. Essentially, I am saying I love dealing with poop. Because all this week, almost every patient I saw with Dr. Daum in the office, was a constipated child. Even when I was in the endoscopy center, I thought I was going to see some crazy Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, esophagitis, gastritis, or other gastrointestinal problems. Nope, I only saw a boy with perfectly clean intestines and apparently “very beautiful” villi in the small intestines because his mother wanted him scoped and checked from mouth to anus. And of course, he was just another constipated child with abdominal pain. Completely behavioral and functional in children and adolescents.

So why did Dr. Daum say I was a smart and fun kid who should “be aggressive.” That morning during NICU rounds with the chairman, he was there as well because one of the babies in the NICU was getting worked up for meconium plug. So that morning by the computer, my classmates and I gathered in the discussion about meconium plug and the differential workup to rule out Hirschprung’s disease. The doctors pulled up chest X-rays and asked us, the students, what we saw. Someone said “there’s a boot-shaped heart.” Then, long silence as the doctors asked us for any other observations. I pointed out the collapsed lung from a pneumothorax, where you can see air between the pleural surface and the rib cage. Ah yesss… very important observation.

That evening as the day ended and Dr. Daum had to run to a staff meeting. He said to me, “It was smart that you picked up on that pneumothorax this morning. Don’t be afraid to speak up. You’re a smart kid… Be aggressive… Because at the end of the day, you’ll be remembered.”  With these words coming from a doctor I felt intimidated in the beginning based on hearsay, I was knocked off my saddle.  In the beginning, I was avoiding any interaction with this particular doctor because he gave negative evaluations and was not very nice. Well, I experienced the opposite. He was an old-fashioned fellow, but he was thorough and kind with his patients and me. So I’m glad I made a positive impression.

Though he was running late, he spent a good 10 minutes telling me another important aspect of life as a doctor:  family is priority, medicine comes second.  Always. He was always available to his 5 kids. He said, “My kids will never say I was not there for them. Never.” And this is important for me as a future female doctor. I hope to be married by 30, settle down with my significant other, and have a happy family. From my experiences thus far in Ob/Gyn and Pediatrics, I just cannot wait to have babies, and I’ll want to be there for them from milk to milestones to merry-go-rounds. And with the lasting words of Dr. Daum, I can be assured it’s possible.

Making a Difference

Today was a full day in Family Medicine. I go to Bethpage Primary Care with Dr. Arcati, who has been a holy preceptor. The entire office is absolutely spectacular; everyone’s just super nice. I love them and they love me =) Dr. Arcati usually previews me which of his patients are “cuckoo” if I go see them and surprisingly, several of his most “cuckoo” were on their better behavior whenever I was with him for the day. I guess that as a guest, I temper his patients down a couple of notches.  And many days, I get taken care of with lunches from the various pharmaceutical representatives – Mexican, Italian, pizza, salads, munchkins, you name it.  It’s a love/hate relationship with these drug companies; it’s hard to curse them when your mouth’s full of gourmet pizza =/

Most likely, I will not be making a career out of Family Medicine, but I want to maximize my experience nonetheless and enjoy it like a roller coaster ride. When I was on Surgery and Ob/Gyn, I looked forward to a break from daily 5am wake-up call. At the same time, Family Medicine every 2 weeks has been rather, disruptive, to the flow of a rotation. Take Pediatrics now. I’m enjoying this rotation and I look forward to my day. However, each day has been interrupted with lectures and lectures and lectures… stick in Family Medicine in my week of Pediatric Gastroenterology that is already stripped of a productive week, now I have close to nothing. Needless to say, I am not a fan of Stony Brook’s brand new Family Medicine longitudinal clerkship; it’s just plain intrusive.

Now, my complaints aside, I have been lucky with my Family Medicine site. Dr. Arcati makes me feel like I’m part of his family of workers. He lets me see patients with chief complaints, take histories, do physical exams, and formulate an assessment and plan. He also knows how much I love sticking people with needles, so I have the almighty privilege to draw blood and administer flu shots and make people happy and healthy.

People who come into the office have bread-and-butter cases:  fever, sore throat, congestion, cough, abdominal pain, etc… Simple. It’s the winter season; many people are succumbing to upper respiratory infections and asthma exacerbations. Nothing interesting.

Two weeks ago, I achieved a diagnostic milestone, times 2!  Neither of them were too shocking, so here are the stories. In the first case, a 60-something-year old woman comes in with a “lump on chest.” First thing I thought was, “Oh gosh, I have to do a breast exam…” It’s still awkward for me, as a female AND a medical student, even after doing breast exams and Pap smears not too long ago. I got her history and proceeded to exam the ‘lump.’ Okay, it wasn’t even on her breast; it was smack in the middle of the chest over the sternum. And when I palpated the mass, it was soft like fat tissue. Diagnosis?  Benign lipoma. Done.

Next case, a guy comes into the office with his girlfriend because he’s concerned about a “bump on the lip.”  Before I went in the room, I turned to the nurse, Rose, and we both nodded our head thinking it’s herpesSo I enter the room and greet the couple. I take my history, and no surprisingly, stumble over sexual history. It’s been 2 years already, and I still can’t bear to bring up a real patient’s sex life.  With the girlfriend there, imagine how awkward THAT would be… Needless to say, I bumbled through without uttering anything remotely close to sex, though I was itching to do so because it’s relevant. I took a quick look at the guy’s red ‘bump on the lip’ and inside the mouth too. It did not look like a herpetic lesion (which is a very painful vesicle) or any serious skin infection. Diagnosis?  Pimple. Yes, a simple pimple.  I presented the case to Dr. Arcati, and I swore he laughed a little on the inside too. This guy comes in worried over a raging red bump on his lip, because we all make assumptions about what lesions on the lip mean… and in the end, it was a simple pimple. His treatment? It got popped. Oomph.


Awkward lumps and bumps aside, today was a unique day. Amidst today’s many appointments of URIs and sickness, one patient came in presenting with “anxiety.”  I was sent in to talk to this young women, Foundations-style. For the first time since I started my clinical rotations, I was told I made a difference talking to a patient. I spent a good 15-20 minutes listening to her story:  30-something year old female has been experiencing headaches, crying, difficulty breathing like an “elephant on her chest,” and difficulty sleeping in the past several weeks. The root of her health complaints is coming from marital problems; she complains her husband has become more flat and unloving. They are seeing a marriage counselor to hopefully save the marriage. Her two children have picked up on the tension between the couple. In recent weeks, she has been affected by Hurricane Sandy with the power outage and some stress from work because of possible shifts in the business and lay-offs.  During my encounter with her, she started to break down and cry. This is the second time I’ve been left with a crying patient, and I’m not the best at comforting. Today, simply listening to her story and being supportive really helped her situation. I felt a sense of accomplishment as I told her she’s doing the right thing by seeking therapy.  But I also added that communication seems to be a key issue in recent years, and that needs to be resolved and maintained. Spending time with her husband when they’re not working or on weekends or with the kids is just as essential.  She is lucky to have support from family and friends; she’s doing a good job reaching out to her in-laws for advice and assistance. Most importantly, I told her simply, “Make sure to focus on yourself. You need to be healthy in order to have a healthy relationship with your family.”  She needed to relax and rest to be healthy and happy. And she took that advice to heart.

This is an aspect of medicine that is losing ground in the 21st century. Doctors do not have 30 minutes to be with a patient. I’m lucky to have worked with doctors who do spend adequate time with patients, but there are plenty out there who do not, at the expense of patients’ well-being. Today, I experienced the impact I made on patient by simply spending time talking to her. Dr. Arcati even said, “See? You really made a difference with her.” There is hope that patients will get the attention they deserve. You simply cannot let vulnerable people who can be helped to slip out of your hands. In every small way, even as a medical student, you can improve someone’s quality of life =)

Med School: US vs. India

I found an interesting article on Medscape, titled “Inside India – The Path to Becoming Doctor”:  Click Here

It got me thinking about my recent summer experience in India. The article pretty much summed up the stark differences. A mere first-year medical student, I learned from the doctors there how their medical training was like.

  • Entering medical school is based completely on entrance exams – No traveling expenses, no interviews, no need for lists of extracurricular activities, no questions about your motivation for becoming a doctor, no personal essays, no criminal background checks, no die-hard & extensive application process. In the US, the applicant is under insane stress, from taking the daunting MCAT (Medical College Admissions Test) to conducting revolutionary research to passing the interviews. I clearly remember the last years of college dedicated to research, volunteer work, and academics. After the grueling MCAT trials, I wrote textbooks of personal essay drafts, a general one and supplemental ones that were school-specific. Finally, I completed all the components of my AMCAS application, assuring myself everything was perfect to the bone. Then, I prayed for interviews, the final leap into medical school. And a reason to shop for nice business attire and take a break from school to travel, from Niagara Falls to Chicago.

  • Medical school begins right after high school – Which means, I’d be a doctor already if I were in places like India. Or China and Taiwan.
  • Just over 5 years of training and you have your MD – Yep, I’d be a doctor at 22 already, and not 26. That’s not including at least 4 years of post-graduate training =/ At least in the US, medical students come from an array of backgrounds. Four years of undergraduate studies and college life allow for diversity, maturity, exploration, and fun, because medical school is a serious commitment. It will become a trial of endless studying hours, exams, and clinicals. For me, I had the best time at NYU; I loved the social scene, the vibrant city life, and my friends. As much as I worked hard in the laboratories, the classrooms, Bobst library, Palladium gym, shopping in Union Square, or running down Broadway for class, I had fun and also wanted to get a job. I balanced multiple student jobs, and I wanted my first real pay check. That would only come after another 10 years under the institution known as medicine. I am falling into the smaller and smaller percentage of students going straight to medical school after college. More and more are taking time off to do research or volunteer work. I managed to do everything I needed to do during college; I was ready for the next chapter. I have more personal growth to do still, as I find myself naive and innocent many times. And I don’t think I can imagine myself beginning medical school at the virginal age of 17 … That really is young. To conclude, while I would like to be a sprouting doctor at a young age, I am happy with the American system of medical education.
  • Classes are mandatory – The surgeons and doctors in India laughed when I told them classes aren’t compulsory. For first year at Stony Brook, only Biochemistry and Anatomy were mandatory. It was frenetic, coming in early and sitting through stupid Biochemistry clicker questions. Then the afternoons were Anatomy lectures and dissections, which usually did not end until 5pm, or even longer depending on review sessions and pinnings. The rest of the year, because classes were not mandatory anymore, people started disappearing and snoozing at home. Still mandatory were Foundations lectures, which were the “How to Be a Good, Compassionate Doctor” lectures. They were entertaining and relaxing, for I mostly lounged on the Internet =) I became a victim to my demons, sleeping more than studying. I attended lectures here and there, when I felt motivated, which was most days. Second year will unleash my worst demons; apparently, lectures are not as organized or interesting, and of course, not mandatory. I’m seriously contemplating on self-studying at my leisure next year and skipping early classes. And also fitting in work, gym, TV, dramas, and food. I’ve already bought simplified, review-type textbooks with silly pictures and mnemonics and notecards for Microbiology and Pharmacology, the killer classes of second year, aside from more Pathology. Yay =/ Oh yea, and there’s also the looming shadow known as the Boards.

Oh Boy... I need picture books for med school

We Got Married (Korean reality) - All 100++ episodes (and ongoing), and more Asian TV =/ Bad distractions...

  • Lucky ducks, clinicals start 2nd year – At Stony Brook at least, clinical rotations start 3rd year. American medical schools offer electives, specifically catered to students’ personal interests and endeavors. India… no electives. They’re missing out on the interesting stuff…
  • On anatomy dissections and cadavers – Where do the bodies come from? Are there donation programs and anatomical gifts? The flashing answer is no… Back to the first question, then how do students in India learn anatomy? Well, according to the doctors there, cadavers come from unclaimed bodies of beggars usually. India’s culture and religion values keeping the whole body intact for journey into the afterlife. Same idea in most Asian countries. There’s no benevolence in donating one’s body for the name of scientific research. There’s only the grief and wish that loved ones have a safe trip into the next life. So in India, the police turn over dead bodies found on the street. I think back in the old days, there were also grave robberies, like in the US during the 19th century. Perhaps it still goes on now too. Either way, there’s a shortage of cadavers for anatomy dissections, so normally 20+ students take turns on a single body. At Stony Brook Med, we have tight-knit groups of 4 students per body, while at some schools like Buffalo, it’s more like 8, the capping limit. Here, the learning is more interactive, as everyone has a chance to be up close with a scalpel and dig through fat.

Asian Extravaganza 2011

March 25, 2011: APAMSA Asian Extravaganza!!! This was the BIGGEST night this year as a first year medical student. APAMSA stands for Asian Pacific American Medical Student Association, an organization designed to promote the Asian cultural experience. A few weeks ago, some of us attended NY/NJ APAMSA Regional Conference at Mt. Sinai, where their medical school worked to make a conference happen. At Stony Brook, we don’t party enough (or lack the access to Manhattan’s limitless nightlife), so we have a huge cultural bash of talents, music, and comedy.

Like I’ve mentioned before, I was not a natural-born performer. I’m nowhere near perfect at the violin, something I’ve been fiddling with from 3rd grade to high school. Then it hit me how much more talented other violinists at NYU were, so I didn’t belong there. I was never a dancer; no ballet, tap, or hip hop classes for me. Never, until first year in medical school. I performed previously for Evening of the Arts with Stepedius, Stony Brook’s own Step team of medical students. However, Asian Extravaganza was even bigger and better. With 2 dance numbers and a fashion show under my belt, I feel I have accomplished a milestone.

For months, I’ve been toggling between STEP and Bollywood dance practices. I didn’t need the gym for a solid 2 months, because 2-3 days of the week, 2 hours each day, I’d be dancing on opposite ends of the spectrum. The dances could not have been any more contrasting. The former’s all about energy and attitude; the latter is full of glamour, sass, and sexiness.

They were wonderful, stress-relieving workouts, a much-needed break from the muddy pace of medical school. Yes, I was cramming in study time and dancing the rest of the time (and eating, sleeping, eating…). The fruits of my hard work culminated on this one sweet night.

First up, STEPedius!  Yep, we danced in scrubs. I had the additional lucky layer of makeup on for a later performance. How classy =P

For this performance, we included a more upbeat choreography with a “Best of…” medley from Evening of the Arts. We jived to Outkast’s “B.O.B.” Boy were we hyped and energized for the exhilaratingly hilarious routine. We made a grand entrance, jumping and kicking into our formations. At the end, we dropped dead, but resuscitated like haunted spirits. To the music of “Apache,” we topped off the performance with some angry faces, hoe downs, pelvic thrusts, and more kicks.

Next up, Bollywood! I had to run and get changed in a finger-snap. Luckily, the other girls of the team helped me ‘undress’ and dress. I already had my makeup on, which I almost never wear except for special occasions and my future wedding. I felt like a porcelain doll, all brushed up and colored to perfection. When I was getting my makeup put on earlier, it felt like an assembly line. I moved from one specialized makeup station to another. I even said, “What the hell is a bronzer? What’s this white stuff that I need for a base?” When my friend was putting on eyeliner, I would not stop fluttering my eyes! The pen gets so close to the freaking eye, as if I’m getting my corneal reflex checked out! Kudos to girls with the patience to put on makeup everyday; ordinary girls like me stay simple.

Anyway, I got all glammed up like never before, minus the earrings because one of my ears closed up. Yes, I haven’t worn earrings in the longest time either because my ears are super sensitive. That is, I need to wear real gold or silver jewelery, or else I’ll get painful infections and toothpicks through my ears. I have a reason to bug my future husband for real diamond earrings and platinum silver ring from Tiffany’s =)

Bollywood 2011

There I stood, in a long Indian skirt with some jingles, blue ruffly scarf, hair pinned to the side, and face dolled up in Crayola. It was showtime!




Lost And Found

I have a tendency to get lost and found. I’ve ‘lost’ my school ID countless times, but I always manage to find it again. Looking back, I think I would win an award for Most-Likely-To-Lose-An-ID-and-Not-Pay-For-It over my 4 years in college. I may have blogged about the 10 times I pulled hairs hunting for my ID in every crack of New York City, but here’s a recap of the memorable ones.

1) Freshman year, April-May 2007: I strolled to Starbucks on W. 4th Street looking forward to a Tall Vanilla Frap. Except, I couldn’t pay for it without my ID. I frantically retraced my steps, staring at the ground for the golden plastic. Before walking to Starbucks, I was at the Bookstore, where I last used it. Somewhere in between, I lost my ID, but I couldn’t find it! In my head, I’m thinking, “I’m barely done with Freshman year, and I have to pay for a new ID?” Then I spotted the garbage can. I remembered chucking my receipt. Dumb me, I chucked my ID with the receipt and walked away. The problem was, there was no open hole over the garbage; it was one of those covered ones with side-openings. You guessed it, I had to sneak my hand in from the sides and feel through the trash for the purple plastic. You know how in movies, people drop a wedding ring or precious ticket into the smelliest holes and have to retrieve it without losing it further down the drain? Well, that was what I was doing. I would’ve cried if my ID fell deeper into the trash because my arms would be the limiting step in retrieving my ID. In the end, I succeeded.

2) Sophomore Year, Palladium hall: I lost my ID in my own dorm room. This time, I wasn’t like a search dog sniffing a trail or a child following jellybeans back to Neverland. It had to be somewhere in my room. I scrambled through my desk and room, to no avail. The last place I was at, was the kitchen. Next stop, the kitchen… Not on the floor, not in the oven, not in the fridge or sink… I opened my cabinet, and there it was, hanging out with my clean dishes. My smiling face in that picture said to me, “Hehehe, you idiot. You forgot me in the cabinet idioto.” Damn…

3) Junior Year: Again, I lost my ID somewhere in my dorm room. This time, I lived in a giant sorority-like suite, a much bigger place to scavenge my ID. My room was tiny, but I turned it over like flipping pancakes for breakfast. Nowhere on my desk, not in the bathroom, not on the ground… NOWHERE. That meant I couldn’t leave my room either, because I wouldn’t be able to get back in without my ID card-key. I think I was going to hang out with a friend that day or something. Well, a few hours later, exhausted from my hunt, I gave up. I knew it was somewhere, but just not presently. I went to grab my jeans hanging over my bedpost, and I heard a “click” on the floor. It was my ID! No, it didn’t fall out of my pockets (I checked there already); it fell out of my cuffed jeans! It was folded at the bottom because all my pants are way too long for a shorty like me. Somehow, it lodged in the cuff and stayed there. Stupid.

4) Senior Year, NYU Bus: This one was just bad. I took the bus uptown to the medical center for work. I had my ID in my back pocket of my jeans. I usually kept my ID in pockets because at NYU, you always flash your ID wherever you go: the dorms, library, school, bus, etc… It’s just easier pulling it out of your pants than your pocket-book. Well, I guess when I got up to leave, the ID fell out of my butt pocket. I didn’t realize until later in the day. It was bound to happen; the pockets are not a safe place to secure your ID. I made it back downtown, ran all over the Physics building and Public Safety for over an hour, at the same time retracing all my steps and thinking of all the possible places God wanted to punish me at. By nightfall, maybe 6-7 pm, I make it my last stop at Tisch Hall, by the bus stop. I was pretty down, because I was also locked out of own dorm. I couldn’t swipe into my dorm OR room; I would have to pray someone was home to let me in. I also had a back up Medical Center ID to gain access through the hidden passageways of Palladium (I lived there too long). Anywho, I walked up to the security at the desk and asked nicely if he found an ID recently. He asked for name and blah blah. Then, I believe he said, “You live in Palladium?!” I lit up: “Yea, YOU FOUND MY ID?@!” I was jumping up in joy.

Lesson learned by Senior Year: Hole punch your ID and lock it to your keychain lanyard. That way, it’s bulky and noisy. When you drop it, it’ll make plenty of clinks and chimes. The downside: You just may lose every precious key, club cards, other IDs (I also attached my med center ID there too), and childhood decoration. It worked though.

I also lost my medical center ID one time. I was walking through the cafeteria after work in the lab, and when it came time to pay up, my ID was gone. I swore, it was clipped to my pants and I JUST HAD IT. It was lost somewhere in the cafeteria, but I still tried retracing my steps and asking the employees for help. Nada. It just… vanished! Luckily, my volunteer supervisor was kind enough to issue me a new ID at no charge. I worked too hard as a volunteer there, so he may have taken some mercy with me =) Either way, I liked my new hospital ID; it was clearer and newer, and the camera caught my more glamorous side. I still have it as a souvenir.

The only time I got a new NYU ID card was when it started deactivating and when the school thought I was graduating Junior year. Again, I liked my newer ID better; I had more color to my cheeks and vigor to my eyes.

Now the real story, a new cycle at Stony Brook. Back in the fall, I told my story of losing my ID. I dropped it in school somewhere, but retraced all the way around lecture rooms and halls. Turned out I dropped it during a club meeting, where it fell from my shirt. Now, just 2 weeks ago, I lost my ID AGAIN. This time, I went almost 5 days without an ID, hoping I could ponder where I left it last and if a good samaritan would return it. I was at dance practice in the Galleria, and I distinctly remember putting my ID and pink pencil case into my tote bag. Later on, it just vanished without a trace! I scrambled around my room, went all over the HSC, went down to the housekeeping offices, and sent out an embarassing email “Hello everyone, If anyone finds a baby pink pencil case with a bunny that says ‘play with me’ in the galleria, please let me know! I left it there after the AE practice! =(“ The pencil case was, dispensible, because I easily replaced all my colored pens and case (Yes, I hoard pens of every color and texture). Later that Monday, I sent a similar one with my ID, making it a point that it was one of a kind with a purple casing (the little bit of NYU pride I have left).

Well, it was in my friend’s car the entire time. She gave me a ride back, and somewhere on the road, my bag fell over and a few of my most precious contents fell under the seat. The first time she checked, she didn’t see it. That was because my card and case were nestled deeper under the seat, rolling almost to the back seats. Ah, I was so happy; I really didn’t want to pay 25 bucks for a new ID, when I knew it was just SOMEWHERE waiting to be found.

Found for Good

Today, I found something else, my old NYU ID. I’ve been looking for this baby since September, when I was going back to college to visit some friends and needed it for access to facilities. I got away with my Medical Center ID, but I still missed my NYU card. I mean, I have a whole history with it, swiping me everywhere and losing it anywhere. I gave up on my search months ago, because I really have no business with an expired school card. Not like I have that much time to visit NYU anyway. I was content believing I dropped my ID back in the summer, when I was working at a local recreation camp. Then, I had my ID still with my car keys; I have my key chain it was on, albeit the purple ID card. Hence, I believed I dropped it in some parking lot and rammed over it with my car. But I had that nagging feeling that it was just SOMEWHERE, waiting to be found again. During a study break, I sat on the floor and rummaged through my treasure bag of memories, mostly stuff from college and old pictures and decorations. I opened one set of pictures, and I spied a familiar piece of plastic… MY NYU ID. A happy ending indeed. That was the story I wanted to gush out today =P