Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Check out my residency blog!

If you like my blog about medical school, please check out my newest blog about residency here:

Trust me, I'm an intern

I also now have a Twitter feed, @KatherineHillMD, which you can see on the side of my blog here.

And super thanks to those of you who have read the blog and inspired me to keep going:)

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Comma, MD

That's all folks!

After 4 years, good times, tons of learning, and mucho tuition going to Stanford, it's official...I, Katherine Hill, am a doctor. I still can't really believe it. I'm still getting used to my new last name after getting married 2.5 years ago. The "MD" at the end of my name will be even harder to get used to. I've been a student for literally 92.85% of my life, so actually having a title and a paycheck is gonna take some getting used to. But I'm pretty sure I'll get used to it just fiiine!

A happy me with my awesome get-up and a $200000 piece of paper

So I guess since I'm no longer a lowly med student, my blog needs a new title..."Trust Me, I'm a Med Student" will now be "Trust Me I'm an Intern"!

Please also note my new URL:

Oh, and I've already met my co-interns and started orientation for residency. They're really awesome people and I'm so happy to work with them over the next 3 years!  

Wish me luck next Monday. I start intern year in the Pediatric ICU! Eek! 

Friday, June 14, 2013

Wise words from my Grandma Alice before my Med School Graduation

I am unfortunate to never have met my paternal grandmother, Alice Cooper. My father always tells me what a kind, smart, and wise woman she was.

Though I never met Grandma Alice, I'm fortunate that she wrote some very special songs before I was born, songs that really ring true in my life.

In light of my med school graduation tomorrow,  can hear Grandma Alice singing me these words of wisdom...

And by the way, don't you love her eyeliner? She must have been the coolest Granny ever!  I know she'd be proud of me, but nothing could compare to how proud I am to be the grandchild of Alice Cooper! Rock on, Granny!

(In case you were wondering: yes, my grandmother actually was named Alice Cooper)

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

I got a dog!

Remember a few weeks back when I told you about Buddy, my foster dog? Well...he failed. Buddy was a failure at being a foster dog. Which means that my husband and I decided to adopt him!

Now, you must think I'm crazy to get a dog right before residency. And you would be right. I am a little crazy (but aren't we all?).

Of course, Buddy will great me after my long days and love me unconditionally. He will look up at me and light up the "cuteness" part of my brain that is reserved for children and dogs. So between Pediatrics and Buddy, I should be getting my recommended daily value of cuteness.

But this dog is not about me. He is more for my husband. Buddy loves to go camping, hiking, and even mountain biking, which he will do with my husband when I'm working the weekends. He also is allowed to go to work with the hubby. And Buddy just loves working for a biotech startup.

So welcome to the family, Buddy! We love you!

Buddy smiling because we're adopting him!

Dr. Richard Besser

Hi lovely blog readers! I'm continuing to enjoy the first lull in my schedule in a long time...or ever. Thank you, 4th year!  I'm spending a week at home in Atlanta with the fam.

A friend of a friend who works for the CDC asked me if I'd like to meet Dr. Richard Besser, who is the former acting director of the CDC (during the H1N1 outbreak in 2009...eek!) and currently ABC New's chief health and medical editor. He also is a board certified Pediatrician, having trained at some place I've never heard of named Johns Hopkins. Perhaps it's in the Carribbean? He also has a new book out called "Tell Me the Truth, Doctor."

I've always been skeptical of TV docs. After all, I have a bias that most doctors who give up seeing patients to get their pretty little face on TV probably don't always have improving health at the top of their to-do lists: 1. Blow-out. 2. Teeth-whitening 3. Spray tan 4. Botox 5. Another teeth whitening 6. Practice smiling in the mirror 7. Oh wait, I'm still a doctor? I forgot!

But I was very impressed with Dr. Besser. He apparently only got on TV because he was so good at giving interviews during the H1N1 outbreak while at the CDC that ABC News recruited him to be on air (plus he's not too bad looking either). In his new book, he answers commonly asked medical questions using REAL DATA from REAL, LEGITIMATE STUDIES. I flipped through it and actually agree with what he says. This is quite unlike some other TV docs who create their own pop-science studies that forget all aspects of the scientific method to scare the American public into believing Raspberry Ketones (the company of which funded this TV doc's skewed, kindergarten level study) will help you lose 57 pounds in 3 days without diet and exercise!

Anyway, it was refreshing to learn that at least somebody on TV representing the medical profession has his act together. Nobody can argue with his credentials. And best of all, he still manages to see his pediatric patients once a week. Great meeting you, Dr. Besser!

Friday, April 26, 2013

Dr. B's Reflections on Stanford Med

A friend of mine from medical school posted this on Facebook. Thought I'd share his amazing experiences at Stanford Med because you're probably sick of hearing about mine. By the way, he matched at Hopkins in Neurosurgery. Can you say "baller"?

Last day of med school! Here are some pearls from the past few years:
- Delivered 13 new bundles of joy.
- Flew in a jet with the cardiothoracic surgery team to harvest a heart. Then scrubbed in on the transplant.
- Performed CPR for 9 minutes on a patient in cardiac arrest. Brought him back. He walked out of the ICU 5 months later.
- 24/7 neurotrauma call x 7 straight days at SF General, 55 nights in hospital over 90 days of neurosurgery rotations. Learned that there are no limitations.
- Uganda. And soon, China.
- Made sure a patient made it to his 100th birthday. He rewarded me with a bottle of two buck chuck.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

How to get into medical school: the MCAT

There is a four letter word that burns the very soul of most pre-meds... and it's spelled M-C-A-T. Yes, "MCAT" a profanity for most pre-meds, as it was for me when I was studying for it (sort of like "USMLE" will become when you're in med school). Whether it makes sense or not, the MCAT can determine which schools you can get into, and in some cases, whether you'll get into medical school at all. Dumb, I say. But I don't make the rules.

I despise standardized tests. I know many folks who wanted to go to medical school, but just couldn't get good scores. To me, this is just not fair. Are you a great test taker? Then, kudos to you, and why are you still reading this post? You have better things to do, so go play video games or watch Kim and Kourtney take Miami.

Not a great test taker? Read on! Many in the medical profession are not naturally stellar standardized test takers, but do make outstanding physicians (and many excellent test takers make horrendous physicians). So do not fret, my friend. I have a few tips that I hope can help some of you.

1. Set aside dedicated time to study
Are you doing your honors thesis while in championship season for your varsity sport and writing a book all at the same time? Then this is NOT the time to study for the MCAT! Most people will do best if they can set aside at least 2 weeks to focusing ONLY on the MCAT. I wanted to take my MCAT during the school year, but I ended up taking it the summer after my senior year (I took a gap year to apply to med schools and finish my research project).  I studied off and on in my final quarter (mostly off), and then went home to my parents' house to study for about 2-3 weeks. I literally locked myself in a room for about 4 - 6 hours a day. Think of it as a way to solidify all that knowledge you crammed into your heads in your pre-med courses. It really ain't so bad.

2. To take a course, or not to take a course...
I took the Kaplan classroom course, which was expensive, but overall pretty good. I'd recommend you do save up to use either Kaplan or Princeton Review (I'm sure there are other good preps but I'm not familiar with others). If I had to do it over, I'd sign up for the online course, which is much cheaper and has the same price. If you're the type who needs to ask questions to understand a concept, then the classroom might be better for you.  If you learn well by reading and understand most concepts, you could probably get by just buying the course materials.

Don't be scared. You've already learned most of it!
I think these test prep courses 1) condense the info into a much more digestible format, and 2) all your competition is taking them, so in order to be competitive, you probably should too.

*I have no financial or romantic relationship with either Kaplan or Princeton Review.

3. Do NOT pull out your notes from your pre-med courses
The MCAT is a test that is, believe it or not, limited in scope. Your physics course at your university probably has some overlap with the MCAT material, but unless you want to waste your time studying stuff that's not going to be on the test, stick to MCAT specific test prep material. And if you look at the above pic, you'll see it's plenty to look over.

4. Practice tests!!!!
The single most effective way to study (after you've reviewed and understand the basic concepts) is to take practice tests. Try to take an official test about once a week to gauge your progress. The AAMC practice tests are expensive ($35 each currently), but they are real tests that can probably give you a good estimate of what your actual score should be, plus or minus a few points. I also think doing practice questions from an MCAT prep book every day after reviewing the material can be helpful and also break up the tedium of reading.

If you really want to develop a panic disorder in a day, start going onto pre-med forums and reading about how everybody in the world got a 39 on their MCAT. How 99% of pre-meds score in the top 0.1 percentile, I don't know. Actually, yes I do. THEY LIE. THEY WANT TO INTIMIDATE YOU. THEY WANT YOU TO FREAK OUT. So don't go there. Just don't. And do you have a pre-med friend who's also studying the MCAT? I'd say stay away from them until AFTER the test. Then throw yourselves a party and forget about it (believe it or not, I've forgotten how painful studying for the MCAT was).

6. Try to stay normal when you're studying
To be as productive as possible, you want to be as healthy as you can when you're studying. This means getting as much sleep as you need, exercising daily, not eating crap, blah-bi-di-blah you know rest.  Take breaks when you do things you enjoy. You're smart. You've gotten this far. Don't become stupid by pulling all nighters and while cracked out on Adderall and Krispy Kremes and coffee. Not cool, and not helpful either. If you find yourself doing this, then consider pushing back your test date. And this almost goes without saying, but please go to bed at a reasonable hour the night before the test. It is a known fact that zombies suck at the MCAT.

7. Relax a bit. The MCAT isn't everything. 
Many folks with horrid MCAT scores have still gotten into medical school. Why? Because they made themselves irresistible to med schools in other ways.  Develop your own research question and do an original research study (it's a lot of work but in my opinion, way more meaningful that taking on somebody else's project!). Join the Peace Corp. Work at Disney World. Teach science to 3rd graders. Run a marathon. Focus on succeeding and standing out in other ways. Many med schools appreciate people who are more than their test scores.

8. Good luck! I hope you all do great!