Learning to be a good sister

I really used to think that I was a great sister. Probably not the most perfect nor the best one out there, but I thought I wasn’t too bad. I don’t put my brother down, I am there to help him, I let him hang out in my room, etc. Taking a gap year between graduating from my undergraduate degree and starting medical school has put a lot of things into perspective, particularly how awful of a sister I have become.

I am about 7.5 years older than my younger brother. I grew up helping my mother watch over him, feed him, play with him. I would hold him when my mother was exhausted from a full day of work. It was like it was the two of us against the world. As a result we are really close. My mother jokes that if she tells him to do something he would take forever to begin, but if I called him for something he would come running.

Being at college changed our dynamic. My brother didn’t have a cell phone, so a lot of our face-to-face interaction suddenly disappeared. He avoids Facebook, so that method of contact was out of the window. We were still close and we would be glad to see each other on breaks, but worrying about him had been put on the back-burner. I was more focused on school, making new friends, adapting to a new environment across the country, and trying to figure out how I was going to get from being an undergraduate to going to medical school.

As a pre-medical student, I was more worried about where I could make my mark. How would I shine? How do I show that I am interested in helping people? Where in my life can I utilize my passion for helping and actually put actions to my words? I joined a wonderful program that worked with inspiring an interest in science among elementary school students at an intercity school. Their budget made it difficult for them to provide very many after school programs. On top of that, their State test scores were showing that the kids were clearly suffering in the science section. This program was perfect for me. Having grown up with a younger brother had me invested in other young children and I found enjoyment showing other why science was a beautiful thing.

I joined cultural clubs and mentored freshmen, I enjoyed sharing my Hopkins experience with high school students, and I always had words to say for the younger pre-medical students looking advice. I gave a lot of myself away to others and somewhere along the way I forgot what it really meant to be there for my brother. Continue reading


By Your Side by Tenth Avenue North

Look at these hands at my side
They swallowed the grave on that night
When I drank the world’s sin
So I could carry you in
And give you life
I want to give you life

And I’ll be by your side wherever you fall

In the dead of night whenever you call
And please don’t fight these hands that are holding you
My hands are holding you

Here at my side wherever you fall

In the dead of night whenever you call
And please don’t fight these hands that are holding you
My hands are holding you

The Medical School Process (part 2)

Yesterday, I was once again confronted with the astounding reality of paying for applying to medical school. I was trying to finish off another application when I had to hold off on submitting it because I wasn’t sure if I could cover the application fee and my rent this month. Recall: This is not the cost of being in medical school, but just the mere action of the whole application process. I’m working full time during my gap year doing some hospital administration for a non-profit. It’s great work and I get paid a decent amount (more than some lab techs even), but money flies out of the bank. In my last post I gave a brief generalization of how much applying to medical school can cost, but I’ll break it down some more in this post because I really need to rant.

I shelled out about $80 for the pre-application. My school has a pre-medical committee and for them to put together your packet and compile your letters of recommendation you have to shell out $80. The nice thing is that this is a one time fee.

If you’re applying to MD schools, the AMCAS application will cost you $160 (which includes one medical school). If you’re applying to additional medical schools, that will cost you an additional $35 each. I’ve heard from my pre-professional adviser that the average applicant applies for 15-20 schools. If you’re at my undergraduate university, the average pre-medical student applies for 20-25 schools. Maybe you’re also being charged for transcripts. Lets just say that’s about $20. That’s a whooping total of $670 – $1020 right from the get-go.

Secondaries will depend on school to school, but I’ve seen some schools charge $50 and others charge near $100. If you complete 15-25 secondaries that’s about $750 – $2500 (though not every one of the 25 schools will be a $100 application, so realistically it’s probably around $1875 on the high end).

If you’re applying to DO schools the application is $195 (including one medical school) and an additional $35 afterward for each additional school. I’m not sure what the average number of DO schools each applicant applies for, but I’ve heard that it is about two to five. Again, you’ll need transcripts (approximately $20). This is about $250 – $355. It’s not as ouchy as the AMCAS application, but if you’re applying to DO and MD schools this is another huge hit to your budget.

Then there’s the interviews. No one knows how many interviews you’re going to get, but I’ve booked my first one and it cost $180 for a roundtrip plane ticket, $160 for the car service, and $175 for a two night stay at the hotel. That’s just one school. What am I going to do when I have to fly to the opposite coast? That’s easily a $300 ticket! Optimistically you’ll interview somewhere close to where you currently live and maybe your expenses will only cost you $300 total, but that’s still $300 for a single school. Ridiculous. If you’re lucky you’ll already have an outfit for your interview, but if you don’t? A well fitted suit will cost you $300+ and girls could easily spend $300+ on a nice interview set.

Conclusion: Good luck.

At times it’s like playing a game of: how much do you want this. The answer has to be: a lot-a lot-a lot because if you’re applying, shelling out this money, and you’re just only mildly sure that you’re interested in medicine, then you must be crazy. Monetary costs aside and all, this is also your career.

As sucky as all this is, it is great for reflecting on why you even want to go to medical school in the first place. Who knows, maybe you’ll think of something amazing to write on your secondaries.

Moist Pumpkin Cupcakes

Let me tell you, I’m not a whiz in the kitchen. I love good food and I love cooking, but my mom’s the goddess and I never inherited that trait. Sometimes I’ll have a stroke of genius and concoct some ingenious recipe by throwing things into the pan (wok/pot/oven/slow cooker), but that’s rare. There’s a handful of recipes that I am naturally good at, but I can’t cook those every day and some of those take a lot of preparation. And money.

I’ve been on a pumpkin spice roll ever since I got addicted to that pumpkin spice latte from Starbucks. Somehow I thought it would be a good idea to deviate from the cake mix and make pumpkin spice cupcakes from scratch. It sounded easy enough in theory: a can of pumpkin, flour, sugar, and some spices.

Somehow I didn’t realize that the recipe would involve a hand mixer and some stubborn butter that would not soften no matter how long I left it at room temperature. Then after I had pour the batter into my cupcake liners I realized that I forgot to add milk. After I added milk and put them in the oven I realized that I had mixed two recipes together and the one I was using didn’t call for any milk at all, but it was already in there. Oops. Too late. Despite all that these turned out DELICIOUS. It’s my own quasi recipe. Enjoy!

Cupcake Ingredients (18 cupcakes):

  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
    • OR 1 teaspoon baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
    • OR 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon 5 spice powder OR another 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon to 1 teaspoon fresh ginger OR 1/2 teaspoon ginger powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 stick of butter (1/2 cup), softened
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 1 can pumpkin puree
  • 3/4 cup milk
  1. Preheat your oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Finely mince your fresh ginger. If you’re not using fresh ginger then use ginger powder.
  3. Mix together the flour, spices, salt, baking powder/soda, and the fresh/powdered ginger. Set this aside. Continue reading