All About Med 1: The Block Is Hot

Block Exams Are Coming

I’m 4 weeks into term 1 and I’m about to start study week.  We get 4 weeks of lectures, 1 week to study uninterrupted, and then a block exam.  The block exam is a combined test that covers all the materials from the beginning.  Last week, we had a 35 question formative exam kinda like a “sneak peak” of what our actual block exam will look like.  The formative counts for 2% of our grade and benchmarked where we stood with the material.  I’m glad they gave it to us because it showed me my strengths and weaknesses.  

The first block is a general review of undergraduate material.  There are a few new things, but nothing from left field.  My biggest challenge thus far has been allowing break myself to take a break.  My friend told me that having a glass of wine at night with my notes before bed doesn’t count as personal time.  

Breaks are important

block

I use a daily calendar to track my daily activities and my iOS calendar to track my time.  Since this week is study week, I’m about to go “hard in the paint.”  Meaning, this next week is no joke.  Since I understand the benefits of time off, I made sure to schedule some down time.  

I spent the weekend preparing for the week. My meal prep included pot roast, taco salad, ginger chicken, spaghetti and meatballs.  I made the roast and the ginger chicken in the crock pot.  Both are really easy to do.  I’ll post directions when I get more time.  I froze half of the meals so they would last unit the end of the week and beyond.  

Your girl won’t be hungry this week.  On top of meal prepping I went grocery shopping, filled up my gas tank, checked my tires, did my laundry, cleaned my house, changed my sheets, washed my hair, and shaved.  I don’t need any distractions this week.  The plan is to pray, eat, workout, study, and repeat.  Check it out below. 

block

The Block Is Hot

Okay, so I know this schedule looks insane.  But, “The Block Is Hot”.  Which is a Lil Wayne’s reference from his hit jam in 1999.  Every time I sit down to study I start singing that song.  LiL Wayne is referencing police on the corner preventing him from participating in discretionary activities.  I’m referencing my professors literally saying it’s my job to “F” you on this exam.  YES!  One of my professors actually said that.  So the block extra hot!

The good news is, I feel comfortable with all of the material.  I need to work on memorizing the small details and cross-referencing topics.  Hopefully things will go in my favor over the upcoming week.  

Weekly Wins

I’m still sticking to my personal goals.  Things haven’t been prefect but I haven’t completely fallen off either.  

  1.  I’m only a few days behind on my daily devotional.
  2. I still work out.  Although the past few weeks has been intermittent (1-3 times per week).  The goal is at least 4.  This week.  I want to workout everyday.  It will help me sleep and it clears my mind.  I need every advantage during study week.  
  3. My diet isn’t terrible.  I’m cooking more than I have been and that’s always better.  
  4. My sleep has been so so.  I need to be more strict with forcing myself to sleep before midnight.  
  5. Blogging fell off.  I trying though.   

If I haven’t completely failed I consider it a win, even if it’s small.  

Check out my article on eating real food and find me on pinterest.

Striving to make practical changes for healthier lifestyle.  

Tiffany Rebekah

All About Med 1: Week 1

New Country, New School

A few weeks ago, I moved to Antigua and Barbuda to attend American University of Antigua School of Medicine.  Although, I was sad to leave my friends at SGU I’m excited to start my new journey at AUA.  I haven’t told many people because everything has happened so fast.  Now, I get a chance to document my time in another new country.  Yay!!

February 12, 2017

So my transition to American University of Antigua is coming along and I’m beginning to learn my surroundings.  I’ve opted to lease a car for the semester to make my life easier.  I wasn’t trying to play any games with dealing with the transportation system here.  If the bus system is anything like SGU’s transportation system, I’ll pass.  

Driving has taken some adjustment since Antigua drives on the opposite side of the road from the US.  Even the driver’s side sits on the right.  Luckily, the drivers aren’t as terrible as other Caribbean islands.  

Orientation Week

Orientation is typically the week before classes start.  During this time, we confirm we’re on the island, sign up for classes, finalize things with financial-aid, and get the lay of the land.  That was Monday & Tuesday.  Wednesday was the official welcoming ceremony and the school greeted us with welcome speeches and a bar-b-que.  Thursday we sat through a day of introductions from the administration learned important information about the school.  Friday we learned we’ll be in debt for the rest of our lives.  Some call it financial aid.  Friday ended with workshops that gave helpful study tips.

Excursions

The school ended our orientation week by offering a variety of excursions to attend.  We had the option to choose from paddle boarding, Stingray City, sight-seeing at Nelson’s Dock Yard/Shirley Heights or zip-lining through Antigua’s Rainforest.  

I chose zip-lining.  I had never done it before and well…..I’m adventurous.  I wasn’t scared to zip-line but I was scared to hold the rope behind me.  The first time I did it, I felt like I was burning my hand so I decided not to hold the rope.  As a result, I ended up speeding out of control, flying backwards, and knocking the attendees over because I didn’t know how to brake. 😁

Things were going well until they threw us in an unexpected obstacle course.  In order to get back, we had to bungee jump off a 50 foot platform, At the end, tight rope across part of the rainforest, and darn near monkey bar the rest of the way.  I’m not kidding.  That’s when I started questioning my decision and wondered if I was going to make it back safely.  Obviously I did and I’m here to talk about it.  

week 1 zip line

week 1 zip line

week 1 zip line

 

February 14th, 2017

The first and second day of class was pretty light.  I know from experience this won’t continue.  Yesterday’s classes were mainly reviews of things we should’ve learned in undergrad.  All of the professors seem nice.  My anatomy professor is a real pleasure.  Right off the bat this man came in regulating.  All I’ll say, is he snatched my class up real quick.  He plays no games.  

My only real challenge is the financial aid process.  Prior students told me to expect the worse.  Unfortunately, they were right.  Dealing with financial aid here is awful.  I’m now on day 2 and I have yet to receive my award letter or any update when I should expect it.  After numerous emails, office visits, and phone calls, nothing.  I feel like the entire office is avoiding me.  I’ve been in customer service most of my life and lack of effective communication is in the top three of things not to do.  

Besides the nightmare of not knowing if I’ll have money, things in my new school are running pretty smoothly.  My left side driving gets better everyday and I’m no longer using the windshield wiper as the blinker.  I noticed my self leaning on the middle counsel the other day and that’s when I knew I was getting comfortable. 

February 18th, 2017

It’s Saturday and I have officially completed my first week in my new school.  I started today with sleeping in (8:00 a.m.) and then I got up and headed to the library to spend the day reviewing the weeks material.  Luckily, the class material so far hasn’t been challenging.  Some of the things I covered in undergrad in two weeks was in a 50 minutes lecture.  I’m thankful for taking extra time doing an additional pre-med program.  

Back to this financial aid issue.  Four days later and still no answers.  I’m about 2 more “we don’t know” responses to snapping.  I’m trying to be patient and professional but I really feel like this FA department is trying me.  I will give them until Monday to get it together until I change my tone.  

The problem is a large portion of the prior class last term had to repeat their first semester and that raised red flags with the United States Department of Education for financial aid.  I’m not sure of the details but it doesn’t look good.  I pray they are able to work things out and get it together.  Now the school is trying to make every effort to do everything right.  In the mean time, many students are left in limbo.  

Why do so many students have to repeat? 

Repeating the first semester is extremely common in all Caribbean medical schools.  I saw it first hand at SGU and I know it happens at Ross and AUC.  In my opinion, most students from the United States that end up in a Caribbean school have a weaker pre-medical foundation upon starting their first semester.  Caribbean schools are second chance schools for people like me who really want to follow their dream.  

Students tend to have lower GPAs, lower MCAT scores, have been out of school for a while, and/or don’t have a science back ground.  So when students get accepted into a Caribbean school and then start the heavy course load it becomes overwhelming.  Many schools have bridge programs that will prepare them for the first semester.  However, not every student goes through a program.  I was lucky enough to complete a bridge program and I pray it helps me at my new school.  

Bridge programs are designed to help you succeed in medical school.  In my situation, I graduated with a degree in finance, worked for 10 years, and then came back to school.  My back ground was not science.   Also, my GPA was not 3.75 because I didn’t care to go to medical school 10 years ago and my MCAT score was just average.   Plus I’m older.  I NEEDED a bridge.

Unfortunately, many people fail because they treat medical school here like undergrad.  It’s not the same.  If anything, Caribbean schools are waaaaayyyyy harder because now you have to prove yourself to make it back for a chance at a residency in the United States.  We work hard.  I see kids partying and I think to myself, they are on an expensive vacation.  

Weekly Wins

This year I set a few goals for myself.  Although I have not been perfect, I can honestly say that I did a good job this week with sticking to my plan.  

  1. I have been keeping up with my daily devotional 
  2. I worked out 4/7 days this week
  3. My diet has not been terrible
  4. I stuck to my schedule 80% of the time and I’m sleeping
  5. I’ve been blogging more

I have not started vlogging yet.  Hopefully, I can build up enough courage to get that together.  There’s always room for improvement and hopefully I can stay on track.  

Check out my article on eating real food and find me on pinterest.

Striving to make practical changes for healthier lifestyle.  

Tiffany Rebekah

Goals: Getting My Life In 2017

goals

I’ve heard this a time or two and you probably have too.  I’m actually a planner, a darn good one at that.  I’ll plan the crap out of an event.  Vacation, party, budget, schedule…… You name it and honey I’ve got a plan. What I am not, is a New Year’s resolutions maker.  Some of us assume we’ll magically transform into a new person on January 1st.  As if at the stoke of midnight, your fairy god mother will strike you with her magic wand and say, “wallah.”  It takes a catapillar two weeks to transform into a butterfly.  But let’s be real here; two weeks into the New Year and we’re already back to the same ole shenanigans from the prior year.

“So what makes this year different for me?”, you ask.  I’m using my natural ability to plan and applying it to my 2017 goals.  Normally, I’m a very private person, so announcing my goals to the world is quite difficult for me.  Although I enjoy writing my blog, I still find it hard to put my inner most feelings and weaknesses on public display.  But writing them on the blog for the world to see makes me accountable which will increase my chances of actually hitting my goals.  

Let’s get started.  With my big girl panties on, I sit here listening to “Retrograde” by James Blake on repeat, here we go.  

2017 Goals

My first and most important goal is to strengthen my relationship with God.  I’m Christian and God is important to me.  This year I’m making it a point to put God first in everything I do.  The past few years I’ve been distracted and haven’t spent as much time with God like I should’ve.  This has to change.  This year, I’m following a daily devotional.  Following a daily devotional plan is an easy way for me to connect with God on a daily basis.  I use the Bible app on my iPad and I’ve committed to the “Bible In One Year 2017” plan.  It takes about 20 minutes every morning to read through and then pray.

My second goal is to gain stronger focus and self-discipline.  This one goal will help me achieve the many others that follow after it.  I struggle with consistency and staying on track.  Last year, I was most productive when I scheduled my week down to the hour (using my natural planning abilities).  I even incorporated relaxation and flex time into the schedule.  You couldn’t tell me I wasn’t a rock star for those few weeks.  Your girl had a to-do list and everything.  But that was short lived because I became complacent.  Looking back, I got more done in a day then than I do now in a week.  

Increased focus and discipline will help me with the following:

  1. Successfully completing year 1 of medical school.
  2. Exercising 5 days a week which will help with stress, sleep, fitness.  
  3. Resisting junk food!  Lord knows I love to eat.  It might be my favorite pass time.  But, last year I let life get the best of me and ate any and everything.  Plus, I wasn’t cooking and taking my lunch to school.  Well, let me tell you.  My fat jeans have informed me just how out of hand I’ve gotten. 

So in an attempted to begin the snap back process, I went to hit the gym today.  I was met with this sign.goals

What in the world is this?  Now they know good and well, people are trying to get their life right in January and they go and close the gym.  

goals

It’s all good.  I ended up doing a quick jog around the neighborhood.  No excuses!

My third goal is to keep a regular sleep schedule.  Believe it or not, first year medical students have time to sleep if we practice good time management.  But many of us lollygag at night on social media when it’s time for bed.  I wasted so much time making the rounds.  First FB, then IG, and lastly snap chat (which I’m still learning, ahh the joys of being in your 30’s).  Anyway, my goal is to be asleep by 12 a.m. and awake at 7 a.m..  

My fourth goal is to deal with my stress and anxiety in a more constructive manner.  This ties with my above discipline goal.  Diet and exercise are key components; but it helps me if I “write” out the stress.  When I was younger, I would journal.  It was like therapy for me.  I stopped when my ex-boyfriend found my journal and read it cover to cover.  I guess you can figure out why he’s an ex. Right?  

Either way, it helped me express my emotions so I didn’t keep them all bottled up.  Imagine randomly crying because your professor asked you how your day was going.  Yup, it happened.  It just so happen, I was having a terrible week.  But that particular morning, I woke up to no running water.  That resulted in me being late and skipping breakfast and my morning coffee.  Then I missed my bus to class and I had to walk to catch a cab.  If that wasn’t bad enough it began pouring.  Mind you, I’m living in the Caribbean so it’s one of those good heavy tropical down pours.  But like the good sport I am, I sucked it up and reached for my umbrella only to remember I left it because I was running late.   So yeah, that one question, “How is your day?” made me cry.  

Luckliy, I always keep sunglasses on me.  So I snatched those janks on and sprinted to the ladies room to check my emotions and fix my face.

goals

My fourth goal is to make time for the things I love.  Like, I have to schedule it in my weekly calendar.  My classes this term will be in the afternoon, Monday – Friday from 1 – 5 p.m..  The best time for me to make personal time is Friday evenings after I’m brain dead from the week.  

During this personal time I want to do the following:

  1. Beach more
  2. Grow the blog 
  3. Start vlogging
  4. Make time for family and friends

This post will be the foundation to holding myself accountable for reaching my goals in 2017.  Also, I realize that things won’t change overnight.  I’m curious to know what other people are working on.  Share some of your goals and what your plan is to accomplish them.

Check out my article on eating real food and find me on pinterest.

Striving to make practical changes for healthier lifestyle.  

Tiffany Rebekah

Anxiety: 4 Anti-Anxiety Foods

My heart was racing.  I began chocking and then I couldn’t breath.  I felt light headed as if I was about to pass out.  Terrified, I struggled trying to figure out what has happening to me.  This lasted 5 to 10 minutes and then the feeling passed.  It was my first anxiety attack.  

anxiety

What caused my anxiety attack?

  1. Poor diet
  2. Lack of sleep
  3. Lack of exercise
  4. Stress
  5. No balance

In January of 2016, I moved to a small island in the West Indies to start medical school where I didn’t know a soul.  I quickly learned my way around and made new friends.  As I settled into caribbean life, student life began to take off like a straight up rollercoaster ride.  One minute you’re feeling the high and the next minute you’re questioning the meaning of life.  

While most of us medical students feel a sense of pride and gratitude for our opportunities, we neglect to talk about the dark side of a medical student’s lifestyle.   No one knows the stress that we’re under and the constant hit our psyche takes day after day.  We’re constantly worrying if we’re studying correctly, have we learned enough, and will we remember it all.  Check out how CNN describes depression in the medical field.  

anxiety

For me, I knew what I was getting into.  I was willing to let my personal life take a hit to follow my passion.  But you need people.  You can’t do this thing alone.  Medical students struggle with reaching out because we’re so use to doing everything ourselves.  Often times, we feel outsiders won’t understand the struggle we go through.  Trust me, the struggle is real!

It’s not all doom and gloom.  Number one, I freaking live in paradise and the beach is always a short distance away.  Number two, it’s always 80 degrees.  Yes, 80 degrees!!  Also, I’ve met some really cool people and some lifelong friends.  Lastly, we know what we’re learning will change and hopefully save lives and that’s an awesome feeling.  Not to mention, I love learning about how amazing our bodies are.

Truth be told, I wouldn’t change a thing except how I handle stress.  Oh, and maybe going to the beach a little more often.  (adding to my to-do list)

anxiety

What have I learned? 

I can’t neglect myself.  I need to eat well, exercise everyday, and I need sleep.  All this sounds simple right?  Well, let me tell you.  Once you sit through your first week of class, you quickly realize your behind and you begin to sacrifice the basics to keep up.  So, I’m taking back to the basics and incorporating food that will help keep my stress and anxiety levels down.  

4 Anti-Anxiety Foods

  1.  Spinach is high in folic acid and helps with depression.  It’s also rich in magnesium which helps to control the stress hormone cortisol.  anxiety
  2. Wild Salmon is rich in B12 and B6 and deficiencies are linked to anxiety, panic attacks and depression.  B vitamins are important for healthy nerves and brain cells.  Salmon is high in omega-3 fatty acids which is an anti-inflammatory.  Omega-3 helps controls the stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline. anxiety
  3. Guavas are very high in vitamin C which also helps control the stress hormone cortisol.anxiety
  4. Seeds & Nuts.  Pumpkin seeds are high in tryptophan which helps with the release of serotonin, the feel good hormone.
    anxiety

Now that I’m starting a new semester, I’m going to make it a point to make sure I don’t neglect myself especially my diet.  I’ll also be incorporating more time in my schedule for exercise.  The combination between the two will definitely help my anxiety.

What strategies do you use to combat anxiety?  Let me know.

Check out my article on eating real food and find me on pinterest.

Make practical changes for healthier lifestyle.  

Tiffany Rebekah

Charter Foundation Program

Charter Foundation Program

I was admitted into the Charter Foundation Program (aka Foundation to Medicine – FTM) at St. George’s University.  The program is designed to prepare students for the rigorous curriculum ahead of them once in the school of medicine.  The program is similar to the Medical Education Readiness Program (MERP).  It’s a tough program but upon completion, you will have a definite edge going into term 1.  

Check out this cool video I found of my school on youtube.

Charter Foundation Program
Photo courtesy of www.sgu.edu

The Charter Foundation Program aka FTM 

The curriculum is comprised of 6 courses (17 credit hours).  Successful completion of the program requires a 3.5 GPA (no grade less than a C) and passing their PMSCE (75%).  This is a tough standard, but statistically students that pass have an 80% chance of scoring greater than 220 on the USMLE step 1.  Goal…. score high for a your residency.   

FTM Courses (Spring 2016)

Anatomy (4 credits with lab) –   The anatomical sciences include human gross anatomy, developmental anatomy, histology and cell biology. The course begins with an introduction to anatomical terminology and imaging, cellular organization and the basic tissues. The course continues with an extensive study of the eleven major systems of the human body: Integumentary System, Skeletal System, Muscular System, Cardiovascular System, Lymphatic System, Respiratory System, Digestive System, Urinary System, Male & Female Reproductive Systems, Nervous System and Endocrine System. The course is composed of lecture, laboratory, small group and online activities.  

Grades are calculated out of 330 points.  There’s a midterm and final each worth 100 points, and 2 quizzes each worth 40 points.  The other 50 points come from online assignments, online quizzes, small groups and labs.  This class gives you many opportunities to improve your grade if you mess up on a quiz or exam.  

My evaluation:  There is a ton of information and concepts build quickly.  The quizzes and exams are mostly 1st order questions.  Some questions come directly from the online assignments, online quizzes, lab, and small groups called buzz.  The class is supported by supplemental learning groups (SL).  The SL facilitator provides questions from the lectures to test your knowledge.  Use their packets!  The class average for each exam normally hovers around 80%.  I felt this course was very doable.  It’s not an easy course and you must study everyday because there is a lot of information to digest quickly.  

Physiology (3 credits) – Gives an introduction to physiology.  Topics covered include excitable tissue, resting and action potentials, muscle contractions, autonomic nervous system, functional neuroanatomy, somatic senses, auditory and vestibular system, complex brain function, cardiovascular physiology, respiratory physiology, endocrinology, gastrointestinal physiology, renal physiology, and acid base.  

Grades are out of 130 points.  There are 3 quizzes (10 points each), a midterm (50 points), and the final (50 points).  Exams are not cumulative.  

My evaluation:  I found this course the most difficult of them all.  Learning physiology requires causal reasoning and conceptual integration.  You CAN NOT memorize your way through physiology.  It’s a difficult subject to teach and many students blamed our teachers.  YOU MUST BE A SELF LEARNER!!  You must test yourself frequently.  If you’ve never taken physiology, YOU MUST READ THE BOOK!!!  Exam questions come from several different professors each with their own style. The test are hard.  Invest in Physiology BRS and get the book for the course.  Do as many practice question you can get your hands on.  Study in groups.  This course is supported by SL and their practice questions are very helpful.  The midterm average for our class was around 68%.  Don’t let this scare you, people that hung in there drastically improved their scores on the final.  

Biochemistry (3 credits) –  The objective is to cover the structure and function of biological molecules, the biochemical pathways of intermediary metabolism, the functional significance of biochemical processes as well as their regulation in normal and aberrant states.  Identify the structures and cellular roles of the major macromolecules.  List and explain the major metabolic  pathways (synthesis and degradation) of proteins, carbohydrates, lipids and nucleic acids.  Integrate the biochemical information  covered by this course into meaningful knowledge with an emphasis on the functional significance and regulatory mechanisms governing metabolic pathways. 

Grades are based on 4 exams.  Exam 1 & 3 are worth 20% each.  The midterm and the final are worth 30% each.  Exams are not cumulative, however concepts build upon each other.   

My evaluation:  Most people love the director of this course.  We call him Dr. G and he really knows his stuff.  He’s also very funny and will keep you engaged during lecture.  Pay attention to what he says.  I repeat, pay attention to what he says.  Pay attention to every diagram.  He will test you on the same concept over and over again to make sure you understand it.  The exams were tricky.  Hint*** When learning the different pathways focus on regulation and enzymes.  You will need to know the steps, but he won’t ask what’s the 3rd step in glycolysis.  HE WILL ASK HOW IS IT REGULATED.  Just know all the regulation and enzymes.  The class average normally hovers around a B to B+.  The midterm average dropped ~10 points because people didn’t learn regulation and didn’t pay attention to the diagrams.  

Molecular Biology (3 credits) – The course is divided into 3 sections.  

Section 1: Central Dogma of Molecular Biology includes:  DNA Structure and Topology, DNA Replication, Transcription, RNA Processing, and Translation.

Section 2: Gene Regulation includes:  Regulation of Gene Expression in Prokaryotes, Regulation of Gene Expression in Eukaryotes, Translational Regulation, and Antisense, siRNA and MicroRNA

Section 3: Recombinant DNA Technology includes:  Restriction Endonucleases, DNA Cloning and Manipulation, Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR), DNA Markers,  DNA Forensics,  Genomics and Proteomics, Transgenics and Genetically Modified Organisms, Gene Therapy, and Molecular Cell Biology

Grades:  1% ExamSoft Practice (freebie), Quiz 20% Two Quizzes (highest quiz counts twice), 30% Midterm examination, 40% Final examination, 9% Two Online Practice Exams (more freebies). 

My evaluation:  The exams in this class are very straight forward.  There isn’t a book and everything comes directly from the lecture slides.  Pay attention to anything that’s starred, bolded, or highlighted.  Thirty percent of the course should be an easy A because of the dropped quiz and the online quizzes (which you’re allowed to take over and over again until you get 100%).  The SL sessions were on point too.  If Ms. Penny is still teaching them, go to them.  She’s taken the course before and gives awesome practice questions.  If you can answer her questions you will get an A in the course.  

Abnormal Psychology (3 credits) – This course reviews the major psychiatric disorders as defined in the DSM­5. The salient diagnostic features of the mental disorders are highlighted.  Major theories of the etiology of mental illness are reviewed, and neurobiological correlates of abnormal behavior are emphasized when possible. Both psychotherapeutic and biological treatment options and outcomes measures for mental illness are covered. Clinical cases and clinical videos illustrating psychotherapy are utilized to enhance learning.  

Each exam is worth 25% of your grade.  Exams are not cumulative but diagnoses may show up after exam 2.

My evaluation:  Arguably the most favoured professor in the program.  Dr. Kirby is very engaging and her class is extremely enjoyable.  Her exams are tricky but she gives practice questions to test your knowledge.  If you can answer her practice questions you’ll do well on her exams.  Class averages are normally in the B+ range.  

Learning Strategies (1 credit) –  Objectives copied from spring 2016 syllabus.

1. Design a personalized and effective time management schedule

2. Apply individualized time and task principles to course content

3. Organize and modify study approaches in order to study efficiently and to enhance long-term memory

4. Assess different memorization strategies and apply appropriately to course content

5. Assess different reading and note-taking strategies and apply appropriately to course content

6. Assess different note-making strategies and apply appropriately to course content

7. Create effective study groups

8. Assess different test-taking skills for multiple choice questions (MCQ) and apply appropriately to course content

9. Assess different test-taking errors and apply corrections appropriately to specific test situations

10. Recognize own academic attitudes and mental habits and know what adjustments are needed

11. Observe how stress, fear and anxiety impact the learning process and apply effective strategies to minimize that impact

12. Synthesize active learning strategies and higher order reasoning skills to develop effective learning tools for problematic course content

Grades are based on a series of in class and home assignments.  It’s an easy A, don’t stress about this class.  

My evaluation:  This class is a “find yourself” type of course.  It’s designed to help students evaluate their study strategies and correct any gaps in your study habits.  You will be introduced to different study techniques.  Some will work and others won’t.  The cool thing is, it helps you to become a better student and test taker.  Everyone gets an A in this course.   

Charter Foundations Program
Photo courtesy of www.sgu.edu

The Good

Only a selected few get an opportunity to participate in the Charter Foundation Program.  People are mainly picked based on their academic back ground.  Students present with lower MCAT scores, lower GPAs, or have been out of school for a while.  Some students may have not had biochemistry or anatomy.  Either way, students chosen for this program have been identified to benefit from the Charter Foundation Program.  

If you are chosen for this program, feel lucky.  This is an opportunity to prove to yourself and the academic committee that you have what it takes to make it through medical school.  There’s nothing worse than getting accepted into medical school and then failing out with $100,000+ in student loans.  Here, you will build a solid foundation to expand upon for your medical career.

The Charter Foundation Program is 100% refundable.  Yes!  If you’re unsuccessful, you get your tuition money back (~$12,000).  Living expenses are nonrefundable.  Still, not a bad deal.  Click here for detailed cost.

There are many resources to help you succeed.  The supplemental learning sessions (SL groups) are small groups that meet once a week to reinforce concepts discussed in class.  For more challenging courses the department of education services (DES) provide additional study sessions.  DES sessions are normally facilitated by previous students that excelled in the course.  My DES facilitator was awesome.  Shout out to Ruby!  The SL sessions are also great because they provide you with addition practice questions, which you need.  

In my term, the school introduced small groups for anatomy, biochemistry, and physiology.  These groups were designed to test your conceptual knowledge on a deeper level.  It helped reinforce the bigger picture and integrate concepts we learned in class.  Many people struggled with biochemistry and physiology so the school wanted to make sure we thoroughly understood these concepts.  

Learning strategies is a class that helps you with life at SGU.  If you are struggling with things such as test taking skills, time management, or study techniques make an appointment and someone will sit down with you and help plan a schedule.  

As you can see, the school invests a lot of time and money into making sure the students have support in the program.  If you put in the effort, they will help you succeed.  

Charter Foundation Program
Photo courtesy of www.sgu.edu

The Bad

This program is balls to the walls hard!  Why? Because it’s med school boot camp comprised of  17 credit hours.  Each course is demanding on it’s own and combined together makes for a very challenging semester.  Time is the enemy.  Many of us had mental break downs and many quit.  However, a good number of us sucked it up and pushed through.  The school tells you the pass rate is approximately 80%.  My estimated pass rate for our class is approximately 35%.  

This is how I calculated our class pass rate.  Our class began with roughly 70 people and ended with roughly 50 people.  Of those 50 people, roughly half achieved the 3.5 GPA.  Keep in mind, this is a rough estimate, but anyone in my class and previous FTM terms will validate that the FTM pass rate is not 80%.  That may be the pass rate for the PMSCE (cumulative test at the end of the semester that test your basic understanding of your semester courses).  That’s just my best guess.  No one knows the real pass rate.  It’s a secret.  

Another reason it’s so hard is because the 3.5 GPA requirement is stressful.  All B’s ain’t gonna cut it, neither will all B’s and 1 A.  Anything lower means appeals range (3.2 – 3.49).  Not everyone is accepted in the appeals range, and you better have a good reason if you find yourself in this position.  Rumor has it, they want to see improvement and an upward trend in your grades if you fall within this range.  You also need to explain why you didn’t make the 3.5 GPA and what you have learned to become a better student.  

If you realize you will not make the 3.5 GPA you have the opportunity to withdraw and the school will refund your money.  The school also gives you a chance to repeat the FTM program, however you have to go through an appeals process before the school accepts you back.  

Charter Foundation Program

Advice from prior students

**Remember, this is my perspective.  Take what you will, but develop and use what works for you.  

  1. Don’t get behind
  2. Develop a healthy sleeping pattern before you get to Grenada. 
  3. Work on getting in shape before you get to Grenada
  4. Workout regularly once you’re here, and keep up with your workouts even when you don’t want to (trust me, it makes a big difference) 
  5. Learn to cook simple meals
  6. Eat healthy
  7. Make a schedule and stick to it (I’ll post a sample week of my schedule)
  8. Don’t attempt to go to every SL or DES session (pick what works for you quickly, if you can’t learn in groups, don’t go and waste time)
  9. Preview and post view your notes every lecture
  10. Don’t go to Bananas (this will make sense once you’re here)
  11. Take a break at least once a week
  12. Don’t put a class off, study every class often.  
  13. Stay away from negative people
  14. Be selfish with your time, it’s very precious.  
  15. Ask for help sooner than later
  16. Schedule time for your loved ones at least once a week and stick to it!

Charter Foundation Program Sample Schedule

Blue = Class/SL or DES sessions

Green = Self Study

Pink/White = Personal/Free time (email, call home, do nothing)

**I adjusted this week to week based on what was ahead of me and classes that I needed to focus more on.  I added every SL session to remind me when the were, but I only attended the sessions that benefited me.  

charter foundation program

In conclusion, this program is designed to test your mental and emotional endurance.  You have to figure out your strategy quickly.  There is no time for slacking off here.  You have to keep reminding yourself that you’re smart and that’s why you’re here.  This was an emotional roller coaster ride full of many twists and turns.  Even though this was the hardest program I’ve ever done in my life, looking back, I’m glad I was given the opportunity.  

If anyone is thinking about this program or have any questions, leave a comment or email at tiffanyrebekah1@gmail.com with the heading Charter Foundation Program.  I’m happy to share my resources with you.  

Find me on pinterest and check out my article on eating real food.

Make practical changes for a healthier lifestyle.

Tiffany Rebekah

St. George’s University

“Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the Maurice Bishop International Airport in the beautiful St. Georges, Grenada.  Local time is 3:08 p.m. and the temperature is 81 degrees.”  I looked out the window and thought to myself, “OMG, I finally made it.  I’m actually here.”  St. George’s University school of Medicine, here I come. 
St. George's University

On September 16, 2015, I received my one and only acceptance letter into St. George’s University Medical School.  Considering this was the only school I applied to I was ecstatic when the letter came.  Why did I only apply to one school?  Well, there are many reasons which I’ll address later.  What I will tell you is that I really wanted to go SGU and I got in.  Yay me!

St George's University Medical School

St. George’s University Medical School is arguably the most respected medical school in the Caribbean.  The school out ranks all other Caribbean medical schools with residencies.  It also has a higher first time pass rate for the USMLE step 1 exam that rival US and Canadian medical schools.  With this type of reputation, I didn’t want to be any where else.

On top of SGU’s outstanding test scores and residency placement the campus is gorgeous.  SGU is located on the beautiful island of Grenada in the West Indies.  How lucky am I to be able to study medicine in such a beautiful place?  I’m so thankful.  

St. George’s University Medical School

St. George's University

St. George's University

St. George's University

St. George's University

St. George's University

My journey took me on many detours before I landed here.  However, all the hard work and studying has paid off.  The admissions committed saw something in me and I’m so thankful St. George’s University decided to take a chance on me.  Many people stress and struggle getting into medical school and when you finally make it the feeling is unparalleled.  

SGU started me in the Charter Foundations Program, aka Foundations to Medicine.  It’s a 6 month program, to prepare you for term 1.  After successful completion of the program you go straight into the school of medicine.  Here I plan to document my journey.  I’ll talk about the ups, the downs and everything I’ve learned.  I’ll even tell you what I’d do different if I could start over.  

Make practical changes for a healthier lifestyle.

Tiffany Rebekah