Day 149: Brief musing on specialties

Today’s inane image of the day:

This was the sky’s “Good Morning” today — this photo was taken from a study room in O’Dowd [I highly recommend these rooms early in the morning… so peaceful to watch the sun rise].

For our PRISM session next week, each of us is required to complete the 150 question MSPI-R assessment on the Careers in Medicine website. Not surprisingly, the speciality it said I was most compatible with was OB/GYN. Huh, you ask? Haven’t you been raving about interest in anesthesiology, radiation oncology and cancer genetics? Why did you know you would get OB/GYN [beside the fact that the survey asked predictable questions]?

Well, first and foremost, I really enjoy working with the female population [which is probably why I was so involved in the Society of Women Engineers and now the American Medical Women’s Association]. Women indeed have different needs and I find it fascinating how distinct males and females react to problems or emotional expression. I love the connection and the firsthand understanding. And babies are absolutely magical.

But, I don’t know if I really want to dedicate the rest of my life to women’s reproductive health. Maybe after my clerkship I’ll change my mind. Or maybe it’ll push me more toward breast cancers. Or maybe I’ll be back here exactly where I started [hopefully not that last one!].

Bah! It stresses me out not to have a more concrete idea of where I want to and hope to be after medical school.

Day 127: Spirituality rounds

Today’s inane image of the day:

One of my favorite walls of art in Beaumont Hospital. It always lifts my spirits to walk by this.

Each of us are required to spend 2 hours doing “spirituality rounds” with a chaplain through the PRISM program. I did mine today and thought I’d share my experience with you.

[I believe] the purpose of the rounds is to get a feel for the role of spirituality within the healing process. Spirituality is not synonymous with religious, but religion is a form of spirituality. I personally do not identify myself as religious, but I respect all beliefs and love learning more about various spiritual practices. Furthermore, there is immense value in understanding various beliefs — physicians need to be able to understand their patients.

One of the patients we visited today during rounds described the experience that led him to the hospital as, “like waking up in a nightmare.” I’m not quite sure why those particular words stuck, but they did. He was also the only patient we visited that asked for a prayer. Although I did not actively participate in the ritual, I found his response to it comforting — it seemed that after the words were spoken and the minister had taken his hand off of the patient’s shoulder, that some of the turmoil he was feeling had abated. Even if the prayer wasn’t a form of healing in the literal, physician’s-sense of the term, I do believe that he found those moments therapeutic. Hopefully, he’ll soon be jolted from that prolonged nightmare of his.

Another patient that stuck in my mind was one that couldn’t communicate with us. It was absolutely heartbreaking to watch her struggle to form coherent words while her eyes longed for us to understand the indiscernible moaning and grumbling. As we started walking toward the door, we heard an unmistakable, “I’m sorry.”

Although I was apprehensive to conduct a spirituality assessment on my own, the chaplain encouraged me to try it. I walked into the patient’s room and introduced myself as a medical student conducting spirituality rounds. Then, I asked if the patient had any spiritual needs at that time. He quickly shook his head and refused to converse with me. I pressed on once more before retreating back into the hallway where the chaplain applauded my effort and explained that many patients respond in the same manner.

Overall, I found the experience to be beneficial to my future as a physician. And it definitely didn’t hurt to spend time with patients on the floors.

Today’s medical school fact of the day: “Protein A, found on the surface of most Staphylococcus aureus strains binds to the Fc region of IgGs, preventing antibody-mediated immune clearance of the organism.” –Microbiology lecture notes

Day 100: Pause

Today’s inane image of the day:

Challenge: Can you guess what we’re modeling here? [Leave comments with what you think this is — no OUWB students, please!]

I apologize for the lack of updates lately — Mike flew into town late Friday and I have been busy relishing his presence since then [I even took him to school with me yesterday and today!]. Since things are still pretty hectic around here, I’ll just leave you with my PRISM reflective writing piece [fictional, about anatomy lab, not my best work but still something!]:

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Day 95: The OUWB family

Today’s inane image of the day:

THESE ARE ABSOLUTELY AMAZING. I have to say… the U.S. is definitely missing out on these Coffee Crisps! [Kudos to my favorite resident/Big Sib program coordinator for passing these out during his Radiology lecture!]

Imagine this: 50 medical students dressed in various types of gym apparel sprawled across a large Beaumont Hospital classroom with every square inch of the carpet completely covered in colorful beach towels and yoga mats. As the lights are turned off, a meditation audio plays. Interspersed are extended moments of silence when suddenly every slight noise seems to make a racket. As time passes, you can hear the breathing rate slow to a steady, calm pace. After a few more moments pass, you hear one student’s slow, steady breaths turn into snores.

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Day 11: Beaumont, Big sibs, PRISM, LDR and everything else

Today’s inane image of the day:

Our first PRISM session was about expectations and wellness!

Most Thursdays, we have an excuse to wear our bright white coats because we have all of our classes in one of the Beaumont locations [today was Royal Oak]. I had the chance to walk through the small farmers’ market that sits right outside the South entrance and was happy to find the tastiest vegan desserts at the market. I can’t wait to go back and buy some baked goods next week!

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OUWB Orientation: Day 3 – PRISM Teamwork

Images from today:

How creative/symbolic/innovative [thanks for the words Caribou buddies!] were these “prism” table settings during our PRISM luncheon?

Mmm Caribou Coffee…

Last year as a member of the Executive Board for the Society of Women Engineers Section at the University of Michigan and while running the Ypsilanti Middle School Engineering Club, I got to know a lot about icebreakers. Some of them are really effective, while others are just plain annoying. While I cannot say that I absolutely love being a participant, by the end of the year I realized how much potential they have to teach communication and set the stage for a welcoming community.
I’m going to go a bit out of order to discuss today’s orientation events, so bear with me here. 
In the afternoon, all 50 of us participated in a challenge course. After a large-scale “icebreaker” [which involved making squares…] we divided up into our PRISM groups [there were 10 per group] and went through various obstacles. After a generic name game [though, I’m happy to say that I was able to name everyone in my PRISM group prior to the game], we worked on a challenge involving teamwork, following directions, understanding directions and communication [believe it or not… this was all done solely with the use of a Beanie Baby turtle named Timmy]. Because success came relatively quickly, we relished in its glory while moving on to the second challenge. 
Our next challenge entailed a pretty wild story about being shrunk down to ant size and navigating a way to the “sticky” nachos using a rope. I’m not really doing this challenge much justice, but we completed it on our first try, which led to a mutual feeling of accomplishment. Bring it on Challenge Course people! Group C can handle anything!

Then came the Helium Hula Hoop… since I had done this particular icebreaker before, I thought that it would be relatively straightforward. Unfortunately, I was very wrong. Somehow, this challenge proved to be the most difficult and frustrating one of the day. While in retrospect, I see that there were ways that we could have alleviated the tension running through our group with our numerous failed attempts and constant bickering, I have to admit that I was also caught up within it all. I believe that a large number of medical students have made it as far as they have because of their perfectionist tendencies and ability to lead. But the problems always arise when you tell a bunch of leaders and perfectionists to work together — who gets to lead the perfectionist leaders? [have you ever seen the words “perfectionist” and “leader” said so many times in 2 sentences?!]
Alas, we finally completed [well… mostly] the challenge and made it all better with a huge group hug and a cheer for our team. 
Next we lined up and formed a giant snake with every other person “blind.” The snake had to scale a number of obstacles [under a rope, over a park bench, through a hula hoop] with half of its members unable to see. It was definitely a fun challenge.
Finally, my favorite challenge of all was the spiderweb. I personally have never done this before, but here’s an example of what we were working with:
Don’t let the image above fool you — ours was a lot smaller than the example I found on the web. Anyway, the challenge was that we had to get everyone from one side of the web to the other without touching it and basically using every single space available [where you could only go through certain spaces once]. Also, we had combined groups, so we had 20 people to move from one side to the other. 
The reason that this challenge will remain ingrained in my memory is the fact that it took a lot of trust to let yourself be passed through a tiny hole by your peers. It was a very intimate moment to be held so carefully by a number of my classmates and looked after to ensure that I would 1. get through the hole, 2. not be violated, 3. not get my hair pulled out, and most importantly, 4. not get hurt. Thank you team, for taking care of me — I’ll make sure to return the favor as best as I can.
As you might have guessed, our team was successful in the challenge [even when we had to have a bunch of members blindfolded!].
The challenges lasted 3 hours [and I am now sunburnt…should have packed sunscreen!], but it really felt like time flew by [guess they didn’t lie when they said time flies when you’re having fun!].
Wow, I’m a bag of cheesy lines today.
To back up to the beginning of the day, we started with a session on Diversity and Multicultural Initiatives. Through a Powerpoint, watching a video, and a quick discussion, we received a great introduction to why diversity is so important in medicine. Afterwards we heard about the insurance plan available to students and the services available at the Graham Counseling Center.
Our [delicious] lunch was included as part of PRISM. Furthermore, each group had a mentor that joined us for the meal [ours was an Emergency Medicine physician]. Afterwards, we started the Challenge Course.
All in all, it was a really heartwarming day. I enjoyed it [even though I was exhausted] and hope that our TBL sessions will be this much fun in the future [maybe we can come up with a good icebreaker with our textbooks…]!

OUWB Orientation: Day 2/3

Today’s inane image of the day:

This is what my front door does to the sun when it wants to invade my foyer — woohoo prisms!

Last night, myself and three of my peers went to a Beaumont faculty member’s home for dinner with him and his family. The dinner was definitely one of the big things I was looking forward to because it offered an opportunity to connect with a faculty member as well as my peers in a more intimate setting. Plus, it was refreshing to see a relaxed and happy physician [so, it is possible to have it all!].
As I drove home last night [very full from a delicious meal], I felt even more convinced that I had made the right decision — while I believe that small schools generally result in a pretty close-knit community, I also believe that there is a right and wrong way to go about fostering its growth. OUWB seemed to put a lot of thought into this, because everything seems to be flowing perfectly.
Today we have a session on Diversity & Multicultural Initiatives, Health Insurance & Graham Counseling Center then the rest of the afternoon is dedicated to PRISM. I have an awesome PRISM group so I’m excited to do the low ropes challenge course with them later on today!
Just this past weekend I was [understandably] concerned about starting school and how everything would fall into place. Now, I’m just relaxed and ready to embark on this journey alongside my forty-nine peers [/corny statements… for now].