Wednesday, February 27, 2008


So today we learned about skin cancer. Scary stuff, and something I worry about fairly often. In small groups, to further our studies of melanoma and basal cell carcinoma we learned how to biopsy using the closest approximation to human skin they could apparently find:

I think I'll tell my preceptor this afternoon that since I'm now as trained as I ever will be on how to do a punch biopsy if he has any nasty cervical lesions to take care of, I'm his girl.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008


I had almost forgotten how much I love wine. It's been months since my last glass. I told myself if I studied hard, I could reward myself with a glass and some chocolate (and the opportunity to watch the ultimate in bad tv - the Real World/Road Rules challenge). Over all a great night.

The day yesterday was really something though. I was NOT feeling class in the morning, but I stuck it out and took the best notes I could. We had an afternoon dermatology clinic session, which I was so expecting to be disgusting. Overall though, it was really interesting. I saw cases of people who had diseases I'd only seen on the Discovery Health channel. They were all very inspiring people. On the way out the derm resident told us we should at least think about dermatology when it came time to interview for residency. We just laughed. Dermatology is the hardest residency in the country to get. It comes with great hours and great pay. But only 60% of the people who want to get into it do. Compare that to the 90% for most specialties. Even neurosurgery is over 80%. As one of my classmates so eloquently put it, "you don't pick dermatology, dermatology picks you."

But, great hours and lots of cash aside, I can't fathom being a derm for life. The more I think about all aspects of the field, the more motivated I am to pursue anesthesiology. It makes me happy, and it would let me have a happy family too. Can't ask for a whole lot more.

Other than the derm clinic, this week isn't the most exciting, but it's going to take some work. Next week we have finals in our two classes, so I need to keep up with the studying. Hopefully if I get on top of it next week won't be as bad as I think it will be.

For those who like happy hour, I also wanted to let you know about a charity event at Lime Restaurant in Larimer Square on Thursday. From 4-8 there is happy hour. There is a $5 cover to be donated to charity (for kids with cancer) unless you donate some formal attire (for Dressed to the Nines, which has formal dresses for events for kids with cancer). Appetizers are free and drinks are discounted. Sounds like a good time, and I'm hoping to make it out. If your in town, I'd love to see you all!

For tonight though, I'm done with the books. It's time to regroup with some motivation. I now know I am old because I take my time off to look at to compare future earnings in different areas of the country, then compare these to housing prices in these areas. There's probably nothing more exciting to read about right now than seeing this printed hope about the real light at the end of this tunnel. Don't get me wrong. There is truly, in (almost) every doctor's heart the hope that they will make a difference to their patients. You can't survive this field if you don't go into it, at least initially, to help people. But there's only so much ragging on a person (my doctor is such a jerk, he never returns my calls, I hope you won't be like that, you don't know anything yet, you're have a LONG road ahead of you, you're so naive....) that one can take before you start to wonder, is there anything in it for me, and if so, is it worth it. Knowing that I have so many options in front of me helps me to realize that it is, indeed worth it, and I will make it. Not only for the perks ahead, but because I really, truly want to. And yes, I do want to help people, but the compensation and job security don't hurt the equation either.

Well, back to studying. Not all docs are well compensated...

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Back to It

Thankfully the uber-test went well. They usually go fine, but they are always preceded by a few days of panic. I think they might not go as well if the panic didn't come first. It's definitely better than panicking after anyway. The afternoon was everything I hoped it would be, but I didn't sit around in front of the television as I thought I might. I read a little bit, from a book that had nothing to do with medicine, and J and I took to the town. We ran some errands and walked around Cherry Creek for a while. I haven't been to Cherry Creek for at least 4 years, and it was nice to get out in the sunshine. We went to Cost Plus which is pretty much my favorite place on the planet, and overall had a good afternoon.

Today it's back to work. The reprieve was short, but there's only two weeks left of the block and I have to say that I'm close to having the best showing I've had in med school yet. It's motivating me to keep working on it. The lure of spring break as the light at the end of the tunnel is also a huge motivator. I figure if I stay up on it, although I probably still will have a few days of panic, at least they might be a little less intense than the last week has been.

Tonight is also our big night on the town for Denver Restaurant week. We're going to Oceannaire Seafood Room this year and it's really exciting. It's nice to get done up once in a while and go see the city. Speaking of getting done up, the whole "I need to stop looking like a med student" thing is not really working. As J pointed out yesterday when I didn't even shower OR change clothes from my pajamas before leaving for the exam, I have effectively stopped even bathing. Not always true, but disturbing none the less. It's not like I don't get up early enough, I'm just that apathetic.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

I can almost taste it...

Exam tomorrow morning, relax all afternoon. I'm so close I can hardly stand it. 12 more hours, 12 more hours......

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Television pharmacology

Wow. So I took a break from studying for the uber-test that will be Friday morning, and sat on the couch with J for a few minutes to enjoy a brownie (my study breaks are not so good for my waist). He was watching TV and I figured a few minutes of mind-numbingness would be good since I was starting to get that pounding "you have really shoved too much in this time" feeling. Then the commercials came on.

Why is it that every commercial break has people running to ask their doctor if drug X is right for you? Annoying. More annoying, however, is the fact that all I could do when I was watching the Valtrex commercial was tell J what it's half life, generic name, bioavailability, and adverse drug reactions are. See, I can't actually stop studying when I want to, so I don't feel so bad about hitting the sack early. Tomorrow is another day.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Things I like

Well, I am sorry for the reprieve from blogging. I've been studying up a storm. So heavily, in fact, that the roof caved in today and I had to do nothing for the last 5 hours but eat brownies and watch the Biggest Loser. Odd combo, but it works for me. There's a part of me inside that knows this is only going to make things more difficult for the next two days, but the much larger voice is shouting...."Who cares!"

So, I decided in light of my enjoyable evening, I might write an enjoyable blog to go along with it. I'm tired of the droning on about school, as I am sure you are too. So, on with the "things I like" -

  1. warm breezes in February

  2. seeing hard work pay off, and stopping to enjoy it for just a little bit

  3. Whole Foods

  4. reading blogs of friends I rarely talk to and even more rarely see

  5. hearing good news from friends and feeling totally, completely thrilled for them!

  6. lavendar tea (don't knock it till you try it, especially good if you were that kid that liked to drink bathwater...)

  7. blogging instead of studying about parasites!

  8. finding the nastiest pictures of parasites on the internet and sneaking up with my computer to J and freaking him out while he's eating - again with the multitasking...studying and having a great time

  9. new candles

  10. new furniture!!!!!

  11. spooning with the dog

12. reading ridiculously funny sci fi books

13. knowing that once again tomorrow is Wednesday, and I love Wednesday

Well, here's hoping to keep the good times rolling for yet another day. Friday is another big exam, but after that things are looking up for the weekend. I'm so pumped to get out of the house, you'd think someone chains me in here against my will. Alas, nothing so exciting.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

I love Wednesday

Even though we're just as far in the week as we are out, I love Wednesday. On Wednesdays I have my elective course which is Complementary and Alternative Medicine, or CAM. It sounds touchy feely, and it is, but I love it. It's nice to think outside the box sometimes, and it makes me feel like I just took a trip to Whole Foods, even when I haven't. It relaxes me, and we even have the class with Pharmacy students so we get to see life outside the med school bubble, if only for an hour. A lot of the time I learn really interesting and useful things since so many people are using things like herbal supplements these days. Kind of makes my day.

I also have my preceptor this afternoon. Not to gross everyone out, but knowing that I am capable of doing a gynecological exam all on my own gives me hope that I can and will be a physician. It's the one time of my week when I feel competant again. Dr. B is great too, and he always makes me feel smart and on top of stuff. Almost makes me want to be an OB/GYN, but not really.

On another awesome note, I have won the mini-thesis lottery. We all are required to do a "mentored scholarly activity." It's pretty much a mini-thesis. This never really bothered me, because I figured research would look good on a resume. But, as the year has gone on, I have gotten a little less gung-ho about padding the resume, and much more interested in finding something that I can enjoy. The nature of med school seems to be...just wait, it gets better. But frankly, I am not going to waste all my twenty's waiting for something to get better when I can make it better right now. So I decided, forget about research, I don't want to spend 50 hours a week over the summer in a lab working on a project that may or may not get me published, and may or may not help me get my residency of choice (for anesthesia, it turns out not to really matter). After I realized that, I turned to the humanities. I haven't had much of a chance to do a lot of humanities since I went to an engineering school, and when I looked into my options for a project in the area, I ran across a woman who has done a presentation at our school on how women physicians are portrayed in film. I did some searching through the medical literature and it turns out that there are papers actually published about this. One thing I didn't find, though, were papers published about the portrayal of women physicians on television. Pretty big medium to not be explored. So I wrote to the program director for medical humanities and low and behold, I have the go ahead to watch all the doctor television I can get my hands on and write a paper about how women physicians are portrayed. No one has ever had a better excuse to steal the remote and watch Grey's. It's gonna be a great summer.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

The Death of Learning

Pretty sure Powerpoint is the worst medium of all time. Today in lecture we have a presentation with 97 slides. Fifty minutes - 97 slides. If he keeps going at this pace we'll still be here for the 2nd coming.

A couple of hours of "the forces of evil" and we will get back to Dr. Cohen. Thank heavens we have at least one lecturer that appreciates the excitement that is the possible side effect of teaching. Unfortunately other adverse learning events include boredom, eye glazing, narcolepsy, and tooth clenching. In the rare event that excessive boredom lasts more than four hours, contact a physician immediately...chances are they are still talking.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Feeling the burn

Everyone told me when I got into this mess, er, educational experience, that there would be days when I wondered what I got myself into. Up until this month, I really hadn't felt like that. But, now I'm having one of those months where every day I wonder what I've gotten myself into. I had it really easy up at CSU. I knew what I was doing, I had a job I enjoyed, and even though I didn't get paid much, I wasn't going into the hole either. I have kind of forgotten what it was like to know what I'm doing. My peers up there respected my opinion, and I even felt like sometimes I had good ideas. That doesn't so much happen in med school. Hate to push the "med students are evil" thread, but they are.

I know that in the long run, I will be so happy with the decision I made. I don't want to worry about having enough funding (aka salary) because research dollars are hard to find. And I know that the reason I left grad school (don't really see myself doing this 10 years from now) is still a good reason, and it hasn't changed. Most importantly, I don't want to do bench research. So as often as I have heart palpitations over the coming exam (and there's always a coming exam), I know this was the right decision.

For now, I'm working hard to realize that 1)perfection in medical school is not possible, 2)medicine is truly what I want to do with my life, 3)it's only going to be worth it if I still have a life. It helps to realize that being a Moneyed Doctor, vs a Poor hungry Doctor, will allow me to someday live in my happy place. California here I come.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Looking the part

So, when we did orientation in the fall, everyone said that after anatomy is over you begin to truly feel like a med student. Their logic: during anatomy you have no time to feel like anything, it's just go go go..... You're lucky to feel like you're still breathing, which you actually don't feel like doing while you're in the lab.. And to some extent they were right. I do, now, feel like a med student. I'm learning things that I am truly afraid to not know. I feel like I have the capability to actually answer some questions about health to family and friends without looking it up on Wiki like everyone else does. The one thing I didn't realize until this morning though, is that I'm starting to look like a med student.

This is not a good thing. Med students look glazed over like a month old Krispy Creme. Once a week they dress up to go to their preceptors (gotta look "professional" - you can dress up a mummy all you want but at the end of the day they're still death warmed over) and the rest of the week they are lucky to grab some clean clothes rather than what's left on the floor from yesterday. They rarely wear make-up, and even more rarely do anything to their hair. And I'm starting to look just like them. I remember the first tour I took at my undergrad, which was an engineering school. My tour guide looked at me and said, don't worry, we're "roll out of bed girls here." My parents never let that one go. I was not a roll out of bed girl at that time. Now, however, the joke is on me. I roll off the side of my bed in the morning when J asks if I'm planning to sleep in, stumble to the bathroom and jump in the shower. At least I still have that going for me. After that, I grab whatever pants I think are the cleanest (but more likely the most comfortable) grab a t-shirt and sweatshirt (my med school uniform) and grab some food. I don't remember the last time I did anything other than scrape a brush through my hair and toss it in a pony tail. Carefully avoiding mirrors for the rest of the day helps, but not much.

I think it's going to be my new goal to break out of this ridiculous pattern. I'm on my way, I've actually started forcing myself to go to the gym after class. This is a huge step up from the 4 months at the beginning of the year that were workout free. All work and no working out makes l.g. a frumpy character.

Tonight I pick up the would-be med student at the airport. I suppose it would be a step in the right direction to shower after the gym. For now though, another group activity. Let the blog-fodder begin.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

They're not all bad..

After my pity party yesterday, I decided to start looking for some positives about this med school experience. Sure it's busy, and at some of the same times mind numbing, but there's always some high points. Today I met with my preceptor, who's a doc I work with once a week to learn to deal with patients and do real exams and such. I have to say, I am inspired. Dr. B is an OB/GYN in the area and if it wouldn't be totally weird and inappropriate, I'd be his patient in an instant. He's just a great doctor. I can tell just by being in the room that his patients feel more at ease the minute he walks in. They talk with him as if they weren't in the most uncomfortable and vulnerable position ever and he just makes their day. I can't believe how well he deals with some people who could truly be labeled out to lunch. He's never condescending, never rude, never interrupts, and makes people smile. Cheers to you Dr. B, and thanks for the inspiration!

I really needed it today too. It's easy to get bogged down when you're in the middle of the block, staring down endless exams and droning lectures, and forget why it is you're here. Tomorrow night I have a med school interviewee coming to stay and I'm really glad to be coming off a great day in the clinic. The last thing a stressed out pre-med wants to hear is how miserable it can be. Now I feel I can adequately play up the high points without being a cynic.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

And then....Perspective!

Not long after reading my ridiculously whiny post, I realized that things aren't so bad. Don't get me wrong, med students are every bit the epitome of high school drama, but the reality is, I don't live my whole life at med school. I have to throw out a thank you(!) to my friend K.V. for dropping a note to say hi, and reminding me how great it is to have good friends. Best timing ever, and I couldn't be more grateful. Makes me almost ready to study...almost.

Med Students...Grrrrr

So, if any of you went to an undergrad where there were no pre-meds (like I did) consider yourselves the luckiest people on earth. Why? Because pre-meds grow up to become med students. I was so spoiled in graduate school. In graduate school, although it can still be quite competitive, the nature of the unsolved puzzle tends to bring people together to discuss and move toward a common goal. People might have different views on what the answer might be, but even in the face of the differences, there is a common goal. I don't even think the common goal exists in medical school. The commonality here is that each student wants what's best for themselves.

This is probably an over-generalization. I've met a lot of great people in my class. But I just can't get over how horribly some of our groups go. It's the most ego-smashing experience. So many people want to be right so badly that they can't let anyone else have an idea. We spent a good 10 minutes arguing over a definition that was completely irrelevant to the task at hand. I particularly get annoyed when the students start correcting our facilitators, or even outright arguing. It's a small wonder that people tend to not like doctors in general. Doctors come from med great could they be!?

I guess it's no different from any other profession really. I think I'm just getting jaded. I used to be a much more competitive person when it comes to these things. There's just something about looking at other people running around like chickens with their heads cut off that makes me want to relax and enjoy myself more often. And I highly doubt that spending time with people like this is helping me relax in any way. Makes me feel lucky to have J and R at home to keep me focused, but sane at the same time. Really lucky.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Happy Monday G-men!

I have to say, I am thrilled with the superbowl results! I have been hoping all season that the Patriots would lose (not a Bill Belichik fan), and I couldn't be happier that he fell to yet another Manning! Go Giants! Talk about a great way to start the week. And a good thing too. I haven't taken it this easy since school started in August. I have my work cut out for me this week, but it feels good to have a freshly charged battery going into it.

This week we're having a med school interviewee stay with us, and I always look forward to that. I really appreciated the students who put a roof over my head for free when I was interviewing, and I am glad I can return the favor. The only downside is having to have the house ready for someone to stay in it. We took a good dent out of it this weekend, but there's always the last minute stuff.

I'm looking forward to moving into the second half of this block. Every day gets me closer to the end goal, and when I really remember that, it's all exciting. Even the boring parts.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

A Soapbox

I need to preface by saying that truly, I'm not an overtly political person. But, in learning all that we are about vaccination, I just wanted to use this time to say: please vaccinate your children! Smallpox wasn't eradicated because everyone let "everyone else" get vaccinated. All it takes is one five year old who was never vaccinated against pertussis (whooping cough) to go to school with other kids who are late for their booster, and we have an outbreak. No biggie for older kids and adults, but what about their baby siblings, who could indeed die from pertussis. And compared to German measles, whooping cough is a day at the beach. I don't like to preach, but in the words of the immortal Dr. Cohen: "how do we get otherwise educated and intelligent people to believe that they need to vaccinate their children?" I don't know. But if I can change anyone's mind, it's one for the good guys.

Look at me go, I'm studying and blogging at the same time!

Saturday mornings

I'm pretty sure my couch has some sort of enchantment on it. I sink in and time melts into nothing. I had big plans for getting up early and getting to the gym before the hoards of families with kids in swim gear showed up. Didn't happen. I also had planned on showering at the gym and getting straight to the library so I could get away from my, distractions, and get some work done. So far, still on the couch. Don't get me wrong, it's been really pleasant. Catching up on some blog reading, reading the Dresden Files, visiting with J and otherwise relaxing. But these things will not help me learn about viral life cycles and vaccines.

Weeks after an exam I have the worst time motivating myself. It feels like after the craziness of preparing you should get a reprieve, but it really doesn't work that way, and I forget that a lot. Worst of all, I don't really find this stuff that interesting, and it makes it that much less appealing to throw my Saturday away forever. Normally I'd just put it off to Sunday, but tomorrow is Superbowl Sunday and we're heading over to see the fam for some birthday parties. I guess I better get it together. I guess if I want the best of both worlds I could just study on the couch. But productivity is not guaranteed...

Friday, February 1, 2008

Procrastination is my hobby

I'm always saying I need to find a hobby. But when I think about it, I feel like I have no free time whatsoever. That's because I fill it up with mind-numbing television and trashy sci-fi novels that keep me really, really "busy." I don't need a hobby, I need willpower.

Even now, I'm sitting here in my lecture hall, presumably getting here early to work on learning objectives for class so I can take it easy tonight and not just read but watch my trashy sci-fi, but instead I've checked my email at least three times, read up on every blog I follow, and chatted with my classmates on whether or not we trust chiropractors. If everyone else is trying to get here early to study, we are all failing miserably. I'm convinced that we all feel overworked and underslept not because we actually are overworked, but because we are easily amused and distracted, which means we can only catch up after everyone else is asleep.