Claire Dolan (’16)
My name is Claire Dolan, and I am currently an MS1. I’m from Loveland, Ohio, which is a suburb of Cincinnati. I completed my undergraduate degree at The Ohio State University, where I majored in biomedical science, minored in women’s, gender, and sexuality studies, and graduated in 2012 with a B.S. In my spare time (or during time I spend procrastinating), I like to dance, read, explore ethnic food restaurants and watch movies. As an interesting fact, I have been known to talk in my sleep and one time woke up shouting the diatomic elements. I wish I could also say that is my nerdiest moment, but I can’t.
Hey readers! I’m Claire Dolan, a (lowly) first-year medical student at Boonshoft School of Medicine at WSU. I’m just going to go ahead and preface this post (and all my future posts) by saying that you and I are both going to enjoy my blog better if we agree to think I’m funny.
Now that that’s settled, we can begin.
This month marks my sixth month of medical school. Six months at Boonshoft means I’ve dissected a cadaver, learned how to take vitals, memorized the Citric Acid Cycle (for the billionth time)(How do I still not know that thing?!), and heard families talk about how genetic disorders have changed their lives. Six months at Boonshoft also means I’ve developed a sincere love for the instant coffee machine in White Hall, found a group of friends who are a lot like me, cartwheeled through the atrium on late Saturday study nights, and become an expert at finding free food at meetings.
About a year and six months ago, I was a very stressed undergraduate at The Ohio State University, positively freaking out about where I was going to be in a year. As a classic pre-med (read: Type-A, OCD person), I was terrified not knowing where, or even IF, I would be going to medical school. Eventually, I interviewed at three different schools, one of which was Boonshoft. During my six hours here, I pretty much fell in love. I was honestly shocked-I had never really heard of BSOM and applied just knowing it was one of those Ohio schools you apply to. I never expected to actually like a medical school, I just wanted to get into one! At Boonshoft, I got the feeling that the administration was sincerely proud of my accomplishments and that they really wanted me to succeed. (I got this vibe after my interviewer blatantly told me, “You’re an awesome applicant. Congratulations on all your hard work!” Who says that during a med school interview?! Someone from Boonshoft, that’s who.) Once I was accepted here, I rejected interview offers from two other schools because I knew here is where I’d be happiest.
Now, six months into my medical education, I can honestly, sincerely, in a non-propaganda way say that I’m thrilled with my decision. Moving from Columbus (aka the greatest city in Ohio) to a suburb of Dayton (…) was a bit of an adjustment, but I’ve come to love it here. Not worrying about getting towed or fighting hours of traffic is incredible. The education I am getting at school is amazing. Our professors are incredible and genuinely love interacting with us, our physicians beg us to shadow them, our administrators hand-deliver our course packets well before every new class beings, and we students are seriously (SERIOUSLY) not competitive with each other (Try to name another medical school where a student would email his outline of 1,000 pages of material to the entire class voluntarily. I dare you.). Sorry for being a walking billboard, BUT I LOVE IT HERE.
Sure guys, medical school is hard. In these past six months, I’ve been expected to memorize more than 300 pages of solid, dense text in a week. I’ve been so busy that I haven’t had time to shower, let alone shave my legs (Apologies to my clinical skills partner during that lower extremity exam class.). I’ve gone DAYS without seeing the sun. I’ve had those moments the night before the test where I start laughing and end up crying (TMI? Probably.). And apparently it’s all going to get much, much harder. But I love my school, and it’s a lot easier to deal with sleep deprivation and caffeine jitters when you can call your classmates your friends and when the admissions committee gives you their leftover food.
This year I had the most love-filled Valentine’s Day of my life. Please keep reading: I will not be boring you with tales of dozens of long-stemmed red roses, a romantic dinner, or other inappropriate things. I actually spent February 14 in the Labor and Delivery Ward of Miami Valley Hospital. No, I did not bear any children of my own, but I did get to watch four other people deliver babies.
The OB/GYN Club here at Boonshoft set up a wonderful shadowing opportunity that allowed one medical student at a time to spend about five hours in L&D at Miami Valley. Although I haven’t the slightest idea what I’d like to specialize in when I’m a grown up MD, I couldn’t miss the opportunity to witness the miracle of childbirth. In the days leading up to my shadowing, my two main hopes were that 1. it would be a busy night so I could actually see a delivery and 2. that the medical students and residents wouldn’t think I was a huge loser for voluntarily spending my Valentine’s Day in the hospital. I shouldn’t have worried though*: the minute I arrived (it only took me one secretary, one janitor, and two nurses to find the resident’s lounge), I was ushered into a C-section. Literally seconds after I arrived, the attending pulled a baby out of a uterus. Like, I walked in and BOOM! there was the baby. It was insane.
*Please note that I did not mention whether or not the residents/medical students thought I was a loser for spending VDay shadowing. They probably did even though they didn’t show it because, I mean, come on, even I felt kind of lame.
I wasn’t sure how I would react to seeing a delivery; I didn’t know if I would think it was cool or gross, if I would get emotional or be unimpressed. Even after only being in that OR for five seconds, it was impossible to not be moved by what I had witnessed. When the attending delivered the baby, my jaw dropped. Once the baby started crying, my eyes filled with tears. I just stood there in shock, in awe that I was one of the first people in the world to see this little human. It was absolutely incredible.
The rest of the evening did not disappoint. I was able to see two vaginal live deliveries, another C-section, and watch blood clots get scooped out of a uterus via ultrasound (the last one was mildly gross but super cool). The team I was with was incredible. The intern answered all my questions and let me watch everything I could possibly watch. The attending on service made sure I could see every aspect of one of the vaginal deliveries I witnessed. The MSIII working with the team, incidentally also named Claire, taught me so much and was very patient with my childish excitement. It was honestly the best shadowing experience I have ever had.
One thing I cannot help but mention about Boonshoft is that virtually every physician I have met or shadowed thus far is incredibly excited to teach. Their love for their jobs is made apparent in their enthusiasm for working with students. I have learned so much from so many physicians here already, largely because they earnestly love educating. It’s so rewarding to learn from individuals who view you as anything but a nuisance (because, in actuality, medical students can definitely be just that, especially when they are freaking out in a busy L&D ward about how cool moms are).
I’m so glad I got to spend my Valentine’s Day doing something incredible. Medical school can change your priorities when it comes to what you find meaningful. I wouldn’t change my night spent in L&D for a thousand romantic dinners. Probably.
While most of you are probably already on or about to begin your summer vacation, we here at Boonshoft are still reminiscing over our spring break. About a month ago, over half of my class (about sixty students) went on a spring break road trip to New Orleans, Louisiana.
The timing of our spring break and vacation was impeccable: we had just finished a two and a half month class called Cells, Tissues, and Organ Systems (CaTOS for short). This class was…brutal. Our second exam covered over 1100 pages of material and the final (yes, cumulative, FML) was over almost 2000 pages. Needless to say, we all basically looked like pale, unhappy zombies walking out of that final: some fun in the sun (and on Bourbon Street) was exactly what we needed.
The NOLA trip is one that is organized entirely by our school. It’s a service trip that runs Monday-Friday of our spring break. Our class is split into groups of three and put into three different service projects on a first-come, first-served basis. I was lucky* enough to get into the smallest service group, at a site just outside the French Quarter called Project Lazarus. Project Laz is a halfway-home for people who are HIV+. Basically, if you are living in New Orleans with HIV and find yourself with nowhere safe to live, you can be accepted into this house (I believe there is a sort of referral/application process). While the residents live in the house, they participate in programming like book clubs, therapy groups, addiction counseling if they need it, and earn an income that is put into a savings account. While no residents are ever forced to leave the house, most spend a few months there, then move out on their own. It’s a really cool project, and the residents and workers there are super incredible and kind.
*When I say lucky, I mean incredibly well-planned. There were only twelve slots to be in this group and sixty med students trying to get into it. I refreshed my email every thirty seconds for, like, ten minutes and had “Project Lazarus” saved into my copy-paste. Sorry for being such a nerd but this project was too cool to act calm and collected.
While working at Project Lazarus, our group helped create a composting system for the house, tore down an old shed, cleaned one of their facilities and socialized with the residents. Obvi, socializing with the residents was the best part (but it was definitely nice to be outside in warm weather no matter what we were doing). The residents loved talking to us about our career aspirations, telling us about their past, and discussing their favorite festivals and Bourbon Street memories. They also gave us tons of food, restaurant, band, and drink recommendations and begged us to tell them if anything embarrassing had happened the night prior. They were so great.
The service work was definitely a highlight of the trip, but it was also nice that we had every evening to spend doing whatever we wanted. My group ate so much good food-like, SO MUCH FOOD-and spent a lot of our evenings at jazz clubs on Frenchman Street. (I loved the oysters and the gumbo, but my favorite meals were at a West African/Nigerian restaurant. If you have never eaten West African food, go get some. STAT. You’re welcome in advance.) I also got to go on a haunted tour which was awesome and definitely terrifying.
It was wonderful that our school planned such a cool, fun, but relaxing service trip for us after the most intense medical school class so far. Spending so much time with so many of my classmates was incredible: I loved getting to hang out with people I usually only see in class. And of course, being in one of the most fun cities in America doing work for an amazing project made it all even better.