Welcome to SuperMomMD

As a mom of 2 young boys and an aspiring medical student I understand the struggle that comes with getting into medical school.

SuperMomMD is here to help inspire and help those who are nervous about applying to medical school. You could be at any point of this long and rewarding process. I hope to help and inspire you no matter where you are in the process or your personal circumstances.

Blog will contain Tips, inspiration, and advice on different subjects related to getting into medical school.

In addition, I will be posting about my personal journey of getting into medical school and juggling being a mom and wife.

I hope as a community on here we can inspire and push each other. Feel free to comment and/or ask questions.

I ask that everyone be positive and respectful of one another. Please review my post “Before you Comment” to see guidelines I hope you all will be respectful of.

Hello from London

 

Hey everyone,

It has been such a long time since I have posted anything. Needless to say, I have been really busy trying to settle in.

London has been good to me so far. I have plenty of family members here for support which has only made the move easier, although not totally void of bumps in the road.

You are probably wondering what happened to me and what I have been up to, have I been accepted into medical school, etc. Well no I haven’t been accepted into a medical school simply because I have not applied due to being busy with moving, working, and dealing with my son’s medical issues.

If you don’t know, my eldest has epilepsy. He has been diagnosed since he was 1. It wasn’t all that bad until 2016 where he began to have several seizures occurring every 2 hours. It was frightening but we did finally get some control right before we moved here. Shortly after arriving here we landed in the hospital for several days yet again. Finally, it is back under control but he is still having issues with motor control, memory, and behavior.

It has been an overwhelming experience trying to cope with everything and the medical system here while “Free” is incredibly slow in getting referrals for the necessary treatments. It makes me miss the medical system in America. I will never complain again about the American health system.

With that being said we are pretty much fully settled into the London life which is great. When it comes to my aspirations of medical school they are on hold at the moment. I am not sure I am willing to sacrifice being there for my son when he needs me the most, to chase my dream of becoming a physician. For now, I am ok with being the stay at home working mom. Maybe one day I will be able to go after that dream or maybe I will chase a totally different dream. Only time will tell.

-Kristy

 

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At King’s College Hospital

 

When it’s OK to just be OK

by MaryBeth

Hello again! The holiday season is already upon us, and I’m officially 5+ months through my first year of medical school. I finally feel as though I’ve hit a sort of “stride” with balancing school and home, which might be a bit later than I’d planned, but still feels like a major accomplishment. Everything will change again as of this summer, when I hit my first clinical rotations. So for now I’m going to appreciate the feelings of stability I’m experiencing.

As I suggested in my previous post, the start of medical school as a mom with three children under five was bumpy. I have continued to deal with anxiety on a weekly basis, but I’ve learned to accept it and better manage it (through lots of trial and error).

One of the biggest things that I’ve learned in the past 5 months is how critically important it is to prioritize one’s workload. Knowing that I won’t be able to study everything covered on each exam has actually become liberating, as opposed to stress-inducing. I choose to spend my quality study time on the highest-yield strategies for me, as opposed to trying to do a bit of everything and “cover all the bases.” Sure, this might mean a gap of a few points on the next exam, but since my school is Pass/Fail for the first year, it seems like a small price to pay for the time I’m able to spend playing memory games and putting my kiddos to bed at night.

I’m not accustomed to doing an OK job at school. (If you’re a pre-med, med student, or otherwise type A student, I’m sure you understand where I’m coming from.) But as I’ve gained more experience with the realities of school and family life, I’ve become more comfortable with just being OK. I’m learning most of what I need to learn in school and I’m doing the most important things that I need to do as a mom of three preschoolers. I can’t really expect much more of myself at this point, so that is pretty satisfying.

Me and Tove, white coat

With my youngest after the white coat ceremony

One Block In

by MaryBeth

I have officially survived my first block of medical school, which was called “Cells to Populations” at Dell Med (read: biochem + genetics + cancer). They packed a lot of interesting material into this first block, including tons of frightening diseases and life-altering conditions. As a result, I have already experienced an early bout of anxiety stemming from “Medical students’ disease”. Let me tell you, when your 3-year-old daughter looks into your eyes and tells you, “Momma, I don’t want you to die,” any symptoms of physical discomfort can easily lead to heart palpitations and fears that one may be afflicted with a serious illness.

Having never suffered from anxiety before in my life, I feel somewhat lucky that I’m only now discovering what it feels like to fear everything for a few moments in time. There have been great weeks, just ok weeks, and at least one really bad week so far in my medical school journey. What this first block has proven to me, though, is that it CAN be done. It was a challenging block, with tons of metabolic pathways to understand, and I held my own alongside students who majored in biochemistry at top tier universities. I will never be at the top of my class when it comes to exams, but I am still so proud of myself for doing what I did with three kids under five at home.

No doubt, I wish that I could have joined my classmates for the celebratory post-exam margaritas.  I wish that when I’m at home I had more time to unwind, read or watch something fun, or go out to dinner with friends. There’s not much time for that these days. The fun I have at home is the kind of silly and exhausting fun that all parents know and understand. It’s tough and it’s wonderful at the same time. Just like medical school. And love. And life.

Working towards becoming a doctor is a scary and momentous time. There are many things that frighten me at this moment. But I’m sure, in the next five minutes, a little person with cute little feet and a sneaky smile will bring me a book to read, and I’ll forget about the fear for a while.

Detour

Last month, I was about ready to submit my application to med school when hubby states he was thinking that we should move to London by the end of the summer.

I was a little surprised but I know he has always wanted to move to a different country and I am just as adventurous. I decided that I would wait again before I submit my application to medical school.

I began my search for a Master’s program in London for Bioengineering, which has recently become a new passion of mine. Which I will probably complete before applying to medical school either there or back here in the U.S. The programs there are 5 and 6 year programs, which is another factor to take into consideration.

Traveling and living in another country has always been something I love and wanted to do. London seems like a good place to go as half of my family already lives over there so it will make the move easier.

So come next month my husband, two kids, and I will all be on a flight to London. A little nerve wracking but definitely looking forward to the adventure ahead. In the mean time I will continue to strengthen my application for medical school and keep you all posted on my progress.

Good luck to all those who did submit there applications this year. I hope all of you get in!

And for those of you who are starting medical school like our very own Mary Beth. Best of luck in your studies!

The End and The Beginning

by MaryBeth

Last week marked one of the biggest milestones in my life: I began medical school. But as I referenced in previous posts, this was not the only big change my family went through in the last month. My youngest of three just turned ONE and her sassy big sister turned three (see adorable birthday balloon above). With my baby daughter starting daycare for the first time after a year at home, I felt an unusual amount of anxiety leading up to this major transition. So much so that, over the last two months, I believe I’ve even experienced a few episodes that could be categorized as panic attacks. Turns out, just because you don’t realize how nervous and anxious you are on a conscious level, doesn’t mean you can avoid a physical reckoning! It’s definitely too early for me to self-diagnose with any degree of certainty, but let’s just say that identifying the issue and working to address it has already improved my daily life.

Speaking of…. my daily life now involves studying hard and working with some awesome peers at Dell Medical School in Austin, Texas. Our workload at the moment is incredibly diverse, which helps keep things interesting. Prep for a typical class day might involve reading a study on social determinants of health, watching a video comparing the costs and risks of different radiological tests, or exploring a relevant clinical case with a team of other students. We are definitely not lacking for material!

I’ll share more about Dell Med’s novel curriculum in a future post. For now, I’d like to impart a few things I learned about self-care during orientation and in my first two weeks of med school. These are things you may already know, but maybe reading about it again will help you make a small change that you wouldn’t have made otherwise!

My current strategies for coping with med school and family stress:

  1. Take time for meditation/reflection – I finally subscribed to an app called Headspace (you can check out a free pack of 10 meditations just by registering) and have been pretty good about meditating at school or at home to give myself a much-needed mental break.
  2. Bring plenty of healthy (and tasty!) food – I planned out a weekly grocery list and meal plan, including hearty snacks, so that I always have the best kind of fuel available at school or home.
  3. Find mundane activities that offer complete satisfaction – if there’s one thing I’m already learning about med school, it’s that you’ll never be able to do/learn EVERYTHING for every class. So it’s helpful to use your off time for tasks that are guaranteed to bring you that slice of satisfaction that you might not get at the end of your study session. Example: this morning I vacuumed and straightened my house so that I could come home and enjoy a clean space. Baths with your favorite music playing are another great option 🙂
  4. Smile. You know how they say that if you smile more, you actually start to feel happier? Well, in my first two weeks at school, I’ve found myself smiling at my new classmates and friends A LOT. And without realizing it at first, I think all of that smiling has generally kept my spirits up even through some stress and anxiety. As we all get more familiar, it’s likely that the smiling will gradually decrease, but it certainly won’t hurt to try and keep it up.

Best of luck to everyone who is applying this cycle! I’ll try and post again soon with more updates on how school is going.

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With three kiddos under 5, it’s nearly impossible to get a pic where everyone cooperates!!

 

Sleep is the best medicine

by MaryBeth

Few people have more difficulty getting enough sleep than new parents and doctors-in-training. When I attended the Texas Maternal Mental Health Conference in April, sleep was mentioned as the first line of defense for any mom dealing with postpartum depression or anxiety. Good sleep can truly be life-saving. So it’s no surprise that researchers spend a lot of time investigating the safest and most effective sleep strategies for infants and their parents.

Recently the American Academy of Pediatrics published a new study that contradicts their previous recommendation that infants share a room with their parents for the first year. The data from this study suggest that infants who sleep in a separate room from Mom and Dad between 4 and 9 months may get more sleep and sleep for longer stretches than infants who share a room. These findings are pretty descriptive of my own experiences–even as recently as last weekend, when I tried unsuccessfully to room-share with my 11-month-old because we had family staying with us.

Below I’ve shared some of the basics of my approach to sleep during the first year of baby’s life. I am a firm believer that finding the key to infant sleep is not a “one-size-fits-all” proposition. Every family has to figure it out for themselves and go with what works for them. But, in the interest of passing on any wisdom I have, here it goes.

Safe co-sleeping was a life-saver for me as a nursing mom. The routine that we developed with our first baby (once his early weight issues were resolved) was that my husband slept in our guest bed and let me and the little one hog our entire Queen-sized bed for the first few months. We kept our bedding very simple and I made sure that my little guy was snuggled right next to me (not near any pillows). Our pediatrician knew that I co-slept and she supported that decision. Honestly, I think most moms who nurse understand that, when baby is eating frequently, the ability feed throughout the night without getting out of bed results in more and better sleep for everybody.

I always struggled with low milk supply, but as soon as we started supplementing with formula and/or solid foods between 6 and 9 months, I found that moving baby into the crib in a separate bedroom worked best. For the first few days after the transition, we used a gradual cry-it-out method for dealing with nighttime waking. We would go in and reassure after about 7 minutes of crying, but we’d always verbalize, “it’s time for sleep,” and we would not bring baby back into bed. This approach successfully limited the length of our sleep training period with all three kids to about one week. Once the night waking dropped to just 1-2 times per night, we’d stop going in the room altogether and 99% of the time, baby would get back to sleep in under 10 minutes.

Getting all of our kids to sleep through the night in a separate room by about 9-months-old wasn’t easy and I know people who’ve made different strategies work for them. But by the 9-month mark I was always ready to get my evenings back and sleep independently from my baby again. The space was welcome and helpful. Plus, we all got more sleep!! I’m also convinced that the transition would have been much harder if we’d waited until separation anxiety set in, which happened recently, around 11 months. And this was very apparent last weekend, when I could tell almost immediately upon trying to sleep in the same room as my baby girl that it was NOT going to work. Neither she nor I could sleep peacefully: I was afraid of making even the smallest noise and she awoke more often and did more crying because she could sense that I was in the room.

Even for seasoned parents, trying new things with your baby is important if the status quo is not working. I hope you have found or will soon find a sleep solution that works for your family!

Academic Fresh Start Texas Program

So, I got a few questions from a couple of readers after the introduction of Mary-Beth about the Texas Fresh Start Program. First off no Mary-Beth did not use this program but as some have showed some interest in it I decided to look into it and explain it a bit.

It is a unique program for Texas residents that allows all courses that were taken over 10 years ago to be for all intents and purposes ERASED.

If you are a non-traditional that had a bad undergrad this sounds like an amazing option to essentially get a second chance and not have to get a full semester of A’s only to have your GPA rise by a measly .02 points. 😦

What’s the catch?

  1. It is ALL or NOTHING if you do this you don’t get to choose what classes to keep and which to restart. ALL GRADES from 10+ years will be erased and they won’t count towards prerequisites nor your GPA.
  2. Only will help if your using the TMDSAS (unfortunately AMCAS will still want all your coursework and they will calculate it into your GPA)
  3. Must be a Texas Resident

While the benefits of this program are obvious there are some things that must be considered.

  • The amount of financial aid you qualify for is still determined by ALL credits taken even those that were “erased”
    • So please make sure that you qualify for enough financial aid or can pay for the total amount of time required for your degree
  • Other Graduate programs have different policies of how the Academic Fresh Start coursework will be counted
    • It’s a safe bet that if it is a PUBLIC Texas School then it will apply as this is a Texas Law

This is a great option if you plan on applying to only Texas schools, are financially able to support the 3+ years required, and all your bad courses are 10+ years or older.

With that said in my own opinion if you already have a Bachelors degree you may be better off just getting into a Masters program which will only take you 1 or 2 years to complete and your more recent grades will obviously have more weight than 10+ years ago. Although you must do exceptionally well in your Masters to make the argument of how you have changed from your frivolous early college years.

There are a few universities in other states that offer similar fresh start programs but I don’t see how it would help you in getting into medical school unless AMCAS adopts new policies and if TMDSAS recognizes fresh start programs from other states.

 

More Information:

TMDSAS Fresh Start Policies

Texas Fresh Start Law

Apply to Med School Like a Boss

USING YOUR MOM SKILLS TO CRUSH APPLICATION SEASON

by MaryBeth

Ever sit in class and wonder, how can these kids complain about not having time to study? I’ve got babies to feed, clothe, and put to bed. I haven’t eaten, I’ve got tons of housework to do…the list goes on and on. This, my friends, is how you succeed in the application cycle.

As a parent, you’ve already learned some of the most critical life lessons you’ll need to succeed in medical school and beyond. Your task during application/interview season is to intelligently articulate what you’ve learned and convince the committees that you belong in their next class of future docs. You need to highlight your already-honed ability to manage numerous tasks at once, your patience with difficult personalities, and your understanding of the immense responsibility involved in caring for others.

Here are some of the concepts I highlighted in my personal statement, supplemental essays, and interviews at several Texas medical schools:

“I will be a source of motivation and inspiration for my future classmates.”

Throughout your time in pre-med classes (or whatever you were doing to lead up to this juncture), you probably relished those moments when you got to talk about your kids and all the responsibilities you had ON TOP of studying. Now is the time to orient that sense of accomplishment toward the future. How will your rock-star work ethic help their school succeed? The answer: your willingness to work even harder to achieve your goals while caring for your family will motivate the other students in your med school class to be at their best. Using an example from your pre-med classes is a great way to illustrate this strength to admissions committees.

“I am mentally prepared for frustration, disappointment, and sacrifice.”

Let’s face it. Before you had children, did you really know what it meant to be exhausted? Had you used up every ounce of your energy to keep someone else happy, healthy, safe, and comfortable? Probably not. As a future physician, you will be tried and tested to your limits again and again. Starting the game with years of practice under your belt is a huge advantage and you should make sure everyone realizes this. In one of my faculty interviews, I was asked to describe how I like to work. I admitted that I prefer to work well ahead of schedule, tackling small chunks of projects to minimize my stress as the deadline approaches. The interviewer caught me off-guard by saying, “but what if you can’t do that?” I took a pregnant pause, and then answered, “I would do my best to figure out what the top priority was, and then I would get to work, realizing that I can only do what I can do – and stressing about the rest won’t help.” As a parent there have been SO. MANY. TIMES. when my mind has raced (and my pulse along with it), thinking of everything I had to get done. But when you’ve got a screaming child, you learn to prioritize. You have to prioritize. And you give up any preconceived notion of doing everything perfectly.

“I am motivated and I can do this.”

Confidence speaks volumes in any interview situation. Being self-assured yet still humble is a skill that most 22-year-olds have not yet perfected. You, on the other hand, have life experience that the majority of applicants do not, giving you a confidence that only comes with age. You’re ready to talk about your passion for medicine, your devotion to your family, and the difficult path you took to get to where you are. If you used an anecdote about parenting in one of your essays, be prepared to add more detail and humanity to your story in the interview. Challenges that you’ve overcome are popular topics among interviewers, so practice telling your story in a compelling way that emphasizes your ability to reflect and to adapt. Even in this day and age, interviewers may use the fact that you are a mother to question your ability to handle medical school. In fact, a female interviewer at UT Southwestern gave me a particularly hard time about this. Nervous as I was, I confidently countered her doubt with details about being an exhausted, working, pumping first-time mom to 6-week-old colicky baby. I felt sure I could handle anything medical school could throw at me.

In the van

Making it work: the best way to attend my Galveston interview was to have my in-laws fly down from Ohio, rent a van, and pile all 7 people (including the 5-month-old) in for the ride. Fun times!

 

If you have questions about essays or interviews, feel free to reach out in the comments! I’d love to hear about your experiences as well.

MCAT Test Day!

Well the day has come and I am retaking my MCAT today. I got a 500 on my last test with very little studying. So I am hopeful that with a bit more preparation that I can get a better score.

I believe that the MCAT requires both knowledge of topics and strategy for taking the test. I believe I was lacking in both areas on my last test. I had not completed Organic Chemistry nor Physics, which showed and was my lowest section.

When it came to strategy I don’t think I had any besides these basic test-taking tips:

  • Read passages for understanding and think about the whole time what sort of questions could be asked (you really don’t want to have to go back and re-read)
  • If your stuck on a question skip it and come back to it.
  • Keep your eyes OFF THE CLOCK instead use your own internal clock to know if your spending too much time.

So besides that I did not have any strategy. These are somethings I thought about after the fact:

  • Scratch paper can be your best friend 
    • If you are having trouble remembering some key core concepts/formulas review it immediately before entering the test-taking center and once at your testing station write it down immediately on the scratch paper given.
    • Write down some key info from the passages (make it quick only a few words)
  • DO NOT DRINK A LOT OF LIQUIDS
    • Yea I did this and I ended up in the middle of my test having to really go and rushing through questions
  • Only take breaks if necessary
    • If you are on a roll and really in the zone then skip the break and keep it going.
    • Feeling exhausted or warn out take that break and try and recoup.
    • Also take it if the next section you want some time to think about the subject matter and “refresh” your memory before starting.

Applying Early to Medical School

Why is it important to apply early to medical school?

There are several reasons but here are the Top 2 reasons to apply early.

  1. Most medical schools accept students on a rolling basis so applying early allows for you to get your application in when there is more spots available increasing your chances of getting in.
  2. It gives you more time to work on secondaries. (Well sort of). I think it is necessary to submit your secondaries no more then 2 weeks from the time you receive them. But urgency to get them in even faster is very important the later it gets in the application cycle.