Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Spring Semester, Block 2

Next week is our second block of exams for spring semester - it will mainly focus on the heart and related diseases. So...that includes hypertension, angina, valve disorders, congestive heart failure, arrhythmias, pericarditis, cardiomyopathy, etc. AND their pathologies, drugs, treatments, and more. Fun times...over a hundred drugs to learn, again. There's some OMM stuff to learn in there as well, specifically tender points and some cranial technique theory. I'm interested to learn cranial - supposedly it's really good for headaches (among other things...). Here is the first 1/4 I have completed of my study board:

Today is St. Patrick's day, so it won't be long before we medical students, once again, imbibe alcohol and kill our livers and brains counter to the advice we're required to give our patients. I guess alcohol isn't quite as bad as the McDonald's lunch I had, but hey, my BMI is 21, my system can take a few hits for the greater good. (Hears Dr. Clearfield's voice in my head..."Even people in their 20's, who look perfectly healthy, can have early and even middle-stage coronary artery disease and atheromas in their arteries"...oooooo...scary).

More and more, I realize how much I want to specialize in Infectious Disease. The fact that the thought of a lecture on anything related to bacteria, viruses, fungi, or parasites is enough to brighten my week is sure sign enough. I'm really amazed at how little surgery or other superspecialties appeal to me - cardiology? Meh. ER? Nah. Surgery? Too many hours standing over someone's guts while nurses wipe sweat off your face. I have the hand dexterity, focus, and attention to detail to be a surgeon, as I've been told many times, but it just holds no interest. Gimmie someone with a bug in them! I'm going to send a letter to an Infectious Disease DO to see about shadowing - as much as I love infectious diseases, I know very little about what an ID specialist would actually DO. Hopefully I'll mail that out and hear from her soon!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Bolivia and Research

Things are progressing as usual at school. We're studying drugs for treating hypertension, dyslipidemias, arrhythmias, angina, etc. Essentially this is the phase where we learn how to treat the diseases in the renal, cardiac, and respiratory systems, which we learned about last block.

In the meantime, I've gotten started on some research, fortunately with the same professor who is going to Bolivia with us. I'm glad I am on good terms with all the faculty so far - I have heard of a few students who think certain professors dislike them, and I haven't gotten that vibe from anyone yet, so hopefully I won't. The research is related to bacteriophages, as I mentioned before, and we will be growing bacteria (Salmonella) and determining under what conditions their bacteriophages become most activated to the lytic phase (where they reproduce themselves and lyse their host cell, looking for more hosts, compared to the lyosgenic phase where they lay dormant in the host cell's DNA). The professor I am working with, as well as others in the lab, seem to be really laid back, It's kind of a "when you can help out, come on in - put your studies first" situation. After the high-stress environment of working in a hospital laboratory, and even the strict environment at UCSD, this is a welcome change.

Also, the Bolivia trip is beginning to materialize more. We are about ready to book our flight to La Paz, are going to put together a presentation of pre-research about Bolivia, and are getting materials ready for the trip. I'm very much looking forward to the experience - Spanish immersion, health education, learning how to diagnose and possibly treat diseases we rarely will see here in the US. Anyhow, back to studying.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Fun and the Future

Even with so much to do, medical students can still have a little fun. The last weekend I went to a house party, with drinking and silly stuff, then to a shooting range, then a BBQ and a turkey dinner, and then played computer games all night. It's nice to know that we can kick back occasionally, but we better enjoy it now, because it's going to get a lot worse. The number of drugs we need to memorize is steadily adding up - I wish I knew them all as well as I know drugs like tylenol or omeprazole, typical OTC drugs that I've known about most of my life.

We're getting into hypertension lectures, angina, coronary artery disease (CAD), congestive heart failure (CHF) and similar problems. It's funny, with all the talk about eating healthy, and how CAD can be seen as early as in teenagers or people in their twenties - the food I'm craving the most right now is fast food. I haven't craved it in ages, but here we are.

Every so often, the curriculum at our school throws in a "Managing Stress" class, where we are told ways to deal with stress, as well as the kinds of stress we are going to encounter (which of course gives us a lot of stress right then and there). Today, the doctor teaching the class was talking about how the first two years of medical school are a breeze compared to third and fourth years when you begin your clinical rotations and have to use whole different sets of skills (communcation versus booksmarts). Then she went on to say you think rotations are bad, wait til residency - where there will be hallways or stairwells essentially devoted to hiding and crying when your attending shouts the crap out of you. I imagine something like Dr. Cox from Scrubs, except no one is laughing. She then added how even then, you start your internship somewhere and it's just as bad - with more power comes more responsibility, which comes with more and more work. It's like being spider man except that everyone knows where you live and you're expected to work 16 hours straight.

As she talked about us being on rotations or in residencies, I couldn't help picturing how some of my classmates would be during rotations - getting picked on by the attending, or stepping into a patient room with an air of authority and asking them what the problem is and trying to help. Now that I know more about a doctor's thought processes, and my classmates' strengths and weaknesses, it is hard to picture myself as a patient of theirs - putting my problem in their hands and trusting their judgment. Though, in my mind at least, I always picture my classmates looking very proper, professional, and knowledgeable in these situations. I suppose that means I have a good amount of respect for my peers as future physicians and human beings (well, most of them - there's always a couple you wouldn't want as your doctor). Hopefully I'll pull everything together and become as awesome a physician as I picture most of my peers becoming.