Starting Each Day in the Word

“Renewal of mind begins with reading and mediation on the Scriptures.” ― Lailah Gifty AkitaThink Great: Be Great!

With the start of a new year, comes the excitement of a new beginning.

If we stop and reflect on the first "in the beginning" we'd see that before all that we call common and familiar there was nothing. You see, in the beginning there was God, the Trinity and the host of heaven. Yes there were other worlds but before God utilised his creative power to create a world unlike any other, there was nothing here. God saw fit to do something different and to create a world where he would be able to commune with His creation without any restrictions.

That's definitely something to think about. January is over. How was your beginning? Was it filled with creativity and the momentum to carry you through another two months? Were you able to reconnect with the one who owns the cattle on a thousand hills or did you decide that there's always tomorrow to seek Him?

The danger with putting off what we can do today for tomorrow is that Satan would have us believe that we have power over our breath and indeed will see tomorrow.

You see my friend, in the beginning when God had breathed into man the breath of life which gave man the power to live, there was no doubt that he would live to see another day. Tomorrow was guaranteed because at that time, sin was non-existent.

Now that we don't have that luxury it is our duty to daily adhere to the wisdom of Isaiah and to "seek ye the Lord while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near: let the wicked forsake his way and the unrighteous man his thoughts and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon."- Isaiah 55:6-7.

With each new day, we can see that the world is not what it once was. The seasons seem to be out of sync, natural disasters are becoming commonplace and unfortunately we are becoming desensitised to things that once were troubling. We are more accepting of evil and persecuting those who are holding firm to truth and standing against what society has dubbed "normal."

In the beginning, there was peace, love and unity.
In the beginning there was communion with the Creator.

Each day is your "in the beginning", take the opportunity to daily recommitment your life to the Creator, to find out who He is and why he's granted you the gift of having a new beginning.

This year, I'm making the commitment to re-read my Bible through again while I prepare for my final examinations of medical school. Like most of you, I have faced some challenges already but there's nothing like achieving a goal.

If you'd like to join me, comment below with your plan for reading the Bible through and how you plan to make this year the best year yet!

Here's to embracing your new beginning!

Q & A: What No One Has Told You About Coming Home

“You'll leave. And then one day you'll come back, and everything that you once loved about the place will drive you a little bit crazy.” ― Alex GeorgeA Good American

Studying abroad was something I enjoyed most about tertiary education. It was my time to learn about myself and of course another person's culture. Being away from home made me put into practice things I was taught and made me appreciate the values that were instilled from an earlier age. It gave me a sense of purpose, drive, belonging and enigma and the ability to stand on my own and to establish my voice.

To those with whom I worked after gaining employment, I was known to be very confident, yet humble, hard-working and meticulous and always willing to have a dinner party or some form of game night if I wasn't at work. As I entered medical school and after discovering what study style and environment worked for me, then you can imagine how difficult and disruptive to my psyche it was when at the end of my third year (despite my plea to the Director at the campus at home to stay put) how hard it must have been for me to return home for completion of the last two years of medical school. While the other Bahamians in my year were beyond ecstatic to return home, I dreaded it. Why? well because I saw this campus as being far from organised and filled with countless distractions that come from being in a familiar place. Sadly, I was correct in my feelings. Nonetheless, it was the time for me to learn to adapt, to deal with the challenges and to effectively find out how to make the best of the situation.

This post will answer some questions I had and decided to ask before I returned home. After all it's best to be prepared for what's to come than to enter into something completely ignorant. As you may be preparing to return to Nassau from the island country that you've adopted as home for the last three years of your medical career, here are some things you won't be told before returning home.


CLINICAL YEARS GENERAL QUESTIONS

1. When does the clinical year officially begin?  

For each group the year of commencement of the clinical years will be a bit different, however, it will be around the second week of April of the year you complete your third year. This is true for those returning from the St. Augustine Campus in Trinidad and Tobago. If you're returning home from the Mona or Cave Hill campuses in Jamaica and Barbados respectively then your date of commencement will be around the first or second week of June. 

2. What documents must one submit to ensure there are no setbacks with beginning the clinical year? 

Before you can return home, it is your duty to ensure that you have applied for transfer from the campus where you would have done years 1-3, to the School of Clinical Medicine and Research in Nassau, The Bahamas. You must also take care of any outstanding balances that may exist (pay attention to those library charges too) as this may delay processing of your application or flat out denial of your request. It is wise to keep copies (at least 3) of all documents in the event you run into any problems with documents not making it to the respective offices. 

Also, all transcripts are to be requested and sent to the campus in Nassau. It is also wise to have a copy for yourself and one on hand to present to the office on your arrival to the campus in the event the school does not receive your documents in time. 

3. When? Where and at what time will orientation take place?

Orientation typically runs for one week. As previously mentioned, this may either be the first or second week of April or June depending on where you're transferring from. Orientation is held at the School of Clinical Medicine and Research campus on the grounds of Princess Margaret Hospital. The times vary as some days you will simply be in a classroom setting going through the expectations and the dress code, whereas on other days you may be touring the different blocks of the hospital. For the most part things are wrapped up at 5:00 p.m. or there about. 

4. What is the dress code for orientation? 

Skills attire which is black pants with a white top and your white coat and white bush jackets for the guys with black pants. Dress accordingly until told otherwise. 

5. What expectations if any, does the Department have of all students entering the clinical yeas at the Nassau campus? 

The only expectation that was mentioned to us when I originally requested this information was that there were no repeat of subjects during years 1-3 which translated to, you had successfully completed your courses during years 1-3 and any outstanding resits of examinations were completed before your transfer and all grades for same were listed on your transcript. 

6. Are clinical equipment (i.e. tuning forks, suturing kits, diagnostic kits etc) a requirement for rotations or available at clinics and/or on the wards for use? Can such items be purchased from the school? 

For rotations where you rotate with all of the members of your team and may not be split up into smaller groups, having your own instruments will ensure you maximise the opportunity to learn and to see things that cannot be projected on a screen due to lack of resources. Such rotations include Ophthalmology and Ear/Nose and Throat. During your calls while on Internal Medicine and Surgery, it would be in your best interest to have your tools on hand as well so that you can perform examinations in their entirety in the setting where such instruments are not available for use. 

Some items can be purchased from local medical supplies stores however, it may be cheaper to purchase your own from sales representatives at your school or feel free to contact me at : cara.ghabrielle.dorsett@gmail.com to place an order for a clinical skills bag. We can work out something if you're wanting to purchase a bag without a diagnostic kit.

7.What is the dress code for students and is it strictly enforced? Are all females required to wear the same style of white coats? Are students required to have a long white laboratory coat? 

In regards to the University's dress code, the same applies as to what you would have been exposed to during your skills sessions. Professional attire is expected and this is not left to your discretion. 

Keep in mind that you not only want to look good during your time on the wards and as you rotate through the different specialties you also want to be comfortable. When dealing with patients, you want to ensure that you are covered and what you wear is reflective of your level of professionalism. 

With that said, the school does enforce set rules and there are Consultants who would dismiss you from their rounds or even their service if they feel that you are unprofessional in your dress. You will receive documents pertaining to this during orientation, however I've attached a few screenshots from the one I got when I returned home. 


The style of your white coat may vary, however, each student is required to have a white coat. The sleeve length can range from short sleeve to 3/4 length or long sleeve. From experience it is nice to walk with your long laboratory white coat as it works well when you're wearing your scrubs and want full coverage and extra pocket space. 

8. Is there an online site for students to gain access to information regarding the campus? 

Yes. You can pursue the school's website here.

9. Is there a class representative assigned to each group of students from the various campus or to the overall graduating class? 

Class representatives are not chosen by the University but from amongst yourselves. It is wise to have nominations amongst yourselves and vote on who you would like to be your voice over the next two years. These persons will be the ones who will attend the faculty meeting and would carry your concerns to the Director and other persons of the Faculty. 

There are to be two class representatives per group. So for example, in my year there were 22 persons at the St. Augustine campus which meant that our group would be divided evenly with two groups (Team A and Team B) of 11 persons, for each group there is a representative. That person would also be the one to communicate to the course conveners for each rotation as well. The same applied for those coming from Mona and Cave Hill campus as well. The Mona and Cave Hill campus persons were grouped and divided evenly. 

It is also wise to create a group email and WhatsApp group for effective communication and sharing of resources. For the benefit of everyone, create a password that is easy to remember and accessible to your group so that in the event the class representative is out sick, any documents that are sent to the group can be accessed without any delay. 


TUITION & FEES

1. What is the overall cost for the clinical years? How and when are payments to be made? 

Tuition for Bahamian students are $6,600 per annum. All fees are due and payable by September 1st of the semester year and may be paid per semester. You will receive more information regarding this during orientation as well as the consequence of not having met the payment obligations. I've attached a screenshot of the document I received in my packet. 

1b. Is there a payment plan in place for persons who may be in need of assistance with paying their fees? 

Yes. Payment plans are available and you will be able to discuss such with the Financial Advisor and the Director of the campus. 

2. It has been rumoured that students who return to The Bahamas to complete their clinical years receive a stipend (whether or not they are covered by the Government subvention) is this true? Is it possible to apply this stipend to one's tuition? 

Yes. 

Students do receive a stipend from the Government and not the school. If the Government continues to provide this luxury to the students then those who will be returning will receive it, otherwise, if it is discontinued by the Government then they will not. You can do what you see fit with your stipend. If that is to apply it to your tuition, that is up to you personally. It is wise however, not to depend heavily on this as there has been delays in receiving said stipend. 

3. Will students be responsible for confirming their receipt of Government subvention/subsidy? 

Yes.

HOUSING & ACCOMMODATION

1. For students who are not from Nassau and who do not have family on the island with whom they can reside, is there a list of affordable housing within close proximity to the hospital available or student housing on the hospital grounds for which they can apply? 

No. The University does not provide this option for students. If one is in need they would have to find housing before coming to the island. 


ROTATIONS & ELECTIVES

1. How will rotation groups be assigned? Is it possible for a student to request assignment to a particular group to facilitate carpooling? If yes, how does one go about requesting this? 

Assignments are made at the discretion of the campus. Once assigned to either Team A or B, requests can then be made personally to the Office of the Administrator for persons needing to carpool due to lack of transportation. 

2. How will students be notified of grades and what is the grading system used at the SCMR? 

Each student is assigned an advisor with whom they are expected to meet with to discuss their grades, seek advice for rotations or talk with in the event there is a concern and they are unable to get in touch with the Director. The SCMR uses the same grading scheme as the other campuses (GPA system A-F).

3. Regarding electives, are there forms/letters accessible online to request an elective abroad? Can this be done before returning to The Bahamas? How would one go about requesting to do an elective either locally, regionally or internationally? Are there hospitals with whom the University has affiliations with, for electives? 

Yes, there are forms/letters that are available however, not online. These forms can be requested once you return and given your group assignments and two year rotation timeline so that you are aware of when your elective will fall. 

For those returning from Trinidad and Tobago, there is one elective for the two year period and for those returning from Mona or Cave Hill campuses there are two electives, one per year. 

Electives are for six (6) weeks. Once you are at the campus, more information will be given about requesting your elective and the documents that are needed to be turned in. 

At this time there are no listings of hospitals that students can apply to as the University doesn't have said affiliations. It is solely up to the student to secure their spots for their elective. 

4. What are the pre-requisites or requirements in order to complete an elective? 

Successful completion of all preceding rotations. If a student has to repeat a rotation, their elective period will be used for this. 

5. Regarding the family island Community Health Rotation, will accommodation be provided? What expenses will students be responsible for? 

Accommodation is provided and all expenses are added in tuition. 

FACILITIES AVAILABLE

 1. Is there a bookstore available? If yes, what are the hours of operation? 

There is no bookstore assigned to the campus. However, there is a library provided for students use as well as a student lounge. 

2. Will a booklist be sent out beforehand or during orientation? 

There is no booklist available for students. It is up to you to purchase books needed once you speak with the convener of each rotation. 



 So there you have it. I hope this post has served as a meaningful resource and has been able to provide answers to vital questions regarding your transition home in the upcoming months.

I would advise that if you're an Adventist student returning home that you inquire whether or not you will be faced with the same challenges my peers and I are facing now and have faced during our last two years here. At present, we're experiencing religious persecution in that some course conveners with the acknowledgement and permission of the Director are setting End of clerkship examinations on Sabbath. This year, our final M.B.B.S. Internal Medicine OSCE has been set for Sabbath as well.

It would be in your best interest to consider having your subvention granted in the event you wish to stay at the campus you're currently at, to avoid such circumstances or get something in writing stating that this is what you may be facing if you decide to return to The Bahamas.


As always, it is a pleasure to hear from you and to read your comments. If there is anything that you are interested in knowing please comment below.

Study Smarter; Not Harder

“As every divided kingdom falls, so every mind divided between many studies confounds and saps itself.” ― Leonardo da Vinci


Preparing for end of clerkship and essentially my final M.B.B.S. examinations has revealed that the way I studied for the first three years of medical school is not sufficient. Did you read the quote captioning the photo? da Vinci my man, you're speaking to my soul there.

Before sitting down to embark on studying for a major examination that covers numerous disciplines or specialties, the best thing you can do is to learn to study smarter and not particularly harder.

Today's post will highlight a few things I've learnt from several YouTubers who are medical students, law students and even juniors and seniors in high school who introduced me to a whole new meaning of effective studying. During my research for this topic and self-experimentation, I've found a few adoptable tips to share with you.


1. Don't Worry About Whether or Not You're Smart Enough


According to Douglas Barton in his TedTalk entitled "What Top Students Do Differently", his research showed that students when asked whether or not their academic performance  was influenced by their IQ, the majority believed that it had some influence and worried that based on their IQ, they weren't particularly smart enough and because of this didn't expect good grades.

Mr. Barton went on to mention that contrary to popular belief, one's IQ is not predictive of academic performance. As top students know this, rather than spending time worrying about whether or not they are smart enough, they are instead incorporating the practice of past papers and practice examinations in their study schedules which has shown increases in academic performance amongst students.

Seems easy enough right? Well it is once you have the self-motivation, discipline and resilience. During my undergraduate studies as a Biology major, practice examinations were an obvious "MUST DO" simply because it was the easiest way to gauge my understanding and made it easy to figure out my current strengths and weaknesses and made asking questions based on this easier. I'll be honest, as the delivery of medical information during medical school differs from those Biology days, it has been a bit difficult to incorporate this throughout the term as opposed to leaving it to weeks before the exam.

In order to stick with your studies and debunking the myth that you're not smart enough because of a number, you must first believe that you have what it takes to commit to the task at hand and to bend but not break when you experience failure or lack of motivation.

2. Just Aiming to Work Hard


If only what we aimed for was so easy to achieve. Merely "aiming to work hard" at the start of the semester or academic year is NOT sufficient for academic success or change in performance. 

As the year began, you may have resolved to "work harder" and now that we're 13, going on 14 days into the year, you're not sure where you're aiming now because it seems unattainable. Well that's because you have to go beyond aiming to work hard and improve your inadequate study skills. 

insanity
ɪnˈsanəti/
noun
the state of doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results

In order to see improvement, you have to learn to work hard doing the right thing! The top students across 4 continents when surveyed showed that rather than simply reviewing or rewriting notes and memorising lectures, they did several practice examinations and reviewed the explanations of their answers because they realised that examinations aren't testing just what they knew or were taught, but how they use what they were taught. 
Have you been sticking to the same study routine from high school and wondering why you're not receiving the grade you like after putting in so much time and effort studying? Take a step back and look at how you're studying. Is it smart or simply hard?

3. Create a Schedule 


Planners and all things stationary related is one of my "happy things" but I'll be honest when it comes to a study schedule that I can stick to on my own, I just haven't mastered it. 

Mr. Barton's study also showed that top students approach construction of their study schedule differently from most students. Rather than first filling their timetable with restricted study days and times, they commit designated days and times to the things they enjoy FIRST! Once the schedule was filled with their non-study activities then they realistically filled in their schedule with their areas to study. 

What he found was by doing this, they ensured that after each study session they were doing something everyday or every other day that they enjoyed which translated to optimum balance of their time and energy and lead to overall happiness with their day and week and their study session. 

Go figure. I knew I wasn't being realistic with my study schedule when looking back in my planner at all the empty checkboxes; this then led to guilt and of course some depression followed. 

I tried this theory out this week which actually helped make the recent gloomy weather a little better because not only was I happier, I stuck to the majority of what needed to be done. 


4. Study in Groups


As a medical student, it is important to learn to study and work in groups. With the change in demands from year to year, there is strength in numbers and studying amongst your peers helps with clarification of theories or principles you do not grasp and it helps build your team-work skills. 

Now the way to study in groups is to ensure your sessions are dedicated to studying. It helps to create a schedule and to hold each other accountable during the session. Before each session prepare for what will be discussed or reviewed. Remember your time is precious and each second is worth gold so don't waste it on idle chit-chat. 


Post below some tips you've adopted to ensure you're studying smarter and not harder. For more information on Effective studying check our the following TedTalks here and here