The In-between Week

March 18, 2012

Greetings from the Med-5 Igloo.  We had the ICM shelf last Wednesday and we have the Path shelf this Wednesday, so we’ve all been stuck in our own little bubble while the rest of the school is somewhere in the midst of block 4.  Let’s see.  Last week was fine.  Full-time Kaplan videos suck, but then having the Tuesdays before shelf off are great.  The ICM shelf felt really long–all of the questions were vignette-style (which means mandatory reading of the whole stem) so I felt really fatigued by the time I’d finished my first pass of the test before I went back to address my flagged questions.  Most of it was familiar, but there were a few “huh” questions where I really had no idea what the test-makers were going for, either regarding pictures or clues I’d never seen/heard before relating to familiar diseases.  This shelf, in particular, really tested your memory of previous subjects.  There were some anatomy questions that required thinking back to Med 1, some biochem from Med 2, a representation from all of the subjects from Med 3, and then a fair amount of pathology and pharm from Med 4.  I guess that’s what the comprehensive exam will feel like.

The rest of the week was pretty uneventful.  Everyone looked exhausted by Friday and there were many empty seats.  Was swimming Friday afternoon at Oualie and saw something raise its head out of the water, somewhere between where I was out in the deeper water and where some kids were playing in the shallows.  The kids swear it was a sea snake, however I would lean more towards a turtle.  Either way, I’ll probably be taking a break from the waves at least until I can finish up with these shelf exams.  I like playing in the waves at Windward beach better than the eerily still water at Oualie, however the drive is a big deterrent from getting down to Windward (Dad swears he’s never going back after the flat tire we ended up with last trip).

Saturday morning was the health fair at the IGA.  We did blood pressure and blood glucose screenings.  Great experience and many opportunities to teach others–teaching was unexpected and enjoyable.  Saturday night was a dinner party with homemade lasagna; as we have no Italian restaurants here on Nevis (aside from Pizza places), that was a real treat.

Now everyone’s in scramble mode trying to cram in every last fact that they can, related to path.  Later this week we have a visit from our clinical dean and Friday we have the Med 5 yard sale.  Doesn’t sound like I’ll have much time to watch March Madness games, but I’m still cheering for the Heels in spirit!

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Some time later…

March 11, 2012

Oh I know, bad Jenn, bad blogger.  I went and got busy.  You know how it goes.

So, let’s see.  Finished block 3, didn’t last very long.  Was unique in that the block exams were split up; we had ICM on Friday instead of Monday with path–it went great, made my highest score yet.  Then Path on Monday was awful.  It was block 3 material plus cumulative material from blocks 1 and 2.  Naturally, instead of being a nice fair final exam, there were detailed block-level difficulty questions from all of the material.  Ugh.  I’m pretty sure it sealed my fate into non-A grade territory, but whatever.  I did the best that I could with the time frame, and given that some of the questions would have been unanswerable no matter how much I would have studied, I’m glad I didn’t sacrifice my ICM grade to get a couple of points higher in path and still be at the same place with my letter grade in that class.

After the Path exam last Monday, we dove straight into our semi-full days of Kaplan videos on Tuesday.  We went from 8:00-9:30, 9:40-11:00, 11:10-12:30, had a 12:30-3:00 break for ICM lab, then had one last session from 3:10-4:30.  When you didn’t have ICM lab, the lunch break was fabulous; usually used it to go to town or run home.  When you did have lab that day, the day just seemed like it wasn’t going to end.  You play the hurry up and wait game.  You have to rush to get to school by 8:00, then sit there bored off your ___ through the first 4 hours of Kaplan, rush down to lab, then fight to convince yourself that you MUST stay at school for the next 3 hours after lab is done, that skipping the last Kaplan session, no matter how tired you are and how useless you know it will be, will waste your precious allowed absences.

This upcoming week is when it gets interesting.  Now that ICM lab is over, we’ll have Kaplan literally all day.  That said, we did only go a half-day last Friday, and we get the Tuesdays before our shelf exams completely off from Kaplan, so I suppose it’s not as horrible as most of us have it built up in our minds to be.  It’s just that we’re all stuck in this classroom together.  It’s freezing cold.  Not particularly comfortable.  We can’t eat.  And no one watches the videos.  They play at regular speed and we’re all so ADHD at this point that we all end up watching them on our own at 1.5-2x normal speed as we take notes.  Then too, we have no control over what content is viewed.  For example, we have our ICM shelf coming up this week on Wednesday, yet we spent the entirety of last week watching Microbiology videos.  Not helpful.  The week after, we’ll have our Path shelf on Wednesday, yet instead we’ll be watching pharmacology videos.  My solution is to put in my headphones and listen to Golijan while reading Rapid Review Pathology.  I’m still feeling guilty over my block 3 grade and would love to kill the shelf.  ICM, there are no review books for the shelf–just the powerpoints from the professors, so I’ll probably start reviewing those tonight through Tuesday.

Speaking of ICM, we had our clinical skills assessment (CSA) exams yesterday.  The way that works is that we are randomly assigned mock patients and we have 20 minutes to go in, gather a history, do a focused physical exam and then present the patient’s case to an “attending” (i.e. one of our current/past professors).  I was incredibly nervous about it, as I was for the Physical Diagnosis exams last semester.  Don’t have grades yet, but didn’t do as well as I would have liked, based on how the exit interview went.  Was fully prepared for a case involving the completion of either a chest or an abdominal exam, yet ended up with a guy with gonorrhea and risky behavior.  Was so thrown by his chief complaint of a white discharge that I more or less skipped straight to the GU exam after I took his history and neglected the abdominal exam.   In my defense, his vitals were normal, he had no joint pain or associated symptoms, and was really embarrassed to be there and reluctant to answer my questions.  I apparently did well on the history-taking, presentation and nailed all the differential diagnoses and treatments, but yeah, probably lost a good chunk of points on the physical exam.  Oh well.  Now I know.  Afterwards, I found out that many people in the class already knew what the diagnoses would be–that’s right, they cheated–and so really all they had to focus on was their technique.  Sucks.  I hate cheaters.  These are the people who lose us our clinical spots because they constantly show up late and then don’t know how to do their job because they spent their time cramming and cheating their way through PD and ICM.  ::sigh::  Feel bad for our ICM lab prof–she tried so hard to make the exam cheat-proof.  We had to give up our cell phones when we entered the building, we were sequestered into a classroom with no internet (though the LAN was still up), she changed the diagnoses between the morning group and the afternoon group, and we were forced to leave the building when finished.  Yet they still found a way to cheat.  Bummer.  Just have to let karma take care of them.

I’m taking a mental health day today.  Going to Windward beach with Dad (who is vacationing on the island and enjoying his retirement) and friends to fly kites and play in the waves.  Hope it is fun.  Need to do something to get CSA out of my head and be able to move on and focus on ICM shelf.  According to our ICM lecture prof, the people who traditionally do well on the comp and Step I are the people who do well on the ICM shelf.  Now if that’s not an incentive to study, I don’t know what is.