Tuesday, January 27, 2009

It's almost a month into the New Year. Glancing back at my previous entry, I realize I've already broke one of my resolutions (write more). I've been making tons of mental notes about interesting topics to write about in my blog, but have been struggling to find the time to transform all my mental post-its into actual entries.

Since the start of Life Cycle, we have learned about the complexities of development and embryology, taking a whirlwind tour of development from fertilization to the development of the fetus. We attended our last anatomy lab (forever) and histology lab (no more of those microscope slides). I presented my research poster at the UCSF Research Symposium and taught the mechanics of breathing during the pulmonary MSP session. I've also been busy getting the Surgical Skills elective rolling. I am preparing to teach my last MSP lesson in February and will be teaching suturing at the next surgical skills session.

It's been a busy. Time has become a scant commodity. I always find myself thinking- there are just not enough hours in a day. Right now, the time pinch is even more palpable. The second years have starting to slowly go into hibernation. By that, I mean they are becoming preoccupied with preparing for the boards and revisiting all those topics of medicine, we have since forgotten.

The exam looms on the horizon, an unwelcome presence all the time- in the library (in the form of First Aid books and other prep books), in our day-to-day conversations, in the lectures (with lecturers dropping the "B" word so much more), and in our tired faces. It's boards fever! And it's spreading, sucking the life and energy out of MS2's. I can feel it.

I've been trying to maintain balance. But balance has become more of predictable routine- school, study, exercise, eat, study, sleep and repeat all over again. Sounds fun, doesn't it? I have found time for friends and running, which has made all the difference.

I am trying to live by my motto: there will always be things that have to be done, but there is also a life to be lived.

As they say, every cloud has a silver lining. In our case, that sliver lining is in the form of thinking of the road ahead- clerkships. We are in the process of planning our third year rotation schedules, including making decisions about enrolling in either a structured or traditional program. And we also must start thinking about how to order our core rotations, which inclide family community medicine, internal medicine, surgery, pediatrics, neurology & psychiatry and OB/Gyn.

It's a matter of getting through the next months and then moving on to an even more exciting chapter of our medical training. When I start thinking about actually seeing patients, I am reminded of the reasons why I came to medical school.

The test shall pass. Life will go on.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

New Year's Resolution

I have had some time to think. The last three weeks of vacation were a welcome hiatus. I thoroughly enjoyed spending time with my family, running in the bitter cold, resting and eating three meals a day. It was such a blessing to catch up with my family and pet cats.

As far as a New Year's Resolution, I'm old enough to know the cardinal rule of making resolutions: it's probably better not to make resolutions, since you are likely to set yourself up for failure. OK, I admit it is a defeatist attitude- but it is true.

In actuality, I can think of a couple things (in no particular order):
1. Stay in good health (physical and mental)- train for a half-marathon
2. Try to use the phone more often when communicating with friends
3. Broaden my experiences outside the medical bubble
4. Find time for family and friends
5. Write and reflect more
6. Photograph more
7. Explore SF and beyond (which means actually going to museums and restaurants outside the sunset)
8. Study hard for the Boards and do well (without going crazy)
9. Avoid making endless lists of things "to do" (I'm already breaking this resolution with this list)

Break was a welcome change. I felt recharged when I arrived in SF on Sunday. Three days into the first week of life cycle, I'm settling back into the groove of school and my lists of things "to do."

It's hard to believe Life Cycle/Epilogue brings us to our last pre-clinical block. The boards exams are sandwiched between Lifecycle and our clinical clerkships.
"You're in your homestretch," said our course director on the first day of course.
It's so bittersweet. On one hand, we are culminating our preclinical years, attending our last lectures and labs and gearing for the transition to clerkships. We had our last official anatomy lab on Tuesday- male and female pelvic anatomy (what a way to end). On the other hand, we are also facing the biggest barrier to moving forward- the BOARDS exam (believe me, you'll hear more about this with subsequent essays). And the realization that we don't know anything. OK, a little bit of an overstatement.

"So have you hit the board books?" (A question I have been asked a couple of times already). Answer- No, but I probably should. Thanks.

We are realizing the testing has only began. Step 1 is numbered one, because it is the first of a series of tests we'll take. Hooray.

$495.00 equals the amount to take the Step 1 exam. I submitted my application for this 336-question, 8 hour test a couple of days. I guess the time has come to develop a study game plan.

Other than the looming boards, I have returned to my MSP obligations, which involve teaching sessions in the Pulmonary and Renal blocks. I also have been tying some last odds and ends as one of the coordinators of the Surgical Skills elective, which provides students with an opportunity to learn basic surgical techniques (knot tying and suturing). I am also organizing a poster to highlight my summer research that examined in-utero stem cell transplantation for an upcoming research symposium next week.

It's a busy week and a busier quarter. I'm calm. I wish I could say I'm ready, but I figure I'll take it one day at a time, one step at a time (no pun intended).

Stay tuned for the adventures.