Medical School

10 Things Vol. 6

Back to our regularly scheduled program, here is number 6 in the 10 Things series. Now that I have a whole, whopping 1 rotation under my belt I thought I’d share my top ten things I love about seeing patients. Sa far…

  1. Hearing and seeing the abnormal- in school we were taught to know what “mom” is. “Mom” is normal. You know everything about “mom”. “Mom” is the way the human body is supposed to be. When something is different with “mom” you immediately know something is wrong. Every exam I practiced on a classmate has been normal and not pathological, but seeing real patients means there is real pathology. I am actually hearing real atrial fibrillation and seeing enlarged adenoids, instead of just reading about it.
  2. Their stories- each patient has a complicated story of what got them to that point. Some visits are more simple than others, but no two cases of strep or heartburn are the same. You learn to listen for key words and subtle nuances that lead you to a diagnosis but it isn’t always cut and dry and though its frustrating, its much better than class 8-5.
  3. Kids- Pediatrics is still an option for me, but I don’t know if I could see kids all day everyday for the rest of my life. Still, whenever there’s a kid I get to go see, especially for a sick visit, I get really excited because they are so sad and vulnerable. They only want one thing- to feel better and its very gratifying that I get to have a small part in doing just that. They aren’t faking or lying or trying to get drugs, they just feel crappy and I can see it right on their face. If I can send them home with a medicine and a sucker to get them there, then I’m a happy girl.
  4. Reading articles- call me crazy but I much prefer a couple relevant 5 page articles every night as homework vs. listening to 17-20 hours of lecture a week ANY DAY!
  5. Families- I like when patients bring their spouse or kids or siblings into the room with them. Sometimes they have very different and helpful perspectives as to what is happening with the patient.
  6. Coming home- I love in the evenings when my roommates and I are all home and we swap stories about the day- in compliance with HIPAA of course! We talk about the cases we saw that day and what we learned and pimp each other on which antibiotics to use and what tests to order.
  7. Procedures- I have a lot easier time understanding when its time to remove a mole, when I actually see multiple kinds of which ones get removed. Medical education in the first two years a lot of times says “You’ll understand later when you need to be concerned.” And we are just kind of left looking at one picture example of a concerning mole. Same goes for a lot of different things, not just moles. Its a lot easier to know when vaginal discharge is concerning when you see (ahem, smell) concerning discharge.
  8. Talking- In the first two years of med school, we see standardized (acting) patients in front of an attending. If that wasn’t intimidating enough, you are also being graded by said patient and said attending. For me anyway, this is not conducive to a nice, easy, free-flowing conversation between a competent future doctor and their patient. For fear of saying something wrong, fumbling with the blood pressure cuff, or being awkward, I often ended up saying things wrong and awkwardly and dropping things in those scary exam rooms. Now, that I am with real patients, sometimes in the room by myself, I see that I have their attention. They are looking to me for the right questions and answers and guidance and I feel like I can rise up to that and say useful things sometimes.
  9. Being accidentally called doctor- Seriously who doesn’t love this pleasant mistake, that will soon be true.
  10. Learning- It won’t be much longer that I can fall back on “Hold on, let me ask my attending.” It is my entire job- in this season of life- to learn. To soak up every last thing. To watch every thing that every physician around me does and to determine what they are doing right and what could be improved. I ask the same questions of myself constantly- what am I doing right and what needs fixing. It is such a rare thing to only be asked that you learn. So I will learn every possible thing from every possible patient on every possible day. I’m trying to do just that, and to enjoy it too, because it won’t be too long from now that I will be called upon to just “know”.
Life Medical School

First Year of Medical School is Over

and it has been for about a month now. To be honest, I’ve been relaxing without any guilt of not studying, not worrying about extracurriculars, boosting my application, or even getting ready for next year like I was constantly worried about last summer when I was prepping to enter first year. It’s a good feeling. I’ve had time to reflect and reevaluate myself and recognize all the changes that have occurred.
Two weeks ago, I helped with some recruiting events for the medical school where some of my class travelled Oklahoma and taught high schoolers about some of the things you get to learn in medical school. Over and over, my classmates talked about how much we had learned in our first year. Listening to my classmates explain things in such a way that high schoolers understood, gave me a lot of pride in watching the fruits of our labors these last nine months come to life. We have successfully integrated anatomy, foundational biological sciences, and now the physiology of the systems we are going through sequentially; we are able to articulate these concepts into something high schoolers can understand.
I’ve heard it said several times now that medicine involves a lot of teaching and at first I dreaded that thought. Rarely am I able to explain things in a fluid way such that my audience understands my thought process and the little tricks in my mind that help me learn. However, once I was put in front of these students just barely encroaching into the path that is Premed, I felt like for the first time I was able to take what I learned and really present it to this audience where they might be able to take away a deeper understanding of the heart, lung, or whatever we were discussing. Simply because I really, really understood the how it all works- from a molecular level, up to cellular, tissue, organ, and the entire body system through and through. Its taken 17 years of school, but I am finally getting there.
Throughout classes, I always felt like there was too much information- how could it ever all stick? Well, some of it doesn’t. My classmates were always right there for me to ask them about my weak points  in order to figure out a good way to explain it. But for everything I didnt quite feel proficient in, there were 17 other things I could rattle off and say- with some confidence- that were just as pertinent. It was an extremely cool thing to find. This crazy, flawed, difficult system that is medical education is working. I wish I had the stats- how many pages have I read, how many words- some way to quantify what was shoved into my brain. Its astronomical, but somehow, its working.
Against all odds- fighting sleep and skipping workouts and eating junk; feeling like crap, feeling like you’re never going to make it, skipping class, studying at all hours of the day, unsustainably torturing ourselves to fill ourselves to the breaking point with information- it actually really really worked. And medicine is just as amazing as I hoped it would be, and more.
Here’s to you, first year- all your ups and downs, suffering through, and thriving with some of the most wonderful humans I’ve ever met; I’m glad you are over but sad to see you go. I am now an 18th grader!
I’ve got some posts up my sleeves for this summer; some I have been mulling over for over a year when I first started this blog! So stay tuned.
Use the contact form at the top right of the screen to request a post on certain topic, get in touch, ask questions, whatever you need! Summer is the best time for me to do it!

First day of medical school! I thought it would be cute to document just like I did in kindergarten!

Last day of medical school a bunch of us went bowling to celebrate!

Medical School Medicine

Second Semester Classes

I’m a little over 2 months deep in my second semester of medical school. I have finished my cardiovascular block, and am now a week into neurology/neuroanatomy. Its a doozy, but it’s nothing compared to last semester.
I got an email to talk about the classes I have, and I wanted to do it before Neuro gets too crazy, so here it is!
The second semester of medical school:
My school is in its second year of switching to systems-based learning and we officially start the systems in our second semester with cardiovascular. That basically means we go through every system in the body and cover everything that entails in about 6 weeks per system. We learn physiology, normal function, and review some anatomy, then we dive right into everything that can go wrong with it, what the symptoms are, the diagnostic tests you run, how to diagnose, and then finally the drugs to treat it.
The only thing is that there are so many different things going on now that I get a little overwhelmed. In addition to our systems block (which is the heaviest part of our lecture hours each week), we have Clinical Problem Solving, Clinical Skills Class and Lab, OMM Class and Lab, Developing the Physician, and now a Neuroanatomy Lab each week.
Clinical Problem Solving gives us a clinical case each week and is incorporated strongly into our systems courses. We learn to write SOAP notes and discuss diagnosis and treatment in small groups with a practicing physician. Easily my favorite time in class each week!
Clinical Skills teaches us how to perform physical exams, take histories, systems checks, auscultation, and other “real doctor” things. The lab that goes along with it also puts us with a practicing doc in the Tulsa area and we practice our skills on each other. Standardized patients (paid actors) come occasionally and we practice on them as well.
In OMM we have a lecture and lab each week. We practice our techniques on each other. We have officially finished muscle energy techniques and are moving into counterstrain.
Developing the Physician is a class where we are exposed to various issues in medicine. They are especially focusing us in on Geriatrics this semester and handling all the special controversies and humanity issues that that entails. A few weeks ago they gave us goggles that simulated going blind. Take that as you will. Nothing in the class is particularly hard, but there are due dates for papers, shadowing to do and small groups that always seem to be inconveniently timed with everything else going on.
All of these classes have their own exams too, which also don’t always line up well with the systems courses. For example, we are responsible for the dermatologic exam in Clinical Skills when we haven’t learned anything about the skin! Two tests in one week doesn’t happen a lot, but it always freaks me out a little bit because every little facet in medicine has SO MUCH material.
Neuro is just a little ridiculous. We have some really good professors this block but nothing is more complex than the dang spinal cord to me. How anything gets transmitted correctly in the body is beyond me. Still, being out of basic sciences, and learning the real medicine is such a wonderful milestone to have finally made it to. After all, its been a long road with science after science. Finding out that medicine is everything I wanted it to be is extremely satisfying.
There’s a little glimpse into my classes and how I’m learning.
Those of you who are in medical school, how does your school do it? Comment or message me!
Thanks for reading!