Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Ideal Studying Weather

I find it very hard to motivate myself to study when it's gray and rainy out. All I want to do is crawl into bed and watch a movie. But when it's sunny out, I feel like I'm wasting the gorgeous day by studying! I've been trying to figure out the ideal studying weather, and today I finally concluded that (a) it doesn't matter because I have to study pretty much every day anyway and (b) time spent trying to figure out the best studying weather could have been better used for actual studying. A waste of time? Perhaps. Enjoyable? No, it was raining; I would rather have been watching a movie.

(sorry if I led you on with the title of the post, and you were expecting an actual answer as to what the ideal studying weather is)

Monday, September 27, 2010


I don't think I'll have time for a real post until after Wednesday, so let me whet your appetite with a (slightly played-out) science joke and a comic.

A neutron walks into a bar and asks how much for a beer. The bartender says, "For you? No charge."

image from "Piled Higher and Deeper" by Jorge Cham

Friday, September 24, 2010

An Important Quotation

A quote from the MGM course director during our lecture on glycogen (please read in a British accent for full effect):

"I always think of the liver as a very altruistic organ. A lot of what it does is for the benefit of other tissues. The muscle is much more self centered."

I give you this quote because it has inspired the creation of my new favorite activity: assigning human emotions and motivations to organs and compounds in the body. It may not be productive, but it sure is a lot of fun. Let me give you some examples:

I like to imagine that when the heart beats, it's actually pounding on your rib cage shouting, "Help, let me out, I'm bleeeeeeeding," or when enzymes break down sugars, I imagine them as ChompChomp from Super Mario64 (and Mario Kart, Rainbow Road) happily saying "om nom nom" as they chow down.

Since we have our next test coming up next week, I will be alone in my room studying for the majority of the weekend (wooo, party time!). For those of you who might be worried that I would get bored, now that you know how I spend my alone time, you don't have to be worried anymore. :)

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


The top complaint of most medical students is toooo much free time. Underneath all the lectures, small group work, studying, volunteering at the student clinic, sleeping, trying not to get fat, trying not to lose all contact with family and friends... you can usually find med students wondering how best to fill the remainder of their days.

Luckily that far too common extra-time problem has been solved with non-credit electives and interest groups! Non-credit electives are exactly what they sound like: classes that you can elect to take but that you do not receive credit for. I am currently enrolled in four (because apparently I do not like free time OR sleep): Intro to Health Care Reform, Intro to International Health, Intro to Emergency Medicine, and the student-run health clinic.

he was bored too, until he joined some electives!

To avoid (a) making my posts so long that no one will read them and (b) running out of posting topics in less than a month, I will talk about each elective separately. Also we've only had one introductory lecture for each of them so far, and they were kind of boring. And by kind of boring, I mean make-you-want-to-bite-your-fake-nails-off-because-you-don't-know-what-else-to-do-with-yourself boring. But only the health care reform and international health are in a lecture format, and each week is a different topic with a different speaker. The emergency medicine elective involves shadowing residents in University Hospital's emergency room for four-hour shifts, and the clinic is... volunteering in the clinic.

I also joined a global health interest group. On Tuesday we had our first session where we talked about the problem of maternal mortality which was, as you would expect, extremely uplifting and fun (that was sarcasm in case it didn't quite come across in type. IMPORTANT NOTE: this blogger does not find any type of mortality either uplifting or fun).

I will leave you hanging for details on the rest of the electives until I get more involved with them and they (hopefully) get more interesting. I am expecting two very special arrivals by next week - so stay tuned for some pictures.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010


Anyone who has ever worn a t-shirt that says "Washington University" on the front, and "it's in St. Louis, dammit" on the back can commiserate with me - it is annoying to have to explain where you go to school (we're smart, we swearrrr). So let me try to do this. And then never ask me about it again.

UMDNJ stands for the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. It is a state-run health-science institution that is an umbrella organization, not a school itself. It is comprised of eight separate schools: three medical schools- New Jersey Medical School (NJMS), Robert Wood Johnson Medical School (RWJ), and the School of Osteopathic Medicine- and five other schools: nursing, dentistry, public health, and biomedical sciences. I go to NJMS, and we are affiliated with University Hospital, located right next door to the school. Most of the schools are at the Newark campus, where I live, but RWJ is in New Brunswick, and the osteopathic school is in Stratford.

Immediately upon beginning orientation, we learned that as students at NJMS, our mortal enemies include the students at RWJ and the dental students. Why, you ask? Because apparently we're better - a second-year told me that, so it must be true. Sounds reasonable, so they are now your enemies too if you have any loyalty to me.

Ok let's talk a bit about classes. The curriculum has been changing every year since 2004, when they adopted the Jubilee Curriculum (Jubilee! Makes med school sound fun, doesn't it?); they've been tweaking it each year since then. Basically we have a block schedule, supposedly with less lectures and more small group and team-based learning. Physician's Core is the name of a course we take year-round, every Tuesday. Right now we are in the Medical Interviewing portion of the class, where we learn to say things like "what's bothering you today" and "show me where it hurts." Every other day of the week we take MGM, Molecular and Genetic Medicine. As much as it sounds like MGM studios, it's basically just biochemistry and genetics rolled up into one big, fun class.

I know what you're thinking: WHEN DOES SHE GET HER CADAVER? I know I know, it's bugging me too. Most (all?) medical schools start with anatomy - first day of class and right away you're cutting; it's as much a rite of passage as getting your white coat. But, since MGM is more similar to a college science course (and way less time intensive than anatomy will be), the reasoning is that it is a better transition course to begin med school. While I totally agree with that, and while I love having lecture only three hours a day instead of like, eight, I can't waitttt to start anatomy, which is our second block and starts in the middle of October. Anatomy is actually paired (tripled?) with embryology and histology, sooo I'm thinking I might be pretty busy once that starts. And at the same time, the Physican's Core class switches from Medical Interviewing to Physical Examination.

Last few boring things, stick with me! I live in the dorm which is also attached to the school and hospital via a skyway (which, I'm not gonna lie, is totally as creepy to walk through as it is to walk outside). The dorm is only five years old, and it's apartment style (with a dishwasher!), so I don't quite feel like I'm reverting back to freshman-year-in-college-Elena. But the lack of grocery stores in safe walking distance does make me rely on the generosity of my mom's cooking and shopping for me more than I would like (although her frozen meals beat what I could make any day). The drive from Newark to my parents' house is shorter than their drive to the train station, and the train to NYC from Newark is a whopping 18 minutes. But most importantly, Don Pepe is like two seconds away - lobster every day, yummm.

OK I know this post is totally boring and you're all gonna stop reading the blog because you're like blah blah blah I don't care about your classes. But I had to get logistics out of the way! I promise all posts after this will be super fun and entertaining, because med school is super fun and entertaining!

i'm "diene" to start anatomy!
teehee, chem jokes


Welcome to my blog!

I planned on starting this in August, at the beginning of my med school adventure, butttt turns out that I'm lazy (surprise!), so here we are mid-September and most of you know NOTHING ABOUT MY LIFE. The horror! How are you all even getting through each day?? But don't panic, that will soon change.

First I'm going to tell you guys a secret. I don't really want to be a doctor. The last five years of my life have all been a ploy, Joaquin Phoenix style, so that I could get the inside scoop on medical school life and eventually create an investigatory documentary (based of course, on the investigatory blog in front of you). OK fine, I'm kidding; Joaquin Phoenix's rap career was obviously meant in earnest and not as a hoax.

my inspiration

So I figured I'd pretend that med school is something cool that people normally blog about, like going abroad, or... going abroad, or I don't know, traveling abroad, and write about things I see and people I meet. While I'm actually quite close (maybe too close?) to most of my family and friends, med school is still a new adventure for me, and one that most people I know aren't experiencing. I think that qualifies as enough of an excuse to be self-centered and to think that people might be interested in reading the things I have to say. So I hope for your sake and for mine that I have time to do interesting things other than studying! (ok, more for my sake than yours, because you can always stop reading if I get boring.. I however have to actually live it as my life)