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Meaghan Selki

In Pursuit of Medicine

I can’t even begin to convey how I felt leaving the Doctor’s office Friday, May 15, day one of my shadowing a fantastic pediatrician. I was on cloud nine.

I saw 13 patients in two and a half hours, and each time I followed him into the room, I was excited to see the interactions and learn about the children.

The first two children were sisters, each with bronchitis, and the youngest had the beginnings of pneumonia.

The next two, a home-schooled brother and sister, were about eight and ten years old. The mother was begrudgingly getting their vaccines up to date because the father wants them to start school in the fall.

Among others, I saw a three year old with a stomach virus, a five-day-old baby with jaundice, premature twins, and a one-month check up.

And there was one I wasn’t ready for. A foster-mom came in with a young boy that had just come to live with her. She said he was seven, “but two years old, mentally.” He could walk around furniture while holding on, but could not stand or walk on his own. He was in a wheelchair. He had no medical records, and the foster-mom had been advised to take him to a neurologist, otolaryngologist and psychiatrist. Upon examination, the doctor also found a heart murmur.

He’s a good doctor. He makes the kids feel comfortable, is decisive, communicates well with parents and always leaves me the opportunity to ask questions after each interaction. I have already learned a lot in a single day, and I’m so looking forward to going back for more.

As a student, I was a sponge, soaking up as much information as I could about symptoms, diagnoses, treatments and outcomes. As a mother, I have also experienced with my own boys some of the issues that brought the families there today, in particular jaundice and bronchitis. The first-hand understanding I was able to pull from was so helpful in seeing both sides of the equation.

While shadowing, I don’t know if I’ll ever really get the opportunity to interact with the patient as personally as I would in other official or trained capacities, but I can certainly say I’m already thinking about my own approach to children and their parents, asking what my personal “bed side manner” might look and feel like some day.

To have this experience, to go beyond the books and equations and finally see the cross-section of science with patient care through the lens of the doctor, is so exciting. And I’m grateful for the opportunity.

My motivators.

My motivators, giving me energy I didn’t know I had.

Studying for final exams

my study spot for finals…

Pre-med students make horrible bloggers. Especially for people who tend to follow regular posters. Sadly, that’s not me. It will never be me…

Well, I take that back. Maybe when I’m old, finished with medical school and residency, my kids have left the nest, and potentially even procreated… maybe then I’ll post regularly. But probably not. I’d much rather visit my children and grandbabies or travel to beautiful places instead and then tell you about it whenever I get time.

So after the arduous final exam season that was the beginning of May, I have survived my first semester of committing to the cause. My first two classes were the second semesters of chemistry and physics. I got an A+ in physics, and I was crushed over a B+ in chemistry.

This isn’t your normal shut-up-you-over-achiever-you-still-got-a-B-+ type crushed. I have a lot of damaging undergraduate GPA numbers to make up for. I pretty much need straight A’s for these schools to even look at me… at least that’s what I imagine.

So that was a tough one. But I will say this: I did my best. As a full-time mom, part-time student and  part-time strategic communicator (simultaneously taking an online 28-week public affairs class), I really did my best. So unlike that time I cried about ALMOST getting a B in Anatomy (I managed to squeak out an A in the final hour), I didn’t cry about it. It sucked. But, I did my best.

And now Organic is in my sights this summer, and I’m getting ready early. I will crush you, orgo. It’s going to be the best A I ever earn.

But academics aren’t the only things I have to think about right now. Some great mentors who’ve all been through the process years ahead of me have advised me to make sure I have that clinical experience and commitment to service on my application – over time.

So, to my delightful surprise, I finally landed a volunteer opportunity at Inova Fairfax in the pediatrics department. The initial commitment is 3-4 hours a week for a minimum of six months, and I can’t wait to get started in June.

And last, but most certainly not least, I am shadowing my boys’ pediatrician for the next 12 weeks of summer. Deserving of a single post all in its own, I’ll write next about how I secured the amazing opportunity, and a recap of Day 1.

Wherever you are in your own pursuit of medicine, let me leave you with the sage advice of my father (his version of a quote by U.S. Army General Creighton W. Abrams, Jr.):

How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.

“Nerd” has always been a term of endearment in my family. Being a nerd is cool… at least that’s what I keep telling myself. And my latest you-know-you’re-a-nerd-when moment is brought to you by the Hydrogen Spectrum discovery lab we did in my Physics II lab last week. Here are some pictures for your viewing pleasure.

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“Wherever the art of medicine is loved, there is also a love of humanity.” ~ Hippocrates

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20141118_212223I love what I’m doing. I’m surrounded by science and developing a strong foundation for all of the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead: the MCAT, medical school, and eventually practicing as a physician.

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