Andrew Cale

PhD Student, Indiana University School of Medicine

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Living single – I am fortunate to have a somewhat stable and peaceful living situation. I’m flyin’ solo in a one-bedroom apartment in Indianapolis, IN, where I am fortunate to not have kids/family popping in at random times and interrupting conference calls or dedicated study time.

My workspace – I already had a desk, but it wasn’t meant for extended work hours. I made some adjustments to make it more comfortable: a lumbar support pillow and monitor riser (actually, just three anatomy textbooks stacked on top of each other). Even so, my neck and back are very unhappy. Yoga has been helpful, though!

Motivation – It’s easy to think “I’m working from home. I’ll have plenty of time to get things done.” But finding the motivation to do it is tough when every day blends together, resulting in a cycle of being unproductive and then feeling guilty about it. What’s helped mitigate this is just taking a step back and giving myself a bit of slack.

Dual role – As someone who’s experiencing the pandemic as both instructor and student, I see added stress arising from a lack of communication and understanding between teacher and student. Cutting each other a bit of slack is greatly appreciated. Even if things aren’t timely or perfect, keeping each other updated is helpful. Things like “This is when I’m anticipating posting your grades, so you’ll know where you stand for the final. It’s a bit longer than usual, but hang with me.” or “Is it possible to be flexible with the exam timing? My living situation is hectic/loud/irregular because of family/kids/neighbors/COVID, so I can’t complete a two-hour exam at EXACTLY that time.” The worst thing for teacher or student to do is to go MIA.

Research curveball – My original research project involved a large, in-person educational activity. With the online transition, I’ve scrambled to create an entirely new, online-only research project. Tons of work went down the drain and I had to start again. My research mentor was incredibly understanding and helped me build a new project that fits within the format of an online course.

Technical connections – Twitter has been helpful in making new connections. It’s nice to know other people are experiencing similar issues; we can commiserate and support each other. Like most, I’ve been using email and Zoom to stay connected and collaborate. These connections are a lot less frequent and less meaningful (in my opinion) than previously. I definitely will continue using Zoom. (Check out my fun Zoom selfie!)

TV time – There’s an anime on Netflix called Cells at Work that has pretty accurate information about the different cells of the body. Watch an erythrocyte deliver oxygen! Watch a neutrophil fight off pathogens! Also on Netflix, Nailed It! will give you a good laugh and make you feel better about setting out to do something with high expectations, yet being OK with (and even enjoying) what you actually accomplish.

My guilty pleasure – Dark chocolate Oreos are BY FAR the best.

I really miss – I consider myself to be a MASSIVE introvert, but I miss random chats with faculty members, friends, classmates, students, etc. I REALLY miss interacting with students in lab, chatting with them about random stuff, and getting to know them as people. These student interactions are my favorite part of being an anatomy educator; it’s just not the same through a digital screen.

I don’t need – Negativity. Ain’t nobody got time for that!

I look forward to – Working with students in person, getting a haircut, and grabbing coffee or a beer with friends.