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"I wouldn't do it twice, but I would not 'not' do it once."

- ZDoggMD

Entries in Interviews (4)


Shit Med Students Say, An Interview With The Creators

Left to Right - Emily, Alessa, Annie

Emily Silverman, Alessa Colaianni, and Annie van Beuningen are members of the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine class of 2014. They are also the creative genius behind the viral video "Shit Med Students Say" and are the reason I now ask all my patients if they have bombastic diarrhea.

They where nice enough to take some time out and answer some questions about surving med school with a sense of humor.


I thought Hopkins was a place for serious students, the who's who of serious gunners, how are you guys so funny and laid back?

EMILY: I don’t know about gunners. But we are nerds. For instance, I’ve had no trouble finding classmates who share my love for Ocarina of Time and Battlestar Galactica.

ALESSA: Oh, that thing about Hopkins being the who's who of gunners is a total myth. Ha ha ha (dismissive/uncomfortable laugh). Now if you'll excuse us, we have to go print out decoy notes with mistakes on them to throw our classmates off our knowledge trail. Right after we cure cancer in our secret labs.

ANNIE: Because the gunners here are great fodder for comedy.

How did you guys get the idea for the movie?

EMILY: When “Shit Girls Say” came out, it just seemed like a given.

ALESSA: We all loved "Shit Girls Say" and Em texted me during class suggesting that we make one for med students. We spent the rest of the class writing a script via text message.

ANNIE: We're bad med students and do things like watch every rendition of "Shit Girls Say" on YouTube rather than study the ins and outs of pseduopseudohyperaldosteronism.

How do you guys find time for this type of hobby in medical school?

EMILY: Before starting med school, I promised myself I would find a way to keep my creative side alive. Making videos is a fun way to do that, especially when you have hilarious friends like Annie and Alessa.

ALESSA: It keeps me sane. You can spend every second of your time studying during med school and still not feel like you're learning enough, and eventually you get to the point where you don't feel like a person anymore. That's not healthy. For me, it's been important to cultivate my non-medical interests as a way of staying human.

ANNIE: Studying all the time is just not feasible for me. I get to a point where I'm no longer productive or actually remembering what I'm trying to learn. Keeping up with other hobbies is a great way to break up the studying routine.

What are your medical interests?

EMILY: The only rotation I’ve done so far is pediatrics, and I loved it. But who knows. One thing I know for sure is I want to be involved in medical education. We’ve had such excellent teaching here at Hopkins, and I want to be a part of it someday.

ALESSA: I have no idea. I like everything.

ANNIE: I change my mind all the time. Right now I'm still at the point where everything is interesting to me.

Any plans for future projects?

EMILY: I’m sure we’ll make something again when inspiration strikes. As for the long term, I’d love to incorporate the arts into my career somehow. If anyone has any bright ideas, let me know!

ALESSA: Nothing in the works right now, but if you ever need someone to do voice-acting or weird accents, please call me. I’m not kidding.

Now that you finished your first two years in Medicine what do you wish you would have known before you began?

ALESSA: Turns out all those viral structures I ignored during pre-clinicals are super- important for Step 1… womp womp…

EMILY: Take notes on your laptop! Then, when it’s time to study for boards, you can Ctrl + F all the stuff you’re confused about. Brings back memories. Plus you’ll have the notes forever. ANNIE Pay attention to the acid/base disorder lectures during renal - lots of people actually have these. And CHF. Learn about CHF.



Medical Student By Day, Indie Author By Night

Brian Justin Shier is a 3rd year Medical Student at the University of Califonia Irvine School of Medicine. He plans to pursue a career in Hematology and Oncology.

As B. Justin Shier he is also the Author of the Zero Sight Series. The first two books in the series have been well recieved with loads of 5 start reviews on Amazon. As well as this high praise.

Top 5 in Kindle Contemporary Fantasy Ratings
--Based on Amazon reader reviews (September, 2011)

Top 10 in Hot New Contemporary Fantasy Releases for the Kindle

--Amazon (June, 2011)

I had the pleasure of chatting with Brian about medical school, writing, publishing, and finding time to make it all happen. He maintains an eclectic online journal at www.bjustinshier.com where many topics are discussed, including future releases of his book series.

Listen to our conversation below, right click to download an mp3 file.

Uncommon Student MD talks with Brian Shier


Have The Power To Practice Medicine How You Want

Turning Healthcare Ideas To Action

Jessica is a fourth-year med student in the Tufts MD/MBA program and will be heading to Portland, OR, for residency in Family Practice. While in school, she has been involved in various consulting projects for hospitals, health clinics, and small health and wellness businesses. She is also the co-founder of the Ideas To Action series at Tuffs University. It is a speaker/workshop enrichment series for health sciences students interested in entrepreneurship and idea development. With a profound interest in entrepreneurship, her goal is to have the freedom to explore innovative ways to impact health and wellness. I was able to chat with her about her journey, and I thought it was definitely worth sharing.

How did you decide to go to medical school? 

My path was not at all conventional. When I was young becoming a doctor was something I said I would never do. Both of my parents are doctors and they actually told me not to go into medicine. The change happened while I was at Harvard studying psychology. I heard about the combined MD/MBA program Harvard had just started, and I loved the idea. I always had an interest in the world of business and innovation, but I also liked that medicine gave you the opportunity to directly change people's lives. However, these two worlds existed apart in my mind until that point.  Now I did not have to choose.  I could take both of my interests and turn them into my passion, so I became a premed student. Once I decided medicine was what I wanted to do, my parents were supportive; and my mom gave some great advice. She told me that if I was going to choose this career path, I had to make sure I had the power to practice medicine how I wanted.

When/how did you get interested entrepreneurship?

I guess it’s something that has always been with me. My family is very entrepreneurial, and so maybe it's just in my blood.

Tell me about Ideas To Action Series?

While in school, I found myself constantly coming up with ideas, but I really didn’t know what to do with them. I approached my MD/MBA course director about this, and he put me in touch with Don Lombardi, the founder of Institute for Pediatric Innovation. As I began to explore my frustrations about the life science entrepreneurial process, I realized a lot of other students might feel this same way; and Ideas To Action Series was born.

The format is simple. We have someone who is creative and/or innovative in healthcare talk about the process they used to go from a dream to reality. This gets the creative juices flowing. Then we start the workshop portion where everyone gets into groups to come up with a product or service that could be a solution for a current problem in healthcare. It is always fun to see the great ideas people come up with, and I am always impressed by the creativity displayed during these sessions. After brainstorming, the moderator takes some of the best ideas and goes through some practical ways to implement them in the real world. It’s fun to have ideas, but it’s even more fun to actually do something. Giving students tools that lead to action is our main goal with Ideas To Action.

Any Advice To Medical Students Who Want To Follow An Unconventional Career Path?

Being a student is actually the perfect opportunity to approach an individual or company and ask to learn what they do. At this point you are not seen as competition, and people will likely go out of there way to help you. During one of your breaks, seek out a doctor who is doing something you find interesting or starting up a company in health care and tell them you are very interested in what they do and would love to learn more. Ask to work with them for a week, or even for the summer, and see where it goes.

Any Non medical Book Recommendations?

The title is How to Talk to Anyone: 92 Little Tricks for Big Success in Relationships by Leil Lowndes.  I know it has the ring of a cheesy self-help book.  But for people like me (many of whom I imagine are in fact medical students) who get a little uncomfortable in networking situations, this is an awesome book for building a little social confidence.  It offers great tips for entering a gathering with self-assurance, making a positive first-impression, and connecting meaningfully with people. This is especially important for students who want to do innovative or alternative things and therefore need to talk to lots of different people, outside of the med school bubble, at conferences, workshops, and startup events.



9 Tips For A Great Interview

Okay, here's the honest truth: I am not a career counselor, HR expert, or business savant.

However, recently a friend emailed me and asked for some advice.  She had a number of interviews set up and was wondering if I could give her some tips on interviewing.  

I sent her the following email, and she later told me that she felt like the tips helped her and that the interviews went well.

So, for those who are curious, I've reproduced my tips below.  Her intervierws aere non-medical, but I believe these principles still apply regardless of your type of interview.

Remember, consider these tips at your own risk.  If you quote me, I'll deny I ever wrote them...

Click to read more ...

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