January 22, 2014

What is a PA?

I've had a lot of people ask me what type of graduate program I am in so I wanted to take the time to explain to you what a PA is. There are 2 kinds of PA's.  There's a Physician Assistant and then the lesser known Pathologist Assistant.  I am currently in a Pathologist Assistant program.

The Program
There are only 8 accredited Pathologist Assistant programs in the US: Indiana University, Duke, West Vriginia, University of Maryland, Drexel in Philadelphia, Rosalind Franklin in Chicago, Wayne State in Detroit, and Quinnipiac in Connecticut.  I chose Indiana University because of it was one of the closer universities to my family (in Alabama) and because it was in a not-so-scary city (Indianapolis).


Most of these schools offer a 2-year Master of Science program.  Admission is usually based on courses taken and GPA from undergraduate studies, experience, and GRE scores. The programs are almost identical and require one year of classwork followed by a year of clinical rotations. Once you complete the program, you are eligible to take the certification exam through the American Society for Clinical Pathology.

The Job
Pathologist Assistants are exactly what the name implies:  assistants to pathologists.  Pathology is the study and diagnosis of disease.  Pathologists are specialized doctors that view slides of different tissues and fluids and make diagnoses.  In  order to get the tissue on the slides, multiple steps have to be taken.
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Once the biopsy or tissue arrives at a laboratory, someone has to gross the specimen.  This entails ensuring accuracy of the type of tissue with patient name and describing the specimen.  Larger types of specimens require dissection in order to get small enough pieces of tissue to be processed.  Once grossing has been finished, the tissue goes through processing with certain chemicals and is embedded into paraffin wax. A histotechnologist will cut the tissue-wax block into super thin slices and place the sections on a slide for the pathologist.

Different types of tissue can include a small biopsy from a colonoscopy, to a skin shave to remove a mole, to that gallbladder or appendix you had taken out, to segments of colon and breast tissue removed due to cancer.  A Pathologist Assistant is needed to gross the larger specimens since training includes a large amount of anatomy and the proper way to handle margins of tumors.

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A Pathologist Assistant can work in a clinical laboratory, a university training pathology residents, or even assist with autopsies performing postmortem examinations.

I completed a Bachelor of Science in Biology with a 3.85 GPA.  I found full-time employment in my field after a year and was trained on the job to be a grossing assistant.  I had been grossing biopsies and small specimens for 5 years before deciding to go back to school and get my master's so I could seek certification in this field.  I will graduate from Indiana University in July 2015!

love the view from the pathology building
There is currently high demand for Pathologists' Assistants, but the field is not for everyone - ie those with weak stomachs.  I personally love this field because it is so interesting and I am able to play a vital role in patient's care by assisting the pathologist make accurate diagnoses.

So there's a quick education of my program and future career.  If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to ask!  Also, feel free to visit the Association of Pathologists' Assistants for additional information.  And if you are interested in finding out more about Indiana University's Pathologist Assistant program, click here!


January 21, 2014

How to Succeed in Grad School

Well you may be able to tell that school is back in full swing due to my lack of blog posts.  And you would be correct.  This semester will be a little tougher than last semester, but at least I will have a clue as to what to expect.  No one told me graduate school would be so hard!

Like seriously, you have to study every.single.day.  And someone (cough, me, cough) is a pro at procrastination.  So that means I somehow always ended up trying to cram for my tests a few days before the actual test.  And it doesn't work.  

This semester I am taking 3 classes for my Pathology Assistant program: Microbiology & Immunology, Specimen Processing, and Gross Anatomy.  So far Microbiology has been a review of the classes I took in undergrad, but the professor basically said "study what you think you should know".  Umm, what? Specimen Processing is our first pathology class so there is pressure to do fabulous, but I am hoping this one will be okay for me since I've been in the field for 5 years. I have really enjoyed Gross Anatomy so far because it is super relevant to my program.

But these tools were required for the class.  Because it is a cadaver dissection course.  Who is cringing?  It is interesting as hell, but I am struggling with smelling like formaldehyde after lab days.  Not pleasant.

So after one whole semester, I am totally an expert at graduate school, so here are my 3 tips to succeed in grad school!


1. Study. 
This should be a no-brainer, but if you are in grad school to begin with, I am sure you did fairly well in undergrad.  And if you were like me, I didn't have to study that hard in undergrad.  So what a shocker it was now that I'm in grad school and need to study all the time.

The key to mastering studying is to find a great study location free of distractions so you can make the most of your time.  I love going to the school libraries (away from TV and my dogs) and I always make sure to bring lots of snack foods.  I also "reward" myself every few hours with a break that I spend checking my cell phone and doing the social media thing.  Also, vary the way you study.  Read over the material, type out the material, and try to explain it out loud.  The more senses you use, the more likely you will be to remember it.

2. Dedication.
Grad school is no joke.  It requires a ton of dedication.  You have to get perspective and decide what is most important to you.  I am assuming if you are spending a load of cash (or student loans) on graduate school, it is fairly important.  So you have to put it first.  Put your schooling and studying before blogging, checking your social media, and hanging out with friends.

I suggest reading over the new material 10 minutes before class each day so you know what will be discussed that day.  I also use the time in between classes to review material from the day before so I won't spend every ounce of my free time studying.

3. Balance. 
Now what fun would your life be if everything you did was school?  It wouldn't be.  So make sure you find balance with what is important to you, what you want to do, and what you have to do.  Can those dishes wait?  Absolutely.  Can you give up all your hobbies.  Absolutely not.  You would be miserable!

I set mini-goals each day of the things I need to get accomplished. These goals can include things I need to get done like laundry and dishes and things I want to do like shopping or catching up on my DVR.  And since I want to take a mental break most days at least some of the time, I make myself have a review day each week to make sure I fully understand the material..

What tips do you have to succeed in grad school?  Also, make sure you check out my post tomorrow when I explain more about my grad program!

January 20, 2014

Meet Justine!

Justine blogs over at Sleepy Single Girl. She is fun and edgy and loves football! I asked her a few questions so make sure you check out her answers!  Then head over to her blog!


1. Your blog has an interesting name. What does it mean?
When I first started my blog I really tried to think of something that described me at the time and all of those things did. First, if it isn’t obvious, I am a girl :) Second, I was definitely single at the time. I had actually planned on writing about my dating experiences a bit, but soon after I started blogging I met “C” and I cannot use the single description anymore! Finally, the sleepy part refers to a sleeping disorder that I have. Basically, I don’t get any REM sleep (your “beauty” sleep, where your body restores itself). In an 8 hour period, most people get 6-7 hours of REM sleep. During the night of test (which you can read about here) I got only 82 minutes! So basically, I feel like I’ve only taken a nap each night, which equals a very sleepy Justine!

2. I noticed you are definitely not single! Tell us how you met C!
The short answer to how I met C is he got into my car one day! It also sounds a little creepy, so I have to explain more. Basically, one of my friends from High School played on the same team as C and asked me to give him a ride somewhere. I drove to the hotel where they were currently staying for training camp to pick him up. I really didn’t want to do it because I had to take him all the way across town, but because he was speaking to a youth sports team I decided I would help out. Well, as he was passing through the lobby he saw C who really didn’t know anyone at that time and was really bored. He invited him to come along. C really didn’t feel like going, but he had nothing better to do so he did. They both walked out the door and got in my car. I immediately was like “who is this boy??” We saw each other every day for a straight month after that! The rest is clearly history :) I love that I have posts on my blog about first meeting him, like this one.

3. You guys have a list you are working on. What is this about?
C and I have a goal to visit every NFL stadium to see a game! I am a huge football fan and it is exciting to be with someone who loves to travel and loves football as much (ok probably more) that I do! We really only started this goal last year, so I think we are doing pretty good. So far we have been to the Arizona Cardinals stadium (duh, we live in AZ), the Washington Redskins stadium and the Jacksonville Jaguars stadium. Next year we will hopefully add a few more!

4. I know you love to travel. Tell us the top 5 places you've visited.
Hmmm that’s a hard question! I think the obvious top destination is Hawaii! When I went with C last year we landed first in Oahu and then flew to the island of Kauai a day later. Next time I wouldn’t ever bother with the first stop. Honolulu is too “big city” for me! Kauai was absolutely gorgeous. They have what they call the “Grand Canyon of Hawaii” on that island and it was truly breathtaking! Other places I have really loved are Tampa (FL), Washingon (DC), Charleston (SC) and Nashville (TN).

5. You subscribe to a lot of snail mail boxes. What is your favorite and why?
Ooo another hard question. I will give you my top two favorites. The first is Le Tote. It’s basically Netflix for clothes. For $50 a month they send you a box with 3 clothing items and 2 pieces of jewelry. You wear them as much (or as little) as you want and then ship them back (no washing needed!) in the provided prepaid envelope. Then they immediately send you a new box! You can go online and fill out a style profile, pick clothing items of theirs you want them to send you, and even review things they sent. I’ve been doing it since June, I love it! You can read more about it here and here. My second favorite snail mail box, in the beauty category this time, is definitely Ipsy! For $10.00 a month you get a cute little bag full of great makeup products. Usually there are several full size products and they aren’t wimpy things like lotion bottles. If you are looking for a reasonably priced beauty box to start with, Ipsy is the way to go! You can see a couple reviews here and here.

6. What is your New Year's resolution?
Actually, I don't have any resolutions. I've never actually had one. Is that weird? I guess I just know myself and know that whatever I pick would never stick!

7. What are you three of your favorite blog posts you've written?
I would have to say my three favorite blog posts that I have written are the post I wrote right after I met C that I mentioned above, that time I made myself an awesome headboard without the help of pinterest and the time I let my transvestite neighbor do my makeup.

8. Tell my readers why they should come check out your blog!
If your readers are looking to subscribe to a new beauty box, my blog is definitely a great place to start! I tell it like it is with my reviews. I also love to talk all things beauty, including an awesome new swap I’ve started called the Pretty Little Beauty Swap. Finally, travel is my thing! I’m always posting about the various trips C and I make. I love seeing pictures of places before I actually visit them, so hopefully I can help someone out that way!

Make sure you check out Justine's blog, and stalk her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!

January 8, 2014

Pinteresting: Snow Cream

Yesterday I showed you how much snow I had.  So today I wanna show you what to do with it!  SNOW CREAM!  This fat girl and foodie loves anything sweet so of course I had to make some!  Fortunately, I always have these 3 ingredients in my house so it was super easy to make!


This recipe makes enough for 2 servings - or a really big bowl for yourself!

Original Pin: HERE

INGREDIENTS NEEDED:
4 cups Snow
1/2 cup Milk
1/4 cup Sugar
1/4 tbs Vanilla Extract
Chocolate syrup (if desired)


DIRECTIONS:
1.  Collect some CLEAN snow.  I have 3 dogs so of course I had to venture out a little further to not get any yellow snow.  Also try to find fluffy, powdery snow instead of the kind that has refrozen into ice chunks.


2.  Mix sugar, milk, and extract in a small bowl.

3.  Add 4 cups snow to mixture and mix carefully.  Note that the more you mix it, the more it will melt and lose texture.


4.  Add garnishes like chocolate syrup, sprinkles, and/or whipped cream!  If you prefer chocolate snow cream, mix in some chocolate syrup and stir!


ENJOY!

Add a small amount of lemon or peppermint extract for a twist!   I think this recipe doesn't make the snow cream very sweet, but adding the chocolate syrup made it perfect!


January 7, 2014

So I got some snow

We received 11.4 inches of new snow in Indianapolis Sunday (in addition to the 6 inches already on the ground from last Thursday) from the polar vortex affecting most of the country. Parts of the state of Indiana were under a state of emergency and Sunday night the city of Indianapolis placed travel restrictions and told everyone to stay off the roads.   I haven't gone outside in 2 days.  My dogs have been doing their business on my snow covered patio.  It was time to get out of the house... even if it felt like -40 outside.

I bundled up and I took Duke off leash with me outside to walk around the building.  I was kinda worried about taking any dog outside because of the fact that people can get frostbite within 5 minutes -  how would the dogs do? When I stepped outside, the inside of my nose literally started to freeze.  That shit hurt.


The scenery is absolutely beautiful. I am basically obsessed with the snow because I'm not used to it.  Duke was struggling in the snow and waiting until I made footsteps for him to tread through it.  But he was just happy to be outside and off leash.  Silly dog.


The snow was so deep it was falling into my snow boots.  FAIL.


Then I saw my car.  Holy shit.  How do I even begin to unbury this sucker?  That can't be good for it.


I quickly brought Duke back inside and since Bama wanted out so badly I decided to take her out.  She made it around the building and then froze. Literally. She just sat down in the snow and wouldn't move anymore.  I thought maybe she was freaked out by the depth of the snow, so I moved her to the sidewalk that had been blown off already and she still wouldn't move.  It scared the hell out of me.  I snatched her up and ran her back inside as fast as I could.

I placed her in front of the space heater and she started to come back to life. She is perfectly fine now and being as annoying as ever.  Needless to say, none of us are going back outside until it warms up.  I'm going to stay in my sweats and make a cup of hot cocoa from my new Keurig.



If you're in one of the many places that has received the coldest temperatures in 20 years, I hope you bundle yourself (and your furkids!) up and stay inside! And don't follow my tips for winter storm survival too seriously.

And make sure to check out my guest post on Kate the (almost) Great today!!


January 6, 2014

Tips for Winter Storm Survival

Half the country is literally FROZEN from this crazy polar vortex.  The winter storm that rocked the north just left Indiana last night.  So now I get to enjoy the toasty temperatures of -13 with windchills of -40.  No thanks.  I think I will just stay inside in my sweatpants.


This is my first winter ever having to worry about a winter storm.  I am absolutely fascinated by it all!  And no lie, a little scared!  We never got this kind of snow in Alabama!  So I put together a few tips on how to survive a winter storm.

1. Stock up
Stock up on snacks & non-perishables. You know, stuff like bags of candy and ice cream.  Because if you lose power you will be forced to eat the ice cream first and you won't feel guilty about eating the whole half gallon.  Who needs eggs, milk, and bread?  Grab the cookies, chocolate, and ice cream instead!

2.  Prepare for power outages
If you lose power, you will need to have candles, flashlights, and things to do in the dark.  So leave all the boring chores like folding laundry and cleaning until the power goes out and you have no other choice but to do something to stay warm.  And grab a Cosmo because you're TV isn't working and you need to stay up to date on the outside world somehow. Make sure to use lots of scented candles so when you light a bunch of them together, your place will smell fantastic.  Who cares about the huge headache you will get afterwards.



3. Conserve batteries
You may be stranded without contact to the outside world for hours. I know, terrifying.  Make sure you keep your cell phone plugged in while you catch up on Facebook & Instagram so your phone is charged if your power goes out.  Hopefully you won't be out of the loop too much when your power comes back on.

4. Alternative heat sources 
With windchills of -40 degrees, the temperatures outside are deadly.  If you lose power, you will have to find alternate heat sources.  If you live alone like me, just get Fido to keep you warm.  If your dogs are like mine, they want to be in your grill anyway. And dogs are like little ovens.


5. Stay inside.
I know you want to take pictures of all the snow to share with your friends.  But to conserve your heat, keep the doors shut and take pictures through your windows.  You can even see ice forming on my windows!  Brrrrr!


Luckily my power only went out for 2.5 hours and just off and on the rest of the night.  I guess the worst part is having to stay inside for a few days...boring! Don't take my survival tips to seriously... I mean I'm from Alabama so what do I know?  If you need smart tips, click here!

What do you do when you're snowed in?

January 2, 2014

Indy Restaurant Review

It's not news that I am a total foodie.  So when Bobby came to visit for Christmas last week, of course we went to a few new Indianapolis restaurants.  And I may or may not have been planning all week where to eat.  Don't judge me.

So instead of bombarding you with scattered pictures of food and making you hungry, I will just put it all in one post and make you starving.  You're welcome.

Bazbeaux Pizza
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FOOD:  8/10
ATMOSPHERE:  7/10
PRICING: Affordable; our ticket was $25 because Bobby got his beer comp'ed
RECOMMEND:  Absolutely!

I had heard from numerous locals that this place was the best pizza place in Indy.  And it didn't disappoint!  Bobby & I don't necessarily like the same ingredients on our pizza, so we made the choice to get 2 separate small pizzas.  They had a long list of speciality pizzas and an even longer list of ingredients.  Specialty cheeses, chorizo, crab meat.. you know, the usual.

I wonder how a seafood pizza would turn out?  They offer shrimp, crab, and fish as toppings.

Bobby thought his pizza was the best pizza he had ever had.  I had a bacon, tomato, and cheese pizza with lots of spices and didn't really like the texture of the tomatos - so I won't do that again.  And the crust was thinner than I prefer, but I forgot to order the thicker crust.  But we ate the leftovers for lunch the next day and we would definitely go back!

Bazbeaux's offered a decent selection of beer and a ton of wines.  We went to the location in Broad Ripple which meant crazy parking (I'm sure the Mass Ave location is actually worse) even on a Monday evening.  We were seated right away, but the place was packed by the time we left.  The atmosphere would've been a lot better had we not had the most annoying family ever sitting behind us.  They were literally playing charades very loudly with their 3 kids.

Acapulco Joe's
Forgive this picture, but it was the one I sent Bobby when I first saw Acapulco Joe's! 
FOOD: 7/10
ATMOSPHERE: 8/10
PRICING: Reasonable but slightly overpriced; our ticket was $30 with $1 draft beer
RECOMMEND: Yes

I noticed this place one day driving home from class since it is right downtown.  I loved the location and had asked around about it and was told that it was good Mexican.. if you like your salsa in ketchup bottles.  So definitely not fancy, and that was okay with us.

Since we went the day after Christmas, we were able to get rockstar parking right in front of the restaurant.  I liked the atmosphere with the Christmas lights up around the place and the cheap drink specials.  It seemed like a great place to grab a few with your friends before heading out somewhere.

The cheese dip was insanely expensive to me ($8/cup) so we settled for the salsa & chips.  Bobby loved their chips because they were the darker corn, very thick kind.  The salsa was great and the medium salsa on the table was thin and good for adding to your food.  Bobby inhaled his food and like most Mexican places, I couldn't finish mine (I filled up on chips and salsa, oops). The food was good and like most Mexican restaurants I had been to, but I think it was overpriced for the quality.  They also use all corn tortillas and I personally prefer flour.

Harry & Izzy's 
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FOOD: 10/10
ATMOSPHERE: 9/10
PRICING: Moderate to expensive; our check would've been around $45-50
RECOMMEND: Absolutely!  Great place for special occasions or date night

When Bobby's family came into town for Christmas, we wanted to go somewhere new downtown so we picked Harry & Izzy's.  I had heard that it was reasonably priced and had good food.  When we walked in and someone offered to take our coats, we definitely thought we were underdressed.

The place was actually very snazzy and had an hour wait time.  Luckily we were able to get immediate seating in the bar area.  Bobby ordered pork chops ($23) and I ordered a prime rib sandwich ($13).  It was a steakhouse but they also offered brick oven pizzas.  All steaks were $30-50, but other items on the menu were very reasonable.

Everyone at the table loved their food.  Bobby said it was the best pork chops he had ever eaten and his mashed potatoes were delicious too.  I enjoyed my prime rib sandwich with fries, but the prime rib was a little greasy & fatty for me.

Sorry for the lack of pictures, but we were out with family :)

Ted's Montana Grill
FOOD: 8/10
ATMOSPHERE: 8/10
PRICING: Moderate; our ticket was $50
RECOMMEND? Yes, if you like bison or want to try it

We noticed this restaurant when we went to see a movie on Christmas Eve and thought it looked like an interesting place to eat.  When looking up reviews, we found out that it was Ted Turner's restaurant chain.

Ted's atmosphere was definitely different.  It had a somewhat steakhouse vibe, but a little more upscale with paper straws, homemade pickles brought to the table, and powdered soap in the bathroom. The pickles tasted like salted cucumbers. Personally, I would've rather had bread.  Most things on the menu were bison.  The menu stated that the meat was leaner and healthier for you.  I wasn't too keen on eating bison, but I wanted to try it.
Bobby got a nice bison steak for $25 and I got mini burgers with one beef & one bison for $9 (and added a salad for $4).  Bobby loved his steak and rated it one of the best bison steaks he had ever had (who eats bison that often?)  I did not like the bison AT ALL.  The burgers weren't clearly marked so I had no clue which was which but definitely could taste the difference.  I will stick to beef, thanks.


Does it sound like you would want to eat at any of these places?  Do you like these kind of reviews?

January 1, 2014

What's up 2014?

I know half of the world is nursing a massive hangover, but I had an eventful night of sitting on the couch, watching a marathon of Storage Wars, and watching my puppies dream.  Exciting I know.  I did actually make it to midnight thanks to the 2 hour nap I took earlier in the day.  And geez Louise, Indy sounded insane at midnight with all the fireworks!

I finally made one of those Flipagram things reliving my pictures from 2013, and realized that the first half of my year was fairly uneventful and very blissful.  Got to spend every weekend with my love and we went on lots of dates and it was a definitely a look into the future of what I want my life with him to be like. I saw friends (and a best friend) get married.

Then I got accepted into grad school and the rest of the year just kinda flew by.  I quit my job that I had for 3 years, I packed up my 3 bedroom house, and moved out of Alabama for the first time in my life.  I got my ass kicked by my first semester of grad school.  But I also turned 30 and got to start exploring a new, exciting city. And lots of snow.

View my Flipagram!

So what's going to happen in 2014?   Who knows.  Am I going to get on board with the rest of America and make all these resolutions?  Nah.  Everyday you should set goals of what you want to accomplish, not just on New Year's Day.  But I hope it will be an exciting year.  I hope grad school will stop kicking my ass.  I hope I will learn to become happier with myself and all of my situations instead of holding onto anger. And most of all, I hope to survive it and see 2015!

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Happy New Year to you!  Hopefully it will be nice to all of us!


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