Wednesday, March 26, 2008

On break!

I love being on Spring Break. I'm just chilling at my parents' house -- sleeping, reading novels, watching movies. It's absolutely what I needed after March block.

Our grades still aren't up yet, but unlike during Winter Break, I'm not so worried this time. Not to say that this block was any easier (it wasn't), but even if I didn't pass anatomy, I'd just have to retake that exam in May, as opposed to spending the summer retaking the entire course. Also, I am personally satisfied with my level of knowledge of the head, neck, and upper extremity.

A few days ago, a friend from high school asked me for medical advice, for a friend of hers. I've been getting this on and off for a while. It's different when it's family though; I have no qualms telling my parents that I know nothing and that they should go see an Actual Doctor. Which is what I told my friend, too, but I felt bad about it. I did have some ideas, and if this were small group, I'd have been fine discussing them. It's somehow different with a real person, though, especially someone I've never met. (Small group cases are drawn from what our preceptors have seen, but since there is an official diagnosis -- a correct answer -- they might as well be hypothetical.)

But you know what? It's break. I'm not going to think about medicine any more until next Monday.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Exams continue to dominate my life, but Thursday is Match Day, when fourth-years find out where they are going to be training. Even the Times has taken notice.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

The run-up to the last anatomy exam.

A good family friend, now in his fourth year of med school, was studying for Step 1 some years ago. I was incredulous at what he said his study schedule was: essentially study hardcore for 5 hours, take an hour break for lunch and some TV, and then back to the books for another 5 until dinner. I thought he was exaggerating, counting "study time" when he was actually online.

Now, I'm incredulous at the memory of my own naivete. To recap the weekend: on Friday I took a 3 hour exam on GI and spent the afternoon (from 12:30 PM to 1 AM, with a half-hour dinner break) studying either in the library or in the lab. Saturday, I went hardcore from 10 AM to 1:30 AM. Today, I took a practice practical at 11 AM and went to the study lounge in my dorm directly after. Study breaks limited to trips to the vending machine, water fountain, and bathroom. And all this for one measly exam.

The strange thing is, I don't feel tired at all. In college, this sort of schedule would have left me exhausted and murderous. Now, I don't really mind it so much. Yeah, it sucks, but I don't feel as mentally blank as I would have even a year ago. Maybe I'm building up some of that magical stamina that is supposed to get residents through their 80-hour weeks. (Or third-years through their unregulated work hour weeks.)

Life is going to be weird after anatomy. I expect it will be rather like after I gave my undergrad thesis to the bindery. It's consumed my life since the end of August. I really don't know what I'm going to do with myself.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

It's that time of the month again

Exams start on Friday and continue through next Thursday. March Block is acknowledged by all to be absolute hell, but I'm trying to stay positive. In less than a week, anatomy will be over forever! And then we have Spring Break. I'm planning to go home and pass out on my parents' couch for at least three days.

I've always thought of our class as very cohesive and cool and not at all competitive. But atlases have started disappearing from the anatomy lab, which puzzled me until I saw some people wrapping them in the red biohazard bags and stashing them in their lockers. Seriously? Maybe I just missed out on all this in college, because I avoided the regular premed classes as much as possible (I took the Chemistry for Chem Majors sequence, AP'ed out of bio and calculus; baby physics was the only "premed" class I took), but I thought we were cooler than that.

This year is P/F, but second year they throw honors into the mix. We are trying to convince the administration to change that.

Monday, March 3, 2008

On autism

Parents "shun" inoculation for their children.

This makes me sad, because while you don't have to vaccinate everyone (herd immunity's a wonderful thing), the threshold is always somewhere in the high 80%s. Also, the link between vaccines and autism is completely unsupported by scientific evidence. In fact, we had an entire small group session devoted to debunking it. I should've taken notes on the "miracles" required for the link to be true.

Moreover, after the Wakefield paper was published in the Lancet (and subsequently reported all over the popular press), there was a scare in Britain where parents refused to consent to vaccinating their kids. Result: increased incidence of measles and mumps, with two kids suffering measles encephalitis (read: permanent brain damage). Similar effect in Ireland: 1500 cases and 3 deaths. It's all nicely outlined, with citations, on Wikipedia.

Now, autism is an illness that hits very close to home -- one of my family members has been diagnosed with autism. It's a frightening label to put on your kid, because although there are various therapies, there is no cure. I completely understand why parents would want to avoid anything that might cause it. (Current evidence suggests it's genetic, but obviously very complex and non-Mendelian.) But also frightening: encephalitis. Death. You'd think parents would want to avoid these, too.

On a slightly related note: there are ads in the subway for some medical malpractice firm. In large and glitzy letters, they proclaim that you can win $1.5 million suing for autism. Who do you sue for a complex genetic trait, anyway? The worst part is the testimonial from a "satisfied customer" who notes how pleased she is that her child's incurable neurological condition has netted her some bling. I wish I were kidding.