26 October 2007

reverse graffiti

super_blaze sent me this one & it's too good not to share (although, to be honest, it has little to do with medical school!). apparently an artist in sao paulo decided to make a statement against the city's extreme pollution by "erasing" the dirt and grime in city tunnels to create his art. the full story can be found here. but the video which follows sums it up best. enjoy!

counting down to the pbl exam...

there's only one way to describe what the last few days before a pbl exam are like. this site sums it up nicely:

25 October 2007

the fbi building

mwms is one of several "new" branch campus medical schools that are popping up around the country. basically, this means that a medical school (usually in another state), builds a campus in another location. the branch campuses pretty much run themselves (i.e. have a separate faculty, student body, admissions process, etc.). so why do these campuses exist? because it's easier to open a branch of an existing school than it is to create a new school from scratch, thanks to the complexity of licensing and accreditation laws. basically, this means that mwms's "campus" is really only consists of a shiny new building. for now, the clinics, hospitals, & affiliated stuff are all located elsewhere.

this also means that the community in which mwms is located has no idea that it has a medical school in its midst. or, at least, they didn't know at the beginning, when the school opened. apparently, that lady they pay the big bucks to come into our classes and take pictures of us is supposed to have gotten the word out that we exist and are here to help the community. (r-i-g-h-t....) mwms should be known by everyone around here, given that the area is not yet very large and that the school has been placing all sorts of ads everywhere, right?

ah, but then we have experiences like these:

recently, a classmate of mine was talking to one of his neighbors.

the neighbor asked "where do you go to medical school? i didn't know there were any medical schools around here."
"oh, i go to mwms," my classmate replied, "you know, in the building next door to the ymca?" "you mean you go to school in the fbi building?!?!?!"


20 October 2007

boobs. again.

This post makes me want to go out shirtless, just to see what would happen. Would I get arrested in this country (i.e. the U.S.) if I went out without a shirt? How come women in Europe and other parts of the world don't have to cover their breasts in public, but we do? Why is a breast, in any form, perceived as obscene? Does "the public" not realize that the difference between a man's breasts and a woman's amounts to some adipose (i.e. fat) tissue and developed ducts and glands? Or that breast milk is technically classified as a kind of mucus secretion?

It's just a breast people! Yes, i said it: breast. Maybe I should shout it: B-R-E-A-S-T.

And now for the point: to all those who have issues with seeing breasts, whether on a billboard, a magazine cover, a nursing mom, or on the street, or wherever, I say: GET OVER IT!


But I'm guessing that the people who have a problem with it are probably not reading my blog. *sigh* So what are we to do? How do we educate/liberate people? How do we get the advertisements and messages portraying women as mere sex objects to stop? Why do we buy products that are advertised like this? How come the conservative rhetoric seems to overpower the liberal voice these days?


I think I need to move to a blue state. Then again, here's some food for thought: none of the states seem to be doing well when it comes to women's health, in particular. Did you know that the majority of the states are not meeting the minimum basic requirements for women's health? The picture is bleak. Why aren't more people outraged?

18 October 2007

"family planning"

my mom forwarded an email to me about the recent appointment of Susan Orr, PhD, to head the Federal Family Planning programs at the Department of Health and Human Services. the message was rather tantalizingly incendiary, and while my personal beliefs meshed with their assertions, i was curious to know whether the piece was slanted. so, thanks to Google, i did a little research.

the liberal slant on this appointment is that it's yet another huge step backwards for women's reproductive rights because Dr. Orr proposed elimination of contraception coverage for federal workers' insurance plans. the conservative slant is that it's a positive movement toward affording a greater amount of choice to individuals, particularly in the form of what components of health insurance coverage they choose to elect.

but what does this office of Federal Family Planning do, exactly? i wondered. so i looked them up. after a bit of digging, i discovered that title x is the main "to do" of this governmental unit. given this, theoretically, their mission is the following:

Program Priorities

1. Assuring ongoing high quality family planning and related preventive health services that will improve the overall health of individuals;

2. Assuring access to a broad range of acceptable and effective family planning methods and related preventive health services that include natural family planning methods, infertility services, and services for adolescents; highly effective contraceptive methods; breast and cervical cancer screening and prevention that corresponds with nationally recognized standards of care; STD and HIV prevention education, counseling, and testing; extramarital abstinence education and counseling; and other preventive health services. The broad range of services does not include abortion as a method of family planning;

3. Encouraging participation of families, parents, and/or other adults acting in the role of parents in the decision of minors to seek family planning services, including activities that promote positive family relationships;

4. Improving the health of individuals and communities by partnering with community-based organizations (CBOs), faith-based organizations (FBOs), and other public health providers that work with vulnerable or at-risk populations;

5. Promoting individual and community health by emphasizing family planning andrelated preventive health services for hard-to-reach populations, such as uninsured or under-insured individuals, males, persons with limited English proficiency, adolescents, and other vulnerable or at-risk populations.

Sounds okay, right? I mean, I don't personally like the notion that they exclude institutions that do not provide abortion services while including faith-based institutions (seems to me that in order to be "neutral," they shouldn't allow either or should allow both), but I'm all for educating people about reproduction and providing health services, particularly in under served areas. I looked up their allocation of grant funds for FY 2006, and while some of the studies seem a bit unrealistic, others did seem like they'd result in some helpful information.

Here's the kicker, though. Any organization that applies for/receives a grant from the government under title X must agree to the following:
None of the funds appropriated in this Act may be made available to any entity under title X of the Public Health Service Act unless the applicant for the award certifies to the Secretary that it encourages family participation in the decision of minors to seek family planning services and that it provides counseling to minors on how to resist attempts to coerce minors into engaging in sexual activities
Um, is it just me, or does that sound like any applicable program has to teach abstinence and take away the rights of minors in order to be funded? *sigh*

I get that people are concerned about the appointment of Dr. Orr to this organization, but based upon what I've read, it seems like most of the funding has already been restricted and directed toward the conservative abstinence-only, family-centered approach. If she continues to support the current administration's conservative views, i suspect we're in for more of the same--a decrease in funding and support for any program that advocates something other than abstinence.

This isn't quite what bugs me most about the appointment, though. What I want to know is why someone with degrees in politics is running a branch of government that should, at the very least, be run by someone with training and expertise in public health, if not medicine? How will she be able to make educated decisions about policy if she can only rely on her own opinions to guide her? I dare say, it would be like putting me--a pacifist--in charge of the Army! ;-)

At any rate, it all makes for interesting debate. What do you think?

As for me, well, I don't know yet. I've got to go read a good five chapters of embryology before I can even begin to form a foundational knowledge of what, exactly, "family planning" means....

15 October 2007

taking paranoia to a whole new level...

i interrupt this day of testing to bring you the latest news from mwms. <--yup, it's that interesting that i feel the need to share now, even though i should be memorizing more "road-kill" slides for my practical at 1pm.* mwms is relatively new, and one of the things it's known for is its plethora of security cameras. seriously--there are security cameras everywhere, except the cadaver lab (for hippa reasons) and the restrooms. we also have to badge-swipe in and out of the building. this would all be par for the course if the school were located in the heart of some major metropolis like most schools. but, i kid you not, the only thing near the school is a field of cows. that, and the ymca & red cross. but i don't think any of those entities are dangerous enough to warrant the levels of security present. sure, it's nice to be able to leave my laptop in a study room for a while and not have to worry about it being stolen. but i think it would be that way even if we didn't have cameras everywhere. the school is just not that big. so....the secretary had emailed us on friday to remind us of the time our test was to begin (as if we'd forget...) and told us that cell phones would not be allowed in the lecture hall during the exam (duh). we had the written portion of our exam this morning. in the beginning, things went as usual...they let us into the room, we all found seats, we began bubbling those damn scantrons (someone should create a stamp or a barcode sticker or something so that i don't have to keep bubbling in my name, dammit!), etc. in the midst of this, the head anatomy instructor gave general instructions; you know, the usual: there are this many pages, don't forget to erase completely if you change an answer, use a #2 pencil or the world will come to an end, etc. but here was the kicker: he then announced that only one person at a time would be allowed to use the restroom during the exam. fair enough, right? oh, but it gets better.... everyone who needed to use the restroom during the exam had to be *chaperoned.* the chaperone would stand by the sinks in the restroom and give each person a total of 2 minutes max to do their business. i'm not kidding. i couldn't make this stuff up if i tried. now, i don't know about you, but i'm the kind of person that likes to use the bathroom in private. i have nothing against bodily processes--they don't bother me one bit and i'm not ashamed of them--but my sphincters have a different attitude. there are times in the past where i've had to take a drug test for a new job and it's taken me like 15 minutes to pee because i was being "watched." my sphincters don't like to be watched. they don't like to be heard, either, for that matter. so i'm really grateful that i didn't have to use the restroom during the exam because i think it would've been a huge problem. i'm surprised they didn't say we'd have to leave the stall doors open! and i feel for the guys--i've never understood how men manage to pee at urinals given how public they are--but can you imagine trying to pee knowing that your anatomy professor is staring at your parts? couldn't that be construed as sexual harassment or something? it just seems...ridiculous. as you can see, just about the time i start to feel like i'm not giving mwms enough credit for the things they do well, they pull stunts like this. i'm not in medical school, i'm in prison. and the guards are paranoid.

* I call our practical slides of gross dissections road-kill because that's what they look like to me--road-kill. some of them, particularly in this section (head/neck), are downright indecipherable unless we're given some point of orientation. which we're often not....

13 October 2007

Breast Cancer Walk 2007

i'm happy to report that, thanks in no small part to many of you, the mwms group raised over $1400 for breast cancer today! :-) the photos tell all....

the multitude of walkers

mwms students making strides!

the group pose

11 October 2007

on a brighter note: giving thanks

i want to give a big public thank you to the world's best realtor for sponsoring mwms's breast cancer walk! her donation not only helped us reach our goal, it put us over the top! i continue to be stunned by her generosity--who knew that in buying a home, you could also gain a wonderful, supportive friend? :-)

i have much to add to my blog this month about breast cancer--particularly about a new screening device that's just come on the market that's sure to help our efforts at early detection--but i really ought to go study now. i have to keep reminding myself that i won't be able to help anyone with any medical problems unless i get through medical school.

in the meantime, use the internet for good & educate yourself about breast cancer. and don't forget: guys, you're at risk, too!

the internet...

...is a death trap for medical students.

i signed up to participate in mwms's breast cancer walk this weekend (see sidebar) & sent an email to some friends to ask if they'd help support us, as we were only 13% from our goal last night. one of my friends sent a message back to me, asking me to join her "facebook community." i'd heard about facebook, but never really looked at it.

that is, until today.

all i can say is: holy time-sucking vortex!

i've decided i like the internet a little too much. maybe more than too much. it fascinates me. i'm always finding new things here--new people, new places, new news, new stuff.... and it all keeps getting in the way of what i'm supposed to be doing, which is *studying medicine,* not studying the links to long-lost friend of a long-lost friend and oohing over pictures of their babies/cats/dogs/houses/etc. just when i thought i'd beaten the urge-to-check-email-every-5-seconds beast and had turned off all the chat features on my computer, what happens? i find something else to distract me!

so, it's official and i need to say it: hello, my name is student doctor blaze, and i'm an internetaholic. need i say more?

09 October 2007

so much to say, no time to say it

i'm now 6 days away from my anatomy final and have realized that every moment up to the exam will be excruciating no matter what i do.

i have so much that i want to say here--so many things to write about--but, with the impending exam & all it entails, i can't take the time right now to post about any of it. i promise you, though, there will be some interesting posts making their appearance after the 15th.

in the meantime, i'll leave you with a photo i took this morning (using my macbook pro, which, unfortunately, doesn't have a flash) during our osteopathic principles & practices lecture. we had a guest lecturer and even our regular professor fell asleep! (<--too bad i didn't catch a shot of him sleeping!)

the day was redeemed by an excellent lecture given my mrs_dr_do this afternoon on taking a social & sexual history--so at least i've learned something useful during all my hours of sitting in the lecture hall. overall, though, this picture nicely sums up the energy level/morale on campus....

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. ;-)