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Thanksgiving Thursday


Wishing everyone a Happy Thanksgiving!

What are you thankful for today? I think it goes without saying family and friends are at the top of my list. This year has been a whirlwind of transitions and re-rooting. I am so grateful to you and the rest of my blog readers, my friends, my awesome residency program classmates both new and old (shout out to intern year), and of course, my family. After working a 24-hour shift I finally have a chance for some R&R with them. We've spent the well-deserved break playing Charades, listening to Bobby Darin, drinking 19 Crimes red, and preparing lots of delicious food.

If you're looking for a great sweet potato recipe, check this one out from my friend, Jessie. It's complete with marshmallows!

Speaking of amazing food, my residency program had our first Friendsgiving a few weeks ago.  Since we are in our second year of residency (aka PGY2 for Post Graduate Year 2), I started a tradition of PGY "2(TUES)day" gatherings. Given how busy we are between rotations and call, it was serendipitous that we were all free that one night! We had so much fun and even more leftovers.

When you're looking for a residency program and everyone describes it as the "right fit" or "you'll just know," I didn't always understand what that meant until now. Aside from over half of my fellow residents also owning a Subaru like me, they are awesome. They are smart, funny, interesting, and supportive. I could not have chosen a better group of people to learn my specialty (or stuff my face full of turkey meatballs) with than them. So cheers to you all :) And a special thank you to all the hard-working doctors, nurses, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, CNAs, and LNAs who are working this holiday. Happy Turkey (or Tofurkey for the vegetarians and vegans out there) Day!

Namaste Sunday


Happy Sunday! What better way to celebrate a beautiful fall Sunday and get to know a new community than through yoga? It brings people together from all walks of life to destress and re-center. This is especially important when you're in residency. I've been on a yoga marathon after finally replacing my old mat a few weeks ago with this perfect one from Athleta: the Manduka mat.

In fact, on my way back from picking up my new mat, I discovered CorePower Yoga was promoting a free trial week for newbies. Wanting to give my Manduka a test drive, I signed up. Talk about holding yourself accountable. I went every day to trial their classes from Yoga Sculpt to Levels 1 and 2. It was tough because I wasn't used to the heated yoga but I felt so rejuvenated afterward. Plus, when you're on a budget (thank you student loans), the best kind of yoga class is a free yoga class.

Looking for more fun activities in the area, I decided to check out Athleta's upcoming events. They host free weekly yoga classes often accompanied by a tutorial on eating healthy and taking care of your body.

I registered for today's Be Gentle to Your Body class and my favorite instructor from CorePower Yoga, Melissa, turned out to be leading it! They cleared the store so we had plenty of room to stretch out. Melissa led us through a gentle early morning flow with lots of downward dogs, warrior ones and twos, and an amazing Shavasana complete with a lavender oil aroma. Not to mention you're surrounded by Athleta's beautiful activewear. They even give you an Athleta goodie bag at the end filled with coupons and treats like chocolate covered Date Truffles. I was ready to buy the whole store.

Afterward we had a discussion about healthy eating with a focus on yogurt parfaits. Melissa, a certified nutritionist, explained how important it is to focus on consuming all-natural ingredients. Your body is better equipped to digest and extract the necessary nutrients from whole foods. It doesn't know how to metabolize processed foods appropriately, which is why you may not feel well after, say, a fast-food binge or ice cream indulgence (Halo Top excluded).

She cautioned us about parfaits that have too much sugar, which can be hidden in granola and yogurt. She also emphasized the importance of bulking up breakfast with protein. Tricks to do this include using Greek Yogurt as a base and adding toppings like hemp seed, peanut butter, and pumpkin seeds. We learned simple ways to add sweetness using honey, raw cacao nibs, and fresh blueberries (fun fact: these are also loaded with tons of antioxidants). You can even flavor with cinnamon and throw in chia seeds to provide extra fiber. We got to make our own yogurt parfaits using her recommendations with fantastic ingredients compliments of Trader Joe's.

I also got to meet two young women from Temple University's Pretty Girls Sweat club at the class. They told me all about their club and how they empower college girls through fitness around the country by promoting free upcoming events and classes. You can follow them on instagram @prettygirlssweattu :)

Check out what the fitness stores and studios are doing in your area and I'll see you on the mat!

Top 10 Medical School Resources


When you're given hundreds of pages to read every night, you discover your strengths and weaknesses for consolidating such large amounts of information. Mine was realizing that I am a visual learner. I learn best by seeing and picturing information, whether it's diagrams, tables, or lists. Chalkboards and whiteboards soon became my best friend. The following is a list of online and written resources that helped me through medical school, studying day in and day out for weekly quizzes, monthly tests, quarterly exams, and yearly boards:

  1. Kaplan
    This was my go-to for MCAT prep as well as boards prep. My medical school provided us with both on-line material and in-person courses. I found this helpful to supplement my other boards prep material and now contribute to their Step 3 boards prep as a content consultant.

  2. Doctors In Training:
    I used this for COMLEX Levels 1, 2, and 3 as well as USMLE Step 1. I loved the courses. It was especially helpful for the first board exam. I liked that it gave me structure for studying as well. The best part is my friends used this too and we could compare notes or ask each other questions to help us better understand concepts.

  3. Acland Anatomy:
    These are great videos that go into detail over anatomic landmarks in case you need a review but don't have a chance to go to the anatomy lab.

  4. Picmonics:
    As a visual learner, I loved these "picture mnemonics." I still use them today.

  5. BRS series:
    Every single one. They cut through all of the dense material and give you a concise, comprehensive review of each topic. Instead of pouring over books searching for buried answers or explanations, these books have them all upfront and easily accessible.

  6. Dr. Najeeb:
    He is funny, smart, and a great teacher. I loved watching his courses online. I still refer back to his drawings.

  7. MDCalc:
    This is a must-have app to have on your phone for clinical rotations (along with Epocrates). Plus it's free.

  8. First Aid:
    The Bible of medicine (sorry Grey's).

    Depending on the exam you're studying for, these are great question banks. I used COMBANK for Level 1 and 3, COMQUEST for Level 2, and UWorld for Step 1.

  10. Case Files:
     These were the best resource I found for in-service exams during my rotations.

    And because there really is no such thing as too much board prep, here's one more -

  11. Quizlet:
    You'll figure out what works for you, whether that's making flashcards, re-writing notes, or developing your own concept maps. I used to hand-write all of my flashcards in high school and college but in medical school there wasn't enough time and I couldn't handle the cramps. Quizlet made it easy for me. I typed all the material I wanted to study. Having the app on my phone meant I could test myself anywhere. And I still use it today in residency!

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.
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