Wednesday, November 30, 2016


November: 10 hours
Community Service Totals: 37.5 hours

November has certainly flown by faster than I expected. We’ve just returned from Thanksgiving break and have jumped right into the Molecular and Cellular Biology portion of the GI/Hepatic block. My experience at Anna’s Place this month was a ton of fun for both me and the students. The students have a Christmas holiday dance performance coming up this weekend that they’ve been preparing for throughout the semester, and they cannot wait to show off their skills. These past few weeks, we’ve used our class sessions to integrate some of the movements that they’ve learned in dance class with the knowledge of the muscle systems that we’ve learned about in class. I’ve noticed that the students really appreciate any lesson plan that involves movement and integration of the arts, whether it be music or drawing, so I try to incorporate that as much as possible into my lesson plans. In the next semester, I’d like to continue this trend and apply it to activities such as cooking (as we continue to study nutrition and healthy eating), and maybe even some hands-on science experiments. I’ve spoken to one of my colleagues in the lab I work in, and he expressed interest in volunteering to do a demonstration that he says has previously been a hit for young students in the past – should be exciting!

We only have one more exam in mid-December before we all head home again for the holidays. Though this semester has flown by, I feel much more confident and comfortable as a student in the program than I did when we first began. I have a solid preparation routine for exams and work well with my classmates in preparation for the exams, and I look forward to the next semester as I hope that it will be a smooth continuation of the process!

Tuesday, November 1, 2016


Happy Halloween!

October has come and gone, and this month has been my most productive month yet for community service.  I am now fully emerged into my “teaching” rotation at Anna’s Place. My first day as an instructor was so much fun and also very challenging. For the nutrition segment of my first class, we learned about calcium and bones. One of the things that I quickly realized is that I could not approach my class in the traditional way which I had been trained. On Mondays, the children have just returned to school from the weekend and are full of the energy for the week ahead – my supervisor told me that there is a marked difference in behavior on days like Thursdays and Fridays (in preparation for the weekend) compared to Mondays. So on my first day of teaching, the students completely lost interest in my “lecture” style of teaching, and I thus lost control of the classroom. There were students crawling under tables, chasing each other, etc., and I left feeling disappointed in myself that I had wasted the students’ time from actually taking something beneficial away from the class. But I was determined not to allow this to happen again, so over the next week I researched different lesson plans to keep very young children (my youngest student is 5 years old) interested in learning during after school programs, and the most common theme that I found was to simply keep them moving! So during my next class, we learned about muscles, and I thought it would be fun to pair the students into groups, assign them a muscle, and allow them to create a non-traditional exercise for that muscle. They loved it! The creativity they showed was great to see – it was actually hilarious. I paired myself with one of the students, and we came up with an all-in-one exercise for our quads, glutes, and triceps.

More importantly, my experience this month has reminded me of the intricacies of human interaction, and also had me reflecting on the intricacies of doctor-patient care...particularly as it relates to what we’ve learned thus far in the program. In my training for the after school program, I was instructed to feel free to automatically dismiss students from the classroom at the first signs of trouble or distraction. This sounded great in theory, but once confronted with actual students, I quickly assessed that doing this – when the students and I are bound together for at minimum 10 week – would probably negate any potential chance of developing trust and respect for the remainder of the program. At the same time, allowing unruly behavior in the classroom does a huge disservice to everyone, especially other students. So, therein lies the conflict between what you train and prepare for/what you study/what you believe to be true…and reality. And as I’ve delved deeper and deeper into pharmacology and the inherent patient care that it entails, you realize that this is something you will always have to confront and face head-on as a doctor. There are so many scenarios that you’re prepared to treat in traditional ways, but realize that due to specific context, it may require nontraditional care. There are so many drugs that may have immense therapeutic benefit – but may also bring serious side effects (i.e. Aliskiren – I’m studying for my renal block exam as we speak!), and as a doctor, you have to make the best decision of treatment for your patient. In my classroom, in every word that I speak or action that I take, I hope I convey to my students that I have their best interest in mind. As a doctor, I believe this same principle is the key to navigating these scenarios. I’m confident that carrying this with me and applying it as I go, in any situation, can lead to success.

Community Service Totals: 27.5 hours
October: 11 hours

Saturday, October 1, 2016


This month I continued my volunteer work with Anna’s Place: Arts and Medical Mission – the after school care component of St. Anna’s overall community mission. Most of the participants in the program just recently returned to school from summer break, so in order to allow them to slowly get back into the swing of things, I will formally begin my teaching assignment next week! This month, I had the chance to rotate throughout the program as a volunteer in order to gain a more broad understanding of the program and its mission. One of my favorite activities was volunteering as the supervisor to the dance class component of the program. Each semester, our student participants are invited to perform for different events and festivals around the city, as well as private events hosted by some of our corporate sponsors. So every week, our student performers rehearse for some of these penultimate performances at the end of the semester. While I intended to only supervise these classes, the instructor invited me to participate with the students. We danced to both contemporary and traditional West African music in interpretative form. One of the most important things that I learned during this dance class, and something that’s constantly reinforced in my experiences here at the university and New Orleans, is that there are many non-conventional methods of learning and education that we often take for granted. The students range in age from 5-15 – they all have different levels of focus and different interests. But the art of dancing and music can be just as effective a teaching tool as traditional methods. When a student felt constrained by their peers’ opinions on their dancing ability, the dance instructor would explain that in life, allowing others to define your own personal potential can drastically hinder you from realizing your potential. When a student would goof off and not pay attention, he would explain to the other students who might be tempted to mimic that behavior that in life, taking your eyes off of your own personal goals in favor of giving focus to those goofing off will never help you realize the goals that you’ve set for yourself. Those were pertinent lessons for anyone, but especially students being molded and shaped by their experiences, including me. I’m so grateful that I was allowed to participate in contribute in these sessions and can’t wait until next week’s class!

Community Service Totals
September: 5.5 hours

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Walkin' To New Orleans

Time truly waits for no one! I can't believe we're at the end of August and beginning our third block - Neoplasia/Heme & Pharmacology Foundations. The first weeks were a bit overwhelming with the sheer amount of information presented in such a narrow time window, but all of our professors have been extremely gracious in offering their time outside of class to review topics with us as needed. Through trial, error, and advice from faculty and previous students, I'm slowly finding the best approach to studying and reviewing for exams, and I'm looking forward to this approach being reflected in my block exam score.

Living in New Orleans has exceeded my expectations thus far. Surprisingly, I'm one of only a few students who live Uptown - most of the class lives downtown near the medical school, or in the surrounding suburbs of New Orleans. Initially, I was a little apprehensive about living essentially alone in my area, but that feeling was fleeting. I absolutely love my neighborhood. It's great to be able to leave school or the library and feel like I'm able to turn everything off and go "home." I've developed great relationships within my building, particularly with the security guards at our front desk. These women remind me so much of my grandmothers, my aunts, and my cousins. For whatever reason, they've gone out of their way to check in with me and look out for me, and I'm eternally grateful! Also Uptown, in my opinion, epitomizes the disheartening dichotomy of New Orleans. Living right off of St. Charles, I can look out of my window and see genteel mansions situated directly next to housing projects. Within a one block span, life expectancy may decrease by as much as 20 years. As a new resident here, or even as a tourist, one cannot enjoy the magic of the city without feeling or acknowledging the crippling and pervasive poverty of the city, and I'm grateful to be apart of a medical school that ensures that its students commit to serving communities in need.

This month I've had the pleasure of beginning two service projects that I will continue throughout my time here. Dr. McLaughlin first presented on KIPP schools here in New Orleans, and his passion for these charter schools spilled over into his presentation, and I knew that this was something I wanted to be apart of. After Katrina, the traditional public school system never really recovered. The system was already plagued with ills such as corruption; thus, in place of the traditional public school system, charter schools arose, and KIPP has been somewhat at the forefront of this movement. I volunteer weekly at KIPP Leadership Primary (KLP) in the Bywater neighborhood, and after connecting with Kelsey McLaughlin, the co-founder of the school, I voluntarily helped coordinate and recruit our volunteer team. Our team has grown from originally two volunteers (including me) to about eight student volunteers per week! Everyone is so enthusiastic about volunteering each week, and KLP is so happy to have us. KLP prides itself on instilling a fervor for post-secondary education in students as young as 5-6 years old. Each homeroom in the school is actually named after a university, from LSU to Stanford. Our role as volunteers is to essentially do anything that is needed to support the staff so that they can optimally serve the students. In our first few weeks, our role has been primarily logistical since school has just begun - creating bus schedules for each student, distributing classroom supplies to each homeroom, etc. Last week, one of the teachers needed me to guide his kindergarten class back to their homeroom for dismissal. So, our role as volunteers varies, and our time each week is greatly appreciated.

I also began volunteering with St. Anna's Medical Mission. It's a really unique mission established by St. Anna's Episcopal Parish. On Monday and Wednesday of every week, the mission has a staff of volunteer doctors and medical students who provide health checks, provide prescriptions, and referrals to residents of the surrounding Treme neighborhood. This is one of the neighborhoods that I described earlier - on Esplanade avenue, the large houses and neighborhood have become gentrified, but within blocks, the life expectancy decreases by decades. As a volunteer, I'm learning to take blood pressures and conduct intake health screenings. After speaking with the director of the program, I was also given the opportunity to volunteer with St. Anna's after school program. The program is offered at little to no cost for most participating families thanks in large part to the generosity of parish members and even global companies like Microsoft! We had our orientation on Monday, and I had a chance to meet the families and children and hand out free school supplies. As a volunteer, I will lead a weekly pilot ethics class as part of the structured curriculum. I hope that my class will become one of the most anticipated parts of the students' week. I'm not sure which age group I'll be teaching, but I'm ecstatic about hanging out with the kids and looking forward to this program.

Community Service Totals
August hours: 11