Archive for September 2008


September 30, 2008

While I’m here worrying about Mini I (on Monday – wish me luck!), everyone at home is anxious about the huge financial crisis spilling out of Wall Street and onto Dunkirk Street, Guy R. Brewer and every other lane in the country. [interjection – I can’t stand the ridiculous dichotomy the politicos (I’m pointing at you, Republicans) have created using Main Street and Wall Street. Some of us live on 161st Street or Jamaica Avenue or Cypress Court – not everyone is either a stockbroker or a small-town American. Don’t even get me started on the use of ‘urban’.). Since this morning’s biochem lecture was soporifically boring, I decided to try and find some information on what exactly is going on with our economy, why we’re in financial crisis and what it means for regular med students (who rely on student loans) like me. Here are some links:

Why did the bailout fail?

Could the mortgage crisis and bailout have been prevented?

Heading for deeper economic slump, with or without bailout.

Stash Your Cash

Meanwhile, they have reorganized the neuroscience curriculum so that 80% of the important stuff is covered on the first big exam and after we get all of the big things like tracts, modalities and cranial nerve fibers out of the way, we can have lectures on things like pain and fear. It’s a good thing we’ve got so many kooky mnemonics or else I wouldn’t be able to keep half of these things straight.

Some of my favorites:

For cranial nerve information:

Some say marry money but my brother says big boobs matter more.

For branches of the facial nerve (CN VII) in parotid gland:

That zebra bit my cookie or Tell Ziggy Bob Marley called

For motor nerve roots and actions:

C3,4,5 keeps the diaphragm alive; S2,3,4 keeps your penis off the floor

For more, check out these sites:

Medical Mnemonics

ValueMD Mnemonics

Wikipedia Cranial Nerve Mnemonics

What are your favorite med school mnemonics? Share them in the comments section.

Fall Is Not The Season For Romance

September 23, 2008

Med students are kind of crazy.

Yesterday, after a long morning of lectures and an even longer afternoon in the anatomy lab, one of my lab partners finally managed to find the sympathetic trunk and ganglion during our tricky triangles of the neck dissection. “Come look at this,” she called and I abandoned my fruitless search for the rest of the nerves forming Erb’s Point (we’d found what was either the greater auricular or the lesser occipital) on the other side of the cadaver. Delicately clutched between the points of her forceps was a milky white strand of fibers, not unlike a regular nerve, with a bump of cell bodies a few centimeters above the bifurcation of the common carotid artery. “Oh!” My other lab partner and I were ecstatic. “Beautiful,” I breathed, almost giddy, and neither of them looked at me like I’d just lost my mind.


Why Ross? 2 – Fear of Failure

September 13, 2008

It is always awesome to receive comments from readers (especially encouragement from pals back home [thanks, JJ!]) but by far, my favorites are the ones from people who stumbled across this blog who also want to become doctors. I think we share a special sort of kinship because just last year, I was exactly that person – anxiously waiting for interviews, filling out applications, lamenting my sub-par MCAT score and trying to figure out what I’d do with my life if I couldn’t be a doctor. And now here I am, a little bit closer to one of my most cherished dreams, scuffed and battle-worn from the first set of challenges but still on the road, still training, preparing for the next phase of the war. I guess it’s more like a conquest, kind of like my favorite sort of video game. At each stage, there are obstacles (some minor, some major) as well as rings or treasures that you need to collect. You pick up skills along the way and these prepare you to fight the boss at the end of the stage. I guess I’ve just cleared stage one and fortunately, I didn’t have to repeat it (so…I guess I get a time bonus?). Still several levels to go, but I’m going to beat this game.

I received a comment yesterday that I just had to respond to, especially this bit:

There are a lot of people that want to become doctors but are too scared to fail…like me.”


Second Begins

September 10, 2008

After the ordeal I went through to get back to Dominica, one would think I would have kissed the ground once we landed. I didn’t – instead, I collected my luggage, hopped aboard a transport and spent the winding ride from the airport to campus soaking up knowledge from the 3rd and 4th semesters also aboard the van.

After a morning of classes that scared me a bit (because things are already in full swing and I need to catch up!), I went to the registrar to check in and by some lucky bit of mercy, I was able to get a fee waiver and only had to pay $100. After that, check-in was pretty painless. I got a spiffy new sticker for my student ID and a nice refund check for the balance of my student loan. The line at the bank wasn’t even that long – I was done with all my errands in a mere 45 minutes.

It’s a bit weird being a second semester – our “homeroom” is now Classrooom 5, located on the campus proper close to most of the department offices and the shacks. Labs are scheduled in the morning (although some are still in the afternoon). There are still miles to cover in anatomy, biochem, physio, histo and neuro but at the same time, seeing the crop of newbies studying their first semester lectures reminds me that I’ve already learned a lot. We’ve got the shelf exams at the end of the semester and already, we’ve been receiving data on what our GPAs and exam scores should look like in order to get the residencies we desire. My GPA wasn’t even good enough for me to keep my SGA position (I had to resign 😦 ) but I only missed it by 1 point {!!!!} so maybe next semester I’ll be able to do it…

It’s going to be a tough semester but I guess I’m a little more knowledgeable about what works and what doesn’t when it comes to success. Some of the upperclassmen I met during my travel ordeal shared pearls of wisdom, nifty links, study aid recommendations and all sorts of general advice. They must know what they’re talking about since they’re still here so I guess I’ll see if what they’ve done works for me.

I’ve got 2 days’ worth of lectures to review – better get back to work.

頭にくる 4 – Traveling

September 8, 2008

It is the first day of classes and I am in San Juan, stuck until tomorrow because my flight from JFK to SJU was delayed for a very stupid reason and American Airlines only has one flight a day to St. Maarten (where my connection was). American Airlines also only offers one flight to Dominica (it was full) and all the flights to Antigua (where I was to make my second connection) were sold out, not only on American, but on every carrier flying out of Puerto Rico.

Oh, how I hate traveling to and from Dominica!

Melville Hall, the airport closest to Portsmouth, is only open from sunup to sundown. It is only serviced by two carriers, American Airlines and Liat. There are only a certain number of arrivals and departures per day and the planes they use are the little propeller-driven prop planes that fit maybe 30 or so people. Is it any wonder that flights are sold out during the beginning and end of terms weeks, sometimes even months, in advance? You’d think the school, knowing the situation, might be a bit sympathetic.

But noooooooooooooo.

Ross charges a $100 US/day late registration fee if you do not arrive by the first day of classes. But what if you’ve already registered online? They charge a $100 US/day fee for late check-in if you do not check in by the first day of classes.

There is only one day of check-in. It is the day before the first day of classes.

So, even though American Airlines has put me up in a lovely hotel, given me meal vouchers and booked me on tomorrow’s (one and only) flight to St. Maarten, I had to book another flight on Liat in order to get to Dominica. And I will have to pay $300 US for late check-in when I get to Ross.

I’m so angry, I can’t even enjoy my view of the beach. 😦

It’s A Queens Thing

September 5, 2008

It’s a peculiar thing. For some reason, it seems that the place where I am most attractive is in Queens – to men, apparently, and to mosquitoes. I’m covered in bites (from mosquitoes, not men) and when I walk down the street, eyes follow me. It’s a change from Dominica, where mosquitoes left me unmolested and guys’ eyes never turned my way while I was watching. I guess when I come home, my natural charm kicks in? Or maybe guys and mosquitoes in NY suck more than in other places? Maybe they’re more bold? Even though I really don’t appreciate it when it occurs, it is simultaneously unnerving and fascinating that while I don’t get checked out on the island (or in Boston, for that matter), I always am when I’m in my hometown.

Queens is just as lovely as I left it and I’ve been spending my days trouncing relatives in boardgames, watching bad movies with pals, following the US Open (Flushing Meadows, baby!) and catching up on politics. In my house, the DNC and RNC were theater and they were compelling. Don’t get me started on what I didn’t like – there was plenty of it – but I was rather touched by the presidential nominee speeches. Obama’s was absolutely awesome and McCain’s was surprisingly humble and genteel.

Ah, vacation was such fun! Learning to become a doctor is cool and all but it was nice to be able to watch tv, sleep late, hang with pals and do stuff I actually like to do for a change. I got to catch up on reading and writing for pleasure – four novels and two poems in two weeks is kinda slow but boy, is it satisfying, moreso than the hour-long professional massage my parents treated me to. I baked a delicious peach pie. I babysat my youngest two cousins, two ridiculously imaginative little girls who had a pretend pagent and improvised fake commercials. It was the most adorable thing.

Being home has been so good that I’m almost reluctant to return to school but in a few days, I’ll be flying back to the rock for another semester of fun. Maybe I’ll go to Art After Dark at the Guggenheim with my cousin or to Sushi Samba 7 with the padres and my little bro. Maybe I’ll have one of those new volcano tacos. So much to do, so little time…

How to Survive Semester 1 – Part 2

September 2, 2008

Back again with more advice and tips for making your first semester at Ross a comfortable successful one. Quite a bit of this information is kinda random but it’s stuff I wish I’d known before coming to the island so I hope sharing it will help some of you first semesters who are reading to be better prepared. The ValueMD Ross forum is also a great resource so be sure to check the message boards. Just ignore the threads from disgruntled upperclassmen. They’re just venting. 🙂

  • The Campus Bookstore

If you could see me right now, I’d be shaking my head. While it is definitely convenient to have a store right on campus with textbooks, school supplies and snacks, you will generally pay two to three times the amount you’d pay back home for any given item. If to you, convenience is paramount and you don’t want to have to worry about shipping all your supplies (or if it’s too late for you to send them in time for them to arrive by the end of the first week of classes), they do offer quite a nice selection of new and used textbooks and study guides as well as pens, pencils, notebooks and (horribly overpriced) Ross gear. The campus bookstore staff is comprised of students’ spouses and they’re all very sweet but that sweetness doesn’t take away the sting of paying $27 for a pack of loose leaf paper or $50 for a pair of shorts.

So what do you do?