Sunday, June 8, 2014

Medical Service Trip to Guatemala

While down here at school I have gotten involved with the Latino Medical Student Association (LMSA) and we have had the wonderful opportunity to organize a medical service trip to Antigua, Guatemala! We will be working with IVHQ, an international service organization who will place our group with host families while we provide much needed medical care in the underserved rural areas outside of Antigua. We will be working directly with local physicians in clinics, orphanages, schools, and local communities to provide physical examinations, health and wellness education, and help in whatever other way we can. We are really looking forward to this great service opportunity while having the great chance to put to good use the clinical skills we have been learning in medical school. We are working hard to raise funds to help us get to Guatemala so if you are able to help in any way it would be so very much appreciated. Here's the link: 

Keep checking back for updates on our progress leading up to our trip and for updates on the trip itself!

Friday, April 25, 2014

What Happened to 2nd Semester?

Another semester come and gone! Sorry to everyone that likes to read my blog posts, I don’t even remember the last time I blogged. I guess that’s a good thing since that means I’m busy as a medical student and as a dad. So I just finished my 2nd semester which means I have completed 1 year of medical school! Wow time sure flies! So with so much to say, let’s go through this last semester one piece at a time.


Let’s start with the family life, since that’s probably what most people reading this blog (aka my family) actually care about J. One semester of med school means TONS of development for Maddie. She’s 11 months now and is coming up on 1 year in May! This semester she has become quite the little bundle of energy. We can’t take our eyes off of her for more than 2 seconds or she’s getting into something she shouldn’t or she’s eating something on the floor! She’s just about to start walking on her own and climbs all over the furniture, and even stands without holding onto anything, but just won’t take those steps forward. She just has to decide to do it because she’s totally capable of walking right now! Here was her semester's progress:

She’s also become quite the little chatter box too. She’s making all sorts of new sounds to try and communicate with us, and she also loves making animal sounds. She makes monkey, dog, bird, sheep, and even makes car sounds like “vroom” and “honk.” But the best moment for me came on February 27 when she said “dada” for the first time! Of course she always said “mama” and if there was any sound close to “dada” it was “baba,” and that wasn’t always directly related to me anyways. But on the 27th she said “dada” on cue and on purpose! It was a proud dad moment! Now she says “dada” all the time, and I notice the more time I’m able to spend with her, the more she says “dada.”

We also got Maddie to sleep through the night this semester! It got to the point where she would wake up every couple of hours and want to breast feed. But that was just comfort food. So Megan decided to stop the breast feeding and just let her cry it out…and…(drumroll)…IT WORKED!!! The first night she cried for about a half hour and then fell asleep, and slept through the whole night! She still cries every time we put her down, but stays asleep. We are proud parents!

Of course being a parent is difficult, but it is so worth it! As frustrating as it is sometimes, whenever I think about Maddie I don’t think of any of those frustrating moments, all I can think of is how stinkin’ cute she is!

Oh I can’t leave the family section without saying how good of a cook Megan is! She is so creative and keeps me healthy. She puts restaurants to shame!

So let’s talk about school now. I was definitely much busier 2nd semester than I was during my first semester, and 2nd semester was definitely tougher than 1st semester. I was definitely more involved with clubs (see below) and as an anatomy lab teaching assistant, but the classes were much tougher this semester. I had heard from upper semesters that 2nd semester classes were kind of boring, but I did not find that to be the case. Med school is never boring, I just wish I wasn’t blasted with so much information all at once and expected to remember it all so fast! But at the same time I’m grateful for all that information. For example it’s fun when drug commercials come on TV and I know exactly what they are talking about and I can go through all of the details of the disease that they are trying to treat with their new drug.

This semester Immunology was probably my favorite class. It was amazing to learn about how the human body protects itself against the bad stuff that constantly invades it. Let’s take a virus as an example. The first time the body encounters the virus it chews it up and separates the different proteins of the virus and teaches itself to remember them. Then when that virus enters the body again the immune system sees one of the proteins and knows exactly what the virus is. That’s like recognizing someone just by looking at their elbow! That’s just ONE of the incredible things I learned in immunology. Watch for a future blog post (it might be a while haha) about more incredible things that the immune system is capable of.

After immunology, my next favorite class was Intro to Clinical Medicine 2. This class only lasted for about 3 weeks, but we learned a lot in those 3 short weeks. I had a great time interacting with standardized patients (actors hired by the school) and interviewing them about their medical history and performing a few parts of the physical examination on them. This time around we learned how to take a blood pressure, and perform ear, eye, nose, mouth, and basic head and neck exams. So watch out family, you guys will be my practice patients when I come visit!

The most important thing was that I passed all my classes! It was a lot of hard work, but I survived the semester and I look forward to what my 3rd semester has to offer.

During my first semester at AUC I wanted to get involved with some of the clubs at school. When I saw the school had a Latin Medical Student Association I was instantly drawn to it. Since I spent 2 years in Argentina on an LDSMission there will forever be a special place in my heart for the Latino people and culture. When I first joined the club it had been dormant for a few semesters. Since I was one of the few interested in the club, I was asked to be the club’s vice president in my first semester. Unfortunately, during that semester the club president was very busy and we were not able to make any progress in reviving the club. At the start of this semester (my second semester) the previous club president realized they would not be able to make the time commitment necessary and passed the club reins to me and I became the new club president.

During this last semester I was able to oversee some great progress as we revived the LMSA club. We began teaching weekly medical Spanish classes, we had a club Salsa night, and we are currently in the process of planning a medical service trip to Guatemala during our next semester break! It’s been an incredible experience for me to see the progress we have made this semester in rebuilding LMSA from the ground up and I look forward to continue building it next semester.

A Well-Deserved Break
It’s been a long, but satisfying semester and I’m excited for the break to go back home and visit family. This will be our first trip back to the States since we started school in St. Maarten. But even though we are going “home” it feels like we are leaving our “home” behind in St. Maarten (my mom would disagree and say, “Home is where your MOM is” haha).

We are still getting used to the island life and how much different it is from the way we grew up. Some days I wonder why I ever decided to leave the country and go to school in the Caribbean, but it’s hard to complain when you’re going to medical school in paradise. The weather is perfect every day, (hot with a beautiful, cool breeze), there is a beach within walking distance, I don’t have to walk to school in the snow, and the local people are all very friendly.

On our way home we stopped in New York to spend the night because of a long layover. It’s a typical April right now where it’s starting to warm up as winter is ending, but we were all FREEZING! We had to turn on the heater in our hotel room while everyone else was starting to break out the T-shirts and shorts! Yes, 60 degrees is freezing now! I also just said how friendly the local people are on St. Maarten. Whenever you go anywhere, people always greet you with a “Good Morning” or a “Good afternoon.” It is definitely not like that in most places in the US. So even though I already miss St. Maarten, I’m really excited to be able to visit family…I’ll even put up with the cold!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Relying on the Savior

Med school feels hectic and stressful sometimes, but oh how important it is to stop and realize that we are not alone. I have learned more than ever before to rely on my Savior Jesus Christ through the tough times. I remember a few weeks back walking home at the end of a hard day, which had also been a hard week. I felt like I was falling behind in my studies and had just done really bad on a test. I started thinking, "Heavenly Father, why is this so hard?" Just then I turned the corner and saw a beautiful rainbow! I thought, "Wow! God really does care about me!" But just as I though those words, it started to DOWNPOUR!!! I was soaked in a matter of seconds! I then said aloud, "You have got to be kidding me!" And ran home soaked and miserable. It took me a couple of days, though, to realize the valuable lesson God was trying to teach me: HE DOES CARE! But he also gives us trials to make us stronger! The rainbow was God's way of telling me at that moment that He knows me and that He cares about me. He knows how hard medical school is, but the downpour was to teach me that there will always be trials. But God still cares and will always put "rainbows" along our path. Our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ know us personally. They know us by name. They also know exactly what our struggles are. It is so important to rely on them during the tough times, and to be thankful during the good times.

I am reminded of this scripture from the Book of Mormon in 2 Ne. 31:19 "for ye have not come this far save it were by the word of Christ with unshaken faith in him, relying wholly upon the merits of him who is mighty to save."

No matter where you are in your life, I hope that you can think about how you can rely more upon our Savior Jesus Christ. I will be doing the same here in my second semester of medical school!

This video inspired my thoughts: