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.


  1. Wow. Incredible stuff. Dangerous bike rides being chased by hookers and drug dealers. Italian mobsters carrying pizzas in violin cases...
    and yet, despite it have a plan! And a good one!
    This is awesome _______. (You need some sort of a code name. I think McDreamy is already taken by another doctor....let me know what to call you.)
    I am proud of you and will be praying for you! Truly! And, I hope that one day you will be in Kenya along side the other awesome doctors.
    You can do it.
    Ride carefully (and quickly) and stay pensive.
    I admire you and will add you to my Google Reader list immediately.
    Looking forward to the updates!
    PS I think blogging is the best therapy ever!

  2. In our household, gunner has a different meaning. Sounds like you can use both! Where is Harry's Potter's invisibility cloak when you need it??? Ride fast and keep up the good work. Proud of you, Mr. T.

  3. This blog is a fun read for an old swimming/mountaineering doctor. I smile when I read about the means you're taking your calling seriously. I LOL when I read about the specialties you're considering......been there, done deep and considered response to your provocative ethical question was " have some 'splainin' to do"......(I think our answers ended up in the same place, though clearly yours was more articulate) safe....stay in touch, brings our simple household joy.

  4. Um...the right answer in my opinion was to explain the medical facts to the father and son both- that they were not a genetic match. Let them wreak havok on the filial's all coming down anyway...

    Great to see/read your comments...and here I thought blogging was for emophytes, goths, and Rocky Horror fans. Silly me.

  5. Forget the note cards - time well wasted IMO. Do rewrite/condense notes but always start from the begining (or a begining) so they make sense.