June 30, 2017

Week 1 of clerkships, and a little bit about the dissertation submission process

Today marks the end of my 1st week back to medical school, as a 3rd year student on the wards.  (Is it more grammatically correct to say “in the wards” or “on the wards”?  Hmm…) It’s been a pretty crazy ride so far, and I have to say, post-call day was pretty brutal.

So just to walk you through my week, I’ve basically been waking up around 6am this week to make it in on time at 7am (and I’m fortunate that my commute is about a <10 min walk) to be able to look up what happened to my patient overnight, check in with them, and get my thoughts organized before we round at 9am.  Generally I’ve been staying until around 4:30-5pm, sometimes just to go over my notes for the day.  On call day (Wednesday this week – it happens every 5 days), I got in at around the same time, but stayed until ~9pm, and post-call day, I had to wake up at ~4am to get in at 5am to prep for rounding at 7am to go over the patients the night shift team needed to pass over to us.  I still got out around 4:30pm that day.  So as you can imagine, that’s been pretty rough.

After I get back, I’ve been working on revising and sending out our manuscript the first couple nights to a new journal, and then yesterday I got an e-mail about minor edits for my dissertation, so I spent a couple hours fixing that on post-call night (after first taking a nap for a couple of hours), and finally got the final acceptance for that this morning.  Whoo hoo!  That also means I haven’t had any time to study/catch-up yet though, so I’ve been doing pretty poorly in terms of answering questions from the attending/residents.  It’s to the point where our attending didn’t even bother asking me questions when he went over antibiotics with us this afternoon, which is pretty much when you know you’re in bad shape. Sigh.

Anyway, also just wanted to give a brief overview of the dissertation submission process, (at least at our school) since I haven’t had a chance to yet, and did just happen to finish that today.  Basically, ~2 weeks before the PhD defense, you’re supposed to submit your dissertation to all of your committee members.  They review the file, and depending on the department, they’ll either give you feedback before your defense, or after.  My department does that after for some reason, so I didn’t see any edits until after my defense.  Then, you have 10 business days (aka 2 weeks) to make all the edits your committee requires, which can be either minor or extensive, depending.  Mine were pretty minor for the most part, luckily, but since I’m somewhat of a perfectionist, I also went back and fixed wording, added citations, fixed figures, etc.  That last one took an extremely long time to figure out because Microsoft Word for some reason was not converting pictures right, so I tried asking for help, and that person didn’t get back to me until the day before it was due (and actually they made one thing worse and didn’t fix any of the issues at all), so it was quite a bit of a panic there at the end.  Extremely fortunately for me, I was supposed to meet up with a computer engineer friend for lunch that last day, and he finally figured out the rather crude, but effective, method of print-screening the figures really large on a big monitor and copy-pasting into Word.  So there’s a tip for you, if you ever have issues with importing images into Word!

Anyway, after finally submitting it, then we wait until the graduate school looks over it and sends an e-mail with any formatting or other issues that need to be fixed.  I got that e-mail yesterday, made my revisions (and went through everything again with a fine-toothed comb to check for (many) spacing errors and typos), sent it in, and got the e-mail back this morning saying it was officially accepted.  Apparently sometimes that last step can go back and forth for a bit – another MSTP who went back a rotation before me and is now on the same rotation as me said it took him a couple weeks of going back and forth with the graduate school before it got accepted, but I think he also didn’t realize that some of his changes threw off other formatting, so maybe that’s why it took longer.  But anyway, there you have it!  That’s the dissertation submission process in a nutshell.   And it’s past my bedtime nowadays, so goodnight!

April 27, 2017

Got the green light to write! (And a little about the graduation process)

Filed under: "Me" updates,Grad school,Research — sanguinemare @ 1:08 am
Tags: , , ,

Today, I had my (hopefully) last committee meeting before my thesis defense.  Basically, I presented the data I had thus far and asked whether they thought I had done enough work to graduate in the summer.  They said yes, praise God!  So I will be defending my thesis in early June, in time for starting medical school on schedule at the end of June (well, actually I found out that the rest of the class actually starts next week, oddly enough, on block “6A”, whereas the end of June one is called “1A”, but anyway…). The timing only gives me a week or two at home before starting back again, but at least there’s a little break, and it gives me an extra two weeks or so to write than I would have had if we’d done it at the end of May (my PI is out of town until early June, so that was the earliest that was feasible).

I’m not sure if it’s the same at all schools, just to walk you through the graduation process a bit, here’s our rough graduation process.  After the committee agrees you can graduate soon, we have to turn in an “application for degree form”, after which the graduate school will give us an approval form that we need to fill out and return to them 2 weeks before our defense at the latest.  This form will be the official confirmation to the school that we are defending, and they apparently put it on a school-wide calendar.  We also have to turn in our entire written dissertation (usually ~100 pages long) to our committee 2 weeks before the defense date so they can read over all the materials in preparation for the defense.  Then, we have our public, oral defense, where we present our work over the last few years to the public, and then we have a private defense after, where the committee decides whether the student has enough proficiency in their area to be awarded a PhD.  If this thesis defense is passed, we then make the final edits to the dissertation and need to submit the written thesis to the graduate school, where I think it gets bound and also put online.

In my program, the thesis itself can be either in the traditional format (an introduction, a body which has multiple chapters describing work done, and a conclusion), or a “3-paper model”, where essentially 3 individual papers are written up, which become chapters in the dissertation, and they are sandwiched between an introduction and conclusion.  That’s the route I’m going, because it seems the simplest way, especially since I’ve gotten one paper published already.

Ok, time to head to bed – tomorrow’s the all-day orientation for MS-3 year (pretty crazy to think that it’s finally happening!) so better get some rest before that.

Until next time!

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