Sunday, April 30, 2017

April 2017

April Community Service Hours: 12.5 Hours
Volunteer Hours for Spring Semester 2017: 41.5 hrs
Completed Hours for the Year: 84.25

...And with that, comes to an end to the Tulane's Master in Pharmacology program...well, kinda.

As my fellow classmate's posts will probably have pointed out, it seems like this second half of the program has passed by in a flash. With so many festivals, events, and seafood boil that occurred throughout the weeks, it became an effort equivalent to a class itself attempting balance New Orlean's culture immersion while also studying the medicine and science needed to help the city. After exploring various parts of the city, as well as experiencing the ... "lavish" celebrations, it makes me inflect and consider the metaphorical comparison of how young adults may treat themselves in the present, unaware or uncaring of the implications that can happen in the future.

Although I've mentioned it before, after working a nightly part-time job along with studying for this program, my understanding of the importance nutrition has only become compounded along with my experiences at the Goldring nutrition center. Too often have I found myself being a hypocrite who got fast food 3-4 times a week, and eating out despite being able to cook at home given proper ingredient and meal prep. I've even started adapting to soylent (An instantaneous meal) when I don't have time for food, or can't afford to leave for home and lose my study spot.

Now that the program has come to an end,  I still intend to volunteer at the Goldring nutrition center, and once the MCAT is over, hopefully, a research position that I can learn from, and help apply to this city.

After a year of graduating from my undergrad, I've been thrown back into the racing seats of "real life" where this time, I have gained more knowledge and experience from this program, to (kinda) know where I'm headed.

Monday, April 3, 2017

March 2017 Blog

Despite being one of the longer months of the year, March, just like February came to a very quick close. Now that Mardi Gras has come to an end, the extra second hurrah of the Irish channel parade is over, and now we're in the full swing of crawfish boil season. My schedule, which was a balance of school, my part time job, and whenever I could sleep has finally reached a sense of regularity and I've been able to get back to volunteering at the Goldring nutrition center.

Trying to maintain my studies, along with working at my job helps further cement my understanding of why fast food and eating out is so common in New Orleans along with its correlation to obesity. There have been many nights, that after working until about 4 AM in the morning, that despite having food I could easily heat up upon getting home, that I chose to get the 5$ craving box from taco bell (both a combination of caloric value and that nothing else is open during that time).

My roommate and I also attempt to participate in meal prep, but too often between him and I, do we end up having extra food that we have to throw out one week, and too many items that go bad in the middle of the week that has caused cooking to be a chore rather than an enjoyment.

I enjoy volunteering at the Goldring center because it positively reverses my current ideologies around cooking. By cooking together as a community/group of friends, as well as eating the meals together afterwards it enhances the symbolism of food being an experience, rather than a simple nutritional hassle. The emphasis is also strengthened knowing that the food being cooked is more nutritionally viable and cheaper than my 3$ chalupa.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

February 2017

Its crazy to believe that our program is about to come to an end in the span of about 2 months. Its felt like the semester to this program just began just two weeks ago, and for the first time in a while, we have our first "break" in quite a while. This break is a great time for me to do some personal house keeping on the random minor things in life such as schedule organizing, car maintenance, and some personal education (Cocktail making and Nutrition).

After experiencing Mardi Gras working outside of the uptown bubble/undergraduate setting, I must say that I have found a brand new respect for the service industry, and the people comprised of it. Obviously, most people in their everyday interactions don't actively intend to be rude or tote a superior attitude, but after a long grinding day of problems, unexpected nuisances, and stress that "attitude" is difficult to conceal and inadvertently reveals itself. There is an expectation for the service industry to brunt this, but if the establishment is lucky and well off enough, they can use the traditional "It's time for you to leave" move.

but that option is unavailable to us as medical professionals, and to ensure the best quality of care, it would behoove us to treat our patients (customers) as best as we can so that they may follow compliance. More and more I see medicine more of as service industry job, and that sometimes the best way to treat our patients to teach them as our patrons.

Monday, February 13, 2017

January 2016-- A bit late still here

If there is one way I could describe January, it would absolutely be with the term hectic. Classes have become doubled, times are more sporadic, and exams are administered closer and closer every day. It seems that with every finished exam, there is an assignment, presentation, or seminar to attend leaving very little time to relax, unwind and enjoy the fruits of our labor. But perhaps its better that way, to remain busy, moving on from objective to objective and learning to appreciate the rest and time off we can afford, as it is more emulative of a medical work environment.

January has been a month of preparation and new experiences. Planning out meals that fulfill my roommate's new diet, combined with impending tax returns, part-time jobs, and personal responsibilities to health and household have made the month chaotic but also rewarding when the planning does go right. However, through all these experiences, I have been able to deepen my relationships with both my co-workers and fellow students.

Given my current work schedule, along with the changed scheduling of classes this semester, I have to re-evaluate my schedule so that I may resume volunteering at the GoldRing nutrition center. I'm looking forward to see who I'll meet there next

Until next time,
Matthew To

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Dec 2016

With the end of the year upon us and me returning home to the city of Los Angeles, it is finally apparent how much time has passed since this program started. 6 and a half months of new experiences, friends and opportunities. It is curious to see how my relationships with mentors, professional staff, and fellow students have evolved during this time. I've learned not only about myself during this time, but also the various impressive backgrounds and work experiences my fellow students have had. Their commitment to their own personal projects and pursuits of knowledge that lay outside the direct spectrum of medicine is always an eye-opening experience. Health can be achieved in a multitude of ways, via preventative care, pharmacological treatment, or direct surgical procedures. Watching each individual attempt to learn, improve and promote their own field is an inspiring process in of itself.

But for now, its time for about of a week of relaxation, reflection and inconsumable amounts of Japanese food...and Mexican food... really anything I can't get in New Orleans currently. And Egg nog.

Happy Holidays, and until next time
Matthew To

Total completed hours:42.75

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

November 2016 Blog Post

As the end of the semester looms near, bringing the year to a conclusion, various things have started to come into focus and the results of my decisions are coming closer to fruition--for better or worse.

Thanksgiving break is/was the first real vacation I've had since the beginning of this program. Although it was a bit overwhelming to take an exam so soon after the previous one, I was grateful for the week of breathing room it provided me. An overabundance of small tasks and errands had begun to pile up due to my commitments to both school and work. Laundry, personal relationships, cooking, self-care and washing my car demanded my attention, but regularly coming home post 2 AM did not make addressing any of these concerns very appealing. Simply put, after all, these months of adjusting, studying and working, I am not where I expected myself to be. The idealistic dreams of a summer time student who was grateful to be accepted into this prestigious program did not result in the realities of my current situation.

But I can't say I am completely disappointed in myself because I did put in the time and effort, just in inefficient or ineffective ways that I could not have known without trying. In the same manner, my time and effort resulted in experiences that I didn't expect either.

This past Tuesday as I volunteered at the Goldring nutrition center again, I was saddened to see that all the previous volunteers and students  had ended their services after the Thanksgiving course, and a new group of medical students had come in to replace them. Having to learn new names, and becoming accustomed to new co-workers was a practice I had gone through a few too many times in recent months. Despite this, introductions were done naturally in between small break periods of work and the class went as smoothly as ever. In fact, some of the dishes that night were the best I had ever had.

I also began seeing my coworkers, fellow students, and fellow volunteers overlapping into my different work/school/casual spheres. I was given a glimpse of these individuals in a setting I was accustomed to. Although what always seems like a common trope in these blog posts came as a pleasant surprise to me. These same individuals who I looked up to, respected and in some cases idolized, also struggled with the same menial tasks that plagued me. In a sobering moment, I realized that these individuals were just as "human" or fallible as I was.  This caused me to further respect these individuals as well as reinvigorate my pursuit for medicine and personal professionalism.

Life has its ups and downs, wrapped up in the ever flavorful Christmas wrapping called "Life Lessons". I'm sure these life lessons won't be ending anytime soon and will arrive just as unexpectedly for the rest of my studies or my career. Doctors are notoriously plagued by burnout and career exhaustion, and when that time comes, I'll look to my colleagues and myself, as a reminder to take on the task with the same invigoration and tenacity that I currently have writing this blog and studying for this final exam and upcoming semester.

November Hours Completed: 6.5 Hours
Hours to Date: 42.75 hours

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

October 2016 Blog

October has been the month of sacrifices and tradeoffs. Now that a sense of normalcy has been established and a schedule or routine is almost imminent, it is only normal to expect a host of changeups and turn of events that would derail said schedule. Changes in work schedule, friends visiting, meal prep and class times are some of the milder things I have encountered. Sometimes these changes are beneficial, such as when the volunteer kitchen has to cancel class right before an exam, and sometimes they are more troublesome such as having to double on cooking recipes and portions in the same class time frame.

Being able to adapt to these changes is a life skill that everyone must learn at one time another. Sometimes the changes are subtle, and others they are madly drastic. I personally feel that one of the responsibilities of being a medical professional is being able to quickly adjust to these different changes, but in a cool calm collected manner that ensures our patients trust in us. Patients come to us not only as sick specimens but also as individuals who need may need medical counseling and ease of mind as they approach their unsure changes.

Although these changes in life may come suddenly, and when we may least need it, they are also an opportunity for us to flex our knowledge and skills, proving to our patients that we are the right candidates for their trust.