Wednesday, May 31, 2017


It has been several months since my last updates post. This was definitely not intentional. I honestly had so many things I wanted to write about but could not organize my thoughts in the form of a post. The last 11 month of school, my first year of medical school to be exact, have been very challenging, from navigating through first year curriculum, to constantly worrying about how I will fund the next 3 years of school, family illnesses, personal struggles, parent guilt, granddaughter guilt and the list goes on, but here I am.

Did I survive my first year of medical school, hmm well I am here to write another post. This year has definitely not always gone in the direction that I wanted it to go in but as hard as school has been this year, I still think the hardest part of this journey for me was actually getting into medical school. No, I am not saying that this has not been the most challenging/rewarding academic year of my life but once you get into school no matter how hard it will get, you're there, you're in school, you made it (well semi-made it).  And, when I didn't perform how I wanted on an exam or even failed an exam (yes I said failed an exam in medical school 👀), of course I felt disappointed but I know from experience that Failure is not Final. My grades in undergrad were not the most stellar, my first attempts at the MCAT were not run-and-tell-your-mom scores, I had a child in college and most people thought I would not even finish school let alone be working towards my life long goal, had I let those encounters permanently stifle my dreams and goals I would have not made it into medical school today.

After a year of classes I can't say that I know the keys to surviving your 1st year medical school but what I can say is that I know this is a continued learning process. Learning about yourself, learning about others, exploring your interest, learning new strengths, discovering new weakness. I am still figuring out what works for me, how to balance school, parenting and other obligations. But I did discover for me one major key to balance in school is finding time to be happy, even if that is just an hour a day/week, and eliminate things/people that bring the complete opposite into your life.

What brings meaning to your life? If you have this figured out already, GREAT, you have half the puzzle already mastered. If, not then that is ok too because you have time. Find what brings meaning to your life, embrace it and allow that to be your solace during the stress of school, training, and everyday living.

If you only remember one thing from this post, remember: Not matter what the next year(s) may bring remember to celebrate your accomplishments and do not dwell on misfortunes because Failure is not Final and your success should be measured by your perseverance in the face of adversity and not by how high you score, how many likes you get or the recognition you receive from others. You are the only person destined to Run Your Race!

Completion of Undergrad- Completion of Graduate School- 1st year of Medical School 

Monday, May 29, 2017

Lown Conference May 2017

Beyond the Bottom Line: Defending the Human Connection in Health Care

I had the pleasure of attending the Lown Conference a few weeks ago in Quincy, MA. This is the 5th Lown Institute Conference (click the link to learn more about this great organization).

Background: I attended the conference in 2013. This was before I entered medical school and I was working and volunteering heavily in healthcare at that time. I became aware of the Lown Institute after hearing a presentation from Shannon Brownlee during an AMSA Pharmaceutical Policy Leadership in Medicine event and became so enthused on the Right Care movement based on her presentation. I became even more excited about during the conference and enjoyed being able to interact with medical students, healthcare advocates and physicians. During the 2013 conference there was an emphasis of over-usage of medical services etc., and in my personal experience from living and working with mostly underserved minorities, I witnessed more under-usage of services than over-usage of services, so it was good that I was able to see the other side of that coin during the conference. I am also glad to hear that in more recent years, under-usage has been presented on a more in depth level.

I have been able to stay current with the organization and all of the great work they have been involved in over the years through weekly email updates but unfortunately, I was not able to attend the any subsequent conference events following my first in 2013. So I was very happy to reconnect with the organization through conference attendance. Additionally, when I attended the conference years ago, I was coming from the lens of a patient advocate and my experiences were vastly different. Since then, I have had the chance to work in different environments and even on projects that delved into interactions between pharmaceutical industry, medical education institutions and teaching hospitals, and began my training as a future physician. Despite having a different title now, I still consider myself to be a patient advocate first however now my perspective has slightly evolved to encompass a more dynamic viewpoint. I was thrilled to be able to attend the 3-day conference this year and learn about the progress that the Lown Institute has made over the years!

The conference kicked off events on Friday, during which there was a great Research Symposium where participants showcased the work they have done in the advancement of Right Care. That evening there was a mixer where many of participants were able to wine down and chat.

On Saturday I attended workshops during the day and had fun bowling that evening. There were so many great workshops available it was hard to just pick two 😕

But I narrowed my selections down and I attended the following workshop:
The Community Cafe: An Innovative Method for Harnessing the Power of Community Engagement.
I really enjoyed this session because it allowed me to learn about how this particular community in Camden, NJ empowers their community members, which consists of mostly Latino and African Americans, through education and healthcare. There approach is very community orientated and they take a very hands on approach in working to bridge the gap between access and available resources. Listening to the women speak so passionately about their community, the inhabitants and the work they have done, reminded me so much of the communities where I live. There is so much resilience despite so many of the "shortcomings" others see when they come to those areas.

Discover "What Matter" Instead of "What's the Matter" to Improve the Patient Experience.
This session started off very anecdotal, where the speaker used her experience with her son and a medical condition he was facing to shed light on simple things that everyone in healthcare (from the front desk clerk to check out) and patients can do to make sure that the patient experience is positive and reflect the true essence of what healthcare should be. Then it became very interactive, each table of attendee were able to correlate an emotion to the points of contact during a medical visit, that were experienced by the patients, the parent or event the staff. 

On Sunday there was Right Care Alliance Congress. I was able to stay for some of the activities before I had to depart for my flight. I heard from some of the new steering committee members and about their plans/interests and interacted with other attendees during a very interactive icebreaker!

Overall, I enjoyed my time at the conference. One thing that I will note is that communities that are underserved (whether medically, educationally, or economically), have a large population of minorities or both , are very unique. The obstacles to right care in Quincy, MA or Portland, OR maybe quite different than those faced in Camden, NJ or Atlanta, GA. And, it is great idea to have a wide range of experiences and people represented because Right Care may look different depending on where you are geographically and may sound different depending on who you ask but Right Care is Right Care. What I most enjoyed was being able to attend the workshops and hear from the speakers and take time to reflect on how I thought the Right Care Alliance could be applied to the communities I serve, as a patient myself and a patient advocate from an underserved community: what I thought right care looked like for me and as a future healthcare provider that will care for patients from all walks of life: how I could manifest Right Care for a diverse patient population!