It’s Been a While

Did you miss me?

While you may follow me on twitter and see my day to day ramblings, it’s been quite some time since I’ve done a real update here on my beloved blog.

This post is to tell you why.

I last posted about my experience with school at the end of fall semester. Then a few things happened. And suddenly, spring semester is almost gone! What’s really helped time fly is that I’ve lived up to motto quite well this semester: Do All The Things Here’s the jist of what my semester has been like:

Medical School Classes

Our program has us take our M1 courses spread out during our PhD, so I got a start on mine by taking immunology and brain, behavior, and human development. I had to race back from Minnesota soon after new years to beat the oncoming winter storm and be back on time to start medical school courses on January 6 – two weeks before the rest of the university’s courses started. While the immunology class ended at the beginning of March, the brain, behavior, and human development course goes until mid May.

Graduate School Classes

My program has additional graduate school course requirements, so I took the undergraduate/graduate immunology course as well as a tumor targeting journal club this semester. I *may* get to TA the immunology course at some point so that was another reason to take the second immuno. The journal club is a more chill class requiring a single presentation on a paper each semester as we all take turns presenting. It’s also a multidisciplinary group of graduate and undergraduate students which means we learn about targeting tumor therapy from a variety of perspectives!

Seminars/Symposiums/Meetings

I think I have a problem because I love seminars. Like I go to all of them. Not just for my own department (physiology) but many others like the microbiology, cell and developmental biology, and biochemistry departments (and sometimes neuroscience/others). My department began the semester with job candidate talks twice a week and has at least relaxed to just one seminar per week now. I’ve also spent a day at the College of Medicine’s Annual Research Symposium and will be enjoying the weekend at the American Physician Scientist’s Association Annual Meeting in Chicago, IL.

Being a Teaching Assistant

I got to stand on the other side of the classroom for the first time as I had my own section of introduction to microbiology lab for non-majors. While the concepts weren’t necessarily hard, figuring out how to teach them to people who weren’t science majors and getting them interested in it was the real challenge. Overall, it’s been a wonderful experience – my students are great and helping others learn feels great. There’s just a few more classes before the end of the semester, and I just *might* miss it this summer (though I’ll enjoy more time for other things!)

Clinical Practice Preceptorship

I may not be doing my clinical years for quite some time, but I did get to spend a little time in the clinic this year. We have a program that matches up M1s with physicians to shadow and really learn about patient care. I opted to do this so soon since I had never actually shadowed a physician before, it helped balance out my other basic science endeavors, and I hoped to make a lasting connection with a physician mentor. As an aspiring academic medical oncologist, I lucked out and was placed with a medical oncologist who also happened to be director of cancer research at the local hospital. While I only shadowed a few times, it was a great experience to have early on.

Writing

While I wasn’t writing for here as much, I was still writing. Most of my attention has been on writing articles for The Almost Doctor’s Channel, though I’ve also started writing for Doc Check and contributed to Lean On‘s blog.

Oh, and research

Wait, is that why I’m in grad school? I really started work on my project this semester after doing A LOT of reading and planning this fall to start to develop my own project. After working with primary mouse cells for a while, I got the dendritic cell line that the lab had been trying to get for quite some time, which was infinitely better (until recently when they just decided to stop growing). I managed to get enough data to make a poster for the College of Medicine’s Annual Research Symposium and I’m looking forward to being able to devote much more time to it once the semester is over.

~

And that’s spring semester in a nutshell! I’m hoping to write more about some of these experiences more in depth when I get the time. As always, if you have any questions or want me to address anything specific on here, feel free to shoot me an e-mail at mdphdtobe@gmail.com and I will do my best to respond in a timely manner.

~

Featured photo source: “Time” by JD | Flickr | CC BY 2.0

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Hanna is a MD/PhD student at the University of Illinois and an aspiring physician scientist who aims to specialize in hepatobiliary cancers. She is also passionate about teaching, leadership, and advocacy. The energy she once used to pep up crowds as a college marching band member is now directed toward exciting and educating others about science and medicine, especially through her tweets at @MDPhDToBe and her blog at www.mdphdtobe.com.

Posted in Graduate School, Medical School

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