Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Exhausted and terrified

2 days of 2nd year cumulative shelf exams equating 342 questions over 8 hours of testing, plus receiving my score from last Friday's NBME step 1 predictive exam mean that I am COMPLETELY exhausted and absolutely terrified about the coming weeks. I already feel burnt out and possibly a little manic. Scared I'm not going to pass step 1. Worried the score I want is simply unattanable at this point. Fearing that 19 days is not enough time to learn all that I need to, yet, that postponing my date wont help either. Feeling totally helpless and overwhelmed, somewhat like when I was a small child and feared that a low grade on a spelling or math test would keep me out of college...

I need a nap.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Plan C

Since I already have my Plan B (to open a kosher gluten free bakery), today I decided on my Plan C for if this whole medical school thing doesn't pan out. I'll get a master/phd is policy and/or education and work on reforming medical education. I got in a long discussion with our Dean of Education today about the discourse between students perceived value of curriculum design and the actual value. Seeing as I'm more successful in these conversations than I currently am in step 1 studying, I'm thinking Plan C isn't such a bad one... really, I'll do anything to not study!

And for comic relief, here are "the 10 types of physician bloggers" from A Cartoon Guide to Becoming a Doctor.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Stereotypical medicine

Earlier this year I went to a discussion on the disservice stereotypes play in the practice of medicine. The speaker told a poignant story about a kid showing up to the ER with a classic presentation of sickle cell crisis, but the diagnosis alluded the physicians because the child was white, leading to this boy's untimely demise. While my retelling of the story is overly simplistic, the moral is spot-on. We stereotype in medicine. We stereotype a LOT. Our entire first 2 years of medical education is learning stereotype after stereotype. The most popular example of them all (thanks to "House) is that a young female with anything wrong = lupus. A classmate recently sent out a glorified list in the form of a blog post he found. Almost as good as the food pathology list that a professor sent out earlier this year.

I don't know what the answer to all of this is. The liberal arts educated activist in me wants to do away with all stereotypes, with anything that could risk labeling someone. There is so much potential damage from stereotypes and assumptions, especially when someones health is on the line! The Ashkenazi Jew in me is grateful that I can be screened for a plethora of diseases, and also to have an idea of what I may be at higher risk for. Lastly, my medical student persona is REALLY grateful to be able to learn a full clinical picture while studying for STEP 1, glad to have points of association and clues to look for in questions stems. My challenge is going to be learning the stereotypes in order to learn the diseases but then forgetting the clinical picture enough that it doesn't put blinders on my [future] diagnostic ability.

Sunday, March 20, 2011


I got a (stupid) chain email from my mom today. It stated:

"This year we're going to experience four unusual dates. 1/1/11, 1/11/11, 11/1/11, 11/11/11 and that's not all... Take the last two digits of the year in which you were born -now add the age you will be this year, and the result will be 111 for everyone...!! "

While I normally don't give these emails any time or attention, I'm curios. How is the 111 possible? It works for me (84 + 27 = 111), does it work for others? Can anyone explain?

Purim sameach!

Somehow, in the midst of crazy studying, I've actually found some subtle ways to celebrate pruim this year! Moments of balance, happy friends, and mishloach manot full of gluten free Trader Joe's goodness [shipped from friends in the Northeast] totally make my day!

Purim sameach ya'll!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

daydreams about the future

For the next month of my life, I am expected to spend 12+ hours a day simply learning. When I say learning, I really mean shoving all of the "ology" (physiology, histology, pathology, pharmacology, microbiology, anatomy and clinical diagnosis) into my brain until it starts coming out my nose, and then find a way to stuff even more in there. Most of the time I think that I am totally blessed to have the luxury of spending my day with information, grappling with the complexities of the human body. I'm being trusted to learn so that (hopefully) one day I can take up the art of practicing medicine and give back to my community.

However, sometimes sitting in a study room, surrounded by books, drowning in information, getting scores of 50% or so on practice test after practice test (which I am told is normal-ish for this stage of studying) is enough to make me go crazy! During these moments daydreaming about the future keeps me motivated. My current daydreams seem to revolve around what I could do if I take a year off and where I may decide to take my future career. Topping the list:

ear off: AMSA health justice fellowship, Doris Duke clinical research fellowship, and the CDC applied epidemiology research fellowship...

Post MD/MPH degree: US public health service corps,
CDC Epidemic Intelligence Service, getting a MPP...

At the end of the day, no matter how productive I was or how brain dead I am, I get to come home to my wonderful cat Lulav (can I sound any more like a lesbian?!) who simply wants me to feed and play with him. Really though, taking care of something besides myself puts a long day of studying perfectly into perspective.

Monday, March 14, 2011

A glimer of hope?

It seems that the Senate Republican's are being a little more rational than the House was with regards to title X (planned parenthood) funding. In today's news from National Partnership for Women and Families, the following was stated:

"In a letter to Senate Appropriations Committee Chair Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii) and Vice Chair Thad Cochran (R-Miss.), Sen. Lisa Murkowski (Ala.) wrote, "I believe Planned Parenthood provides vital services to those in need and disagree with their funding cuts in the bill. ... I ask you to consider these programs going forward to determine if there is room for allowing continued funding."

In a separate e-mail to a constituent, Murkowski wrote, "I do believe that Planned Parenthood provides vital services to those in need and disagree with its funding cuts contained in the H.R. 1 package." She added, "From 2002-2008, Planned Parenthood received $342 million in federal taxpayer money through Title X funding alone. With these funds, Planned Parenthood has provided women throughout the U.S. with important family planning and contraceptive services as well as screening for breast and cervical cancers for low-income women. I believe it is important that Title X organizations continue to receive funding."

Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) last week also announced her opposition to eliminating Title X (Politico, 3/11)."

We need to keep fighting this as it hasn't been voted on yet. Continue to contact your elected officials, continue to spread the word and raise awareness, continue to take a stand for access to reproductive health care.

Match day 2011 is approaching!

Today marks the start of a big week for all 4th year medical students! I'm crossing my fingers for each and every one of you. May you all be pleasantly surprised with your results! (And may your success inspire my studying for STEP 1...)

Taken from the NRMP website:

March 14, 2011

Applicant matched and unmatched information posted to the Web site at 12:00 noon eastern time.

March 15, 2011

Filled and unfilled results for individual programs posted to the Web site at 11:30 a.m. eastern time.

Locations of all unfilled positions are released at 12:00 noon eastern time. Unmatched applicants may begin contacting unfilled programs at 12:00 noon eastern time.

March 17, 2011

Match Day! Match results for applicants are posted to Web site at 1:00 p.m. eastern time.

March 18, 2011

Hospitals send letters of appointment to matched applicants after this date.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Ask an Abortion Provider

"Ask an Abortion Provider" is totally snarky, and totally worth reading. Enjoy!

p.s. starting at 7am tomorrow morning I disappear into the land of step 1 studying. I'll do my best to keep posting but I make no promises!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

"I care"

After reading "18 Stethoscopes, 1 Heart Murmur and Many Missed Connections" in the New York Times, I sure hope that my patients view me as Ben. That my neon sign flashes "I care". The start of my clinical rotations in a few short months will be a true test of this...

I just need to remember that listening to my patients, truly listening, is one of the most important services I can offer.