Having written numerous articles throughout the past year, inevitably, there comes a time when writers come face-to-face with their worst enemy, writer’s block. Have you ever been plagued with writer’s block or become stuck on an assignment and incapable of moving forward? How do you get rid of writer’s block and back into the motion of producing exceptional work on a regular basis? Returning back to school after a long, sunny and relaxing summer break can be difficult and has also led to us become used to a more lax routine. Settling into our books and focusing can be especially difficult during this time of year. So what exactly can we do to overcome this obstacle?
Yesterday was my last official day of work at the lab for the summer! I have thoroughly enjoyed the experience and cannot express enough my appreciation for my supervisor and the other lab members.
Last summer, I worked at the same lab, and because it was my first wet-lab experience, I did much of the grunt work. Nevertheless, I was grateful for the opportunity, and by demonstrating my abilities and desire to contribute, I was tasked with a much more exciting project this summer which entailed me to learn numerous new techniques. I absolutely loved the surgical manipulation of mice and I am now considering a surgical specialty down the road. I am currently working on a final presentation which I am presenting to the lab on Monday, as sort of a wrap-up to the summer, where I share what I’ve done, results, and any conclusions. I’ve noticed myself becoming a lot more comfortable with presentations, partly due to increased familiarity and rapport with the lab members, and partly because I have become more confident in my own communication skills. Before, I used to rehearse for hours, write out word by word what I wanted to say, and memorize it as sort of a script. Now, although I still rehearse, I memorize key points instead of every word, making my presentations more versatile and natural. I am excited to have 2 weeks off before the start of a new school year, which I plan to use to finalize my medical school application. I’ve already sorted out my references, sent in my transcripts and MCAT score, and just going through final revisions for my essays!
Hurray! I just finished the final draft of my “brief essays” for Toronto medical school. After 6 drafts and major overhauls, it has not been an easy process. It’s one thing to know who you are as a person and where you stand on issues, but it’s another to put it down on paper, explain why, and give an accurate representation of yourself. In addition to the autobiographical sketch (which is required by all Ontario medical schools), UofT requires 4 “brief essays” on 4 questions revealed each year, as well as brief descriptions of 3 activities you engaged in that you feel demonstrate what they are looking for in an applicant.
For this year: the essay topics were:
Question 1: Define what altruism means to you in the context of medicine.
Question 2: Describe a lesson you learned while collaborating in a paid or unpaid work environment.
Question 3: “Man is by nature a political animal.” – Aristotle. Discuss what this quote means to you in regard to advocacy by physicians.
Question 4: Describe a time during your academic career when a specific topic interested you so much that you continued your learning beyond the classroom. How did you do this?
The questions are meant to probe your thoughts and provide insight to your character that the autobiographical sketch may miss. While question 2 and 4 I feel are more straightforward, question 3 is very much open to your own interpretation, allowing the possibility of many different approaches and answers. My approach has been to base my answers on as many personal experiences as possible, as I strongly belief that who you are as a person is shaped more by your experiences than genetics or innate behavior patterns. Having just finished the final draft, I am now the process of sending it to as many people as I can, welcoming all input, recommendations and edits. I am not aiming for the most eloquently worded or beautifully opinionated essay; I just hope to paint an accurate portrayal of myself and my motivations.
Summer is a time that I (and many others) eagerly look forward to and since I am a teacher, July marks my two-month period of relaxation. As I was considering what I would blog about this month, it took me back to my summer travels – specifically, the time I decided to work for a summer camp abroad. Working during the summer, especially if it requires venturing outside of your element, is a fantastic way to discover new things you never knew about yourself. Since I am currently taking several summer classes, beginning a summer job is not in the works for me this year; however, I always aim to start a new hobby or pastime since I have the extra time to invest.
I had a meeting with the PI (principle investigator) of my lab today, not about my project, but about my plans for the future, and for the first time, I mentioned my intentions of applying to medical school this upcoming fall. Training students like me in various lab techniques takes up a lot of valuable time and money, and so usually labs prefer to hire students who are able to make a long term commitment to the lab, in order to make the time and money spent on training worthwhile. Despite my news of early application (meaning I would possibly leave his lab earlier than planned), he was incredibly supportive and gracious.
As I have previously mentioned on the blog, I had the privilege of working briefly this summer as an undergraduate teaching assistant for Organic Chemistry 2. This was arranged of through the Tomlinson Engagement Award for Mentoring program (http://www.mcgill.ca/tpulse/tomlinson-engagement-award-mentoring), which selects qualified students who had previously taken the course, to work as a undergraduate TA and assist with the course alongside the instructor and an graduate TA.
Many would argue that information is the new currency in our day and age. Targeted advertisement and acquiring customer information is very important to many companies and that’s why corporations, advertisers and online forums aim to get so much information out of online audiences. Protecting our privacy online was the topic in my previous blog, but now I would like to shed some light on protecting our online creations and work. As I continue my educational growth here at McGill, I find myself constantly publishing my grad projects and research findings online. I am just beginning to see how important it is to protect and additionally, share my own work with those around me and those in my field. I began pondering, “what goes into the whole process of copyrighting something?”
More often than not, when on the topic of group projects, there are groans and complaints of unequal work sharing, frustration of incompatible personalities, and the development of some sort of drama amidst big egos and hurt feelings. Confession, I used to hate group work as well; often looking at it as a task harder than the project itself. However, fueled by more than a few difficult group projects and teamwork situations, I began putting in some time and effort in reflecting about past experiences, striving to improve my approach to group work, and in doing so, have really developed an appreciation for the amount of effort involved in established a truly efficient and functional team of group members.
Hey guys! Sorry I have been totally MIA lately. I have been super swamped with work and sorting out my schedule. So OMSAS (the association through which you send in your Ontario medical school applications) just opened up for the 2015-2016 medical school application cycle yesterday. Needless to say, I created an account and am super excited to start preparing my application. For those who are unfamiliar with the process, you are required to fill in/upload your university transcripts, MCAT scores, an autobiographical sketch, as well as 3 references; all of that are sent by OMSAS to the Ontario medical schools which you are applying to.