Oops, didn’t mean to take almost a month’s break.  I can’t say school things have gotten that busy but it does seem mildly stressful trying to wrap up 2 years worth of living here and move back home.

The week off in-between shelf exams was nice, though in retrospect, I think I would have liked to have another week of lectures and shift everything else back a week.  There was still so much neuro material on ICM that we didn’t get to cover in class, and then the 2-hour session with the new neuro prof was NOT helpful at all!  I thought back then that there wasn’t enough time to prepare for the shelf, but I think I felt well-prepared in most of the other disciplines.  Overall, ICM is one of the better taught courses we have here.

The Path shelf was a bust.  As usual, I studied and took it cold–no cheating–but apparently, you can’t say the same for my classmates.  The average for the shelf was higher than Harvard’s average; it was in the 500s.  Despite getting very good grades in path, somehow I was only 20 points above the average score on the shelf.  No that’s not fishy at all.  And the people who made the high scores on the shelf were not people who had done historically well in path.  Whatever.  Can’t cheat on rotations.  It’ll catch up to them.

The shelf exams feel like years ago.  Since they’ve finished, we had full-time Kaplan for a while with odd little breaks here and there where we’d have a day off or a half day.  I made a point to take Friday afternoons off and I highly recommend it.  Though it may be tempting to ditch the 2-hour afternoon Kaplan during the regular part of the semester, save your absences for the end so that you don’t have to sit there daily through 5-1.5 hour sessions every day.  It was interesting watching people try to finagle their way into getting credit for attendance.  They’d come in like 25 or 30 minutes late, then argue with the teacher to try and get credit for being there because they’d racked up something stupid like 38-hours worth of absences (out of the allotted 40).  The last week of Kaplan MANY people disappeared completely; they’d go off and study on their own.  I wouldn’t recommend that either.  They didn’t take any time off during the semester and then took the whole last week off, when we were given many breaks and bonus credits.  Moderation.  Take a break when you feel like you need one, but try to go into full-time Kaplan with at least 30 hours of allowable absences left.

The other aspect of Kaplan that was interesting were the subject-based post-tests.  Throughout the early part of the semester, they were viewed as nuisances; no one was following the video schedule because we had other classes [whose grades depended on our test performance] so no one was ready to finish a whole subject and take a review test on it.  Most people would just go in, answer one question, click proceed and leave to have the afternoon off.  ::sigh:: I can see where people would be frustrated and wouldn’t want to take the tests seriously but then make a bad score and have their ego crushed, but at the same time, it’s a wasted opportunity.  We found out when we went to go take the pharm and neuro tests that the post-tests aren’t made up of just Q-bank questions; they’ve got old review questions from our professors that remind you of things you’ve forgotten or things you need to study again.  Yes, my grades weren’t stellar on these tests because I didn’t keep up with the Kaplan review videos, but I would recommend that you don’t give into temptation and waste all these opportunities.

Most importantly, it’s definitely worth your time to take the practice 8-hour simulation exam seriously.  There were very few people (~10% of the class) who sat down and did all 7 sections, but having that experience to test your endurance was valuable.  In practicing 50-question blocks, you never really get that fatigued, but sitting down to do 350 questions at once is what you’re going to be faced with when you go to take the real Step I and I have to tell you, it’s exhausting.  I am worried about the kids who didn’t do it, how they’re going to do on the comp.

When not working on practice questions, I’ve been running around doing other useful things like taking breaks, going to the beach, participating in the Med 5 yardsales, and getting this stupid paper signed by all kinds of businesses on the island, saying that I don’t owe them any money.  It’s been a…special experience.  The problem most frequently encountered is that when we go to places like the electric company or the water company, when we don’t have an account in our name there (because it’s in our landlord’s name), the employees are reluctant to sign our form.  They want us to stand there and call our landlord in their presence to get the ok to sign the forms.  This is problematic because A) we’re skipping valuable study time to go into town during the day, during business hours to come see them and B) most of our landlords have other jobs and work during the day, so they’re not reachable by telephone during normal business hours.  If you see no account under our  name, then just sign the form!  No one is going to discipline YOU if we leave the island with an outstanding bill that WASN’T in our name; that’s the landlord’s responsibility and the risk they take by keeping the utilities in their name.  PLUS, if they’d take the time to look at the form, they’d notice that our landlords have to sign the form as well, so one would assume that if you owed the landlord money for rent OR utilities, that the landlord would refuse to sign until you’d paid up.  Broken systems frustrate me.

Hmm, less volatile topic.  Since last post, went on Ob/Gyn rotations at the local doctor’s office.  That was interesting and informative.  Unfortunately we only got to see one patient, for a post-partum ultrasound, but I suppose the opportunity of listening to the insight of the physician was helpful.  Also we were given a crash course in ultrasound that was very enlightening.  It did make me want to learn more about it and perhaps go take a class on it, especially since it is used for so many other things other than OB.  Even on the island here, we got to see renal ultrasounds, abdominal ultrasounds, breast ultrasounds.  The only thing I would have liked to do differently would have been to shadow the physician for more time.  I think an ideal use of the time would have been to have just 2 students (instead of 7) shadow the physician for a whole day, for one WEEKday during the semester.  Then you would be guaranteed to see patients in the office and may even get to go see patients in the hospital.  You’d have to do it during full-time Kaplan, though, because I don’t think it would be wise to miss ICM and Path, which presents the problem of class size.  With a class of 80 kids, you’d need 2 months and we just don’t have that much time.  Hmm.

Well, off to go study.