Back!

May 25, 2014

Hi guys,

Back in the US again after a fabulous 3.5-week vacation where I had a wonderful time relaxing and unplugging from everything technological. It’s a great relief to not be tied to a smart phone and to have the option of turning on a laptop and checking email/facebook weekly rather than hourly.

I had a small interruption during my second week of vacation. My residency program has thoughtfully arranged all of the paperwork which is due, into waves. The second wave of documents was due on a Wednesday; believe it or not, I was so unplugged that I had forgotten about this due date, thinking that I had at least another week. I just happened to check my email on Tuesday morning and received a reminder email that I hadn’t submitted any of the documents due on Wednesday, asking me to kindly get my act together. This was not a pleasant wave of documents to complete: certificates of completion for a bunch of dry, boring, repetitive modules which took almost a full day to finish. I paced myself, took breaks intermittently to enjoy the palm trees and the breeze, then rejoiced with a frosty beverage when I had uploaded the last document Tuesday evening. All-in-all, not a bad way to complete required education.

I’m still numb to the fact that I’m officially graduated from medical school. I got a lovely email on the 16th of May letting me know that I had officially graduated, congratulating me. It contained a pdf of my diploma (I could ask that the original be mailed or pick it up at the formal graduation) and copies of my clinical evaluations. I guess I’ve been turned into such a skeptic that I was expecting something to happen last-minute to prevent me from graduating. It’s not that I didn’t want to graduate but one of my elective rotations had been dragging its feet getting my evaluation in, then too, I kept getting all these bills for additional elective costs from the school which threatened that if I didn’t pay them before the 16th, I would not be allowed to graduate. It’s been strange coming home and having people call me Dr.

The formal graduation is May 31 up in Massachusetts. I was excited to come back home and try on my regalia–it and my announcements had arrived while I was gone. It’s been an interesting progression: graduating from a residential STEM high school was a big deal with medals and honor cords and collars, then graduation from UNC was pretty basic–just Carolina blue cap and gown, but now everything’s fancy again with a funky hat (a “tam”), a stripey burgundy hood that’s super long, and then this billowy black gown with these green velvety stripes on the arms. It’s comfy but it feels like Halloween. I remember sitting in the orchestra playing at the high school graduation before mine, watching the faculty walk in–most of them were PhD’s or at least had master’s degrees so there were many hoods of various colors, lots of funky hats, gowns of strange colors. I was fascinated and hoped that one day I would get to look like them. Can’t believe the day has finally come.

V-A-C-A-T-I-O-N!

May 7, 2014

Hi guys,

I am somewhere very, very far away where there are fabulous tropical breezes and lots of beaches. I’m enjoying a break from technology but am popping in to answer a few comments. I hope you all are well.

J

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.

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!

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.

Post Block 2

February 20, 2012

My goodness–meant to get back to writing before now.  Much has happened since last post:

Birthday–Was honestly dreading it because it happened the week before block.  Thought everyone would forget, or even if they remembered, wouldn’t want to do anything because they needed to be at home studying for blocks.  Also was right in the middle of a school inspection.  Was pleasantly surprised.  Got sang to 3 times throughout the day, had 2 cakes and got to spend dinner with my favorite people on the island.  A very happy way to celebrate existing a quarter-century.

Block 2 exams–Ugh.  Why does my class have to cheat?  The path exam was the fairest exam we’ve ever had from that group of professors–all of the questions were do-able, though there were a couple trick ones, but nothing like the crap they usually try to pull.  I came out of the exam feeling great and optimistic, though apparently so did everyone else.  The average after the quiz points were added in was an 85.  The ICM test went well too–nothing too difficult and actually felt really triumphant at finally understanding acid/base.  Average ended up being an 88.  Are you kidding me?!  I think the class memorized quiz questions (which were then recycled by the ICM prof.)–the majority of these people can’t answer basic questions in lab.  Either they’re geniuses who just decide to keep their mouth shut during ICM lecture and never answer and single question, AND do the same thing in lab, or they cheated.  Hmm…I wonder which is the more likely scenario.  The shelf will tell.

Valentine’s Day–Yet again, another holiday I thought I would be disappointed.  It’s not really fun being single on Valentine’s Day, much less spending it on the island the day after block exams when everyone’s tired and/or hungover.  Ended up taking my first afternoon off from Kaplan to go to a new beach with friends and play in some incredible waves there.  Also there was a restaurant at this beach which had a pool–first time in a pool on Nevis.  Very cool.  Followed up the afternoon on the beach with dinner at Indian Summer which was festively decorated with balloons and candles and mood-lighting.  Had magenta-colored, heart-shaped rice crispie treats for dessert.  Yum.

Another bake sale.  Joy.  No I didn’t learn my lesson from last time.  This one ended up being a cluster because the bakery that supplies the yummy addictive bear claws wasn’t taking orders for the week, so we got the bulk of our baked goods from the Jamaican bakery in town.  Not so good.  Ended up having to give stuff away.  Won’t do that again.  Also, when they were supposed to arrive at the school to deliver the goods, we got a call that they were cancelling–something about wires getting crossed, 2 large orders for the day, and they told us they weren’t coming.  We were steamed, but then right after we got out of ICM and were setting up for the delivery from Indian Summer, and here comes the bakery delivery person with our full order.  They show up, we tell them what had happened over the phone and they’re just as confused as we were.  Weird.  Samosas came and went quickly, always think we should get more of those, but pres doesn’t, so we stick with our usual order of 40.  Finally, ended up getting a late order from Nevis bakery of bear claws, raspberry danishes, and donuts though it was after we’d already lost the Med 1’s for the day and when other people weren’t exactly in the mood for pastries.  I think we ended up selling all the bear claws but had to give away a couple of the raspberry danishes.  Pres didn’t want to go to town to get plates and napkins, so we ran out.  It was awkward.  Pres.  didn’t want to go to the bank to get change, so we ran out.  It was awkward.  ::sigh::  Ended up getting my third absence in path because I sat down there for 5 hours manning the table, though happily a good chunk of that was with some new friends who were taking a break from home school.  And, all-in-all, pres tells me the bake sale went really well and we ended up making over $1000 EC.

Game night–Was invited over along with a group of friends for game night at our new friends’ house.  Ended up making giant pitcher of margaritas, and host cooked homemade Mac and Cheese, fried chicken, cabbage salad, fresh sliced veggies, seasoned carrots, and we had homemade ice cream for dessert.  Played a new game involving nouns and being very creative with them that everyone loved so much, we played twice.  Arguably one of the best nights I’ve ever spent on the island.  Had a WONDERFUL time.

First Kaplan post-test–Ok, this didn’t go so well.  I’ve been ignoring the Kaplan videos in the afternoons in order to work on my path and ICM notes for many reasons–1–I’m not at a point where I want to review that stuff yet, 2–videos are shown at regular speed which is waaaay too slow, and 3–they vaguely try and keep up with what we’re doing in path and ICM, but when the three classes are out of sync, it’s too much to handle being on 3 different organ systems.  Needless to say, I’m not the only one who had been skipping the Kaplan physio videos–most of the class does something else during this time, or at least watches the videos on their own but at higher speeds.  So the plan by most of those people was to go through the post-test choosing only one letter for all the answers–like C all the way through.  Apparently all of the questions (50) were from Kaplan Q-bank questions which we would see again anyway, also, the post-tests don’t count for a grade–it’s just to monitor your progress.  Well I felt guilty picking C the whole way, but at the same time, have no clue what’s going on in physio.  My conscience won–I sat there and attempted the test, at least making educated guesses on the questions–silently triumphing every time I knew the answer to a question and it was a non-C answer.  The result?  While I did better than I would have just choosing C the whole way through, I REALLY need to study physio.  At least I got to find that out in a way that doesn’t skew my stats on my personal learning page on Kaplan.  Did it shock me into paying attention to the Kaplan videos in the afternoons now?  No.  Not even close.  Can’t do it.  Can’t sit through 3 solid hours of path, only getting 15 minutes for break, then have the brain power left for anything else.  Schedule is just not conducive to it.  ::sigh::

Windward Beach–After the fun had by all at the beach on Valentine’s Day with new friends, as well as on game night, the same group of people was scheduled to meet up at the school and go to a new beach with guaranteed waves, yesterday.  The boys ended up flaking and deciding that they should study instead, but the remaining 5 of us went to a beach in the middle of nowhere out in Gingerland.  AND got to see the Nevis Horse track on the way down.  It was about how you’d imagine a horse track would be on Nevis–dilapidated and lacklustery, but it was still my first horse track and here I was thinking I’d never see the one on Nevis.  Pshaw.  The beach, once we got there, was oodles of fun.  The water was clear, the beach was wide, the waves didn’t disappoint.  We played in the ocean for close to 2 hours, then after having a snack, flew a kite, practiced cart-wheels and soaked up the afternoon sun.  Can’t wait to go back.

Post Block 1

January 28, 2012

I think I owe you all an update on how things have been going.  We flew through the last week of block 1–I say “flew” sarcastically as there doesn’t seem to be anything swift about Med 5, aside from our breaks and the rate at which our free time disappears.  My classmates and I debated about skipping the Friday before block weekend because, as we found out last semester, the reviews aren’t particularly helpful, however, unlike my classmates, I wussed out and went to all classes on Friday.  BTW, aside from ICM, the reviews were useless.  On block weekend proper, I found myself back in the anatomy lab, studying, as usual because my neighbors decided to have a hootenanny at the loudest volume possible.

It’s interesting having both blocks on Monday.  Med 1 they were split on Monday and Tuesday, Med 2 we had 3 on Monday, Med 3 they were split on Monday and Tuesday and were off by a week, and Med 4 PD had separate from Pharm and Path which were together on Tuesdays.

Go figure, yet another semester path sucked and made me very angry, just like last semester.  No matter how much you study and how many details you memorize, there will always be questions on the test that you can’t get.  They even admitted to putting questions on there from last semester.  It was crap.  They reviewed 10+ questions that less than half the class got right, yet comped us 0 points because clearly we’re the stupid ones who weren’t reading their minds.  I’m still so angry at the head prof and some of the b-s questions that I can’t go review my exam for fear that I’ll say something that’ll get me in trouble.  Ignorance is bliss.  Since then, I’ve been going to class with my head down and listening to headphones the entire time and working on notes without a care in the world what’s going on in lecture.  Apparently many people have started doing this and it bothers the prof quite a lot.  He yelled at a fellow classmate ruthlessly the other day (so I’m told–I wasn’t listening to him) for walking in late and having his headphones in.  Ouch.  Somebody has issues with attention.

ICM was pretty awesome.  It’s another class people are ignoring and treating like PD, but it’s that saving grace class that we were all waiting for that connects the book knowledge we learn in Meds 1-4 with the exam techniques of PD and answers that nagging question of “what would a doctor do?”  It’s powerful and fascinating learning how to put everything together and diagnose and treat patients.  Exam was tough but you know every single question is high yield and a likely situation that you will encounter.  Easily my favorite class this semester.  Look forward to the lab as well as it’s like jeopardy, but not restricted to any particular subject.  We are given detailed patient presentations and vignettes and  quizzed on drugs, exam techniques, lab values, symptoms–it’s like trivia night.

Outside of class, don’t have time for much.  Signed up for a 5k here on Nevis and have been running nightly in the gym to prepare.  Have gotten my 5k time down to 28:41, so I’m pretty satisfied, though will probably end up chatting with friends and walking most of the way.  Have also taken up baking this semester with a friend.  It’s challenging with the limited, cheap kitchen resources we have between us here on the island, but usually ends up being lots of fun and we don’t seem to have a problem finding people to test our products.   Also a great way to relieve path frustration.  Haha.

School is going fine.  I’m trying to be more patient with ICM and Path lecture; this is directly proportional to the amount of sleep I get, so there are days I go straight home, take a nap and then go back for the gym if it’s not too late.  Gym every day is working out fine.  Muaha–pun intended.  Sore but don’t feel so guilty when I eat dessert–fat-free yogurt, handful of unsalted, roasted peanuts, and drizzle of honey.  Still working on drinking 2 liters of water daily; end up playing catch-up some days.  ICM lab is shaping up to be my favorite class–prof is hilarious, interesting, and not wooed by the stupid b-s of my least favorite classmate, who missed the first week of class and was trying to argue a point in Friday’s tutorial that he had NO CLUE about.  Moron.

I’m a whole organ system ahead of the prof in path.  I’m a whole organ system behind the prof in ICM.  Eek.  I know.  Bad Jenn.  But that’s what Sundays are for, in addition to cooking, dishes, laundry and tidying.  ::sigh:: Back to work.

Back on the island

January 9, 2012

The trip down was pretty uneventful.  It was the first time I’d ever made it through Miami and down to Kitts with no one else from my class on the plane.  Loads of other people from school were there and I had my new trusty Christmas present to keep me company (iPad), but still, a little sad.  For the first time ever, since it was a Sunday and we were going to have to wait a considerable amount of time for the next SeaBridge, we took a water taxi over from Reggae Beach to Oualie Beach.  It was very fast and nice.  It’s double the cost of the SeaBridge but I’d almost argue it’s worth it, not having to sit there and wait 30 minutes on the boat to finish loading.

Shockingly both bags made it down with me, even on a full flight to Kitts.  Couldn’t believe it.  Got home to find out that both had been TSA’d but that nothing was broken or missing.  Had many Christmas presents to wrap and distribute, so I got to work with that.  Their recipients were very happy.  Brought back some foodstuffs but nothing like the usual.  Unpacking went quickly.  I could get used to that.

Came home to find that toilet mysteriously ran after flushing, despite no manipulation with the chain or the floating mechanism.  Also that after a water-line burst outside my apartment, I had no water that would come out of my kitchen faucet.  A week later, and my landlady has fixed both issues.  Unfortunately, I was given my power bill and saw that even though I was here for only 6.5 days out of December, my bill was still $450 ECD, meaning either I have a phantom or someone was enjoying my A/C while I was gone.  ::sigh::

I’ve waited a while to post because school started out so crazy, tonight’s the first normal night at home that I’ve felt grounded enough to post without undue malice.  Before I sound whiny and cranky, I must remind you all that last semester, I was in class for 5 hours most days.  This semester, I am in class for 9.  This is an uncomfortable jump for me and most of my classmates, and has thus put us in pretty foul moods for the past week.  Instead of last semester, where we started 4 out of the 5 days at 11:00 am, EVERY day we start at 8:00.  Ugh.  That gets old really quickly.  We sit in ICM lecture where we’re not allowed to work on notes and must pay attention, though without the typical participation like questions and interaction, for an hour and a half without a break.  The prof has gotten in this really bad habit of lecturing from 8:00-9:35, so that we only get a 10-minute break between ICM and our next subject, instead of the earned 15 minute break.  She’ll look at the clock, see that it’s 9:30 but keep talking.  It’s very frustrating after sitting there an hour listening to review when you know you have things you have to do but can’t do them.  ICM the class isn’t that bad–it’s all about interesting clinical strategies–so far, of evaluating chest pain–but, it can be tedious.  There are assignments weekly that are fill-in-the-blank, so they’re not that challenging, but there are quizzes too.  So there’s just enough to do to keep you from slacking off.  I see where the prof is going with these requirements–the class could very easily get lost with path and comp studying–but so far, they have been more of an inconvenience than an eye-opener into clinical practices.  Perhaps I’m judging with too much haste.  Or perhaps it’s just that I’m not the biggest fan of cardio.  Either way, I’ll try to stay optimistic.

Path, in theory, is from 9:45-12:30.  ::reels from pretend stab wound to gut::  This past week, we’ve started off with my favorite lecturer of the same three we had for Path I last semester, and he has finished significantly early each day.  We went ungodly fast the first couple days and I was really, really overwhelmed and thought I’d have serious issues if we actually went for the full 3-ish hours.  After I regained feeling in my writing hand and caught up, I found that if I stayed a lecture ahead, it was much more manageable.  I’m most productive when I’m multi-tasking.  If I sit in class just focusing on lecture, my mind tends to wander, but if faced with a concurrent challenge of working on notes, I thrive.  I tried working on that day’s lecture’s notes the same time as that lecture, but the prof went waaay too fast for that and it was too stressful trying to flip between where I was in the notes and where he was in the notes when I needed to write down something he said.  Now, I have the day’s lecture notes already completed and can flip through them and highlight and annotate, while still working on the next day’s notes at the same time.  I hope I can keep up with it.  Unfortunately, this prof has finished his subject for this block, which means that we get a different prof starting tomorrow and I’m not looking forward to it.  Think happy, calming thoughts for me.

ICM lab has been really interesting.  Apparently because of our record class size, we’re broken down into 4 groups, and with 2 labs/tutorials to do weekly, that means that we only have lab twice a week.  The extra day that we don’t have lab is usually spent in a “workshop” learning new outside material where all of the class is present, but I think I quite like it.  Last week we had a phlebotomy lab that was really fun–learned to stick with butterflies, vacutainers, needled-syringes, and lancets for blood glucose testing.  Something I’ve always watched those around me do at work but have never tried.  This week we’re working on EKGs and chest pain.  Really like the prof–lively and upbeat–AND she let us sign up for the lab groups of our choosing–no more being stuck with the people who are in the alphabet with you.  Really awesome.  I almost don’t mind having a 15-minute lunch for it. 😉

Finally after ICM lab, from 3:00-5:00 we have Kaplan.  Don’t ask me why, but for some reason, our classes have started off in Cardiovascular, so that means hours of the old physio videos that saved my @$$ last-minute back in Med 2 for the physio exams.  They’re played at regular speed and the prof talks so slow, that I just can’t follow him, again, when I have other notes I should be working on.  Up to this point, I’ve completely ignored them and worked on Path and ICM.  I know that can’t last, but I’m trying to decide what to do.  I’d like to watch the videos at 1.5, preferably on my own in a nice quiet place where I can pause and rewind at leisure, but that’s not really conducive to meeting the attendance requirements for the class.  Open for suggestions.

Vacation–week 3

December 28, 2011

It’s interesting how your perception of time changes; after I admit this, my vacation is probably going to fly by, but I’ll go ahead and say it: it feels like YEARS since I’ve left the island!  I usually end up running out of time and not being able to get everything done but I suppose this trip home has just been really efficient.  Maybe it’s the extra 4 or 5 days that helps?  I dunno.

So since last I checked in, my newest niece has been born–on 12/21–and she’s healthy and gorgeous.  I had Christmas with most of my relatives which was really fun and I was completely surprised by the generosity!  I came home with the mindset that this upcoming semester will be my last on the island and I need to focus on bringing things back home (to the states) with me.  In other words, the more stuff I bring down to the island, the more I’m going to have to bring back and I’m sure I’ll be strapped for luggage space as it is.  I must say, its made things easier; I went shopping at my usual haunts today and couldn’t find ANYTHING to buy–that’s a first.  Finally after 4 semesters on the island, you realize that just spending 3 months there at a time, if there’s something you don’t have, then either you can live without it until you get home or you can find a version of it on the island that will do.  I thought it was going to take the most work having food that I could eat, but now, especially with the opening of the new IGA supermarket, that’s not been much of an issue at all.  You can have almost anything you want on the island if you’re willing to pay.  The hardest part is clothes.  In Med 1-3, it’s not that bad; you show up in whatever you want most days with the exception of lab days when you wear scrubs or presentation days (1-2 per semester, tops) when you have to dress up.  Med 4 involves dressing up 1-2 times per week; in the US that doesn’t sound that bad at all, but there are ZERO dressy clothing stores on the island, which means that if you didn’t plan ahead and bring down enough dressy clothes for the semester, you’re screwed.  There were some people, bless their hearts, who only had 1 or 2 dressy outfits and had to keep recycling them and washing them over and over again.  Then, too, there’s peer pressure especially among the girls to look the best and you don’t know what the other girls are going to be wearing until you’re already down here and it’s too late.  My advice is to get some essentials like black dress pants, black pencil skirts, a-line dresses (and obviously, matching shoes) that you can wear and then switch up your tops and cardigans each semester.  (Boys–KHAKIS and button-down shirts with dress socks and dress shoes)  Unfortunately, because there are no dry cleaners on the island and most of the students do not have access to dryers, you have to get forgiving fabrics that can be washed and line-dried.  It goes without saying, also, not to bring down something really nice either, because it will be worn out and close to destroyed by the time you’re ready to go home.

So most of what I’ve packed so far has been consumables–things I’ve gotten from Sams that will be tasty and get me through my last semester.  Specifically, candy is of low quality on the island and is very expensive, so I’ve brought my own this time.  Also nuts are VERY expensive–like $10 USD/lb–on the island, so I’ve brought them as well.  Oddly enough, French-Fried Onions are ungodly expensive–$20 ECD or almost $8 USD/can–and though they’re random, I know, I brought down a huge bag that was less than $4 USD at Sams.  (Don’t scoff, they’re good on EVERYTHING and make great, crunchy, lowER carb salad toppers).  This will be my third semester where I drink the majority of my meals in the form of Slimfast, so that has to be brought down as well.

Haven’t bought any books for the semester because Kaplan books are included in the tuition and they’re given out during Med 4, so they’re already at my apartment.  That frees up a lot of luggage room.  Also have enough school supplies at this point to get me through the last semester.  Paper can be surprisingly heavy.  While there are certainly household items that could make my apartment more comfortable, it’s not worth it to bring them down for 3 months and then worry about what will happen to them.

So, other than packing and crossing things off my list, I’ve been visiting friends and having the foods I miss.  Cooking is fun, too.  Oh  and did I mention I have missed my pets?  It’s so much fun having companions again, I’ve missed them.