Factor IX.

Muscle tears, heavy plates clinking, and laughter. That’s when it hit me. The first drop in the drought. My body is a phenomenal machine, collaborating and oxidizing and pumping in order to follow my demands, to move exactly how I want. My mouth, which had cracked from the dryness of exhaustion, both mental and physical, began to sip. The books flew open again. Knuckle clenching nerves, pyramids of neurons tied in knots, and then the blaring red alarms; so many of them. The foreign symbols of my score. The sunshine after felt too hot and blaring, the smiles around me equally as blinding, until the bowling ball knocked me over once again: I am attending my favorite medical school. Failure only applies in quitting. I am chasing my dreams. I am fulfilling my purpose. The ripples in the water appeared again. I sipped. Pens scribbled, pages turned. Hurriedly typing away notes, laser-focused on my glaring laptop screen, my busy fingers froze and hovered above the keys. Bellowing words continued pouring over the class, the furious clicking of keys whirring around my paralysis. The cursor blinked back, poised and ready, unaffected by the words it had just regurgitated: Hemophilia B. Treatment $300,000 a year.

I sat back, stunned, and the rain poured down.

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‘Steamed’ by Alyssa Monks.

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Jump puddles, Young Traveller.

It is far better to travel well than to arrive.” – Buddha

I just took my 2nd test in medical school! Even better – I just ACED my 2nd test in medical school! I got a 94%, which I am incredibly, overwhelmingly ecstatic about! As we walked out of the test and I let myself sink into the realization that it was over, I looked around me at my “new family” and felt an enormous surge of pride and happiness. These people are incredible. We have seen each other EVERY single day for the past FOUR weeks, and somehow we still have managed not to strangle one another! They have supported me, offered their shoulders to lean on during my bad days, brought me food, driven me home, and have honestly been the best friends I could have hoped for.

After the exam, we strolled outside only to be greeted with a sudden downpour of rain and hail. We sprinted to the nearest trees and huddled under it’s branches, debating whether to attempt the long sprint to the car or wait it out. We decided to go for it. I slid off my sandals and went bolting through the overflowing gutters and puddles, doubled over in laughter and squinting through the water pouring down my face. We arrived at the car huffing and dripping wet, and I looked at those all-too-familiar faces climbing into the car and thought to myself, for what feels like the millionth time,

I absolutely love being in medical school.”

I’m beginning to truly learn and embrace a very crucial lesson in my education and career. It’s not about the questions you missed on the exam, or memorizing every term in the glossary of your textbook. It’s about truly understanding the fundamental concepts they are trying to relay to you, so you can better diagnose your patients and be a better physician. It’s not about locking yourself in a library room to beat everyone else’s score, or hoarding your golden notes that you have slaved over so that you can get the top score. It’s about personal growth and developing your character, so you can interact better with your patients and in your personal life. It’s not always all about school. It’s about sacrificing that 1 hour of your 12-hour study day to go get lunch with your classmates, so you can live a life filled with happiness and balance; so you can one day look back at these years and think,

I traveled well.

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Auricles and Lingulas.

I will always remember these 4 years. I expected my passion for my dream to carry me through medical school and help ease the hardship, but I never expected to love it this much.    

In just the past week, I have fallen in love with a hundred new things about my classmates, the field of medicine, and the human body. As I was studying hearts in the cadaver lab, I began squealing in delight after finding the little auricle, barely noticeable at first glance and perched right on top of the right ventricle. I couldn’t get past this little “floppy ear” appendage on the heart, that really has no significant function or reason. It just sits there, a little knob that flops itself right on the top of the heart. Then, dear lord, I found the lingula of the lung. Equally as adorable but mostly because of it’s name, it is a flap of tissue that is a remnant of the middle lobe that is no longer present in the left lung. I kept bouncing back and forth between the auricle of the heart and the lingula of the lung like a child who got two of the best toys for Christmas and can’t decide which to play with. The human body is more amazing than I even comprehend. Then I had a moment: my first medical school moment.    

It was late. Two classmates and I were studying in the cadaver lab. Huddled down in the dark basement of the empty building, we tried to identify structures of the thoracic wall and name vessels of the heart. We were inspecting the fibrous bands attached to the upper valves of the heart when my classmate held the heart in his hands and blew into it. The valves snapped shut and his eyes popped wide open. The three of us spent the next five minutes passing around the heart, blowing into it, and dancing in excitement from our discovery. That’s when it hit me smack in the face: this is a moment. Not just any moment, but a moment. One that I’m going to remember when I’m old and frail and a well-traveled navigator of medicine. I will close my eyes and sink back into this memory of standing in the basement cadaver lab late at night, beaming with excitement from peering inside a heart.

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Overwhelmed and disappointed.

Today, I was broken.

A single pebble, a single thought, landed in my mind. Like a magnet, other pebbles began to pile around it until my spirit was so heavy that it took an exhausting amount of effort to simply bring myself onto the medical school grounds. Then a phone call with upsetting family news. I tried holding the pieces around me together during classes, but with every passing minute my shield kept slipping.

Only when it is dark, can you see the stars.

Lifting You Up, Tiny Human.

As we came crashing into the operating room, sterilized hands held steadily in the air in front of us, he said to me, “Do exactly as I do.”

So I did.

Stepping into my gown, hands in gloves, spinning carefully to let the attendant tie it up, stepping up to the operating table, careful not to touch anything else – do not break sterility. I stood beside him as he delicately instructed a younger resident, her steady hand carefully working through layer after layer, deeper and deeper.

In a flash of a moment, she said something aloud, swiftly sliced open the deepest layer, and the table became a whir of hands. Entire hands disappeared inside as fluid and blood rushed out, orders being given, and I clenched my retracted tighter.

Then she emerged.

In a room full of six people, now there were seven.

Time slowed enough for me to respond instinctively as the scissors were handed to me, and I cut my first umbilical cord. Tiny yet strong cries rose into the air: a healthy baby girl born to two blessed parents.

My first time scrubbing into a surgery. My first time cauterizing vessels, retracting skin, cutting an umbilical cord. To say I feel fortunate to be a part of another human’s entry into this world is an understatement.

“It’s not the days in your life, but the life in your days that counts.”

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My Hippocratic Oath.

By the virtue invested in my institution, University of Utah Medical School, and all teachers bestowing their knowledge within, I swear to obey and encompass the following covenants of my affidavit:

I will live by the words of my practice, maintaining the highest quality of my own health so that I may continue to care for my patients. I will embrace balance, nutrition, and exercise so that I may first be the change that I wish to see in the world.

I will not abuse my medical degree to harm others or provide unlawful care. Regardless of external pressures, including threat and extortion, I will not break my personal premises of honesty and non-maleficence. I will honor my patients’ trust by protecting their personal information and acting within the scope of my practice.

I will treat my patients with respect and without discrimination. My care will be provided fairly and equally, despite my patients’ demographics, personal attributes, and attitudes.

I will remember to view medicine as an art, instead of a calculated diagnosis or radiographic image. I will not bow to the pressure of efficiency and conventional treatment to see a superficial label of a disease imposed on a human; I will seek to gain a thorough understanding of their condition and never diminish or forget the value of the human spirit. I will be a provider to all: to give hope when lives are darkened; a steady hand for those who need a hand; a lamp for those who need a lamp.

I will remain humble in my practice. As my hand grows more confident holding a stethoscope or blade, I will not let confidence or ego rule my actions. I will keep my head grounded upon my shoulders and retain the humility needed to ask for a second opinion or to admit and accept my errors.

I will never lose my excitement, passion, respect, and curiosity for the art of medicine. I will never grow weary of learning and exploring the human condition, and I will remember to appreciate the gift of partaking in another’s health and well-being.

May I always bide by this Oath and embody a life of service, healing, and integrity. With these agreements, may I always help others sustain their utmost value of existence, even in a state of dependance. May I always treasure the gift of lifting others’ to their true potential, while forever cherishing the fulfillment and gratification gained along the way.

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Cup Full of Dedication, Brimming with Joy.

I took my first test in medical school!

To be completely honest, I felt awful for the majority of last week. My racing thoughts were filled with anxiety and stress, doubting myself and my potential to succeed in medical school. I felt overwhelmed by the extensive amount of material we were expected to retain and understand, and for the first time in my life, I questioned my decision to pursue such a gargantuan goal. My doubts didn’t stem from lack of passion and fulfillment (because I know without a doubt that this was my purpose in life), but instead my doubt stemmed from a lack of confidence in myself. I have never been afraid to fail, but last week I found questions floating through my head such as, “What if I can’t pass this test, no matter how hard I study? What if I’m not as smart as all of my incredible classmates?”

And then,

I passed!

Not only did I pass, 

but I ACED my first test!!

I am so thrilled and ecstatic and overflowing with pride and excitement and confidence! I can do this, people! Yes, it is rigorous and time consuming and entirely exhausting and draining, but I AM DOING IT and LOVING IT and I cannot tell you how happy I have been since that test!

Here’s a few pictures summing up my last week:

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I was walking out of school after a really long day, and stopped to stare at this beautiful piece of art in the main lobby. I was blown away by the sunlight reflecting off the glass, and hurried to snap a photo as Marcos impatiently shouted at me to hurry up. Never forget to relish in the small pleasures in life!

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Marcos soaking in the sunlight, right before we walked into our first exam!

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Marcos sleeping through every single lecture…

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As a gift on my white coat ceremony, my mother gave me these tiny Mayan worry dolls. I dedicated this little man to take the worry from me for my first test, and I KID YOU NOT – these little things are the best blessing ever! He swept all of my worries away, and now get’s to rejuvenate by my water fountain while his partners take their turn for my upcoming tests!