Day 159: Block 1 – Neuroscience

Today’s inane image of the day:

This is our Neuroscience block textbook — note it’s misleading size.

I’ve been waiting for the right moment to finally fill everyone in on how the first block course is going so far and I think that time has come. Keep in mind that this Neuroscience block is not a good representation of what the rest of our blocks will be like because we lost our original course director [as of halfway through winter break] and the Neurosurgery department quite graciously stepped in to save the day with only a week and a half of planning time. Not quite sure about the details on the old course director [nor is it my place to dig for this information], but the situation was out of the school’s control and at this point I’m happy that we have a Neuroscience course at all.

Bearing in mind the situation, it follows logically that things are a bit disorganized. As it is, Neuroscience is difficult to learn – there are an endless number of obscure terms, pathways described in these obscure terms and nuances that define these pathways described in obscure terms. Add this reality to the fact that scientists/physicians have barely scratched the surface of understanding exactly why, how and what this fascinating organ can do… and you have one extremely difficult course to teach, even without the added pressure of organizing how to teach it all.

The preclinical years of medical school are like taking a super-accelerated language course [with a bunch of extra stuff appended to it]. It makes sense that we need to learn the definitions of basic terms before we can go ahead and try to conjugate them in practice. But if one day the professor walks into class and only speaks in this new language that some of us have not yet acquired… well, let’s say that I felt a couple gray hairs sprout this last week.

We are lucky to have such a phenomenal group of lecturers [they are neurosurgeons!] [not so sure we have a McDreamy, though…], but some are definitely better teachers than others.

Another issue that has come up is just not knowing how to prepare for these lectures. I was studying the Histology, Pharmacology and even Embryology lectures and neglecting the Neuroscience ones because I felt lost. Furthermore, we haven’t been getting the lectures ahead of time so trying to preview the session material has been a bit like a guessing game — sure, we knew we were looking at the Ascending Tracts [great resource!] for our second lecture… but our textbook doesn’t get into that particular subject until Chapter 6, so I had to choose if I wanted to read Chapters 1-5 first OR skip to Chapter 6 [remember that whole limited amount of time to study thing leads to trade-offs]. I decided to try to read 1-5 first, but didn’t get very far prior to lecture and felt like a fish out of water while the professor was speaking [though he showed us some awesome clips and clinical material].

After forcing myself to read at least to Chapter 6 [after the lecture] and discussing some of the concepts with a classmate, I feel slightly better about trying to attack this beast, but I have a lot of a catching up to do this weekend [although the book is bite-sized and less than 300 pages, just trying to understand one page can take an hour… or two].

The most ironic part about all of this is that when I was younger I always dreamt of becoming a neurosurgeon. This fantasy was quickly shattered when I discovered that I might already be going through menopause by the time I finish residency [just kidding, but it’s a long residency] and after taking a neuroscience summer program, it was clear that the subject didn’t interest me as much as I thought it would. And now that I’m in the course, I can pretty safely eliminate neurology and neurosurgery from my list of desired specialties.

As for other updates… I think I’ve settled into an idea for my Capstone project, learned how to suture/intubate/do an ultrasound [thanks to the Emergency Medicine Interest Group!], am looking into anesthesiology again [thanks to the Anesthesiology Interest Group] and am semi-stressed about trying to get our AMWA members down to Miami for the Annual Conference in April. Oh and our midterm exam is a week from Monday.

Happy weekend, everyone! I hope you all have more exciting plans than me… haha. =)