MD Program

¡Hola! from Xela, Guatemala!

When exhaustion, brain block, and emotional drainage are all screaming that you need to spend the next 24 hours sitting on the couch staring blankly at a television screen, you need to tell yourself “Si se peude!” (Yes, you can). And that is the only option. The last few days have been a whirlwind of nonstop Go, Go, Go. Each day has blended into the next and I find myself wondering how I got to … Read More

Another day in the life

  My first year of medical school is now behind me forever. I am sitting on an airplane, which, after a 3-hour delay, appears to be getting ready to take off. This plane is heading to Houston, where I will meet five of my friends and classmates, and together we will board a plane to the island of Roatan, Honduras. For the next month I will be in a clinic and on beaches, helping patients … Read More

Don’t forget the days while planning the years

There is only so much you can cram into one day. Only so much you can do in a week. And when the year is over, only so much you can be proud to say you have accomplished and learned. Time constraints are the true enemy. We must all account for time in order to set realistic expectations. Or so I thought… They say “time stops for no man,” but it certainly does for medical … Read More

Anything but Middle-of-the-Road

I can’t believe we have one week left of our first year! I had such high hopes for writing these blog posts as a record of my medical school experience. Somewhere around February, though, when the weather was at its worst and I was caught in the doldrums of staying on top of my work and laundry, it occurred to me that much of this experience is intensely personal… and hard to talk about. When … Read More

It be iddy biddy…

When learning a massive amount of material, it helps to have pneumonics for rote memorization. The crazier the phrase the better. Of course sometimes you remember the wacky phrase but not what it stands for. In our neuroscience class last term, we were specifically told to NOT remember a pneumonic for brain MRI findings that related the age of an intra-parenchymal hemorrhage to the findings on a T1/T2 MRI. But it was just so darn memorable: … Read More

Healthcare in a parking garage

Somehow the gravity of the words was diminished when translated into a second-language. “Tienes diabetes” (You have diabetes). It wasn’t until after I had said them, and after I saw the empty stare of the words’ recipient, that I realized the weight of the information I had just relayed. The make-shift office of felt walls and PVC pipes in the underground parking garage felt like an odd place to give someone a diagnosis of a potentially chronic illness. In that moment, the reality of … Read More

Lost in the trees

I used to write just to write, for no particular reason – it was just something I liked to do. I had one of those way-too-popular black Moleskine journals that are about the size of a back pocket, and I would sit on a bench of my undergraduate campus and write a poem or a paragraph or anything that came to mind. I don’t do that anymore. Instead, I learn. I learn all the time. … Read More

The learning paradox

“I am slow to learn and slow to forget that which I have learned. My mind is like a piece of steel, very hard to scratch anything on it and almost impossible after you get it there to rub it out.” – Abraham Lincoln Despite his demonstrated capacity for significant life accomplishments, I’m not sure how well our 16th president would have liked being a medical student in the 21st century.  Modern medicine is an … Read More

Health and a hot meal

Madeline is one of the sickest patients I have met in three years of medical school. Homeless, she came by ambulance to the hospital for malnutrition and frostbite after days sleeping out in a Portland area park this winter. She was resourceful: She made drinking water by melting snow in plastic bottles with her own body heat. And her physical health was surprisingly good. Her mental health was not. She thought she had magic powers, … Read More

Low Point

Let this be known as The Low Point. I wasn’t prepared for it, much as I thought I was getting used to the feeling of never being 100% prepared and settling for a decent-enough understanding or grade. This weekend, despite all my kicking and screaming, I hit a serious low point in balancing school and the rest of life. A snapshot: I can’t tell which basket is clean or dirty and there are no clothes … Read More



Ever wondered what life is like as a student at OHSU? What does it take to become a researcher? Just how gross is gross anatomy? Welcome to the blog that answers these – and many other – questions. It’s students writing first-hand about their commitment to careers in science and health care. It’s honest about the challenges as well as the joys. It’s not always pretty. But it is our story. Thank you for sharing it with us. And please, let us know what you think.

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