April 23, 2010

Wow, my bad.  Didn’t realize a couple of weeks had passed.

Work has been dramalicious, lots of people leaving and a few new ones coming to the unit.  Since I’ve known months in advance that I’m leaving for school, I didn’t think much of it would bother or for that matter, surprise me, but it has.  I’m sure the rumors make things into much bigger deals than they really are, but if these rumors are true, they make my unit’s management sound tyrannical.  I gave the boss a heads-up about school and what might and will probably happen, that seems like the safest thing to do for now.  On a side note, the unit was closed for 3 full days this past weekend, a first since I’ve been there.  Apparently it’s a first for anyone except Harold and Amy who routinely used to close the unit when SRN patients are low.  All the nurses were freaking out and I was getting Facebook chat messages from all the work people on Facebook wanting to know what happened to all of our patients.  Um…they died or were transferred to lower levels of care?  I know, I should be less cold and more understanding that this move came as a shock to most of the staff, given that we’re supposed to expand and double to 16 beds in less than two weeks.  Once, before, we got down to 1 or 2 SRN patients, but the unit slowly refilled with off-service patients that the SICU was tired of boarding.  Unfortunately, the SICU had loads of empty beds too, so they kept their patients and took our last SRN patient as well as a few nurses while they (ironically) called some of their nurses off.  Naturally most of the support staff were called off as well.  I got Saturday night off, goodbye 12 hours of PTO and a shift diff., but spent Sunday night in the Burn Center and came to a happy revelation, which leads me to a tangent.  My last trip to the linen room to swap out worn-out pants resulted in my receipt of a pair of pants that were unusually tight.  The tag and distinctive blue-colored drawstring swore that they were _X, usual size, but they still didn’t fit right.  I simply avoided wearing them and thought that was that.  Up in the Burn center, the charge nurse promptly took me (and my just washed, though still dirty blue scrubs) to the locker room Pyxis to get the appropriate green scrubs for the Burn center.  I had been nervous about this very moment, you see, it’s not every day that I divulge my true, scale-tipping pants size to just any stranger charge nurses.  When I told her my sizes, she unfortunately let me know that only a set of _X scrubs (matching top size and 1 size too small bottoms) was available, so I said I’d try it, thinking that it would never work and I would be embarrassed.  Low and behold, I went into the bathroom, tried on the pants first thing, and while vaguely reminiscently snug (like of the small blue ones I have at home), they fit just fine.  No terrible bulging or anything.  I tried the normally-sized top on over them and they fit wonderfully–the top went all the way over my hips and hung at its normal position.   Wow.  So exciting.  Dieting does work!  So now, I’m convinced that I can go down a size in the tops and in the pants officially, but am not sure if I take my used scrubs down to the linen room that they’ll exchange them like they used to.  I think they might have stopped doing that, in light of “Carolina Care” scrub choices for most of the rest of the hospital, so for now, I’m stuck with my nice, baggy scrubs.  I can remember a time when those scrubs were so tight that I could barely get them on and absolutely refused to leave the house in them.  ::happy sigh::

Finally gotten back to the books.  I got stuck on cardiology in embryology–I’m sure it’d be much more fascinating if I knew/remembered what all those structures were, but now they just seem like copious words dealing with copious problems I have no anatomical atlas memorized in my head in which to tackle and understand said problems.  I catch myself, upon finishing each clinical consideration, thinking “I hope I understand this and it is as easy as this book is supposed to make it in a year or so.”

Unfortunately heard the other day that I was flat out rejected by St. George’s, and worse, that Neal was accepted.  Early on, I had made the assumption that this would be the outcome, though I suppose I had grown accustomed to telling people, comfortably, that I was still waiting to hear back from two schools.  Now that’s just one.  I was explaining my chagrin to my parents, seeing as I’m now at a <50% acceptance rate, but they optimistically told me that acceptance rates didn’t matter as long as you got that one special school that said yes.  I felt better, but at the same time like that kid on the losing soccer/baseball team that is comforted by their parents just for trying.  Nevertheless, the rejection is significant because the parents and I have come to a realization that if I am indeed MERPed by Ross as we predict, that my decision might no longer be still to automatically go to Ross anyway.  After all, if for some reason I don’t make it through the MERP program, I’ll be out $15k and will have told MUA no and burnt my last bridge.  Ugh, scary thought.  Also along those lines, I thought it was funny, Dad was reading my letter of failure from St. George’s, specifically the part at the end where they optimistically recommend that you pursue a masters program and try again and he’s like, “What’s the point? Isn’t medical school a masters program? Why waste all that time and money?”  I think they’re starting to get it, how serious and competitive it is to get into med school.  And I, alas, am finding out how much harder I should have fought for my grades.  Spilt milk.  Looks like I’ll be going to Nevis.  They requested that I start looking at Nevisian real estate and have not-so-democratically decided that Dad and I are to go on a visit to Nevis in June to pick out a place to live.  I think it’s a waste because there is no where to take down luggage and store supplies that I would, in theory, have to pay hundreds of dollars to ship in just 3 short months.  A really expensive site-seeing trip.  I was game for talking to a realtor or doing things over the internet.  Caveat emptor.  I think MUA makes students live on campus for at least a semester or two anyway, so it might be pointless.  Either way, more research is necessary for Nevis and MUA because I’ve forgotten the details and more and more questions are being asked of me that I can’t quite bullshit my way through anymore.  I’m trying my hardest not to get excited, but after all, there are barrels to ship, plane tickets to buy, suitcases to pack, it’s getting increasingly more difficult not to get excited.  I just don’t want my heart broken.

So I waited a while after the Ross interview to stew things over and make a nice, legitimate decision.  My interview with Ross went good, I think, though the interviewer gave it to me straight that my grades were going to make it tough to get straight into the med program.  Obviously, the May sessions were closed, so my competition is the September crowd–the very group of people I was trying to avoid–the hardest semester to get in because it’s the most competitive.  Great.  The other crappy news from the interview is that I wouldn’t have a decision from Ross for 4-6 weeks.  Given that I have to let MUA and AUA know something by April 10 at the latest, that means that I am going to have to spend some money somewhere.

Wednesday Dad was home and we called the loan companies for each of the schools.  Our worst nightmare was true for AUA–it is true that Bank of Lake Mills is the only lender for US students going to Antigua–which means insufficient quantities of money to live on during the semesters as well as an obligation to start paying back interest while I’m still in Basic Sciences.  We just can’t afford it.

So, feeling defeated and already trying to formulate my thanks-but-no-thanks letter to AUA in my head, we called MUA and were met with better news.  Although Ed-Invest, MUA’s loan company, has a lot of rules, they don’t have as many as Bank of Lake Mills.  There are no gpa requirements and supposedly no class load requirements (although this is not what Annu told me, but it might be different for Saba), and thankfully, you have 4 years after you graduate until you have to start paying back loans or interest.  They give you a fixed amount, $15k per semester, but according to the folks on the island, that’s plenty to live on since tuition is only ~$9k per semester.  Unfortunately, you must re-apply and re-qualify for loans every semester, and the minimum credit score to qualify is 700.  Even though I’ve had an AmEx since I was in 8th grade, I’ve never actually checked my credit for any thing.  I’ve always just had one of my parents co-sign with me for the few things that involved credit, assuming that as a teenager/someone in their early 20s, my lack of credit history would disqualify me.  After some checking online (involving signing up for waaaay too many free trials that I would then be obligated to cancel or be charged $20), it turns out that I actually have pretty good credit, especially for someone my age without technically owning my own house or car, and as long as I don’t go on any shopping sprees between now and when I apply for my loans, my credit shouldn’t be an issue.

Whew–so then that meant that yesterday was spent scrambling.  Obviously the deadline for sending money to MUA was deathly close, and given that I already had to pay them $750 to secure my seat and then $500 more to defer to September (the period for applying for loans through Ed-Invest for the May semester closed 3/31/10), I did everything possible to avoid having to pay them $200 more in late fees.  I faxed my letter of intent and application for deferment (they can say no) first thing Thursday morning, and waited impatiently for the bank to open.  No one in my family has ever done a bank to bank wire transfer so I was doing my best to try to convince one of my parents to go in to work late so that they could go with me, at least to function as a security blanket.  (Yea I’m shy–that comes as a shock to everyone but me.)  No could do, so I did the next best thing and spent the rest of the time researching the internet, finding out as much about the process as possible.

Midway through my research I got an email from the lady at the financial aid office, saying she received my fax but no money–where’s my money, b@#$h?!  (<3 Family Guy)  I quickly emailed her back, letting her know I was just waiting on the bank to open and I would wire it first thing.  As worried and nervous as I was, the wiring was dramatically uneventful.  I walked in, was directed by the teller to one of the important ladies sitting at a desk in an office, and she sat there for 10 minutes or so, looking at the sheet I had printed off from the school, typing in numbers, and then she handed me a piece of paper that said my account was $1300 lighter and MUA’s was $1250 heavier.  (The extra $50 was in bank fees on both the sending and receiving end–I strongly recommend not procrastinating and mailing them a cashiers check whenever possible.)  So that’s it–I have been accepted into medical school and have myself accepted their invitation.

Whew.  I must say I was very reluctant to part with my hard-earned, non-refundable $1300 for a safety net, JUST IN CASE I don’t get in to either Ross or St. George’s, but after having done it and received the subsequent thanks-for-sending-us-your-money, welcome-to-the-mua-family, and congratulations-your-deferment-has-been-approved emails (yes in that order), I feel much better.  Now I actually have a legitimate amount of time to shop around for plane tickets, check on my immunization titers, buy supplies and ship them–and that’s all for a school I’m only going to go to as a last resort.  On the plus side, if I go to MUA–all that money will go toward my first semester tuition, so it’s not like it’ll just evaporate into thin air as I previously thought.

Oddly enough, I was emailing a friend earlier today and the more I talked about the pros of MUA and the cons of Ross and St. George’s, the more I felt like I was talking myself into going to MUA.  After all, the classes are less than half the size of those at Ross and SGU, the tuition is less than half that at Ross and SGU, and 98% of everything I’ve heard and read about MUA has been positive.  I definitely cannot say that about Ross–it’s 50%/50% negative and positive on a good day, and St. George’s seems to be the Dartmouth of the Caribbean, the quiet Ivy League of them all that’s ultra pricey and ultra selective, but just bought up all the good Greenbook rotations for clinicals for IMGs.  I guess that’s why Neal is trying so hard to get in there.  But if it was me and I was any older than I am right now, I wouldn’t waste precious semesters of my 20-something brain doing non-med school work, even if I was getting decent pay to do it.  I notice every day, every time I can’t remember something I used to know like the back of my hand from school, that I’m not getting any smarter and it’s definitely not getting any easier to remember things.  I’m in the middle of reading a blog from a girl who went to MUA just as she was turning 30 and I envy her dedication–I’m trying to sit here and picture how much harder it’s going to be to motivate myself to learn and memorize all that information 7 years from now.  Life experiences are good because they shape you into a wiser, more well-rounded person, but at the same time, you use up precious neurons that, once lost will not come back,  remembering information in those 7 years that could be used remembering where the superior vena cava is relative to the aortic arch, or what the differences are between cytotoxic t-cells and helper t-cells and t-regs.  In 7 years, I’ll hopefully be in the middle of residency.  Wow.  Big thought.