Saturday, March 27, 2010


I’m posting from Boston, having just attended the Point Foundation Regional Leadership Forum. Last fall I attended the RLF in Chicago, as I’m a solidly Midwestern scholar, and it was great to hang out with the other Michigan scholars, Chicago kids, and the other folks from nearby. After that event, however, I was assigned my awesome Point mentor: Fintan! He is based on Boston, so I flew here this weekend to get the chance to meet him in person. It was really a wonderful experience, as was meeting other Point scholars from New England.

It was, however, an exhausting day… Fingers crossed I’ll post some pictures of the beautiful harbor view from my hotel tomorrow!*

*Success - pictures have been added!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Back in the saddle… gradually…

I met up with another MSTP today to practice physical exam skills. This is something I haven’t done in a while, and it was a good refresher. I wish I’d done it earlier, but that’s life… In any case, I’m doing it now, and I’m doing as part of !!!MSTP 201!!!

What is MSTP 201 you might ask… The MSTP doesn’t actually offer any courses, but they have created options for clinical preceptorships for those of us who are in the PhD phase of our training. These are varying levels of intensity but all with the goal of easing yourself back into the clinical skills you learned as an M2 and forgot during your research years. Knowing what I do about myself, I realized that it would be better to freak out briefly about having to do a standardized patient earlier this month and then get over the anxiety than to wait until I actually had to see real patients and freak out then. The gradual approach has worked well.

I’m paired with an internal medicine doctor who is incredibly kind and patient with me, and we met up to do a history and physical exam on a standardized patient (read: an actor) for my first experience. I only go through it without tears because I knew that it didn’t really matter and than I could stop and ask for help at various points. After writing up my findings (and recognizing the gaps in my history-taking skills), we agreed to meet again in May to see a real patient together. It doesn’t seem nearly as scary now. It seems even less scary now that I’ve reviewed the cranial nerves and found a triceps reflex on a friend. The first lesson here: know yourself, and always give yourself plenty of time. The second: find someone(s) patient when you have forgotten to do the first.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Match Day!

Congratulations to all those graduating medical students who found out today where you’ll be spending the next few years of your lives!

For me, match day was much easier this year. Last year I struggled with the fact that my medical school class was moving on without me. They’d moved on before (like when I left for PhD-land), but not in such a concrete and substantial way. This year, I’m just happy to see friends who took a year off moving on and matching! It’s also exciting to see MSTP students (other MD/PhD kids, for those you not in the know) that I actually know matching and moving on, living proof that it can happen, really, in just 8 short years.

I’m still a little jealous of the exciting places everyone is going, though I know that my time will come. I can’t wait!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Batch #3: Granola… bars?

I made another variation on the granola bar recipe last week, without quite as much success. They were delicious (and I would definitely include coconut in the mix as often as possible, as well as pepitas), but they did not hold together (as evidenced in the above photo). The recipe calls for:

1/4 c corn syrup, honey, or maple syrup

and then later calls for another 2 Tbs corn syrup. I’ve been keeping the 2 Tbs of corn syrup constant as I work with this recipe (apparently this is part of making “sticky bun sugar”), and varying the other parts. In the first batch I used all corn syrup. As I’ve mentioned to many of you, this was a mistake. Not because they weren’t the most delicious bars you’ve ever eaten, no, no, because nothing, I’m convinced, makes granola bars as delicious and chewy as corn syrup. This is why our country is obese – it’s like a drug. In order to avoid obesity myself, the second batch used honey instead of corn syrup. This was not nearly as amazing texturally, but was tasty and is probably a good compromise. This time, I decided to use maple syrup (still keeping the 2 Tbs of corn syrup). Enter the granola… bars?

These tasted delicious, but only the edges of the pan maintained their shape long enough to be considered bars, and even those fell apart as soon as they were moved. Maybe I need a different grade of maple syrup? My next plan: mixture of honey and molasses to see if I can achieve something chewier…

An aside: In the first batch I used the lower end of the recommended added sugar (above and beyond the corn syrup… I know…) and they were really, really sweet. In the second batch I cut out most of the sugar, and they were still really sweet. Apparently honey is pretty sweet… In this last batch I cut out the sugar completely and they were still delicious. I know I shouldn’t have varied several things at once, as I’ll never be sure that it wasn’t the added sugar that made them so chewy and amazing, but I don’t think so.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

AMSA Convention!

This will be a short post, because I’m about to go present the collective opinion of the Executive Committee of the Action Committees and Teams about the various House of Delegates resolutions to the Reference Committee… Suffice it to say I’m at the AMSA National Convention, and it’s pretty great. We’re at Disneyland (mixed feelings there), but overall the speakers have been good, and I’m really enjoying seeing my AMSA buddies.

Also, if you’re interested, I hear they’re “tweeting” the convention at #amsa60. (It’s our 60th annual convention.) I’m not even sure I know what that means, but there you have it.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Life in the passed lane

Another round of med school friends are getting ready to match and graduate. Another round of M2s (second years, for those of you not in the know) just got their M3 schedules. Happily topping it off, another pair of friends got married last weekend! Between graduating from medical school and starting residency, getting married, and having babies, I would say that some incalculably huge fraction of my friends have experienced a life-changing event over the past year and a half. When I hold these up against my life, it’s hard not to feel a bit like I’m falling behind somehow. I don’t have a job, at least not really, and no, I’m not a doctor yet. I’m not married in the legal sense (though I don’t really want to be, the subject of a hypothetical future post), and it just seems imprudent to have babies when my health insurance depends on my ability to write grant and fellowship applications. When I hold up my biggest achievements (passing prelims and defending my prospectus), they seem awfully removed from the things that most people understand.

Despite this, and I apologize for the down-turn of this post into morose and whiny, which is not where I intended it to go when I sat down to write, I still don’t regret choosing to do the combined degree program. As I’ve been meeting prospective students for my doctoral program I’ve been explaining (for the 1,000,000th time) what my program entails, and lately, I’ve been feeling pretty good. It’s exciting (even as it’s terrifying) to state aloud that I’m planning to defend my thesis in about a year. It’s terrifying (even as it’s exciting) to talk about going back to medical school for the best of times and the worst of times: third year and clinical rotations. The best part of feeling like the end is near: I can really enjoy other people moving on, knowing that really, truly, someday… I will too.

Which is what this post was initially supposed to be about: Dorothy and Justin’s wedding! It was so exciting!!! I’ve known Dorothy and Justin since M1 year, though they weren’t dating then (!), and it was wonderful to see them get married on Sunday. The ceremony was beautiful, and the reception was at a stunning venue, the Grosse Pointe War Memorial. I must say that my favorite part of the whole thing, apart from seeing the two of them blissfully happy throughout, was the photo booth. That’s right, you read correctly, the photo booth. Each set of photos was printed twice so that one copy could go into the guest book. It was brilliant, and in addition to photos Alicia and I took together, we joined several large group photos, fitting at least 14 people into the booth at once for an amazing group photo experience.

To Dorothy and Justin: Congratulations, and thanks for a wonderful day!

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Knitting into springtime…

This year has been a productive knitting year so far. I have only one class, but it’s a 4 hour/week seminar in which I can knit throughout! (In all fairness, I do take periodic notes, sometimes more furiously than others, but the knitting is fabulous.) I was able to finally finish the thrummed mittens (pictured above) that had been languishing for nearly a year in my knitting bag, and even craft a hooded scarf to go with them.

They have been keeping me warm since I finished them, but now I’m looking for something less bulky, perhaps with a little less wool content. Enter socks! I am in love with this yarn, brilliantly named "Tofooties," which is made of soy silk, wool, cotton, and chitin, a unique fiber made from the shells of shrimps and other crustaceans. Apparently it’s antibacterial, and I’ve noticed it has a really unique smell (not bad, just unique). Socks also allow me to indulge myself in terms of my love of technical knitting. Having realized long ago that I’m not a designer of beautiful knitwear, but rather a modifier of really excellent patterns, I’ve also discovered that I love learning new techniques, puzzling out better ways to do things, and watching something a little crazy develop into something cool. Lace knitting comes to mind (pictured below) – it looks like something out of Spiderman meets Sheepman, and then when you block it it’s beautiful.

Socks allow for an incredible amount of flexibility, so these have provided me with a new way to fake a 1x1 crossed cable (in the cuffs) and to recombine several patters to try a new heel that matches the toe. Welcome springtime!

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Batch #2

The quest for the perfect granola bar(s) continues. This batch used honey rather than corn syrup (except for the 2 tablespoons called for separately), 1/4 cup brown sugar instead of 1/2 cup white sugar, more cinnamon, and a new mixture of fruits and nuts:

1/4 cup pepitas
1/3 cup cashews 1/3 cup almonds
2/3 cup dried apples
1/2 cup golden raisins

Even as I spread them in the pan I was already thinking about dried mangos, cardamom, cinnamon, and chunky chaat masala…

The results: The honey isn’t as chewy and sticky as the corn syrup, but they are still delicious and really sweet. The cinnamon is wonderful, though I think experimenting with other nut butters would be exciting. I’ve put some away in the freezer, anticipating a side-by-side comparison in the future.