Sunday, August 31, 2008

$10,368 down the tubes. Thanks.

First of all, I want to thank everyone who is clicking the advertisements in the upper right hand corner.  As of right now I am at $26.06!!  PLEASE CONTINUE TO DO IT.  I really appreciate it.  

The following might seem like whining.  I have learned through the medical school process that there are a lot of people and things I am not going to agree with, and most of the time I will just have to suck it up and move on.  I assure you that should the extremely rare instance when I can do something present itself, I will take full advantage of it.  Until then, I will complain to you about it, so just suck it up and move on.

Dear 'raise your hand in lecture' guy,

$60,000, roughly, is what it costs me to go to school (living expenses included in the number) per year. We go to school about 216 weekdays out of the year. That means every day I attend lecture, I pay $0.20 per minute for the WHOLE day. [Keep in mind that I could factor it in per minute, per lecture, and then the amount would be much more.  I could also add more questions, but it is Labor Day weekend and I am feeling nice.]  So, every time YOU raise YOUR hand and make the 'professor' stop the lecture for five minutes so YOU can ask a question or comment on how YOU have seen/experienced/done something pertaining to lecture, it costs me two dollars. 5 minutes for the time wasted in class and five minutes for the time I have to now spend going over the stuff the 'professor' will consequentially not have time to go over. Add in the compounding interest over 8 years and you now owe me $3.00. It happens AT LEAST 8 times a day (2 per lecture). That is $24 per day, multiplied by 432 (two years), and you get a whopping $10,368.  I didn't notice the 'listen to your classmates 8 times a day' loan on my promissory note.  I don't know about other students, but I would much rather a $10,368 check than to listen to YOU interfere with my learning process.  Oh, and my favorite is when YOU have YOUR hand up for a while and then YOU put it down, at which point the 'professor' calls on YOU and YOU say, "actually you just answered my question." Really? Wow, go figure that a 'professor' is going to back up a statement with clear, concise points. Weird. Pretty sure that unless it is immunology, it will make sense at the end of the lecture and if it doesn't, there is always e-mail or office hours.  In fact, YOU could probably pull out YOUR iPhone and send him a message via e-mail right there!  I also like the one where YOU ask a question and the 'professor' says "That is coming up later in the lecture, you are getting ahead of me." Thanks a lot. I was on the edge of my seat wondering what was next and YOU just ruined it.  I actually had a pool ($10 buy-in) going on the next point in the lecture.  Do YOU want to go ahead and tell me what happens at the end of Harry Potter, too? How about YOU tell me what happened in "so you think you can dance" this week, because I need to clear up some room on my TiVo. I just do not get it. 

There are 2 conditions that should elicit YOUR hand going up in the air during lecture:

1) The student next to YOU is having a medical issue and seeing as YOU are not yet a doctor, YOU cannot help him or her. (Unless YOU are a gunner in which case you would start CPR, draw an i.v. line, and continue quietly taking notes)

2) The 'professor' has stated something that is the exact OPPOSITE of what is on the power point slide.

The fact that YOU did some shadowing somewhere where they used drug 'X' on a patient means nothing to me.  Neither does the fact that they had to get peak and trough levels for him.  Yeah I know it is used, I am learning the protocol, that is why the 'professor' is lecturing on it. Here is a novel idea.  Since YOU are taking a copious amount of notes, why don't YOU continue the trend and WRITE DOWN YOUR QUESTIONS and then E-MAIL THEM TO THE PROFESSOR. It drives me nuts. I have questions during class. Everyone does. I, however, respect everyone who does not have that exact question enough not to disrupt the class. Look, I could have asked "so, what was the antimicrobial solution that the Orthopedic doctor in Germany that I was shadowing squirted in the patient's hip, while doing a metal on metal chromium-cobalt total hip arthroplasty? Oh, by the way, I was holding the leg and some tools and it was so awesome and I am totally sweet and I did things no one else has...etc.etc."   That would not serve in the productivity of the lecture. Save YOUR stories or questions for someone else's borrowed money.  I am a nice guy, but not when you steal from me.  I will remember you when I am forking over an extra $100 per month for ten years to pay your 'question asking' loan.

Everyone else

p.s.  Can you tutor me in immunology?

Friday, August 29, 2008

Mosunday(TM pending)

So every week, around Thursday, they put out the packets for the following week. Well this classmate and I were staring at the papers and wondering where Monday's handout was. We were looking all through them and then she suddenly exclaimed "oh yeah, we don't have school on Monday." To me, though, there is no 'Monday' as people call it, only Mosundays(TM pending), a horrible fused Monday and Sunday. Work with me here. Every morning I wake up, it feels like a Monday. I know there is a full day of work and worse yet, there are 4 more days of work. Then at about 12pm, something changes about the day. It turns into that early Sunday evening feeling when you know that you still have 5 days ahead of you. Your stomach starts to knot and you get instantly sad that the 'weekend' is over. I don't feel like "oh, phew, Monday is almost over." No, I feel like, "Awww crap, tomorrow IS Monday." Then it repeats every day.  Dang you Mosunday!! (TM pending)

This week was filled with two labs (micro and clinical skills). Learned about range of motion and gram stains. Lecture was pharmacology and immunology heavy. I just about fell out of my chair when the immunology 'professor' told us it was his last lecture of the section. Instead of 'professor' I think his name should be 'reader of many confusing power points'. He has yet to teach me something. 3 more immunology-less weeks. Pharmacology is interesting. There is a lot more behind drugs and dosing than I thought. We haven't started to learn the drugs yet, and I am sure it will be difficult at first. I am getting sick of the microbiology lectures. I am not happy with the amount of bacteria, parasites, and fungi that we have to 'memorize'. I use 'memorize' loosely because at this point I feel like it goes in one ear and out the other. I know I will not fully memorize a lot of things until I start to use it in a clinical setting or with a system. That is just how I work. You can tell me that IL-1 is a pro-inflammitory cytokine, but unless you show me in a setting, I will not learn it. (I looked that up)

I am looking forward to musculoskeletal, which is 3 weeks away. I know it will be more challenging, but I also know that it will not seem so scattered. I have begun to get frustrated with some things and procedures. I want to keep a positive attitude, but there are some things I do not agree with so far. The biggest is the immunology professor. 

Did you ever wonder how elementary teachers have to go through all sorts of training and schooling to learn how to teach, but as soon as someone gets their PhD, they are all of a sudden experts on teaching? Why? I am not saying that there are not good teachers that have a PhD, but I am saying that I feel that if I am paying for an education, I would like the person standing up in front of me to know teaching styles and how to cater to each student, etc. ANYONE can read a powerpoint that was copied and pasted out of some book.  NOT everyone can teach.  I know this is medical school and we are grown ups, but I would like more bang for my buck in certain subjects. We shouldn't be walking out of a lecture more confused than ever. And I am sure I am not the only one who feels that way (some people are talking about getting a petition going). His first language is not English, so he doesn't even form complete sentences. Last I checked, I am not at a foreign medical school.  Maybe I should just pay part of the tuition and when they ask me where the rest is I will tell them they will get it as soon as I start being taught immunology by someone other than myself.

I learned in football that if you do not do your job, you do not play. That doesn't mean that the coach doesn't like you as a person, he just doesn't like the way you play. Plain and simple. Either you produce results or you watch someone else who can. The same rule should apply to education, especially if it is paid for. If other professors have to post handouts from when they taught your subject because you are confusing students, it is time to go. There are other things you can do with the PhD and M.D. combo.  You have had two years to prove yourself.

Monday, August 25, 2008

You don't have to outrun the bear, just your friend.

So, today was my first "quiz" of medical school and by "quiz" I mean test because no quiz is 76 questions long.  I had gotten to talking with a friend of mine over the weekend about failure and being the bottom of the class and how with grades it creates a somewhat competitive atmosphere, thus embracing the gunner lifestyle.  (but it also doesn't allow you to coast through med school at a "passing" level, which I appreciate). We were also talking about how the tests are graded on a curve and I said that heaven forbid it is one of us who is LAST in the class.  Someone has to be.  To which he replied "you don't have to outrun the bear, just your friend."  After I stopped laughing, I began to think in my head about who I was "faster" than.  You, you, you, maybe not you, you, etc.  Yeah, I am competitive, I'll admit it.  I want to get a good residency in a specialty I am excited about and if that means that I have to do research behind your back or rub shoulders with the right person, so be it.  I am not saying I will trip you while running, or even not help you if you need to get up into my tree, just don't sit on my branch because there is only room for one of us.  "Seat's taken"  These are facts.  This isn't for my ego, but for a family I will have one day and a job I have to happily show up to.  The application process was hard enough.  Thinking about someone in "my" seat at a better school wasn't easy to swallow.  Especially coupled with affirmative action, but that's a topic for a different discussion (I do believe I am in the right place though).  That doesn't mean I am not a nice person or will try to make you look bad, I just know my weaknesses and if I can't run faster than you, I better be able to climb a tree faster than you or know a better  way out of the woods.

There is one thing I try to keep telling myself when I get stressed about the mental aptitude of my classmates.  "If they were THAT smart, they would be at Harvard."

So today I have an opportunity to go do some volunteering.  The CMDA is serving 500 homeless people some dinner.  I will be going to that and getting grounded.  All this medical school is overwhelming at times and it will be nice to do something for someone else.  Isn't that why I am here???

Also, for the record, in regards to my ethical question.  I voted to tell the mother the results and give her the option to come clean before I spilled the beans.  She is the only one who already knows or has some suspicion (could have been quite a party) that the son isn't her husband's.  I also said this because if I were the husband, I would want to hear it from my wife, not some doctor I do not know.  I factored MY feelings into the equation, which is probably not a good idea.  "Do unto others" right?  Unless you are running from a bear...(just kidding)

Friday, August 22, 2008

P.R.O.D.-the new club on campus

Ok, so week two is done. I am actually leaving school an hour earlier than I had planned. Why, you might ask? (I pretty much sat here for the last five minutes trying to come up with a witty response, but I could not.) I guess that kind of tells you why I am leaving early. I feel like if I try to learn/read/stare/listen to another thing I will forget the way home, which would result in me A)sleeping at school B)sleeping under a bridge C)hanging out with someone in the area who might rob me or D)all of the above. Which brings me to my next point.

I had an epiphany last night. Why on earth would someone try to rob a medical student? We are actually some of the most indebted students around. We are the outlier to the bell curve of debt, and I am talking the numbers in the red. If anyone should be doing the robbing, it should be US! In fact, maybe I can get that club approved here on campus. P.R.O.D. Proactive Rapid Olbigation Dispursement. That doesn't sound so bad.

So this week was filled with 1 clinical lecture, 1 embryology lecture, 6 microbiology lectures, 2 histology, 5 immunology, 2 physiology, 1 bioethics, and 3 pathology lectures. Then 3 labs. The pathology professor is good. He wants us to learn and is quite entertaining. He shows some interesting slides as well as MANY that elicit an "ooooo" or "ouch" response. We also spent 2 hours in a room looking at x-rays and other various scans, which brings me to my specialty hierarchy. As you may have noticed, I have added Aerospace Medicine and dropped some down a little bit. I think Aerospace medicine would be very interesting. I have read a few articles on it and will try to learn more about it when I can.

Finally, I added a small question below. I am interested in what my small handful of readers think about the medical ethics question that was presented in class to us. (PLEASE TYPE YOUR ANSWER IN AS A COMMENT IF YOU WISH TO DO SO.) I think it is really interesting stuff. Makes you think hard. Oh, and YES there is a "correct" answer, which led me to ask the following question during our discussion this week. "What makes the ethics board so special that they get to decide what is the ethical thing to do?I mean, you could have ten ethics boards from ten hospitals all give different decisions, right?" I wasn't trying to be a smart-ass, just trying to figure out how there could be one right answer.

This situation came up in a major transplant program which does more kidney transplants than anyone in the U.S. In brief: An adult son who was willing to be a live kidney donor for his father is found in testing that he is not biologically related to his father. Neither the father nor the son appear to know this. Should they be told? If so, what should be said, by whom, to whom-and why? If not, why not- and what should be disclosed?

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

If only we had a parking garage on campus...

Just to give you a feel.......(straight out of the security department)

August 19, 2008
On Monday afternoon, August 18, 2008 at around 4:30 P.M., a student was robbed by force across the street from the University on the corner of Woodland and Independence Blvd. The student observed the suspect yelling and cussing at everyone in the vicinity and even struck a car with his fist as it passed. She started trying to avoid the suspect but, he singled her out and concentrated his aggression solely toward her. He first tried to punch her and grab for her purse all the time yelling obscenities and asking for money. The student was able to get her cell phone out and was trying to call for help when the suspect grabbed the phone and hit her in the arm. He gathered his belonging and left in the direction of Seven-Eleven. The student continued on to the University where the robbery was reported to first security and later Kansas City Police. The robbery is currently under investigation.

UPDATE : 8/19/08:
The suspect in the robbery of our student is in police custody. Her property has been recovered.

August 20, 2008

On Tuesday, August 19, 2008 a student's vehicle was broken into while parked in the lot across from Smith Hall at the corner of Highland and Independence. Entry was gained by damaging the lock cylinder on the driver’s side door. A large amount of property was taken from the vehicle including electronic, power tools and medical equipment. Video surveillance revealed the suspect entered the parking lot in a car and parked close to the victim’s vehicle at about 10:00 A.M. and gained entry to the vehicle in less than 30 seconds. The suspect remained in the vehicle for about 6 minutes and exited making one trip to his car. He back out of his parking space, made one circle around the parking lot, and left the area. The total time on campus was less than 11 minutes. The suspect vehicle is a small gray or silver 2 door compact car with a sunroof and spoiler. There is no indication as to what led the suspect to single out this particular vehicle, but one theory could be a GPS mount left on the dash or windshield of the vehicle.  Another theory is the suspect may have had good luck gaining entry to a particular type of vehicle in the past. Reports have been filed with PD and video evidence is made available to them.

Friday, August 15, 2008

It's Not THAT Bad!!

So some of those special people in my life have been wondering about the new phase in my life and what is going on, how are things, etc.  So, I decided to start this blog.  That being said, this is not a substitute for a phone call or personal e-mail.  I have thought long and hard and I feel this will help ease some of my "broodings" if you will.  It has also allowed me to put my thoughts on paper which can be very therapeutic, even if nobody reads them.  My goal right now is a minimum of once a week, but there may be some more posts as I see fit.  I will try to keep this as anonymous as I can as I never know who is watching.  I have heard that my school can sometimes be a bit like "big brother".  I may end up putting up pictures though, so who knows.  This first post is very long.  Sorry, but I am just setting the scene for you.  So here goes:

My neighborhood:
Used to be the Italian mob stomping grounds years ago.  They have all moved out of the area, but the woman who runs the pizza place in my building is straight out of Italy, so I am sure mob-remnants still exist.  A car ride to school takes approx 6 minutes, a bike ride 11.5.  I had started the week out riding my bike to school, only later to find out that the hookers and thugs come out near my school after 7pm.  They were yelling at me as I rode home one night so as of right now I will no longer be attempting the "dodge-a-hooker and avoid robbery" ride home.  Maybe I will find a new route at a later date, or if I could lighten my load (currently two bags with a laptop and cell phone in one) I think I could bike faster than anyone can run if need be.  All I know is the security guards on campus pack heat, and it isn't because the med students like to party.  Plus on the drive to school today there was a man throwing gang signs at cars while standing in the middle of the street.  I'll pass on the "share-a-ride" option with him.

My APT:  
A nice brick, studio apartment above a coffee shop.  I am on the end so that is nice and I do have someone above me.  I have decided not to get cable right now as I think it might be a huge distractor or an unused expense.  I am not here to get caught up on "So you think you can dance" and "Maury", I am here to go to medical school.

My Class:
There is a wide range of students from all walks of life.  Heavily Caucasian.  2 black students, three middle east students, and maybe three or four asian students.  I have talked with some people about how this might be where the victims (I use that term loosely) of Affirmative Action end up as some public schools still use Affirmative Action.  I could go deeper here, but I will save it for a different post.  I have met some nice people.  My goal with medical school was to make at least one friend that was close enough with me to be in my wedding one day so we will see.

This week was my re-introduction to:  
  • Taking notes 
  • Paying attention when someone is talking even though I want to fall asleep REALLY badly
  • Three-ring binders 
  • Professors 
  • Students
  • Backpacks 
  • The library  

Some new things I have experienced this week:  
  • Studying weeks before a test and the same day the info is presented to me
  • Gunners
  • Being inside studying or in class for the day's daylight hours
  • Not getting the mail/taking out the trash/doing laundry because I won't have the time until tomorrow or the weekend
  • The feeling the term "I think socialized medicine is a good thing" brings to my stomach

I understand that there are some words, such as gunner, that I may use which may be foreign.  The definition can be seen on the right hand column of this page, as well as many other fun things.   If you would like to, click one of the ads in the upper right corner of the page and let the page load, whatever it is.  I don't know how much they will give me for having them, but every little bit counts.  And if you think about it, have everyone you know do it as well.  Heck, maybe I can pay for medical school.  (Ok, maybe not, but I will keep you updated on the first check when and if it arrives).  Go ahead and do it now, I will wait...............

My typical day goes something like this:
8am - 12pm Lecture
12-1pm Lunch (unless they bring in a guest lecturer or a club is meeting)
1-5pm Lab or study time
5-9/10 Study

I hate to say it, but I didn't even study like this for finals week in undergrad.  The hardest part right now is the volume of information.  We got about a semester's worth of cell biology in two days.  I have a three-ring binder (3") full of the week's notes.  The main point I have heard over and over again is to stay on top of it.  It isn't so much the difficulty right now, but more the volume that is the challenge.  Here has been my plan (because I learned a physician always needs a plan):

  1. Find a place to study without distractions:
cell phone off, shades closed, no foot traffic.  The school has a building that has small "offices" where you can study without any interruption.  This is my new home.

     2.  Review and condense the day's notes:

Four lectures a day and one hour per lecture = 4 hours minimum study time.  There are 3 points that come from each lecture (2 questions worth 0.5 and two one point questions on the final) so I have concentrated on the main points only.  I have tried to get the big ideas.  It's no use spending a lot of hours on one idea if it only will yield 3 points.  I have found myself skimming over details (nervously) that I do not think are important.  There is just no way to get it all in.

      3.  On the weekend, condense the notes for each lecture even further and make flash cards so studying for the final and boards will be easier.

Other things added to my Mon-Fri life:
  • good diet
  • exercise (daily)(starts tomorrow)(no, seriously)

I know I am not the smartest person in class, but I feel that I do have an advantage.  While a lot of students wait to make personal connections with residency programs for their second, third but mostly fourth years, I plan on making a few of them this year...EARLY.  I would love to walk into a rotation or clerkship somewhere and have them already know me by name.  A list of specialties I am interested in can be seen on the right hand column and I will update that as well as the other things on a regular basis.  I plan on meeting with a few people to get their advice in the specialty.  I have heard over and over again that if a residency program likes you and knows you want to go there, they will take you even if you don't have as strong of scores as some other applicants have.  I know the specialties I am interested in are all very competitive, but I know that if I make the right connections and work hard enough, I will strengthen my chances to get the residency I want.  If you know someone who knows someone, who might be able to help me or introduce me to someone who can help me, please do not hesitate to let me know.  I'll appreciate and need any help I can get.

And now for a weekly thing that I used to do on a daily basis for my parents (I am not known as a "talker"), best and worst.  I will also add frustration.

Best:  Realizing that this is it.  Medical school.  I do not think it has fully sunk in, but this is like starting a career in a company and being at the bottom.  A long way to go, but I am on the track I need to be on.  A side caveat was that Whole Foods carries the Red Baron Classic Crust Mexican Style Supreme all-time favorite.

Worst:  I have found myself wondering about other students.  What they are doing, how much they are studying, if they are putting more time in, or are learning better than me.  I wonder about techniques, if I am doing it all correctly, etc.  I guess that will come with time, but the sooner the better.  I don't want to be stuck after Christmas still trying to figure out the best way to study.  On that same note, a part of me doesn't want to feel like I have to compete with them, but at the same time it would feel great to be a member of the top 10% or so.  

Frustrating:  There are some professors with some HEAVY accents.  Some of the terms I have been hearing are hard enough to understand, but when you add a heavy Russian accent on top, its like hearing spanish with a southern accent.  Plus, this professor in particular just read his notes.  No explanation or help bringing the pieces together.  It was like he dumped all the parts to an Ikea desk on the floor and took away the picture and directions.  I can piece it together but there will be mistakes and a lot of time consumed.  So there will be these subjects I will need to teach myself.

There you have it...  Feel free to comment.  I am still trying to figure this all out but this will have to do for now.