Tuesday, June 28, 2011


Last week in my first MCAT class I may have accidentally called one of the students a gunner. That's a good way to get them to like and respect you, right? Make fun of them?

My non-med school friends are probably wondering why I would give a fake military rank to a student studying for the MCATs. But "gunner" has another definition in med school: it's a mean, super-competitive student who in theory would do whatever it takes to be the best, even including (or maybe especially) by sabotage of others.

not the kind of gunner I'm talking about

A gunner is that person you've heard stories about (but has this EVER actually happened to anyone? Ever?) who steals people's books from ungaurded desks in the library around finals time so that no one else can study, or rips the necessary pages out of the reference books in the library so no one else can access them.

A gunner is the person who thinks it's impressive to find the tiniest, most obscure study and in the last 5 minutes of lecture bring it up to refute a generalization the professor made during that lecture (so that the professor has to say, "Yes in that one very specific case under those exact conditions, that is true, but for the purposes of this class and for any practical purposes for the rest of your life, what you have to know is everything I just spent the last hour explaining to you").

A gunner is the person who spends all weekend holed away in their room, studying for the exam and hunting for aforementioned study, and then on test day breezily announces that they barely looked over the material, because come on, how easy was that test?

Gunner is a word we throw around a lot in medical school - "You're staying in to study tonight? What a gunner." But we rarely actually mean it.

In my head, anyone who studies more than me is clearly an overachieving gunner, while anyone who studies less than me just doesn't take med school seriously enough. Unfortunately (or maybe very fortunately), what happens in my head is not reality. In reality, I haven't met anyone yet who matches the above description. The people I see studying the most are the ones who answer all my questions when I don't understand something, and take time out of THEIR studying to help explain things to me. That, my friends, is definitely not a gunner.

however, this girl is SUCH a gunner - look how ahead she's trying to get! studying years before she even gets to med school

So why did I call this very nice and very not gunner-y student in my MCAT class a gunner? It was completely by accident. He asked a theoretical question about one of the topics we were covering - a question that not only would never show up on the MCAT, but one that I also had no idea how to answer. Instead of only saying that it's not worth precious class time to go over things not on the MCAT, I then just haaaad to add, "Have you guys ever heard of gunners? It's a word you'll need to learn for med school." In my head (which we already established is not the same as reality), I thought I was being funny and clever by merely explaining to them the concept of the gunner, but I totally was accidentally calling him a gunner for asking that question!

So for the rest of the class, they will probably be too scared to ask me any questions because I'll think they are gunners. Excellent start, Elena!

If you want another take on med school gunners, check out "A Cartoon Guide to Becoming a Doctor" - she explains it in PICTURE FORM!
gunner profile

Monday, June 20, 2011


Tonight I am teaching my first MCAT class. I'm teaching physics and chemistry, which is absolutely terrifying because those are two topics I haven't looked at since I myself was studying for the MCATs. So I've been spending the day studying thermodynamics, pulleys and levers, radioactive decay - all that fun stuff which is absolutely not necessary at all to succeed in medical school, but is incredibly necessary to know in order to get into medical school.

I got some advice from my friend who has been teaching the biology and organic chemistry side of things and who has been teaching for a few weeks already - just pretend you know what you're talking about, and they'll believe you. Unfortunately, confidence is not all that high on the list of things I'm good at. So on top of practicing all these MCAT questions, I'm also preparing by listening to Julie Andrews on repeat all day. I DO have confidence in sunshine!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


Have you ever been given trick candles on your birthday cake? I haven't, but I imagine they would be really annoying.

Due to a paperwork mix-up, I have a bit of free time before my summer research job begins, and I'm trying to use it productively by seriously cleaning my room and closets. This is totally necessary as I have built up a LOT of junk over the years - in fact, I bet I could find at least one doctor who would diagnose me with OCHD, obsessive compulsive hoarder disorder.

Just kidding, here's a video about real hoarders - my room isn't this bad YET:

What's the connection there? My messy room is one giant trick candle.

Let me explain. I packed up my room in Newark into garbage bags, came home to my parents' house, and dumped them on the floor of my bedroom, making it nearly impossible to even guess what color my carpeting is. But I slowly went through everything and put it all away, finally feeling like my room was clean again.

But then I remembered the suitcases I had left downstairs - so I brought those up and unpacked them, once again filling my room with a seemingly unmanageable amount of stuff. Finally I was able to clean all that up and heave a sigh of relief - until I was reminded of all the bags of things I had left in my mom's car trunk.

Now, over a week since I've been home, everything from Newark is finally unpacked, cleaned, and put away (well, mostly - none of you can actually see my room right now, sooo we're just gonna say it's done).

Only now, I still need to go through my desk, nightstand, and two closets full of junk. We're not just talking clothing here - we're talking every stuffed animal, doll, and Barbie I've ever owned; my masterpiece paintings from when I was 10 years old; my mancala bead "collection;" old books; musical instruments - you name it, I probably have it somewhere in my closet.

a real-life example of what you might find lurking in my closet

As I take everything out and put it into piles of Throw Away, Donate, and Save for My Future Children (who better have the same interests as me or I'm in serious trouble), my room will once again become an explosive mess of crap (that line sounds a littttle too much like actual diarrhea, but I'm gonna keep it in anyway).

So how is my room like a trick candle? Because each time I think I'm finally done cleaning, more stuff appears out of NOWHERE to re-fill my room with things I need to clean (nowhere = family room, trunk of car, closets, etc).

In order to make getting rid of things slightly more bearable, I am taking pictures of it all (although I can't imagine anyone besides me EVER wanting to look at pictures of my old dolls - that would be weird, right?). But since I have the need to share way too much with the internet, you lucky readers get to see my absolute best pieces of artwork [note: if you call me before the trash is picked up today, I can sell you these paintings at $500,000 a pop - believe me, that's a bargain for my artistic mastery of the oil paint genre].

this, obviously, is a very large rooster in front of a sunrise

this black and white masterpiece is as yet unnamed
(the yellow smudge in the top corner is obviously there on purpose
as some type of postmodern statement on the futility of life)

and this fabulous rendering of Pocahontas is my own personal favorite

As you can tell by how not-crooked the paintings are in theses pictures, oil painting is not the only skill I have mastered - I am also an excellent photographer and graphic designer. If you would like to hire me for a bar-mitzvah, please email me at mdwalksintobar@gmail.com. There are plenty more paintings where these came from, don't hesitate to ask to see more.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

One Week Hiatus

Since I've been doing nothing but unpacking/cleaning, I don't really have very many interesting things to say. Hopefully starting my research job soon - getting back out in the world will give me more to talk about. Check back next Tuesday :)

Friday, June 3, 2011


Last summer when I took a month off between work and starting school, I ordered a LOT of books from Amazon to read. Turns out a month goes way faster than I thought, and I didn't have time to read them all. I totally forgot about them until I was home for Memorial Day Weekend and saw them just waiting for me in my closet. This summer, I'm excited to be social, to see some of my friends I haven't gotten to see much, I'm excited to spend more time with my family, I'm excited to go to the beach, to sit at the pool, I'm excited to not be studying all the time, maybe even to be hungover once without feeling guilty. But really, most of all, I am SO excited to read books.

Now just to finish this exam, promote AMSA at the accepted students luncheon, finish packing, clean out our kitchen... and then it's summer time!