Day 42: Fall is settling in

Today’s inane image of the day:

This is the “trail” I jog [it’s actually on the side of a road, which disqualifies it as a real trail, I guess?] [don’t be fooled – I’m a terrible runner].

There hasn’t been too much happening as of late. I finally feel like things are getting done in AMWA [though, this was at the expense of studying for GI] and I’ve had a brief window of opportunity to catch up with old non-medical-school friends.

Michigan has abruptly decided that fall is here, which means cider mill visits filled with hot cider and warm donuts [admittedly, I’ve already been to the cider mill twice to buy half a dozen donuts]. However, the cooler weather also means that it’s much more difficult to peel myself away from bed in the morning – it’s cold outside of my heavy covers and the sun doesn’t start its lazy ascent until I’m already at school. I’m already kind of dreading the end of Daylight Savings Time [November 4th for those of you who are curious].

When I visited L.A. last weekend, I wondered if I could really abandon having 4 true seasons [as always, it was Sunny and 100+ degrees over there]. As much as I dread the seemingly never-ending gloom of late-Winter when the holidays have passed and everyone is just ready for Spring, I also couldn’t imagine abandoning ethereal snowy mornings. Or breathing in the brisk, winter air. Or the quiet that often accompanies light snowfall.

Then again, as I type this entry, my hands are half-frozen, my toes are a suspicious Raynaud’s color and I’m bundled up in a blanket. I guess I wouldn’t mind flip-flops, flow-y dresses and sunglasses year-round.

Are you enjoying the changing seasons? Do you even like seasons?

Day 35: Updates and link love

Today’s inane images of the day:

A successful kick-off AMWA Dinner With Dr. Nuzzarello!
A beautiful sunset in Pasadena [this was taken from the top floor of a parking deck].
Pasadena night life.

This last week following the Renal and Urinary exam has probably been my most stressful one to date because 1) our Anatomy practical examination grades were held until Thursday afternoon and I was scared about failing 2) I neglected all of my other commitments [i.e. AMWA] to study for the exam and felt overwhelmed by having to play catch-up 3) we didn’t get a break Tuesday morning after the exam – nope, we started class at 7:30AM and went until 3PM. All of these things combined made for a very painful week.

Last weekend while I was studying, I felt empty and well, depressed… so I planned a couple of things to look forward to. One of these things was a weekend trip to visit Mike [as you can see from the photos of Pasadena] – albeit short, it was wonderful and worth the money and fatigue from traveling. Currently, I’m writing this from LAX, awaiting my flight back to Detroit [did you know there was free WiFi in LAX?! I’ve totally been missing out…].

Have you noticed my rather sporadic posting schedule? Well… that’s because all of my blogging juices have been directed toward my weekly Kaplan medical blog entries and the newest addition – The Differential. Here are some recent entries I wrote:

Also, the Oakland Post featured me and this blog in their last issue! Check it out here.
Time to pack up and pack into the plane…

Day 31: Block 4 – Renal and Urinary

Today’s inane image of the day:

This was the cover page for one of my favorite interactive sessions during the Renal and Urinary block. [Oh and this Nephrologist blogs and tweets, too!]

We started our M2 year off delving into the convoluted structures and functions of the Renal and Urinary system.

Course Overview
This block was 5 weeks and ran similarly to the the last 2 blocks [Cardiovascular, Respiratory… Neuroscience was kind of an outlier…] – we had weekly quizzes, TBLs, Anatomy labs and lectures. Our final grade was determined by our performance on the weekly quizzes, TBLs, the final NBME exam and Anatomy practical.

What I loved
WHITE SPACE. Dr. Augustyniak started off the block explaining just how he designed the course to have a significant chunk of white space. Looking back upon the last month or so, I have to say that this extra time made Renal & Urinary much more pleasant. Not only was I getting a decent amount of sleep each evening, I had more time to study and digest the material. Although there was definitely more time off as a whole, unfortunately the last week before our final exam was jam-packed – I would have much rather had those classes earlier and more time off later.

Improved lectures/interactive sessions. A couple of professors really stepped up their game – it was really great to see some of our feedback in action [I guess this isn’t so much a Renal-specific thing, but more of a school-specific thing].

Final exam. Just like the last couple of blocks, our final exam was a customized one written by the NBME. I thought that this exam didn’t do a phenomenal job of assessing my Renal and Urinary knowledge, however, it was still a pretty darn good exam [it doesn’t hurt that I passed, haha].

What I felt neutral about
Weekly quizzes. In the past, I’ve raved about the Weekly Quizzes and for the most part, I still think they are a positive thing. However, as time passes, I’m starting to see them more as a burden and less of a way to study/assess my knowledge. At this point, I think the pros and cons of having them cancel each other out.

What could be improved
Anatomy. When I realized that we would only have 2 Anatomy sessions, I figured that it made sense since the kidney and urinary tract were not phenomenally complicated structures on a gross level. However, we soon discovered that we were also responsible for the abdominal wall and the parts of the inguinal canal region. Come examination time, I was surprised by how little we were accessed on our knowledge of gross kidney Anatomy and how much emphasis was on abdominal wall muscles. Additionally, the examination didn’t run as smoothly has it has in the past, which only added more stress to an already painful situation.

I am confident that this issue will be resolved, but it was still frustrating.

Attendance policy. [This is another school-specific and not really Renal-specific item] OUWB has implemented an attendance policy – although this change does not really affect me [I attend every lecture to take care of classroom technology, anyway], the way by which we track attendance is a bit rudimentary. Surely the system will be improved as time goes on, but for now… we’re signing a physical paper every single hour. It gets to be a bit nerve-wracking and distracting to feel like I have to chase a piece of paper around every hour, but for now, it’ll have to do.

Order of material presentation. It is likely that the order was dictated more by the clinicians’ schedules than anything else, so I’m not sure there’s much that can be done on this front. However, I think order of presentation is important in organ systems, particularly learning Anatomy, Histology and Embryology relatively early on so we can build upon these basics. For Renal, we had Embryology the last week before the exam – although there wasn’t a ton of Embryo to learn, I still felt like it would have been better placed earlier on.

Final thoughts
Like in Cardio, Dr. Augustyniak was really dedicated to making this course a success. Additionally, Dr. Dumler [clinical course director] was available for the majority of the course, which added to its overall high level of cohesiveness. Overall, I’d say the course was a success, albeit a little bumpy here and there.

Day 22: A day in the life of a med student

Today’s inane image of the day:

Back at it again with Netter’s Atlas and my laptop. Oh, and why not throw in a game of Gin Rummy while we’re at it?

Mike visited for a couple of days, then left again. As always, the visit was too short-lived and now I feel like a part of me is missing. We spent most of his visit doing what I always do – school, study, eat, exercise and sleep [admittedly, I got some shopping in, too].

Generally, my day runs something like this:

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