Monday, November 26, 2007

3 weeks left!

Well, It's been awhile huh? The past few weeks have been busy. Let's see. I went to Vegas, turned 22, got white-coated complete with cool reflex hammer, won fantasy nascar (which is both my greatest shame and my greatest triumph), barely passed a biochem test which I studied all week for, went home finally! to see my floppy-eared dog and assorted other family members, finally got to watch some live hockey, and returned home to a full schedule with a quiz and two tests this week. That was a run-on sentence if there ever was one.

So Las Vegas. It was great! It was my first time flying by myself but everything worked out fine. The trip was a little short but I had fun. I got to see many of the casinos which were all pretty crazy. And I got to have the best meal of my life. Filet mignon with foie gras and a red wine reduction. Seriously, Michael Mina is the best chef ever. He made vegetables taste good to me and that is a feat! The only bad thing is that now all other steaks pale in comparison. I'm sure I'll get over that one soon though. Also, I must say that the Bellagio fountain is possibly the greatest thing in the world and I will no longer make fun of mom for saying so.

After I got back from Vegas, I basically spent an entire week studying for my second biochem test which was on every energetic pathway known to man. I was familiar with glycolysis and TCA cycle but when it got down to the pentose monophosphate shunt and the like I was pretty lost. So pretty much the 40 hours of studying was worthless because I got to the test and the question would just pick one molecule out of all the pathways and I had no idea which pathway they were talking about since they were all mixed up in my head. But. I still passed and that is all that I need to do. The studying for the test was made more stressful by a quiz, a paper, and a presentation, but also by the white coat ceremony which was right before the test. I felt like I would have enjoyed it so much more if I could have actually spent some time with my family rather than kicking them out so I could study. It was nice to get the white coat though. I think I look pretty snazzy in it. Mallory was kind enough to point out that when I get the longer real doctor coat it will go past my knees and make me look like a midget. So that is something to look forward to.

After the test, it was excellent to go home for a while. I skipped some class I will admit and went home on Tuesday instead of Wednesday. Don't worry! They tape the lectures and put them on the internet so I can watch whenever I please. I tried to study a little at home but that didn't work out so well. Fortunately the two tests we have this week should be pretty easy: Genetics and Nutrition. The only thing that makes me slightly nervous about them is that we only have one test in each of these subjects so we really have to pass them. But it should be fine. Anyway, at home I saw all of you guys at Thanksgiving which was great. I saw Enchanted with Mallory which I think is the first movie I've seen in months. And finally, I watched the sioux play good ole fashioned, old-time, saturday night, rip roaring, head banging, puck shootin', crowd roarin', etc etc Sioux Hockey. Seriously how many adjectives are they going to put in front of Sioux hockey? Really they should add an adjective every night as the season goes on. Also this power play was brought to you by Rydell Chevrolet. Anyway, they won and played great Friday, and lost and played crappy Saturday. Sort of the way the season has been going so far. But at least I'm not a gopher fan!

Okay that is enough. But in closing I am posting this video. It makes me happy. But don't click on it at work because the music is loud and the video is nothing without the music.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Test Test Test

Well, last friday I had my first biochem and molecular biology test. It was not so fun. We had 24 hours worth of lecture material to review which made it pretty difficult to study. The previous tests that they provided for us to look over included mostly general information because they write 3 multiple choice questions for every lecture. So I did well on all the practice tests and felt fine going into friday. However, our test was much more detailed than the other tests and I did not feel fine afterward. All of my classmates felt that the test was difficult too so I am hoping that some curving will be in order. It was nice to have a weekend to relax after the test because we have another test this week on Saturday in histology (the most boringest subject there ever was). After histo test, it is off to Vegas baby! I still need to acquire some sparkly clothes for the occasion.

This weekend as per my relaxation I attended two lovely halloween parties. I dressed as a housewife from the 1950s with a feather duster in one hand and a cocktail in the other. It was good to see some of my friends whom I haven't seen in months! I saw some very good costumes but I must say that none can compare to this:

A rice krispie treat cat!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007


Perhaps I should update. The problem is that nothing particularly interesting has happened in the past couple weeks. Now that anatomy is over, I have lecture for 3 hours every morning and histology lab twice a week. All of these things are boring. Histology is the study of tissues so the class involves looking at different types of tissue under the microscope. We have to learn to distinguish between smooth muscle and skeletal muscle and different types of epithelia etc. etc. So basically this class has very little applicability in the daily life of most doctors. The professors told us that the only specialty that uses this class is Pathologists and I am not going to be a pathologist because I don't want to look in a microscope all day! I am learning histology simply so that I do not fail the class and for no other reason. So far so good, I got a 90% on the first quiz. We also have Biochemistry which is more interesting than histology except for the fact that it has been all review thus far. Last week we started Nutrition. The entire message of nutrition is: Obesity is BAD. I think I will do okay on the one quiz we have for that class.

In more exciting news, I am going to Las Vegas for my birthday with Mom and Dad. Yay for taking out too many loans so I have extra money! Okay I probably won't be saying that in 4 years but right now it is excellent. I am looking forward to the holidays coming up because I will finally get to go home and see everyone. I haven't seen Mallory since August and that makes me sad. We can still talk about Legally Blonde the Musical over the phone but it isn't necessarily the same. Well, I should get to some studying since I have been slacking for a while. I call it post-anatomy syndrome also known as: I suck at life.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Holy Crap!

Hey everyone! I passed anatomy! and not just with a respectable yet not all that impressive B. I got an A!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Okay obviously this does not actually matter since it is pass/fail but I find it amazing and also hilarious. Why the sudden jump in score you ask? Well the obvious answer is that the curve was applied to my total grade which probably added around 5% to it. Also, I got my Head and Neck test back this week. And surprisingly, I did really well on it. I got 20 points higher than I did on my last test. This really makes absolutely no sense since I felt that studied less for this test, which had more material, and was not very confident in my answers on the test. But obviously I am a head and neck genius. I only got 5 questions wrong on the practical exam when usually I get 15 wrong. Ha! I guess I showed anatomy who's boss.

Now onto the next, Biochemistry and Histology. I have one thing to say about these subjects and that is "Boring!" It has been very weird to transition from having a one hour lecture and then three hours of lab each day to three hours of lecture everyday and a 2 hour lab 2 days a week. Frankly, I don't like it. It is difficult to concentrate for three hours sitting in a nice comfy chair in a warm room with dimmed lights. I get sleepy even if I drink caffeine. So I am definitely going to have to get used to the change. Also it is a lot different going from gross anatomical structures to chemical reactions and cell structures that can only be seen under a microscope. It is more difficult to see the applications of this type of knowledge for me. Also most of class thus far has been review so it seems even less useful since I already know it. But I'm sure it will pick up shortly and be quite challenging when they introduce new material. At least we are getting a little break after anatomy. Now I have an opportunity to catch up on all the new tv shows!

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Another week, Another test

Well, it is test week yet again here at the U of M medical school. This Friday will be our final anatomy test concentrating on the myriad of structures in the head and neck. In case you were wondering, there is a lot of crap going on up there. Lab for the past week has been very interesting. We use a saw everyday meaning we dissect one area of the head one day and then saw through it to see different structures the next day. That makes lab pretty frustrating because you are continuously ruining the work you did the day before. Also, it is almost impossible to study for the practical exam except out of a book.

The good thing about this exam is that it is the last, so I know exactly what percentage I need to get on this test to pass anatomy as a whole. They average all three test scores and I need a 70% overall to pass. With my two first tests being around 80% without the curve, I have calculated that I need about a 50% to pass anatomy. Of course, my goal will be to pass this individual test with a 70% or above but it is nice to know that I have some leeway with my score. Truthfully, this crap is hard! There are a million bones all fused together, with a bunch of holes in the bone where all the nerves and blood vessels exit, and the nerves go innervate a million muscles with different functions. So basically, I need to be able to name every hole or foramen in the skull and what comes out of it and which bone it is in and where those vessels are going and what they are doing and what the individual muscles are doing too. To this I say, boo. This information is interesting and important but seems less so when it is all flung at me in 2 weeks.

Basically, I am ready to be done with anatomy, though I have learned to enjoy dissecting. I wonder though if different classes will really be better? We start Biochemistry and Histology next week and we only have histology lab about every other day. I am not particularly excited for these classes since they are so much more hands-off compared to anatomy. Looking at slides through a microscope is just not that appealing to me and that is all that histology lab is. I'm pretty sure biochemistry will mostly consist of memorization of chemical reactions in the body. But I guess, I am ready for a change. And frankly, ready to not spend 4 hours a day watching my body buddies do next to nothing. It makes me bitter.

Well, the theme of the week is study study study! (because I definitely did not do that enough for the past 2 weeks.)

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

New additions

So, the test was hard. The good news is I studied harder for this test than for the first test so I got a slightly better score than I did on the first one. The high score on this test was a 95% so that means that I get to add 5% to my score, giving me a nice B. That works for me! So now I just have to keep up with the massive amount of information that comes with the Head & Neck unit, the final portion of gross anatomy.

In head & neck news, I was surprised today to learn that there would be two new additions to our body buddy group. We were bequeathed two human skulls for our own study use. They came in padded wooden lunch boxes which we apparently will carry around for the next two and a half weeks. I had seen in an upcoming lecture that we were asked to bring our study skulls, but I guess I thought that was some kind of head & neck inside joke that I had not learned yet. I was mistaken.

Also, I thought I would post a picture of the elusive man with whom I spend most of my time outside of class.

His name is Frank and he is quite the hottie. He is an artist with a penchant for drawing anatomically correct pictures of himself as a young man (for real). He is the "author" of our wondrous anatomy textbook and we've had a date every night for the past month. He is also seeing 182 other people as far as I know, so we're not exclusive.

Friday, September 7, 2007

2nd test= no weekend

Well, the second anatomy test is this Monday. So that means that tomorrow (Saturday) we have a final review session and a practice practical exam and Sunday is our final study day. I personally do not support Monday tests. It means that I really do not have a weekend at all and have less time to study compared to the first test. We do get Tuesday off after our test but that isn't the same as a nice long weekend of relaxation after a Friday test.

This test should be interesting. We have covered the thorax, the heart and lungs, the abdomen, and the pelvis for this unit. In the course of our dissection however, we have removed the legs to get better access to the pelvis and have actually removed the pelvis in many cases. So basically all of the anatomy that we had dissected in the abdomen is ruined. I have no idea how they are going to find any preserved structures to tag. But I'm sure they will figure something out.

After this test, we move on to the head and neck, which should be pretty difficult. I have a feeling I will really want to be done by the end of September. The scrubs that I wear everyday for lab smell horrible and are greasy. My lab partners are finding that their talents for using the scalpel (cutting through all the important structures with the scalpel) are no longer needed so they aren't much help. I am the go-to person for doing the delicate dissections. I actually enjoy finding all the nerves and arteries and finding all the branches but it gets old when I am the only one doing the work. When I do take a break though, Jon tends to poke around the area that I just cleaned and mess it up. Tam just sits on a stool and watches, and Rebekah is pretty helpful but she doesn't really like finding vessels and nerves. So anyway, I will be studying this weekend and not watching football, maye.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Anatomy is half over!

Well, another week has gone by and anatomy is half over. The dissections are getting more intense every week. This week we opened the rib cage and examined the abdominal organs as well as the heart and lungs. I cut a couple of the ribs myself which was interesting. We use tools like wire cutters or tree trimmers in these sort of dissections. It is a bit crazy. However, it is less surprising for me as time goes by. Shortly we will start on head and neck which is supposedly the most difficult part of anatomy. Up to this point, the heads of our bodies have remained covered which I am thankful for. It will be pretty different when we start on head and neck for that reason. Even though anatomy is pretty difficult. I am definitely getting used to it and will probably miss it when it is over. After anatomy, we start biochemistry, histology, and nutrition. That will definitely be a change of pace. And on the plus side, I won't smell so bad!

So one of the things I have been having a hard time with is finding safe stuff for me to eat. This past week, I had a reaction to gluten and it was very annoying. I was really tired and ended up napping for four hours every day which is really unproductive. That is proof enough for me that it is really important that I stick to the diet. So hopefully, I'll get that figured out. In other news, I went to the Vikings game on Thursday with my body buddies because Tam likes the cowboys. We bought five dollar tickets in basically the last row of the upper deck and then we proceeded to sit in other people's empty seats until someone kicked us out. It was fun even though it was the third-stringers who actually played. I enjoyed busting out the Tony Romo impression at every opportunity (this involves me mimicking someone bobbling the snap for the last minute field goal.) I also got to see the back of T.O. whom I think is hilarious though everyone else hates him. I'm looking forward to fantasy football starting as yet another distraction from school. Yay Peyton Manning!

Monday, August 27, 2007


Well one test down, a billion more to go. The big news is: I passed! That is one excellent thing about med school, we no longer get grades. We pass, fail, or get honors. Honors, I have already given up on. Why? Well possibly because over 40% of my class got over a 90% on the first exam. And only the top 10% (18 people) get honors. Obviously I am going to school with some of the smartest people in the nation. In addition the material is very difficult, so really if I wanted to be at the top of my class I would have to study all the time. And since I already know that I don't want to go into a competitive specialty like radiology or orthopaedics, I have decided that honors is not going to be something that I strive for. Frankly, I would rather have a life and not be more stressed out than necessary. We have a motto here and it is P=MD. That means that regardless of whether I get steady scores of 70% throughout med school, I will still be a doctor. I felt good about how I did on the test though. I am not sure about my exact percentage because there is a slight curve but by my calculations I got a B- to a B. That works for me. The best part of the test was when it was over.

The tradition at the U is when the test is over at noon, everyone goes to the bar across the street from campus called Sally's. There everyone proceeds to drink all of the testable knowledge right out of their head. I ate lunch there after the test and had a drink with my classmates. It was fun. Especially because the normal working people who were there on their lunch breaks were very confused by our presence. Another medical fraternity called phi chi held a party on friday night in honor of our first exam being over. That was also fun except I am still annoyed that they charged me $5 for a cup even though I told them I was allergic to beer. Lame! In closing, I have uploaded a picture that I drew of the brachial plexus. All of us have this very structure in the armpit/neck. It contains all the sensory and motor nerves that go to the muscles and skin of the arm, hand, shoulder and pec muscles. Isn't that neat? The answer is yes but that it is not very neat to memorize everything about it.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007


So much studying! Today was our last day of class and lab before the test. Now we get the next two days to stress and study and cram as much information into our brains as can possibly fit. We broke out the big guns for lab today meaning they gave us chisels, hammers, pliers, and wire cutters so we could take out some of the vertebrae and visualize the spinal cord. Most of lab I just stood at least 6 feet from our table trying to avoid getting splashed by bone shards or body juice since my body buddies were a little overzealous.

Oh that reminds me. At the U, it is traditional to pair up 4 people (two boys and two girls) to work on one body in the lab. They are called body buddies and spend about 3-5 hours a day together for 7 weeks. This apparently leads to many instances of lifelong friendships because you bond. So my body buddies are pretty cool.

There is Rebekah who is around 24. She graduated from Johns Hopkins and got a Master's Degree in Public Health at Columbia. Then for the past year or so she has been working in NYC at an organization which provides AIDS testing for homeless people. She does not actually want to practice as a doctor when we graduate but work on health policy using her MPH and her MD to give her greater perspective. Seems like a lot of work for a little perspective if you ask me but she is very nice and a good teacher. Another one of my body buddies is Jon who is also 23 or 24. He took 2 years off after graduating from the U of M and apparently did nothing. He wants to be a cardiothoracic surgeon. He amuses me because the entire time in lab while he is concentrating on cutting he has this completely disgusted look on his face. You wouldn't think a future cardiothoracic surgeon would get grossed out but he does. My other body buddy is Tam, who is 22 and originally from Vietnam though he lived in Texas and Chicago and went to the University of Illinois-Chicago. He also wants to be a cardiothoracic surgeon, though thus far I am not all that confident in his abilities because he tends to cut through all the muscles and nerves without a second thought. He can be nice and amusing but is also sometimes annoying because he gets bored and wanders around the lab while the rest of us are working.

So these are the people who I spend a lot of my time with, especially now that the test is coming up since I need to be in lab more to review structures on the body. We have a practical exam where the teachers tag different parts of the body and we have to write down the name of the structure on a blank sheet of paper. We also have a small radiology portion where we identify bones and muscles on x-rays and MRIs. Then we have written exam which is really multiple choice. This applies the anatomy that we learned in the lab to real life situations. It is kind of fun actually to realize that all the crap that we are learning about random structures applies to clinical situations and that I can figure out the cause or result of a condition by simply thinking through what I have learned in anatomy. Crazy stuff. Anyway, I must sleep so I can get up and study. I'm really horrible at keeping myself on task what with the internet and music and tv and food and my cell phone. I may just have to shut myself up in the library in the basement where there is conveniently no cell phone reception. Just 2 more days and I will be able to relax hopefully!

Saturday, August 18, 2007

The Beginning

So I decided that since I won't be seeing most of you for at least four years, it might be nice to have a way to know what I am so busy doing. Therefore I have created a blog which I hope to update periodically, likely as a break from studying. I've been at medical school for two weeks now and I feel a bit different already. For one, I have come to accept the fact that indeed I did not trick the admissions people here into letting me in but am just as qualified as the rest of my classmates, even though I'm not an olympic triathlete or anything. My class consists of 183 people between the ages of 21-38. You will notice that I am on the younger end of the spectrum. It is a bit odd to meet classmates who are married with kids because that is so not where I am coming from.

As most of you know I am now a frat girl? Which doesn't actually make sense but basically means that I live with a bunch of other medical students in 4 houses which have been split into apartments. It has been nice living here because after the first two days of orientation, the socializing opportunities quickly ceased because everyone started studying. But since I live with other med students, I have been able to meet people and hang out with them on the weekends. Tonight, most of the frat members (Phi Rho-ers) went out to dinner at the Loring Pasta Bar. It was a very cool restaurant and it was nice to take a study break even though expensive dinners are probably not covered in my student loans (oops). One big perk of living at Phi Rho is that rent is only $330 a month including utilities, cable tv, internet, and toilet paper. This is super cheap considering my last apartment was $450/month not including utilities.

I have quickly become accustomed to the hectic med school schedule. The first 7 weeks are focused solely on gross anatomy, so our days are spent first in lecture on the parts of anatomy we will be exploring that day and then in lab for a couple hours dissecting. The cadaver thing is one of the weirdest experiences ever. It is disgusting, amazing, and smelly all at the same time and it has already become something which is relatively normal to me. I guess I never thought it would be normal to compare my experience dissecting a cadaver with another person's at the dinner table or talking about which muscle of the forearm is my favorite (has to be supinator). Our lab TA's are very helpful and we have an orthopedic surgeon in our lab who wanders around exposing different joints. He dissected our knee as he would for a total knee replacement so we could see the ACL and the cartilage and everything. It was very cool.

In other news, our first big test is next week on Friday. We have a lab practical where they tag different parts of the bodies and we have to name them and a paper exam which involves more analytical problem solving type of stuff. I am pretty nervous about this just because I don't really know what to expect and don't want to fail the first test in med school. I am studying hard but it never really seems like enough. Especially because our exam covers the muscles, bones, ligaments, arteries, and nerves of the chest, back, arm, hand, leg, foot, and Gluteus. I am confident that all of this information will leave my brain the day after the test. I have to make room for the new stuff after all.