So I took an accidental two and half month break…

So my little countdown widget tells me there are 34 days until I move.  I’m hoping that means I’ll have more desire to blog.  I’m less worried about when I get there since I should have more to talk about then but I will definitely disappear around midterms and finals.

So updates since my last post.  Honestly there is no way I am going to remember everything that happened in the last two and half months but I’ll cover the high points (in bullet point form since I’m not a writer).

  • two trips to Austin
  • 2 brewery trips
  • started personal training
  • gained 9 pounds
  • read some good books
  • figured out that I’ll have my own bedroom at school
  • celebrated my 24th birthday
  • COLDPLAY CONCERT (let’s throw a picture in for that one)

    Image

    One of the best concerts I’ve ever seen.

Let’s do some low points too

  • wasps have been invading our house for like a month
  • the upstairs’ (where my room is) air conditioner broke three days ago
  • accepted my loans

So the two things I feel the need to elaborate on since they are related to St. George’s.

1. LOANS

Odds are if you need these to pay for school then you will probably be freaking out about them since it seems most of the people in our class facebook group were.  So here’s the basic steps.

1. Check with your financial aid counselor to make sure you don’t have anything that disqualifies you from Federal Aid.  I can’t remember what they were.  Declaring bankruptcy in the past and having a felony on your record were two of them (I’m pretty sure).

2. Fill out FAFSA.

3. Wait.

4. Wait.

5. Get email from school that tells you to fill out the Master Promissory Notes and PLUS application and complete entrance counseling.

6. Do those things.

7. Wait.

8. Get email that says to accept your aid package.

9. Do that.

10. Set up a direct deposit for your refund money.  Charles Schwab seems to be the most popular bank due to no minimum, no monthly fees, and no foreign transaction fees.

DONE!

It’s a slow process but be patient.  That seems to be the most important thing I’ve learned from this process so far.  I tried to jump the gun on Step 5 and the school was all “whoa don’t do that yet”.

OH! When you get to the MPN it asks for two references in an extremely confusing way.  The two requirements are that the person not have the same address as you and then that one of the references should be your parents.  Well if you live at home prior to school then apparently you get to ignore requirement number one and put your parents down.  Also from what I have read the references are just to find you if you disappear and stop paying your loans back and have no effect on whether you get loans.

2. HOUSING

At some point after you have been accepted then they send out the housing request form.  On the form you can opt for placement in a three bedroom suite (you get your own room) as opposed to a double (share your room with another person) for the first term.  You can also sign up to be placed in three bedroom suite for term 2.

The two important things here are:

If you want to be in the three bedroom suite for term 1 then send your form back ASAP.  I sent mine back the day that they sent it out.

Always say that you want to stay on campus for term 2.  Even if you change your mind you can just opt back out.  However, if you say you don’t and change your mind it is apparently really hard to find on campus housing.

One last thing on housing.  There exists no good pictures of anything but the doubles online so if you want to see what you’ll be living in and you aren’t in double then you’re pretty much out of luck.  I’ll try to fix this.

Well that’s it for now.  Expect maybe pre-travel and packing next time.

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Never ending doctor appointments

I realize that I said my next post would be travel related but I don’t think I have figured out enough about travel yet.  So I decided to do a personal post.

The summer between my Freshman and Sophomore years of college I was out to lunch with a friend and a piece of chicken got stuck in my esophagus.  I couldn’t swallow anything and I couldn’t make it move so I went to the ER.  After vomiting spit into a bag for a few hours, I finally got to see the Gastroenterologist and she decided it would have to be removed by endoscopy.  She removed it and then told me I would need a follow up endoscopy because she saw a ring and she wanted to dilate it.

I had the follow up endoscopy and she noticed the ring was gone but I did have a hiatal hernia and reflux so she put me on Prevacid.

Fast forward to the fall of my Sophomore year and an Allegra got stuck while I was visiting friends in College Station.  The same friend from the lunch incident was also with me this time.  (She’s still my friend and lets me eat around her for some reason.)  So after the hospital doctors tried a couple of different interventions they realized it would have to be endoscopy again.  This Gastroenterologist thought it might be Eosinophilic Esophagitis and ordered a biopsy.  EE is a disease that was only recently discovered.  Pretty much my esophagus has allergic reactions to something and then I have issues swallowing.  The biopsy confirmed his suspicion and he put me on Flovent to keep the Eosinophils in check.

Fast forward 3 years and I was looking through my discharge papers and I realized I was supposed to have regular followup biopsies done.  So I quickly found a new Gastroenterologist and set up an appointment.  My endoscopy and the biopsy both showed that I definitely still had EE.

This is from that endoscopy. The rings and furrows are classic signs of EE.

After the endoscopy, that Gastroenterologist put me on Entocort because she had read that people were having success treating the eosinophilic disorders of the digestive system with Entocort.

So I took Entocort for about a year and then this past week I went to my newest Gastroenterologist (this is where the never ending doctor appointments come in) because my previous one retired.  That doctor switched me back to Flovent because it is cheaper for me and it is her treatment preference.  She also wanted me to go see an Allergist and a Dietician.

After seeing the GI doctor last week, I saw the Allergist earlier this week and had one of those awful allergy tests done.  The good news is that I’m not allergic to food (at least not through the mechanism that is used in an allergy test).  The bad news was that I am practically allergic to air.  I was allergic to all of the following things: red cedar, mountain cedar, live oak, pecan, ash, elm, cottonwood, Bermuda grass, Johnson grass, marsh elder weed, ragweed mix, penicillium mix, trichophyton, cats, dogs, two types of dust mites, and cockroaches.  So I’m supposed to be thinking over doing an allergy immunotherapy.  Except since I’m leaving in less than four months it would have to be the rush method (shots every 20 minutes for 8 hours one day).  Also I need to know if the school clinic at SGU can do the maintenance allergy shots.  I go back to that doctor in a month.

I saw the dietician yesterday and apparently I have to eat constantly throughout the day and I got a lot of recommendations for what I’m supposed to eat.  However, I wonder how much of it is actually available in Grenada.  So that should be fun.  I also go back and check in with the dietician in a month.

And after all of that I also have to go have a physical done and make sure all of my vaccinations are up to date and still conferring immunity.

I think I might have more doctor appointments in these four months than I’ve had in the past 3 years combined.  Although it is probably due to poor planning on my part.

 

If you are interested in learning more about Eosinophilic Esophagitis and other eosinophilic disorders here are some links.
*Also my EE is very mild compared to what some people have to deal with.  I can still eat whatever I want and since it is isolated to my esophagus I don’t have the abdominal pain that a lot of people experience.

American Partnership for Eosinophilic Disorders

True Life: I’m Allergic to Everything – Zeke has EE

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Applying to St. George’s (Part 2)

So now we begin part two of the application process.

There’s a good chance that your application status won’t change until the day that everything is processed.  The checklist somewhat updated in that it said my transcripts, recommendation, and MCAT scores were in but nothing else.  So I emailed because my application fee was paid online and they said everything was fine.  So just be patient here and from what I hear island life moves super slow so if anything it’s just good practice.

Eventually everything will be processed and then you’ll get the email from the admissions counselor.  They will let you know if you are missing anything or if there are any problems with your application.  Then you wait to hear if you are going to get an interview.  The most important thing to remember is that the time everyone waits is not the same.  So don’t go and read every post about how long it took someone to hear about their interview and then start making projections about what that means for you.

Eventually someone will email you with a yes or no and if it is a yes then they will send you the details about your interviewer shortly after that.  Unless you go the interview at the school route.  I don’t know how that works.  I wasn’t brave enough to do that.  With my interviewer, I had to email them and set up the date and time myself.  I’m not sure if that is the same for everyone.  Then you can start your interview prep.  I recommend going to the Student Doctor Network interview feedback page.  Also there is an essay at the beginning of the interview.  I’m not going to ruin all the fun so look around online and possibly at that link up there and you will find the three topics.

As for the actual interview, mine was the most laid back interview I’ve ever had.  I ended up asking more questions than the interviewer.  However, everyone has a different experience.  Make sure and thank them for their time and send a follow-up email or card doing the same.  It doesn’t improve your chances but it is the courteous thing to do.

Then you get to wait again.  Once again don’t try to figure out how long it takes to hear back.  Everyone is different.  It will likely be through email with the subject line “Application Update”.

If you get in, celebrate but then get to work on everything you need to do before you move.

If you didn’t get in then figure out what you can do to improve your application or apply to another school.  Like I said in part one, I hear that Ross and American University of the Caribbean are also good schools.

Click here for Part One

Next time, I think will be about travel.  I don’t know a lot about that yet but I do know how the ticket buying process works.  Then there may be some time where I don’t blog while I wait to start the housing process and figure out all the health and health insurance stuff.

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Applying to St. George’s

So I’ve decided that the best way to structure these posts leading up to moving to Grenada is go through all the things you have to do in order to actually get to Grenada.

First step is deciding to apply and actually applying.

I never really found a good blog post that talked about the application process at all when I was deciding to apply and then in the whole process.  I did find a lot of information on ValueMD though However, you have to go through lots of posts and occasionally put up with the person telling you not to do a Caribbean school even though they know nothing about you or your situation (didn’t happen to me but saw it quite a few times).

So the first thing is that you will likely start to have some interest in applying to Caribbean schools.  From what I’ve heard the three you want to research are St. George’s University, Ross and American University of the Caribbean.  I mainly researched SGU and know nothing about the other two.  Then if you decide you might want to apply to St. George’s University, I highly recommend going to an information session.  Here’s a list of when and where they are.  They are put on by Enrollment Counselors and the format is a PowerPoint presentation followed by group Q and A and then our person stayed and let people go up and individually ask him questions also.

Assuming that you are sold by the information session or just decided to apply based on your own research then you need to start the application.  The application is very easy and you have the option to do paper based or computer based… do computer based.  Once you start the application start requesting everything that you need sent since everything has to be sent through the mail.  Here’s the list: MCAT scores, two recommendations from science professors or one recommendation from a health professions committee, and transcripts from every college.  Also you will need to decide whether or not you are applying to the Global Scholars program or a Dual Degree program.  IMPORTANT CONSIDERATION: You can only do Global Scholars or Dual Degree, not both.  Also you are not eligible to take out U.S. Federal Loans during the Northumbria semester of the Global Scholars program or during the semesters that you have secondary degree courses only.

After you put all the usual information in then you have to write some essays.

For MD only: Personal statement and an essay about a significant issue affecting the delivery of healthcare in the country where you plan on practicing medicine

For Dual Degree: An essay describing your interest and experience within the field of your secondary degree and an essay describing an issue affecting that field of study

For Global Studies program: An essay describing your commitment to practicing medicine in an underserved region or developing country

After you finish your essays and have them checked (always have your essays checked) and you are done with the rest of the application then you can submit the whole thing and pay your application fee.  You can either mail a check with the confirmation page, a passport sized picture, and a copy of the details page of your passport or pay online and mail the other three things.

Then it will probably take about 2 to 3 weeks to process everything.  Once they process your application then you will be contacted by an Admissions Counselor.

I’ve decided this will be a two-part series because this is already long enough.  The next post will start with the post application waiting game and end with when you hear the final decision.

Click here for Part Two

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Obligatory background info

Hello there!

Well I have no idea how  to start a blog especially one about being in med school in Grenada when I’m 4 months away from moving there.

But I thought I should first answer the questions, “Who are you and how did you end up going to St. George’s?”

I’m a native Texan but I probably don’t fulfill any of the stereotypes you may have except that I am really proud of being a Texan and I use y’all all the time.  Sometimes twice in one sentence.  It is also likely to show up in blog post because I refuse to use you all even in writing.

Anyways back to the story.  I spent my grade school to high schools years in Houston.  Then I peaced out on Houston and went to the best college ever in Austin and I don’t mean UT.  I mean St. Edward’s University, the tiny Catholic liberal arts school you have probably never heard of.  I probably have some of the best memories of my life from my time there.  Hilltopper for life.

The summer before my senior year was the first time I applied for med school.  I didn’t get an interview that year.  So I talked with my advisers and they said since I had a 3.5 GPA that I needed to bring my MCAT up from 27 and apply earlier.  I also applied to a graduate program that was for people trying to get into med school and gave you a MS in Medical Science in one year.  I got in and moved away to Fort Worth about a week after graduation.

I started the program about two weeks after undergraduate graduation.  I took another MCAT prep course as a part of the program and retook the MCAT in August.  I submitted my application in September when my scores were released.  I ended up with a 32 on my second MCAT.  I got a single interview that year and then was wait-listed forever.  I consulted the advisers again and the decision was just apply earlier because now you’re in good shape.

So I applied earlier this past year and I once again got zero interviews.  The advisers were speechless.  I heard the statement “but you got a 32” a lot, which is not the best advice.

So about 2 months ago I began researching Caribbean schools and decided that St. George’s would be my number one choice.  I also found out that they were having an information session in Houston a week after I decided on them.  I took that as a sign.  So I went to the information session and I was sold.  I submitted my application mid February and it was processed by the last day of February.  I got offered an interview on the first day of March.  I interviewed 9 days later.  I was accepted  10 days later.

For the last two weeks I have been starting the preparations and telling all my friends and family.  Everyone has been so supportive and so happy for me.  So if anyone isn’t receiving support about going to a Caribbean med school then you can borrow some of my family or friends.  They are great and I’m sure they don’t mind being loaned out.

So that’s my story which leads me to the next questions I want to answer in this post.

What’s the point of this blog?

The first reason is I’m pretty sure I’m about to start some of the most interesting years of my life and I want it documented.

The second reason is I don’t feel like there are many blogs by recent SGU students out there.  They all seem to be from a few years ago and I feel like things are always changing so it would be nice to put some current info and advice out there.  However, some of the blogs that are out there are fantastic and I should probably make a links section with my favorites.  Not that they are hard to find if you google “SGU blogs” but I’ll try to put a little description too.

Well this has been an extremely long post with little educational value but I figured I had to have a post like this before talking about more interesting things.  Oh!  One final thing though.  I found out earlier today that one of my classmates from St. Ed’s will be attending St. George’s starting in August also.  St. George’s has probably never had a single person from St. Ed’s and now they are about to have two at once.  What are the odds?  I’ll admit I’m relieved there will be a familiar face though.

Until next time y’all (I realized I needed to squeeze it in there somewhere)

Jeff

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