White Coat Ceremony

July 25, 2015

Today was our official white coat ceremony. Lining up before the processional with a white coat in my hand all felt very surreal. But somehow... here I am!

The ceremony went well and I really enjoyed the keynote speaker [if you were unable to attend and want to watch, click here to watch on youtube! Skip to 1 hour 26 minutes - 1 hour 28 minutes if you want to watch me awkwardly place my arms in the coat :) ] There appears to be a common theme across all the speeches I heard today and the past few weeks... medical school is going to be really difficult, but absolutely worth it.

Four at a time, my peers and I were presented with our white coats. And yes, that took a long time. And yes, I was very near the end of that list.

Receiving my white coat
Once everyone had their white coat, we took the osteopathic oath as a group. This oath was modified from the hippocratic oath and I'll be revisiting these words throughout the next four years and again at graduation. It was an amazing feeling to recite the words and realize the responsibility I'll have from here on out.

It's an odd feeling to describe. I've worked so hard to get to where I am today, but the reality of my life as a medical student hasn't entirely sank in quite yet (although I'm sure it will by the end of my first week of classes!). The next four years are filled with unknowns and it seems a little terrifying to take the first step. Classes begin Monday morning... so that first step is right around the corner.

Following the ceremony, we had friends and family over to the house for a small celebration. There was no shortage of food or good company. Thank you to everyone who came by and for those who have supported me from afar. I love each of you dearly! This is going to be a crazy journey!!!

Daddy & Grandma Allie
All my grandparents together in a photo - - say what!?
Grams & Gramps 
Mom, Reve & Grandparents
Momma & Reve
Terry & Sarah
The greatest momma in all the land 
Sweet Reve! 
After the white coat ceremony

Meal Planning : Part Four, The Final Touches

July 24, 2015

This post is the last of the meal planning series to introduce you to my method of staying sane while eating healthy in medical school. Check out parts one, two, and three!

The final touches to my meal planning process aren't quite as exciting, so this post will be a little shorter. I took all of my recipe cards and laminated them so I could use them in the kitchen without worrying about spilling food on them. Then I hole punched them, added a binder ring, and created four separate weekly menus.

One week of recipes all ready to go! 
Four weeks of meal planning... bam! 
And there you have it folks... one month of meals, all planned out, and ready to go for medical school. Insanely organized? Yes. Time and money saving? I hope so.

I'm really happy with how it has been working for me already. Since I created the recipe cards with all the prep work written on the right side, it's even easier for me to throw meals together.

Step One: Quickly print out shopping list from Pepperplate.
Step Two: Shop.
Step Three: Chop and prep for the week.
Step Four: Throw things together!

I'm optimistic about how this system will work for Michael and I during medical school. Time will be my most valuable resource and I'm not willing to waste much time on food... but I certainly don't want to eat out or eat unhealthy too often.

I'll keep you all posted on how it's going!!

Meal Planning : Part Three, Creating a Rotating Calendar

July 20, 2015

This post is part of a meal planning series. If you missed Meal Planning : Part One, or Meal Planning: Part Two, be sure to check them out!

My last two meal planning posts were about selecting recipes and entering them into a program called Pepperplate. Those two steps on their own can be very time consuming! Congratulations if you're still with me or interested in my meal-planning process.

Before I begin to explain my rotating calendar, let me start by addressing some comments I've received about my meal planning posts. I've had several people say, "Tate, you have too much time on your hands," or "Why in the world are you doing this?"

Allow me to say this: YES, I agree. This has taken a lot of time and planning. However, I will not have the time to do this during medical school. I simply will not have the time (or patience) to sit down and try to decide what I want to eat each week. Since I'm not a fantastic cook, it was important to me to know that I had a list of go-to-recipes that I would always be excited about eating. And even more important than that, I wanted to cut down on the amount of time planning, shopping, and prepping my meals.

Not everyone has the time or desire to do this, but I am certain that this meal planning process is going to help me during medical school when my time is extremely limited. So, take it or leave it, but I am hoping that someone else may benefit from my crazy ways :)

Moving on.

Now that I have a group of recipes I love, I've decided to make a rotating calendar so I won't get bored eating the same things. I created seven categories of meals, with four recipes in each category. I made hard copy recipe cards to use in the kitchen, but you could also read the recipes just as easily from Pepperplate (I don't tend to trust myself with my phone/laptop near food, pots of boiling water, etc.) :)

Examples of four chicken recipes
Four recipes for each category
After I had enough recipes in each category, I scattered them up! I took one recipe from each category to make a weekly menu. By doing this, I know that I will have a variety of food throughout any given week and I won't get sick of eating the same thing all the time. 

Dividing recipes into weekly menus
After making weekly menus, I did the same thing on Pepperplate. Pepperplate allows you to make menus and add recipes to it, so I made four weekly menus. You can see in the screenshot below that you can just start typing in the box and recipes you saved will pop up to select.

In the process of making a weekly meal plan

Example of what a weekly meal plan might look like 
At this point, it's possible to add single recipes or entire weekly menus to the planner on Pepperplate. VARIETY FOR THE WIN. 

I'll have one last meal planning post to tie everything together... coming soon! 

Summer Pre-Matriculation Course

July 19, 2015

My school, Rocky Vista University, offers a Summer Pre-Matriculation Course (SPC) for first year students that I decided to take advantage of. The SPC was from July 13-17 this year and I was really pleased with the course. Here's a brief overview of what we accomplished:

    • "Thinking about thinking"
    • Learning to recognize our own cognitive biases 
    • Analyzing what you know and don't know about yourself, academic material, etc.
    • Took practice exams to learn how to identify arguments and logic
    • Had the chance to sit through a few full length lectures to help understand the amount of material presented, structure of the lectures, and how to stay focused for long periods of time
    • Participated in activities to help develop the skills to read for valuable information, use objectives to frame study time, and take notes efficiently
    • Interacted with our first standardized patient in an exam room and had the opportunity to be evaluated based upon our interpersonal skills
    • Watched a video of our performance to self-reflect and think about our perception on how we interact with patients vs. their opinions about our interactions 
    • Learned methods to approach exam questions and predict answers
    • Practiced working with clinical vignettes on exams (much different than the straight-forward questions in undergrad!)
    • Took a few short exams to see how well we would do with the clinical based questions
    • Installed and learned how to work with the exam software we will use all throughout school (all exams are taken on our personal laptops- - the software locks you out of all other programs)
    • Post exam reviews allowed us to see how we will review exam material with our faculty after test day
    • Wrote on several different occasions to reflect upon our fears, hopes, and goals about starting medical school
The course as a whole was a very positive experience for me. Just about 40 students chose to take this optional course, and I appreciated getting to know a smaller group of people before I'm introduced to all 162 students at orientation this week. I am truly impressed with the faculty and the school and couldn't be more enthusiastic about my decision to attend Rocky Vista University. There were several points when I thought, "I AM SO LUCKY. THIS IS AMAZING."

Because, really, HOW COOL? I get to become a doctor. And there are so many incredible people - including faculty and my peers - eager to help me become the best doctor I can be. It's pretty freaking rad. I'm so excited! 

But, also.. let's be real. I have my work cut out for me. It's gonna be tough!
Orientation is next week, which should be fun, and then the real work begins.

Meal Planning : Part Two, How to Use Pepperplate

July 18, 2015

This post is part of a meal planning series. If you missed Meal Planning : Part One, be sure to check it out!

Another obstacle I had to face after returning from the Peace Corps was the grocery store. The grocery store may not sound like a terrifying place to you, but let me tell you what... it's an awfully overwhelming place to people like me. I think there are other Returned Peace Corps Volunteers that would back me up.

My sweet, rural village had a few general dealers that sold staple food supplies, but our choices were limited. The produce truck came in once a week and the whole village would stop what they were doing to go find food on the shelves before it was wiped out. That's just how it worked.

And so, I became quite accustomed to my diet of pasta, oatmeal, eggs, rice, and beans. I'm certain I ate other things... but I think that about sums things up. Common produce included potatoes, tomatoes, onions, apples, bananas, and carrots. Fancy weeks brought us eggplant, avocado, berries, and zucchini. You get the picture - I just ate what was available and what I could afford (mmm... you better bet I saved my pula for mango season).

So, a full-blown grocery store paralyzed me. I would walk in the store and freeze. I just stared at all the food. The endless selections. And the produce that wasn't even in season. I used to make Michael go with me because it was so difficult to tackle, but I would safely say I'm out of that stage. Getting out of that stage took time and careful planning.

Allow me to introduce you to my favorite meal planning software, Pepperplate. This amazing program is the best part of meal planning and it allows me to enter the grocery store with a sense of purpose. It takes a lot of initial work, but it's totally worth it in the long run. Let's break down all the steps! (be sure to read my captions below the screen shots - they are easy to miss and have some useful information)

1. Gather all of your selected recipes (step one of meal planning). Anything and everything! I included appetizers, desserts, main dishes, sides, and even drinks (cocktails, etc). Start with your favorites and slowly add the rest.

2. Create a Pepperplate account. It's free and I've NEVER received any emails from them. It's worth creating an account.

3. Import your recipes.... either manually or by providing an URL. (I would do this on a computer or a tablet because I think it's easier to do this will a full keyboard, but you can do this on your phone as well).

You can sort your recipe lists by title, date, or filter them by categories. Handy! 

You can take any recipe url from PepperPlate supported sites and directly import the recipe at the click of a button!

If you have recipes from non-supported sites, you can just type (or copy and paste) your recipe in the manual recipe section. 
4. Once you have your meals saved to Pepperplate, go to the Planner section and plan out a few days/weeks depending on what you prefer to do. After your meals are on the planner, go back and add each day to the shopping list.

Once your recipes are saved, you can type recipes into spaces for dinner, lunch, etc. Underneath the date, click ADD TO LIST to add all ingredients for that day/meal onto the shopping list. 

5. The shopping list can be organized by aisle or by recipe. Play around with this to see which you prefer. Then, you can either print out a copy of your shopping list or download the Pepperplate app on your phone to view the list on your mobile device while you shop.

Your shopping list will display all ingredients you've added on the planner page. This view shows a shopping list sorted by aisle. 
OR you can view your shopping list by recipe... up to you! 
This website method is NOT for everyone and I fully acknowledge that. However, it really proves to work well for me, so I'm sticking to it. It is tedious to get everything entered into Pepperplate, but I am so happy to have everything consolidated in one place to make quick, easy shopping lists. Going into the grocery store with a list in hand helps me feel less overwhelmed and I save money as well (no more letting food go to waste or buying food that looks good in the moment).

Stay tuned for the next step in my meal planning series; creating a rotating calendar!

Ready for the Next Chapter

July 10, 2015

Hello everyone...

I'm still here. I'm breathing again. The last few weeks were a complete whirlwind.

I packed up yet another place we called home for a few months.
I said goodbye to the sweetest little girl and her parents, ending my time as her nanny.
I moved to our new forever home (at least during school).
I got all settled. All nested. And if you know me, that took a WHILE.

I finally took a bubble bath by candlelight.
I finally started going to CrossFit again.
I finally started to feel like ME.

So, yes. Here I am. And the next whirlwind begins on Monday.

My pre-matriculation course begins on Monday, which was recommended for anyone who has been out of school for a while (that's me. over four years now!).

Orientation begins on July 20.

Real classes begin on July 27.

And so, I'm breathing. And finally, FINALLY, feeling ready for this next chapter.

Stay with me! I promise I'll have updates.
It's so darn exciting (and slightly unbelievable) that I get to begin this next chapter as a medical student, in Colorado no less, and start following the path I always wanted to head down.

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