Day 76: Basic event professionalism

Today’s inane images of the day:

I was greeted by this vibrant foliage on my way to the parking lot at Beaumont Hospital, Royal Oak.

I love wrapping/packing gifts… [woohoo for the upcoming holiday season!]. This was one of the speaker gifts for our Symposium.

Yesterday [Fri, 10/26] was our Symposium – here’s the front of the program.

The last couple of weeks have been filled with obsessing over every little detail for our Symposium. Yes, I admit that I am a semi-perfectionist and set some pretty high standards, but I also believe that if I’m going to commit to something that it better be done well. So it follows that I spent hours upon hours agonizing over confirming the speakers, combing through our flyer, poster and program and ensuring we had enough funding to make this event happen. Since things almost never work out the way you plan them, I anticipated that we would run into at least one issue and it ended up being with our speaker gifts [after emailing our supplier on Wednesday confirming the arrival of the gifts on Thursday, he notified me that he hadn’t heard whether they would arrive on-time… way to not let me know earlier…]. I frantically took care of this slight snag on Thursday evening. To my delight, nothing went too horribly wrong last night.

What bothered me most about last night was the final turnout – keep in mind that we required attendees to register in advance and I sent two reminder emails [with a line noting that the individual should notify me if they no longer plan on attending]. Yes, I recognize that it was a Friday evening. Yes, I recognize that most of our registered individuals are busy medical students. But seriously, don’t register for something then fail to attend.

Let me repeat that – don’t sign up for an event you don’t plan on attending.

We had 60 registered attendees but 16 didn’t show up – that’s a 27% no-show rate [I took out the individuals that notified me that they wouldn’t be attending ahead of time – thank you for letting me know]. I understand last minute emergencies [this one can maybe account for 2-3 people] and other things come up, but at least shoot me a quick email so that we don’t waste our resources expecting your arrival. We could have cut back on how many programs we printed and saved almost 3 sheets of printed name tags  We could have rearranged the room that the event was held in to make it feel more well-attended [we had 40ish people in a room designed for 150]. We could have saved money by ordering less food. Had we known that only ~40 people would attend, things would have been handled a bit differently.

This is one of my biggest pet-peeves. All of us at some point has planned/hosted an event and should therefore understand basic event etiquette. Moreover, these are medical students – you’d think there was a baseline level of professionalism to either 1) not sign up or 2) cancel a registration. In today’s digital age of smartphones, tablets and laptops, there’s no excuse for failing to send: “I won’t be attending.” Our four physician speakers took time out of their busy days to create and present talks. All but one of the physicians that registered to attend, showed up [the one that didn’t was on-call]. What does this say about our generation of medical students?

Am I overreacting? Yes. But do I have a valid point? I think so.

In other news… we’ve started our Reproductive unit, which means that I can no longer study in public without feeling really uncomfortable with the images of a pathologic penis or vagina on my laptop screen. Maybe I should invest in one of those privacy screens…

Day 71: Block 5 – Gastroenterology and Hepatobiliary

Today’s inane image of the day:

Once again not the recommended textbook for the course – but one of the resources I used.

Somehow we’ve already made it through two blocks of our M2 year – how can we slow time down? I’m not ready to be this close to the boards!

Course overview
GI was another 5 week block and ran similarly to the last 3 blocks [Renal, Cardiovascular, RespiratoryNeuroscience was an outlier] – we had 1 TBL, weekly quizzes, labs and lecture. Our final grade was determined from our performance on quizzes, TBL, a physiology podcast assignment [see below for details], Anatomy practical and final exam.

What I loved
Course Directors. When the course directors for the course insist on being at almost every single lecture, it really sets a positive tone. This is especially important for when we have questions about the material or the nitty-gritty about the course itself because we know we can rely on seeing our course directors in lecture.

Option for Weekly Review. In previous blocks, we had time set aside for a weekly review on Fridays. For GI, Dr. Harriott made a little lockbox for students to submit questions for the weekly review. If we had no questions that week, there was no review. I really liked this format since it meant that professors/clinicians would only have to come in if there was a need. Sometimes I felt bad that time would be taken out of their busy schedule to come to a review that might be sparsely attended – the option for submitting a question helped prevent this from happening.

Final Exam. NBME exams are wonderful. Really.

What I felt neutral about
Anatomy Practical. In Cardio and Pulmonary, the anatomy practicals weren’t something I stressed myself over because they were straightforward and I knew how to study for them. But this year, we have new anatomy professors and a new style of practical exam. While I wasn’t as disappointed with the GI practical as I was for the Renal one, I was still a bit perplexed by why 1/3 of the exam was histology. I understand that in medicine, integration is key and welcome some variety in questions, but in the past, histology was never more than a few questions or maybe ~10% of the exam. The sudden focus on histology really caught me off-guard. In the end, I can grow to appreciate the additional variety in questions, but I wish there was consistency in the exams so that once I’ve figured out the most appropriate way to study, I can stick to it [this is the beauty of NBME exams – many if not most of us study from First Aid Organ Systems and consistently do well].

What could be improved
Physiology Podcast Assignment. In lieu of a normal physiology lecture, we created a Podcast lecture and a handout within our TBL groups covering a small topic. Our group’s topic were the GI reflexes [e.g. gastro-colic] and their possible influence on diarrhea in irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). After creating a presentation and a handout, then recording it, each individual had to take a 10 question quiz on the material. Additionally, we were expected to provide feedback on other teams’ work through an online forum.

I think that this assignment has enormous potential as a learning tool but that the way that it was executed this block, made it more of a burden than anything else. The making of the podcast took a pretty significant chunk of time, but it definitely hammered the material into our head. The quiz didn’t really seem to correlate with the material presented in the podcasts, so it was frustrating to take. And it wasn’t very clear as to how much feedback we were expected to provide through the online forums [i.e. did we have to comment on all 10 podcasts or just a few?].

Overall, I think that this activity/assignment could be a great learning tool but that it needed clearer expectations and the questions created directly from the material presented by each group.

Final thoughts
100% of the class passed in both the Renal and GI NBME final exams – I think this is a good sign. =)

Dr. Cappell and Dr. Harriott did a wonderful job with this block and I applaud them for their hard work and dedication to making it a success!

Day 66: Custom designs, anyone?

Today’s inane image of the day:

In support of Breast Cancer Awareness month, AMWA is sponsoring a pink ribbon sale at OUWB. I had a lot of fun with other AMWA members making these ribbons…

These last couple of weeks have been interesting… I ran my first 5K [I’m not a runner at all… I was hoping just to beat a 35 min time], got through the GI final exam, have been hard at work planning AMWA events, tried to keep up with blog entries at Kaplan and The Differential, and apparently just discovered a new passion of mine [read on…].

Recently, I was asked by a staff member at OUWB to help design her wedding invitations. She showed me a card she loved on Wedding Paper Divas and asked if it was possible to make something similar. I immediately agreed to try it out and see what I could do.

Many hours later, I made this card with the free graphic design vector-based program, InkScape. And I was inspired to do more and minimalist design detroit was born. I make no claims about my level of expertise in graphic design [let’s face it, I’m a medical student], but I think that I am very capable of making some interesting pieces. At least… let’s hope they’re interesting [you’ll have to let me know after looking through my site].

I’ve also opened up a small Etsy shop – so if you’re in need of wedding invitations, save the date cards or anything related to graphics and you kind of like my style… consider asking me for a custom design!

Our GI final exam [everyone in our class passed – YAY!] and Anatomy practical was this past Monday. Look forward to an upcoming entry reviewing the course.

Now back to medical school related things…? [I’ve been spending an hour here and there designing new card designs and playing around with new techniques. This was really bad news for me as I was trying to study for my GI final exam, because all I wanted to do was try to make pretty things!]

Day 53

Today’s inane images of the day:

You’re invited to attend our Women’s Health Symposium – Unraveling Breast Cancer program! If you’re from the area and medically-related, consider attending. More information at our AMWA website. Registration is required.

First Aid Organ Systems is an essential study tool for our organ systems courses.

The above images are a great illustration of the things dominating my life as of late. Our Gastrointestinal and Hepatobiliary Unit final exam is right around the corner on October 15 so I really need to kick it into high gear. The first couple of weeks of this block I spent time catching up on AMWA events and life, but now I feel ridiculously behind and panic is starting to set in. There’s a lot of material in this block and and not enough time in the day to memorize it all.

Anyway, I need to get back to studying…

[If you’re in the Metro-Detroit area, please consider attending our RADSAG/AMWA Women’s Health Symposium! We’ve put a lot of time and work into organizing this program. Plus… dinner will be provided and this is a great way to observe Breast Cancer Month!]