on mental illness in med school

As mental health awareness comes to an end, I wanted to address something very close to my heart: mental illness and reducing the stigma that often comes with it, especially in health care. I’ve suffered from depression and anxiety for, well I don’t really know how long but I was officially diagnosed with both during my first year of medical school. It was a really difficult time for many reasons and I just couldn’t deal with it on my own anymore and decided to get help. I was really hesitant to do so at first because I was worried about being perceived as weak, that I couldn’t handle medical school and the challenges that come with it. It’s so, incredibly, heartbreaking how many health care professionals we lose, both practicing and in training, to suicide each year. We’ve made progress on dealing with the lack of support for our community when it comes to mental health but we still have so much work to do. So much of why I want to go into academia is to change the way we educate and train our physicians, to do it in a way that doesn’t require us to rob them of their humanity, compassion and ability to empathize with others.

Before I get into how I’ve dealt with both of these diagnoses while in medical school, I want to address how absolutely ridiculous it is that this stigma exists at all but especially in the field of medicine where we know and understand the pathology behind mental illness. We know that there are actual problems in the balance of our hormones. We know that it’s not just laziness or something you just ‘push through’ or ‘get over.’ So the first step in dealing with depression and anxiety in medical school is accepting that there is no shame in having a mental illness.

Think about it this way: anxiety and depression are essentially like having allergies, your body is overreacting to something it perceives to be threatening when it’s not really that bad. With allergies, some people’s bodies think peanuts are the equivalent of poison when there is nothing inherently dangerous about peanuts – as long as you’re not allergic. I’m eating a peanut butter granola bar from Trader Joe’s as I type this and I’m not going into anaphylactic shock – because my body doesn’t perceive peanuts as a threat but for others, it most definitely is. It’s the same with depression and anxiety – episodes can be triggered by things that may not seem that bad to people who don’t have mental illness. Some people’s bodies do not turn on them when they have to take an exam, or have to speak publicly or for no apparent reason. But I obviously would never judge my friend with nut allergies for needing an epi pen or avoiding triggers, right? So why do we do that to ourselves and each other when it comes to mental illness? Let’s just make a commitment to not think of it any differently – when it comes to us or to our friends or our patients.

So now for tangible advice and steps you can take if you are dealing with depression or anxiety – and please keep in mind this advice is from the perspective of someone who has dealt with these issues, not as professional medical advice.

  • Find a therapist you trust and feel comfortable with. This can definitely be tough because it takes a certain level of comfort and trust to be able to discuss what you need to discuss with a therapist. I would recommend starting with counselors at your school if that’s an option since they usually understand at least some of the struggles students face. And I know that it can be exhausting to jump from therapist to therapist and repeatedly telling your story to a stranger but it’s worth it when you find someone you can really talk to. Yelp is a surprisingly great place to read reviews for various therapists. And it’s a good idea to go into each session with an idea of the topics you want to discuss and issues you want to work on. This link has really helpful advice on how to approach your first session with a therapist.
  • Don’t be afraid to try medication. Like we talked about above, there’s no shame in your Zyrtec game and there shouldn’t be with Prozac (or any other medication) either.
  • Prioritize your health and well being. We all know that we should take care of ourselves but how many of us actually prioritize doing so? Because we need to, especially if you’re dealing with mental illness. I find exercising regularly to be really helpful and I’ve recently also started doing yoga (at home with Yoga with Adriene), which has also been great. Prioritize getting enough sleep, especially in the first two years of medical school when you have much more control over your schedule. Pulling all nighters is not a good way to learn and you need sleep to be able to retain everything you spend hours studying. I also find that limiting my caffeine intake really helps keep my anxiety symptoms away so I’ve tried to stop drinking coffee on and off for the past few years. Try limiting it as much as you can! I’m not a fan of cooking so eating healthily can be difficult but I try to buy preprepared frozen meals made by companies like Evol Foods and Sweet Earth Foods because they provide healthier options. And if, even for a second, you start feeling ‘selfish’ for taking care of yourself remember:

    ‘Caring for myself is not self indulgence, it is self preservation and that is an act of political warfare.’ – Audre Lorde

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  • Get a furchild. This obviously isn’t for everyone but have Kohl in my life has made the struggles of 2016 so much easier to deal with it. There’s something about a tiny kitten purring on your lap that makes you feel like it’s all going to be okay. So if it’s something you can do, consider adopting a kitten or puppy. It’s amazing how they just know when you’re not doing well or need extra cuddles. He’s been the source of my sanity through studying for remediation and boards.
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  • Spend time in places that inspire you. This can be as simple as going to your local coffee shop to study or planning a weekend getaway with your significant other/a group of friends. Changing where you are makes coming home feel so sweet and reenergizes you to continue doing what needs to get done. And making time for fun things is so important – you need it to recharge.
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  • Work hard when you feel good. The thing with both depression and anxiety is that they can sneak up on you. You can have an objectively good day and still feel completely miserable. So in a way, it’s important to ‘prepare’ for these episodes by being extra productive when you are feeling well. That way if you have an off day, you won’t fall behind because you prepared for it. I always have a game plan for studying for each block but because I know that some days are going to be better than others, I plan goals for each week (rather than each day). So when I have a day when I’m feeling down, I’m not really falling behind as long as I spend the day caring for myself and getting recharged so I can tackle tasks the next day and still stay on schedule. Having this flexibility has been really great for me and also reduces the guilt of ‘doing nothing’ on the days when I really can’t.
  • Spend time in service of others. There’s something so incredibly fulfilling in giving your time or skills to help others. If you’re in healthcare, a big part of why you’re here is because you have that innate need to be in service of others. So stay in touch with that by volunteering with your local free clinic or mentoring youth from underserved communities. Doing these things also really helps bring your purpose back into perspective. It helps you remember why you’re spending so much of your time studying and making so many sacrifices.
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  • Don’t be afraid to reach out to your classmates or friends. I can’t tell you the number of messages and comments I read every week from others in this field who share that they too are dealing with depression, anxiety or both. Don’t feel obligated to share this part of your journey if you don’t feel comfortable doing so but please know that you’re not alone. And if you do decide to share, realize that your recovery is going to look different from others’ so try your best not to compare. In this age of social media, it’s easy for us to think that everyone’s life is so much easier and better than ours but realize that most people just show the pretty parts. We’re all going through difficult times.
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  • Be kind and patient with yourself. This is something that I still struggle with. It’s so easy to fall into the trap of comparing yourself to others who seem to be much more productive or being angry with yourself for ‘being lazy.’ But realize that type of thinking is not productive in any way. You’re only prolonging this episode of deeper depression or anxiety by doing so. Your body is clearly telling you it needs a break or a change so spend an hour or so taking care of yourself and come back to your work. Treat yourself with the same compassion you’d show your patient who is struggling with similar issues.
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So much of why I started this blog and started speaking about my journey on Instagram is because I did not want anyone else to feel alone in the struggles that come with this journey. You are not alone. You deserve the best out of life and while we make many sacrifices on this journey, you should not sacrifice your health and well being in order to care for others. It takes some courage to seek help and take the steps towards recovery but it’s well worth the effort. You deserve a life where happiness is the norm, not the exception. You deserve a life that does not feel like a burden. If you won’t do it for yourself, do it for your future patients because they deserve a healer who has spent time healing themselves.

edit: here is an additional resource by zencare on mental health while in college.

med sisters series: Brittany, MD

The Med Sisters Series is a series of interviews of women in various stages of their careers in medicine: pre-med, medical school, residency, fellowship and attending physicians. As women, I believe we face unique challenges within any field, medicine included. As I’ve moved along on this journey, I truly believe one of the biggest support systems we have is each other. Society works so hard to pit women against each other in every situation you can think of but, as feminists, I think it’s so important to combat that urge to try to ‘beat each other out.’ There’s room for all of us on the other side of the glass ceiling. The goal of this series is to shed light on the challenges women face in the field of medicine and how they achieve a work-life balance that works for them. This blog has always been a place for me to share the realities of this journey, both the highs and lows. I thought of this series as a way to share the perspectives of the other extraordinary women on this journey too.


Brittany is a fourth year medical student (and will be an MD in days!) in Kansas City. You can follow her journey, as she starts her intern year in pediatrics, at her Instagram.

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Q: Why did you decide to pursue medicine as a career? How do you stay motivated on the difficult days? 

A: Deciding on medicine was sort of a natural choice for me. I was infatuated by science growing up and was fascinated by my first anatomy and physiology class in high school. There are no physicians in my family, but it was my parents that really gave me the confidence that I could pursue such a career. They both have had careers in healthcare and I loved the thought of being so intimately involved in other’s lives and being able to do what I love and help those who need it. What motivates me on the difficult days is that I absolutely cannot imagine doing anything else for the rest of my life. There are days I walk out of the hospital with such satisfaction, such a sense of calling, that I know this is where I was born to be.

Q: How do you balance being in a relationship, planning a wedding and medical school? 

A: It’s quite the task! I live in Kansas City and my fiancé lives in Ft. Worth, Texas so there’s a lot of plane flights and traveling when we get free time. Fourth year of medical school provides lots of flexibility with your time so I’ve gotten to come down to Texas for a few months which has been such a blessing. I am very lucky to have a man that supports me 100% in whatever I decide to do and is continually my biggest cheerleader. He understands my hectic schedule, can tell when I’m a little stressed, and knows when he needs to remind me to breathe! He’s not something I have to worry about balancing… he adds balance to my life. I think that’s how it should be. With Match Day coming up in March 2016, we currently have no idea where I’ll be located for residency. For that reason, we’ve decided to postpone wedding planning until we at least have a city to plan around! I have started looking at dresses though, which of course is the most fun part! 🙂

Update: Brittany matched to her top choice pediatrics program at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersberg, FL!

Q: What has been the most emotionally difficult part of your journey in medicine? How have you coped? 

A: The most emotionally difficult part of the journey has been seeing first-hand the heartbreak in medicine. The look on your patient’s face when they find out they have cancer or when the 6 year old finds out his mom has passed away are images that never quite go away. As physicians, we will be constantly immersed in the most difficult parts of people’s lives. They will never forget moments like this. But, the beauty of my journey in medicine has been seeing how people respond and recover from these types of events. Sickness and death have a startling effect on people. They quickly realize what is truly important to them. The love shown by family has often brought tears to my eyes. Our society focuses so much on the negative. I wish the cameras would come into the hospital to see the incredible love, the undying faith, the unwavering will to live that I have the blessing to see each day. The difficult parts of our lives really provide us the opportunity to grasp on hard to what means the most to us. Witnessing this has been incredible and is one of the many reasons why I love medicine.

Q: What drew you to pediatrics? 

A: Come on…kids are so much better than adults 🙂 ! When I got to dress up in costume for Halloween, play with toddlers on a daily basis, and help walk new parents through both the scariest and most exciting part of their life (new parenthood), the decision became pretty easy for me. It was the only rotation I had in medical school that I would work 12 hour days, work nights, but when I went home each day, I was genuinely happy and couldn’t wait to go back! Kids bring me so much joy. They’re resilient, they’re honest, they’re always wanting to get better…. and most of the time, they do! I also had a great pediatric allergist that helped me control my asthma as a kid and that allowed me to go on to eventually becoming an All-American track athlete at Baylor! The world is yours when you’re a kid, the possibilities are endless. I’m thrilled to be apart of their ever-changing lives. The field of pediatrics isn’t for everyone. You’ll get spit up on, sneezed on, temper tantrums, and adolescent mood swings. But, there’s nothing else in this world I’d rather be doing.

Q: If you could go back and be a premed student again, what would you do differently

A: This is a tough one. I don’t think I’d do anything differently honestly. I was a premed student-athlete so my experience was a little different. I was a Health Science Studies major with a minor in Medical Humanities. I took all the core science courses required for the MCAT along with courses that showed me the ethical dilemmas of medicine. I took a mission trip to Mexico where I got to work with a physician to provide care to underserved villages and created hypertension screening clinics in my hometown of Kansas City. My best advice would be to get a well-rounded idea of what medicine is like. Volunteer at your nearby hospital. Get out in your community. If you can, get out of the country and view how healthcare is done there. This will help you form your own ideas and opinions about how you’d like to provide care. Also, have fun!!! Medical school is a full-time job and you’ll find yourself reminiscing on your fun “college days” while you’re stuck on night shift lol.

Q: Who is a woman in medicine you look up to and why? 

A: Although not a physician, I have always looked up to my mother. She is a chief radiation therapist for cancer patients and has a way with her patients that I strive for on a daily basis. She is personable, intelligent, and her spirit is so incredibly contagious. She’s a multi-tasker, a leader, and always finds a way to get the job done with a smile on her face. She has worked so hard to get where she’s at and both her and my dad have provided me with all of the love, support, and motivation a daughter could ask for.

Q: As a woman in medicine, specifically a woman of color, have you faced any discrimination (either blatant or more subtle)? What advice do you have for women who go through similar challenges?

A: Being a minority woman in medicine, you often will be either the only woman in the room or the only minority in the room. Sometimes, both. Towards the beginning of my medical education, this was a little daunting. But, as I progressed though medical school I realized I am more than capable, equally intelligent, and just as deserving to be here! Now, I don’t think twice. I am no longer focused on myself, but on the care of my patient. Many times, minority patients will pull me aside or while I’m alone in the room with them tell me how proud they are or how they want to go to medical school one day. No matter what discrimination we may face, we must realize that the picture is so much bigger than that. We must continue to climb, to motivate, and to care for others the only way we know how. There’s should be no room for negativity in our minds. There will always be those who discriminate whether it be race, gender, body size, social class, anything! Unfortunately, that’s not going away anytime soon. We can either let it bring us down or continue to fight in pursuit of our dreams. I choose the latter.


Thank you so much for stopping by our corner of the internet Brit! We wish you the best on your journey.

Past Interviews:

rustic catmom

A good friend of mine was just accepted to a masters’ in education program – she’s going to be a high school english teacher! I am completely in awe of teachers and how hard they work to educate the minds of our future. I’ve written about how my teachers in high school greatly shaped the person I want to be and I honestly don’t know if I’d be here, writing about my journey, if it weren’t for them.

Being the creative baddie she is, she’s started an etsy shop to help fund her education and I’d love it if you check out her store: DIY Muslimah. I purchased the burlap roses pictured below – I’m still figuring out exactly how I want to display them but this is one option. Let me know if you have any suggestions!


She also threw in this cat lap pillow as a gift to Kohl, our 7 month old kitten, and he looooooves it. He’s currently taking a nap on it next to me while I type this. It’s easy to move around so I put it on my desk while I’m studying so he can sit on the top shelf (his favorite spot) and either nap or stare out the window (his favorite thing to do). When we’re watching TV, I just move it to the couch and he either sits in his own little spot or sits on our lap with it.

Everything came packaged really well and she even included an adorable personalized note with instructions on how to take clean the pillow (just stick it in the dryer – so simple!).

My favorite thing about her shop is that she upcycles and everything is essentially hand made. I love knowing how socially and environmentally conscious my friends are – while still being incredibly creative! So if you’re looking for something for your kitten or just want something unique to add to your home decor – while supporting a student get her education so she can educate others! – check out DIY Muslimah.

book review: A Million Little Pieces

I was browsing one of my favorite used bookstores downtown and had heard a lot of great things about A Million Little Pieces by James Frey over the years so decided to purchase it. As someone who is considering going into psychiatry, I thought it would be a great opportunity to learn more about addiction because addiction and mental illness often go hand in hand. And addiction is a huge problem in the area I’m from, and hope to eventually settle down to practice medicine, so even if I do not go into psychiatry, I will still have patients who suffer from addiction.

Overall, I think the book is definitely a great read. I found myself staying up too late trying to just finish the chapter because I was so engaged. It evoked a lot of emotion – I found myself gasping out loud and physically cringing during some parts.

But other than it being an interesting read, it’s basically complete garbage as a ‘memoir.’ I’m not very far in my medical training but I can say that most of what Frey talks about in this book would never happen in the medical system in this country. I don’t want to spoil too much of the book for those of you who are planning to read it but I just want to say that patients who have a history of addiction still receive humane and safe medical care. I’m sure there are institutions where it may not be up to the same standard as a private community hospital but I highly doubt the savagery described in this book would be allowed. As with geriatric care, patients who are medically unstable with acute injuries would be in the care of health care professionals equipped to care for the illnesses and then transferred to nursing homes or rehab facilities.

Additionally, having worked with patients who suffer from addiction in my clinics, volunteering on the streets with the homeless population and volunteering in the prison system – I imagine that anyone who is suffering from addiction, which is a lifelong illness with no cure, would be incredibly offended after reading Frey’s narcissistic attitude towards battling addiction and the twelve steps of Alcoholics Anonymous. He maintains this high and mighty attitude throughout his time in rehab and denies the genetic and disease aspects of addiction, which can be extremely damaging to readers who also suffer from addiction. It can also be damaging for the loved ones who deal with addiction because the text makes it seem as though all you need to get past your addiction is six weeks in rehab and willpower.

There has been great controversy about the authenticity about Frey’s criminal activity in the book as well as the accuracy of the eventual death of some of the people he met in rehab. Everyone is, of course, entitled to their own story and their own way of dealing with their illnesses but putting out a work of fiction, while claiming it a memoir, can be extremely damaging and triggering for those who also suffer from addiction.

So, bottom line: it’s a great read if you treat it as a work of fiction but I find it extremely frustrating and disappointing as  a future health care professional who hopes to help patients work through their illnesses, including addiction.

on staying motivated

  Trying to stay motivated on this long journey is something that has always been a challenge for me. It’s so difficult to maintain perspective when it feels like you’re putting in so much effort with so little tangible reward. That’s when looking internally and surrounding yourself with people who remind you of your purpose becomes so important.

At the end of my first year of medical school I stumbled upon Laura’s instagram and immediately developed the biggest girl crush of all crushes. Here was a woman who was clearly balancing a life of work, family, her own interests in fashion and photography and also supporting the #blacklivesmatter movement. She had an awareness of the struggles of minorities because she herself comes from an underprivileged background and knows how unfair life can be.

What started as a girl crush quickly developed into cyber mentorship (how she has time to mentor strangers on the internet still baffles me – pretty sure she runs on magic dust and coffee). She inspired me to start openly speaking about my struggles through medical school on instagram and this blog. I’ll randomly text her during the week complaining about how overwhelmed I feel with second year and she reminds me to prioritize my happiness, that no one is going to hand it to me and I have to make it for myself.

I often get asked how I ‘balance it all’ and it’s a great question. I typically answer with cliché phrases like ‘time management is key’ and ‘it takes a village.’ And while those phrases may be extremely cliché, they’re true. And now you can really learn how to do it all by the queen herself: Laura’s holding an online class!!!

When I started on this path to becoming a physician I was constantly told the same few things – you’ll never be happy, you won’t have time for a family, you won’t have time for yourself, and on and on. I’m sure you ladies have heard it as well – whether pursuing law or business or any “high powered” position – at the end of the day it’s supposed to boil down to us having to choose between career or family. We can’t have them both.

But I’m here to tell you that you can have both. You can have so much more.

You can have your cake and eat it too.

If any of you know me from my blog or social media, you know that I whole heartedly believe this and live it everyday.

And with this course I’m going to share every single skill you need to not only reach your professional aspirations, but I’ll also teach essential skills for self care, healthy relationships, maintaining friendships, having children, and balancing it all. Balancing it all and being happy.

Don’t listen to the naysayers who tell you it’s impossible.

It can be done, and with this course I’ll show you how.

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This course is for you if:

You wonder if you’re good enough to have all that it is you want (you are).

You are struggling to manage your time now and don’t think you could ever manage having kids or other responsibilities on top of it (you can).

You’ve been told you shouldn’t pursue your dreams (you should).

You forget to take care of yourself and feel burnt out (we all do it).

You have big dreams but have no idea how to make them a reality and feel paralyzed by fear of failure (I’ll show you how).

This course targets women in general who want it all, whether you’re 18 or 38, you’ll learn skills to successfully manage it all, and skills for finding happiness even when you can’t.

………………

This course is designed to be completed in one month, beginning on May 1st and ending the 31st. Each day there will be a new 10 minute lecture on the topics outlined below, as well as assignments with printable worksheets!

Here’s a quick synopsis of each module:

1. Me, myself, and I

This section focuses on what we usually forget to make number one – ourselves! Here I’ll delve into helping you figure out what makes you happy, where your passions lie, what you want out of life, and help you develop better habits for self-care, dealing with stress, rewarding yourself, and more!

2. Working girl

This section is all about work – because let’s face it, we’re all busy, but there’s a difference between being busy and getting work done! Whether you are a college student, employee, or mother getting ready to head back into the working world, this section will help you develop new strategies for learning new things (i.e. study tips), time management, finding motivation when you’re in the trenches, and dealing with failure.

3. Your circle

This section is devoted to finding your circle and keeping it. Women sometimes have a hard time finding and nurturing true friendships, but there are few things more therapeutic than a long talk with a girlfriend. This section will help you figure out who you need in your circle, how to find them, and most importantly how to keep them.

4. Mr. Right

This section is all about finding the right partner (and that can totally be a Mrs. too)! If you choose to share this path with anyone, figuring out yourself and what you want is only half of it – figuring out how to make that work with another person and their goals is the other half. This section will help you with what to look for in a partner, how to build love and continue building it, tips for communication and conflict resolution, and more!

5. Bring the kids along

This section is about – you guessed it – kids. And even if you’re in high school reading this and have no idea if or when you want kids, this section is critical to figuring out what we want and not closing any doors prematurely. In this section we’ll explore why you might want to have kids, when the right time is, working outside of the home with kids, dealing with mom guilt, and those damn mommy wars.

6. Put it all together and what do you get?

Chaos. This section is the key to it all, the sum of all of the pieces, but we couldn’t have gotten here without addressing everything else first. But now comes the question, once I’ve got it all (or while I’m trying to get it all), the career, the friends, the partner, the kids, how the hell do I keep it all up? How do I balance? This section isn’t just about doing it all, more importantly it’s about doing it all and choosing to be happy.

There will also be a bonus module with tons of extras – gorgeous printable motivational quotes, a behind the scenes look at a day in the life (I’ll take you along with me through one of my “short call” days in the hospital, the closest it gets to a 9-5 schedule!), busy girl beauty hacks, and more!

Included in the course will also be access to a private Facebook group for support where you can share your dreams and fears, because nothing helps more than knowing you’re not alone. And trust me when I say you are NOT alone! I’ll regularly be checking the page to add in my two cents!

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Those of you reading this now are getting first dibs of the course which will go live May 1st! If you sign up before then, you’ll get access to all of this for one payment of $149! On May 1st the price will go up to the normal price of a one time payment of $199, with the option of a 2 month payment plan. The course will run through May, and you can purchase and join at any time through the month! And once you’re a student you’ll have access to the lectures and course materials for life! Even new lectures that I’ll release in the next few months! After May the course may be re-released at another time point, but never again at this price!

$149 sounds like a lot of money (at least to me it does)!

But here’s the thing –

If you’re a mom you pay more than this for one week of groceries.

If you’re a college student you pay more than this for one textbook for one class in any given semester. Never mind the cost of tuition itself. Just to open that book a few times and (hopefully) pass a test. A test that will likely matter for your grade, a grade that may matter for your career in the future.

This course is not only going to teach you essential skills for mastering new knowledge (whether at school or work) and acing those tests, it will also teach you how to better manage your time so that you can accomplish more, and most importantly, it’s going to teach you how to enjoy the journey, how to balance all that’s on your plate, how to pursue it all and do so with grace.

So much more than your $250 organic chemistry book.

So take the leap. Be proactive about not only your career aspirations but about your life. About your happiness.

Become the next “I don’t know how she does it” woman. Because I know how, and soon you will too.

I’m not going to try to sell you on this class because as you can see above, she does a great job of convincing you herself. And in the spirit of full disclosure, I want to share that I’m an affiliate for this class and will be compensated in part for every registration done through this link. But I would not be taking time out of studying for remediation and boards to write up this post if I didn’t truly believe in what she has to say. So much of why I started the Med Sisters Series is to remind women that it really is possible to get everything you want out of life and be happy while doing it. 

I hope you decide to join us as we try to navigate through this thing called life.

flow & bling 

It’s been a while since I did an outfit post! Part of it is frustration when I can’t link exact pieces for you all to find and I also haven’t really been dressing up all that often since I’ve been spending most of my day cooped up at home studying. But last night one of my best friend’s got engaged and I celebrated another one of my best friend’s birthday! So I took the night off from studying and got a lil’ dressed up.

I picked up this dress at TJ Maxx a few summers ago to wear to my high school best friend’s wedding and decided to pull it out from the depths of my closet. I wore this long blue top from Zara over it to dress it down a bit because I didn’t want it to be too formal. I usually wear this top buttoned up as a formal top for clinic, etc. but it went well with the dress. Kohl was having way too much fun playing with the tassels on the dress while I was doing my make up heh.

I recently purchased the Southport Avenue Small Jenny by Kate Spade in black during their 25% off sale a few weeks ago. This was only my second time using but I really like it! It’s great for more formal events and I love that it’s really structured, unlike all my other bags. It’s a really great size – big enough to fit everything I need but small enough that I can’t just stuff everything in the world in it. The zip goes down the side a bit too so I can open it up and find things easily.

For details, I had on this necklace by Tiny Universe. I wore it out of the shop when we were in Pasadena and literally have not taken it off since – yay for gold filled jewelry that doesn’t rust! I also took off my fitbit for the night (which felt very strange) and wore my Jacqueline Brown Leather watch by Fossil.

For my shoes, I wore my Mari Perforated Wedges by Comfort Plus at Payless.  I absolutely looooove this brand. Their shoes are so incredibly comfortable in comparison to similar styles by other brands. I got mine in ‘wide’ and nude – they only have the black ones online. I have oxford pumps by this same brand that I wore through all my med school interviews and still wear to various formal events.

And now some of my favorite photos from Sara and Nasir‘s engagement yesterday! I have so much love for this couple. You know when you see two people together and just know that the universe would have found a way to bring them together no matter what because they’re just so perfect for each other. They’re both pursuing medicine and are very passionate about health justice and social justice in general – can you say power couple?

Silly times with the bride before she made her entrance! Her dress was so, so gorgeous – and it had pockets! Perfection.

My favorite shots from weddings/engagements are always ones where I catch the groom looking at his partner with so much love – got so many of these shots of Nasir yesterday. You can just see how much he loves and respects her and it just makes my heart so happy.

The dessert table was so cute! Loved the flowers on the cake.


How cute are they!? Still riding this wave of happiness because one of my best friends is spending the rest of her life with this wonderful guy and I can’t wait to see where life takes them. My heart is so happy. Please send some good vibes their way and prayers up for them as they start this journey together!

You can follow their journey through medicine and their life together:

med sisters series: Shannon, OMS3

The Med Sisters Series is a series of interviews of women in various stages of their careers in medicine: pre-med, medical school, residency, fellowship and attending physicians. As women, I believe we face unique challenges within any field, medicine included. As I’ve moved along on this journey, I truly believe one of the biggest support systems we have is each other. Society works so hard to pit women against each other in every situation you can think of but, as feminists, I think it’s so important to combat that urge to try to ‘beat each other out.’ There’s room for all of us on the other side of the glass ceiling. The goal of this series is to shed light on the challenges women face in the field of medicine and how they achieve a work-life balance that works for them. This blog has always been a place for me to share the realities of this journey, both the highs and lows. I thought of this series as a way to share the perspectives of the other extraordinary women on this journey too.


Shannon is a third year osteopathic medical student in Washington with her husband and adorable puppy. You can follow her journey at her Instagram.

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Q: Why did you decide to pursue medicine as a career?

A: I am the first person, let alone the first female, in my rather large southern-based family to pursue a career in medicine (other than a dermatologist uncle who married into the family, that is). My passion for the sciences started at a very young age, and it was not uncommon for my parents to find me downstairs in the guest bathroom “operating” on baby dolls and delivering stuffed puppies. Actually, much to my mother’s dismay, my imagination ran wild and I would use ketchup for blood, toilet paper rolls as leg casts, and even “hire” my younger sisters to join me as a medical assistant and receptionist. Needless to say, the passion never died. Although my original intent was to pursue a large animal veterinary degree and specialize in equine medicine, my allergies to all things with fur caused me to reconsider that dream. After shadowing multiple veterinarians in the local area, and struggling to stay hive/sneeze free, I finally gave shadowing people in medicine a go. Ever since then, the desire to be a healer has not dwindled, even when the journey as brought tears of frustration.
Q: How do you stay motivated on the difficult days?

A: There are many days when I have to remind myself of the advice I’m about to share. This learning process is too challenging to just breeze through without some sort of self-care routine. So for me, this comes in several forms: 1. I am an avid equestrian and have owned my baby girl, “Annie” (she’s a Morgan mare) for 13 years. My evenings or early mornings spent in the quiet of the horse stable, cleaning out her stall or lunging her in the arena, are some of the most rejuvenating moments. 2. Photography has been an interest of mine for several years, and just recently has also helped produce a small spending income for me as I enjoy capturing moments for other people. Using my free time to take pictures and edit images for clients is incredibly life-giving. 3. Quiet time with my hubby is key. This often looks different for us: watching a fast TV show before bed (we love Modern Family and Parks & Rec), having him sit on my [[tired]] feet while chatting on the couch, or making a meal together. He’s my confidant, encourager, and non-medical source of relief.

Q: If you could go back and be a premed again, what would you do differently?

A: Do better in organic chemistry! Ha. Just kidding. Well, maybe not… in all seriousness though, I wouldn’t change a thing. I attended a wonderful private school in the heart of Seattle called Seattle Pacific University. I obtained a major in human physiology and two minor degrees in chemistry and psychology. It was actually really nice having my psychology courses to balance out the hard sciences. I would highly encourage other pre-med students to consider thinking outside the box, in terms of a major or minor, and pursue something that fascinates them (as pysch did for me) and allows them to possibly stand out more during the medical school application process.

Q: How do you balance marriage and being a medical student?

A: I’m the first to shout from a mountain top that, I LOVE MARRIAGE! It’s truly no secret of mine. My husband and I met during the last semester of our undergraduate years, and dated for 2.5 years before sealing the deal December 2013. To be very honest, I remember thinking to myself that I would ultimately marry someone from medical school or residency and end up as a doctor-duo. But gosh, I am so glad that this was not part of my story and that my husband found me when he did. It has been the biggest blessing to do life with him on this rough and beautiful journey. His abundant support and non-medical perspective has been a breath of fresh air since the beginning. We take our marriage commitment very seriously and as such, we make sure that to set aside time for just us, at least once per week no matter the craziness of the calendar. These “date days” are the highlight of our week, even if they consist of just staying home.

Q: Does your faith play a part in why you chose to pursue medicine as a career and how you interact with your patients?

A: Absolutely. Faith is the cornerstone of who I am and what I stand for. My love for medicine stems from a place of awe as I see the intricate details of creation in every aspect of the human body. Not a day goes by that I don’t thank my Heavenly Father for allowing me the opportunity to pursue medicine and use my training to provide healing in a holistic way, both physically and spiritually.

Q: Who is a woman in medicine you look up to and why?

A: Hands down she is the one and only: Florence Nightingale. I wrote an 8th grade English paper on this incredible woman and still have it tucked away to show my kids one day. Known for her stamina, grace, and compassion during the Crimean War, this gal earned the well-deserved title as “The Lady with the Lamp” because she would round on wounded soldiers at all hours of the night. No matter how exhausted I feel during a long on-call shift, or day on my feet, I always remind myself to emulate the attributes of Florence Nightingale. And most times, this reminder gives me the little extra pep in my step needed to finish the day strong.


Thank you so much for stopping by our corner of the internet Shannon! We wish you the best on your journey.

Past Interviews: