Tuesday, August 13, 2002

Sick student doctor

I have been busy wrapping things up for the semester. At last, it is over. It has been very busy and very tiring. Last weekend, my bullied body finally protested by contracting the flu. The timing could not have been worse - with my physical diagnosis exam scheduled for Monday. Anyway, armed with anti-flu medicine, I have got through it.

I should be going home on Friday this week. I hope, among other things, to re-discover the lost art of sleeping. Next semester, I have Pathology and Pharmacology to look forward to. At last! Real medicine.

Thursday, February 28, 2002

Black Mondays -- Exam Day in the Basic Sciences

My Black Monday was a disaster this time. Our neuro test was hard. The class average was 54% (and here, 70% is passing). I got the 4th highest in the class: 64% which is not a passing grade. I can't tell you how dejected I am about that. I could make excuses about the test but I won't. The professor is going to add an 18% curve because he thinks that if practically the whole class fails, then something must be wrong. That will bring my grade to 83%. The highest (uncurved grade) was 80% -- Tim Duke, who has had 6 months of neuro in a doctoral program before coming here. In Epi, things did not go very well. I got 89%. In Genetics, things were good as usual: 97% -- one question wrong and I don't think anyone got it right.
Although I am unhappy with my results, I won't stop to do an autopsy, which often turns into a round of self-excusing justifications. Instead, I resolve to work harder. We have a long weekend coming up and I am going to invest my time henceforth more wisely and try to keep ahead of the group. I am sorry that my performance this exams were disappointing.

Wednesday, January 30, 2002

Woods are lovely dark and deep

The semester is indeed in full swing and the first bout of exams is over. I went to my Neuro (Neuroscience) teacher to get my grade. He was very serious and asked me if I was having difficulty with the materiel. I got very nervous. He then broke into a smile and showed me my grade: 100%. I was pleased. In genetics, I got 94% and in epidemiology, 93% too. Seems like it was a good day.

Yesterday morning I read 'Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening' by Robert Frost. I always read a poem or quotation the day after the exam before I start again, as a moment of reflection on the evaluation of past efforts. The last 3 lines have come to embody my attitude towards this whole affair. The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

I am also exhorted by this quotation by William Carlos Williams, [1883-1963]:
Look, you're not out on a four-year picnic at that medical school, so stop talking like a disappointed lover. You signed up for a spell of training and they're dishing it out to you, and all you can do is take everything they've got, everything they hand to you, and tell yourself how lucky you are to be on the receiving end--so you can be a doctor, and that's no bad price to pay for the worry, the exhaustion.
Source: Williams, William Carlos. Letter to Dr. Coles. In Ballantyne J (ed). Bedside Manners: An Anthology of Medical Wit and Wisdom. London: Virgin Books; 1995, pp. 6-7.
Alright. I won't subject you to more of that.

Tuesday, January 15, 2002

These days I am gravitating towards ob/gyn or pediatrics in the 'what-do-I-want-to-be-when-I-grow-up' department. Ob/gyn because it is such a happy branch of medicine: most of your patients are normal and as the doctor, you almost always have good news ('It's a boy; It's a girl) rather than bad ('You have heart disease) in other branches of medicine. Plus, the pay is not bad either, especially if one goes into fertility procedures. Peds is attractive because of the children. Oh well, it's actually good to vacillate at this point because it motivates me to study everything seriously since I do not know what may be relevant to the future.

Friday, January 11, 2002

Basic Sciences -- Hectic morning and busy schedules

Hectic schedule? Actually, not at all! Compared to my previous semesters, this one actually has gaps between classes. The subjects are interesting. There are standard texts so there is no running around looking for materiel. Medical school is very unlike graduate school. In graduate school you want the latest paper and you are constantly having to peruse the research literature because texts become outdated almost as soon as they are published and a graduate student is going into the field and hence needs to know what is the current state of affairs. In medical school, one is more interested in learning standard and conservative treatment approaches to diseases. The basic workings of the various systems in the body is quite well known and only details - often at a molecular level are in a state of flux as far knowledge about them is concerned. So our texts tend to have much the same things they have for the last 10 years with certain sections revised to include new findings.
Being still in the basic sciences of the MD degree program, we do not go the hospital or see patients. This will not happen until the middle of next year. It is frustrating since that is why most of us came here to be doctors and work with people. However, I am happy to know what I am doing before I am in the hot seat. We shall not have much lab work this semester except a couple of sessions in the anatomy lab dissecting the brain, which should be fun.
So far, things are still picking up. I can feel the feeling of panic at the volume of materiel to digest creeping up on my slowly from the inside. However, I shall still find time to write papers. I have decided to devote my weekends to that job and do the hard studying for my medical subjects during the week. Hope the plan works on both fronts.