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.