It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Finals

Week 14 is here and finals have started! On one side, library rooms are fully booked and students are studying till late in the night. Everywhere you see students practicing on each other or discussing the material with their tutor. Anatomy lab is crowded and noisy. But on the other hand, we are thinking about winter break (we already have snow!), holidays, making travel plans, seeing our families, having fun in the city, and decorating for Christmas!

There is a decorating contest between departments and it's so fun seeing all these Christmas decorations all around school!

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I'm happy to be done with another trimester and even happier to be back in the clinic next tri. I will be in the clinic four mornings each week and I am looking forward to helping as many people as I can. It's been a more difficult trimester with me working full time, but I am grateful for teachers like Dr. Stretch and Dr. Cai and for their vast experience.

Do I feel prepared to work on patients? I actually do! I don't feel scared. I know my points and even if my diagnosis won't be perfect, this is a learning process, and I can always consult with a clinician.

My plans for winter break and next tri?

I'm excited that next tri I get to take Materia Medica 3, Imaging class, and some Japanese acupuncture trainings. My homeopathy training is going great and I have started to practice the things that I learned, so next trainings can only teach me more. This coming weekend I'm attending my first Apex seminar in Functional Medicine with a focus on thyroid health.

Winter break will be a time to rest, regroup, and recharge. I have planned each day so I make sure I'll have a balance between work and fun. Farmer's market and some shows are on my list. Also, I've planned time with friends, books, and then come the serious things like working on my business plan, website, and finishing another certification.

Three weeks seem like a long time now, but I know breaks go very fast no matter how long they are, so we just have to take advantage of every moment we have.

I wish you Happy Holidays! May you have peace and love in your souls and your days be merry and bright!

Long Weekend Before Finals

Thanksgiving was the perfect excuse to take a break and relax before finals.

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Thanksgiving dinner

I celebrated Thanksgiving with friends on campus and we had the coziest dinner ever! It was so nice to spend some time together, eat good food, meet new students, have a good laugh, and just enjoy each other's company.

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Christkindle market in Chicago

I stayed away from all the craziness on Black Friday, but Saturday morning weather was warm and sunny and just perfect for a Christkindle Market visit. I've never been to Daley Plaza before and I was quite excited to get out of suburbs and enjoy downtown Chicago for a couple of hours.

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Krampus at Christkindle market

Market was packed. Everybody was drinking mulled wine, hot cocoa, and eating organic pastries from the St. Roger Abbey. The later it got, the busier the market, so we took off and stopped for lunch at Heaven on Seven (Cajun food was another first time for me!) and coffee and macaroons at Toni Café.

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Toni Cafe

Weekend ended with some shopping and trying two new food places in Schaumburg close to my home.

It was the perfect long weekend before studying for finals, preparing for clinic and all the other things that I already planned for this winter break.

Hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving and good luck with finals!

Business Planning and Writing

With my background in management and political science, I'm always trying to improve my business skills. I know that school will go fast and when I'm done with it I don't want to worry about my next steps.

I already decided what I'm going to focus on in my practice so I just need to work on business planning and marketing.

One of the things that I plan to do is add a blog on my website and also write for different health and wellness websites for visibility. Some of these websites are even paying their authors, but even if you don't get paid, it is a good marketing tool and it can position you as an expert in the field.

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With that in mind, I was happy to find one email with an invitation to a writing seminar in downtown Chicago. I was looking forward to some rest time this weekend but instead I decided to keep myself busy and went to this training. Training was three packed days. First day was about understanding why everybody should be involved in writing and how writing could help us no matter our profession.

I was surprised to see a lot of journalists attended this training. I was expecting to see more people that wouldn't have any education or training in writing but this wasn't the case. Some of them had their own column in different magazines and in the beginning I felt a bit intimidated. I realized that even people who are journalists might not excel in selling themselves or their writing so everybody was there to learn and do better in the future.

Writing is a passion and some people are very talented, but in the end, who's going to know or read you if nobody knows how good you are…

We worked on mindsets, on writing, how to self-publish, how to sell it, and so much more.

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One of the things that I loved was a challenge where you get to write down your heart's desire every day for 90 days. Some of you might not believe in this motivational "stuff" but it can switch your subconscious. It's just a matter of consistency and keeping your conscious thoughts positive.

I ended up not resting and not cleaning the house, but who cares? I passed the Intern Entrance Exam, I have one more year and nine months till I graduate, and I'll use every moment I can to build my practice!

Thanksgiving

Intern Entrance Exam is done, stress rapidly decreased, and everybody is already thinking about Thanksgiving, a long weekend, time with friends, family and food!

Not being born and raised here, I don't really celebrate Thanksgiving. I sometimes go to parties, eat some turkey, but it's not the biggest holiday of the year for me. I still love Christmas, trees, snow, and some Romanian cabbage rolls that are never supposed to involve turkey meat. (Hope I'm not losing all my vegans readers at this point! :)

I know turkeys are supposed to be the best thing ever and everybody's waiting for them the whole year. For everybody else that doesn't go crazy about turkeys or got bored, I thought maybe you'd like some cooking ideas.

No, it's not going to be Chinese cooking because I'm not really good at that, and no, it's not going to be vegan, paleo, gluten free, etc. Even if it would be, I'm just tired of labeling every single item we eat.

If you still want to cook with turkey, but you need to be more economical and you don't want to buy the whole turkey, go for stuffed red bell peppers.

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Ingredients:

  • Red bell peppers (I like to buy all colors),
  • Ground turkey meat (organic if possible),
  • Brown rice
  • Carrots
  • Onions
  • Fresh parsley
  • Fresh dill
  • One jar peeled and crushed tomatoes (I always buy one without any added sugar or preservatives)
  • Olive oil
  • Black pepper and salt

Instructions:

  1. Chop carrots, onions, fresh herbs and mix them with the rice, meat and spices.
  2. Stuff each pepper about 2/3 so the rice has enough space to expand.
  3. Put the peppers in a pot, cover them with the tomatoes and some water and cook them at low heat. They are ready when the rice is fully cooked.
  4. If you want to skip the rice, just add an egg to the mixture. In Romania we serve them with a bit of olive oil, Greek yogurt or sour cream and fresh dill.

You can try the same recipe with any kind of meat, quinoa instead of rice, zucchinis or onions instead of bell peppers. The possibilities are endless and you can have all the fun you want in the kitchen.

If you're done with the turkey and just dream about dessert, I'm not the one to say no but we can definitely find healthier choices.

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Here's one of my last cakes.

Bottom layer:

  • 1/2 cup frozen strawberries
  • 1 cup macadamia nuts
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup dates

Top layer:

  • 2/3 cup young coconut meat
  • 1/2 cup coconut water
  • 1/4 cup cashews
  • 1/4 cup your preferred sweetener (I used maple syrup grade B)
  • 2 tsps. lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup liquid coconut oil
  • Seeds from one vanilla pod
  • 2 cups frozen cherries

You can add a chocolate frosting if you want to make it even fancier. I was busy and just put it the freezer for an hour or two before serving it.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Intern Extrance Exam

Week 10 is here and this means Intern Entrance, Senior, or Exit exams. The last couple of days I took time off so I can study (Intern Entrance Exam in my case) but not everything went according to the plan. I wish I could have studied more, but at this point, I learned that I should also listen to my body and get some rest. I studied and I also took naps, went outside, enjoyed the sun, walked my dog, cooked some healthy food, and just stretched my body whenever I felt like. I did my best to study more and every time I was pushing myself, my eyes got blurry and I had to stop.

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I was happy to see I still remembered a lot from some of my oriental classes and this made it easier. I didn't expect to remember some things but when I started doing online tests, my results were quite OK and this gave me more confidence. What I observed was that the classes I loved stayed with me and I could remember everything so much faster. Every time a teacher took the time to explain everything, I left the class not feeling confused and all the material sunk into my brain.

I am sure each student feels unprepared at some level and worries about different parts of this exam. Some of us are more scared of the practical part, some of the written parts. Some people choose to wait and take the exam even later so they have more time for study. I'm more about getting things done, so even if I might not know everything I decided to take the exam and see what happened.

Today is the last part of the exam -- Biomed. It is not my favorite part, but I'm happy I'm already done with the first two parts.

If you're looking for tips on how to do better on the exam, I can only say it's not as bad as we make it in our minds. You do need to study and it might be better to start earlier and not just a couple days before like I did.

Points Location seemed to be the easiest one for me. I knew most of the points (Thank you, Dr. Fan!) and I just needed a quick review. Clinic observations helped with learning points, too, because you get to see interns needling some points all the time and there's no way you won't remember them.

Foundations exam felt a bit more difficult. I was expecting more questions from diagnosis, energetics, and differential diagnosis. We actually got questions from everything so I might have overlooked some things and I just had to make an "educated guess."

Everybody looked stressed and tired before the practical exam. From what I hear, each of us managed to finish on time and did all our tests. Just remember, no one is set on making you look bad. Patients were nice and one of them even wished me luck. First station I might have felt a bit stressed, but third station felt so natural. I knew everything I had to ask my patient, and I was done exactly when I heard: "Move to the next station." If you are worried that you won't have enough time, just make sure you move fast at the third station, because all of the vitals are going to take the longest to finish.

Good luck to all of us taking exams this week, and see you in the clinic next tri!