Between the last post, about two weeks ago, and this one we’ve taken two exams: Cardiovascular System and Neurology. There is one exam, for each subject, you either pass them or you fail them.
We start a new unit on Monday, so there’s a brief interlude where I have nothing to do! Sort of.
Let me start with what happened right after my cardiovascular exam, that was two weeks ago. The exam was placed on Wednesday. Right after the exam, that Thursday morning, we had a mandatory discussion on Neurology — hours of suggested review and reading was ‘suggested’. Friday, I was scheduled to give the flu shot, followed by Integrated Problems presentation and group work. Fortunately, the flu shot was canceled, unfortunately life thought it’d be funny to make me sick instead. I made it through most of the day, went home and pretty much hacked up my lungs throughout the 3-day weekend of Neurology. I’m pretty sure it wasn’t the flu, but it just went from a simple cold to something rather wicked combined with my asthma. Considered going to urgent care for a nebulizer, if my oxygen saturation dropped more than it had (I was at a do-able 95%, down from my usual near 99-100%). After a few days, the cold was gun, but the congestion was just ridiculous. On top of that, class was still going on (4 lectures a day), as well as my part on the research project, and trying to maintain a healthy relationship.
Everything worked out, I hit my deadlines with the patient and subject (controls) enrollment, didn’t flake on my commitments to friends, and I did well in Neurology. Ok, sure, one patient we couldn’t enroll in the study but wanted to join at one time sent me a “poop” emoji. But, I’m really learning how to let things roll off my back — in fact, I think the “poop” emoji is sort of hilarious, how does one professionally respond to a “poop” emoji as the only text you receive without any previous texts?
After a week, I was feeling well enough to enjoy myself again. I’m learning to better use my time as well, and how to take a break — I even went to a Japanese tea ceremony instead of studying this past Sunday.For me, that’s a big deal, it’s breaking the cycle of ruminating. A friend from college flew in from California on vacation, so I squeezed in sometime after clinical assignments to eat a vegan restaurant. I’m not vegan, she was, but good food is good food.
And now, the exam is over and there’s a lull before the next part of the module begins. My project is coming to a close, it looks like we’ve went from hopeless to actually having the pilot have made enough progress to submit for funding in the coming weeks. I feel like the being busy and pushed into a corner forced me to work on my priorities and better schedule myself, I also hope that it reset my stress ‘thermostat’ to better setting while juggling responsibilities.
The following aren’t so much tips, as they are just a record of how I personally got through a pretty tough patch. The first year, I thought there weren’t enough hours in the day for what they asked us to do. I have a long way to go, but I think I’ve grown a little in terms of time management. From here forward, I will probably use the following system the rest of the year and try to improve them as time goes along:Work with a partner, and divide up the material. This takes a lot of trust, that’s the hardest part of this strategy. Everyone in class is smart, so that’s not a problem. Indeed, it’s likely everyone in a medical school class was that one person who got stuck doing all of the “legitimate” work on group projects as an undergrad. As soon as you find a person you can literally spend all day with for weeks prepose to make that study buddy relationship official.
- My partner and I split the work 50/50, for no particular reason I took the odd lectures and they took the evens. We would make study guides for each lecture, and present the study guide orally (and the logic) every few days in person or on Skype.
- Close to the exam, when we did a full review, we then present the lectures again at a faster rate but this time we’d switch the lectures (I did evens, they did odds).
- Work on practice questions separately, then discuss the questions, stems, and all the answer choices — it was usually a good exercise to figure out why the wrong answers were wrong and modify them to make them right.
- I kept a running list of things I feel I needed to work on, for example if I noticed I sucked at a particularly subject I’d note it then go read more about it. I found checking PubMed and UpToDate was usually very helpful to put things into context for clinical relevancy. In my notes, I found it was very helpful to keep track of my citations when I learn something new.
- When I was most lucid, I’d make a priority to do list every so often to take stock of where I was in the day/week. Sometimes, I’d noticed the most important task for the day was to run through Anki pharmacology cards, sometimes the most important task (time wise) was to phone patients/subjects, at other times I found the most important task was just to assess my situation.
- To keep on top of my research I just tried to keep in close contact with my PI with occasional meetings, we often exchanging text messages, or emails, and the occasional evening calls to touch bases. Keeping a transparent relationship on the project made things very doable.
And now, I’m pleasantly enjoying my night off. Sure, I have stuff to do this weekend: signed up for nurse shadowing this weekend, have to contact some patients/subjects. So, I’m not totally off, but at least I get to take a nice mental break. Next week, I’ll return to the cardiology wards for a few morning rounds with my PI’s cardiology team. The project is coming to a close, and this next module of medical school will be a lot easier on time since I don’t expect to be sick or jump on any emerging pilot projects for any time soon — I hope.