T-Minus 2 Weeks and Counting

Alright, well it has been over a month since I last wrote in. It was really good to have the 3 days off for Thanksgiving break. Although after the break, I was not ready to go back to school. Now I’m just looking forward to Christmas break.

But to get to Christmas Break, I have to get through another test week. Stress levels are up now. During our last set of exams, the class didn’t do so well on the Physical Diagnosis (Cardiac) exam. We need a 68% to pass the class. Class average for the exam was 66%. Yeah, there weren’t very many happy people after that week.

Fortunately, the professors decided that its more important for us the learn the material. They said that they will take all the questions from the first test and put about 5 in each of our tests from now until the end of the year. At years’ end, we will be able to replace the score from our first test by adding up the points from the cardiac questions that were scattered throughout the year.

Since the last set of exams we have also started Auscultation Lab. Its pretty cool. We sit in this amphitheater and each student is given a pair of “stethophones.” The top part is just like a stethoscope but there is not diaphram attached to it. Instead, there is a box that holds the battery, volume control, and IR receiver. The instructor then can play any heart sounds they want and we all hear the same thing. Next quarter we get to use the simulation lab with the dummy where we can listen to all the heart sounds, measure JVP, BP, and other vitals. Oh what fun $250,000 can buy you these days.


Pine Springs Ranch Retreat

This past weekend we just had our Pine Springs Ranch Retreat. Every year, Loma Linda University School of Medicine invites all their students on a weekend retreat to Pine Springs Ranch. The Pine Springs Ranch tradition began in the 1970s and in the 1990s an endowment fund was created with the hopes of ensuring that future retreats would have the necessary funds. The event is free of charge to the students and a guest if they decide to bring one.

All of the first year guys were assigned to cabins. All married couples as well as the rest of the students got to stay in the lodge.

The retreat began on Friday and concluded on Sunday. However, most students left Saturday night after the ever-popular talent show featuring the medical students.

I think the weekend was a great experience. It was nice to get to know more of our classmates in a setting other than the classroom or anatomy lab. It was also a chance to meet the other classes and talk to them as well.


Test Week

Last week was test week for the Freshman class here at Loma Linda University. On Monday we had Gross Anatomy; Tuesday we had Cell Structure & Function; Wednesday was Medical Biochemistry and Medical Physiology; Thursday was Neuroscience and Evidence Based Medicine. And Thursday afternoon we had our Anatomy Lab Practicum as well as our Histology Lab practicum.

All of the exams, except for the two lab practicums were scantron exams. It was nice because we got most of the results emailed to us within two days.

So how’d I do? Well let’s just say that I learned a great deal about what not to do when preparing for exams. From the time we got to campus, people were congratulating us for making into medical school and then telling us not to stress out too much. The problem with me was tha I was not stressing out enough! They also told us that we could not study like we did in undergrad. I should’ve listened.

At this point, all I can do is learn from my mistakes and make sure to avoid them for the next round of exams that are coming up in about 4 weeks. I’ve re-organized my day so that it will hopefully aid in more efficient study. Hopefully that will be enough.


Cosmic Log : Are men smarter?

Cosmic Log : Are men smarter?

Here’s some commentary on the recently released study about male and female IQs. The study compared thousands of SAT scores and to come up with their conclusion. I’m not taking a position on this — not because I don’t want to offend anyone, but because I don’t have the time right now to write up my position right now. Well and I haven’t had a chance to read the published results.

In our Evidence-Based Medicine (EBM) class our instructor was telling us how important it is to read and understand the methods section. And that I don’t think I will do…

Anyways, it’s an interesting read. Have fun.


Fuzzy Lines

The school year “began” on August 7. The first two weeks, however, were not spent in the lecture hall. Instead, we had two weeks of wards experience. Most people were assigned to a third or fourth year student and we followed them on their two-week rotation.

I was assigned to a fourth year student who happened to be doing a rotation through MICU/CCU. During the first week, our attending was a cardiologist and so the majority of our patients were on the CCU service; although there were times when we did venture out of the CCU.

On one of the mornings I came in and sat as the fourth year student I was assigned to wrote his notes. We were sitting at the nurses’ station in the CCU. A nurse came and stood beside me. She looked like she was getting something at the printer. But then, another nurse called her for help and off she ran to a patient’s room. Then the blue light above the doorway of that room began flashing and an alarm went off.

Chaos ensued. Nurses, medical students, and residents ran to do the room. I wasn’t sure what to do. Should I follow? Should I stand at the nurses’ station? Could I go watch? I ended standing near the doorway so as to peer in at what was unfolding.

The team grabbed the crash cart. Someone got the defibrilator ready. A loud voice yelled, “Clear!”

Nothing happened. They tried again. Still, nothing happened. They yelled for another machine. Someone rushed one over from down the hallway…

A couple other first-year students gathered with me outside the room. Someone yelled to page surgery because the patient was a surgery patient. Soon a surgical resident arrived and asked us (the first year students) who the resident was inside. He just looked inside and started working on his pager…

As we stood outside watching we saw a medical student (3rd or 4th year) get on the bed and begin chest compressions. He would trade off with another person every few minutes. I am not too sure what happened about using the defibrilator….

A nurse walks into the room and tells the team that the family has asked that they stop. The patient was coding for over 15 minutes. I heard the resident call the time of death…

I had always thought of the line between life and death as a solid line. One was either dead or alive, right (and please don’t bring up Schrödinger’s cat)? There is no in between. But for over a quarter of an hour, I watched as a patient lay on a bed with no change in condition. There was no breathing throughout that time, nor was there a heartbeat. But only when they declared the time of death was the patient “dead.” If you ask me, that’s a pretty fuzzy line…


White Coat Ceremony

Loma Linda University held a White Coat Ceremony for the incoming class of 2010 on Thursday evening (after our first day of orientation). Prior to this ceremony I had heard many opinions that the White Coat ceremony was just a big waste of time. After all, the faculty members just help the students to put on a short white coat. These same people conceded that the ceremony was more for the families, spouses, and significant others than for the medical student.

Is it worthless? Well the opposing viewpoint is that the White Coat ceremony symbolizes transition from layperson to physician. It marks the beginning of one’s journey into the profession of medicine.

In the morning, during orientation, the Dean of the School of Medicine (Dr. Hadley) spoke to us about the significance of the white coat. He spoke on the responsibilities of a doctor – responsibilities and obligations that continue to exist outside the walls of a hospital and in the absence of any white coats. That evening Dr. _____, famous for the first infant transplant surgery, spoke to us about being a doctor.

So maybe it was useless. Maybe it was worthless. The white coat ceremony was probably of little use to the students, as far as our medical education goes. But we were warmly “welcomed into the profession.” Maybe it was our first baby steps as we received our new white coats and stethoscopes, and recited the Physician’s Oath.


Registration & Orientation

On Thursday and Friday (August 3-4) Loma Linda University had an orientation for the incoming freshman class. By 8:00 AM on Thursday morning, 175 eager, anxious, excited, and nervous students had found their way into the Wong Kerlee International Conference Center located on the basement level of Coleman Pavilion (home to the Loma Linda University School of Medicine).

Over the next two days we sat through hours of presentations which ranged in topics from “How to succeed in medical school” to expected behavior and dress of students. On the first day we were deluged with “welcomes” from deans, administrators, faculty, and other students. We were also captive audiences to the marketing from various on-campus groups that wanted us to sign-up with them.

Afternoons were left for us to do as we pleased. However, those students who had not yet finished all the registration requirements were advised to go and complete them. This involved asking the records office to sign one up for classes, obtaining financial clearance, requesting a parking permit from security, and taking pictures for a school ID as well as a medical center ID.