Hm. This has been a difficult week. My kids were on spring break, so my husband and I split time. Unfortunately, we both had a number of things we had to attend, so we didn't get to do rational things like trade off days. This resulted in me getting very little study time, and what study time I had was too stressful to get any real progress made. As a result, I'll be postponing my exam till Thursday. I decided to do both parts on the same day, since I can't make myself study after I've done one part of the exam. So I'll wait till I know both parts and then take the whole thing.
So, renal and GI. Pee and poop. Apparently, the two toughest modules of the year. (Which pale compared to anything second year.) Did I mention I'm feeling quite stressed?
My kids are really ready to go back to school. Their last school day was the Wednesday before Easter, so they've had pretty much a week and a half off. On Tuesday, one son asked, "Uh, Mommy, why aren't we going to school?" This is good to know; they weren't like this at Christmas, since we were traveling. But I think staying at home isn't their thing.
Probably the most interesting thing going on at school is our outpatient preceptorship. We spent January and February learning how to do histories. Now, they're farming us out to area physicians to practice it for 4 half-days before May. We were assigned pretty much randomly (with considerations made for lack-of-transportation and things like that). So, lots of different experiences.
By sheer chance, I ended up with a pediatrician! It's obviously too soon to tell, but this seems like it'll be a boon for me. I relate pretty naturally to kids and their parents. So I've been there once so far, to get to know the physician and his practice, so it was more like a shadowing experience. It's pretty good, but I won't be transferring my kids there, even though it's closer. It's a great experience, and I've already seen some cool stuff. (Premeds: it's way cooler to walk in to an exam room as a med student with your little white coat and stethoscope than it is shadowing as a premed, even if you don't know that much more.)
I still don't know if I've got my summer research funding yet, but I can't really think about it till I get the poster done for last year's study. (Which scares the snot out of me! And it's in a couple of weeks!)
So, to sum up: stress stress stress stress Yay Preceptorship! stress stress stress stress
*And yes, I do know it only gets harder from here, but hopefully, in the future I will have figured out this spring break thing.
Hi. Whew. I'm finally breathing a bit. Things have gotten a bit on the nutsy side.
I finally (finally) finished renal and GI, and ended up with my two worst scores. Yikes. I'll use this time to (briefly) address the notion that if you're not doing well, you're not working hard. Hm. Not so true. I work exactly the same amount on every module, pretty much about an average time for my class. Some I end up doing really, really well. Others I barely pass. I'm working on figuring out what's going on with our academic counselor (as you can imagine this sort of range with nothing in the middle is stressful), but for the time being, yeah. Way up, way down.
We had our research day today. Back in February I submitted my abstract, and then I spent Friday night (till 4AM) finishing the poster so that I could get it proofread and sent off to the printer. This is an unusual experience to say the least. Gut-wrenching while it's happening, but then in the end... totally worth it. I spent from 2-3PM today talking to people about what a cool project this thing was, and the interesting stuff we learned. I didn't win a prize (no one in my class did, not surprisingly), but just participating got me into the research honor society. And there weren't that many people from my class presenting. It was mostly second years who spent their summer doing research. My study was definitely one of the most "fuzzy," but that's the stuff I like. Real people, real (messy) outcomes.
It was also really nice to spend a little time with my old PI. I'm not going back this summer to work with her, since I want to do neonatology, not general peds (she thinks that's a good fit for me, too, though she would welcome me back if I wanted to go). But she's a super role model, and a great mentor. She trained my preceptor when he was a resident and likes him a lot. And she had lots of pointed questions to make sure I'm doing okay, and differentiating "stressing too much" from "not okay." (The answer is "stressing too much.")
So, here things lie. I panic a bit, and wonder if I won't be able to pull off excellence, and then realize if I do the best I can that's the best I can do.
It's been a rough couple of weeks. I didn't get my summer research funded by the school's research scholarship program. I'll still be funded at the same rate by the PI, but I won't be able to put on my CV "X Memorial Scholarship recipient". I cried when I got my evaluations, one of which was pretty good and had good comments. The other was not-so-nice. Then I made sure to work things out with the PI. So, everything's fine, I guess. But man, research is my *thing*. I'm not just looking for something cool for the summer. It definitely makes me second-guess my notions for an academic career, partially because of my extremely thin skin.
School's... hmm... going. I finally discovered a physiology book that makes sense. Please - if you are studying physiology for med school, or if you will be - get the Costanzo physiology book. (She also writes the BRS Phys book, but this is the full-length deal.) It almost certainly will not go into the depth required for your class (it doesn't for mine) but it makes the material make sense a LOT quicker (especially if you're like me and your physics and general chem are 12 years old) so that you can add in the extra details your professors want you to know. I've even heard of this book recommended for board study if you have the time, though it seems a bit long for that purpose.
But my real reason for writing right now is this - the best book of all is a cookbook, The Mediterranean Vegan Kitchen. We are NOT vegan, or even vegetarian, but it simply has the best non-meat dishes that don't use fake ingredients. The second-best cookbook is the America's Test Kitchen Cookbook... the best general purpose cookbook we've seen. My husband's been making lots of good recipes lately, and I'm really happy with how well we've been eating. Just lovely.
Spring is in full bloom. Our daffodils have been and are going. The orange tulips and lilacs and phlox and those other little purple crawling flowers are in bloom. So beautiful. I study out on my front porch nowadays when I can be at home.
At some point I will come back and give a more real update. In the meantime, though, I want to make sure I get this stuff down before I forget it.
Last Friday I was inducted into our school's research honor society. (Not a terribly big deal; all you have to do is do a poster and present it at the research day.) The keynote speaker (a faculty member I know) had some excellent thoughts that I'll share a few of. (Wow, that's terrible grammar.) Anyway, these are all horribly paraphrased.
-Consider the possibility that as physicians, there is some ethical responsibility to be involved in research. Not necessarily as a day-to-day part of the job, but as a matter of excellence in patient care. What do you do when a patient presents in an unusual way? He spoke well of this, and it resonated.
-Choose mentors wisely.
-Co-mentor your colleagues.
-Do research to answer a question, not study a technique.
-Don't move just for the sake of moving, but be willing to move if another place has what you need for your career.
Anyway, great night, and I'll write more about the chaos of everything else some other time.
I really wanted to become a latte-sipping, Prius-driving, East Coast liberal. But I guess I have to content myself with just being a liberal.
A little over a week ago, my husband got into a fender bender that, because our car was so old (10 year old Civic with 185K miles), totaled the car. Well, it was already declared totaled by the insurance, but this time, the front passenger door doesn't have a good seal, and air whistles in. So we needed to get a new car. Our '02 Miata wasn't getting driven, since, well, we can't drive it in the winter when there's snow/ice on the ground, and we don't drive it much anyway, since school is 2 miles from home, kids' school is 3 (1 from the university), and we only go any farther than that for groceries at Trader Joe's once a week. So we sold the Miata and scoped out options. Used cars that were reliable enough weren't depreciating fast enough to be any cheaper than new cars, so I looked at Consumer Reports' guide to this years' cars. Cars that got "well above average" for reliability, owner satisfaction, and cost of ownership were the only ones considered. There were 3: Honda Fit, Toyota Prius, Mini. Mini was right out, since it was too small and took premium fuel. That left the Fit and the Prius. Unfortunately, even adjusting for gas, the Prius was $100 a month more, so we couldn't afford it. So I don't get to be a Prius driver. (By the way, it's really huge inside! Way bigger than our Civic. And the Fit has the same inside size as our current Civic. So big enough for 2 smallish adults and 2 kids and all the stuff we'd ever carry.)
So all that put me about 3 days behind. I'm still a week ahead of my "max date" but it's definitely hairy. (Oh, and as for the other parts of the latte-sipping, Prius-driving, East Coast liberal - I'm in the midwest for at least another 3 years, even though I was raised in DC, I can only afford Starbucks twice a month or so, and, well, yeah, at least I get to be a liberal.)
I was definitely in that month-away-from-summer slump till Thursday. Everything was just... dragging. I'd be interested in a module till I read through it once, and then lose interest. Completely. So what did I do? Hunker down and study every minute of a day? Give up and eat lots of chocolate? Nah, I spent a morning in the NICU, rounding. It was the best day ever. What do you know, there was something from nearly every module that I did this year that came up in some respect or another, and I was at least mildly successfully pimped! I certainly learned a lot - NICU as a med student is a totally different place than NICU as a mom. And it's where I want to be. The medicine practiced there meshes perfectly with my own leanings and interests. (Compassionate AND scientific? Amazing!) I feel a new motivation to keep going. (And yes, the babies were lovely, but I think we all knew that already.)
Back to the grindstone! Tests on 3 modules Monday! Hurrah! Then OSCE a week later! Then patient-centered medicine exam a week after that! Finally, 2 more module tests and the NBSE shelf board exams! What could be better? (And I'll be finishing my final module "on my own time" before June 30, too. Grr. That's what happens when you get behind. Silly new car and getting sick and other stuff that was going on.)
But, then there's summer. I'll be doing my cool study with some funding, just not scholarship funding. Perhaps I'll tell more, or perhaps I'll stay vague. I'll wait till all the details are ironed out in any case.
So - to sum up - new car, no time to breathe, happy kids, crazy life, good research, new motivation to learn!
Oh yeah, and I lost my keys Wednesday. :ouch: I'm just hoping they're somewhere in my messy house. (See above for excuse for this.)