Posts tagged ‘medical school’

Life Certainly is an Adventure

To say that I have had a busy winter would be an understatement. Since August, pretty much every life changing event (in good ways) imaginable seemed to fall into one year. I got engaged in August and began planning an early spring wedding. I also started to freshen up my resume and write a personal statement in preparation for residency applications. I spent the fall traveling around the East Coast, analyzing program details and getting a “gut feeling” about where I would spend my next 3 years of training. During this time, my sister wrote a few posts to fill in the gaps. I thought things would slow down after the holidays, when I planned to go back to my normal life of medical school and wedding planning. However, in mid-January, the third floor of my house caught fire, forcing me to abruptly move out of my home of 3 1/2 years. Luckily, no one was injured and I lost few physical possessions. However, I also lost my “comfort zone,” my own kitchen. I spent the next two months living with two dear (and gracious) friends while finishing medical school and wedding planning. From January until March, it felt like all of my normal comforts had been stripped away and that God was asking me to trust solely in him.

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Relieved to know where we are moving!

Finally, in March, plans seemed to begin to fall into place. First, I finished my final rotation in medical school. Then, I matched into one of my top choice programs to begin a Family Medicine Residency in the fall.

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The husband and I at our rehearsal dinner the night before our wedding

On March 29, I married a man who inspires me to continue to learn and to grow.

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The view from our breakfast spot in Antigua

Yesterday, we returned from our honeymoon, relaxed and ready to start a new adventure.

From now until June, I have some time to reflect and recover from this crazy year. I plan to make up for all of the cooking and the writing that life has pushed aside, and hope to share some recipes and reflections along the way. It feels good to be back :)

Question: What is one surprise life has brought your way this year?

April 8, 2014 at 3:35 pm 3 comments

Five Life Lessons Learned in the Kitchen

Hello! This is Jen, back for a quick post born out of a slow and reflective Saturday. My sister has done an AMAZING job with her last few posts, and has been brainstorming a few more ideas she has to share. I am so happy to share this creative arena with her, and am proud of her recent accomplishments in obtaining her board certification in Music Therapy! We are looking forward to a family Thanksgiving this year, that I will be hosting in Boston for the first time! I am sure that my sister and I will tag team a few posts featuring some of our family’s favorite holiday recipes and some that we are looking forward to trying! For now, I am excited to share some reflections that cooking has taught me about life.

1. It is okay to eat pizza and drink beer at the end of a really long week.

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Currently, my fridge looks more like memories of my fiance’s college beer fridge than my normal, well-stocked produce preserver. This is a result of a LOT of recent traveling. Last week alone, I drove 650 miles, interviewed at 5 residency programs in 4 cities, and picked out the menu for my wedding. By the time Friday rolled around, I was exhausted. After a really brief trip to the gym, all I could think of doing was ordering a pizza, having a beer, and not moving for at least 12 hours. That is what I needed to recover in preparation for another tiring round of interviews, and so that is what I did.

Too often, I become regimented in life, and in eating. I feel guilty about my only vegetables for the day coming in the form of baby carrots on the fly or on top of my take-out pizza. I feel guilty for not filling my free minutes and hours with friends I haven’t talked to in weeks or chores that are slowly piling up. I am learning that, every once in a while, it is ok to just let go. Eat pizza. Sleep in. And refresh and recover, so that the minutes you do spend with friends and family are more enjoyable.

2. The more you learn, the more you realize that there is to know.

While I have spent a lot of time cooking and experimenting in the kitchen, there is still an entire world of cooking knowledge that I have yet to acquire. Similarly, I have spent the last 8 years of my life in higher education pursuing the now-near goal of becoming a physician. However, I know only the tip of the iceberg about medicine and patient care. I will spend the next 3 years in residency learning how to be a family physician, and then the rest of my life reading, practicing and growing that knowledge base. One question answered means that ten more are raised, both in and outside of the kitchen.

3. Some of the best meals, and the best parts of life, require patience…

Original photo from Frugal Feeding, click through for the recipe

Some of the best things that have come out of my kitchen involve slowing down and paying attention to details. I love making homemade pasta and ravioli, and continue to hone my skills in this art. My most exciting purchase this fall is a pasta drying stand – I have only used it once, but it has so much untouched potential! Since incorporating meat back into my diet, I have also fell in love with braising techniques. My fiance proudly advertises that my version of this Greek Lamb with Orzo by Frugal Feeding is better than a local restaurant’s.

Similarly, as with these meals, some of the best things in life are worth waiting for. Right now, I seem to be in a season of waiting. Waiting for my fiance to hear back about medical school acceptances. Waiting to finish my last year of medical school. Waiting to match at the right residency program. Waiting to get married. Waiting to start the next chapter of my life. All of these are incredible blessings, and will be worth the wait. Cooking slowly and waiting for the delicious results has taught me the importance of patience in the process.

4. And sometimes you just need instant gratification.

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While homemade pasta and braised lamb have their place, so do quick meals and snacks. In this season of waiting, I have learned that there is also a place for instant gratification. This weekend, I needed to get my hands dirty in the kitchen. With an empty fridge and no desire to get out to the grocery store, I looked to my pantry for something quick and easy to make. I settled on Chocolate Covered Katie’s Healthy Nutella. If you haven’t made your own nut butters before, try it now. All you need are 15 minutes and a food processor! I love this drizzled on apples, but would also be great on toast in the morning!

5. You have to learn how to go with the flow.

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In my need for instant gratification today, I decided to make Apple Butter Bread. I had some leftover Homemade Apple Butter that I knew would not get eaten on time, but no eggs and no loaf pan. Instead of finding another recipe, I simply replaced the egg with ground flax-seed, and turned the loaf cake into muffins by reducing the cooking time to 20 minutes. The result? Delicious. Sweet enough to be a dessert, but also healthy enough (sans glaze) to sneak into breakfast. Not only does this flexibility matter when cooking and baking, it also matters in life. Even the best planned schedules fall prey to life. Responding calmly and thinking of alternative strategies can help even the worst days run more smoothly.

Question: What life lessons have you learned in the kitchen?

November 16, 2013 at 5:19 pm Leave a comment

WIAW On Call

There are a lot of things you learn during your third year of medical school that are completely unrelated to medicine. A few examples…

The traffic lights in Boston neighborhoods don’t wake up until 6am. On my bike ride or drive to the hospital, I can’t help but think, “If the traffic lights don’t have to do their job, why do I?”

Scrubs are comfortable, but likely the least flattering work uniform ever invented. However, the draw of getting to wear free (to me) pajamas to work daily is the biggest appeal of surgical specialties, in my opinion.

Being awake and alert for 24 hours straight requires a lot of food, and some planning. Too often, call nights are sustained by chips, greasy fast food options, and sugary drinks. With a little planning, though, call days can be managed with healthy food choices and some sanity by the end of it! So, here is What I Ate Wednesday on my 24-Hour Obstetrics Call.

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6:30-7:30am

Travel mug of coffee with my last homemade bagel, half with almond butter and half with blackberry jam. Nibbled throughout my drive to the hospital and between pre-rounding tasks.

11:45am

Lunch is usually the peak of a hospital cafeteria’s day, so I have found this is the best meal to purchase. The hospital I am at now has a GREAT salad bar that is not too expensive, so this tends to be my go-to option. That way, I make sure I get my veggies for the day! This salad had mixed greens, peas, chickpeas, carrots, sliced mushrooms, olives, feta, and noodle sticks with red wine vinegar and olive oil. With my student discount, it was only $4! Can’t beat that!

3pm

I never expect salads to hold me over all day, especially if things are busy and I am running around. For that reason, I always have a granola bar in my pocket for when afternoon hunger strikes! Having a healthy food option on hand helps prevent vending machine or nurse’s station munching. This Nature’s Valley Oats n’ Honey Crunch helped get me through the rest of a busy clinic session.

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5:30-9:30pm

When the evening hours hit and the staff downsizes into night shift proportions, things become a little more unpredictable. This is when the motto, “Eat when you can, sleep when you can” comes into play. I reheated some leftover Thai Curry with Rice and started half of my dinner. Things started to get crazy though, and 2 C-sections later, I finished my dinner around 9:30pm.

Meanwhile, I had a few snacks between surgeries. A few clementines I had brought, a Ghiradelli chocolate square, and some saltines and 8-oz diet Gingerale taken from the nurse’s station helped to tide me over through a busy early evening.

6am

My call night ended up being not busy after the early night rush, so my last granola bar served as “breakfast” to get me through morning rounds.

Some tips for new medical students planning for their first call:

Have lots of snacks. You don’t need to eat everything you have on you, but if things are busy, then you have lots of healthy food choices.

Have a few dollar bills on you. The only purchasable food options once the cafeteria closes down are from vending machines, and buying some trail mix is better than passing out in the OR from low blood sugar.

Have gum! And bring a tooth brush and toothpaste or mouthwash. You will probably want to freshen up your breath at some point…

You can try to bring all of your meals, but this can end up being a lot of food. If you do need to buy, buy lunch!

Eat when you can. Even if it is just a small snack, then you will have some energy when things get hectic.

Question: For any medical professionals reading, how do you handle planning for long hospital shifts?

February 27, 2013 at 7:00 am 1 comment

Snapshots from Life

Life has had more than a few new adventures for me in the last several months. I passed the first step of my board exams, started my third year clerkships (and completed the two hardest rotations!), and have begun to transition from being a book-based student to an apprentice. My days look dramatically different, and there has had to be some change to accommodate that. While I will never fully be able to settle into routine since my clerkships rotate on a close to monthly basis, I am starting to get the hang of “going to work” every day. I have never been happier to wake up each morning, excited to see what challenges face me and new things there are to learn. My days might be long and arduous, but even on the most difficult of days I know that I have made the right decision.

My personal life has also started to change as well. I have been dating my boyfriend for 5 months now and could not be happier. He has been a friend and constant source of encouragement for me as I face the shifting demands of third year of medical school. While we are best friends and have a lot in common, our thoughts on food are pretty opposite. He is a carnivore by nature and would be happy eating steak and eggs for the rest of his life if he could. He has been following the Paleo diet for the past few months, successfully losing 20+ pounds and gaining a substantial amount of muscle. This has forced me to do some reading and further research into healthy diets, and has left me with a softer and more moderate view towards food choices. My view on vegetables will never change: they are the cornerstone of a healthy diet, whether you are trying to lose or sustain your weight. However, there is good evidence to support that a sugar and carbohydrate heavy diet can be just as dangerous as a diet rich in red meat. I have also learned that diets lower in dairy consumption have also been shown to be healthier. My conclusion, not far off from where I started, is that life is all about balance. A healthy lifestyle is more than what we put in our body, it is also about gaining joy from what we eat and with whom we share our meals. Where does that leave me? I guess I am moving towards a more “flexitarian” lifestyle. I still cook and eat vegetarian/vegan meals at home. My diet is still based off of real foods. I have started using less dairy and wheat and have shifted to more whole grains like quinoa and farro. When I am in a giving mood, I will make my boyfriend a “side” of meat. When we go out, I will often choose the seafood option from the menu, since these tend to be healthier, less cheese-laden, and more creative. Living in New England means there is too much good, locally caught seafood to pass up. I am learning to let go of the rigid definitions of healthy eating that I have held, and to embrace enjoying food more fully as a cultural and creative outlet.

Outside of the hospital, I have still had time for a few fun adventures. To tie up a wordy post, I will leave you with a few pictures of the summer I squeezed in around rotations!

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Girls night out and reunion with a few of my college friends!

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Hiking in Western MA

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Spending time with my neighborhood family

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My birthday beach picnic!

September 21, 2012 at 12:00 pm 1 comment

Red Wine Risotto

Sometimes, there is nothing more satisfying than making a delicious and healthy gourmet meal at home after a long day at work. Other times, I cannot stand to be on my feet for two more minutes and will gladly eat eggs or chips and salsa for dinner. Needless to say, my attitude towards cooking has been slightly bipolar over the past month while on my surgery rotation. The mornings are early, the days run long, and it is a physically demanding job. After running around on my feet all day, standing perfectly still while retracting or driving the camera in the OR, and constantly being questioned to flesh out my comprehension of disease and surgical interventions, more often than not I come home completely exhausted.

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However, sometimes cooking a meal at home is exactly what the doctor ordered to remedy a stressful day. Cooking is my creative outlet. A place where I can experiment and the results will only cost food. The kitchen is now a place where I am confident that I know that I am competent, a feeling that is fleeting as a third year student. This recipe was born from a stressful day on my surgery rotation. My friend came for dinner to vent about our day, and we found solace and comfort in the creative process and constant attention that this risotto required. I have seen red wine risottos before, and had good results using farro as a base in the past, so decided to combine a few recipes I have made in the past to achieve this most delicious result. Hands down, this is the best recipe I have made all summer. It is perfect for the chilly fall evenings that are creeping around the corner, and can fix even the worst of bad days in just a few bites. I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we did!

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Red Wine Risotto with Farro and Mushrooms

serves 4

8oz package mushrooms, sliced

4 cloves minced garlic

1 tbsp olive oil

1/2 cup red wine

1 small onion, diced

1 tbsp olive oil

1 1/2 cup farro (or arborio rice)

1/2 cup red wine

4 cups veg stock

1 tbsp dried parsley

shredded Parmesan cheese to taste (optional)

Begin by heating garlic and olive oil over medium heat. Saute mushrooms for several minutes, until they begin to soften. Add 1/4 cup red wine and simmer until liquid reduces. In a separate pot, saute onions in remaining olive oil. Add farro and remaining red wine. When all liquid has absorbed, add 1/2 cup vegetable broth. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until all liquid has been absorbed. Add the broth in 1/2 cup increments until all of the broth has been added and absorbed. The farro should have a chewy but soft consistency when fully cooked. Stir in the mushrooms and parsley. Heat through for 2-3 more minutes. Serve over wilted spinach with Parmesan cheese to taste.

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September 8, 2012 at 10:04 am 3 comments

WIAW On the Wards

It has been a while since I have posted, and even longer since I have joined a WIAW party! Forgive me, friends, but sometimes life is just really busy! My day-to-day routine is dramatically different from what it was just a short few months ago, so I thought it would be fun to give you a peek into my new life as a 3rd year medical student. (It is official now since I found out today that I PASSED MY BOARDS!) My days are long and busy, and there is not always as much time for cooking, running, and relaxing as I would like, but I would not trade this experience for anything. Enough with the chatter, let’s get to the food! (Forgive the phone pictures – I forgot my camera!)

5:30am

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2-year-old picture from my white coat ceremony, so add a few inches of hair, some pens, note cards, a bunch of paper and random items into those pockets, and maybe a stain or two. I still feel like a kid playing dress up, but am feeling more comfortable in the coat and with my role each day.

I am a morning person by nature, but let’s be real. This is an awful hour of the morning to wake up! I am awake, showered, and out the door by 6am, 6 days a week. Thank God for coffee!

I am on an “away rotation” right now, so I have a 45 minute commute out of the city every morning. The good thing is that I drive opposite of the traffic patterns, leave before rush hour starts and come home at the tail end of it, and carpool with 2 classmates so that I have good car conversation.

6:50am

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Yesterday’s breakfast: Peanut butter and banana burrito.

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Today’s breakfast: Peanut butter and banana overnight oats

I eat my breakfast as I am grabbing my white coat and stethoscope before rounds. I try to eat as close to rounds as possible, since they can often mean hours on your feet with little break. Breakfast lately has either been peanut butter and jelly roll-ups or peanut butter and banana overnight oatmeal. The protein from the peanut butter helps keep me going through a busy morning! I always have a granola bar in my white coat pocket just in case, since it would be pretty embarrassing to pass out in a patient’s room on rounds… Not like that almost happened to me on my first day or anything… My oatmeal kept me full until lunch today, so I squirreled the granola bar away for later.

12:30pm

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Each day, we have our lectures over lunch break, or noon conference. (Ironically, noon conference starts at 12:30, but I just show up as told ;)) Lunch is provided on occasion, but most days I bring my own food. Hummus wraps and leftover dinners are my standard items, and I have started eating my bigger meal during the lunch hour so I have enough energy for a busy afternoon. Today, I had some leftover whole wheat pasta with homemade tomato-basil sauce and zucchini. It was filling and delicious, even though the carbs left me pretty sleepy. (Whoever decided a lunch conference is a good idea promptly forgot their days as an overly tired student/resident…)

2pm

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I am trying to stick to one cup of coffee a day, so have switched to black tea when I need an afternoon boost. Today was just one of those days. I picked at some cherries while I did some research and wrote my progress notes.

5:30pm

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The workday ends around 5pm, unless you are admitting patients or haven’t finished your notes for the day. After letting the overnight resident know about my patients, I am on the road. Most days, I am too hungry to survive the commute back home, so I keep fruit or a granola bar on hand. Today was a  granola bar day since I knew I wanted to run when I got home.

7pm

It has been harder for me to find time to exercise with 12 hour days and commuting, but I have been trying to run 2-3 days a week. My runs are short, between 2 or 3 miles, and are unfortunately less of a priority than they used to be. On days that I don’t exercise, I get some studying done or catch up with friends or chores. I appreciate any time I have to clear my head and my lungs, though, so even today’s short 1.5 miles was satisfying. I followed that up with some ballet barre exercises and light weights at home.

8pm

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I am starving most nights, and so gourmet dinners are currently infrequent on my menu. Most nights, I have a salad or pasta. Breakfast for dinner is always a good option, too. Tonight, I made Chelsey’s Over Easy Savory Oats With Kale, topped with some red chili flakes and extra nutritional yeast. I had a handful of unpictured almonds and raisins to cap off the night.

After a little more reading, packing my breakfast and lunch for the following day, and catching up with friends, I try to maintain a reasonable bed time of 10:30. No matter what time I fall asleep the night before, though, the next morning alarm still comes too early! Life is busy, but life is good. Happy Wednesday!

July 11, 2012 at 12:00 pm 3 comments

Keeping in Touch

I am at the halfway point with my first rotation of my third year of medical school. I am starting off with one of the most time-consuming rotations – internal medicine. Despite the 6 day a week schedule, I have loved the rotation so far and am learning so much. I feel incredibly lucky to get to talk to people each day, to learn their stories and help be part of the team that figures out why they are sick and how they can get well. There are hard moments, and the days can be long, but the work is rewarding and challenging. The hardest part of this rotation is keeping up with friends and family. Weeknights are filled with studying, writing notes, and reading, and the one weekend day off is often filled with necessary life tasks like laundry and cleaning. However, you always need to eat and so I have found food the best way to stay in touch with friends over the past month!

My wonderful friend brought me a home-cooked meal at the end of a very long week in the middle of my rotation, and I was so incredibly grateful both for the delicious food and the lovely company. She made Lemon Thyme Farro following this recipe from The Pursuit of Hippiness, which we enjoyed with green beans on the side and fresh berries for dessert. (I was a bad tired blogger that night and forgot to take pictures!)

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I also got to make homemade sweet potato ravioli with another med school friend, which were delicious but the recipe still needs tweaking before it is blog worthy. Rolling out the pasta dough gave us plenty of time to girl talk and swap rotation stories, so the fancy meal was worth the extra effort!

This post can’t end without a recipe! I had a few friends over for dinner on my most recent day off, and a dinner party was just what I needed to feel balanced and re-centered for another week on the wards. I made grilled polenta with a honey-balsamic reduction, caramelized onions, and goat cheese, which blew my taste buds away! The sweet and sour combination of the honey and goat cheese really gave this side a gourmet feel, and the results are much more impressive than the minimal effort this dish took. I would make this again in a heart beat!

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Grilled Polenta with Honey Balsamic Reduction, Caramelized Onions and Goat Cheese

serves 3-4 as a side

1 polenta log, sliced into 1-in pieces

1 tbsp honey

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

2 onions, caramelized

2-3 oz goat cheese

Before preparing this dish, make the caramelized onions. In a small sauce pan, combine honey and balsamic vinegar over medium heat. Stir; heat so that sauce thickens and reduces but does not boil. Do not cook for too long, as vinegar will reduce too far and become sticky and hard. Want a honey like consistency. Meanwhile, slice the polenta logs. Spray a griddle with cooking spray and heat to 350 degrees. Grill the polenta for 5 minutes per side. Heat the caramelized onions on the side of the griddle. When the polenta is crispy and has been cooked on both sides, pour reduction over the rounds. Allow to heat for 1 more minute. Transfer to a serving platter. Top with caramelized onions and a crumble of goat cheese. Serve warm.

June 29, 2012 at 6:40 pm Leave a comment

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