I am really excited to announce that I will be going to medical school in August! It has been a long process to get to this point, and I am relieved to have found the next turn in my path.
I started this blog my freshman year of college, as my love for nutrition and health had reached a peak (not the best peak, but a peak). Over freshman and sophomore year, I wrote mostly recipes and did nutrition research on my own. That was back when The Informed Healthnut was actually Whole Wheat or Bust. I was learning traditional nutrition rules (don’t eat fat, whole grains are awesome!) and competing in triathlons at the time.
I realized that out of all my classes and hobbies, I was the most into my health and humanities studies, so I set my sights on UC Davis for Nutrition Biochemistry. At Davis, I started lifting to gain weight from my tri days and took almost exclusively human health and science classes.
My biochem teacher, Dr. Christopher Calvert, totally blew everything I had learned about nutrition out of the water. He proved scientifically how carbohydrates were the root of weight gain and thus many diseases and conditions, and proved the benefits of protein and fats. I specifically remember one of my questions on a test being to draw the reactions of the digestion of a cheeseburger and to calculate the quantity of ATP derived from the meat components vs the bun components. That class was a huge turning point, as a I realized what I was being taught in my nutrition classes was sadly outdated. The latest studies were showing that fat was not to be feared and refined carbohydrates were actually what was contributing to the obesity and heart disease epidemic. I started researching these principles more and began writing grain and sugar free recipes on the blog. I changed the name to The Informed Healthnut (and gave my nutrition professors a wee bit of hell).
That year, I also took endocrinology and was #obsessed with the complexities of hormones and their effects on the entirety of our bodies, minds, and life experiences. Med school came into view and I began the process of taking all the pre-reqs and the MCAT.
Enter Crossfit. I used to work out at the UCD arc every day, doing “lady weights” and running. I saw this one badass girl on the “man’s side” of the gym doing squats and deadlifts and I really wanted to join her. I eventually got the courage to ask her to teach me and she happily obliged. I started powerlifting and my one day my (now) friend Eddie approached me and asked if I wanted to join the UCD Crossfit Club. I loved it.
The following year, paleo and primal started to pop up in the blogosphere and it reasonably summed up how I had been eating. I basically spent all my time either in class, studying for school or the MCAT, working out, with a little bit of working, interning, and Delta Gamma thrown in. By the end of that year, I had gotten my MCAT score back and it was significantly lower than my practice exams. The 7 minute blackout when I started the test in the Physics section probably didn’t help any.
I didn’t realize this until now, but I am so thankful that my first MCAT was crap. Otherwise, I would have applied that year and would have missed out on these last few years of experiences. I realized what a mysterious commitment med school was and decided I needed to get into the trenches before joining the army. I prodded physicians to let me come work for them after graduation and eventually convinced an excellent primary care doctor in San Francisco.
His practice was fairly new and I started as a Patient Care Coordinator. There wasn’t that much to do yet, and so he gave me a project to work on. He was an active member in the Quantified Self community and wanted to find a way to have patients use self tracking devices and apps to inform his clinical care and empower them to take more control of their health. I studied up on the current self tracking devices and met with a software programmer about creating personalized self-tracking apps for our patients. The programmer and his team had already created an app to help people track their symptoms and had two non-MDs acting as health coaches to work with users and review their data.
The doctor liked what they were doing, but he wanted the process to be under the supervision of an MD. Together, we developed the Quant Coaching Program and I became the Quant(itative) Coach. I met with each patient weekly for an hour and helped them undertake a self-tracking regimen with the app and a wearable (if relevant). I reviewed the data with the patient and helped them make lifestyle changes to improve their conditions and symptoms. I was actually using my nutrition biochem degree! As I siphoned through the mass amount of patient data and analyzed it for patterns and connections, I reported the clinically relevant findings to the doc so he could tweak his treatment for the patient.
Words cannot accurately describe how amazing those two years were for me. I learned about all of the conditions of patients that came through our doors and what it takes to run a medical practice. I learned the intricacies of my patient’s lives and how these environmental and experiential details influenced their health and conditions. Newsflash: There is not a condition that is not tied to one’s mental health and life experience. Most importantly, I learned to how to help others help themselves.
I could write a novel about what I learned as a health coach, so I’ll save that for another post. While at the practice, the importance of technology in healthcare became very clear. In some ways, technology use was improving care but in other ways it was inhibiting and inefficient. I heard about a local technology startup that was trying to resolve some of these issues using Google Glass and wanted to get involved.
As I applied to medical school (using my old crappy MCAT score), I also applied for a job at Augmedix. Augmedix is a Google Glass software company for doctors. Doctors wear Google Glass and a remote medical scribe is able to watch and listen to all of the patient visits and document the encounter in the electronic medical record in real time. Thus, the provider can give their full attention to the patient and not spend 3+ hours a day charting.
I started working as a remote medical scribe and an Implementation Manager. I scribed for internal medicine doctors and went onsite to hospitals to teach physicians how to use our software and work with a remote medical scribe. On the side, I continued to work with some patients from my first job through Skype and phone calls. You might remember when I went to India for work – that was to teach scribes in India how to scribe for American physicians via our software.
That application cycle yielded one interview and waitlist, which meant I had another year to wait to get into medical school. Clearly, I needed to suck it up and re-take the MCAT. So, in 2015, I studied for and re-took the MCAT, applied to medical school, and got promoted to Clinical Account Manager at Augmedix. As a CAM, I have been managing a team of 35 scribes for 17 doctors at our largest healthcare system client. Also – ample learnings for another post.
I was accepted to one medical school last month, recently interviewed in southern California, and have one more to go (so far?). My current plan is to work for a few more months, travel the world, and matriculate in August. And I am going to bring this blog with me.
I have had intense perfection paralysis these past few years. With limited time, I have wanted to pick just the right book to read and just the perfect show to watch, often resulting in me simply throwing my hands up. I stopped blogging because I didn’t feel like my life and posts fit in with my blog’s theme. As I entered the working world, I was cooking less and when I did cook it was quick and ugly. (Think frat boy style gnarly egg veggie stirfrys topped with peanut butter or…ketchup.) Definitely not food blog material. I wanted my blog to have a theme and purpose, and to give readers something to walk away with. I still want those things, but now I’ve shed the expectation of perfection.
Like my life, I am proud of where this blog has been and STOKED for its future.