Monday, August 31, 2009

First test: Pass!

First test went pretty well - certainly passed. Studied all weekend. I have a better study method now, so hopefully next time the cramming won't be quite so intense. I'm finally able to relax...a tad. Tomorrow I have a mini-practical in OMM, so I have to review those techniques, practice on my family, and then hopefully do a decent job tomorrow. The techniques we have learned so far are soft tissue techniques, inhibition mostly.

In addition to the midterm today, we also had several lectures. The woman who taught our neurohistology course was one of the two faculty who interviewed me, and she is definitely a cool lady. The other professor is one of the jolly OMM doctors. I think I really lucked out on my faculty interviewers - neither of them was much of a hardball.

Also, we had a lecture on lymphatics today, and there were a few interesting factoids presented. The one that caught my eye the most was the statistic that ~20 million people in the US caught the Spanish Flu, and of them 500,000 died. ~100,000 were treated by DOs with a mortality rate of 0.25%, whereas the portion treated by MDs had a 6% mortality rate. I think it probably had most to do with the fact that MDs were probably experimenting with a ton of medicines to try to determine their efficacy - not necessarily a bad thing. Yes, it was unfortunate for those who were given dangerous medicine, but there was so much quacky medicine out in the early days of the profession that it had to be ruled out somehow. DOs probably stuck with lymph-facilitating techniques, which at worst are harmless and at best a catalyst for recovery.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Another day...

Well, the white coat ceremony was on Sunday - it went well enough. We all went out to lunch afterward. Very little to say about it, except that I am glad they did not make it longer than they had to. The pictures are up on facebook, for those of you I permit to see my profile stuff. Interesting little tidbit though - being a Jewish sponsored school, the rabbi did a talk at the very beginning and blew a shofar, or ram's horn instrument used for Jewish services. I've been steadily working through our class objectives - have to get through them all by Monday, as that is when our first major exams are - the midblock exams.

We also just started learning some actual OMM techniques in lab - this week we are focusing on soft-tissue techniques. I need to practice on my family a bit before Monday, I think we have a practical portion of the exam. The details about what is being tested is a little hazy. Also, today was Club Day, and there was a blood donation bus, so I donated and checked out what clubs there are on campus. I joined Internal Medicine, Osteopathic Physicians and Surgeons of California, the CMA/SCMA (free, otherwise I wouldn't have), and Undergraduate Osteopathic Student Association of some kind - I don't remember exactly the abbreviation. I was considering SOMA, but it's a bit pricey compared to the others. All in all, it was nice to hang around and see what clubs there are.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Radiation, oh my!

In our radiology lecture today, we were discussing how x-ray machines work, from traditional film x-rays to angiograms and radioactive dyes. There was a chart I thought was interesting that compared the chances of getting cancer from a typical dose of radiation to the chances of other life-endangering conditions:

So basically, getting a chest x-ray is about as risky as spending 3 days in the US, or eating several spoonfuls of peanut butter. I definitely did not think peanut butter was so dangerous... Apparently there is a mold that grows on plants such as corn and peanuts, and it produces a toxin that can be highly carcinogenic. The bacterium is named Aspergillus flavus, A. flavus, and thus its toxin was named Aflatoxin. There is another species in the same genus that also produces the toxin, but A. flavus was discovered first so its name was used. I'm not saying we shouldn't eat peanut butter, I'm just surprised that there was such a risk.

Sunday is the white coat ceremony, and in the meantime I'll be hanging out with Kit - he's visiting for the weekend. We have been going over a lot of biochemistry, but most people in class are having some trouble with our professor's lecture style. I imagine it would be very difficult to understand the jumps from one cycle to another and the brevity of his explanations if one had never taken biochemistry. Lucky for me, most of this is old hat. I'll spend most of next week working on those objectives, and hopefully the first exam (August 31) will go well. I also got my approval to take the Medical Spanish elective, which doesn't start until September 31. On Monday I'll be finding the professor who is teaching the advanced nutrition course so I can take that, and also I'll make an appointment to get another tuberculosis test - the physician who did my physical doesn't think the stuff I sent from Kaiser is official enough, and I can't get the records unless I go to San Diego in person, so screw it - I don't mind getting a bubble in my arm if it'll finally end this ordeal. Besides, if I don't have all my immunization stuff in, then my grades won't be disclosed and I'll be left out of clinical activities.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Nearly Through Another Week

Amazing how much less reading it feels like I have this week compared to last. I got some OMM treatment today for my lower back, but apparently there is something going on by my left scapula that one of the doctors think I should get checked out. Alas, there was not enough time today, but perhaps next week. We had our third back dissection the other day, where we sawed open the spinal column to view the spinal cord. We're beginning to finesse the dissection a little better, after doing a rather poor job on the back muscles. We're in the middle of biochemistry, so lucky for me it should all be review. Our first exams are the week after next, and next week has a lot of short days! All the better for studying!

I'm sure it's different at other medical schools, but here all of our courses have "objectives," certain topics we are expected to master. For example: Know what an allosteric enzyme is, understand how it functions in Hb. There are lists for each class and I am going to go through them all and answer them as fully as possible. Also, for the record, birth control pills really mess with your head. Long story short, I was forced to go back to an old prescription and it sunk me into depression for about a week. I wanted to wait until my new health insurance came in, since the cost for the pills under my Anthem Blue Cross coverage is 70% the retail price, as opposed to a single copay. I decided I couldn't take much more of it, so I got a month's worth and started, and every day I feel better. I really understand the meaning of the symptom "no longer enjoys things that used to bring joy" - particularly now that I can enjoy them again. Also, if anyone's curious, Microgestin FE 1.5/30 was bad for me, Yasmin/Ocella was good. Though I've heard mixed opinions about both.

Anyhoo, this weekend will be packed - Kit is coming up for the weekend, my sister is getting back from camp, the white coat ceremony is on Sunday morning, and I'm going to go see Ponyo in theaters. On another note - I'm 1/3 of the way through my Japanese audio lessons! Sleep time now.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Good News

One of the programs offered at Touro, and many other medical schools, is the opportunity to go abroad and learn about foreign cultures, diseases, languages, and train as a physician. It was described vaguely by one of the directors of the Global Health Program, and it sounded like it would be the entire summer - two months or so. Anyhow, I met up today with a second year who I knew back in high school and she and her roommate both did the program and their internships only lasted 3-4 weeks - which is much more conducive to my particular goals. Also, they said the medical spanish program does not require very much fluency, so once I take that and the global health elective in spring, I should be all set! Hopefully I will have worked through most of my spanish audio lessons by then, so I'll be prepared! I'm excited, hopefully it'll all work out! I should bring some jars with me...I'll bet the insects there will be amazing.

Today we also had a stress management course, which seemed to try to prepare us to expect and prepare for the worst. I think I'm a little better off than some other students, who are either living by themselves or have families, and those who are type A individuals. I am definitely not a perfectionist, and in medical school it sounds like perfectionism is a bit of a curse. Anyway, I did not get much studying done last night, so hopefully I'll be more productive tonight. Plus, tomorrow we start Histology, which I'm worried will be a bit challenging.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

More OMM and BLS

Today was my appointed 'basic life saving' skills course time. So, I got to spend a super fun 5 hours or so learning CPR... I wish they didn't have to train people in it every two years - maybe every five unless some drastic change is made to the procedure. We also got to do more OMM today - basically just palpated our randomly assigned partner on the back, neck, chest, hips, and legs. Tomorrow should be a decently easy day, since the only other course besides embryology is "Stress Management." I think I'm doing pretty well, to be honest - I seem to be more on top of reading than the average person here. It probably helps to have come almost straight from college.

We were assigned to watch a movie for one of the osteopathic classes - "The Doctor." I haven't watched it yet, but it'll be nice to watch in some down time. Other than True Blood, House MD, and a couple animes, I don't have much on my list to watch. I've been relying on caffeine a lot these days... One thing recommended by other students is to follow along in the USMLE First Aid as we go through certain topics in class, so that we know to what we should pay attention. Our embryology professor also mentioned that we don't need to memorize stages, that it's more important to understand disease and treatments. I don't know that I trust that though - I would want my doctor to remember how a zygote or embryo differentiates. Maybe I just hold myself to a higher standard than the boards. I find that unlikely. After a few more minutes of relaxing, it's back to the books!

Monday, August 10, 2009

The Fruits of my Labors

I felt so much more prepared for anatomy lab today after all that COA cramming. I'm sure it would be easier if I had been exposed to anatomy before this, but the last time I studied muscles was my middle school's health education segment of PE. Also, they gave us more guidance about what to do today, which I felt they should have done the previous day too. It's interesting, by the time you've worked through a lot of the fat, your hands are covered in slick yellowish oil, since the fat has essentially liquefied a bit. I am in the A group, and we lucked out in that we do not start more than one new unit each day - tomorrow we start embryology, and on Friday we start histology lab. As a result, we have sufficient time to get used to embryology before we have histology. For the time being this is my new favorite book...

I also signed up for some electives - there are a few decent ones to choose from. I was tempted to take medical biochemistry, since it goes into laboratory tests, but it is a two unit class and I really wanted to take advanced nutrition and medical spanish (each worth one unit). In the spring it'll be more medical spanish and global heath care. I'm looking forward to doing more OMM tomorrow - it's great to have pseudo-patient encounters, even if they are our classmates. Speaking of osteopathy, we had another one of the "pep-talk" type lectures today where we are told what is so unique about osteopathy, how it is a philosophy that will change our lives, how important it is that we're becoming doctors, etc. I wonder if MD students get similar pep talk classes? I was considering taking pictures of the campus today, but reconsidered. I think there are sufficient pictures on the website if anyone wants to browse through them.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Nose Deep in Clinically Oriented Anatomy

One of our largest, densest texts is Clinically Oriented Anatomy, which our anatomy professor, during his very informal first class, told us we didn't really need to read in much depth. I think that was very misleading (he just wants us to read the easier beginning anatomy text he wrote himself). Also, they put up a lecture powerpoint for the anatomy lab, and even have a section on the schedule which logically is the lecture for the lab, but apparently we are not being lectured on the anatomy lab lecture powerpoints, so we have to go over them in depth beforehand by ourselves if we want to know what's going on in lab. I also know I wasn't the only one - no one else in my group knew what to do either. I don't think they were very clear with us about that, so I feel a little betrayed, but what can I do.

...except go into insane overdrive. Now I'm taking it upon myself to learn all human anatomy without the aid of lectures. Since we're also starting embryology and histology next week, I feel a pressing need to memorize the anatomy stuff before we start those subjects. I wish I had taken physiology or embryology as an undergrad - it would have made things easier for me now, and probably next week. I also dropped my phone in the toilet recently, so I went to Verizon and got a new phone - a PDA since there are some medical apps which are apparently crucial during rotations 3rd year. I ended up getting the Blackberry Storm - 8gb, all touch. I can't stand those little roller balls on the traditional Blackberries. Anyway...back to COA.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Last of the "Day X" Entries

My entries will start having more of a topic format than a daily routine format, since accounts of daily activities can get rather dull, even if it is about medical school. Today we had history of osteopathic medicine, cultural competency, and interviewing, which explains certain strategies and considerations when interviewing a patient at a doctor's visit. After lunch, we all went to the anatomy lab and started on the back dissection. Our cadaver is a 96-year-old woman who died in a curled position from dementia. Unfortunately a lot of her muscles were deteriorated when she died, so muscles like the latissimus are very thin and fragile. It's a lot to memorize, and I'm going to devote most of my studying this weekend to learning all the names of the back muscles and review dissection techniques.

Next week we start on embryology, patient interviews, and basic life saving techniques. Hopefully I'll be meeting up with a friend of mine from high school who happens to be a second year here. It's exciting. I'm still waiting on the form from the doctor down south so that I can enroll in student health insurance, but I guess I'm not in much of a hurry. There was a party tonight but I guess I just don't feel like being social after a long week of meeting dozens of people. I think I've been doing a pretty decent job remembering everyone though. Also, Non-Sequitur had a cute comic today about patient noncompliance.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

First Day

Today was the first official day of classes. It went well, and I am trying to be very thorough with my notes so they will be a good reference for later when I'm studying for the COMLEX and USMLE. Every now and then I'll hear someone say COMPLEX instead of COMLEX and it kinda grates on my nerves...I can tell when professors hear someone say it that they are annoyed, thinking "If you knew what the acronym stood for you'd say it right." For those who are curious, it is "Comprehensive Osteopathic Medical Licensing EXam" - I don't see a "P" between Medical and Licensing. At any rate, we started out with an introduction to the study of anatomy. It was interesting because Dr. Hartwig is a fan of Latin, so he was giving us all the Latin roots of words and making cracks about how PhDs are teachers, not doers. I only wish I had taken some caffeine this morning - there was a slump of extreme sleepiness I had to fight through around 10:00am - 11:00am. The two morning classes were both part of the Fundamentals of Osteopathic Medicine course (FOOM).

After those classes, we went to lunch and I got my library card, changed my computer access code from the default, and checked in with SHS again to see if the doctor had sent in the forms yet. Negatory. After lunch we started in on Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine (OMM) and got to start familiarizing ourselves with our classmates' backs. We're doing a back dissection tomorrow - interesting stuff. After that, we went to Osteopathic Doctoring class (OD) where we discussed ethical situations in which professionalism is the heart of the issue. We also discussed the different methods of doctoring.

I finally got some caffeine and a day planner - that'll come in useful. Now I need to get some reading done, plan out lunch for tomorrow, organize notes, etc.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Orientation Day 3

Well, today was the last day of orientation. Perhaps it felt less exhausting because I was not overstretching myself to be social. We were given several lectures describing how to get the most out of our education, introducing the faculty, and outlining the classes we are taking: Osteopathic Doctoring, Fundamentals of Osteopathic Medicine, and Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine. I also got to meet my faculty adviser today - who happens to be a teacher for the Osteopathic Doctor classes. He's really cool - I think I lucked out as far as advisers go.

I got a lot of busywork done today - I called the doctor to make sure she sends in that form for student health, I turned in the form for medical equipment, I got a suitable sports bra and exercise clothing, and a notebook. I hit a road bump in that the old Longs Drugs is being converted into a CVS/Pharmacy, so it has almost nothing stocked as it prepares to remodel. I still need a day planner, pencil lead, a click eraser, and some new pens (ballpoint and uni-ball). I also started listening to the Japanese lessons, which is very enjoyable - I don't miss music too much since I'd kinda overplayed everything in my stereo. I'll save all the new stuff for exercising. I'm debating whether to get a 24-hour Fitness membership or to make do with the on-campus mini-gym. I have all this loan money, and being half-naked in OMM classes makes me want to get in shape!

Tomorrow's the first official day of classes, so I have to do some readings, print stuff out, all that good stuff. I'm looking forward to getting into the classwork - I feel like I'm ready to get going! Before all that, first things first: gotta label all those insects from SD! Also, I'll take some pictures of the campus and post those!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Orientation Day 2

Hello all - today is much easier to get through. Somehow, it has felt more interesting as well. The day started off much like yesterday, with breakfast and a nice heartfelt speech, this time from the dean, about how great it is we're going to be doctors. After that, we had representatives from OPSC (Osteopathic Physicians and Surgeons of California) tell us about their group. I'm planning on joining - we need to support our advocacy groups! We then had someone speak to us about student health services.

At that point we broke into groups and I got my checks from the financial aid office (approximately $9,000 was left after everything). About $2,100 of that will be going toward my LASIK on October 2nd at 9:00am - I just confirmed the appointment, I can't forget the time! Then I checked in with the student health services, I got my photo ID, and ensured my laptop is compatible with the network. Now I've finished eating at the COM/COP barbeque and the last things on the agenda are voting for student government representatives and a possible tour of the campus.

I still need to get some gym clothing...and apparently we already have homework but I'll worry about that later. We get out after the elections, so I'll be home at least by 3:00pm. I've been taking Excedrines all day so I'm not nearly as exhausted. I also need to label the insects, so I better take care of that before school starts, or I never will!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Orientation Day 1

Phew, so exhausted! So I guess everyone wants to hear the details. All-in-all, it was a long day. Orientation started at 8:30 but most people checked in and were having the continental breakfast by 8:00. First we all sat in an auditorium and the various personnel introduced themselves, their departments, and what their role will be in our lives. This mainly included the librarians, directors of student affairs, etc. We were told a little information about our class - we have the highest average GPA (overall and science) of any TUCOM class to date, but our MCAT was still about 28. Berkeley was the biggest feeder school at 22 students, the highest from any one school in TUCOM's history, and there are slightly more women than men. The school's rabbi also said a few words and a prayer.

Next we filed into one of the classrooms and heard a heartfelt speech about how great it is what we're attempting to accomplish. We were then separated into smaller groups to accomplish a few tasks. In turns we get to be assigned to clicker groups, go to the bursar's office and get our checks, get our photo IDs, do a laptop check, and go to student health to get our insurance figured out. There're probably a few other details in there I missed but meh. We heard a talk from the student government leaders and had lunch with one of them for Q&A.

After lunch we spent two hours where each of us was filmed at the podium giving everyone a couple-minute long autobiography. There are about 10 people with children, and quite a few married couples. I can't imagine attempting medschool with children - they are very brave! We are a very diverse group. At the end of all this, a couple reps from medical technology companies came to tell us about the sets of equipment Touro has arranged for us to buy at a "discount" from them. Tomorrow we get to see their stuff and make decisions for ourself - I'm rather indifferent - I'll just go with the Lithium-Ion battery set and the Littmann stethoscope unless the earpieces are too uncomfortable.

I'm really tired, and thankfully tomorrow will only last til about 2:30pm, not 4:30pm like today. I'm going to watch some True Blood now to relax...