Posts tagged progress

Seven-Eighths MD: The Penultimate Review

There has always existed, deeply seeded beneath the surface of my conscience the burning question: where did all of the time go? I have asked myself that many times through my medical training. Now, standing at the threshold of my last semester as a student, the question is even more relevant. What have I been up to these past few months?

Three-Quarters MD: A Year In Review

And just like that, year three passes into my memory, a destination in the rearview mirror. There has been so much to see, so much to process, so much to reflect on this entire year it is difficult to know where to start. Perhaps we should go back to the beginning.

image

More than a year ago, I took my first steps into clinical training by starting my summer medicine rotation. It had begun a new chapter in my development and left a profound impression on me. It was during that brief one-month window that I first started to hone my skills out in the field under the tutelage of not only my preceptors but also the residents.
Now, I find myself on the opposite end of that spectrum; I had an opportunity to meet an up-and-coming third year medical student, a graduated second year clerk in his summer medicine rotation. For a morning, I was tasked to work alongside him and offer some support as I helped him with his patients. 
When we are in the thick of things, it is easy to lose perspective of how far we have come. With only a year separating us, it was surprising to me how far I had grown.
The man was bright and had a very academic mannerism of speaking, the hallmark of two years of lectures. Despite a formidable understanding of theory, there lacked experience and comfort with the practicalities of medicine. This was the great divide between us. I could see his unease at handling a presentation, at coming up with an approach and a differential. It was the same unease I had felt so many months ago, and one that I still feel often, albeit not as often or as strongly as I had before. 
But still, what a difference a year has made! Being able to see him, to work with him, and help him in this moment of his journey enabled me to appreciate and to put my own learning in perspective: there has been progress; there will be progress.

More than a year ago, I took my first steps into clinical training by starting my summer medicine rotation. It had begun a new chapter in my development and left a profound impression on me. It was during that brief one-month window that I first started to hone my skills out in the field under the tutelage of not only my preceptors but also the residents.

Now, I find myself on the opposite end of that spectrum; I had an opportunity to meet an up-and-coming third year medical student, a graduated second year clerk in his summer medicine rotation. For a morning, I was tasked to work alongside him and offer some support as I helped him with his patients. 

When we are in the thick of things, it is easy to lose perspective of how far we have come. With only a year separating us, it was surprising to me how far I had grown.

The man was bright and had a very academic mannerism of speaking, the hallmark of two years of lectures. Despite a formidable understanding of theory, there lacked experience and comfort with the practicalities of medicine. This was the great divide between us. I could see his unease at handling a presentation, at coming up with an approach and a differential. It was the same unease I had felt so many months ago, and one that I still feel often, albeit not as often or as strongly as I had before. 

But still, what a difference a year has made! Being able to see him, to work with him, and help him in this moment of his journey enabled me to appreciate and to put my own learning in perspective: there has been progress; there will be progress.

Five-Eighths MD: A Six Month Review

Third year has been a year of firsts thus far. I have seen and learned a great many things. It has wowed me, excited me, frustrated me, exhausted me, saddened me, and disturbed me in my every day encounters. With half the year behind me now, I would like to talk about my experience.

One-Half: A Year in Review

With two months to organize myself for the coming year, it has given me a lot of time to think about the last year. Three-eighths of the way, I gave a review of the first term of second year. Now, another term complete and having earned half my M.D. title, it feels right to write another summary. 

Given that it is the largest organ by surface area, it was amusing to see dermatology condensed into a single week. I suppose once you know the ABCDEs of categorizing skin lesions, you are well equipped to handle any situation. However, sometimes lesions are vague or very similar in appearance to others. Land mine or dud? Tread carefully.

Then came the brain. Over a gruelling two month period, we explored the deepest anatomical corners of the brain, learned tracts from top to bottom, and studied behaviour and psychology. The challenges of this block were two fold. First, some of the concepts were difficult to abstract, especially understanding the relation and integration of various tracts, in itself a complex web of interactions. Secondly, due to the complexity of the brain, some concepts could not be covered without mentioning other points of interest that would be covered further in the block. It was constantly a struggle to keep up with concepts A and B, when concept B was to be further discussed a few weeks later. Only at the end of the block could we  finally see the big picture.

After the struggles above, we went down into the reproduction block, a simple and easy to follow curriculum that was a welcome change of pace. This block was noteworthy for its overabundance of graphic pictures and videos and the fair warning to the ladies of our class to be weary of advanced maternal age. 

The last block, following the reproductive block nicely was paediatric and adolescent development. The big talking points in this block were milestones and nutrition factoids. The key to understanding this block was to memorize the facts cold. Getting the short end of the stick, the study time for this block suffered in light of its close proximity to our final exams. We held our breath that the few factoids we tried to memorize each day would stay fresh enough in our minds for the exam. 

Histology, pathology, and anatomy continued to be integrated into the curriculum wherever it applied. Anatomy in particular took centre stage for the brain, while histology was important for the skin, the brain, and for reproduction.

Family practice and clinical skills courses continued to give us exposure to the routines we would need to know for our careers. 

The exams this term were again challenging. I would rank them as equal to those from last term. The questions that caused me the most difficulties were the scenario questions. Reading and digesting the information presented in the scenario took time and slowed me down to a panic. Time was of the essence and I had to work fast. I dreaded every one of these questions.

For my rural rotation, which is actually part of my third year, I have already written my thoughts on that in a prior post. Now I am just trying to get my affairs in order and enjoy the summer while I still can.

Selection Progress: Understanding the Heart, Soul and Social Science

In addition to the hard-science and math questions that have for decades defined this rite of passage into the medical profession, nearly half of the new MCAT will focus on squishier topics in two new sections: one covering social and behavioral sciences and another on critical analysis and reading that will require students to analyze passages covering areas like ethics and cross-cultural studies.

The goal is to improve the medical admissions process to find the people who you and I would want as our doctors. Being a good doctor isn’t just about understanding science, it’s about understanding people.

What are your thoughts of this development? Discuss below.

Getting Better: 200 Years of Medicine

This 45-minute documentary explores three remarkable stories of medical progress that have taken place over the course of the long history of the New England Journal of Medicine.  In 1812, we had no understanding of infectious disease, surgery was unsanitary and performed without anesthesia, and cancer was unrecognized. Two centuries later, this film tells the story of research, clinical practice, and patient care, and of how we have continued to get better over the last 200 years.

Three-Eighths: A Term in Review

Another term has come to an end and I am now one step closer to graduation, albeit an unsteady one. This term has been a bittersweet journey on a cobbled road. There were beautiful times spent and wonderful things witnessed, but it has had its harsher times; there were moments on this stretch where the forest grew so thick and dark I could have lost my way. But I managed. I have managed to get through this term, but this is just the first stretch of terrain. Another term awaits.