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Monday, August 26, 2013

And.......I'm back.

This the is the beginning of my first full week back at school. I am starting my LAST senior year and I will be graduating in May. Finally. This summer I decided to take a break from all things school (including my blog) and spend time with my little people. I even allowed myself to be lazy and sleep in most days. This was the first summer since I started school again that I did not take summer school. IT WAS AMAZING! I had been feeling so burnt out last semester and I think that a break was what I needed. I think my kids really appreciated it as well. We did silly things. We hula hooped, danced, had popcorn for dinner, and made it important to spend time together. It made my heart happy.

This semester is going to be a full one for me. I am enrolled in 19 hours: biochemistry, sports nutrition, cultural aspects of food, intro to planning therapeutic diets, my honors thesis and I am a teacher's assistant for a food, health and sustainability class. My actual classes will be interesting and I am excited about my nutrition classes but biochemistry is going to be challenging. I have a lot of resources for that class though so my goal is to make it through with an A. My TA position will be awesome because that was a class I truly enjoyed and I like the professor I am working with a lot. My thesis is a whole different animal. The last year and a half I have been working on developing curriculum for my research project with a group. The research project is an obesity prevention program for children. There is a physical activity portion and a nutrition portion. We have already completed the 6 week pilot program that dealt with the efficacy of the program in order to determine if a longer, 12 week program will be beneficial. It has been challenging and fun at the same time. I was actually going to leave the program and develop a thesis that was English based because I was becoming frustrated with my role because I did not become involved so that I could develop exercise curriculum. My goal from the beginning was to be focused on the nutrition education because that is where my passion lies. After the pilot program it became evident that the nutrition education I had provided for the program was effective and that it needed to be developed further as a separate component from the physical activity curriculum. (I had already talked to the professor who is conducting the research that we should do this but he had other ideas, UNTIL we actually did the pilot and he saw it was necessary. Needless to say I wanted to say "Told you so" but I behaved myself and just suggested that we do what I had already suggested without being snotty about it.) So I am back to where I started. My thesis project is to develop the nutrition education for the program and to make it something that can be transferable to other settings. I want to teach people (parents, teachers, etc.) how to deliver the program to children and give them the resources and knowledge to allow them to do that. I am really excited about it but scared at the same time. It is a lot of work and it will require a great deal of time but it is truly what I feel passionate about so I think I will enjoy the experience overall.

For my thesis project I have a director and a 2nd reader that are required and I already have them in place. My second reader is a nutrition professor and she suggested to me that I get my Master's since I am taking a year "off" between getting my undergraduate degree and starting osteopathic school (hopefully) and use my honors thesis as a basis for my Master's thesis. She said I could test the efficacy of the curriculum I develop to see if it truly teaches children about what is nutritious for their bodies. I am considering it but there are 2 things that really make me hesitant to embark on this. The first thing is the cost. I already owe a fairly large amount of money for my student loans and that amount is only going to increase exponentially once I get to osteopathic school. Adding loans for a Master's degree only make that load heavier. It is possible to get the program paid for but I would have to be get a teaching assistantship (YES!) or a research assistantship (YUK!) at ASU and everything would be paid for plus I would make money. The second thing is time. I wanted to take this next year off to spend more time with the boys because I know that osteopathic school will monopolize my time and I wanted to really spend some quality time with them before I embarked on that 4 year journey. In getting my Master's in 1 year, I would have to take 15 hours each semester, I would have to teach along with everything that comes with that (grading, dealing with student issues, planning lessons, etc.), and conduct my research. On top of that, some of the classes I would have to take are sections that are only taught at night. Decisions, decisions. It would be beneficial because I plan on integrating nutrition into my practice as a physician and this would give me credibility. I suppose I will continue to pray about it and see what and who God places in front of me. I am going to prepare for and apply to graduate school to keep my options open. One more thing to do.

So along with all of this, I am definitely taking the MCAT next year and applying to schools. I put it off for a year because my brain could not deal with it but now I HAVE TO! This is another thing that I am excited about and scared of at the same time. I feel like my life is full of these conundrums.