24 September 2007

halfway done

well, i've made it through part one of the exam. it took me 3 hours to complete the written exam of 150 questions. i probably would've stayed longer and re-checked everything (the professors, i kid you not, misnumbered the exam, causing mass panic among the students. we had two #4s and no #71. fun!), but we've got the practical this afternoon, so i figured that rather than perseverate, i'd come home and review my labs.

the written was actually not as bad as i feared. it would've been as bad as the rest of the exams, except i finally got a bit of advice before this test that seemed to really help. i met with one of my pbl-mates from last year on wednesday, and he explained to me how he studies for one of these exams. he said that it's all about relationships--that i need to be able to take the 2D slide and translate it into 3D, because they'd be asking questions that are relational. maybe it sounds obvious to everyone else, but it dawned on me, in talking to him, that this business of "memorizing the lecture slides" doesn't help if i can't picture, in 3D, how the structures go together.

(aside: i guess i should mention that we're working on prosected cadavers. i'm beginning to think that perhaps this isn't such a good way to learn. staring at a cadaver isn't a heck of a lot different than staring at rohen's, you know?)

so this weekend i spent a considerable amount of time going through the cross sections in netter's atlas. i tried to view each picture and really *see* where things were. not only was it more fun to study it that way, but i started to feel like i had some direction to my study for a change.

i'll probably miss all the minutiae questions on the exam, because i didn't spend time memorizing little facts this time, but i'm hoping it doesn't matter too much. an overall understanding of the big picture will help me more in the long run...i think....

at any rate, it'll be interesting to see if my study changes made any difference.

as for the exercise some of you mentioned, i've been feeling a bit stymied lately. we're in our late summer weather pattern where i live, which means that the days are brutally hot and the evenings consist of a deluge of thunderstorms. it hasn't let up long enough for me to get on my bike, and it is starting to bug me. i need some exercise and some time outdoors. i snuck away last weekend to study in a quiet place with no interruptions--fortunately this place is on the beach, so i did get to swim in between my study sessions. <--that was really nice. i guess this is all to say that i'm waiting for a break in the weather. i'd ordinarily ride during a rainstorm (i don't melt when i get wet), but i currently live in one of those areas that's known as lightning capital of the world. seriously. so i figure i'll leave the golfers to get struck and keep my butt indoors. at least, for now. but i may go join the ymca. i'm not as into gym exercise, but something is better than nothing....

speaking of exercise--another side note--my brother completed another triathlon yesterday! he came in 5th overall in his age/gender bracket (39th overall out of a total of nearly 1,000 participants!)--for someone who has only been doing this for about 10 months, his abilities are incredible. he acts like it's nothing, but--damn--he's not far behind the times of the professional racers! it's amazing!

alas, i best get back to my mental triathlon. onward!

23 September 2007


my. brain. is. full.

seriously--i'm at that point in my studies where all i want to do is shake stuff out of my head like a dog shakes water off its back. i've been studying at home, alone, all day. haven't showered or eaten much, although i did manage to do some chores, just because i can only sit still for so long before my body starts screaming for movement. it's day two of non-stop studying and i'm exhausted. so exhausted, in fact, that i slept through two alarms, the telephone, and my roommate leaving this morning. agh! it really is insane, this process, on so many levels....

so what, you might ask, have i been stuffing into my head?

20 lectures at an average of 60 slides per lecture; 18 labs at an average of 40 slides per lab...so that's about 2,000 slides for the exam.

the material covers about 2/3rds of the anatomy textbook (Gray's) and 1/3rd of the histology text.

it was all covered in three weeks.

the whole thorax, abdomen, pelvis, & perineum, plus their histological components.

i may have mentioned this already. i think i keep repeating it so that i don't forget and answer some question with, well, innervation of the little toe by accident (gotta love digiti minimi!).

my brain is particularly fried at the moment, i think, because i've been reviewing cross-sectional anatomy. on the advice of a tutor, i'm attempting to get myself more grounded in what is where and answer questions based upon logic off of that rather than memorizing. i don't know if it will work--i usually leave these tests wishing i could have memorized every last word on every page of every slide. but it's impossible. it does make more sense to truly learn it--to get a sense of being able to see the anatomy in one's mind--but it's more difficult to do than i ever imagined. those diagrams we see everywhere of the human body? yeah, not so accurate. i feel like i have to erase all my prior knowledge and start over. <--i'm still cleaning! ;-)

anyway...i'm sitting here thinking that this is sort of a pointless post...but again, i want to capture this experience of medical school with as much truth & honesty as i can.

the truth of the moment: i'm exhausted & my brain is full.


'nuff said.

21 September 2007

i exist, really.

i do exist. i know this because of the amount of angst i'm currently experiencing re: my upcoming anatomy exam. no one else knows i exist because this anatomy exam keeps me from doing everything else. seriously. i went to the grocery store tonite for the first time in weeks and everything had been rearranged. i mean, whole isles. clearly, i'm not getting out much. nor have i been able to reply to emails, much to the dismay of many people.

i'd blame my lack of communication on myself, as i usually do, but i'm at the point where i'm so fed up with mwms that i've decided it's their turn to get the blame. so, yeah, i haven't returned phone calls, emails, snail mail, answered the door, or, on occassion, even a question posed directly to me. scary, i know. but this is what happens when you find yourself in a medical school that decides it's "special" and wants to do things differently from every other school.

evidence of this difference? our anatomy class. one of my pbl group mates reported today that he'd recently spoken to a friend who is a first year student at another medical school. the student asked him how many questions were going to be on our upcoming exam. "225," he replied. "wtf?!?!?" was reportedly his friend's response. apparently at other medical schools, they have a test every other week with about 50 questions per test. it's unheard of to wait 4 weeks to slap students with an exam, such that it covers all of the thorax, abdomen, pelvis, & perineum. and not just gross anatomy, oh no--we also have to know all the microanatomy (i.e. histology) of these structures, too. not to mention that our professors seem to be a bit confused. they keep adding in details that i could swear belong to the genre of physiology, not anatomy. but do they care? nope. still have to know the whole hormonal cycle in women for this exam. fun.

i guess this is all to say that i'm feeling a tad unmoored. i'm doing wonderfully in my other classes, but this one...it's kicking my ass, again. i fear i may be banging my head against a brick wall. <--so, truly, i'm still alive. wouldn't go so far as to say well (roommie gave me the stomach bug on top of everything else this week), but i'm surviving.

since i can't say much more (i'm already past my time limit for puttering on the computer), i'll leave you with an interesting clip. one of my classmates somehow recorded the power point presentation given by one of our professors last week. during this presentation, this professor--i've spoken of him before; he's dean_honey--starts flipping through slides and sort of murmuring to himself. then it happens. the it? well, you'll just have to watch/listen to the movie to find out. i couldn't make this stuff up if i tried.... enjoy! (btw--it's nsfw, just so you know....)


i'd heard the audio for this before, but the video is even better. a little humor about anatomy lab. enjoy!

20 September 2007

practical exams

practical exams are par for the course in medical school. in any given semester, between opp class and ce class, we have at least a half dozen of such exams. they involve being tested, live, in the presence of a professor, on one technique or another.

today we had our first opp practical exam. it wasn't a big deal--the information at the beginning is basic (e.g. identify these landmarks) and the techniques (basically massage-type) are also relatively straightforward (aside from their names, of course).

i wasn't particularly concerned about this practical--i've been through them before, and i happen to know for a fact that this will be, by far, the easiest one in medical school. i'd also planned to pair up with one of the guys in my advising group, who happens to be laid-back and kind.

aside from having a little difficulty at first understanding the question posed to me at the first station, i got through the techniques part without incident. then i went to the second station, where we were supposed to point out "landmarks" on one another.

one such landmark i was asked to identify on my classmate was the pubic symphysis:

No problem, right? it's an easy enough bone to find...but when someone is lying down on a table & you have to find it, you have to find a way to slide your hand down the abdomen and onto the bone without, well, staring at their crotch. when i'm trying to palpate something, i often look elsewhere or close my eyes, simply so that i can focus on what i'm feeling rather than what i'm seeing.

only, yeah...it kind of backfired on me today, as i veered a little too far left. oops. it's a good thing my lab partner was a good sport about it, but my goodness, did i feel like a goofball! i guess it's better to risk having someone think that you're staring at their crotch rather than accidentally grabbing it..... *cringe*

never a dull moment!

19 September 2007

"going somewhere?"

Tonight I went to meet one of my former classmates (in the '10 bunch) for tutoring at a local St@rbucks. I got there early, so I decided to indulge in my favorite shaken-iced-tea-lemonade drink, since it was almost 7pm and I was in dire need of some caffeine (nope, i'm not a coffee drinker--strange, i know).

I went to the register, where some lady took my order. While she was getting it, one of those little pimply high school guys in training behind the counter commented on my t-shirt. I've been having a rough time in my anatomy class lately, so after school today, I changed into one of my most-loved-for-bad-days t-shirts from think geek. :-)

Said guy, since I had his acknowledged his presence by saying thank you, decided it was time to engage in some small talk. Looking down at the bag parked beside me, he said, "oh are you going somewhere?" I looked at him, puzzled. "Where are you going on your trip," he asked me. I must have raised my eyebrow at this point, because he pointed at my bag and remarked, "the luggage?"

Uh, yeah... That bag on wheels? That's not luggage. It's my bookbag! All 50 lbs of it!!!!

Note to self: what looks ordinary on campus appears downright nerdy off-campus.

Trip...I wish! ;-)

18 September 2007

are you kidding me?!?!?

i interrupt my study time this morning to share a positively frightening story brought to us directly from the NYT. i think i mentioned previously that i haven't been following politics lately--i can't really remember the last time i watched the news or read a newspaper--but when i read this article and clicked on the links to the "videos," i was drop-jaw speechless. has politics come to this? have we deteriorated to rap debates between "obama girl" and "guliani girl"? is this the only way the media thinks it can capture the attention of the american people? and, my goodness, after all the chatter about conservativism over the past several years, should i consider it a good thing that this stuff hasn't been pulled off the net? when i wished for a more liberal discourse and debate in this country, i was thinking west wing, not mtv music video. i guess next time i wish for something, i should be more specific!

interested in sharing my shock? (for full effect, make sure to click the links to the two prior articles & videos contained therein.) here's the link:
Net Watch: Obama Girls New Crush - The Caucus - Politics - New York Times Blog
click away. but don't say i didn't warn you....

16 September 2007

constitution day: w strikes again

it's a fact: 99.9% of medical students depend upon federal funding from the U.S. government in order to pay for medical school and its associated costs (i.e. FOOD), while in school. the funding is not guaranteed--there are many, many hoops to jump through (read: 10,000 or so forms to fill out and sign) before a student can get such funding. if we do get student loans, we're considered "lucky." our interest rate on our student loans from the government is currently capped at 8%, as opposed to the uncapped rates, some upwards of 22%, on private loans. nevertheless, it goes without saying that if the government lends an average of $200,000.00 at 8% interest to almost every medical student (~4,000 nationwide?) in the country during his or her tenure in medical school, they end up earning quite a lot of money off of us. add to this the amount the government discounts our services once we do go into practice and one starts to wonder: is the government screwing over its healthcare providers? i'll leave you to chew on the answer to that one....

(aside: too bad michael moore left the education part out of "sicko"...it's another way that the U.S. is lagging behind the rest of the world with respect to health care.)

in the meantime, i'm here to report that the hoops have just become more numerous. why? because some idiot, somewhere in Washington D.C., decided that all institutions receiving federal funding must celebrate--are you ready for this?--CONSTITUTION DAY. [have any of you even heard of constitution day? did you know that it's tomorrow? sorry, no, you don't get the day off from work. not even if you're the postman.] as such, schools that funnel federal funding to their students--including medical schools--must hold activities to celebrate constitution day. i kid you not. we're talking lectures, people. videos. presentations by politicians. and attendance, as i've been informed, is MANDATORY.

apparently, this is simply one of the latest actions taken by the department of education, which is now diving wholeheartedly into its misdirected "no child left behind" and "american competitiveness initiative" programs. what i want to know is: how do they think they're helping medical students by forcing them to take time out of their studies to attend lectures on the constitution? (is it not bad enough that we only have, oh, a week to cover the anatomy of the abdomen? how about cutting that down to an hour? it's not like we need to know about the abdomen or anything....) do they not realize that the majority of medical students likely have better knowledge of the constitution than most politicians serving in government? (i'd dare them to test our knowledge versus W's, but it'd take them too long to decide on a color scheme for the scantron to actually give us the test before he's out of office....) do they actually think that we want to celebrate constitution day when we realize that (among other things) it does nothing to ensure healthcare for all citizens?

we'd be better off having lectures on how to understand medicare or medicaid or governmental policies on healthcare. but that would mean that the government would have to produce clear directives on such matters and be honest about them. not to mention, they'd have to acknowledge that many of the government's policies on healthcare go against one of the primary tenets of the constitution: to promote the general welfare of its citizens.

yes, let's celebrate the constitution--but, shh, don't let anyone point out what that really means.

do you need to rant about healthcare & the government, too? here's your chance:
sicko badge

02 September 2007

week 4 mileage

time spent...

studying outside of class: 39.5 h
taking an exam: 4 h
getting "ripped a new one" by the deans: 15 minutes

felt like...

studying: 23 h/d
taking exam: endless
meeting with the deans: an hellish eternity


moments when i temporarily forgot where i was: priceless.
for everything else, there was xanax....

a little disclaimer...

i'm a medical student. just a student. so please, don't take anything i say too seriously. remember that i was an english literature major as an undergrad, so there is much fiction to be found in these pages. do you think i'm telling a story about you or your illness? more likely, you're tapping into my sense of "everyman"--that is, your story resonates with what i write here because it's not so uncommon after all. need help? please, please go see your physician. <--i'm not her. yet. ;-)