× Women in Medicine Blogs & Diaries

starting med school...and a diary.

14 years 8 months ago #68517 by Drey
I went to my AA meeting and it wasn't as awkward as I'd feared. The people there were very welcoming and seemed appreciative that we wanted to learn more about them. I highly reccommend going to a meeting if anyone is interested.

We also had a panel lecture given by 7 or 8 physicians who had become addicted to alcohol, opiates, anti-depressants, or anabolic steroids. It was very moving to hear their stories, and they pointed out that about 1/3 of medical students already have the warning signs. One doctor said she had started to take cocaine in medical school to stay up all night to study for tests. It's true that many of my classmates binge drink at the end of every week, and of course we all have risk factors like "perfectionist traits", "life stress" and "easy access" as physicians. Doctors have a much higher baseline rate of addiction and alcoholism than the general population, largely because of the stress and easy access. I thought the lecture was extremely enlightening, and I hope it made some of my co-students think about their behavior.

Several of my friends have recently gotten very good jobs, and I'm trying desparately to be happy for them, but it isn't working. I'm absurdly jealous of anyone who has any sort of decent income coming in. We're on such a tight budget, and I'm going into so much debt that it's extremely frustrating to see everyone else being set up great financially. Sigh. Is it really selfish for me to cry about not having any money? :guilty:

Last Saturday, I went and judged for "State Science Day" where junior high and high school kids from all over the state come and present their projects. I was judging for the "Future Physican-Scientist Award" and I had lots of fun wandering around and talking to these kids about their projects. There are some extremely impressive high-schoolers out there! It was cute too when I introduced myself as a medical student, some of them responded with "Oh wow, I'd love to be a doctor!". I told them I was sure they'd make it, and wished them luck. It's harder to grumble about your own position in life when you know how many other people would love to have what you have.

Neuroanatomy/Neurology is interesting, although it's a bit surreal to be in lab and be given a bucket of brains to cut and poke at. All of us are really feeling a bit of burnout at this point. I have a test on Friday, and I'm not at all interested in studying for it. I have four more weeks of medical school, and I'm just trying to keep focused until then, but it is HARD. One of my best friends is getting married the day after I finish for the summer, and then I leave four days after that for Madagascar. Hmm, I wonder why it's so hard to focus on neuroscience.... :rolleyes:

4 more weeks....


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14 years 5 months ago #68518 by Drey
Wow, the summer goes by and you realize you haven't added to your web diary in about three months. Sorry!

I went to Madagascar for a month to visit a friend in the peace corps. The country is a constant paradox. You have some of the richest most beautiful scenery and wildlife in the world alongside deforestation and pollution that is destroying the rainforest. The people are hospitable and friendly and wonderful, but they live in extreme poverty with apalling health conditions and rampant alcoholism.

The Peace Corps volunteers remind me a lot of the stories we hear from doctors on this site. Everyone got into it to save the world and really make an impact. And now, they are disillusioned and bitter because the people they're trying to help don't want to change, and any difference they make at all is spitting in the ocean. They spend much of their time just trying to maintain the status quo that very little if any real progress and improvement can be made. How do you tell a farmer not to burn down the forest if he is trying to clear rice fields just to feed his family? Many times their hands are tied, or they are ignored. The volunteers are frustrated at what they perceive as the recidivism of the people and the fatalistic and self-pitying attitude towards life. Sound like anyone you know? Sounds like an FP talking about her patient panel if I ever heard one.

Good News this summer: DH finally got an engineering job. :cloud9: After substitute teaching for a year, he finally got a job doing nearly exactly what he wants to be doing. The pay isn't fantastic, but it's better than the previous job, and much much better for his sanity.

We also adopted a darling puppy named Kushtaka (Tlingit name for manevolent spirit) who is curled up under my feet as I type this. She is a beagle/hound/lab mix and she is 100% toddler. She's mostly paper trained unless she gets really excited (translation--every time DH or I come home). It's kind of flattering to have an entity around whose main goal in life is to lick your toes.

I've taken a job doing CPR research, which means that I hang around the hospital until someone codes, and then I run to whichever of the three hospitals the code happened in carrying a 25 pound Lifepack 12 cardiac monitor and record the quality of the CPR (depth of compression, interruptions, and rate). I have agreed to do this from 5AM to 8AM every morning during the school year. My coworkers and my husband are in agreement that this makes me certifiably crazy. However, since I"m not doing anything between codes, I see it as getting paid to study. They may expand the research to MedFlight which may mean I get to take random helicopter rides. I am very excited about that prospect. I have already learned that I need to buy a pair of black tennis shoes, because running in heels with awkward equipment is a really really really bad idea.

School starts in two weeks. I have forgotten anything medical I ever knew which makes me a little panicky, but mostly I'm looking forward to it. I enjoyed the last year, and I expect to enjoy this one. I'm running an orientation group for the new Med 1's too, which should be fun.

Okay, long post, so sorry about that. I'll be more regular about updating during the school year. Now, I'm off to texas for a long weekend to visit my dad.


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14 years 4 months ago #68519 by Drey
Kushtaka (the new puppy) is driving me nuts. I can't wait until she grows up a little. Seems like every day I come home there's a new mess to clean up. Two days ago she got into a package of my favorite chocolate cookies and ate about 10 of them. So not only did I not get to eat my cookies, but I also had to clean up the resultant diarrhea and vomiting. Sigh. I swear, one of these days I'm just going to serve that dog up for dinner.

Well, we're one week into Med 2, and not much has changed. We've moved into the auditorium accross the hall which looks exactly the same as last year's auditorium, and we're still doing neurology, which we were doing when we left off last year. Neuro ends in two more weeks though, and then we move on to cardiology. We're doing more physical exam skills this year, and our preceptorships will be hospital-based, which is nice.

It was fun to do orientation for the first years. It reminds you how excited you were and nervous at the same time. This time, I was the callous, wise 2nd year encouraging them to take a look at their cadaver and giving them advice on adding a cup of vinegar to the washing machine to get the smell out of their scrubs.

We have a little more income coming in now, but it always seems that your budget expands to consume your paycheck. We spent a lot on the dog initially, so I'm hoping we can save some money next month. We need to save up because we're going to have to buy another car when I get to third year and need to drive all over Columbus to rotations.

We had a big scary lecture on the boards. Apparently 17 people from last year's class failed the boards, (9%) and so they're really going to keep a close eye on us. Yikes. I need to get some up-to-date materials and really start to study. I bought the BRS flashcards for Path, Micro, and Pharm and have found them helpful so far. Maybe I'll buy the rest of the set as well.

Well, time to go to class and learn about Epilepsy and associated drugs.


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14 years 4 months ago #68520 by Drey
First test of second year coming up on Friday. We have a lot of opthamology on this one. Last Friday, they dilated one of our eyes and let us look around in our classmates eyes with our opthalmascopes. It's amazing how much more you can see when one eye is dilated. They also gave us each some dilating drops so we can practice and we'll have them when examining patients. So far, no luck in getting my husband to let me dilate his eyes. Maybe I'll go after the dog....

One of the potentially funny things about eye exams is if you dilate the eyes of an ER or trauma patient to examine them. Apparently you're supposed to put a sign up on the patient's bed saying you dilated their eyes, or a nurse or other dr is going to walk into their room and go holy :censored: ! they've got blown pupils. Then all of a sudden your pt. is getting an emergency CAT scan and a neuro consult and it's all your fault.

I've been pleased with how much less I'm spending on books this year. So far I've only bought three books, and I'm fairly certain I won't need any others. A lot of the books I bought last year carry over, like the Robbins path, and Cecils.

I went to my high school reunion on Friday, which was interesting. Some of my friends are still partying it up like they're college freshmen, except now they have money and they can buy their own beer. Is it too much to hope that they grow out of it? I went out with them Saturday night and ended up falling asleep on the couch next to another friend of mine who teaches high school and is up at 6 every morning.

Several of my other friends have been talking about having babies. We all want one, but we all have our dilemmas as to when. A friend of mine is getting her PhD in chemical engineering and is trying to figure out whether having one during grad school is better, or trying to do it while she tries for a tenure track. Like medical training, neither is a good option. The above mentioned teacher wants one too, but she feels like she gets that one window of opportunity each year during the summer, and resents feeling like she has to plan her life so strictly. If she wanted one next summer, she'd have to start right now, and if she puts off the decision, she feels like she has to wait an entire year to get a second chance. The question now is, which one of us will do it first? :) Nice to know we're not the only profession with timing issues.

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14 years 3 months ago #68521 by Drey
Just finished the pulmonary block, and I am happy to report that I rocked that test. :D I think it was because there are a lot of equations (gas exchange, pressures, diffusion, etc). As an engineer, equations and numbers are my friends. I even managed to work at the free clinic the night before the exam and still do well. :)

We're starting cardiology today, which I'm really looking forward to. The woman in charge of this block is supposed to be a fantastic teacher, so I'm excited. We're also supposed to start our hospital-based preceptorships which should be very cool.

Yesterday was my 1-year anniversary! We went to an art exhibit that was showing "Renoir's Women" which is a collection of Renoir's paintings of various women. We had a wonderful dinner out, and I got a dozen yellow roses (my favorite). :goodvibes: I still love the man dearly, here's to 65 more happy years!

I'm really enjoying my second year of medical school. I'm more confident and more competent. I feel like I might actually make a decent doctor one of these days.

I bought the First Aid book, and the Kaplan Qbook for boards, along with the BRS path, pharm and microbio flashcards, but I haven't really studied yet. I worry about the boards, but I just keep telling myself that MOST people pass, so not to worry.

I've had a really good couple of weeks, so for any premeds reading my diary, you can have a great time in medical school, you don't have to be miserable.


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14 years 1 month ago #68522 by Drey
Time does fly when you are busy.

I've now finished two cardiology blocks plus the renal physiology blocks. I was a little disappointed in the results of my renal test, but I think everyone did poorly on that one. It's difficult to do all that acid base chemistry and remember which part of the nephron which ion exchangers are and where each drug acts and the resulting electrolyte problems. Ugh. I am absolutely uninterested in being a nephrologist. We're doing GI now, and they're presenting all kinds of studies that makes me wonder where PETA was. We talk about stimulating rat intestines with mustard oil and they show us real time radiocontrast images of dogs vomiting. :boggled: I thought GI would be kind of boring, but I find it more interesting than pulmonary or cardiology actually.

I was supposed to start my preceptorship a long time ago, but the first one they assigned me to only sees patients twice a month! (Afternoons only every other Tuesday) :rolleyes: What kind of doctor only sees patients twice a month? And why would you sign up to have medical students come with you if you never see patients? I guess this guy does a lot of research, but it was really frustrating for me because he was hard to contact and then when I finally reach him, I find out that his schedule is impossible. So I ended up having to wait until someone was done with their preceptor and then I got to jump in for a second round.

I finished with classes for Christmas on friday, but I saw patients yesterday and today with my new preceptor. He's actually really great. He's nice and he has a wide variety of patients. We found a 14 yo girl with an STD which makes me sad :( and a 16 yo boy with a cardiomyopathy which makes me really sad. :no: I'm glad we caught it, but no one likes finding that in a kid so young.

We're leaving in a few days to go to Spokane for Christmas, but we're a little bummed (DH is a lot bummed) that we're not going to see his parents as planned. FIL can't come because his :censored: locums cancelled on him at the last minute (they had already bought tickets). He's the only doctor on the island right now (they live in southeast alaska) and can't leave them without any medical care. There is another doctor, but she's on a two month sabattical and won't be back until February. MIL decided to stay with him. We'll still get to see DH's brother and sister and the rest of his aunts and uncles but we won't see his parents which is a little upsetting since we haven't seen them since the wedding over a year ago.

DH's cousin B has been living with his parents because B and family used to live in New Orleans. B's parents are still living in their old house, which thankfully was not flooded although it did have some storm damage. B's dad still has a job, and B's mom is a nurse, so she will be able to find work, but the schools there were closed for a long time. So, they sent B up to alaska for the semester, which is a great experience, but it has to be hard for an 11 year old boy to be away for so long. I think he will be going home with his parents at Christmas (they'll be in Spokane too). It's just a reminder how the disasters like Katrina are still having their effects.

I've signed up to do some research starting in January on a pre-hospital intubation study, and I'm also still teaching an MCAT class for the princeton review. I worry that I have too much on my plate with boards coming up in a hurry. Somehow, I'll have to make it work. A classmate of mine has a pregnant wife who is due about 2 weeks before he's supposed to take the boards. Yikes. So, I"m not the only one who's worried about balancing everything.

I think DH and I are getting closer to the decision to have a kid. Our discussions have moved from "if we should do it in med school" to "when in med school might work out best", which both pleases and scares me. Of course I'll let you all know if anything comes of that.

Have a peaceful holiday season, My love to everyone experiencing tragedy in their life.


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