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Lights, camera, action


Given my recent national TV debut during Miss America (see above) I thought it was a perfect time to post some of my favorite things to watch on TV. It also coincides with a request one of my best friends made for my next blog post.

You see, when you're in medical school and residency, you end up working weird hours. Sure you can have a social life but not everyone wants to hang out at 2am when you finish your shift. You're still reeling from that hospital high and need to decompress. My favorite way to relax and veg out, to let my mind go and give myself a break...Aside from reading and exercising, it has to be watching TV.

When I was little my parents used to limit me to 2 hours of television a night but I would sneak into the back room of our house to catch my favorite Nickelodeon episodes. I love watching TV. I love when I recognize actors and actresses from different shows playing other roles. My parents finally gave in to letting me watch my favorite shows as long as I put in the same amount of time studying and needless to say it paid off - I own pop culture in addition to medicine on trivia nights.

I haven't seen every Netflix show available and there are some that I have yet to watch (Orange is the New Black) or am currently binge-watching (Game of Thrones) but if you're looking for a new show then here is my list separated by categories:

  1. Breaking Bad (of course it's number 1...I still have yet to see Better Call Saul)
  2. Homeland (Claire Danes is phenomenal)
  3. The Americans
  4. Sneaky Pete (on Amazon)
  5. Queen of the South (adapted from the Spanish version La Reina del Sur) 

  1. Big Little Lies
  2. Sherlock (the Benedict Cumberbatch version of course)
  3. The Bletchley Circle
  4. Veronica Mars (this basically shaped my teenage years, I looooove this show and they even made a movie out of it because it was cancelled too early)

  1. Stranger Things
  2. Luther (Idris Elba is such a stud)
  3. The Following (I'm still in the middle of season 1 and I can't watch it by myself because it's that terrifying but it's so good)
  4. Mr. Robot (I'd classify this more as a psychological thriller)
  5. Dexter (only the first couple seasons)

  1. Sense8 (probably my favorite show on Netflix and was so sad when they cancelled it but fans rallied and we brought it back for a 2-hour series finale)
  2. Orphan Black
  3. The Magicians (not necessarily hooked but I enjoyed it, based on a book series)
  4. True Blood (only the first couple of seasons IMO)

  1. Silicon Valley
  2. Impastor (this show does not get enough credit, it's hysterical)
  3. Parks and Rec
  4. The Office
  5. New Girl
  6. How I Met Your Mother
  7. Broad City (Four and three and two and one)
  8. Master of None (Aziz is the best)
  9. Curb Your Enthusiasm
  10. 30 Rock
  11. Veep

  1. Once Upon A Time - it's a little corny but I love it because I'm also a Disney fanatic
  2. Reign
  3. Game of Thrones (graphic with lots of suspense, currently in the middle of season 4 and totally addicted)
  1. Supergirl
  2. The Flash
  3. Timeless

  1. Jane the Virgin
  2. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend
  3. Younger
  4. Mozart In The Jungle
  5. Sex and the City (this is a given)

Really Good Drama
  1. Revenge
  2. Ringer (with Sarah Michelle Gellar)
  3. House of Cards (for me it did get slow at some points but was worth it in the end)

British Shows
  1. Downton Abbey
  2. The Paradise
  3. Sherlock - it's on here twice because it's just that good
Mindless/Background shows
  1. Burn Notice
  2. Psych
  3. NCIS
  4. Law & Order
  5. Bluebloods

And my most recent recommendations that I have yet to see
  1. Ozark
  2. Fauda
  3. Westworld
  4. Narcos
I could go on and on because there are tons of shows I haven't seen like Lost, This is Us, Walking Dead, AHS, the Sopranos...but there's only so much time in a day!

You'll notice I didn't list any medical shows...I get enough of it in real life that I don't want to watch it at home, especially when half the things they do are wrong. However, lots of my doctor friends love Grey's Anatomy and I have watched a few episodes of Scrubs and liked it.

I will say it's always good to limit your screen time or number of binge-watching weekends and make sure to get outside/enjoy the fresh air as well!

What are some of your favorite shows?

PS - Please no GoT spoilers🙈

How to turn iBooks and PDFs into Audiobooks


This is literally the best thing ever! I'm so excited to share with you my new #lifehack - turning Siri into your own personal narrator. It applies to iBooks, PDFs, webpages, e-mails, articles, even text messages on your iPhone or iPad.

To start with, I get articles every day to read on my current Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) rotation. Yes, that's right, doctors have homework too! They're really interesting - the latest one was about how Progesterone and Vitamin D can help the recovery of TBI patients by modulating the immune system and other key regulatory mechanisms. However, sometimes, it's hard to focus at the end of a long shift. I'm so tired that my eyes start to cross or I highlight without completely digesting what I'm reading. Last night, I was wishing there was some way I could listen to the PDF during my commute. A quick Google search and I discovered the answer: there is and it's free! You can turn iBooks, PDFs, almost anything with text into audiobooks with Siri's help. You don't need access to the internet either. Forget the Audible subscription or paying $20 to listen to the next bestseller. Check it out in these quick, simple steps. It takes less than 10 seconds:

Step 1: Go to Settings app on iPhone --> Tap General

Step 2: Tap on Accessibility

Step 3: Tap on Speech (under Vision section)

Step 4: Toggle on the Speak Screen

Step 5: Open whatever item you want read to you, scroll down from the top of the screen with two fingers and the Speak Screen should appear (it might take a couple of tries)

Step 6: Reduce the speed to get a more natural sound of Siri's voice by pressing the turtle that appears on the Speak Screen (if not there, you can also go to Settings --> General --> Accessibility --> Speak Selection)

Soon you'll be off on whatever wild adventure, spy novel, research investigation, or e-mail catchup session you desire as the words echo from your new FREE Audiobook device.

Side note: You can also change Siri's voice to be British, South African, Irish, male, or female.

Go to Settings --> General --> Accessibility --> Voices --> whatever language you want and then select an accent

Turns out my phone's voice has been Samantha all along but I still call her Siri.

Speaking of audiobooks,

what's on your reading list for the summer?

Leave a comment below!

Maximize Your Time with Minimalism


Having moved from the laid back/plenty of space suburban life to the tight knit rush hour madness of Broad Street, I've learned to live minimally. Not just in the sense of clearing out my closet or maximizing space but also in terms of my time management. Working 80 hours a week is tough and in order to stay balanced, I have to live simply.

My biggest weakness is that I can't say no. When a friend wants to go out for dinner, I say yes. When a colleague asks for a favor, I say yes. I want to help as many people as I can. I want to be that social butterfly but also listen to every podcast recommended to me and read all the books and articles that come my way. Oftentimes, I overbook myself and am spread so thin, I feel diaphanous (figuratively speaking).

So, to manage my time, the first thing I do is to create an annual calendar, sort of like a spreadsheet. It maps out the entire year for me in 3 simple pages. I learned to do this in college so I could keep track of my exams and deadlines and now my call schedules, conferences, and vacations. As a visual learner, this has become my lifesaver and helps me plan out every day.

Lucky for you, I attached a FREE template here: CALENDAR 2017-2018

Personalize it as much as you want, whether it's with icons, stickers, color-coding, or post-its. I fill it with birthdays and anniversaries as well as vacations and upcoming weddings (feel free to use the icons included at the top). It helps me keep track of not just my life but also my friends and family's lives! I print it out, tape it together, and hang it on the tack board above my desk. Then I'm all set to fill it in with work and other commitments as they arise. I know what to expect for the upcoming week, month, and year (the only thing missing is the weather).

In addition to this calendar, I also keep a daily planner where I can write everything down. Creating lists with items that I can physically cross off helps me feel in control even when the day might be slipping away. The planner I have also starts off with jotting down three goals I have for the week. This week's goals: read for fun, treadmill time, and finish my Epic EMR training. So far, I've completed two of the three thanks to my live simply mantra.

More tips to come next week!

Prioritize and Organize


It's been a busy few weeks as I officially moved to the birthplace of America - a perfect transition for celebrating July 4th with the liberty bell in my backyard! Since inner city living means a little less space and a little more savvy, I discovered some creative #lifehacks to help with storage. Of course the first part of any step to organization is to clean out what you don't use or want and prioritize what you need. If you haven't used it in the past 6 months, you likely don't need it. Think about your go-to tools for getting ready in the morning and make sure those items are within easy reach.

My bathroom has two cabinets under the sink but no drawers or areas to store cosmetics and toiletries. I didn't want to take up much counter-space so I found this great acrylic makeup organizer on Amazon. It makes getting ready in the morning so much easier, especially when you don't have to dig around for something.

For my toiletries, since I was so used to having shelves behind the mirror at my old place, I wanted something similar. I found a file organizer and used command strips to attach it to the inside of the cabinet under the sink. It took a few extra adhesives but it's holding up well and has saved space as well as frustration when it comes to finding things. In fact, I loved the file organizer so much, I used it for organizing my spices too!

On the other cabinet I added a little hook to hang my hair dryer so it's always in easy reach.

Lastly, there is also a hall closet with limited floor storage space. I ended up hanging an organizer on the back of the door and it was the perfect SHOElution. Pun intended ;)

These are some of my favorite hacks and have saved me both time and energy when it comes to getting ready in the morning. Let me know if you have any other creative ideas!

Take advantage of the extra time you save now that you're an organization guru by exploring your area. If you ever find yourself in Philly, I highly recommend a visit to the Magic Gardens - it's a beautiful art mosaic that spans an entire block of the city.

Spring Cleaning How-To


In a few short weeks, I will be officially relocating to the Big City...well almost. Not New York but still a big city.  I'll give you a hint: it's the birthplace of America. And with that move comes, of course, a smaller space, namely, a smaller closet. Surveying my current apartment I realized 1. I am not a fan of moving (ie packing, unpacking) and 2. I have too much stuff. My wardrobe was the bulk of what would be packed and, since May is just around the corner, I concluded it's time for some hardcore spring cleaning!

To start with, a friend gave me this algorithm from thredUp:

It made my decisions a lot easier knowing what to keep, sell, and give away, from shoes and jackets to jewelry and yoga gear. When it came time to sell, I wanted to try online consignment. I read a great post comparing thredUP and Poshmark, two popular online consignment sites here:

In short, the article summarizes what each site entails along with their pros and cons. Poshmark is more hands-on, leaving it up to the seller to photograph, price, package, and ship each item. In contrast, thredUP, which is more hands-off, leaves you to bundle all your items in a pre-paid bag for one-time shipping. They'll take care of the rest. If you're looking for a convenient way to make a little money, thredUP is your best bet.

I decided, however, to have fun with it and make good use of my photo studio by signing up with Poshmark. Within hours of posting my first item, it sold. I had it packaged and shipped the next day. Since Poshmark e-mails you a pre-paid shipping label, you don't have to spend any money as the seller. Of course, you can always get creative and take the time to ship your item with a little love and thanks!

So, what are you waiting for? Grab some champagne, recruit your friends, and welcome Spring with a closet cleanse! If you made enough room for a few cute new items, feel free to shop my closet on Poshmark by clicking here: @itsalyssacole

The Curiosity Science Program


I am thrilled and honored to be featured as a role model on The Curiosity Science Program website, an amazing organization created by Erin McKenney that highlights women across the globe in STEM professions. As she describes it:

"I created this STEM program for young women, starting as a Girl Scout Gold Award program. It is used by several nonprofits in New England and a few small groups globally. It also received BBC recognition in 2016.

The program is based off of interactive lab activities and role modeling. It makes such a huge difference for girls to have positive examples that they can relate to. We did this by having female STEM professionals from around the world write to my students about their careers, any advice they'd give, and what else they enjoy doing (to give girls more ways to relate to them and show them a variety of other interests)."

Erin asked me to include my perspective on life as a doctor after seeing my post for International Women's Day on Pantsuit Nation. While many aspects of the letter are found on my blog, it is exciting to compile everything together. It was even more awe-inspiring to read about other women out there tackling stereotypes around the world, from an American volcanologist to a Mexican virologist and a British information technologist (from which she earned her dame-ship, the equivalent of knighthood). Check out all the incredible letters here at: https://curiositygirlsscience.wordpress.com/blog/

Lastly, congratulations and a big thank you to Erin for all of your hard work in creating this program. Best of luck to all the young women out there.

Science Not Silence


In anticipation of the upcoming March for Science, I wanted to touch upon a very exciting event that took place at work.

For International Women's Day, we organized a group photo of the amazing female doctors in our residency program. We turned it into a banner that now hangs in the hallway at our hospital. This photo represents us as clinicians from all over the world, fluent in several different languages, and united in our universal commitment to healthcare. We are practicing physicians, loving daughters, caring sisters, working mothers, devoted wives, and giving friends. We stand for the success and strength of generations of women who fought for our rights to equality, working alongside men, and rising above stereotypes.

This was the caption for the photo that received over 13,000 likes and over 200 comments on Pantsuit Nation, a closed group of 3 million+ members united in our belief for establishing Justice, insuring domestic Tranquility, providing for the common Defence, promoting the general Welfare, and securing the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity (credit goes to the forefathers of our nation).

As this photo was shared in a private group, I will not post the comments directly. Many of them reflect on the diversity of the photo; that the strength of seeing us women united in the healthcare field exemplified the steps we as a collective group have taken to break down barriers. The post made several contemplate what led to the success of their careers in science and inspired others to continue pursuing their dreams in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) disciplines.

A few even mentioned the recent JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association) article: "Comparison of Hospital Mortality and Readmission Rates for Medicare Patients Treated by Male vs Female Physicians," which shows patients treated by female physicians have better outcomes than male physicians. While I know many well-trained, competent male physicians, it is a powerful article that affirms the need for women in medicine.

Thank you Pantsuit Nation for being a source of support and inspiration for all and allowing us to share our message. Everyone's comments have been so heartening and reassuring. The pride shared in our progress is humbling. We have been offered enough encouragement to last a lifetime.

And on April 22nd, I am rooting for the fellow men and women in science who are defending our right to learn, discover, and heal the lives of our patients and our planet. While I may not be able to march with you in person, I will be there on Capitol Hill in my heart and in my mind, complete with my very own specialized Pantsuit: Scrubs!

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