Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Big Blue Blobby Cell

I am putting it in writing that will be forever searchable on the internet that if I ever become a famous scientist and discover something that med students will have to one day study, I will not name it after myself.

Let's say I discover a new type of cell in the body that no one has ever seen before. And let's say this cell has a big blue blob in the middle of it - would I name it Elena Cell? Noooo, I would not torture future med students that way (plus, they'd probably spell it Elana Cell on exams, and I would get super annoyed by that for eternity). Instead, I would name it the Big Blue Blobby Cell. That way, when future med students are studying they can be like, "Wait, what's the name of that cell with the big blue blob? Oh yeah, the Big Blue Blobby Cell, how logical!" And maybe no one will remember my name as the famous scientist who discovered it, but at least they won't hate me with the same venomous passion that I have for people like Dr. Albert Adamkiewicz or Dr. Hans Kohn, or really anyone on this list - although, I have to admit that I am ok with there being an element called Einsteinium, he can totally have that one.

I know sometimes it's not the scientists who name things after themselves - it's other annoying people who do it later to honor them - but I still hate Adamkiewicz and his stupid anterior segmental medullary artery.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Med School Toys!

New obsession. If only because of the tag line, "smells like spleen spirit" - not only is it a clever pun, but it's also alliteration! Sigh, it's discoveries like this that make me believe in a higher being.

Just to be clear, anyone who is expecting a present from me anytime soon: assume it will be a plush microbe. Check them out by clicking on the link above or below, and let me know your favorite.

Personally, I find syphillis adorable.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

For the Record....

I don't wake up at 5 am to update the blog. For some reason my google is set to Pacific time, so if I am writing something at 8 in the morning in NJ, it says I wrote it at 5. I didn't.

Anatomy TBL - Sometimes Less than Awesome

Get ready for a long one with no pictures....

It's that lovely time of year right now - that time between taking an exam and actually getting your grade back. There are those I've spoken to that are absolutely positive they completely bombed our first anatomy exam, there are those (whom I haven't actually talked to, but I'm sure they exist somewhere) that are secretly happy about how they felt it went, and then there are those like me who vacillate constantly between best and worst case scenarios depending on the moment (my "worst"-case scenario: law school next year). And then of course there are the smart people who choose not to obsess about the exam after it's too late to do anything about it anyway, and do fun things instead.

Let me explain how anatomy works here, and why this test seemed so particularly difficult to everyone. And then, I promise, I will talk about something other than class for the next few blog posts.

So first off, there are no lectures at all for anatomy or histology (there are a few for embryology). Everything we learn is through TBL, or Team-Based Learning, which is the newest cool thing in medical education. Let's say tomorrow's subject is the upper arm. In our syllabus, there will be a list of pages in our book to read (for example, the chapter on the upper arm), followed by 3-4 pages of questions to answer or structures to identify based on that reading. When we go into class the next day, everyone takes an individual short quiz based on the reading, then we go over alllll the reading questions with our TBL group (a 6-person team assigned at the beginning of the course), and then at the end you take that same quiz again as a group. Finally, you go to the lab and dissect, or look at histology slides. The tests are supposedly based only on questions and structures from the TBLs (also, apparently, on practice questions from specific review books which we should be required to buy if they are needed to adequately prepare for the exam, just saying...)

During all this time, the professors are walking around answering any questions that people may have. The professors really are so helpful and amazing at explaining things ... when you ask them questions. If you go through the TBL and your group knows all the answers (or worse: thinks they know all the answers), then you don't fully utilize the professors. But they tend to give lots of hints to the groups they talk to about what to focus on and what can sort of be ignored for the test, so the groups that don't ask as many questions seem to be at a disadvantage to the groups that are constantly badgering the professors (in my head: professor-hogs). But no matter what, each group talks to different professors and for different amounts of time, so by the time the test comes around, there are lots of different rumors floating around like "I heard this nerve is super important, but don't really bother with the lower leg" or "someone told me that it came straight from the professor that there are only two important arteries we have to know." Everyone ends up knowing, or thinking they know, a different amount of information for the test. Which is frustrating when you actually get to the test and (shocking!) some rumors are true, and some are so very not true.

The reason TBL is big right now is because it's all about active learning vs. lectures, which are passive learning. For a lecture, you as the student don't need to do any preparation, and you can totally sleep or zone out through the whole thing. With TBL, you come into class prepared every day having basically learned the information already, and in class you reinforce that information by going over it with your teammates and getting to actually see the things you read about in the body or on models. In general, I really like TBL. It forces you to stay on top of your stuff, which is important. But I really think we need a fewwwww lectures interspersed throughout (a) to tie some things together so we can see the big picture, which is hard to do when you're answering very specific questions from a text book, (b) to learn how to correctly pronounce things!!!, and (c) so that everyone is getting the same reliable information when it comes to what to focus on for the test. As a friend of mine put it, "I'm so happy to be spending close to $30,000 a year to get the opportunity to teach myself anatomy." Of course that's not really the case, but sometimes it does feel that way.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

A is for Anatomy. And for Awesome.

Anyone that has spoken to me in the last few weeks knows that we finally started anatomy here at NJMS. And by anatomy, I also mean histology, embryology, and cell biology because they're all part of one big class called ACE ("Is that stressful," you ask, "having so many different classes all rolled up into one?" noooo why would that be stressful? i'mnotstressedreallyi'mnotstressed - why would you ask that?! do i sound stressed?)

No but seriously, I love anatomy. I finally feel like a real med student. In fact, it is so exactly how I've always imagined it would be that I don't even feel like I'm a med student; I feel like I'm in a movie pretending to be a first year med student taking anatomy.

But, like all things in life (just call me Positive Polly), there is a downside. Jesus. H. Christ. It smells so bad (it = everything). Putting on my scrubs yesterday actually took two tries because the first time I attempted putting the shirt on I almost threw up and couldn't get it over my head. The second time I learned my lesson and held my breath until it was all the way on. What's funny is that in the anatomy lab itself, the smell of formaldehyde doesn't bother me. It's really just the scrubs and lab coats and the lockers we keep them all in. I'm not kidding, you would pass out if you tried locking yourself in one of our lockers - I don't know why you would ever do that though, so it's probably not something you should worry too much about.

One other teensy little downside is the insane amount of work we now have. Luckily, it is all SO INTERESTING. That is not sarcastic. I literally love everything we're learning. Even histology, and that's incredibly boring. I even enjoy having to stay up late to study sometimes. OK fine, that last part is obviously a lie - I still hate staying up late, even for anatomy.