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A question about stamina

Discussion in 'Medical Students - MD' started by mustangsally65, Mar 2, 2007.

  1. mustangsally65

    mustangsally65 Sally 2.0 7+ Year Member

    Oct 6, 2004
    Strawberry Field
    I hope this isn't redundant to most of you, but I've been dying to ask this for a long time.

    I applied for two long cycles and was rejected. That's not my point, though. I was prepared to apply for as long as it took until I did a summer enrichment program.

    I was confronted with the fact that I will very likely not be able to handle the schedule of med school because of some health concerns. The biggest one is my diet limitations.

    I have GERD so I can't have any caffeinated or carbonated drinks. No spicy food, no ice cream, no salad dressing. I also am on a diabetic diet so no sugar, and I limit white breads, pastas, potatoes etc. I have a strange problem where I can't eat garlic or onions without getting the runs. So eating out is difficult to say the least. And being on a limited-time schedule makes it hard for me to have foods I can eat (fruits, vegetables, bland food etc.) on hand since most convenience foods are out of the question for me. And if I eat out I run the risk of eating onions or garlic and being tied to a bathroom for a while. sorry if that's TMI. :oops:

    This created a problem when I did the summer program. I was living in a dorm with no stove, and we were in class all day from 8-4 or 5 most days, with study sessions every Saturday morning at 8. I ate badly. When I eat badly I get sluggish. I get sleepy. I don't think well. I was in bed at 10 or 11 each night. That severely cut down on study time and I noticed a drop in my academic performance because I was run down.

    Now, I would like to think that I know what I"m getting into. We all know how rigorous this training is. But I have serious doubts that I can complete 7 years of training feeling the way I do and being limited the way I am.

    so I'm wondering how you guys have coped so far. Have your eating/sleeping habits changed in med school, and how so? Has this negatively affected you, and in what ways? I'm wondering if I could have a talk with my top choice school and see if some accomodations could be made, such as a break in the middle of my day to go home and have a decent lunch if I"m on an 8-12 hour shift. Do med schools make these kinds of accomodations? I guess it would be more dependant on the hospital you're working at.

    I applied early decision to one school this cycle, and was rejected. It was expected, but I didn't expect the secondary application I got from them in October, even though I never submitted a regular decision AMCAS. I know I want to go into rural primary care so it's not like I want to match into a super competitive and fast-paced specialty. Is it realistic to try to apply again, even though it's likely I won't succeed?

    Thanks for your input. :love:
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  3. Dakota

    Dakota Senior Member Physician 10+ Year Member

    Sep 5, 2005
    The first two years of medical school should not be much of a problem. Our dorms here have kitchens (I would imagine most med schools with dorms have kitchens), and while I do eat out a lot, I could just as easily stay in and cook, for me the biggest issue is my relatively small fridge, but if I was motivated to walk to the grocery store more often, no big deal. And I don't drink caffeine to stay awake and study, so the no caffeine won't limit your performance either.

    Third year the schedule is a bit busier and you might need to make yourself meals and bring them with you before you head off to the wards. Yes, it will be a hassel, but not impossible.

    Residency is where things will get sticker if you want to do a time intensive residency (internship year for IM, all of general surgery, etc). Family medicine, EM, etc might be more ammenable to your meal preparation requirements.

    Based on what you've said I don't think the medical school part is impossible, just might require a bit extra planning. Best of luck.
  4. lilnoelle

    lilnoelle Moderator Emeritus 7+ Year Member

    Feb 21, 2006
    I don't have any advice concerning applying again. But I do think your "special needs" won't be a problem.

    A lot of people skip lecture. You can probably do most everything from home. If you need to go to lecture, go ahead and snack in lecture. A lot of people do. (maybe some schools don't allow this, I don't know).

    You may have more difficulty third year and during residency, but I think if you are very clear to your resident during third year about your needs, and if you just make yourself follow your diet during residency, you should be fine.(obviously there are residencies such as surgery that would make it near impossible to accomodate your needs)

    I think it would be pretty sick for a resident/PA not to try to make some accomodation for a student/doctor for a health problem.
    If your only accomodation is concerning diet, your needs shouldn't be too difficult to accomodate.
  5. dpmd

    dpmd Relaxing Physician 10+ Year Member

    Sep 14, 2006
    There is no way you are going to get to go home to eat every meal during most clerkships (well, not surgery, and probably not medicine). I suggest you locate a portable food item that can sustain you. I have GERD as well, but I just eat what I have around me and take medicine if it causes problems (not the optimal way to deal, but you gotta do what you gotta do). I am sure you can find a sugar free protein bar or something that can get you through the shift them just supplement with stuff in the hospital (or bring a cooler and stash it somewhere for when you can get to it). I have seen other people with pretty strict diet restrictions (for health or personal reasons, ie vegan) make it work, but I don't think asking for the hour or so it would take for you to go home and cook a meal is a reasonable accomodation to request.
  6. lilnoelle

    lilnoelle Moderator Emeritus 7+ Year Member

    Feb 21, 2006
    I agree with that. I don't think a person would need to go home though. If she cooked in advance and brought it with her to the hospital, she should be fine. I think it would be a reasonable accomodation to allow an individual with diet restrictions to eat more frequently (every 3-4 hours).
  7. Bitsy3221

    Bitsy3221 5+ Year Member

    Sep 28, 2006
    The Hub
    I don't think your dietary restrictions preclude you from a career in medicine, but as others have said this will require a bit of planning on your part. There is a guy in my class who is into very healthy eating, and he carries a mini cooler with him all of the time. He managed to keep this up all four years. We had access to a student-only kitchen in our lounge all through the first two years, so bringing your own food would not have been a problem. Also, there are refrigerators all throughout the hospital, so if you just spend a little prep time before third year asking around, you should be able to find a place to keep your stash. I can't speak about dorms, as my school did not have any, but if it is a problem where you hope to end up then just look for an apartment and find a roommate(s) if financial needs dictate. I also agree that no one will allow you to go home during your third year clerkships--fair or not, it just won't fly. I worked with a resident who had a gluten intolerance, and if you are at all familiar with celiac sprue, you know they HAVE to follow a very, very strict diet. He was a general surgery resident and still managed to make it work, so yes--it can be done.
  8. mustangsally65

    mustangsally65 Sally 2.0 7+ Year Member

    Oct 6, 2004
    Strawberry Field
    Thanks for the encouraging responses. I've never asked for accomodations before so I didn't know what might be allowed. I do have an old high school teacher whose daughter is a type 1 diabetic and she had a really rough time in med school. I'm pre-diabetic and am trying to avoid diabetes in later life (PCOS predisposes me to insulin resistance and a bunch of other lovely illnesses later in life) but I kind of feel like people won't take a pre-diabetic condition as seriously as a diabetic one.

    I do eat Glucerna bars and they get me through, and if I had access to a refrigerator and was able to have a few snacks I know I'd do better. My biggest fear is that I tend to just keep going despite problems until I'm so run down that I just have to stop all together and recover.

    I'm realistic enough to know that fast-paced specialties aren't for me. Right now I'm in a lab tech program and have been trying to accept that I might have to settle for less than being a physician, but a part of me would always wonder "what if?" about medicine.
  9. LJDHC05

    LJDHC05 Former Chicken Slayer 5+ Year Member

    Jun 23, 2005
    Sorry that you're having a tough time. Don't take this the wrong way or anything, but have you seriously considered applying to osteopathic schools? Generally, they tend to gear their curricula towards training excellent primary care docs and have different admission criteria.

    As far as eating goes, pre-clinical life isn't so bad if you set reasonable limits to what you're willing to inflict upon yourself. I try to be reasonable and cook most of my meals for myself and only kill myself before exams. Most schools realize that you're an adult and supply you with housing that has a kitchen, if not you should definitely be able find an apartment that has one close to campus.

    As far as clerkships: It's going to be rough, because you might be stuck in an OR or on morning rounds for several hours. Most departments will have a break room with a fridge and a microwave at least...the problem is escaping the scut work long enough to cram in a quick snack/meal that doesn't come out of a vending machine. You can always just pack 2 palatable meals the night before and keep them cool with one of those reusable ice pack things. It 's a rough spot to be in, but you're a tough cookie and I'm sure you'll figure out how to do it. PM me if you'd like.
  10. Droopy Snoopy

    Droopy Snoopy 7+ Year Member

    Apr 3, 2006
    The Alamo
    Just to echo what others have said, you shouldn't have much of a problem in the preclinical years. We all have problems with stamina in the clinical years and residency, and you should be able to work something out either on your own or with the help of your attendings and residents. I know my school administration bends over backwards to help people with trouble, health-related or otherwise. I know of two of our current grads turned resident that are Type-I diabetics, an M3 with ADHD, and an M4 with ulcerative colitis. Still it will be tough, but you're on the right track thinking about it now and getting info.
  11. GuzzyRon

    GuzzyRon Son of the Son of Man 10+ Year Member

    I feel bad for you, Sally. :( You're going thru so much. But I will never forget your kindness when last summer, you helped a total stranger with his personal statement and now I wish I could reciprocate by giving you one of my 2 acceptances. Unfortunately, this is not possible. :(

    However, please do not give up. If you must give up MD, then go DO or PA, but never give up; never never give up; never never never give up (apologies to Churchill) ;)
  12. Critical Mass

    Critical Mass Guest

    Feb 23, 2007
    Farting during the interview can be an issue. :laugh: Sorry, couldn't resist.

    Seriously, though, I think that you'll be okay.

    Just don't give up because of your health. You can turn your application around, it just takes longer for some people to make the adjustments that adcoms want to see.


  13. MartianOddity

    MartianOddity The sexy thing from Mars 2+ Year Member

    Jan 5, 2007
    Mars, Milky Way
    There's this girl in our class that's allergic to almost everything. Seriously, she can't stand a LOT of foods and medicine. There is this other guy that's quite allergic to different groceries as well, but not as much.
    Anyhow, both of these are doing well the first year. I guess you'll do well the two first years at least.
  14. Droopy Snoopy

    Droopy Snoopy 7+ Year Member

    Apr 3, 2006
    The Alamo
    A guy farted during our neuro lab final last year :laugh: . It was hysterical, the whole class busted out laughing! It was at the end of a long week of tests, so we were all delirious anyway. I guess he thought he could squeek one out while everyone was changing stations, but it was like one of those times in the movies where you're talking and suddenly the previews stop and everything gets quiet. Then: pooooOOOT! :laugh: He's known as brainfart now.

    EDIT: OP you're prediabetic, have GERD and PCOS? Talk about starting the at-bat with two strikes against you. Bravo for making it this far. :luck:
  15. psipsina

    psipsina Senior Member 5+ Year Member

    Jun 24, 2005
    I have a ton of food sensitivities (wheat, sugar, dairy, eggs . . and so forth) and all it really takes is a little planning ahead and a little experimentation to find a routine that can work in medschool. You definitely don't need a refridgerator because you can buy and insulated lunch pack and put a freezer thing in it. I have found that salads are one of the easiest things to bring with you to school/hospital because they are fast to make and easily customizable to personal food issues. You can add meat/cheese to them too to make them more hearty. I also can't use salad dressings so I use the oil that they usually have in the cafeteria with salt and pepper. I always have snacks with me so if there's free pizza/candy/bake sales (which there seem to be every day) I have something I can pull out and munch on so I don't feel so bad about it. For me a bag of mixed nuts and dried fruit works really well. As far as at home I found a bunch of products like waffles and pasta that are made with brown rice instead of wheat but are just as fast and easy as the originals for when I don't have time to cook for myself. A george-forman like grill is also indespensible because you can just throw some fish/meat on there and cook up an easy frozen veg and you have a healthy meal with very little effort. Please feel free to pm me if you have any questions at all that you don't want to broadcast to the world via SDN. Just start experimenting now and get a solid repetoir of things that will work for both portability and alacrity for when you get to medschool.
  16. mustangsally65

    mustangsally65 Sally 2.0 7+ Year Member

    Oct 6, 2004
    Strawberry Field
    I guess it sounds like I"m making a big deal about food. The base problem isn't really food: it's what happens when I get off my diet. I worry that the fatigue and need for sleep after eating foods that are bad for me will keep me from studying properly, and then I get on a bad cycle where I'm eating sugars and starches to stay awake, then I crash a few hours later.

    I'm already getting B12 shots every month, but the fatigue worries me. When I get really tired my mental functioning declines and I wouldn't want to make a stupid mistake. I do realize that med school/residency is hard for most poeple, and everyone gets fatigued beyond belief and sleep-deprived and we all make mistakes, but I just don't want to put myself in a position where I can't give my best effort, which is why I've not applied this year.

    I do appreciate the positive statements, and the encouragement. I sometimes think that I have too many medical conditions to manage in myself to even think about becoming a doctor. But at the same time it seems like no one has heard of PCOS in a context other than that which the name describes: ovarian cysts. I think I'm also afraid that the stressful life of a physician will shorten my lifespan with my increased risk of high cholesterol, triglycerides, diabetes, heart disease etc.
  17. dilated

    dilated Fought Law; Law Won 10+ Year Member

    Nov 3, 2004
    As someone with a health issue that isn't a problem normally but could be if I had to work 80 hours a week with 36 hour stints, I did some checking into it myself. It doesn't really look too good. M1 and M2 are no problem, but there appears to be relatively little sympathy in M3 (and basically none in residency) for deviation from the standard. I can get over it by popping NSAIDs like candy, but there's a pretty big "suck it up" mentality.
  18. mustangsally65

    mustangsally65 Sally 2.0 7+ Year Member

    Oct 6, 2004
    Strawberry Field
    That's what I had figured. I know what you mean about the NSAIDs: they really help when you need quick relief, but I've had to cut down since my hiatal hernia was diagnosed and I found out I have GI bleeding every time I take them. As a migraine sufferer it's hard to avoid pain meds sometimes.

    So you're going ahead with med school?
  19. psipsina

    psipsina Senior Member 5+ Year Member

    Jun 24, 2005
    Hey mustangsally, its as simple as not eating the foods that are bad for you. Trust me I know how much motivation this takes, but it is completely achievable if you want to be a doctor badly enough and this is all that stands in your way. When I eat the stuff that I'm not supposed to I get super sleepy, achy, migraines and my hands swell up so it looks like I have rheumatoid arthritis. You have to be really disciplined with yourself but if you look at something your not supposed to eat and force yourself to acknowledge the consequences of eating it you can make yourself not do it. I was at a wine and cheese benefit last night and couldn't touch any of the food there. I made sure to eat right before I went and totally had to talk myself out of going into the room full of pastries a few times but I did it because I knew I would be crap trying to study for the whole weekend if I cheated. Almost every day there is a free pizza lunch or candy from a kind proffessor, or a bakesale, not to mention the ever present vending machines . . but knowing what these things will do to me is enough with a little willpower to keep me in line. Its also good to find ways to reward yourself for being good that aren't the comfort foods you are craving. I splurge on some sushi or a nice steak when I'm feeling deprived, or I go buy a pair of shoes that I probably don't need. You've just got to decide that you aren't going to cheat because being a doctor is more important than some comfort foods.
  20. baylormed

    baylormed On the Search 5+ Year Member

    Dec 4, 2005
    Right behind you
    I just have a suggestion to make:

    Is there anyway you could cook meals during the weekends (cooking for 1 person doesn't really take too long, and I think with careful planning it can be done) and then store them and take them along with you so you can snack and eat when you have to? I am sure professors wouldn't mind you eating something during class in your case. Also, as someone else said, you don't need a fridge if you buy special containers to keep the food fresh.

    As far as the last two years go, I can't tell you since I am not in medical school yet, but I was thinking the same thing would apply. The only exception might be during surgery rotations when you have to be somewhere for prolonged periods of time...but there is probably a way to work around it as well if you ask your school's administration.

    Best of luck! :luck:
  21. albe

    albe Junior Member 7+ Year Member

    Apr 27, 2006
    There was a book I read that you may be interested in looking up. It's called "What I learned in Medical School: personal stories of young doctors," and it's a collection of articles from students, one of whom needed specific accommodations as well. From what I got, it seemed like she had most of her difficulties during her clerkship years because of the nature of certain rotations. Check out the book. You may get a better idea of how things will be from a student's perspective and figure out your own plan of working around it.

    If you're sure about primary care, I agree with the posters about applying to osteopathic schools. From my interview at a DO school, I felt that they really cared about the health of their students and may be more accommodating in their program.
  22. peppy

    peppy Senior Member 10+ Year Member

    Nov 19, 2002
    Yes, sounds like you'd be a very good match with Osteopathic schools!

    As for the eating/schedule issues, I think others have covered it pretty well. During the first two years it would be no problem at all to go home for lunch (at my school, I rarely need to attend class in person for more than four hours straight). Third year, I doubt they would make accomodations for GERD, but I doubt it would cause any trouble if you carried some Glucerna bars or a banana around with you.
    Remember that not ALL the rotations are going to be like surgery. Seems like a shame to let a couple of months of unpleasantness in those kinds of rotations keep you out of the career you want.
    Good luck to you!
  23. Dr.McNinja

    Dr.McNinja Nobel War Prize Winner Moderator Physician Faculty 10+ Year Member

    Aug 2, 2006
    Carry snacks. You can eat them in the hallways. String cheese, trail mix, simple peanuts, you name it. Even protein bars, but they get expensive.
    I'm living proof that you can make it through 3rd and 4th year without caffeine, and many other people do it too.
    Try to avoid the really long surgeries if at all possible. Just look at the board and think to yourself "no, I don't want to go into that transplant/APR/CABGx6/anything reconstructive".

    But no, they won't let you go home at noon when on the wards (sometimes on clinic you can). You'll have to brown bag it.

    The training is only as rigorous as you make it out to be. If you don't want AOA, radiology, derm, etc, you can get by without studying 10 hours per day. Or, I should say, it can be done. I'm not you, so I don't know what you need or don't need. But plenty of people in the past have done it, and plenty more will. You are what you make of yourself.
  24. humuhumu

    humuhumu nukunuku apua'a 7+ Year Member

    Jan 28, 2005
    This is reassuring advice. I plan to avoid eating hospital food whenever possible - currently I'm one of those guys that carries around a mini-cooler (and plenty of healthy snacks in my back pack)....

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