1 year in 366 seconds

October 1, 2017



One whole year of my life with the 1SE app. One whole year in 366 seconds. That's pretty darn cool to me! Documenting my life each day seems kind of ridiculous and silly sometimes, but I'm always so happy I did.

LOOK AT THIS.  My heart.

I made that video during my last two months as a Peace Corps Volunteer - back before I even had this app to make documenting my life super user-friendly.

This is easily my favorite way to document my days! My little modern video diary. It's so much fun to look back on!




Sim*Vivo Suture Review

September 28, 2017

Sim*Vivo had popped up on my Instagram feed for months and I was very interested in getting my own suturing kit for clinical rotations. I reached out to Sim*Vivo and they were kind enough to send me a Sim*Vivo suture kit to try out and review on my blog. 

Disclosure: This product was provided to me as a gift from Sim*Vivo. Opinions are my own.
I've had the kit for several months now and I feel like I have a greater appreciation for the product after four weeks on my surgical rotation. I had so much anxiety about starting my surgery rotation. To alleviate some anxiety, I used my Sim*Vivo kit to practice suturing so I would feel more confident for when the surgeon handed me my first needle driver!

When I first got this suturing kit over the summer, I went to Sim*Vivo's website to find links to tutorial videos. I really loved that Sim*Vivo had tutorials to introduce the instruments along with how to hold them. Learning to handle instruments properly is very important and figuring that part out before having a surgeon watch me suture was very helpful! 

There was step by step instructions on how to do the following techniques: 
  • instrument tie
  • simple interrupted suture
  • running simple suture
  • vertical mattress suture
  • running subcuticular suture 

I enjoyed being able to watch the video and then practice the technique on my own. The suturing board is the perfect size to fit in my lap so I could suture and watch a movie with my husband - or listen to a podcast. It's very convenient to have all the materials I needed to practice at home! 

The kit comes with the following materials: 
  • Suturing board 
  • Adson forceps
  • Hegar needle holder
  • Suture scissors
  • Scalpels - #10 and #15 
  • Suturing guidebook (that follows along with the videos)
  • Suture packs (10 in each pack) 
    • 3-0 nylon with 30 mm needle, 3/8 circle, reverse cutting
    • 3-0 nylon with 24 mm needle, 3/8 circle, reverse cutting
    • 4-0 nylon with 19 mm needle, 3/8 circle, reverse cutting 

I practiced all of the suturing techniques before starting my surgery rotation and the repetition really helped me feel more confident! Sim*Vivo was key to helping me feel prepared for suturing on rotations. I brought home different types of expired sutures from the hospital to practice what suturing would feel like with different materials. I also worked my way up from straight incisions to curved ones - and that was all possible with this suturing board! The integrated lines and dots helped me get the movements down before practicing on an incision without the marks to guide me. 


Although no model will ever perfectly simulate human skin, I found that learning the basics of the techniques on the Sim*Vivo kit was a good guide. Subcuticular suturing is actually far easier on human skin than it is on the Sim*Vivo model, but mastering the technique on the suturing board made suturing much easier on a real person. :) Repetition is key! 

I'm thrilled to have my suturing board from Sim*Vivo to practice throughout my clinical rotations. It will continue to help me throughout surgery, OBGYN, and pediatrics! Suturing is an important skill for any specialty. Check out Sim*Vivo's website for more information about getting yourself a suturing kit too! 


Doctors In Training (DIT)

September 14, 2017


I used Doctors in Training (DIT) during my dedicated study period for Step 1/Level 1 board exams and I wanted to share some honest thoughts about my experience with it. I have had many questions about the program so I thought it may be helpful for other people to read more about my thoughts about DIT. If you have any other questions about DIT after reading this post, please feel free to reach out to me at tatedoesthings (at) gmail (dot) com.

When did you get DIT?
I bought DIT in the fall of my second year of medical school.

How is DIT organized and how did you use it for board prep?

  • Primer Series: high yield videos available immediately after purchase. 
    • over 50 high yield videos and multiple choice quizzes (I never did use the quizzes)
    • I used the videos to supplement my classroom learning throughout my second year. It helped me focus on some of the high yield information and it was nice to have a taste of what DIT videos were like (the high yield videos are often pulled from the actual lecture videos used during dedicated study time in Part 2 of DIT)
  • Part 1: Questions & video answers available in January 
    • 34 question sets. Mostly free response to challenge your thought process. Video explanations to guide your understanding of the question sets. 
    • I did the question sets as they were released to me (they were released several times a week). I tried to answer the questions on my own, then I watched the video explanation. I took notes in my First Aid to help me start making connections throughout the year. 
  • Part 2: Study guide shipped in the spring and lecture videos released in March. 
    • Once you begin Part 2 of DIT, you have 60 days of access to the online videos. I began Part 2 in the beginning of May and opted to take 21 days to finish DIT. 

Did you get the OPP aspect of DIT?
No, I did not. I used OMT Review by Robert Savarese as well as the COMBANK question bank for my osteopathic review for COMLEX. I did have friends who really liked the OPP portion of DIT, but I didn't purchase it.

When did you start/end DIT for board prep? 
I started used Part 2 of DIT the first week of May and completed right around the beginning of June. While I gave myself 21 days to finish DIT, I know many other people who took longer or shorter amounts of time to complete it. It really depends on how you learn. I liked to annotate and write in my First Aid for USMLE because physically writing things down helps me retain the information. Classmates who were auditory learners could breeze through the video lectures faster than me.

My idea was to finish DIT and still have 3 weeks to focus on my weaker areas before taking my board exams. DIT recommends that you finish the course relatively close to your test date - but that gave me too much anxiety. I really wanted to get through all the information once and still have plenty of time to feel like I could focus my attention on topics that were more difficult for me.

What didn't you like about DIT? 

  • It takes an awfully long time to stay committed to and complete the program. I tend to think that in order to benefit from the program, it's important to take the time to do the quizzes before and after each video lecture. Repetition is key! It will take you longer than you think to get through all of it, and the closer you get to boards, the easier it is to feel like you are stuck in a program that takes a long time to complete. There will be moments of sheer panic - and I definitely wanted to quit because other classmates would spend the entire day doing practice questions. I struggled with feeling like I was wasting my time in comparison to my peers, but ultimately, I'm really happy I stuck with the program. 
  • Piggybacking off my last comment, I think DIT is something you need to commit to or avoid altogether. It's not a good resource for cherry-picking. This isn't a "reference resource." If you're on the fence with whether or not you're happy to stick to a strict program - - really reconsider if DIT is right for you. It really isn't for everyone. 
  • It's expensive. I certainly didn't love that. 

What did you like about DIT? 

  • DIT appealed to me as a visual learner. I liked all the charts, diagrams, and animations. 
  • I absolutely hate reading from a text and teaching myself. I knew I wanted to have more structure during the beginning of my board prep and DIT provided that for me. Additionally, I appreciated that on the video lectures, you could see the person while they were lecturing. I'm not the type to stare at slides with voices talking over it. I immediately get bored and distracted. For whatever reason, I like being able to see the person teaching (which is also why I preferred to go to live lectures in medical school!)
  • I had things I could do throughout the year to help me feel like I was gradually preparing for my board exams, without feeling super overwhelmed. I chose to watch the primer videos and complete the question sets because it made me feel better - - but it's just an option. You can do just fine without the extra work as well. 
  • It helped me become familiar with First Aid for USMLE Step 1. The book is huge. and intimidating. DIT follows First Aid and provides page numbers for reference to go along with each video. I loved being able to annotate and follow along with First Aid while completing DIT. That way, I was very familiar with First Aid and knew where to find information throughout the next three weeks before my exam. 
  • It broke up the monotonous study time. Once I finished DIT, I did tons of UWORLD questions and Sketchy Micro/Pharm. My days had a little bit more variety when I had DIT in addition to my other daily studies. When I was first thinking of my board prep study period, I knew I would go crazy if I tried to just do question sets on my own for weeks on end. The videos were a good, structured introduction to all the material and after completing the program, I felt confident approaching the rest of my studying. 
* * * * * 

I hope some of those answers will help! That's a quick overview, so feel free to reach out if you have other questions that I did not already address. 

I have absolutely no regrets about using DIT for my Step 1/Level 1 board prep. 

Now that I'm more confident in my ability to structure time studying for board exams, I am not planning on using DIT for Step 2. I am very happy with my decision to use it for Step 1 - - but keep your own learning style in mind as you start to build your own study plan. 

Best of luck! 



Monthly Update : August 2017

September 10, 2017

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Better late than never - I am sharing my August update almost two weeks late. Oops!

August was a busy month, like most of them these days. August marked my first month of clinical rotations and I finished my first four weeks of inpatient psychiatry. I absolutely loved it! I'll write another post specifically related to psychiatry, but August was a good month of learning.


My grandmother passed away in August and I was able to attend her funeral with my family. I wrote a quick blurb about that here.  I'll always love you, grams! She will be missed by so many.

In the end of August, I took my first shelf exam - which is a standardized subject exam based on whichever rotation I just did. I took a test dedicated to psychiatry.

After that, I did a week of training at my school for my surgery rotation. We learned about all the surgical instruments, how to do hand ties, various suturing techniques, etc. It was a long and busy week at school, but I survived :)

I started my general surgery rotation on September 4 and will have three weeks of general surgery before moving on to a surgical specialty for another four weeks.

That was August in a nutshell!



"Believe me, every heart has its secret sorrows"

August 19, 2017

I remember every conversation I've ever had when I've learned about a loved one dying. I can recall exactly where I was, exactly who called, exactly what they said, and their exact tone of voice. 

My brother called me today to let me know my grandmother had died. We knew this was coming. She had been on hospice for several weeks. She had stopped eating much of anything. She stopped having the energy for conversation a long time ago. The last real conversation I had with her, she told me, "Tate, I'm dying. I'm ready to die." 



The process of dying looks different for every person. Sometimes it is short, other times it's prolonged. But there is one thing I do know - - it's never easy. 


The picture above was taken two years ago, on July 25, 2015, with my last remaining grandparents. With my parents divorce, I never had my grandparents together in one place until my white coat ceremony. This photo was taken by my mother - and it's so precious to me. 

In just over two years time, all three of my grandparents have died. In just two years. It all happened so fast. 

While I would never have imagined I would have watched all of my grandparents die in just two years, I am grateful. I am grateful for all they taught me. I am grateful for all the time they spent building relationships with me. I am grateful I have such vivid, sweet memories with them. I am grateful for what I've learned about death, dying, and grief. 

I have learned so much about how I process grief, as well as others around me. It's a lesson I never wished to learn so young, but I am thankful nonetheless. I have been reminded of the many faces of grief each time I lose a loved one, and it opens my heart be more understanding of others and the struggles they face. 
Believe me, every heart has its secret sorrows, which the world knows not, and oftentimes we call a man cold, when he is only sad.
Moving into my clinical years, I hope to carry the lessons I've learned with me to help me be a more compassionate physician. I hope my heart remains full of empathy and understanding each time I work with family members losing a loved one. Death can bring every emotion to the surface, and we often have little control over the ebb and flow. One of the greatest lessons over the past two years has been learning how to ride the inevitable waves of emotion that come with each loss.

I will miss you, grams. You'll be in my heart forever. 


Resources for Level 1/Step 1 Board Exams

August 6, 2017

Now that I've survived my board exams, I wanted to take some time to post about my experience and how I prepared. I've had quite a few people reach out to me asking me questions about board prep, and before I delve into exactly what I did, I want to say a few things.
  • I'm writing about MY experience. Everyone's experience will be different and there is no "best way" to prepare for these exams. I am writing to share another perspective and to share some honest thoughts about what did and did not work for me during my study period. 
  • Everyone will have an opinion about what you "must" do. Take all advice with a grain of salt and be sure to design a plan that works best for YOU. 
  • I will not be sharing my scores for either exam, but I will say that I am very happy with my results. These resources and the study plan I share worked for me to reach my goals, but again, everyone's successful board prep will look different. 
I wanted to start off with a post to explain each of the resources I used before I go on to explain my study schedule. These are not ranked in any particular order. None of the links are affiliated, but I hope that by providing links it will help you find the specific products I'm referring to without any hassle. 


  • I referred to this during my second year courses. I did not take extensive notes in my first aid during my second year, mostly because the coursework was more detailed than what I would need to know for boards. I used this to supplement my learning. 
  • The only time I added notes to First Aid during my second year was when I would watch Pathoma. Notes from pathoma were specific to board exams, so I did take extra notes on Pathoma throughout the year. More on that in my study plan blog post!
  • I cut the binding off my First Aid and had spiral binding added to it so that I could easily take notes in it. This service is commonly offered at FedEx Office locations. 
  • I would recommend getting the book as well as the video lectures for Pathoma. Pathoma reviews the most high yield pathology for each system and all of his explanations are extremely helpful. I did Pathoma throughout my second year and used it throughout my dedicated study period for board exams. 
  • I used both of these throughout my second year of medical school and I cannot imagine medical school without it! 
  • SketchyMicro videos are much shorter than SketchyPharm videos, so I would recommend using SketchyPharm early on in order to really benefit from it. 
  • Using DIT is a huge financial commitment, but I am still very happy that I used this resource. I've received so many questions about DIT that I will plan to write a separate post to address all of the specific questions. 
  • This resource really isn't necessary for success on your boards, but I did use this for Step 1. 
  • Second semester of my second year, I felt like I wanted to start using a Qbank for board prep. I wasn't ready to shell out money for UWORLD and I still didn't feel like I was at a point in my studies to really benefit from UWORLD. USMLE RX was a perfect solution for me! 
  • I paid for 3 months of USMLE RX to have additional questions to use. I used them along with my systems courses and slowly started doing multi system questions. 
  • One thing I really loved about USMLE RX was that each answer explanation had links to the relevant pages in First Aid. 
  • This is the only resource on the list that is an ABSOLUTE MUST. You just can't do board prep without it. 
  • If you attend an osteopathic medical school, you will need to take the COMLEX board exams. This book is incredibly helpful to learn and review osteopathic medicine. 
  • I used this book throughout my first and second years of medical school, as well as during my board prep. This book has very helpful information and some practice tests at the end of the book as well. 
  • I did not find this Qbank to be particularly useful, but the osteopathic medicine questions were nice to use. I did all of the OMT questions in this Qbank, as well as all of the questions pertaining to ethics and statistics. 
  • I absolutely loved having Cram Fighter (and I'm actually still using it during third year). This program allows you to create a schedule for board prep that is all online and synced with apps on your phone. The program has almost every board prep resource you can imagine and you can effortlessly put together a study plan that tells you what you need to do each day. 
  • The best part? You can always edit the schedule to add days off, push back tasks that you didn't get to, and recalculate your schedule in a click of a button. This is every planner's dream, and every procrastinators worst nightmare. There's no denying what you need to get done each day when you use this program. I. LOVE. IT.


* * * * * * * * * *

Alright! That's it. Those are the nine most important resources I used throughout my second year of medical school and throughout my dedicated study period for board exams. Keep your eyes open for the rest of my posts about my study schedule, finding balance, and some of my best advice for tackling board exams! 


Monthly Update : July 2017

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July was a much better month for me than June. I finished my board exams in June (thank goodness) and I had some time off in July. It was great to sleep, relax, see people I love, etc! It was still tough for me though, because I had to wait weeks to get my scores back from my board exams. Those weeks were filled with a lot of anxiety for me - but I'm absolutely thrilled that I passed my exams! I was so nervous I had M check my scores for me. But you guys, I did it! I don't ever have to retake my Step 1 or Level 1 exam EVER again. Phew!

Besides all the anxiety, I got to go to the Pacific Northwest to travel with M and celebrate our one year anniversary. Without any cell phone service, we had an amazing time camping, hiking, kayaking, and enjoying each other's company. After weeks of studying for boards, it was incredible to be able to give him my undivided attention and spend some quality time together.


I had one week of school in July to help prepare my class for clinical rotations and more than anything, it was great to spend time with my classmates after the stress of board exams were behind us. Then in the final week of July, I got all my stuff moved for clinical rotations, attended orientation at the hospital I will be working at, and said hello to the beginning of my clinical years of medical school!

I'm really looking forward to all the things I will be learning out on clinical rotations. It's beginning to feel like all my hard work is going to be worth it in the end!




Women in Medicine Series

July 12, 2017


I was having a conversation recently about how incredible it would be if we thought of ourselves as positively as others do. The way we view ourselves is often very different from the way others view us. We are our own worst critics, tend to be too harsh about our shortcomings, and discredit our achievements. I'll be the first to admit I'm guilty!

There will always be people who are better than you at XYZ, or worse than you at the same thing. Comparison is such a thief of joy! Social media can be a great source of inspiration and connection, or it can be really damaging. We all post about our best moments, leaving the tough parts of our lives tucked away in the dark. 

I noticed my instagram stories they other day - - full of strong, smart, women. Women that I know personally, women I've connected to via social media, and women that have thousands of followers but inspire me on a daily basis. 

I've been sitting on the idea for a while now, but I've finally decided to launch a women in medicine series on my blog. I am going to highlight the successes of other incredible women because they inspire me, and I'm pretty sure they will inspire you too. 

Women who are real. Women who are genuine. Women who have walked in your shoes before. Women who have worked endless amounts of hours to get where they are today. Women who want to reach out and inspire you to do the same. 

I have already contacted several amazing women who are ready to share their hearts and I am looking forward to launching these posts in the next few weeks! If you or anyone you know may be interested in participating in my women in medicine blog series - please reach out to me at tatedoesthings (at) gmail (dot) com or send me a message on instagram. 

Let's cheer for each other, support each other's dreams, and hold up a mirror to ourselves and others to see our true potential. I hope you'll join us! 








Photo credit: 
Morgan Sessions

My Favorite Kale Salad


I'm pretty sure the world can be divided into two populations: those who love kale and those who do not. I would like for this recipe to inspire both populations of people. If you love kale - try this recipe and maybe you'll discover this recipe will be added to your list of favorites too. If you don't love kale - try this recipe anyway. My husband used to frown at kale, and now he voluntarily eats kale salad (even when I'm not looking!). 


Grab yourself a nice bouquet of kale from a grocery store or farmer's market. I usually buy two bundles of kale for this recipe. 


Thoroughly wash your kale and de-stem your kale. The stem of kale is really firm and many people don't like to eat it - - although, if you're interested, you can keep the stems to use in stir fry, etc. If de-stemming your kale totally freaks you out, check out this simple video about how to quickly de-stem your kale


Once I have my kale washed and de-stemmed, I tear the kale into bite sized pieces, throw it into a salad spinner to spin off the extra water, and toss it into a bowl. 


Now for the dressing! I never use exact measurements - but here is a run down of what I do. 
  • Juice two lemons & remove the seeds 
  • Add about an equal amount of olive oil to the bowl
  • Add a few dashes of salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes 
  • Add about 1/2 spoonful minced garlic (or a few garlic cloves minced if you're doing it that way)
  • Mix it all together and dump on top of your prepped kale! 
I usually just use my hands to toss the dressing on all the kale - but feel free to be a normal human and use tools to do that if you wish. 

Once the kale is dressed, I put all of it in the fridge. The lemon helps soften the kale and make it less bitter.


I usually prep a huge batch and have kale ready to grab whenever I need it. It's super easy to grab this as a base for your salad and add anything else you want to top off your salad! A quick go to for me is chicken, strawberries & walnuts... but be creative! 

Do you have a favorite kale recipe? I'd love to hear about it!


The Power of Words

July 10, 2017


This poem resonates with me on so many levels. 
I hope you enjoy it as much as I do. 


Desiderata 
by Max Ehrmann

Go placidly amid the noise and haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible without surrender
be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
and listen to others,
even the dull and the ignorant;
they too have their story. 

Avoid loud and aggressive persons,
they are vexations to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others,
you may become vain and bitter;
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. 

Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs;
for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals;
and everywhere life is full of heroism. 

Be yourself.
Especially, do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love;
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment
it is as perennial as the grass. 

Take kindly the counsel of the years,
gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
Beyond a wholesome discipline,
be gentle with yourself. 

You are a child of the universe,
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. 

Therefore be at peace with God,
whatever you conceive Him to be,
and whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul. 

With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful.
Strive to be happy. 






Monthly Update : June 2017


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June was a rough month. I felt challenged mentally and emotionally on a daily basis. Studying for my board exams consumed every moment of my day and really pushed my limits. I plan to write more detailed posts about how I studied for my board exams, how I attempted to stay sane, and how I made efforts to take care of myself during that time. Stay tuned for that.
I finished Level 1 and Step 1 board exams by June 28 and M & I left for our road trip the next morning (more details in another post). Our time spent in the North Cascades away from the pace of our normal lives was much needed - and we toasted to our one year anniversary surrounded by some pretty incredible scenery. 

I'm slowly beginning to feel like a normal person again. We've been cleaning like crazy - getting ready for new roommates and starting to pack up my stuff to move for clinical rotations. 

I'm catching up on emails, blog posts, etc. Sleeping in, drinking coffee, playing with my pets, catching up with friends. Hopefully July will have a more exciting update :) 

But here are a few things I'll leave you with... 
  • THIS. THIS. THIS. I'm absolutely obsessed with these words. 
  • the 80/20 rule. I absolutely love this. M & I are trying to get rid of a lot of things - and downsizing ALWAYS feels good. My closet is about to be so much more enjoyable once I drop off all the good will items! 

41 photos of studying for Step 1/Level 1

July 8, 2017























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