Category Archives: Work


So at work they call me the cabbage and chocolate girl… simply because the two research projects I happen to coordinate at the VA are code name CABG and Chocolate ha.

So cabbage, is really CABG, which is coronary artery bypass graft surgery (aka open heart surgery)

So what did I get to do Thursday morning? Watch a CABG, a quadruple CABG.

It was awesome.


They can usually just take an artery from the chest cavity and reroute it, but for this gentleman they also had to extract a leg vein for extra blood flow. I got to see the leg vein removal the most, but I did get to stand immediately over the open chest and beating hard to see the LIM artery being attached to revert around the coronary blood reduction.

Definitely the best surgery I have ever gotten to see. I was certainly shocked by how mellow the whole thing was. It was just over abundantly intriguing, and I was there for less than half of  the 7 hour surgery (:



I’ve realized I suck at blogging. It’s inevitable, I feel, to be good at blogging, if you truly have no time on your hands (or if you have no hands for that matter). And that is the best description I have had for my summer thus far — no time. But really, I’m currently on vacation and I really wouldn’t have changed a thing. I am loving everything I am doing, and even though it’s a bit hard… I know it’s just a phase in my life I need to push through.


Mostly I’ve been working at the restaurant. Averaging 20 or so hours a week. It’s really more a social hobby than actual job, mostly by the fact that I get payed jack shit, and I’m doing more talking than actual table bussing most days. Though I have learned quite a lot… the “communicative -” or “people skills” I have picked up have not only made me slightly out going, but on paper allowed me acceptance to another summer committment…


Every Wednesday morning I head to Scripps Green Hospital, overlooking the gorgeous Torrey Pines Golf Course, and visit patients that ironically (and unfortunately) don’t get to enjoy the beautiful surroundings they occupy. I joined a club last spring called Color of Healing. The premise is simple – bring art into hospitals as a kind of “therapy” (I really think of it as just presenting some type of distracting activity) for the patients to engage in while they are undergoing treatment. So far I’ve gotten to visit the Cardiology department, General Surgery floor, and last time I even got to see patients in Oncology. It is truly an awesome program and I love getting to spend some time with them… certainly something relevant to my life right now.


As if that weren’t enough, I am also lucky enough to get to live one of my long time dreams: teaching. For Princeton Review the test prep company, I was lucky enough to land a job teaching Ochem. It is certainly different than anything else I’ve really done… I’ve casually tutored but never actually lectured to kids my age. It’s challenging but I love it. The kids can be difficult at times, but I’ve learned that the smoothness of my lectures directly hinges upon my prep time… if I put in the effort it pays off… and thus I shall at least for the remainder of classes.


So even more fortunately, I have found some time to have fun. I’ve gotten down to PB a bit, housed some Italian exchange students, and am now FINALLY on a fantastic vacation in Southern Mexico. Much needed, but unfortunately reality is just around the corner!

No more study breaks…. for a while

Yes. Summer is here at last. Which means two weeks of freedom before I start summer school. And I shall take this time for some serious baking, cleaning and a bit of relaxation.

In other news, I am no officially a certified MCAT teacher for Princeton Review (: We’ll pretend that I’m doing it for my love of Ochem more than the $22/hour start rate…. Though, i suppose the best reason for doing this job is to strengthen my resume. I rarely say that, and never do things solely for the purpose of strengthening my resume.*

I was up in Berkeley for training last weekend. The company flew me up, paid for hotel and food. It all sounds great until I think back to last summer when I took that $2000 course and wonder if half of that money was spent simply to make sure instructors flew business class to get basic certification.

Which brings me to the next point, $2000 a course. I wonder how it got so expensive. Especially when it’s people like me that are teaching… Do my teaching skills really warrant that much money? We shall see.

*It’s absurd the amount of people that join organizations, “involve” themselves in volunteer work purely for being able to put on on an application. I suppose that true experience will show in the end, but still.

Tip #2 — Research

After of course 1.GPA and 2. MCAT scores, extracurriculars are divided into two main categories: volunteer work and research.

Volunteer work is decently easy to get involved in, quality volunteer work, or medical related volunteer worker harder.

Research can be tricky. Anyone can get into a lab, but to guarantee you’re actually doing work is nearly impossible. For me, this wasn’t the direction I was headed. Luckily, my freshman year I was able to get in contact with a friend of a family friend doing research down here, and out of the blue landed my dream research position. For the past year and a half I’ve been working with Dr. Laura Greci, inspirational MD,MPH,  doing non-clinical public health research at the VA San Diego. This is good because 1) I’m actually working with data and even human research subjects (uh, yeah). And 2) I’m not stuck taking out trashcans or doing report work 30 hours a week in a bio lab. Our main work is virtual emergency preparedness for VA employees – aka virtual emergency preparedness drills through a large multi-user virtual environment… sounds kind of techy and complicated but it’s actually pretty cool. Now I’m working with Dr. Greci and a surgeon from Maryland to write a paper of field hospital site selection…

Back in February I even had the privilege of helping to put on a workshop the at annual Medicine Meets Virtual Reality (MMVR) conference in Newport Beach. (Got a legit name tag and everything). It’s basically a forum to demonstrate new technology and an awards ceremony to recognize what’s working. For our project we basically  brought the computer lab straight to the Marriott, allowing attendees to tour our “island” which includes the virtual hospital and various other areas for training and testing.

Video and info from the conference is here under Medicine Meets Virtual Reality Conference: February 10-12.

It really is important to get into some type of research both for the learning aspects and experience, as many students turn to research in parallel to practicing medicine, and there are even some who strictly go into investigation. For me, I need the social aspect of medicine; I certainly don’t see myself ending up in a lab. But PH is definitely an option…