Medical School: My International Clinical Experience

Sunday, June 30, 2013
Hey everyone!

I thought I'd share my memories and experiences from my time in Portugal last month - I spent 70+ hours shadowing in a private hospital in northern Portugal, over a span of 3 weeks. It was glorious, and amazing, and once again had me pondering what I want to do with my life. Even though we're in medical school, we still have to narrow down our love of science to one specialty (out of hundreds). It is tough! And then you can SUB-SPECIALIZE! Double tough! Regardless, I had a great time and I really encourage everyone interested in medicine, or already a medical student, to sign-up for a trip. Now let's jump in!

My days typically started at 9am, unless I had a half-day scheduled, and ended at 6:30/7:30pm. It was pretty long, and quite draining by the time evening rolled around, but so worth it. Everyday I would shadow 2-3 specialists, one in the morning & a different one in the afternoon. The hospital director had me join the physicians with previous teaching experience: they included medical school professors, and top specialty doctors in the country. I learned so much, and was so grateful that I had the chance to learn from these brilliant minds. Most of them travel all over the USA and Europe for conferences, so I'm hoping to see them one day in good ol' Chicago.

Typical hospital outfit (L) and my handy moleskine for note-taking (R).
A great asset to have on international clinical trips is language skills. I really believe that the only reason I absorbed immense amounts of valuable information was because I was fluent in Portuguese. If I hadn't been, then it would be very difficult to keep up with the doctor's diagnosis and prescriptions. Hence, if you know you want to go to visit Portugal/Spain/China/India/El Salvador etc, months in advance, I'd recommend you begin learning the language early. There are some great apps to download, and online resources that are free.

At the hospital, I was able to shadow in the following areas: Cardiology, Pediatric Cardiology, Pulmonology, General Pediatrics, OBY/GYN surgery (hysterectomies & C-sections), OBY/GYN consults, Otarolyngology/ENT, Family Medicine, Internal Medicine, Gastroenterology (tons of colonoscopies and endoscopies), General Surgery (laproscopic appendectomy & thyroidectomy), and Anesthesiology. I thought they were all fascinating, and each had its own quirk that made it intriguing. But let me tell you, after 3 weeks of being there I'm certain I have NO IDEA what I want to do -everything was so awesome. However, I can say with great certainty that medicine is definitely my calling. Amen!

Culture-wise, European hospitals were a refreshing experience. The doctors ALL DRESSED WELL, something I rarely see in North America, because if doctors do put an effort into being fashionable/looking good they're shammed as "vain dermatologists/plastic surgeons". Very sad. I always grew up with the notion that looking good on the outside shows you take pride in yourself, and it also makes you feel darn confident! Ah well, c'est la vie. In addition there was one more point I'd like to bring up: Portugal is tackling obesity head on, like an angry bull. The "get moving" commercials were everywhere, the doctors would always take their time explaining what medical implications extra fat had on a patient's heart and other organ systems, and healthcare professionals + the hospital practiced what they preached. The cafeteria was free for staff, and it allowed you to pick from 5 meal choices, which you'd choose the day before, and would be ready for lunch/dinner the following day. Even better news, they were all amazingly healthy Portuguese food! Lots of fish, greens, beans, etc - everything was freshly cooked, no processed or preservative-filled food was offered. And it didn't matter because your lunch was darn delicious! I always felt so satisfied and full of energy even after several hours post-mealtime. I really can't stress how important it is to suck it up and eat healthy (which means cooking your own food or finding a reliable resto). You're less drained, have less bad chemicals floating through your system, and your body loves it. Falling off a carb-high is not conducive to good studying, or worse, good medical practice! I really wish more hospitals were like this, I was left with such a great impression!

My super tired face post-surgery - I was standing for 7 hours. Nuts! 
I have so much more to say about my experience in Portugal, but I would be here all day. These physicians really loved their jobs, and loved teaching!

I hope your summer is going swell on the other side of the screen. If you have any more questions feel free to shoot me an e-mail, tweet, or comment.


Things I Love Thursday: Toronto & Summer

Thursday, June 27, 2013
* My boyfriend flying from Chicago to spend 4 days with me in Toronto * Eating at Earl's, Nad├Ęge, Ilhas de Bruma, The Pilot, and Salad King * Playing tour guide in my own city * The summer sun * Gold buildings * The mist that comes off Niagara Falls (great cooling effect) * Painting my nails red * Packed schedules * Watching movies with my dad (we just caught Snow White and the Huntsmen - I love Charlize Theron) * Good skin WEEEKS not days! * Hair elastics to fight the frizz * Yogurts * Giving The Boy his first Kinder Surprise, Tim Horton's drink and ketchup chips. * Friendly people * Smiles from little kids missing their two front teeth * Charlotte Olympia has flats based on your zodiac sign Whhhattt! Sagittarius! * Speaking of zodiac; I loved seeing my chinese zodiac [DRAGON] sculpture created by Ai WeiWei at NPS!! * Discovering this stunning designer selection of jackets on sale at Jules B - they have some gorgeous Iro and Helmut Lang blazers that I'm in love with. I've started collecting blazers this summer, just because. * Facials! *

P.S. Follow my instagram & twitter for daily updates throughout the summer!

Portugal 2013 - Part Two

Friday, June 21, 2013
We wandered our way through Fatima and Coimbra on a Wednesday afternoon - it was actually the first time I had been to the latter. Travelling is such a glorious experience, even if it's to places I've seen before. Here's to hoping new adventures are on the horizon.
 A delicious lunch my parents, aunt and I had in Fatima. I didn't realize how much I loved Portuguese food, until I moved to Chicago and discovered ZERO Portuguese restaurants exist. I was totally SPOILED for 22 years!!

I love this - the wine glass was the size of my head. Booya!
I'm still such a sucker for the typical old architecture of European cities. We spent a few hours frolicking through Coimbra, home of one the oldest universities in Europe (Universidade de Coimbra)
Don't you just love the little alleyways all over the place? They have the best boutiques!
So long, Portugal!


Portugal 2013 - Part 1

Sunday, June 16, 2013
As promised, here is part 1 of my trip to Portugal. I didn't take much photos while I was there, because it was an international internship trip and not a leisure vacation. However, I will show you the places I was able to squeeze in on weekends!
        I was dressed up for my little cousin's communion reception above. 

The view from my cousin's backyard was brilliant. I now want a house on a hill overlooking fields & the ocean.

All the rest of the images were taken in Braga, where I rediscovered my love of Bimba & Lola. 


P.S. Don't forget to transfer from Google Reader over to Bloglovin' soon (here's my account). GFC will shut down in a couple weeks!

My 5 Year Blogiversary!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013
I know it's belated, but as of two weeks ago I've had this lil ol' blog of mine for 5 whole years. It has been an awesome extracurricular, and I've loved getting to know some wonderful readers and fellow bloggers. Here's to another 5 years on my little slice of the internet!

P.S. I'm downloading some pictures from Portugal to showcase in the next posts. Stay tuned!