And then there was One

Credit (mkrigsman)

Credit (mkrigsman)

I have good and bad news.

The good news is Lizzy (co-blogger) had a fruitful year with her medical school applications. She applied broadly, interviewed at over a dozen schools and she received acceptances at multiple medical schools. I couldn’t be happier for her!

Regrettably, with her medical career just beginning and new responsibilities and opportunities ahead, she has decided to step down from her role as a co-blogger. I am sad to see her go and wish her the best in her future endeavors. Her future is bright.

Medaholic Turns Five

Source - Flickr

Last week, this blog turned five years old. Apart from the 48 hours of downtime I had while migrating servers, there was not much fanfare – no celebration, no new theme, not even a post. Now on my first free Sunday in a month, I have a chance to reflect about it.

In many ways, this blog has been a reflection of what I have done in the last half decade. This blog and its readers have been with me through premed, medical school, clerkship rotations and residency. Through my posts, I’ve tried to share my thoughts on what being a doctor is like. I’ve written before about death, sickness and health. When I have busy rotations, I tend to post less. When I have free time, I try to grow the site. Along the way, I met many who are also on the same journey as me.

It’s been an unexpected and humbling experience. Unexpected because I didn’t think I would make it this far and do so well. Humbling because of all the support and encouragement I’ve received from readers.

For those who aren’t aware, this blog was initially called Open Source MD. The site is still up if you want to check it out. Reading through my old posts, I could tell I was naive and overly ambitious when I first started this blog. I was a new medical student trying to make my mark on the internet and change how patient care was delivered, without having ever cared for a patient yet. There is a paragraph I want to quote though because I think it still holds true.

“I hope that I can look back four years from now at these posts and still realize that I have my optimism and ideals that lead me to this profession. Through recording my memories down and reflecting on my personal growth, perhaps I will gain a better understanding of medicine.”

I can say confidently, that I do have a better understanding of medicine now. I have helped patients overcome their illnesses and I have harmed patients. I have broken bad news countless times. I have laughed with with patients, I have cried with them. What a privilege it is to care for patients.

Moving Forward

Looking back, Medaholic has gone through several phases. Initially, I wrote articles on how to get into medical school – which included posts about the MCAT, application process and interviews. As I went through medical school, I talked about medical education, note-taking, surviving clerkship and preparing yourself for residency. And currently, as I am completing residency, I am focused on work-life balance and career development.

Obviously, medaholic addresses a wide audience from high school students to residents – that’s why this year I asked Lizz to join the team. She is where I was exactly five years ago and about to embark on her own journey – I’m sure she has lots of potential and a wealth of information to share. So instead of focusing past topics – MCAT, Admissions, Interviews, Medical School – I will let Lizz take up the flame and run with it.

As for me, I’m still around and I know it’s time I start writing for myself again. I am going to write about things I’m interested in and not on topics that I’ve outgrown. I want to look back again in five years time and see how much more further I’ve gone. There are still things I will still be doing because I enjoy it such as reviewing apps, books and resources. But I also want to challenge myself with new things. I don’t want to be the blogger who writes little substance for the sake of writing. I have some projects and topics I want to write about soon.

So here’s to the next five years at medaholic, I’m looking forward to it. I hope you will too.

Writing Well Counts

Please excuse my lack of writing. I have been studying for my upcoming MCCQE Part II exam – the second part for our Canadian general medical license.

However, this time each year, I still take some time out to help friends and acquaintances with medical school applications. Although I no longer know the cutoffs and marking criteria for each medical school, I still help out by proofreading essays for clarity and content.

From the applications this year, and years past, the biggest problem I find is style. It seems that four years of science courses can make a person forget how to write sentences. What I read is often overly complicated and cluttered with cliches. It’s unfortunate because most of the content is better than the form.

Three short pointers to anyone applying this cycle (or in the future)

  1. Read your sentences out loud
  2. Edit ruthlessly
  3. Get someone else to look over your writing

Two books that I highly recommend and refer to frequently


Sorry for coming off as an advertising board – I just edited some horrendous essays.

Tales From the Call Room – Medaholic’s Hierarchy of Needs on Call

If you’re familiar with Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, there is a pyramid structure of man’s needs. The most fundamental necessities are at the bottom with the need for self-actualization at the top.

I want to propose a similar model – Medaholic’s Hierarchy of Needs on Call

HierarchyLevel 1 – At the most basic level – you have to do your job on call. Look after patients, return your pages and get the work done. On busy nights, you’re happy with just the bottom rung.

Level 2 – On better nights, you might have the chance to eat a meal and maybe even get some sleep. A 30 minute nap, not bad. 2 hours of sleep, now we are getting somewhere. 4 hours – your post-call day is starting to look productive. 6 hours without interruptions – you might as well just have slept at home!

Level 3 – Being on call is all about presentation. Normal bladder and bowel movements, fresh breath and getting along with your colleagues. Call’s not so bad.

Level 4 – Now we’re getting somewhere. You feel great looking after your patients  and you get a lot of satisfaction out of it. You’re doing a good job and you’re happy you can provide quality patient care.

Level 5 – This is now getting to the realm of self-actualization. You’re learning, you’re teaching, you’re finding time to look up the evidence behind the treatments we prescribe. What a great educational experience, an hour on call is worth several hours studying. Finally you are learning some real medicine.

Level 6 – You get to take a shower. You feel refreshed. It’s a total game-changer.

Tonight’s call has been pretty good. I’m hovering somewhere in levels 4 and 5. I even wrote a blog post! Might even attempt level 6 and hope there are no codes.