Hometown: Muscoda, Wisconsin
Current city: Youngstown, Ohio
Undergraduate with major: University of Wisconsin, Biology and German
Medical School: LECOM
Take me back a decade, what did you want to be when you grew up? A decade ago, I was a senior in high school and about to attend my dream school, the University of Wisconsin. At this point, I thought I was going to go pre-med. I very vividly remember though that when I went to go sign up for classes in the summer of that year, the coordinators asked who was pre-med, and I raised my hand, and then immediately lowered it. I was nervous about going to such a huge university and taking science classes, so instead I took a bunch of humanities classes first. It all worked out in the end.
What do you do now? I'm a third year medical student!
Tell me about your college application process? How did you decide on a school and major? Since I was a freshman in high school, I knew that I needed to go to the University of Wisconsin. I applied to it the first day I could and had Minnesota as my safety school. Luckily, I was accepted to UW and never looked back. The major wasn't as easy - I initially chose German just to have something. I had tested into the highest class I could, and it was just something I was going to major in no matter what because I had so many credits in it. The biology major came during junior year, when I finally committed to the sciences.
What was the hardest part of your undergraduate studies? How did you get through it? Physics. Numbers are not "my thing," so getting through a whole year of physics was rough. I got through that the way everyone does - I tried hard, sought outside help, and got through it.
Did you take time off between undergrad and medical school? Why or why not? and if you did take time off, how did you spend it? I did. Since I didn't start taking science classes until junior year, it took me five years to graduate, so I was SO ready for a break! I worked for a pharmaceutical development company for two years before starting medical school. I think that was a really good thing for me - I got a bit of a break from school, I got to feel like an adult for a while, I got to travel, and then when I started school again, I really felt committed. Related: read how Natalie - otolaryngology/ENT resident - spent her time "off" here.
How and when did you decide on medical school? I decided on medical school at the end of junior year of college. I had an opportunity to shadow a family physician, and just fell in love with the field. Related: choosing your medical school
What did you do to be a good medical school applicant? I think my greatest strengths were my extracurricular activities, my volunteering, and my essay. My numbers were average, so having interesting extracurriculars may have helped me. I was in the UW Marching Band for five years, was a section leader, and was the band business manager for a year. I also volunteered as a wig fitter in our hospital's cancer center - I got real one-on-one patient contact every week, which was such an amazing (and heart breaking) experience. Related: components of your medical school application
What's the difference between osteopathic (DO) and allopathic (MD) medical school? Initially, 150 years ago, osteopathic medicine was more about helping the body heal itself through manipulation (think of it as a more concentrated technique than what chiropractors do) rather than the accepted medicine at the time. Nowadays, there isn't much of a difference between DO and MD schools. At DO schools, you learn all the same materials that they teach at MD schools - we all learn from the same biochemistry, pathology, pharmacology, medicine books. In addition, you learn some of those manipulative techniques in lab once a week. In general, a greater percentage of DOs go into primary care, but you can go into any specialty you are competitive for!
How and when did you decide on OB/GYN? What other specialties did you consider? I've always kind of thought I'd want to be an ObGyn. I loved my women's health class in college, and was just always drawn to the physiology of hormones and pregnancy. Once I started medical school, I tried to keep a really open mind. Family medicine and pathology were really at the top of my list for a while - family medicine because I loved the continuity of care they provide, and pathology because I loved learning about it in our systems blocks. I was still leaning that way until I did my first OB rotation of the year in August, and just fell head over heels in love with it. I was spending 15 hours a day on the floor, and would have stayed even longer if I didn't know my dogs realllllly needed to go outside! Now that I'm in the middle of my second OB rotation and getting to be even more hands on, I know this is what I want to do. It gives me the mix of continuity of care mixed with the hands on surgery experience I didn't even know I wanted. Related: choosing your medical specialty
Are you applying to osteopathic or allopathic residency programs? I am applying to both. As a bit of background for those of you who don't know how residencies work, there are allopathic (MD) and osteopathic (DO) residencies, and you have to apply to them separately (and you can't put yourself into the match for both). The two governing bodies are working on merging the residencies so that by 2020, there will only be one match. At this point in time, many former DO programs have already converted to being MD programs. To answer the question specifically, I am applying to both types. Once we (I'm planning on couples matching with my boyfriend) see how the interviews fall, we will commit to one type.
What advice would you give to a freshman premedical student? Keep your eye on the prize, but don't be afraid to look around to see what else is out there. Don't cram as many classes as you can into the first two semesters - space it out and do as well as you can (something I wish I could have done!). Find somewhere to volunteer where you are passionate about helping people. Have fun with your friends and enjoy college - it is an experience like no other you'll never get again. Also...study.
What about a 1st year medical student? breathe! I know every week feels like the hardest thing you've ever had to do. You just have to do it, get through it, and again, keep your eye on the prize. But more importantly, don't forget to let yourself have a few hours to be normal. Make time to go to the gym (bring a friend so you can chat and exercise!), take your dog to the dog park, or go out for ice cream after a good study session. Also, third year is sooooo much better ;)
life outside of medicine:
Tell me about your amazing blog! When did you start it? How has it changed over the years? So I write the blog Franish. I started it when I was working for those years between school. I was reading a ton of fashion blogs/pinteresting, and one day I liked my outfit, so I snapped a picture on my computer and just...started a blog! Since then, it has evolved quite a bit. My photography has obviously upgraded from my computer. I do more than just outfits of the day posts now, partially out of necessity (arriving at the hospital before the sun comes up and leaving after the sun goes down makes it hard to take pictures!). I've included more beauty/skincare posts, because I enjoy reading about them. I also try to add bits about my life in medical school - what I've seen, what I've learned, what I've done - because there aren't a lot of people sharing those experiences and I think readers enjoy getting a bit of insight.
There seem to be a huge crop of medical students who also have lifestyle blogs now. What advice do you have for them? Always remember that you are sharing your story, not your patient's story. If you are writing about medicine, share your experiences and what you've learned, but it's not the time to share all the details of a patient, no matter how much you conceal their identity.
How have you managed to maintain a consistent blogging schedule during clinical rotations? I have no idea! I try to get some of it done on the weekends, so that helps. I almost always work on posts in chunks, so it usually comes together in parts. I treat my blog as a job, and so it's important to me to show up!
What are the rewards and negatives of being a medical student slash blogger? Rewards of being a blogger while being a student is that I have something that is just mine. I created my blog and have built it with limited funds, no professional outside help, and while living in not a fashion capital (believe me, that makes a HUGE difference in the blogging world). No one tells me when to post, what to post, or how to do it, which is vastly different than medicine. A big reward also is that blogging has become financially rewarding at this point - I've been able to pay off debts, and prep for the future, something not many can do at this point.
I can't really think of many negatives about being a blogger in medicine. We will see how it all plays out in the match next year - on the one hand, I think it gives me something that stands out, but on the other hand, not everyone may understand what blogs are all about.
Do you plan to continue to blog in residency? I think so! I've never set an end date to my blog, and just how it's evolved throughout medical school, I assume it'll evolve during residency as well. If you, Laura, Joyce, and so many others can blog during residency, I don't see why I couldn't either. That's not to say that I'll be doing 3-4 posts a week like I do now, but I do hope to keep up with it somewhat. Just like on medical school rotations, some months will be busier than others! Related: Career Profile - Joyce - Dermatology Resident
You seem to be very money wise. What's your best financial advice for medical students? This is a tough one, because I know everyone is in different financial situations. I'm completely independent from my parents, so I take out loans to pay for school and for living. What's unique to my situation is that I have a hobby that creates an extra income for me, so I don't have any real particular pieces of advice about what to do with money as my situation is different. The only real piece of advice I've had passed down to me is to save up for fourth year, when you'll hopefully be traveling all over for interviews! Related: Residency Interviews: the price, The cost of applying to dermatology residency, Making a budget and sticking to it
Talk to me about how you build your wardrobe. I love how thoughtful you are about the process. When I started school, I owned very few "professional" clothes. My lab that I worked in was super casual - as long as my legs and feet were covered, I could wear whatever I wanted. So starting school, I really tried to find the basics - dress pants, a few dresses to throw on, blouses that came up high enough to cover cleavage, and comfortable shoes. This all takes time - you have to try a lot of things before you find the pieces you want to spend your money on. Years ago, I used to just buy whatever I thought was cute, without really thinking about how it fit on my body and into my lifestyle. Having a set clothing budget has really forced me to think about everything before I buy it, so I'm not taking money out of my budget for something I don't actually love.
Is it difficult to maintain a relationship with another medical student? I don't think so - I think it works out really well! CR and I met during our first year of medical school, so we've been going through this whole process together, and I couldn't be more thankful. During the first two years, we knew how much the other had to study, so there were never arguments about studying too much or not spending time together (an issue I know many med students have with non-medical significant others). While we don't "study together" we did study "together" - as in, we sat across from each other every day, but didn't actively learn together. I think this was such a blessing, especially when it came to board studying. We studied as much as we had to, but were able to just take a quick walk or chat for a few minutes throughout the day.
Now that we are in our clinical rotations, we understand what the other is going through with the hours, the effort you put in, and the studying you have to do when you get home. Some months we are both super busy or our schedules don't line up at all, but other months we are both on less intense rotations, and get to have a bit more fun. I think dating another medical student is great :) Related: 3 study tips to help material stick, long study day check-list
How do you maintain work-life balance with such a demanding career? What does work-life balance look like to you? I think it's all about making time for the things that are important to you. Things that are important to me include making sure CR and I are connecting (which means sitting down and talking about our days, making dinner together, going to the gym, watching an episode of The Office before going to bed), that my dogs are happy, and that I have time to work on my blog. For me, I like working on my blog, so while I could instead be napping or watching TV (which, lets be honest, both still happen too), I like being a bit more go-go-go and working on something. Again, this varies from rotation to rotation. On general surgery, I generally left home at 4 AM, got home at 6 PM, and went to bed at 8 PM - there wasn't a lot of work life balance there! The next month, I worked 8-5 and had a lot more time. I think it's important to just be flexible and try to find the good things about each week/rotation.
How do you manage medical school with taking care of dogs? Were any puppies during medical school? I got Hans and Baer in college - they are both six years old now, so luckily we were out of the puppy phase by the time I started school. I got really lucky during my first two years of medical school because my roommate loved the dogs as if they were her own. She preferred to study at home while I studied at the library, so she often took them out or put them to bed for me. Now I live with my boyfriend, and our rotations tend to flip flop in how long we are at work every day, so the animals are well taken care of. It really worked out well!
What does your ideal career look like? My ideal career is one that I'm passionate about - I want to go into work every day excited about the work ahead, and not dreading it. I want to connect with my patients and be there for them during the exciting process of having a baby. I work with an attending whose patients just absolutely adore her (hell, I adore her!) and that's just like my shining star of what I want to be some day.
At the same time, no matter what I go in to, I want to be able to have a family. Being in medicine and possibly being with another person in medicine, that means I will probably need some outside help taking care of everything, but I want to be able to spend time with my family. I've had conversations with several women in medicine who all say it can absolutely be done, you just have to make it a priority. I think that's something that rings true for everyone in any field - you just have to make the things that are the most important to you a priority.
Where do you see yourself in five years? In five years, I'll be close to finishing my residency (YAY!), and hopefully there will be a kid or two in the mix :)
What sacrifices have you made for your career? I think that this is something that many people are afraid to talk about, and therefore many people don't think about when it comes to people in medicine. There are quite a few sacrifices I've made and am making to do this. I moved 700 miles away from my family. I see them maybe once a year - I've missed weddings, Christmases, and family vacations because of school. I've seen my sister one time in three years. I miss my family all the time.
I'm also 28 - I'm one of the last people in my high school class who isn't married and or has kids. I'd love to be married and be working on a family, there aren't a lot of things in life I want more than to be a mom, but at this point in time and my career, that's not something I think I can handle, especially without family around. This is a something that many women in my class think and talk about - more than 20 men in our class have had babies since we started school....and one woman has. That's just part of the sacrifice of doing all of this.
There are of course little things we sacrifice - our sleep, our youth, our free time - but that's just something I've very much come to accept ;)
That was great right?? Leave questions/compliments for Fran below! If you're new to the site, check out previous career profiles, the medical school page, the pre-med page, and the frequently asked questions page. You can email me (Elyse) here and get a behind the scenes look into my life on instagram.