Gift Guide for the Stressed Out Med Student

It’s that time of year, when shopping malls are packed, holiday lights are sparkling and gift guides are everywhere. But what about those poor medical students, delaying their winter festivities as they work away on school? Sometimes we get bogged down with end of season homework, exams and rotations and the stress gets a little overwhelming. So while we med students are toiling away and you’re out Christmas shopping, think about us! And if you’re specifically shopping for the stressed out medical student in your life, may I make a few suggestions?

1. Wooden Bathtub Rack

61vtxZTprtL._SL1000_.jpg

As a busy fourth year medical student, I am always looking for ways to multitask. Sometimes that means doing some reading on the treadmill, but with the cold weather lately I’ve been especially enjoying reading medical journals with a long bath. It feels like I’m still being productive but also getting some down time to treat myself. This bathrack from Amazon is super impressive – it is sturdy and well made, fits almost any tub size, and is cleverly designed to hold a phone, a candle, a wine glass, and a book or iPad. Pretty much the perfect combination in my books!

2. Medelita Underscrubs

1.dounia_grey_core_tee_0096-featured_1.jpg

Nothing is better than being comfortable around the house – wether studying, lounging, or a mix of both. If you’re looking for something high quality and durable to keep you or your med student cozy, then you need to checkout the Medelita Core One Long Sleeve Tee. Like all of Medelita’s products, it is beautifully designed with a focus on excellent material, and this one will last you from gym to work to home, so really you’re giving multiple gifts with one item, right? Use the code POSHPIT5 to get 20% off your order!

3. Decorative Candles

modern_urban-desktop

I don’t know if I speak for everyone, but candles are a staple of self-care and relaxation for me. It immediately just feels luxurious to light one, it seems to calm down the whole atmosphere, and most of them have divine scents that you can’t go wrong with. Personally I’ve had my eye on the Paddywax candles. They have so many unique designs, including some super stylish modern concrete ones, and the smells are unreal. I would recommend the tobacco and patchouli scent!

4. Face Masks

7f69c47a-d336-49d7-a513-890f5c3b8ce2.jpeg

Another example of a simple little thing that just feels luxurious and like a treat. I don’t always have time for a facemask but when I do I feel like patting myself on the back for taking care of myself and my skin. I may or may not have a slight obsession with facemasks and have so many in my arsenal. Somehow though I find myself always going back to the Herbivore Blue Tansy Resurfacing Clarity Mask. When you first put it on it feels light and like it might not be effective, but it always seems to whip my skin into shape. I don’t even like their Lapis Oil which has the same enchanting shade of blue, but I’m currently on my second jar of this stuff because it.just.works.

5. Gym Membership

pexels-photo-373946.jpeg

This one may not be a typical Christmas gift, but if you know your med student well enough, you should have an idea if this is something they would like. Personally, I’m all in. Gym memberships are a great way to stay in shape or burn off some extra steam, but sometimes they can be so expensive! Take the stress of another bill off their hands by getting a one month (or one year if you’re feeling generous!) pass to their favourite gym. Alternative ideas including a new gym bag or gym clothes to help them out.

6. Under Eye Patches

81ZtMfpHAIL._SX522_.jpg

I swear this is not the same category as facemasks, because under eye patches are revolutionary. Facemasks feel nice at the end of a day, but under eye patches just work anytime. Doing your makeup and don’t want something under your eyes to catch your eyeshadow fall off? Eye patch. Exhausted to the point that concealer isn’t enough? Eye patch. Crying over yet another quiz when all you want is eggnog? Eye patch. My personal favourites are the Patchology FlashPatch Eye Gels because they’re thick and hydrating and really stick nicely. Pro tip? Stick them in the fridge for an extra cooling experience – you’ll thank me later.

7. Study Snacks

Screen Shot 2018-11-30 at 3.42.49 PM.png

Sure it may not be the best for your, sure it doesn’t fix everything, but is candy ever really a bad idea? Make your favourite med student feel extra special by picking up a box of the trendy Sugarfina candies. They have so many cute flavours, and these Sparkling Rose Gummy Bears will help them feel like they’re almost enjoying a chilled glass of wine, instead of chugging another coffee. Almost.

8. Plant Growing Kit

61qcuQpdeNL._SL1250_.jpg

Sometimes studying by yourself can get lonely, but getting a puppy might be a bit of an increased commitment. Make things a little easier for them by gifting a cute plan kit, something that is easy to grow and will hopefully live all year round. It will brighten up their space and add some much needed life to a dreary day of studying. I personally think air plants are great because they’re so low maintenance and you can get so many cute ways to display them, like this ceramic hanging planter.

9. Microwaveable Body Wrap

origins_sku_0T6801_1000x1000_0.jpg

Sometimes when you’re stressed you carry your tension in your shoulders, and if you’re a student this is more likely to be true given time spend hunched over a desk (or the OR table for students on a surgery rotation). As nice as a massage might be, think of something a bit more low key and reusable like a microwaveable body wrap. This one from Origins is infused with lavender and eucalyptus for double the relaxing properties.

10. Black Out Curtains

811-ewcuWBL._SL1500_.jpg

Another slightly less exciting but totally awesome gift idea: black out curtains. These things can get expensive especially if you want a nice pair, but they’re also super practical. Sometimes your sleep cycle can get messed up depending on your rotation and schedule and this is really nice to help you sleep without sunlight interrupting. Look for a sturdy pair in a colour that matches their decor – many black out curtains only come in black, but these Miuco ones have an array of colour that makes them more appropriate for most rooms!

BONUS: Silk Eye Mask

Want to combine luxury, unexpected surprises, and a great sleep? Consider the Slip Sleep Mask (say that five times fast). Just like their silky pillowcases, these eye masks are made with silk to prevent creases and be super soft.

SLIP_Pink_SleepMask_ShotA_820x.jpg

Overall, there should be lots of options here to get you started on gifting something for your favourite medical student. At the end of the day, think about the little things you can do to alleviate their stress or spoil them a bit. More than anything though, just thought is enough to show you care, and that means more than anything else. Any other gifts you would suggest? Leave a comment below if you have ideas!

How I store and organize my makeup

Its an age old problem – at least for those of us with a beauty addiction. Where and how do you store all of your makeup and skincare products? In the last few years I’ve really picked up a lot of products, from sponsorships to Ipsy items, Sephora samples to actual purchases. The result is that I found myself storing my beauty products all over the place, and never reaching for new or different items because they just weren’t visible and/or accessible.

So this year, when I moved for my medical school clerkship, I decided it was finally time to sort out the problem and get my makeup and items all in neat order. Maybe its just me, but there is something so totally satisfying about everything having a home and knowing where to find the products I want.

The first step was finding the bits and pieces to store it all in. I knew I wanted lots of clear acrylic dividers to make it easy to see things, and I picked up most of those at the dollar store. Then it was a trip to Ikea to find the storage units I wanted. I know a lot of people like using the Ikea Alex drawers (Left) but I wanted something that I could have two of, and a little smaller. I was afraid that the Alex drawers were too tall, which (1) would look bulky and (2) would just encourage me to get more stuff. My goal was to only keep enough beauty products to fill the space I designed, no more, so I wanted to make it relatively compact. I also liked the idea of labelling things, so it was love at first sight when I saw Ikea Helmer unit (Right). I didn’t like the wheels but figured I could just not put those on. So off I went, and got two of those.

 

The next step was to find a desk or workstation that I could put over top of my drawers to give me a working counter space. I carefully measured out the height of the Helmer units without wheels, as well as the depth, and then kept my eye out for something that would suit my needs. I was lucky and came across a sale at AllModern, where I was able to snag their Leo Console Table for half price! It was simple, white – which kept with my aesthetic – and had the perfect dimensions. It is still available for full price, and I’ve linked it below.

Leo+Console+Table.jpg
Leo Console Table from AllModern, $149.99 here

I finally had the skeletons of my setup done! Given this was all being set-up while I moved homes and started my clerkship year, it took a while for it to all come together. I arranged my makeup into the 12 drawers, which I then further divided with my acrylic dividers and labelled. For anyone curious, the 12 drawers I have are:

  • Lipstick (which I’ve sorted by colour groups)
  • Lipgloss and stains
  • Blush and Highlighter
  • Eye Makeup
  • Face products (this includes foundations, powders etc.)
  • Body products (mostly just lotions and creams)
  • Face masks (I’m obsessed with face masks so there’s a lot in this drawer)
  • Skin care (a lot of my skincare I keep in my bathroom so this has my extras, samples etc.)
  • Hair products
  • Products to review (this is where any sponsored products go while I’m testing or waiting to review them)
  • Products to gift/give away
  • Samples (It’s so nice to have a drawer for all my foils and random samples, and it reminds me to try things out)

This was all fine and dandy, but quite a boring set up, so then came time for some of my final touches! I wanted somewhere to put my day-to-day basic makeup easily in reach, and I came across some products by Kate and Laurel that were just too perfect to pass up! They weren’t exactly cheap but the white and gold was exactly what I had in mind to match the rest of my room.  The first was the Industrious Desktop File Folder Organizer, which had a few slots that I knew would fit my palettes, a ledge on the front to put some bottles that I use often, and two drawers for other products. In the end these two drawers have my primer, setting spray, mascara, eyebrow products, and concealer, products that I tend to use every day no matter what the look I’m doing is. The other item I got was the matching white and gold Industrious Magazine Holder, which now stores my copies of Vogue.

 

To top it all off, I added a few little details using things I already had lying around the house. I put a few pretty bottles out, I put my makeup brushes in an old candle jar, and I used a big mirror that I originally had leaning in a corner and propped it up on the desk to be my makeup mirror. And are you ready to see the final results??

Drumroll please . . .

IMG_0953It may not look like much, but together with the white and gold accents in my room, its the perfect set up for me. It’s efficient, organized, and laid out exactly how I want. It also forces me to keep my makeup hoarding to a minimum! The only thing I would change is turning those silver accents into the same gold as the Kate and Laurel products, but I’m a student on a budget and we can’t all be perfect!

A close up of some other details include the desktop organizer with my day to day makeup, my magazine holder with my Vogue copies, and some of the labels I set up on my drawers.

And there you have it, the way I store and organize my makeup! I hope that gives you an idea of how I lay everything out and maybe even inspires anyone whose looking to find a better way to store your own makeup and products. Feedback or comments? Leave them below!

Suture Kits – Which One Is For You?

When many of us first started medical school, skills were exciting and new, and we were eager to practise them. I was no exception and I remember going to a conference meant for first year medical students, where I snuck into a suturing workshop. I was that determined to learn how to suture, knowing that I would be aiming for Obstetrics and Gynaecology and would require a good handle on the skill.

I was addicted from the start. I went home that day and hopped online and ordered a suture kit so I could practise at home. With no one in my circles who practised medicine, its not like I could borrow tools from friends or family and practise on bananas, so I went ahead and got my first set of tools and a practise suture pad. In fact when my dog tore his favourite toy, I actually did some “stuffed animal surgery” and practised on it! You can see my dog in the photo below was quite worried, and apparently didn’t trust my skills yet. In the years since, I’ve had a lot more practise, and have developed a much broader range of skills. From different mattress stitches, to practising perineal repairs (photo below), I’ve expanded my horizon.

I’ve also stumbled across a few suture kits in this time. With more experience and a variety of suture kits behind me, I feel like its time I share a bit more about which suture kits I’ve tried and why you might prefer one over the other. Read on and find out what might suit you best!

 

For the First Time Suturer

When you first start suturing, it is a whole learning curve that takes time and patience. Whereas I’m currently practising new grasping techniques and hand tying, I didn’t get here without a lot of practise. The first couple stitches I threw were hardly beautiful. In fact they were awkward, slow, and felt unnatural. The skills quickly came to me (thank you Girl Guides for the knot tying experience!) but I had to do so. much. repetition.

If you’re on a similar page and just learning, I would recommend getting your hands on a SimVivo kit. These kits are brilliant! I was sent one a few months ago, and was thoroughly impressed by the entire kit. (Contents pictured below).

As you’ll see from the pictures, your kit comes with a training guide, a suture pad with templates on it, a few sets of sutures, and three tools: suture scissors, a needle holder, and toothed forceps, as well as a #10 blade. According to the SimVivo website, “The Sim*Suture Module will help the learner practice skills of simple interrupted and running suture, instrument tying, vertical mattress sutures, and running subcuticular sutures.” The website also has a bunch of videos to teach you the sutures that are in the training manual.

The tools are pretty hefty and have a nice solid feel to them. They’re branded with the SimVivo logo on them, but seem to work well for their purpose. I used to hate toothed forceps but I’ve gotten a lot better at using them, so this is a good way to get that comfort level. The sutures come with 10 in a back in a variety of sizes which is good because you might be using sutures for a variety of reasons. I also really like the training module and videos because you can really teach yourself – this would make it the perfect gift for even a premed or someone who just got into medical school/pa school/nursing!

Like I mentioned above, I would recommend this kit to a beginner because it goes right from the start to teach you some very basic skills. That being said, it is pretty limited beyond that. For anyone who is looking to get a realistic feel, the suture pad doesn’t stretch or gape the same way you might get in real tissue, nor does it have many layers. I’ve definitely seen better suture pads for mimicking this (keep reading below). Furthermore, the lines on the template pad are very simple. All that being said, I think the idea is that its meant to be simple. To that effect, SimVivo is a perfect kit for a first year learner or someone just looking to practise their basic foundational skills a little more

 

For the Experienced Suturer

Fast forward three years, to clerkship. This is a huge part of medical school, and many people say it is the most formative year. I would say it has the biggest learning curve. You go from merely reading and listening to didactic lectures, to being hands on, seeing patients, and practising under doctors who teach you live and in person. There is a lot of nerves that comes with this, but I personally found it very exciting. In fact I had the most ideal first day at the start of my clerkship year – I got to deliver a baby, and excise a lesion all within the first morning. As someone going for Obstetrics and Gynaecology, it was perfect! I got to see a delivery then practise some valuable suturing skills. Even better was the fact that my preceptor was really impressed with my excision and suturing skills, and wrote a review on my first day about how my suturing was above my expected skill level… thank you to all my suturing practise!

It was also really nice to have the affirmation that I’ve learned a lot and have a lot of great skills that I’m working on. The key word here is “working on”, because the learning process never ends. While I may have been capable of doing suturing for a simple excision, I might not be ready to do all the different sutures a surgeon would expect, and that’s where this next kit comes in.

If you’re looking for a kit that will challenge you, that is realistic, and that has all the components you could ever need, look no further than the Simulab BOSS Platform. Simulab offers a huge range of products for learners and simulations. The BOSS platform, which stands for Basic Open Surgical Skills, is probably what I would most recommend off their website for anyone learning to suture and wanting the full experience.

As you can see from the stock photo above and left, it comes with a lot of materials, which I have more specific photos of below from my own personal kit. What I love about this the most is how realistic some of it felt. The simulation tissues were slippery, they had layers to them, and most importantly, the board was designed to provide tension and shape like you might find in a real situation. There are clips on the bottom half of the board to clip samples into place, or you can put one of the three pads that it comes with into the curved tension piece on the top right.

The variety of practise simulation tissue you get is also pretty amazing. There is subcuticular tissue, complex tissue, injectable tissue, large intestine tissue, and a multi tissue structure with lots of shapes (all simulation of course).

If I haven’t stressed it enough, the diversity in this kit is fantastic. You can practise hand tying, tying under tension, there are a variety of ways you can clip things, you can add a cup to practise tying in depth… you can see from my photos that I just was loving this kit and did as much as I could with it.

Like the SimVivo kit, it comes with a worksheet type page. This one is laminated which I think makes it a bit more sustainable long term. I would say this is more for the experienced sutures however because the challenges require some pretty solid knowledge of the skills. For example, there are time limits and “penalties” that make you restart if you mess up a set of skills you’re practising on. I actually really liked this because it was realistic to me, you can’t break sutures over and over, or drop them, or take your sweet time (at least not always!).

IMG_0196.JPG

Overall, this is my favourite kit out of the mix because it comes with so much, it challenges me in all the right ways, and you really get your bang for your buck. Speaking of which, it is a fairly expensive kit, but I have gotten hours of practise out of it and would recommend it anyways – the value is there, and you can’t put a price on practising skills! Oh how I wish I could afford the perineal training tool, but knowing how much I’ve loved the BOSS kit, I would absolutely consider it.

 

For the Discerning Suturer or to Restock

The last set I’m going to recommend isn’t really a set but rather a great website to stock up on tools and supplies. Wether you’re a first time sutures looking for the basics, a discerning sutures with a preference for tools that you want to pick yourself, or you just need a few extra sutures to practise with, Faux Medical is the place for you.

I actually got myself a full set of supplies from here pretty early on in medical school. It’s a nice small set that is easy to tote around, and because you can order supplies individually, I was able to get flat nosed forceps (before I graduated to toothed forceps), which allowed me to get a feel for the tools and really decide what I liked. They’re also a really nice quality. The price range of these supplies are really reasonable, so its a good starting point for anyone not really sure where they fit in this post based on skill.

 

 

Final Thoughts

I hope this post has provided some guidance on suture kits for anyone out there looking for them. For a quick recap, here’s my final thoughts:

  • SimVivo:
    • Pro: Perfect for the beginner. Simple and easy to learn.
    • Con: Not very realistic, limited
  • Simulab:
    • Pro: Their BOSS kit is fantastic for the aspiring surgeon, and really high quality
    • Con: The price is pretty steep
  • FauxMedical:
    • Pro: Good quality at a reasonable price
    • Con: You have to know what you’re shopping for

Happy suturing!