Monday, November 26, 2012

Halfway Point

 As you may have guessed from the title of this post, Thanksgiving break marked the halfway point of third year.  Check to surgery, neurology/psychiatry, ob/gyn, and elective #1.  Still to come: elective #2, pediatrics, family medicine, and internal medicine.  I can't pretend that I'm not extremely happy to have (what I think are) the hardest rotations behind me.  If I've survived so far, I feel pretty confident that I'm going to make it through this year in one piece with my sanity and empathy mostly intact.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012


We may not get sick days, and we may not get Columbus day, but we get A WHOLE WEEK OFF FOR THANKSGIVING!  I didn't even get that in college!

Here is how I am spending it:

That's right.  As a big, useless pile of jelly.  Doing nothing.  Relaxing.  Sleeping.

(Also getting all my yearly doctors' appointments done, running all the errands I've been putting off for ages, seeing my out of town friends who are back home for the week, celebrating a birthday or two, maybe finally cleaning my apartment floors.  But mooostly as a big, useless pile of jelly doing nothing.)

Happy Turkey Day everyone!  Have a happy, healthy holiday! 

I'm sorry, I can't help myself, here's a fun holiday timeline:
  • 1863: Abe Lincoln makes Thanksgiving a national holiday to be celebrated on the last Thursday of November to help unify the country (this is wiiiidely believed to be the primary event leading to the end of the Civil War).
  • 1939: FDR changes it to the second-to-last Thursday to lengthen the Christmas shopping season to help spur the economy.  People flip out, and only half the country listens.  And then there's Texas, who celebrated on the second-to-last AND the last Thursday, because YOLO, right?
  • 1942: Congress passes a law (well, in 1941, but it took effect in '42) officially making Thanksgiving the fourth Thursday of November, which is sometimes the last and sometimes the second-to-last Thursday.  This law is also remembered fondly as the last time Congress was ever able to broker a compromise.

Monday, November 12, 2012

The Best Way to Study

I wrote a post wayyyyy back when I was a wee bitty first year about the best way to study (or at least the best weather to study in), and what I came up with is that there is no best way to study.  BUT for those of you out there who look to this blog for study advice (if there is anyone who does this, I imagine you must be quite disillusioned by this point), RELAX - based on years of research and much trial and error, I have finally figured out the best way to study.

First I'll give you a hint about ways that are NOT efficient.  The best way to learn new info is not reading it in a textbook, it's not hearing it in a lecture, it's not copying it over and over a million times in pretty-colored pens, and it's not even seeing it on a patient and then reading about it later in a textbook (sorry, Student Affairs).

The absolute best way to learn new information in medical school is to be scared and/or humiliated into learning it.

"But how do I go about being scared into information?" you ask.  "Do I have my roommate jump out at me and scream 'boo!' while I'm reading, as if I have the hiccups?"  No.  That is stupid.

Here is a handy step by step guide to being scared into learning:

1. Don't know the information to start off with.
2. Get asked simple question by attending while in patient's room ("What are the plantar flexors of the ankle?").
3. Have your mind go completely blank and say, "Umm" stupidly a few times.
4. Get prodded by the attending ("Ok, just give me one of them").
5. Make sure mind remains completely blank.  Forget all muscles of the entire body.  Turn your face red, say, "Umm" again to make it look like you are thinking about muscles (but we all know you're really only thinking about how stupid you feel or just repeating 'think think think think' to yourself).
6. Begin humiliation ("You don't know a siiiiingle plantar flexor?  You did take anatomy didn't you?"  Cue everyone else in the room such as residents, patient, patient's family, and researchers getting extreeeemely awkward and avoiding eye contact with you at all costs).
7.  Be told the answer exasperatedly ("You really don't know? ((sigh)) It's the gastrocnemius, soleus, and tibialis posterior.")
8. For the rest of the day, wish that you are dead and feel woefully inadequate no matter how much else you may know.
10. Be asked the next day jokingly by the attending what the plantar flexors are, have a brief panic attack, but then rattle them off like it's nothing.  Boo-yah.

And that, my friends, is the best way to learn information in medical school.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Live-Blogging Sandy (More or Less True)

Friday (pre-Sandy, Day -3)
Mom: You should really go and buy water and flashlights and fill your car with gas.
Me: Stop being a crazy person.

Saturday (Day -2)
Around Noon
Should I be nervous?  No, it will be a dud.  But what if it's not?  It probably will be.  Maybe I'll fill up my gas tank and stock up at Target just in case.  I'm probably being crazy.  I'm not gonna go.  I have a lot of studying to do anyway.

1:00 pm
Maybe I'm just being prepared.  Is my mom making me crazy?  Or am I stupid if I don't go?  Maybe I'm being stupid.  I'll go just in case.  I'll still have the whole afternoon to study when I get back.

Fiiiiiine, I'll get off the couch and go.

Target = SO CROWDED.  At least if I'm being crazy, I have a lot of company.  And I can do practice questions on my phone while I wait in this check-out line for half an hour.

So many interesting things happening on Twitter!

Sooo I guess I should start studying?

Sunday (Day -1)
I am really craving peanut butter and salami right now.  Think it's appropriate to delve into my hurricane non-perishable stash yet?

Official Email: School and clinical activities are hereby canceled for Monday and Tuesday.

Immediately After That
Facebook timeline explosion of everyone in the world starting to drink and writing about their drinking and hurricane parties.  My thoughts: Thank goodness I have two extra days to study for my OSCE on Wednesday and shelf on Friday.

Monday (Day 0)
Early Morning
Well this doesn't look like hurricane weather.  Canned chili for breakfast?

Slightly Later But Still Early Morning
I don't wannnnnna study.

Later Morning
I'm going to eat some crackers and peanut butter, and then I am DEFINITELY getting through all of the OB chapters in Blueprints today.

I am definitely going to get through half of the OB chapters in Blueprints today.  Also, it's starting to get mildly windy.  This could be exciting.

Later Afternoon
This is feeling more like a hurricane.  Keeping everything at 100% charged at all times.  Also keeping our blinds closed because it feels like our windows are going to explode at any second.  Feeling pretty good that I got through two of the twelve OB chapters in Blueprints.

Early Evening
Seriously, what do we do if our windows explode?  Let's move the TV into the hallway that doesn't have windows.

Later Evening
Let's watch TV.  We can move the TV back just for a half hour, right?

5 Seconds After Moving TV Back
Power out.  Dammit.

10 Seconds Later
Let's walk down the bajillion flights of stairs in our building to see what the damage is like downstairs.

20 Minutes Later
Shoot, we have to walk back up?

20 Minutes Later
We are definitely going to go through our water supply faster than expected if we keep making that trip.

1 Minute Later
You can't flush the toilet without electricity????

2 Minutes Later
Let's have a glass of vodka, eat all our melting ice cream, and go to sleep.

Tuesday (Post-Sandy, Day 1)
Still no power.  I guess I should study while it's light out.

Friend: Don't study, come play with me!
Me: I can't, test tomorrow, ahhh!
Email: Class canceled until next Monday, November 5.
Me: Ok let's play, I'll meet you downstairs in a second.

20 Minutes Later
Ok, I made it down all the stairs.  Let's play.

5 Hours Later
Catch phrase + wine + Jesus and yahrtzeit candles = great night.

Wednesday (Day 2)
Still no power.  I reallllllly would like to flush my toilet.  And maybe shower.  And have some coffee.  I should go downstairs and see if people are talking in the lobby about when the power will be back.

20 Minutes later
In the lobby, no one knows anything.  Obviously.  Charge my cell phone in my car for a few minutes, and decide to walk back upstairs.

20 Minutes Later
Back upstairs.  Still can't flush (obviously).  Decision officially made to make the trek to my parents' house.

Thursday (Day 3)
Wake up on the living room couch.  Apparently my parents are the only ones in the tristate area with power so there are about 85 people staying in the house, and I am second to last on the waiting list for a bed (I did beat out my brother) - fiiiine Grandma, I guess you can be greedy and take my bedroom if you want.

Learning mah-jong, getting all my meals cooked, kinda-sorta-maybe studying.  Life is ok.

Later Afternoon
Email: Power back on in my apartment!  But being home is sort of fun, I can wait until tomorrow to head back to Jersey City.

Friday (Day 4)
AHHHHH.  Need. Alone. Time. Now.

Early Afternoon
Good-bye family and houseguests, back to Jersey City I go.

A Few Minutes Later
Holy crap, the lines for gas are so crazy-long.  Good thing I filled up my tank over the weekend.

Getting Close to the Holland Tunnel
Uh oh, here is where I turn to get onto my street and it's all blocked off.

5 Minutes Later
Feel like I'm really learning a lot about Jersey City geography.

Back in my apartment; boy it feels good to take the elevator.

Sunday (Day 6)
Email (and I'm pretttttty sure this is a direct quote): We have absolutely no idea when your make-up OSCE or shelf will be, so continue to study indefinitely, but have fun starting a new rotation on Monday and make sure you keep up with both OB/GYN studying and your new rotation.  Also the exams will probably be on Christmas or Thanksgiving night or New Years' Eve, but we won't tell you until two days before.

Monday (Day 7, Also Known as Right Now)
Scared about starting my new rotation.  I still have a mostly-full gas tank.  Seriously considering going into the gas-price-gouging business and leaving medical school behind.  Still waiting for news on the OSCE and shelf.