Friday, December 16, 2016

We are now officially done with the first semester of our Master's Program. These past 5 months have gone by so quick, but I have learned so much, I barely noticed that time has past. The last test covered the GI system, and it was really interesting to learn about the different receptors in the gut and the various drugs that can be used to combat gastrointestinal issues. Although I definitely want to learn more, it will be nice to have a 2-week break to relax.

Cole and I went to SciHigh a couple more times in December to help Mr. Harris' class as they prepared for their final test of the semester. We went over their study guide with the same students that we have been working with over the past month. I definitely think that we have gotten a good relationship with the students going as we can really see the improvement of the students. It has gotten to the point where they barely need our help anymore. It is rewarding to come back to the classroom after the tutoring session and see a look of gratitude from Mr. Harris. I cannot wait to go back in January and continue tutoring.

This month has been very odd in terms of weather.  One day it will be 75 degrees and beautiful, and then the following day will be 45 degrees with 20 mile per hour winds. I guess that sort of represents New Orleans in a nutshell: you really never know what you are going to get each day but either way, you find a way to make the best of it.

'Til next time.

Service Hours Tracker
December: 4
Total: 35

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

So unfortunately, or fortunately if you do not like cold weather, it has not gotten below 65 degrees here in New Orleans. Although I grew up in Louisiana, it still baffles me that winter in New Orleans, or the Gulf Coast for that matter, does not really bring cold weather, which means that I cannot truly enjoy warm gumbo. Although I miss the cold, I can't complain about the beautiful weather that we have had. Being able to walk through New Orleans and listen to live band after live band without having to worry about snow, heavy winds, cold weather, rain, etc. is a great study break that I think all of us here have really enjoyed.

In regards to school work, November was a really busy month. We completed both the Renal Block and Pulmonary Block. The main focus of both of these blocks was with our Molecular and Cell Pharm course. It is very interesting to dive into the research processes and techniques that allow researchers to discover new drugs and functions in the body. Right now, we are on the last block of the semester: GI. It is truly hard to believe that we are almost halfway done with the program but I am grateful for all of the information that I have gained. Although learning about drugs and research has been enjoyable, it was nice to go back home to celebrate Thanksgiving with my family.

Volunteering has been going great thus far. Cole and I have set up a good system with Mr. Harris and his class. We have decided to primarily focus on one of his classes and work 1-on-1 with a couple of students. In doing so, we are able to really make sure that they understand the work that they are doing and form a good relationship. After we finish with the lesson, it is nice to tell Mr. Harris that our students were able to understand the lesson and do the work without constant help from us.

'Til next time

Service Hours Tracker
November Service Hours: 8
Total Service Hours: 31

Monday, October 31, 2016

Happy Halloween! Tomorrow is our renal block exam, so unfortunately I will not be able to go out trick-or-treating tonight. 

The fact that we have our 5th block exam tomorrow is surprising because it feels like we just completed the ANS/CV block yesterday. In regards to that block, I performed really well, and I believe that I have mastered my study techniques and methods that will allow me to perform well on the upcoming blocks. This block saw the introduction a new class for the semester: Molecular and Cellular Pharmacology. It has been interesting studying topics like microscopy, monoclonal antibodies, and gene therapy because it allows us to gain a more holistic view of medicine in addition to our MedPharm or Principles classes. Speaking of those classes, the kidney is such an interesting organ because it seems so simple at first glance but is one of the most unique organs in our body. It is very interesting to see how big a role the kidney plays in our body. I guess that is why we have two of them!

In terms of volunteering, I was not able to go to Second Harvest due to conflictions with our class schedule, but I am still tutoring Algebra II at SciHigh. Instead of leading a lesson with 5-6 students, I am given a student or two to bring to work individually with. I think this has worked better for the students and me. It is surprising to me how much Algebra II I still remember; I guess that is why I enjoyed the class so much freshman year of high school. One of the coolest things some of us have done this year, in my opinion, was judge the science fair at SciHigh. I was a judge for the Biology students, and it was very enjoyable to see the different projects the students took on.  As I judged, it was rewarding to see and hear the enthusiasm some of the students had as they were presenting their “research” to me. Hopefully, they follow that enthusiasm for STEM projects in the future.

Lastly, it is getting cooler here and that means that my favorite time of the year is approaching: gumbo season. Although it can be served year round, I don’t think anything tastes better than gumbo in the Louisiana “winter.” Aside from that, it has been fun exploring the city and culture as each street has it’s own unique vibe and history to offer.

‘Til next time and sorry for the “obligatory” renal joke.

Service Hours Tracker
October Service Hours: 6
Total Service Hours: 23

Thursday, September 29, 2016

So we are now at the end of September, and it is still hard for me to believe how much I have learned over the past two and half months. Right now, we are on the ANS and CV block, which has been my favorite thus far. On Wednesday, we had a team based learning assignment for the ANS drugs, and I thought it was a really interesting and fun way to learn the material. I felt really anxious going into the assignment, but I realized that I knew more than I thought I had, which is a good sign as I prepare for our test in a couple of weeks. Last test did not go as well as I planned, but I have figured out what I can do better to improve my scores. I am confident moving forward, most in part due to my enjoyment on this block’s material and the success of the TBL.

For community service, I went to Second Harvest Food Bank again to help out in the food-sorting warehouse. They are still taking donations to flood affected areas in Baton Rouge, but for the most part everything was “back to normal,” in that the food sorted would be distributed throughout the New Orleans area. I also started my volunteering at SciHigh. Cole and I are helping out Mr. Harris in his Algebra II classroom.  It was really weird teaching a subject I haven’t seen in roughly 8 years, but based on the students’ reactions during my visit, I felt I did a good job helping them out understand the material.

This month was Labor Day, so I went home to Pensacola for the holiday to visit with my family.  Although Pensacola and home is nice, it is not New Orleans. The city is so vibrant and pretty. One of my favorite things to do in the city is finding new running routes. Whether running down St. Charles or in City Park, I always seem to marvel at how unique this city is (it’s also a good way to try and distract myself from the heat).  A group of us formed an intramural flag football team, and we had our first game today. Although we tied, we all had a fun time hanging out together, and I think we will be able to pull out a win next week. 

‘Til next time.

Service Hours Tracker
September: 5
Total: 17

Monday, August 29, 2016

I never thought that I would say this, but it feels good to be back in Louisiana. I grew up in Lafayette, went to school at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, TN, and live in Pensacola, FL, when I am with my parents.  I decided to come back to Louisiana in order to attend the Master's of Pharmacology program offered by Tulane School of Medicine. This blog will serve as a reflection of my time during the program, from academics to service to life in New Orleans.

It's hard to believe that it has been a month and a half since we began the program, and we have already taken two block exams. The pace of the classes is definitely faster than most of the classes, if not all, I had at Vanderbilt, but this is a good thing. I've enjoyed the learning material thus far as it is very applicable to the medical field.  Due to the fast pace, studying for the material seemed overwhelming at first, but as we continued classes, I realized that studying for classes in Med Pharm or Principles of Pharmacology is much more exciting and interesting than general chemistry or physics.  I have performed well on the first two blocks, but could do better so I am slightly changing my study habits as I prepare for the next block exam.

For service, I am primarily going to be involved with two organizations: SciHigh and Second Harvest Food Bank. I, and the others who are going to volunteer at the high school, are waiting for all the forms to be finalized before we can begin tutoring. I am looking forward to this opportunity based on presentation given to us by former students who worked there. Second Harvest Food Bank provides food access, education, and relief aid throughout southern Louisiana.  Due to the flood that ravaged Baton Rouge and Lafayette, many people donated items. Last Saturday, I volunteered at their food sorting warehouse to sort and pack over 10,000 pounds of food to distribute to the affected areas.  It was really cool to see people of all ages come together and work to help those in need. I will continue signing up to work in the sorting warehouse and community kitchen to help those who need it.

Along those lines, 5 of us traveled to Baton Rouge yesterday to help clear out a house that had flood damage.  Through the help of the Nola Tree Foundation, we went to the home and took out the installation, drywall, and tile floors that were damaged.  I learned a lot about how to properly "destroy" a home for future renovations, though I didn't like the circumstances on which I learned my new skills. It was shocking to drive through the neighborhood and not be able to see the sidewalk, but instead household items and the literal structures that make up a house. We did what us novices could, and the homeowners were grateful for our help.

Lastly, living in New Orleans has reminded me of the southern culture that I grew up with and is inherently a major part of who I am. The hospitality is not comparable to anywhere else. New Orleans is such a unique city with a vibrant culture and I look forward to exploring more of what the city has to offer.

'Til next time.

Service Hours Tracker:
Second Harvest Food Bank: 4
NOLA Tree Fund/Disaster Cleanup: 8
Total: 12