I’m just shy of working a year as a GRA (Graduate Research Assistant) and I absolutely love the job. Keep reading to hear about what I do and if you’re given the opportunity, why you should too!

What is a GRA?

A GRA, or Graduate Research Assistant, is a graduate student, Masters/Doctoral, assigned to a college or department to assist in research projects. Several tasks include (but not limited to): organizing & collecting data, completing various paperwork, analysis, and updating databases. Often, universities offer pay in the form of a stipend to help students pay for graduate school. GRAs’ role is to take some of the burden off the researcher by completing tedious behind-the-scenes tasks.

What do I do as a GRA?

As a GRA, I work for our College of Nursing and Professional Disciplines which includes nursing, social work, and nutrition/dietetics. In my years time, I began with updating faculties’ CVs, organizing and filing papers, and collecting data. After Christmas break, I began collecting contact information for a study done by a nursing PI, and most recently, working with social work in drafting a survey and now organizing the results in SPSS (statistical processing software).

Why do I love being a GRA?

I have never been involved in research – clinical or social or beyond – and enjoyed getting a taste of the behind the scenes of it. The entire process is tedious and requires a lot of background work for anything to get published.

I particularly enjoyed this job as I had been used to working in a fast-paced hospital job that was physically and emotionally demanding for 8-12 hours at at time. My mother would often mention that not having a break is illegal, and yes, Mother, you’re right. But that’s healthcare. ANYWAY, this job has been a wonderful change of pace for me. I can mindlessly enter data while listening to my favorite podcasts and taking time at the end to check my work. Being a GRA has helped me build strong relationships with our faculty and learn more about the research process. It has allowed me to work from home during a pandemic and expand my experience as a graduate student.

Why YOU should take this opportunity if you can:

  • Pay. This job can offer excellent supplemental income for a budget-conscious graduate student.
  • Flexible hours. I could choose between 10 and 20 hours per week when I was hired. At the time, I had another job and consequently chose 10. I choose to work two hours/weekday, but a person could work 5 + 5, 4 + 3, or when busy, work more hours one day, and less the next. It is for project completion rather than working “just to work.”
  • Enhancing your graduate student experience. As mentioned above, I love working with faculty & staff and getting to know them through this experience. It has been enriching to become a reliable and trusted member of the research team.
  • Easy resume-builder. This exposure no doubt makes a person more employable – regardless of your field. It shows you can follow instructions, work both independently and collaboratively, and timely.
Pre-pandemic office setup: the best almond milk latte from Archives coffeehouse, dual computers, and a podcast playing while entering data.

With that, I hope you have learned about the role of a GRA and why it is an invaluable experience to add to your professional endeavors if offered. ūüôā

xx,

M

Hello everyone! I am in the midst of medical school applications and have wanted to share content with what I’m learning in my nutrition courses, but I am prioritizing my future this time. ūüôā That being said, listening to podcasts has became part of my daily routine. Since there’s not much for weekly TV shows to look forward to in 2020, I find myself looking forward to weekly podcast releases.

In this post, you’re going to find my favorite podcasts, where to find them, and when they’re released. Enjoy!


News Pods:

+ NPR News Now: 5-minute international news updates, updated hourly. I love this for a quick get-in-the-loop refresh.

NPR News: 10-26-2020 7PM ET NPR News Now

NPR News: 10-26-2020 7PM ET

+ The Daily: produced by the New York Times, Michael Babaro. A hot-topic news discussion eloquently hosted. Another great refresh for what’s happening in the world. Podcast episodes are released daily, on weekdays, and sometimes bonus episodes on the weekend.

The Field: Why Suburban Women Changed Their Minds The Daily

In America‚Äôs increasingly divided political landscape, it can be hard to imagine almost any voter switching sides. One demographic group has provided plenty of exceptions: white suburban women.In the past four years, the group has turned away from the president in astonishing numbers. And many of them are organizing ‚ÄĒ Red, Wine and Blue is a group made up of suburban women from Ohio hoping to swing the election for Joe Biden. The organization draws on women who voted for the president and third parties in 2016, as well as existing Democratic voters.In today‚Äôs episode, Lisa Lerer, who covers campaigns, elections and political power for The New York Times, speaks to white suburban women on the ground in Ohio and explores their shifting allegiances and values.Guest: Lisa Lerer, a reporter for The New York Times covering campaigns, elections and political power.For more information on today‚Äôs episode, visit nytimes.com/thedaily¬†Background reading:¬†The white suburban voters the president needs to carve a path to victory have turned away from him, often for deeply personal reasons.
  1. The Field: Why Suburban Women Changed Their Minds
  2. The Sunday Read: 'My Mustache, My Self'
  3. Sudden Civility: The Final Presidential Debate
  4. A Peculiar Way to Pick a President
  5. A Misinformation Test for Social Media

Medicine Pods:

+ Nutrition Rounds: hosted by Danielle Belardo, a newly-minted cardiologist and vegan, you learn the facts about the integration of nutrition into medicine from an evidence-based approach. Basically my two favorite things. Dr. Belardo has several guests on to discuss their domains. Episodes are released variously.

Episode 4- Eminence versus Evidence Based Nutrition Nutrition Rounds Podcast

A discussion on evidence based nutrition with Kevin Klatt, PhD, RD Before todays episode starts, we want to acknowledge the 122,000 Americans who have lost their lives to COVID19.¬†¬†We acknowledge the great challenge that those in healthcare and others on the front lines are facing, as well as the many individuals who have lost a loved one to COVID19.¬†¬†Our hearts also go out to the many lives affected by the sequelae of the pandemic, including the many individuals who have lost their jobs, and have been under financial and psychological stress. We DENOUNCE incidents of racism and violence that continue to ravage the black community.¬†We want to acknowledge the heart breaking murder of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and countless others who have lost their lives to longstanding systemic racism.¬†¬†We stand behind the black community who have our endless support.¬†¬†Black lives matter. Please support black owned businesses and charities if you are financially able to at this time. Scroll down our show notes for an extensive list of black vegan influencers and black owned vegan businesses. ¬† Eminence versus Evidence Based Nutrition. This interview is an important one. Nutrition science can be so confusing. With so many dietary groups advocating for various different dietary patterns, how do we know what to believe? Nutrition science is a complex living organism, and we are working on projects to help get the accurate scientific information out there. About Kevin Klatt, PhD, RD ‚Äď Co Director of Research and Education at IOPBM He is the recipient of the inaugural Dennis Bier, MD Young Career Editor for The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition! This one of the most prestigious accomplishments in Academic Nutrition in the world. Kevin is a Cornell and NIH trained PhD, RD, and current scientist at Baylor College of Medicine, and is one of the worlds most respected nutrition scientists. We are honored to have him on our team at IOPBM. About Learn with IOPBM Courses (everyone) learn.iopbm.org Courses | CME/CE https://learn.iopbm.org/cme ¬† Full Time Students, dietetic interns, & residents and fellows in training get 30% off https://learn.iopbm.org/students ¬† Black Lives Matter. Support & Amplify Black Vegans.¬† Follow on Instagram: @doctor.tarr @iye.loves.life @Veganstreetfair @domzthompson @badassvegan @berryvegandelights @whereitallvegan @joveganista @powerplantkitchen @too_good_eats @juice.ave @cbivegan @nilevegan @willowbeezsoulveg @plantbasedlifestylecafe @thevegandoughnutco Black-Owned Vegan Food CompaniesAtlas Monroe¬†(Nationwide) Aya Raw¬†(San Diego, CA)Better Chew¬†(Bay Area, CA) BGab‚Äôs Goodies¬†(Chicago, IL) Coco Luv Vegan Cookies¬†(nationwide) Eat Project Pop¬†(Nationwide) Good Girl Chocolate¬†(Nationwide) Golde¬†(Nationwide) Green Soma¬†(Atlanta, GA) Hella Nuts¬†(Nationwide) Houston Sauce Co.¬†(Nationwide) kub√© Nice Cream¬†(Nationwide) Mac & Yease¬†(Nationwide)¬† Maya‚Äôs Cookies¬†(Nationwide) Misha‚Äôs Kind Foods¬†(Los Angeles, CA) More Life Liquid¬†(Bonita, CA) Mylk Dog¬†(Nationwide) Rooted Delights¬†(Nationwide)¬† Southern Roots¬†(Nationwide) The No Cookie¬†(Nationwide) Way to Life Foods¬†(California + nationwide shipping) Black-Owned Vegan Grocery StoresGreen Taste Vegan Goods¬†(San Francisco, CA) Larayia‚Äôs Bodega¬†(Los Angeles, CA) No Carne Bodega¬†(The Bronx, NY) Sunshine‚Äôs Health Food Store and Deli¬†(Houston, TX) S√úPRMARKT¬†(Los Angeles, CA) The SV Market¬†(Nationwide) Vegan Fine Foods¬†(Fort Lauderdale, FL) Vegan‚Äôs Delight¬†(The Bronx, NY) VegSide Mkt¬†(Houston, TX) V Marks the Shop¬†(Philadelphia, PA) Black-Owned Vegan Beauty Brands¬† Base Butter¬† Beauty Bakerie Bombd Aesthetics Candy x Paints Dimension Nails Doubledown Cosmetics Ecoslay Emaje Naturals¬† Foxie Cosmetics Hello Aloe Naturals Loving CultureJacq‚Äôs Janet and Jo¬† JD Glow Cosmetics¬† Jos√©phine Kaike Kinky-Curly Klarity Kosmetics¬† Lovinah Skincare Mented Cosmetics Mudd Beauty Nola Skinsentials Obia Naturals OrganiGrowHairCo Oshun Organics Range Beauty Ressentir Cosmetics Refinne Silkt√°ge Suite Eleven The Vegan Esthetician Spa The Wellness Apothecary True Moringa Black-Owned Vegan RestaurantsA Live Kitchen¬†(Laurelton, NY) A Piece of Soul¬†(Columbia, SC)Azla Ethiopian Eatery¬†(Los Angeles, CA) Belmont Vegetarian¬†(Worcester, MA) Blueberry Cafe¬†(Newark, NJ) Bunna Cafe¬†(Brooklyn, NY) Can‚Äôt Believe It‚Äôs Not Meat¬†(Chicago, IL) Compton Vegan¬†(Compton & Los Angeles, CA) DaJen Eats¬†(Eatonville, FL) Dirty Lettuce¬†(Portland, OR) Detroit Vegan Soul¬†(Detroit, MI) Drop Squad Kitchen¬†(Wilmington, DE) ELife Restaurant¬†(Washington, DC & Capitol Heights, MD) Gigi‚Äôs Vegan Cafe¬†(Kansas City, MO) Go Vegan Grill¬†(Atlanta, GA) Greedi Kitchen¬†(Brooklyn, NY) Greedi To Go¬†(Brooklyn, NY) Green Gene Vegan Cafe¬†(Albuquerque, NM) Green Seed Vegan¬†(Houston, TX) Grenville Kitchen¬†(Jacksonville, FL) Happy Apple Cafe¬†(Kansas City, MO) Happy Ice¬†(Los Angeles, CA) Humaitree House¬†(Augusta, GA) ITSO Vegan¬†(Grand Prairie, TX) Jackfruit Cafe¬†(Los Angeles, CA) Jikoni Cafe¬†(Norfolk, VA) Judahlicious¬†(San Francisco, CA) Juju‚Äôs Vegan¬†(Lincoln, NE) Juices for Life¬†(New York City, NY) Kale Cafe¬†(Daytona, FL) Life Bistro¬†(Atlanta, GA) Lindiana‚Äôs Souther Vegan Kitchen¬†(Houston, TX)¬† Lov‚Äôn It Live¬†(East Point, GA) Majani¬†(Chicago, IL) Meme‚Äôs Twisted Potato¬†(Little Rock, AK) Munchies Diner¬†(Santa Ana, CA) Natural Blend Vegan Cafe¬†(Brooklyn, NY) Natural Oasis¬†(Rochester, NY) Nola Vegan¬†(New Orleans, LA) NuVegan Cafe¬†(Washington, DC) Oasis Vegan Veggie Parlor¬†(Boston, MA) One World Beat Cafe¬†(San Diego, CA) Original Soul Vegetarian¬†(Chicago, IL) Plant-Based Pizzeria¬†(Atlanta, GA) Plum Bistro¬†(Seattle, WA) Quickie Too¬†(Tacoma, WA) Rahel Ethiopian Vegan Cuisine¬†(Los Angeles, CA) Ras Plant Based¬†(Brooklyn, NY) Rawtopian Bliss¬†(Columbia, SC) Refocused¬†(Baltimore, MD) Seasoned Vegan¬†(New York City, NY) Senbeb Cafe¬†(Washington, DC) Senses Vegan¬†(Norfolk, VA) Simply Pure¬†(Las Vegas, NV) Slutty Vegan¬†(Atlanta, GA) Sol Sips¬†(Brooklyn, NY) Soul Food Vegan¬†(Houston, TX) Soul Good Vegan Cafe¬†(Durham, NC) Souley Vegan¬†(Oakland, CA) Soul Vegetarian¬†(Atlanta, GA) Spoiled Vegans¬†(San Diego, CA) Sprout Natural Choice¬†(Catonsville, MD) Stuff I Eat¬†(Inglewood, CA) Sunshine Vegan Eats¬†(Buffalo, NY) Sunset Kava¬†(San Diego, CA) Super Juiced¬†(Oakland, CA) Sweet & Natural¬†(Mount Rainier, MD) Sweet Soulfood Nola Vegan Cuisine¬†(New Orleans, LA) T&T Lifestyle¬†(Los Angeles, CA) Tassili‚Äôs Raw Reality¬†(Atlanta, GA) The Greener Kitchen¬†(Baltimore, MD) The GruB Factory¬†(Baltimore, MD) The Land of Kush¬†(Baltimore, MD) The New Vegan¬†(Delray Beach, FL) The Nile Cafe¬†(Philadelphia, PA) The Queen‚Äôs Table¬†(El Paso, TX)¬† The Reizod Vegan Experience¬†(Columbia, SC) The Southern V¬†(Nashville, TN) The Veg Hub¬†(Oakland, CA) The Vtree¬†(Los Angeles, CA) Tri Lounge Cafe¬†(New York, NY) Trio Plant-Based¬†(Minneapolis, MN) Twisted Plants¬†(Cudahy, WI) Two Mamma‚Äôs Vegan Kitchen¬†(Oakland, CA) Uptown Veg¬†(New York City, NY) Urban Vegan Kitchen¬†(New York City, NY) V-Eats Modern Vegan¬†(Dallas, TX) Vegan Mob¬†(Oakland, CA) Vegans Are Us¬†(Vineland, NJ) Vege-Licious Cafe¬†(Nashville, TN) Vegetarian Restaurant by Hakin¬†(Miami Beach, FL) Veggie Castle¬†(South Richmond Hill, NY) Veg On the Edge¬†(Santa Cruz, CA) Veltree¬†(Charlotte, NC) Verdure Inc¬†(Brooklyn, NY) Viva La Vegan¬†(Atlanta, GA) Wasota Vegan Paradise¬†(Austin, TX) Where It All Vegan¬†(Columbus, OH) Whipped – Urban Dessert Lab¬†(New York, NY) Black-Owned Vegan Bakeries¬†Blackstreet Bakery¬†(Portland, OR) Brewer Bakes¬†(Indianapolis, IN + nationwide shipping) Brown Sugar Baking Company¬†(Seattle, WA) Devi‚Äôs Donuts and Sweets¬†(Long Beach, CA) Guilt Free Pastries¬†(Memphis, TN + nationwide shopping) Heavenly Vegan¬†(The Bronx, NY + nationwide shipping)How Delish HD¬†(West Orange, NJ)Jalen‚Äôs Bakery¬†(Fresno + nationwide shipping) Lush Life Vegan Bakery¬†(Madison, WI + nationwide shipping) Mo‚ÄôPweeze Vegan Bakery¬†(Denville, NJ + nationwide shipping) Shyah‚Äôs Vegan Bakery¬†(nationwide shipping) The Uptown Vegan¬†(New York, NY) The Vegan Doughnut Co.¬†(Lakewood, OH) Vegan Dream Doughnuts¬†(Atlanta, GA) Black-Owned Vegan Food TrucksBurger Hive¬†(Fort Lauderdale, FL) Malibu‚Äôs Burgers¬†(Oakland, CA) Mattie‚Äôs Vegan Eats¬†(Kansas City, MO) Planet Vegan¬†(Fresno, CA) Sassy‚Äôs Vegetarian Soul Food¬†(Austin, TX) Vurger Guyz¬†(Los Angeles, CA) Black-Owned Vegan Pop-Ups & CateringAmeen‚Äôs Foods¬†(Los Angeles, CA) B.A.D. Gyal Vegan¬†(Brooklyn, NY) Bams Vegan¬†(Dallas, TX) Black Rican Vegan¬†(The Bronx, NY) Blufox Co¬†(Los Angeles, CA) Charlie‚Äôs Brownies¬†(Los Angeles, CA)¬† ¬†¬† CLR Trust¬†(New York, NY) Deelish by Deedi¬†(Baltimore, MD) Good Green Grubbery¬†(Washington DC) Krafted Culture Catering¬†(Los Angeles, CA) Lettuce Feast LA¬†(Los Angeles, CA) Louisville Vegan Kitchen¬†(Atlanta, GA) Maya‚Äôs Cajun Kitchen¬†(Mesa, AZ) Merkaba Meals¬†(Kansas City, MO) Naomi Vegan Meets¬†(Hampton, VA)¬† Nanas A Vegan¬†(The Bronx, NY) One Cup¬†(San Diego, CA) Pescky Kitchen¬†(Denver, CO + nationwide shipping) Plant-Based Papi¬†(Portland, OR) Sabrosa Vegana¬†(New York, NY) Sneak Eats¬†(Mount Vernon, NY) Straight Up Fast Food¬†(Los Angeles, CA) The Hood Bruja¬†(Los Angeles, CA) The Remix¬†(San Diego, CA) The Source¬†(San Diego, CA)The Vegan Hood Chefs¬†(San Francisco, CA) The Vegan Lion¬†(San Diego, CA) The Vegan Spot¬†(Kansas City, MO) Topknotch Vegan Vittles¬†(Kansas City, MO) Two Vegan Sistas¬†(Memphis, TN) Urban Soul Grill¬†(Michigan & Ohio) Vegan Crave¬†(Kansas City, MO) Vegan or Nah¬†(Los Angeles, CA) Veg Nation¬†(St. Louis, MI) Voodoo Vegan¬†(Los Angeles, CA) We Be Grubbin‚Äô¬†(Bakersfield & Los Angeles, CA) Zizi‚Äôs Vegan Catering¬†(Charlotte, NC) (list cred: VegNews)
  1. Episode 4- Eminence versus Evidence Based Nutrition
  2. Episode 3- Happy Heart Month! Women’s Heart Health and Prevention with Martha Gulati MD
  3. Episode 2- Your Body in Balance – Hormones and Nutrition with Neal Barnard, MD
  4. Episode 1- New Decade = BIG news! Happy New Year! And #docsgovegan updates
  5. Episode 9- ALL about Plant Based Keto – with Dr. Ethan Weiss and Dr. Carrie Diulus

+ The Doctor Goals Podcast: Dr. Trot hosts this podcast discussing everything from pre-medicine through her experience with residency. She hosts several guests who each share their unique experiences. Great, uplifting stories! Episodes are released variously.

9 Things You'll Want to Know Before Becoming a Doctor The DOCTORGOALS Podcast

The title says it all. You'll want to save this episode.   RATE. REVIEW. SUBSCRIBE! * * * COMFY DOCTORGOALS SHIRTS * * * Did somebody say coffee? Probably not, but you should check this out: Super Coffee РLow calorie + packed with caffeine + sprinkled with protein. Use the code DOCTORGOALS to get 20% OFF your order! drinksupercoffee.com
  1. 9 Things You'll Want to Know Before Becoming a Doctor
  2. MINISODE: Most Memorable Case with Dr. Mariam Molani
  3. Is an MBA Worth It as a Doctor With Dr. Mariam Molani
  4. The Test Taking Strategy That Changed Everything With Dr. Lauren Bessette
  5. Secret to Success: The Lesson That Changed My Perspective

+ Reconciling Medicine: The Drs. Paro (John and Rene), discuss their experience navigating medicine together, and their current lives together. Everything in this pod ranges from insightful storytelling to laughing your butt off. Highly recommend if you want to feel inspired and learn about a powerful physician couple. Episodes are usually released on Fridays.

Episode 39 - Fad Diets Are Dumb Diets - Reconciling Medicine

The Doctors Paro will equally make you laugh and ruffle your feathers with this episode about diets. Listen..... we've been working on figuring out the truths about nutrition for weight loss, body composition and overall health. We've fallen into SO MANY "fitness and wellness" traps. After lots of reading and trial and error - we've come to understand a lot.We are in no way dietitians or nutritionists. But the truths we speak of here are backed in nutrition science - no gimmicks. And spoiler alert - the way to achieve the goals most people have when searching for a diet is not sexy or flashy. It's boring and takes way more time then we want it to.Episode Takeaways:Brief Review of Episode 13 Food is Fuel.The Pyramid of Importance.If A Diet Requires You To Buy A Bunch Of Shit, Don't Trust It.If A Diet Promises Fast Results, Don't Trust It.What Are The Reasonable Expectations?Common Diets And Why They Work But Aren't Magic.
  1. Episode 39 - Fad Diets Are Dumb Diets
  2. Episode 38 - Share the Medical Mic with Dr. Lauren Powell
  3. Episode 37 - Fitness in 2020: Racing Towards Justice
  4. Mini Episode - Reconciling Life
  5. Episode 35 - The Quarantine Album

+ This Podcast Will Kill You: Erin, PhD, and Erin, PhD, go through each episode discussing infectious disease 101 with an entire series on COVID-19. Each episode also features recipes for Quarantinis and non-alcoholic Placeboritas. Cheers! *Released periodically :)*

Ep 60 Giving birth to "The Pill" - This Podcast Will Kill You

Well, TPWKY listeners, it has been a heck of a year, and it‚Äôs not even over yet! But one thing has come to an end: our third season. Given the profound implications these next couple of months will have on the future of health and security in the United States, for our season finale we chose to cover a topic that‚Äôs near and dear to our hearts and minds: birth control. Have you ever thought to yourself, ‚ÄúI know this IUD/patch/pill prevents pregnancy, but how exactly does it do that?‚ÄĚ or ‚ÄúHow on earth did someone come up with this pill and then get it legalized?‚ÄĚ If so, you‚Äôre in luck. In this episode, we walk through the basics of how the most common hormonal contraceptives work and then journey through the history of the various birth control movements in the United States. Finally, we wrap up with some of the latest developments in birth control technology (male hormonal contraceptives, anyone?) as well as the major legal decisions impacting access to birth control. We want to thank all of you fantastic listeners who have been with us through this wild year. You have made it all worth it! And fear not - we‚Äôll be back with season 4 before you know it. Make sure to subscribe so you don‚Äôt miss the first episode drop of the next season! See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
  1. Ep 60 Giving birth to "The Pill"
  2. Ep 59 Thalidomide: Justice Delayed, Justice Denied
  3. Ep 58 Guinea worm: (Almost) Ancient History
  4. Ep 57 Herpes: Stop the STIgma
  5. Ep 56 Sickle Cell Disease: Invisible Illness, Enduring Strength

Life Pods

+ Life Kit: NPR's series that is a short clip of "how-tos" ranging from how to talk about uncomfortable things to getting a puppy. I love the organization of this pod and I always learn something new!

Coping With Anxiety From Constant Headlines - Life Kit

Between the coronavirus and the election, the news is overwhelming right now. Neuroscientist Judson Brewer can help. Take a break from the headlines and press play.
  1. Coping With Anxiety From Constant Headlines
  2. Ibram Kendi Reflects On Anti-Racism ‚ÄĒ And Wants You To Do It Too
  3. FAFSA 2020: Here's How To Apply For College Financial Aid
  4. Making Social Change, With Help From Meditation
  5. Tips For Better Conversations, From A Pro

+ Rise: Rachel Hollis is an inspiring lady. This one is full of empowering messages, inspirational speakers, and ways to help your feel good. I highly recommend her books, too! *released weekly*

+ As a Woman: Dr. Natalie Crawford is a reproductive endocrinologist (or fertility physician), which she discusses in depth, but she also discusses her perspectives of going through medicine as a woman. Her podcast is inspiring to myself as an aspiring physician, but also an empowered woman.


True Crime Pods:

+ Crime Junkie: Ashley + Britt take a deep-dive into a new crime each week - whether it's solved or not. Their ability to deliver the story makes you wish it was never over. They duo is huge on advocating for personal safety and bringing justice to these crimes they describe.

MYSTERIOUS DEATH OF: Michelle O’Connell - Crime Junkie

When a young mom is killed by her boyfriend's service weapon, local law enforcement treat her death as a terrible tragedy and rule it a suicide. But her family believes the truth is much more sinister. Sources for this episode cannot be listed here due to character limitations. For a full list of sources, please visit https://crimejunkiepodcast.com/mysterious-death-michelle-oconnell. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
  1. MYSTERIOUS DEATH OF: Michelle O’Connell
  2. INFAMOUS: The ‚ÄúLonely Hearts‚ÄĚ Killers
  3. NEW SHOW: Anatomy of Murder
  4. MURDERED: Faith Hedgepeth
  5. MURDERED: Shaquita Bennett // Tara Costigan

+ Counterclock: Delia D'Ambra is a reporter who has done an excellent job bringing light to the unsolved case of Denise Johnson from over 20 years ago. Because of this podcast, there have been new leads and it is not longer considered "cold." Season 2 is coming soon, but in the meantime, you can binge all of season 1.

+ Park Predators: Delia D'Ambra is at it again with this one. 11 episode-mini series explaining a different crime taken place in a National Park. The sound effects, story-telling, and descriptions help me picture each park scene she describes. Edge-of-your-seat type of stuff here.


Wondery Series Pods

These are usually 6-part episodes that give you an inside look to several hot-topic scenarios including serial killers, deviant behavior, and true crime. Some of my favorites are listed below.

A neurosurgeon practicing when he shouldn't be. My jaw was on the floor the entire show.
The Dating Game Killer was around in the 1970s when the country was terrified of the threat of emerging serial killers. It blows my mind the amount of loopholes this man made it through to keep reoffending.
All about the infamous life of Jeffery Epstein. While disgusting, if you're interested in more information about this man, I recommend this podcast.
Yep, just like the popular Netflix show. I liked this one better than the show, however.
All about the Golden State Killer.
Kim Goldman, the sister of Ron Goldman, also killed by OJ Simpson. I loved this perspective.

Thank you for reading! Enjoy these fantastic shows in your free time as I do.

Xx,

M

Hi everyone!

It’s been a while since I’ve done a lifestyle post. If you enjoy this, let me know and I will do them more often. ūüôā

We are in the midst of a global pandemic that does not discriminate on who it infects. I am writing this after working 24 hours in the ED after an outbreak within my city of about 57,000 people. I am trying to find a sense of normalcy and establish as much of a routine as I can for the time being. With that, I will walk you through what has become a “normal” day for me!

7:30-8:00 AM

Wake up, check my DMs, emails, and other notifications on my phone. If I remember, I do a guided meditation on the Headspace app, or read. Bae & I are reading House of God still and I’m very into it.

8:00-8:30 AM

Skincare time – my new found routine. I first wash/cleanse, use toner, a vitamin C serum, and then a moisturizer with SPF. I believe this is essential to having the best skin I’ve had in my 20s (so far). ūüôā After this, I brush my teeth, change into something comfortable but less slob-like than pajamas. (I’ve found this practice greatly affects my productivity). I loosely make my bed and head downstairs.

8:30-9:30 AM

Water before anything else. I’ve been making iced lattes daily (check my instagram highlights for how to make them yourself), and eat breakfast. Breakfast is usually light – either PB toast and banana, or avocado toast. After I’ve eaten, I use the time to figure out what I need to get done during the day.

10:00 AM-12:00 PM

Prior to the pandemic hitting, I worked as a graduate research assistant for my college as a master’s student. I opted to work 2 hours/day and set those hours as 10-12 in the mornings. Since the job I’m doing is tedious, I made sure to set the same exact timeslot to #WFH.

So what do I actually do? I am working with a public health nursing professor and a professor in the rural health department of the medical school on developing a study measuring attitudes toward domestic violence. I am currently doing grunt work collecting contact information for the facilities we are going to study. In order to do this, I grab (what’s left of) my coffee, and turn Grey’s Anatomy on while I enter contact information into a spreadsheet for 2 hours. It isn’t so bad at all.

12:00-1:00 PM

Lunch time. I’ve been making a lot of stir fry lately – it’s very forgiving and allows you to add whatever veggies you have on hand. This way, I don’t feel the need to go to the store just to make a recipe that sounds good. I really don’t like to do other activities while I’m eating, so I take a good amount of time to cook, eat, and clean up.

1:00-3:00 PM

After my mental break, I go to work on the academic stuff. This week, I have a reflection due for my counseling class and a wiki to complete after listening to our patients. We had a class meeting last night and did a course wrap up/reflection discussion. In counseling, I have a few journal entries left to reflect on, one more exam in biostatistics, and a few more micronutrients to learn! Then one more year of graduate school!!!!

3:00-5:00 PM

In this time, I have done a combination of lightly exercising and relaxing. It is finally getting warmer here in ND and my dog is loving the daily walks. This day, I took my yoga mat outside and did a quick flow after our walk.

5:00-7:00 PM

These are @doctormeetsdietitian ‘s almond cookies ūüôā

Dinner. I usually cook for my family during this time, but we have also been ordering out about once a week to support local businesses. In this time, I have also been baking. ūüôā

7:00-9:00 PM

I return to more schoolwork and do some reading or extra studying if I need to. If I have completed my planned schoolwork for the day, I take the time to do laundry, straighten out my bedroom or hang with my parents.

9:00-10:30 PM

Bae usually calls me around this time and we chat and play either Monopoly, Battleship, or Clue on our phones. Each of them are $4 on the Apple app store and a really fun way to connect when you don’t live near each other while following social distancing orders. After we’re off the phone, I wash my face again with a makeup-removing cleanser, use a retinol, moisturize, and use eye cream. My face feels so fresh when I go to sleep.

11:00 PM

I try to be asleep at this time, but that isn’t always the case given the circumstances. If I can’t sleep, I’m recently obsessed with Struggle Meals videos on Tastemade, or reading House of God.

Other things I did this week:

  • Donated blood
  • Ran to campus to grab a textbook from my office (the entire building was locked).
  • Got a free car wash for healthcare workers ūüôā
  • Picked up the new lemonade Trulys – by the way: they’re slightly sweet but still 100 calories/can. I realized stevia is added to this pack!
  • Baked vanilla cherry cupcakes
  • Ate ChikFilA with my parents
  • Sat outside during Zoom meetings

That being said, my days don’t deviate from the above too often with an in between blackboard collaborate class, or Biostats on Wednesday nights. I hope you’re able to check out some of my favorite products just because I love them and hope you will too (they’re not sponsored, btw). Stay safe out there, wash your hands, and don’t touch your face! We will get through this!

xx,

M

This salad is fresh, flavorful, and will remind you of summer amidst winter. Simple ingredients and herbs with creamy feta. You’ll be dreaming of the summer lunches you have in the sun.

Ingredients

  • 1 english cucumber, chopped into bite-sized pieces
  • 1/2 c. feta cheese
  • 1/4 c. olive oil
  • dried Italian herbs

Procedure:

  1. Toss cucumber and olive oil, salt & pepper, and Italian herbs together.
  2. Toss feta in with cucumber mix.
  3. You’re done! Enjoy it!

*recipe is gluten free, vegan*

As far as healthier, easy desserts go, you’re going to want this one in your life. The chocolate/peanut butter combination along with the heartiness of the oats – just trust me.


Ingredients

  • 2.5 cups oats
  • 1 c. natural, unsweetened peanut butter
  • 1/3-1/2 c. PURE maple syrup (depending on sweetness preference)
  • ~ 1 c. vegan chocolate chips (or regular depending if you’re particular!)
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil

Directions

  1. Place parchment paper in an 8×8 baking dish.
  2. Melt PB in a saucepan on low heat. It’ll start to become liquid-y.
  3. Add pure maple syrup once melted and combine thoroughly.
  4. Turn heat off. Stir in oats.
  5. Pour oat/PB mixture into baking dish with parchment paper. Spread down and out with fingers until even and all corners are reached. Place in freezer.
  6. Put chocolate chips in a saucepan with coconut oil on low heat. Stir continuously until melted.
  7. Remove peanut butter bottom from freezer and pour chocolate over top.
  8. Top with large flakes of sea salt.
  9. Place in freezer for about an hour or until firm.
  10. Cut into squares and ENJOY!

xx,

M

Breakfast sandwiches are my weakness. They got me through college. Studying in a coffee shop, on my way to early shifts, something to give myself to look forward to on days like those. With that though, usually includes a hefty dose of *some* form of white bread, sodium, processed meat, and preserved ingredients. Not only that, but the convenience costs you – especially if you’re eating multiple a week. ūüė¨I decided to make my own version. All the good stuff plus veggies. Customizable. Convenient. Quick. All the good things that should be included in breakfast. Plus higher protein from the egg whites, knowing where your meat came from, an option of whole grain or gluten free, AND picking whatever kind of cheese you want?! Heck yeah. ūüėÄ


You will need:

  • 4 eggs + 4 egg whites, scrambled
  • 1 dozen mini bagels of choice
  • 2 cups of ANY veggies of choice (I used broccoli & bell peppers)
  • 6 slices meat of choice (I used turkey) – opt out if vegetarian!
  • 6 slices cheese of choice, cut in half (I used pepper jack)

Directions:

  1. Saute veggies on medium heat in vegetable or canola oil until al dente texture.
  2. Add eggs, black pepper, and cook until done (about 5 mins).
  3. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Heat oven to 325.
  4. Cut bagels/bread in half.
  5. Fill bottom half with eggs – be generous.
  6. Add half a slice of meat of choice
  7. Add half a slice of cheese of choice.
  8. Add top of bagel and repeat until you’re through with them all.
  9. Place sammies on baking sheet and spray lightly with cooking oil.
  10. Bake for 20-25 minutes until slightly toasty.
  11. Wrap in foil and place in freezer – good up until about 1 month.

>> TO REHEAT: place sammie on microwave-safe place and cover with a bowl. Microwave for about 1 minute – 1:30. Bring with you on the go!

** I recommend serving with 1 c. fruit + a large glass of water to start the day!


enjoy!

xx,

M

First of all, to anyone reading, I would like to say thank you for your support throughout this incredibly daunting season in my life. I made it through and I hope this is the first and last time I have to take that test. I’ve heard from several peers that the MCAT is the most important standardized test throughout the extent of your medical training. At first I didn’t believe it. Medical students, residents, attendings… take standardized exams all throughout their education. The MCAT, however, is what sets up the possibilities of those. It tests your mental stamina, proves that you have the persistence to become a doctor, reassures you’re becoming one for the right reasons, and tests several other traits of character. There is nothing more humbling than thinking you did really well on a practice exam and reading your score realizing you did far worse than you imagined. This is my experience and how I can help you!

*I want to make a disclaimer that it is extremely important to note that my experience is what I did, what worked (or didn’t work) for me and my experience. I am writing this to help anyone out there through my perspective. That being said, every student is unique and what worked well for me may not for you.*

Alright, let’s jump right in!


The Time Frame:

Many resources, student forums, and supporting peers recommend anywhere from 3-6 months to really dedicate time to study for the MCAT.

I deeply studied for about 2.5 months and began reviewing about 6 months before that.

The majority of students taking the MCAT take it after their junior year in order to apply to schools prior to graduating. I took it after my 5th year of college. I had just finished biochemistry, taken 20+ credits in sociology throughout my undergrad, and used my MCAT review books alongside some of my last undergrad courses to familiarize myself with the content the MCAT tests on. There is no “right” or “wrong” time to choose when to take the test. It depends on:

  • how much dedicated time you think you need
  • how “fresh” you feel the material is/how much material you think you need to learn
  • how graceful you can be to yourself allotting for days you NEED off [for a mental break]. And trust me, you’ll need them.

I recommend making a list of the content areas you need to review the most, including specific topics. I wrote down all of the sections of the Kaplan books (such as electrochemistry, glycolysis part I, the immune system, etc), and then crossed them out as I went through them.


The Resources:

I did my best to obtain as many free resources as possible. However, I feel it’s extremely important to purchase some kind of comprehensive review books regardless of the test-prep company. I purchased Kaplan from Amazon, but I’ve heard good things about Next Step as well. Point being, it doesn’t matter which books. As long as you have something to base your review on. Below are the free resources I used and what I used them for.

  1. The MCAT Podcast/The MCAT CARS Podcast by Medical School HQ. Specific subjects, pearls, and questions.
  2. Jack Westin CARS passages ~ if you subscribe by email, you get a CARS passage daily. It’s amazing. I did this almost daily.
  3. UWorld MCAT [free trial] ~ practice questions. You can select the content areas you want to get questions on. Upgrade for longer access.
  4. Khan Academy MCAT ~ select from all content areas – including CARS – watch lesson videos, do practice questions with instant feedback.
  5. Next Step MCAT ~ free diagnostic half length exam, free full length exam, free question banks!!!
  6. Kaplan ~ I purchased the review books and received 3 complementary full length exams with the code that came with my books.
  7. AAMC Full Lengths ~ the American Association of Medical Colleges – ie, the company that GIVES the MCAT. I recommend purchasing and taking their full length exams at the end of your prep. I’ve heard these are the ones that give you the most accurate prediction as to what you’ll score on the real thing. This is the same site you use to sign up for the MCAT.

All of these resources in combination helped me substantially. I listened to both the podcasts on my way to class my last semester of undergrad and caught myself shouting out the answers when Dr. Gray + Clara would ask them. ūüėÄ The CARS podcast was extremely helpful in familiarizing myself with how the CARS section aims to function. Additionally, I spiral-bound my Kaplan books (cheap at your local office supply store), and took then with me everywhere. I annotated them, marked them up, and I’m fairly certain I answered every single practice question offered throughout them. Again, you NEED some form of review book that lays out what you will be tested on, but I firmly believe it doesn’t matter which. Kaplan was great for me.


The How:

The first month and a half (halfway through May after graduation), and the majority of June, I reviewed material for about 8 hours a day, 6 days a week. I spent most days early in the morning, studied until lunchtime, ate and decompressed, then returned for an afternoon session.

After reviewing the material, I began learning the format of the exams by doing practice questions (mostly to assess knowledge), practice passages (to get a feel for the way the questions are asked), and full-length practice tests. Up until my test date, I had taken 8 practice exams. After each practice exam, I reviewed each question and learned what my weak (as well as strong) areas were. I would use the following day to review the weak areas and re-learn the content.

While I believe the MCAT should be your life in the time you’re preparing, it is necessary to allow time for yourself. Regardless of what that is – using weekdays for longer prep days and weekends for shorter, more relaxed prep, making equal prep on all days for shorter studying in duration, or whatever works best for you. I was able to stick to my schedule while accounting for exercising 5-6 days/week, working one 12-hour-shift per week, and other social events I had throughout the summer. Knowing myself, I knew needed game nights with my roommates, long talks, walks, and my amazing social network.


The Know:

MCAT prep is not specific on testing what will be on your test on any given test day. That being said, the safest way to prepare is to know everything. I’m not joking, either. The Kaplan books do a great job of outlining what is considered “high yield” (or most likely to be on the test). Those are the topics one must know like the back of their hands. The rest, you better believe you should know, also. “High yield” simply means those are the topics most likely to show up on test day. Knowing that helped me in my prep. Here’s a few things I think you NEED to know for test day.

1.AMINO ACIDS. Like you’ve never known anything else. You must know the names, the properties, the three-letter abbreviations, the one-letter abbreviations, which are most similar to each other, etc. Throughout my MCAT experience, I had found that there were amino acid questions throughout both the chem/physics section as well as the biology/biochem sections. Sometimes the questions will display themselves in a very discrete manner such as, “which amino acid is cyclic?” and you’ll be given options in the form of the three-letter codes. Others are not-so obvious… “As described in the passage, which amino acid could also be used for X, Y, Z?” leaving you to deduce which AA of the given options is most similar in nature to the other – property-wise. In these cases, it helped me to take each multiple choice answer and list the properties. If you truly know your stuff, the right answer will scream out at you. If you know anything for the MCAT, make sure you know the amino acids ever-so-thoroughly.

2. Psychiatric Disorders. I haven’t heard a lot of talk about this, but on several of my practice tests, a discrete question would present itself asking which disorder a patient had based on the given symptoms. Have a general idea of the classes of psychiatric disorders, and you’re guaranteed to get at least one question correct on your test. ūüėČ

3. Terminology. ESPECIALLY in the psych/soc section, I believe the terminology is very specific to the MCAT. Sure, these terms are psychological & sociological terms, but the ones you need to know are very MCAT-specific. In undergrad, I had taken 21 credits in sociology (I strongly, strongly recommend if you have the option), and 9 credits of psychology, but prior to studying for the MCAT, I had no idea what “self-serving bias,” the differences between “foot-in-the-door” technique an “low-ball” technique, and what the heck “groupthink” was. While all of these terms sound like you could make an educated guess as to what they mean, in which you’re probably right, do not be too confident. These terms are often very similar to each other and the test will likely make you decide between two options which are indeed, very similar. This is why you NEED TO KNOW your stuff. As I prepared, I found it extremely helpful to write down a term as you see it; on a practice test, while reading, in the podcast, etc. and writing it down and defining it in YOUR terms. Then study that extensively. ūüôā

4. CARS. Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills. Vital to becoming a physician. In this section, you’re given nine passages and 53 questions to answer about them. Then can be on anything – architecture, Roman/Greek history, ethics & medicine, sociology, you get the point. Not what us pre-meds are accustomed to – we want the science and hard evidence. Many students (including myself) find CARS the most daunting section simply based on the aspect of unfamiliarity. When I took my diagnostic test, I was mortified by my CARS score. But it didn’t stay that that way. By the end of my prep, I ended up scoring higher on CARS than the science sections. All I did was figure out HOW to tackle CARS. It took me a while to understand that CARS is not about comprehension, it’s about inference. What is the author’s attitude about the topic? What is the tone of the overall passage? What is the underlying message? Shifting my perspective on it gave me a much better shot at it.

5. Punnett Squares. I cannot even tell you how many times I drew these out during my practice. If you don’t remember how you survived freshman biology and then a semester of genetics, I HIGHLY suggest learning how to draw and solve Punnett squares and then interpreting them. Learning the inheritance patterns as well as the basics of genetics will benefit you plenty – I can almost guarantee it.

The Strategies:

Here are the test-taking strategies that worked for ME when I took my eight practice tests and carried over into test day:

  1. Discrete questions first. In each of the science sections (chem/physics, bio/biochem, psych/soc), there are 59 questions. Most are passage-based, but nestled between passages are several questions that are not related to a passage and ONLY require outside knowledge. These were my favorite questions. On each section, I went through and did these questions first. Why? Due to time constraints, I didn’t want to risk getting those “simpler” questions wrong in the event that I’d run out of time. These questions, overall, I tended to do better on in comparison to the passage-based questions, so I made sure I did them first. I’d then go back and do the passage-based questions. If you decide to do this, make SURE you go back to all the unanswered questions. ūüôā Sounds obvious, but you never know how you’ll act under pressure.
  2. Recognizing pseudo-discrete questions. While there are obvious discrete questions on the MCAT, there are also what we call “pseudo-discrete” questions. These are passage-based questions that have very little to do with the passage. LOOK OUT FOR THEM. They’re really just a knowledge-based question and testing what you know. ūüôā recognizing this early helps you save time and not scan through the passage when you don’t have to!
  3. Outlining CARS. Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills was not what I thought it was, as previously discussed. As I mentioned previously, my CARS section improved the most over time. A lot of this I can attribute to both reading the text out loud, and outlining the passage. My outlining did get a bit excessive, but I am a kinesthetic learner, so this was the missing piece I needed (see above). This is what I did on the last 2 practice tests I took, and the exact strategy I used on the dry erase board I was given on test day. I used so much ink and I do not regret it.

The Good:

No one’s MCAT story is perfect, and mine was far from it. The best piece of advice I can offer is TAKE PRACTICE TESTS. Again, I ended up taking eight total. The best part of this is that walking away on test day, I didn’t feel surprised by anything: the content, the way the test was formatted, the length of the breaks, and mentally working with all the consequences of taking a 7+ hour-long-exam. I cannot emphasize this enough. I walked out of my test feeling probably as good as I could’ve mentally, and I believe I can attribute that to knowing how the test would be formatted. Another note to the good was that, I found a great balance with my flexible job, working one 12-hour shift per week, consistently exercising, and maintaining (somewhat of) a social life. I believe I can attribute this to having been busy most of my undergrad, but I also believe if you make studying your priority (hello, YOU want to be a doctor!!!!) you can achieve a good balance, too.


The Bad:

I will not sugar-coat anything that has to do with this process. There were several, several times throughout my preparation that I doubted myself, felt like I was wasting my time, and questioned the worth of the process. And there were lots of tears throughout the months of preparation. The material was challenging, frustrating, it took up the majority of my summer, and I had a little bit of FOMO when seeing others’ “fun” summers. I had just graduated and completed FIVE years of college for Pete’s sake. I kept telling myself this was part of the process and I heavily relied on my social support system. I cannot thank everyone enough for this. My family, friends, roommates, coworkers, tennis league friends, etc … the kind words did not go unappreciated. Another difficult part about the process was not being able to work as much as a normally do and I was therefore making less money. I scaled back on things and attempted to prioritize my spending. Overall, the MCAT was simply a season of my life and I’m looking to appreciate that part of my plan as much as I can.


The Test:

There is not much to say about the test itself. As mentioned previously, I was accustomed to the format, the content, and during my very last week, I felt like there was nothing else I could do to make my test day any better than I could’ve. Some of this could’ve been the feeling of burnout, sure, but I felt mentally ready. The test itself happened. The testing center staff was phenomenal. During my second break, the only 30 minute break, one of the staff members came out to check on me because she had thought I exceeded my break (she thought it was another 10 minute break), and wanted to make sure I wasn’t missing out on precious time. Each time I signed back into the secured testing center and handprinted my way in, the staff wished me good luck. When I finished my test, in the extremely quiet testing room, I raised my hand per protocol and soon heard “YOU’RE ALL DONE!!!” I must’ve had a shocked look on my face, but as the testing facilitator approached me, I realized I was the last test-taker to finish. I was 1 of 3 students taking the MCAT that day; and the last of the 3 to check in (the others were mostly taking the NCLEX and education cert exams). I had never felt so relieved. The kindness of this testing center’s employees made my experience far more relaxing than it could’ve been. This just shows how a little kindness goes a long way.


The After:

I walked out of the testing center with tired eyes (despite wearing glasses with blue-blocker lenses). My phone screen looked like I needed a magnifying glass; the text looked so small compared to the previous screen I had been staring at for 7+ hours. I bought myself a coffee, and I don’t think I’ll ever forget the feeling I had when I was sitting in Starbucks waiting for my coffee. I was oddly hyper-aware of my surroundings and slightly in shock that I had just finished the MCAT. Three + whole months were done in a painstakingly long 7+ hours. I then took a nap, and enjoyed drinks and dinner. My overall feelings about the test are rather consistent with how I felt about my practice tests; like mentioned previously, nothing was shocking or uncomfortable after walking out. Now, I just wait until early September to find out! This post MCAT life? Well, it’s a much more relaxed season of life. ūüôā


MCAT-taking friends, please, PLEASE, let me know if any of this information helps you in your preparation. I wish you all of the success in your preparation + on your test. And always remember, it’s a standardized test that does not define your worth. It’s simply a number that allows you to apply to medical school. Let the admissions committee decide if your score is “good enough;” not you, not your peers, not your parents!


Thanks for reading!

xx,

M

Medical schools require a dense core content in the background of the “hard sciences.” Dense in biology and chemistry, two semesters of physics, and biochemistry strongly recommended.

Now, if you’re reading this blog, you are probably familiar with the fact that I haven’t been a traditional pre-medical student from the start. My undergrad concentration was in nutrition with minors in biology and sociology, and on top of those things, I took the required pre-medical coursework (that coincided well with the chemistry portion of a nutrition degree). ANYWAY. Along my degree-concentrated coursework, I found specific courses more beneficial than others. Here you will find some of the courses I strongly recommend taking alongside your degree ~ not only to benefit you if you’re going into the medical field, but also to get the most out of your college experience. ūüôā

“Maddie, what did your undergrad look like?” Me: ^

Statistics

Many medical schools prefer that you have a statistics course anyway, but if you have the option to, I strongly recommend it. I took sociological statistics (sociology minor here), and having that under my belt, especially early on in my undergrad, helped me to understand academic journals and studies far better than I would have without it. Knowing what the p value is in a study and when to draw conclusions about data is pretty important when trying to make sense of academic work. This is part of what sets us apart from claims, fads, and trends that have no validity.

Ethics

Any ethics/philosophy course will give you a great new perspective on things, but if your school offers a medical ethics/ethics in healthcare course, I strongly recommend this. In my course, our professor assigned readings on “hot” topics such as abortion, intersex individuals, in vitro fertilization, and plenty others. But it didn’t end here; we had civil, professor-lead discussions on various perspectives regarding these arguments. It helped me to think about these complex issues not only from a different perspective, but in a way that challenged the way I thought about these issues. It lead me to the belief that there is not “right” answer to each of these problems and that each case is unique and should be decided on individually. My professor was a phenomenal communicator and never influenced my opinion throughout the semester. He now teaches a similar course at the medical school.

Nutrition

Yeah, yeah yeah, I have a degree in nutrition. And there is a lot I want to do with my degree with intentions of going into the medical field. And I’m a huge advocate for nutrition for simply the general public. My biases aside, on the first day of my first nutrition course my professor stated that less than 25% of practicing physicians have ever taken a basic nutrition course (if you want to know more about why I chose nutrition as my college degree, click here).

Patients go to their doctors for advice for being well, and many of us know that diet/nutrition is a large portion of this. While physicians are not considered nutrition experts, having a foundation in nutrition will help in the future. And not only that, nutrition science is dense in chemistry and biochemistry; you never know what might help you down the road in those more difficult courses. It helped bridge a gap between just knowing the chemistry and actually putting it to application (hint hint, they’ve helped me a lot ;)).

Medical Terminology

My job has exposed me to the majority of my medical terminology knowledge (one of the many reasons why I believe in the importance of clinical experience as an undergrad), but taking a basic medical terminology course may help you bridge the gap between the terms and “real life.” My school offered a 1-credit-all-online-at-your-own-pace medical terminology course and I’m really glad I took it. Despite being exposed to it from work, I learned a lot.

Anatomy & Physiology

Again, not required for entrance into medical school, nor for the MCAT. Many of my biology friends ended up taking anatomy as an elective their senior year, but my degree required I take both of them my sophomore year. Having a deep understanding of both A & P helped me with my other upper-level science courses I took down the road and helped the other things make more sense. Not to mention, my school was one of the few undergraduate schools in the country to offer a human anatomy based lab. Yes, our school was fortunate enough to receive our anatomy education on human donors. This gave the experience a whole different perspective that I will never forget.

Helping Skills/Counseling

My nutrition degree curriculum required I take a 100-level introduction to counseling course and as much as I dreaded it, I got so much out of the course. My professor gave us skills on how to interact with patients/clients and how to lead a counseling session in different ways. We practiced things from motivational interviewing to specific language that helps our patients feel more cared for. This included not using the phrase “at least…” but rather, “that must’ve been hard for you” or “you’re so brave for what you’re going through.” Not only do I recommend this to those that want to go into medicine, but for really anyone who wants to become more of an empathetic individual ūüôā


My mentality with college was that I was in a great time in life to explore and take advantage of the opportunities you’re give in that period of time – you’re not likely to be able to take some of those classes ever in life. I also took some sociology courses (deviant behavior and research methods) that had nothing to do with my degree that I still reference often!

I have friends that took ballroom dancing, metalworking, painting, ballet, yoga, and several others. I also had friends that took aviation courses (and subsequently got their private pilot’s licenses) because… why not? So my advice to you, besides these specific courses I recommend (if you’re in the healthcare field), get out there and explore the other options while you’re in college! Why not? Thanks for reading!

xx,

M

This might be the easiest dish I’ll have on my blog. Though I strive to make all my recipes fail-proof while keeping them healthy and wholesome, this one still might be the easiest. Here it goes.

Ingredients:

  • 1 large cucumber, washed
  • 2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp sesame seeds (black or white are fine)

Directions:

  1. Slice the cucumber as thin as you can. If you have a mandolin, this would be a perfect time to use it! If not, be careful for your fingers.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk the remaining ingredients.
  3. Pour the marinade over the cucumber and mix thoroughly.
  4. Store in an air-tight container in the fridge.

*NOTES*

  • You sure can eat these right away, but I recommend letting them soak in the marinade overnight. It will make the flavor much better.
  • Cucumbers are a very water-dense vegetable. Even the small amount of salt in the marinade will pull some of the water off the cucumbers making the mixture more liquid-y – osmosis, man! I recommend draining off most of the remaining marinade before enjoying them.

I hope you love this recipe and I hope you make it time and time again when you need veggie inspiration. ūüôā

Eat your veggies!

xx,

M!

Last week, I visited the Pacific Northwest for the first time. My friend Shelby and I have made a pact now that that we’re graduated and going to live in different cities, with her getting married, and me looking at years of school ahead… we are going to schedule at least one trip a year to make sure we see each other and get out to see the world.

Last summer, it was Washington, DC to visit our mutual friend Claire, and this summer it was Washington state – a state neither of us had been before. This time around, Shelby was a far better planner than I was. With finals, MCAT studying, and coaching, I didn’t have much time for planning so right now, I’m going to shout out Shelby for A) planning the majority of the trip, and B) trekking the streets of Seattle to find green juice with me AND C) doing very challenging hikes with me. You’re an amazing friend.

So back to this trip. We chose Washington because neither of us had been to the PNW and we’re always down to explore. We spent two days in the mountains and a day in the city. While the amount of time we were gone wasn’t what I like to call sufficient enough to get the full feels of this incredible place, the experience is ALWAYS worthwhile. Here is what we did get to do!


Day One:

Shelby and I are still under the rental car age of 25 years old, but my parents gifted us with a rental car for our shared graduation present. This was the only way we were able to get up into the mountains directly from the airport. Thank you, Mom & Dad.

After landing in Sea-Tac, we found our rental car and drove the straight drive up to Mount Rainier National Park, where our Vrbo (similar to AirBnB) was located. In fact, it was located just outside of Ashford, WA about 10 miles from the park entrance. Our cabin was a small A-frame with a lofted bedroom and a cozy feel. It depends on the days of the week you rent, but it’s about $100 a night on average. Our place was PERFECT for us. We had easy access to the park, and it was a beautiful, safe cabin tucked away in the woods.

If you are in the area and need a place to stay when visiting Mt Rainier, I highly recommend our Vrbo spot. Find it here! Whoever invented app-based travel, you’re a genius, my friend.

After we settled in, Shelby and I realized we would be without cell service for the next 48 hours. I wanted to share my adventures so badly, but I think that “unplugging” was really good for me at the time. We got to be up in the mountains experiencing life away from the hustle & bustle, and just enjoy the fresh and clean air up in the mountains. It was so quiet where we stayed; the only sounds we heard were cars driving in and out of the park.

Day Two:

… the start of the hiking days! We drove up into Mount Rainier after examining the map and taking to the park rangers about which hikes we should give a shot in the still-early season. Many of the hikes we’d looked at prior to traveling weren’t open due to snow remaining in the park. On our way up to Paradise, we “stopped by” Narada Falls (which really was a trek through the snow), to view the beautiful falls. The viewpoint gets you close enough to the falls that you feel a good mist. The path to get there was treacherous, but totally worth it.

We then headed to the visitor’s center where we talked to the knowledgeable park rangers and decided on exploring the park and heading up to Paradise, where one can expect to find a great view of Mount Rainier itself. It’s absolutely beautiful and worth the loopy drive up there.

On our way back down from Paradise and the epic view of Mount Rainier, we had planned on hiking the Wonderland trail. Instead, on the way back down the twisty road that beautifully displays Christine Falls, I noticed a bridge above the falls I hadn’t before. We checked out the map and decided that we’d make the 1.9 mile hike up to both Christine Falls, and further down, Comet Falls. Why not?

The hike was beautiful. Not far into the trail, we found the bridge over Christine Falls, visible from the road I had previously seen. This made for a scenic view and perspective for just how high up we were. The bridge was a little creaky and my odd fear of heights-over-water combination actually did just fine. The view was worth it. We kept going past the bridge for the remainder of the hike but only about .2 miles from Comet Falls, we decided to turn around. As mentioned previously, we visited at a time early in the season, so there was snow remaining and that was exactly the case. After reaching this point, to our dismay, we made a decision to turn around. The drop off was too steep and the snow may have just been too slippery to take that risk. I was sad to leave after coming so far, but safety is always my main concern when out in nature (especially without cell service). I recommend this hike if you’re adventurous and enjoy chasing waterfalls. ūüėČ It wasn’t the most difficult hike I’ve done so far, but that’s not to say it was easy. I also recommend doing this hike in the middle of the summer/fall if you want to make it the full way without concern for falling off a drop-off with snow present.

bridge over Christine Falls

This day was topped off with dinner and local wine (which I wish I could get around here).

Day Three:

The second day of hiking. This day, Shelby and I decided on the ___ trail. Everything was going fine until we looked up and realized just how much elevation we would be gaining. This was due to an accidental wrong turn made by the both of us; we didn’t chose to go the wrong way, we simply unintentionally chose the more challenging route. Little known fact, Midwesterners have an even harder time with physical activity when it involves a difference in elevation (the ground is pretty flipping flat here), so this was exceptionally difficult for us and took quite a few breaks to get through it.

We hiked this roughly 4 mile hike “backwards” and I enjoyed every second of it. When we were *finally* close to where we thought the top was, we were watching out for the lookout so graciously promised on the map.

Shelby reminiscing on her “forced” childhood hikes ūüėČ

There were several people around the back corner near the top, and what appeared to be deviance from the trail, but according to my Apple Watch, we had more distance to go before we had reached the lookout. I knew those people were not where they were supposed to be. The view from the lookout was worth every foot of elevation gain (a little more than 1300 feet) !!! After finally reaching the sign that pointed to “lookout,” Shelby and I downed water, apples, and some good-sized handfuls of Dot’s pretzels at the top with a gorgeous view.

not a bad view, right?

After finishing this exceptionally challenging hike, we decided we needed food in the near future, before the notorious “hanger” would strike for either one of us. With a bit of a drive to the next city to grab something, we decided on checking out the National Park Inn on the way out of the park. To my pleasant surprise, there were tons of fresh options, local fish dishes, and vegan options. I naturally gravitate towards plant-based foods, so I went for a dish that had a whole grain tortilla base layered with mashed cauliflower, arugla, roasted chickpeas, and roasted cauliflower. I’m not sure if how hungry I was made this one of my favorite things I’ve eaten of if it truly was, but damn that was good. I think I’ll be making my own version. ūüôā

After making it out of the park and enjoying the views for the last time, we made the drive back to Seattle to return the rental car. We took the light rail from the airport to the neighborhood where my Shelby’s family lives and got to begin our look into the beautiful city.

Day Four:

Our first and final day IN Seattle. Knowing we’d only have one day, we decided to prioritize the things we really wanted to see while we were there. We saw the Space Needle from a distance – the entire skyline is gorgeous – but we didn’t feel a compulsory need to go up into it. In fact, I think Shelby perceived my fear of heights to be a determining factor ūüėČ And let’s be real here, this day was pretty focused on finding the food.

In the neighborhood we were staying in, we came across a plethora of good restaurants, shops, and parks. We began our day going toward Pike Place Market and checked out the area. It was a great experience – the fish-tossing, the smell of *very* fresh fish itself, and all the other ornate items being sold at the market. Shelby and I walked around to find some form of food and we decided on Honest Biscuits. They featured locally sourced ingredients and plant-based options. Seriously, so good. Everyone loves biscuits, but they’ve even better when the ingredients are more wholesome.

Shelby and I each got a breakfast sandwich where we could pick the done-ness of our eggs, and choices of meat, and cheese. Other potential contenders were the biscuits and gravy made from lentils. If I find myself in Seattle again, I will be heading back here.

After cruising through the market for the majority of the day, Shelby and I went back to the neighborhood we were staying in – where the Brooks headquarters are located, along with several new restaurants! I got a perfectly portioned and priced poke bowl with tons of toppings, protein, and choice of rice. I can’t remember the name (so sorry) but I don’t think you can make it to the Pacific Northwest without getting Poke or at least some form of seafood. ūüôā

Shelby and I were then on a quest for dessert. And much to my surprise, Shelby chose a plant-based cafe, Flying Apron. It was adorable and the food and coffee was amazing. You know when espresso is so rich that you don’t even need milk because the flavor is just that good? That’s what this coffee was like. And the vanilla birthday cake (which just happens to be my favorite)… that was some of the best cake I’ve had.

Then, there was dinner. And I was full. We went to a local Mexican fusion restaurant where I was happy with chips & guac and a watermelon margarita. When you’re on vacation, you have to try everything.

We spent the last night on the patio enjoying the fresh air and shortly after, packed our bags for our early flight. Though our trip was extremely short, I am so grateful to be able to travel. Being in new places is such a refreshing experience regardless of where you go. The crisp mountain air does not hurt, either. And with that, PNW, you will see more of me in the future.


Thanks for reading!

xx,

M