Brief Update

Sorry everyone for my lack of blogging. It’s been a crazy few months. Since I last blogged in October, I have completed all of my residency interviews in general surgery! Interview season was exciting, terrifying, exhausting, and expensive. I will find out on March 20 where I will spend the next 5 or 6 years! Actually, I find out IF I matched on March 16, and if I did, WHERE on March 20. Until then, I wait patiently. Residency interviews are interesting and very different than medical school interviews – a lot of the time they were either telling me the best parts of their program, or asking me about who I was, and everyone always asked about jiu jitsu!! It’s a good feeling to know that they think you’re qualified since you made it to the interview, and at that point they just want to make sure you’re the kind of person who would fit into their program.  Life during fourth year has been pretty great, and I can say with 100% confidence I have not worked for a full day since the end of October. Storing up sleep for those 80+ hours I start in July!

As for jiu jitsu, my shoulder started acting up in November from an AC separation I had back on the mats in March, so I had to cut way back on training. Plus, I was gone so often for interviews. In December I got a steroid shot into the shoulder, and it was incredible the pain relief I got! So I’m officially back on the mats. Our academy is growing, especially in terms of how many women there are! A few months back four of my jiu jitsu sisters got promoted to blue belt, so there are officially 6 blue belt females at our academy and a white belt! That’s quite a change from the days when I first started and was the only girl in the adult class. It’s great that more women are getting into the sport! And especially because I usually have at least 3 great training partners close to my size when I train.

The Ribeiro Toledo female blue belts

The Ribeiro Toledo female blue belts

Just figured I’d give a brief update. Next week I’ll talk about the promotion ceremony we had a while ago, and introduce you to the new Ribeiro black belts! Stay tuned.

Oh, and I learned to shoot! Not bad, I’d say for my first time, my favorite part is the unintentionally, but perfectly placed shot to the right carotid artery in the right neck!  shooting


Fourth Year Interim Summary

Wow. It’s been a really long time since I’ve written. What’s happened in the interim? I finished my 3rd year of medical school. I took and passed step 2 CK and CS of my licensing boards. I started fourth year, and have finished 3 full months of surgery electives. And finally, I applied to residency programs!

My second surgery month was an away rotation on a surgical oncology elective. I couldn’t wait to wake up at 4am every day because I loved the hospital, I loved the surgeries, and even more I loved my patients. They kept me coming back each and every day because they were the most hopeful, motivated, and some of the greatest people I’ve ever met. I worked hard, but I also got to enjoy some days off to see the city.

Two of my days off I had the privilege of training jiu jitsu at the Relson Gracie academy with Robin Gieseler. The guys and girls there were extremely welcoming and I had some really tough matches! It was great to be back on the mats, even if only for two days, after being away for so long. Visiting a new academy is always a fun and challenging experience, at least from what I’ve found. Everyone has a different game they like to play, and it’s always good to have your game challenged by a completely new partner.  I found a surgical specialty that I quickly fell in love with, because as you’ll recall I loved my oncology rotation during my medicine rotation as a third year medical student. Surgical oncology combined the best of my love of surgery with a love I have for helping cancer patients once again find hope.

Right now, I’m writing this from my couch in KY where I am currently on a trauma surgery elective. I can honestly say I have never been so busy in my life. We consistently have a patient census of greater than 60 patients who we round on and take care of every day. It has taught me great management skills and organization. It’s quite the change from to the fast paced world of trauma surgery, but I have learned so much! Trauma surgery is high paced, intense, and so much fun! 

 Tomorrow  I’ll be heading home to Toledo for the rest of the year. I’m excited to get home to my family, my friends, and my jiu jitsu family. I’ll start going on interviews for residency as well. It’s a year of firsts and lasts and it’s already flying by! Every day I am so incredibly grateful to be on this journey, sometimes I can’t even believe how lucky I am.

The End of an Era

My EMT-B license officially expired on my birthday, a few days ago. I have been a certified EMT-B since 2008. Some of the greatest moments in my life, my greatest accomplishments, and my greatest friends were made through EMS. It is a part of my life I will never forget and I will forever cherish all the memories.

I was a freshman in college when I became an EMT-B with people who became my best college and lifelong friends. I spent a summer with the Sylvania Township Fire Department and had one of the greatest summers of my life where I got to be on the front lines of emergency medicine and meet some awesome FF/paramedics who helped me get into medical school. I became chief of EMS at John Carroll. and worked with the future doctors of America saving the life of one college kid at a time. I went to Washington DC and Baltimore with my college EMS for the national conferences. And through all of that, I realized that I was meant to spend the rest of my life in medicine. So, here’s to an end of that era.

Some would say I was obsessed with life as an EMT during college, and looking back I definitely was. But it got me the friends I have, and it got me into medical school. And for that, I will never regret that decision!

Thank you to everyone who made it so special! Here are some of the best moments during these years 🙂

EMS Conference in Washington DC

EMS Conference in Washington DC


Relay for Life with the UH Firefighters

EMS Conference in Baltimore

EMS Conference in Baltimore


Prior Chief and Best EMS/Nurse


JCU EMS at Relay for Life




Chief, Assistant Chief, and Deputy Chief!

Chief, Assistant Chief, and Deputy Chief!

2011 JCU EMS Seniors

2011 JCU EMS Seniors

The CCF EMT instructors

The CCF EMT instructors

My EMT-B Class at the Cleveland Clinic!

My EMT-B Class at the Cleveland Clinic!


A fantastic life moment.

My FAVORITE Fire Dept Shift!

My FAVORITE Fire Dept Shift!


The place where I lived during college.


My (In)Glorious Return to BJJ

Since the start of third year of med school I have been extremely inconsistent with my BJJ training. In part because of long hours with studying piled on top of that and also in part because I have awful time management skills. Add to that the months I’ve been away for rotations, the times I was sick, and the times I really did work until 10pm and you’ve got quite a disjointed training schedule.

I just came back from a 3 week break while I was on a rotation in Michigan. And when you return to BJJ, here are the top things you notice:

The first thing you notice when you get back is how much you’ve missed your BJJ family. You walk through the door and are immediately met with mixed greetings such as the sarcastic “oh, first day? Here, I’ll show you around” or “you guys remember Meghan, she used to train here forever ago” to the genuine “welcome back! We’ve missed you” or the “Meghan’s back!”.  And you appreciate each and every one of those, because you know you’re truly part of their family if they’ve got enough sense to mess with you.

What’s the second thing you notice? You inevitably forgot something because you’re bad at packing your bag. Belt- check. Gi-check. Sports bra-check. Fight shorts-check. Rash guard-dang it! Luckily you always keep an extra set of gym clothes in the car. Hair tie-shoot! Good thing many girls train, you snag an extra from one of them. You’ll get better again with practice.

The third thing? You really didn’t “forget” much. You still remember how to move and while you’re drilling you’re breaking free some of that rust in your brain. But DANG are you out of shape! It doesn’t matter that while you were gone you were running 4-5 times a week. BJJ in-shape is an entirely different animal. And you, my friend, have not tamed it (kind of like your hair at that moment, you’ve gotta remember how to keep it from looking like a wild monkey attack).

The fourth thing? This is my favorite. Sure, you’ve been gone for a while, and sure you’ve been inconsistent with your training, but when you start that first match during open mat it doesn’t matter because muscle memory kicks in. And yeah, you’re a little ‘white belt spazzy’ all over again, but hey – you’re pulling guard and sweeping and getting out of mount like you haven’t missed a beat (until the guys pull out their new tricks and you find yourself in an uncomfortable submission and remember the humility in tapping).

So overall, a return to the mat is never without its flaws, and it may not be the glamorous return like a movie star to the silver screen after a break, but hey – if you can keep coming back you’re well on your way to black belt. Because if you’re crazy enough to ENJOY getting beat up on a daily basis and actually WANT to go back after a break, your mind is set on the path.

Like my coach says, you’re either one day closer to quitting or one day closer to black belt! (Spazzy inglorious blue belt return and all!)

Thanks to all my favorite teammates for welcoming me back then showing me my game needs a lot of work 🙂

sign 1

Learning Outside of Books

My internal medicine attending told me “there’s so much more to learn than just what is in your books”. This IM rotation has proven that time and time again. I would like to share:

I picked up a patient on my inpatient general IM rotation who was a 80something woman who came in for dehydration and AKI. Turned out she was in lactic acidosis due to a necrotic gallbladder and severe heart failure. My resident asked if I wanted to lead a discussion with the patient, and later her POA, about her code status. It was so much more difficult than I ever could have imagined. I turned their world upside down – she was just dehydrated and now we’re sending her to inpatient hospice? Walking through it for the first time with my resident there for backup was definitely an incredible learning experience in how to break bad news to patients, and then being with them every step of the way until she was transferred to hospice. Nothing will ever make me forget the tearful hug her husband gave me when they left thanking me for taking care of his wife better than he could at that point.

It seems, unfortunately bad news is going to be something I deal with quite often. I’m on a rotation in Michigan and am working on a general medicine service, but it is on the oncology floor – so we take care of everything but the chemotherapy regiment for patients. We have young patients who just recently found out their abdominal pain was metastatic adenocarcinoma and are starting chemo, patients who just found out they have a brain tumor, and everything in between. These cancer patients cease to amaze me. They are so strong and even though they feel awful they greet you with a smile every day. Today when I came in to see my patient who got their diagnosis a week ago she was vomiting from the chemo. She washed her face, came and sat on the bed, and smiled and wished me a good morning. Good morning! I asked how she was doing and if we could make her feel better in any way. After we talked for a while she told me that life is too short to be anything but happy, hopeful, and full of love for life.

Life in the hospital is never the same from day to day, but one thing will never change – the patients will always be the greatest teachers. No textbook can ever teach you how to connect with patients or how to have hope even when you’re told it’s hopeless

So, like my patient said – BE HAPPY, HOPEFUL, AND FULL OF LOVE! 



Life Decisions

Match day was a few weeks ago for the fourth year med students across the country, where they found out where and in what program they will be spending the next 3-6 years! It’s a day full of excitement for all med students as we can see the light at the end of the tunnel.

For me, and for some of my classmates, however it was a source of stress. In less than 5 months we will officially submit our ERAS application for residency spots in our chosen specialty field. There are several of us who are still undecided on what we are going to apply to! It makes it easier to know that there are people in the same position as you, when it seems like everyone is applying for away rotations and looking at what programs they want to apply to. I’m just walking around the hospital trying to figure out what I can see myself doing for the rest of my life.

This is when the incredible community of medical students shines through. When you look terribly confused or upset, there is always someone around the corner willing to help. It’s what I love most about my med school class. On a day where you feel like you’re in the wrong field, you’ll never be able to choose a specialty, or are on a downward spiral thinking you’ll never match, there is a friend right there to reset your thinking with positive thoughts. I am so grateful for the wonderful people that are in my class who help me through my semi-daily panic attacks on these large life decisions, because they are in the same place I am.


There’s one thing I’m told over and over again… listen to your heart it already knows what you’re meant to do. Which is easier said than done. Mostly because there are so many factors to take into account when choosing a specialty – Do I have a competitive board score? Does it have the lifestyle I want? Can I raise a family? Would I be happy? Do I want to work with my hands or my brain? Do I like the OR? Do I like the clinic? Do I like the hospital? It’s a long, complicated soul-searching process. While it’s a journey each of us has to travel alone, we are never truly alone. On a daily basis I have med friends texting me with words of encouragement and advice.

Other truly wonderful are the attendings and residents at UTMC. Because one of my considerations is general surgery and my general surgery rotation was rather slow, a surgeon is letting me take my spring break week this week to work with him. A neurology chief resident sent me a long email all about the pros and cons of choosing neurology. The orthopedic surgeons were willing to offer any advice on choosing away rotations. A family medicine doctor told me to call her any time if I need any help with the application or choosing a specialty process. These doctors go above and beyond to help, and it’s something so special about UTMC.

So to everyone out there who is still unsure of where they belong, don’t fear. There are some of us who are with you! And to those of you who know what you want, congratulations!


Family Medicine

Study break writing time!

First, let me say that family medicine has exceeded all my expectations and has surprised me more than any other of my rotations. I have met who I consider to be some of the best doctors on this rotation. And because of that, I began running a little mini survey. I decided to find out what makes these doctors so great. I’ve polled patients, the nurses, fellow med students on rotation, and even the residents and attendings. I’ve asked what they think makes a great doctor.


Here’s some of my favorite quotes:

Patient – “I think Dr. X is a great doctor because I feel like I can tell him anything and he will actually care enough to take care of it or send me to someone who can. He’s the first doctor who sees me as a person, not their 10:30 HTN recheck

Patient – “You know, I’ve got 6 different doctors for all my problems. And I won’t say that Dr. X is the smartest one cause you know, those cancer doctors are really smart (here I just laughed). But I still think Dr. X is the greatest doctor of them all. (I asked why?). Why? Well because she respects me and I respect her. And mostly because every time I see her she’s smiling and happy to see me. That means a lot.”

Nurse – “I’ve worked at a lot of different clinics throughout my 30 years as a nurse and trust me when I say I have never worked with a better group of physicians. It’s everything from the way they treat the nurses as equals to the hoops they’ll jump through to help patients. You can see that they genuinely love their job and their patients are important to them.”

Resident – “What stands out about the attendings here is that they are constantly learning the newest treatments and management plans. They want to be sure their patients are getting the cutting edge care. Most of our patients are Medicare/Medicaid/uninsured but never has that made the attendings treat them any differently. They are amazing doctors because they see every patient as equal and strive to give them the best care they possibly could receive (even the difficult patients).”

So what I’ve learned most from my family medicine rotation (which is saying something because I am really great at HTN, DM, HLD, hypothyroid, COPD, and musculoskeletal problems now) is that the key to being a GREAT doctor is to love what you do. The love you have for you branch of medicine will show through in your day to day life whether that’s in the hospital, the OR, or the clinic. Patients, at the end of the day, want to feel cared about. They don’t care if you’re the smartest or the most well-known or whether you are a neurosurgeon or a PCP – they just want you to care about them.

So a big THANK YOU to all of the amazing residents and attendings on my family med rotation who have treated this med student not as a nuisance, but as a vital member of the team. My opinions and plans have actually been put in place, everyone makes sure I’m learning everyday, and everyone has really made the clinic feel like home to me.

Just two more days left in family, and it’s going to be sad saying goodbye to such a great rotation!


Downtown Toledo as seen from the clinic!