I’ve been a little pre-occupied with studying, human dissection and medstudent tom-foolery. Starting tomorrow, my school has an exam block for MS1s (first year medical students). At my program, we have a traditional schedule, that is classes from 8 AM until the afternoon: Biochemistry & Molecular biology (and you thought you’d never talk about pKas again), Gross Anatomy (lab and written exams), Human Behavior in Medicine, and Public Health/Law. I have three tests this week, every other day, and the last test next Monday. Interestingly, as time marches on I’ll have less exams to take until Thanksgiving (Turkey Day) — I look forward to this idea.
There’s a lot on our plate as first year, lots of studying, lots of cramming. Though, cramming takes on a different meaning compared to undergrad: in undergrad cramming meant you studied 48 hours before the exam, in medschool cramming means you’ve always been studying and it’s still not enough so you need to really work your buns off as the test approaches to stuff every last bit of information into your brain you can before the exam. I’ve heard from my upperclass mates that this pattern abates, dropping off over time as you become more comfortable with the material and testing style. But for now, most of us are stressing out over the exam block coming up, some more than others. At my school, there are a lot of industrious medstudents who’ve fulfilled a masters/extension to place into my medical school wherein they have a lighter load because they don’t have retake classes they’ve already aced. These people worked for it, and their reward is a little less testing around this time — bravo. So, if you’re one of the people who decided to go this direction, be confident that you aren’t wasting your time once admitted if you set yourself up with the right program. A lot of us however didn’t go this route, so we need to have a full block and we cry ourselves to sleep internally every night as we try to keep everything together, know the minute details while hopefully still understanding the big picture.
So, how do I feel? Pretty freaked out to tell you the truth. But at the same time I’m elated to see that medical school is every bit as challenging as people made it out to be, because it means that hopefully by the end I’ll be a better person and perhaps (if I’m fortunate) a tad smarter. We have a pass/fail system at my school with no internal ranking, this is to help cut down on competition amongst ourselves, but internally I’m sure a lot of us still want to do well just to prove it to ourselves that we ‘belong’. I’m lucky though, my classmates are ultra supportive and we study together randomly all the time — in fact, I randomly crash study groups all the time.
This past Friday, I decided to take a study break and I visited the person who interviewed me. You see, she told me to visit her if I decided to attend the program after my interview. I laughed when she told me that, and said of course because I halfway figured I’d be rejected and she just didn’t want to ruin my day. So, I lived up to my word and paid a visit. We talked for about an hour and a half, she told me why she wanted me to be admitted and I told her how I felt about the interview day and her interview. She later showed me her lab where she helps head the amyloidosis research, where both PhDs and MDs work together on a translational research project. We viewed a slide of amyloid protein stained with a Congo Red dye. You’ve probably heard of amyloid protein before, and the first thing to come to your mind is probably Alzheimer’s, but the protein plaques can also aggregate in your visceral fat around your gut and heart (in the septum). You can diagnosis someone with amyloidosis by taking a sample of fat from the visceral region, using it to confirm images of a hypertrophied septum thus confirming amyloidosis — the day actually turns apple green under polarized light, it’s still debated why this happens exactly. It was awesome because I just learned all of this a few weeks prior, and I have a test on the subject (and many others) tomorrow morning, so that’s one question I probably won’t get wrong.