What was the pediatric core like?

Finally, the rotation I have been waiting for, my pediatric core rotation and it was just as amazing of an experience as I had imagined. Peds core was a 6 week rotation with 3 weeks in an outpatient pediatric clinic, 1 week in the neonatal ICU, and 2 weeks on inpatient pediatrics.

Peds clinic offered a diverse experience. I saw a variety of ages from newborns to teens who were about to graduate from the pediatric office. I had the opportunity to be hands-on and independent in my history and physicals- lots of sports physicals, school physicals, and newborn exams. I also was able to practice writing notes. There were children with different pathologies and ailments both acute and chronic. The best part was learning little tricks and hints that my attending had picked up in her years of practice.

I adored the NICU and felt like I learned so much in the short time I was there. We split up the babies between the students and presented them during rounds with the attending, which were probably the most intense rounds I have experienced in my third year (high school math skills, where ya at?). Of course my favorite part were the babies themselves, I loved helping with feeds and just rocking them throughout the day. They are so small, but so incredibly tough.

During inpatient peds we had two jobs- do the physical exams on all the newborns and take care of any children admitted to the hospital.  A physical exam on a newborn is, not surprisingly, very different from a children’s or adult’s physical. It is one of the first exams the newborn will get and it can help identify any anomalies early. On inpatient we saw children with asthma exacerbations, pneumonias, appendicitis, psychologic presentations like conversion disorder and infants with jaundice. It was interesting to learn more about interacting with children and with their parents.

How we studied for the pediatric shelf.

We learned from our last 6 week rotation to start studying right away (be gone procrastination!!!). We started week one with Online Med Ed and tried to complete and take notes on all the pediatric videos. I thought this was a good way to compartmentalize pediatric conditions which I hadn’t really learned about much before. It was like a blast from the past with step 1 knowledge. I really wished I had time to re-read some of First Aid for Step 1, especially the sections for genetics, glycogen storage diseases, MSK and ortho, etc. Some of those facts came up often in the Q banks so I do plan on re-reading First Aid over my winter break.

I also tried to do as many UWorld pediatric questions as I could, these were similar to the shelf. I took notes on all the questions whether I got them wrong or right. I never did this before, but I felt like it helped integrate the knowledge from Online Med Ed to the question stem. I felt like the key to getting the answers right on this exam was being able to contrast between similar presentations. For example, kids with a limp- if you can remember the key differences you can answer the question correctly.

I also watched the Emma Holliday Pediatrics YouTube video twice over with the powerpoint notes. I feel like that always brings things together for me, its like a great overview of the entire rotation in 2 hours.

I purchased and took two out of four of the NBME practice exams online and took them on timed. Denzel and I reviewed the answers together afterwards and researched the answers we were not sure about. There were a few that we could not find an explanation from and we asked our attending to look over them for us, I found this very helpful.

The test itself was challenging as usual. It was a mix between easy questions and confusing questions. I feel like for the most part I was able to work through the questions, but there was definitely some that I felt were worded strange. In NBME fashion, there were a few questions on stuff that was not covered in my study material.

After the exam, we took a celebratory trip to Traverse City to refresh ourselves for our next rotation: OBGYN! I think it is important to take a break between rotations to relax and reset. It is also a good weekend to take care of the household and plan for the next rotation.

Comment below or reach out to me if you have gone through the pediatric core rotation and have anything to add to this post.

Want to see how my other rotations have gone and how I studied for my past shelf exams? Check these links:

Internal Medicine


Family Medicine 

If you have reached this page looking for guidance on changing your last name after a recent day of love CONGRATS! Changing your last name after marriage, especially while in medical school is quite the process. Thanks to a few classmates who had been through it, I had some sense of where to begin. It was not until I started changing my name that I realized how much there was to change!

Once you get your marriage license turned in, purchase 2-3 certified copies of your marriage certificate for name change tasks. (In Texas these were $6 each)


  • Changing your name with RUSM

Fill out the “Name Change Request Form” by going to MyRoss and following these links:

Student services- registrar- registrar forms- school of medicine forms- name change form

From there, you will email this form and your marriage license scan to L&C@rossu.edu (NOT to exam administration). After you email this, they will send you the updated form to fill out instead. When you complete this, your name will be changed and eventually (if you opted to) your email will be changed (AKA mine still has not been changed 2 months post name change).

After you successfully change your name with Ross, IMMEDIATELY call exam administration to have a new permit sent to you if you are scheduled for any shelf exams to ensure your permit matches your new ID. They say this can take up to 2 weeks, however I received mine in a few days. You do not need to reschedule your exam with your new name.

  • Changing your name with ECFMG

First you will fill out and fax or mail the following form (form 182)

I sent a photo of my marriage license along with the form and this was changed quickly. However, once this is complete you will have to REDO your form 186 which is the notarized form we had to do before the USMLE step 1. You will get an email when your name change is processed and you will be instructed to log onto the IWA ECFMG site and your new form 186 will be front and center. To complete this, you will do an online video chat with NotaryCam and you will need a form of ID with your new name (passport or drivers license). It costs $50.00 to do this. You no longer need a passport photo, they will take it during your video chat. My Form 186 was processed within 10 days of completing it with NotaryCam.

  • Changing your name with your loan company

I called my loan company after Ross processed my name change and asked how to change my name with them, they instructed me to upload my marriage certificate and a copy of my new ID on their site. I would call your specific loan company to see what they need.

  • Changing your name at your rotation site

It was fairly simple to change my hospital badge. I had to bring a picture of my marriage certificate to the security office and they reprinted my badge right there. It would be good to then tell your site coordinator about your name change for future correspondence.


  • Changing your name with Social Security (FREE)

You can either mail in or go to a local office to change your name on your social security card. First you will need to fill out form ss-5. You will need a CERTIFIED copy of your marriage certificate, a copy of your US birth certificate, and a copy of your US passport (I sent the one with my maiden name). You will send all of these documents plus the filled out form ss-5.

  • Changing your name on your Drivers License (price varies by state, Texas is $25)

It may be preferred by some DMV locations to change your social security card before getting a new license, however I got my license before my new SS card. Check for what the local DMV requires as far as documentation (I HAD MINE DONE IN TEXAS). I had to bring form DL-14A, my marriage certificate, my old drivers license, my social security card, my birth certificate, my car insurance policy, my car registration, and two forms of proof of residency. Proof of residency can include a lease agreement, your car registration, a bank statement, utility bill, or insurance card (NOT random mail, trust me).

CHECK AND DOUBLE CHECK that all of your information is correct on your paper permit before you walk away from the clerks desk. My birthday was wrong and I didn’t notice until I received my new license in the mail.

  • Changing your name on your passport (around $115, but varies)

CHECK THIS LINK for the instructions regarding the different scenarios you might be in yourself. For me, I was requesting a new passport more than a year after my last passport was issued and I qualified for the form DS-82. However, there are many different forms that you may have to fill out depending on your specific circumstances, so check the link below.

After I found my proper form, I had to send that, my old passport, my certified marriage certificate, one color passport photo, and the fees. You send the fees via check. It takes 6-8 weeks to get your passport back, but you can pay an $80 fee to have it rush shipped (which you can also decide to do after you’ve already submitted your application by calling the passport information number). You can also call this number to check the status of your application and make sure all parts of it were received.

  • Changing your name with health insurance and doctors offices

Before you change your name at your doctors offices, you should change your name with your health insurance company. To do this I had to give my marriage certificate to the HR department at the employer who sponsored my insurance at the time. After that, you are able to change your name with your doctors office.

  • Changing your name with Global Entry and your trusted travelers pass

In order to change your name with Global Entry, you have to make an appointment at your local office (usually at the airport) and go from there. I haven’t gotten around to doing this change yet, so I am planning to bring my certified marriage certificate and my identification documents.

  • Changing your name on banks and credit cards 

This was an easy change:

  • Chase and Charles Schwab I had to bring in my marriage certificate and they changed it while I was in office and they called the credit card line to reissue my credit cards and debit cards with my new name
  • Discover and CitiBank I was able to change over the phone and have them reissue cards that way
  • American Express you fill out this form online and then your cards will be resent!

Hope this helps some of you new Mrs. and Mr. (maybe almost Dr.) out there!


What was the family medicine core like?

With 3 out of the 6 rotations done, we are more than half way through third year of medical school! The Family Medicine core was a 6-week rotation with 2 weeks in an urgent care facility and 4 weeks at a family medicine out-patient clinic. Urgent care hours were 9:00 am to 5:00 pm. Out-patient clinic hours varied, but typically were 10:00 am to 5:00 pm. Some mornings we rounded with the attending at the hospital before going to the clinic. We also had once weekly lectures every Tuesday morning.

The two weeks of urgent care was my favorite part of any rotation we have done so far! I loved having a variety of presentations with some non-urgent matters and some emergencies. I also felt like I had more autonomy in this rotation, I was able to do procedures which I really enjoyed. My attendings also allowed me to do full visits from start to end- history, physical, assessment, plan and treatment.

Out-patient clinic was similar, but more physicals than sick visits. The attending I was with saw a good mixture of children and adults. It was a good learning experience, especially realizing the pros and cons of healthcare in our society. I felt like I learned more about counseling patients and the long-term follow up on patients with chronic disease.

How we studied for the family medicine shelf.

This was our first 6-week long rotation, so we had less time to study for our shelf that was the same length as the 12-week rotation shelf. It was also much busier with less time in the day to study, we only had few hours a day to study and we were often exhausted when we got home.

The resources we used for family medicine shelf were ExamGuru question bank and Case Files for Family Medicine. I read and wrote notes on almost all 60 cases which, to be honest, took up the majority of my time. Denzel used Online MedEd videos on relevant topics and ExamGuru questions for the majority of his studying. We also used USPSTF guidelines for recommended screenings and vaccines.

The test was the hardest shelf I have taken thus far, but I do not know how else I would have prepared for the questions that I found challenging. Looking back, I wish I would have focused more on MCQs from ExamGuru instead of reading the Case Files, though I found those easy to read and informative. I had such a wide variety of questions, some that I think would just take more experience to answer. The test is heavy in musculoskeletal questions as well, which I found challenging. I felt that there was also many questions that reminded me of Step 1. I would have probably reviewed the MSK portion of the First Aid for Step 1 book.

Comment below or reach out to me if you have gone through the family core rotation and have anything to add to this post.

What was the surgery core like?

My friends we are half way done with third year of medical school after the completion of our 12 week surgery core rotation. This included 8 weeks on the hospital floor with the residents and 4 weeks of electives. My electives included neurosurgery and plastic surgery.

The 8 weeks on the floors started at 5:00/5:30 am everyday. This included coming in for one weekend day each weekend to round. We also had two full weekend days 6:00 am- 6:00 pm during the 8 weeks on floors. Once-twice a week your team would be on call and stay until 6 pm. The 8 weeks included one full week (6 nights) of night shift from 6:00 pm to 6:00 am.

At 5:00/5:30 am we would come in and review charts for our patient list. At 6:30 am we would round with our residents and present whichever patients we saw that day (usually 1-3 patients). Surgery presentations are done differently than in internal medicine which took some getting used to. During internal we presented more in an H&P format and in surgery it was a SOAP note format.

During the remainder of the day, we would go to resident or student lectures and attend surgeries that we signed up for the day before. There was 4 teams that the residents and students were split into- red, blue, green and gold. I was on blue (general surgery) and gold (trauma surgery). Red was focused on cardiothoracic surgery.

For the 4 weeks I was on blue team I saw many general surgeries including cholecystectomy, appendectomy, and several bowel surgeries. For one week of the four I had the pleasure of working with an attending one-on-one who. That week included attending all of the attendings surgeries and clinic hours.

For the 4 weeks I was on trauma surgery, I was mostly responding to the few traumas our hospital received and learning from the patients on the floor. Most of the traumas our hospital gets are hip fractures, falls and motor vehicle accidents. I had a lot of time to study during these four weeks and also had my week of nights.

My electives were my favorite time during the rotation: I learned a lot and had a lot of interaction with the attendings directly. Neurosurgery exposed me to many spinal surgeries and chronic back pain patients. Plastics was my absolute favorite! I got to see several hand surgeries, skin grafts and some breast surgeries.

Denzel really enjoyed surgery. Since he wants to be an anesthesiologist, being in the OR appeals to him. I enjoyed my plastic surgery elective, but overall surgery wasn’t for me.

How we studied for the internal medicine shelf.

The resources we used for the surgery shelf included UWorld, Online Med Ed and the Emma Holliday YouTube video. We also purchased all 4 surgery NBME shelf exams and took them on timed mode.

The shelf exam was 110 MCQs with 3 hours to complete it and no scheduled breaks. This exam did not have any fill in the blank questions. I found it to be of medium difficulty, it was not as hard as the internal medicine shelf in my opinion. The majority of questions were about imaging modality and next steps. It was pretty repetitive when compared to the UWorld questions and the NBME practice exams.

I would suggest starting the UWorld questions in slow increments since there isn’t many and really focusing on reading each question since they are so repetitive. Then, I would re-do your incorrect surgery questions after you complete the 300+ MCQs available. At first, I was doing both internal medicine and surgery MCQs, but then I started focusing on surgery which paid off for me come test day. I watched both surgery topic videos on Online Med Ed and took notes one time through. The last 4 weeks before the test, I watched Emma Holliday video 2-3 times and rewrote her entire presentation once. This is where the majority of my knowledge came from. I took one practice shelf each week before the exam.

Some topics I recommend mastering before taking the exam include and are certainly not limited to: imaging modality of choice for each body part, when to do an exploratory lap, hip fractures and hip pain in children, and perioperative care and evaluation. Check out the Emma Holliday video I linked, it covered all the major topics I was tested on!

Comment below or reach out to me if you have gone through the surgery core rotation and have anything to add to this post.

Yes, I have always dreamed of being a physician, since I was a little girl. And I worked hard to get to where I am- half way through third year of medical school, preparing for my second shelf exam and currently working the night shift.

But there was a whole other part of my heart that wanted to find a partner in life and one day have a family. So here I am, also working hard to plan my wedding that is a mere 6 weeks away- two weeks after my surgical core rotation ends.

Yes, I can do both!

People often assume when you choose medicine, you forgo the rest of life AKA relationships, friendships, traveling, having a family and attending important events. That’s a fair assumption and it is partly true. And up until I met Denzel, I had accepted that fact that the only roles I would play for the next several years of my life were “medical student” and then “doctor”.


“You can’t have a serious relationship in medical school, it would be distracting.”

“How could you plan a wedding right now, you should focus on studying.”

“You should wait til after you graduate to get married and have a family.”


I have heard it over and over again. I have heard it worded many different ways. More often than not I hear it from colleagues in medicine. I have even heard it from my clinical advisors who have “advised” me to put off my wedding and definitely never consider having a family during clinical years. For some reason, the belief is that if you choose medicine you cannot choose anything else.

I refuse to be confined to that belief.

I think it is very unhealthy to deny yourself happiness, whatever that may mean to you. It is so important to keep your mind and soul at peace if you want to be there for someone during their time of weakness or illness as you do in the medical field. And to be frank, since I started allowing myself happiness outside of medicine, my performance in medicine improved. I am more focused, more confident in myself, and more decisive.

So I am going to keep doing question blocks and wedding planning in between. I am going to continue being known as “medical student”. And on my way to being known as “doctor” I will step into the role as “wife”.

Don’t limit yourself because of other people’s opinions. Your happiness can be made up of medicine and lots of other things too!