Archive for September 2011

The No-Meat Fast

September 29, 2011

I am pleased to report to all the cherished readers of this blog that I have passed Step 2 CK! Unfortunately, I didn’t achieve the 95 or above goal I’d been reaching for but I was able to improve upon my Step 1 score and for that, I’m pretty happy. Once again, the USMLE World Self-Assessment Exam was an excellent predictor of my actual score (I scored 2 points higher on the sim exam than I did on the real thing). I could’ve been a bit more diligent and honestly, I wish I’d had more time to dedicate to study isolation but still, I’m not unhappy with how it turned out. Had I managed a 95, I’d say I was proud of myself but with my 89, I’m content.

My cousin (who is one of my best friends and my faith role model) happens to be a very talented preacher and one of the things he often mentions in his teachings is fasting. Usually, I kinda zone out when talk of turning down one’s plate comes up. I guess I’m greedy and I sort of wondered why prayer wouldn’t be enough. When my more religious pals would talk about fasting for their high holy days, I’d admire their fortitude and self-control but think that I could never be devoted enough to do it.

After CK, I was pretty anxious about my performance. I hadn’t gone through UWorld at least 2 times, I hadn’t watched any bootleg test prep videos and the week before the exam, I succumbed to study fatigue and randomly slacked on question blocks to watch old episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and The Powerpuff Girls. I was really at a loss on how not to fall into depression or go insane worrying that I’d failed when the idea of fasting came up again.

I began to consider the rationale behind fasting and something occurred to me that I hadn’t thought of before: the idea of sacrifice. It seemed like one of the main points of fasting was to make a sacrifice of something as an offering to God, a practice practically all the religions I’ve studied have in common. The end goal could be something as profound as strengthening one’s spiritual relationship but it could be something as simple and secular as a request. Instead of just wishing or hoping for something, one could make a pact – ‘I’m willing to sacrifice x for Your help with this one, God. I’ll make an offering of trust to back it up’. With this in mind, I decided to try this undertaking. For a little over a month, I became, essentially, an ovo-lacto-vegetarian. I vowed to give up meat until I received my step score.

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Operative Management – Surgery Core

September 26, 2011

Today is the beginning of my penultimate semester of medical school. It also happens to be the beginning of the second half of my surgery core. Up until this point, I’ve generally found something to enjoy about every rotation in which I’ve had the opportunity to participate. This time, it hasn’t been easy.

Surgery core at Wyckoff is divided into 6 two-week modules: Surgery Clinics, Day Call, Wound Care, OR, Ambulatory Surgery and Night Call. Clinic and Wound Care have been the least intense modules, generally allowing one plenty of time to study/de-stress in the evenings. As I mentioned before, day call is comprised of 14 days straight of twelve hour shifts (usually preceded by a week of clinic with no break in between). Night call is reportedly similar to day call but students are allowed to take one day off per week and are only required to attend morning lecture and grand rounds, not afternoon lectures, so as to rest up for the night shift and not go insane. One may have the opportunity to scrub in on an emergency operation during day call and/or night call but for the most part, the OR action primarily occurs during the OR and Am Surg weeks. Over the course of those four weeks, students are required to scrub in on at least 10 and observe at least 20 surgeries.

Part of the reason it’s been difficult to find things to enjoy over the past 6 weeks probably has to do with the general atmosphere of surgery, which while occasionally congenial (especially among the residents/interns), can be downright hostile. Things tend to be tense when you’re constantly in fear that you’ll be pimped to death or screamed at by an attending.* The expectation seems to be that we must know everything except how to actually perform surgeries. Everything else pertaining to bodies and/or diseases is fair game. Case in point: yesterday, two students in my group were drilled on Fournier gangrene while scrubbed in on a totally unrelated procedure. None of us had ever heard of Fournier gangrene until yesterday. In addition, there doesn’t seem to be a way to gauge one’s performance. We haven’t received feedback or grades on any of the assignments or quizzes we’ve had thus far and I’ve heard that hardly anyone makes it out with an A, which is pretty disheartening.

Nonetheless, there are a few cool things about surgery – I got to assist on a few chest tube insertions and staple the incision from an open appendectomy. Today, I’m going to observe a brain biopsy and scrub in on a BKA. I hope these little things will be able to sustain me for the next 5.5 weeks…

*Witnessing these incidents is also quite traumatic

Cold Feet

September 20, 2011

A peculiar thing happened after I received my first invitation to interview for residency. Watching the sun set over Brooklyn on a J train headed into Jamaica Center, I decided to check my email and there it was, waiting in my professional inbox – the possibility of a PL-1 position in the University at Buffalo’s pediatric residency program. Initially, I was dumbfounded and then, elated (I printed out the email and stuck it on the refrigerator) but then, doubts began to set in (it’s just an interview; scores of other applicants were invited for only 17 spots, what if I fail CK and they rescind the invitation? Why on Earth would they want me???) and then, I had a massive attack of indecision. Did I really want to commit my life to peds? Did I really want to deal with sick babies and zany parents every day? What about family medicine, where I could still do well-child checks, adolescent medicine and possibly dermatology? It suddenly seemed like every other field of medicine had endless possibilities but peds was a path from which, once set upon, one would never be able to veer. As soon as I accepted that invitation, I could practically hear the echo of a dozen doors slamming shut. (more…)

Matchmaking

September 1, 2011

So much for keeping promises. Just dropping in with a very exciting announcement – today at 8:00 am Eastern, ERAS goes live! Good luck to all the 医師の卵 participating in the 2012 match season. I’m sure everyone taking part probably already has their credit card at the ready but don’t forget to register at NRMP as well.

While I have had tons of stuff going on recently, I’ve had very little time and now that I’m in the midst of 14 days straight of 12 hour shifts (Surgery day call), free time will continue to be in short supply. In addition to a proper update on how surgery core has been going, stay tuned for tips on how to rock Step 2 CS (I passed!), what to do & what not to do for Step 2 CK (waiting on that score…), an account of how peds core went and more!