Archive for the ‘5th semester’ category

How to Survive Ross University

June 17, 2012


If there’s one thing to be said about a Ross University education, it’s that it produces a special sort of doctor. People who come to Ross and make it through are not the sort of people who will take the road of least resistance. I once heard it said that people who come through Ross are the ones who will take the stairs rather than waiting for the elevator. We’re go-getters. We’re tenacious. We don’t let obstacles deter us. We scoff at naysayers, wherever they may be. Over 700 people graduated with me and as different as we all are, each of us shared one characteristic: we were all willing to do whatever it took to achieve our goal. If I were fighting an illness, I’d certainly want a doctor like that taking care of me.


Family Medicine – Day 1

October 25, 2010

Finally, after six weeks of idleness, I have returned to action!

Well, the past 6 weeks weren’t exactly idle. Among other things*, I helped display an authentic set of samurai armor with some folks from the Consulate General of Japan at the NY Anime Festival, marched for the end of divisive politics, helped organize a Diamond Jubilee for my grandmother’s 75th birthday and spent a lot of quality time with my cousin’s baby, whose favorite things to do are jumping and gnawing fingers. Not that that stuff wasn’t exciting, but nothing beats the thrill of returning to my training.

Although my family medicine rotation is through St. John’s Episcopal Hospital, I will be spending most of my time at the office of Dr. Y in Rockaway Beach. When I stopped by the education office at the hospital on Thursday, another student told me about how awesome Dr. Y’s rotation is, so when I found out that I was assigned to him, I was delighted. The hours are 7:45 – noon (sweet!) and right from the beginning, Dr. Y put us straight to work. Having been out of practice for so long, I was a little flustered when Dr. Y directed me to call a patient in and begin the evaluation myself but by the end of the morning, I had gotten a little bit of my groove back. I even got to write someone a sick note! They also expect us to draw blood (which I’ve never done), so I can’t wait for tomorrow to see what we’ll be doing next. My rotation partner got to give a flu shot! We did get pimped a little and we covered a case of hypercarotenemia (lesson – don’t feed your baby strained carrots exclusively!) so it seems like we’ll be getting a lot out of the time we’re there. I even learned a little Yiddish (vainesh? = don’t cry). To top it off, some pharmaceutical reps came in a brought me a free grande hot chocolate! I’m really thankful for such a gentle reintroduction to my studies! Let’s hope that this rotation gets better and that I learn more by the day.

*One unfortunate event that occurred was the funeral of my 26 year old cousin, who was murdered in his home on October 11th, 2010. If you would like to take a stand against gun violence, please visit these websites or write to your elected officials.

♬Wasting my time/in the waiting line♬

September 21, 2010

♬Everyone’s saying different things to me, different things to me♬

At long last, I have a clinical schedule, and in keeping with the theme of things, I got it in the most frustrating and stressful way possible. On Friday the 10th, I (やっと) received that long-awaited call from the clinical department, beside myself with relief that I’d finally be hearing from someone, only to have my bubble of hope brutally burst by Ms. F, one of the two advisors for students with last names A-L. She, rather callously, informed me that Mr. P, the head clinical advisor was out of the office and would not be able to discuss my schedule with me, but that they knew I’d been waiting to hear from them for over 10 days, so if Mr. P didn’t get in touch with me by the following Thursday, I should check back in with the office.

I’m surprised that my head didn’t explode. (more…)

Don’t Put All Your 卵 in One Basket

September 7, 2010

Since passing the Step, I’ve been telling pretty much everyone I encounter (family, friends, classmates at my high school reunion, random people in stores…) about how much I was looking forward to beginning my core rotations in September. I ordered three new consultation-length white coats. I read the Saint-Frances Guide to Clinical Clerkships. I finally got my drivers license, in case I’d have a long commute to the hospital. I submitted my location preferences to AskRoss(tm) and eagerly awaited that call from the Clinical Department. When it didn’t come, I decided to call them. Here’s how it went:

Me: I’m calling because I have not yet received any information about my initial clinical schedule. I just wanted to make sure that I’m cleared  and since I haven’t heard anything since the 27th, I wanted to see where I am in the process.

Clinical Dept. Person: What’s your name? Student ID number?

Me: Crys[…]

Clinical Dept. Person: Oh yes, you’ve been approved. You should be getting a call by the end of the week.

Me: Well, I know that the next round of rotations begins on the 13th, so, will I be able to start then?

Clinical Dept. Person: No, all rotations beginning on the 13th are full.

Me: [?!?!?!!!!] Well…when will the next spots be available?

Clinical Dept. Person: The next available spots will be on October 25th.

[Cue Music of Doom. Blackout]


How to Survive Semester 5

January 25, 2010

I know I said I’d post this ages ago. Here (at long last) is my advice for the current Fifth Semesters (especially those completing AICM in Miami).

1. Save Your Pennies

One thing you don’t learn about fifth semester until nearly the end of it is that it is actually comprised of the 3 months of AICM and the first 3 weeks of your first core (or special) rotation. If you receive any form of student aid, you will not be eligible to receive financial aid for sixth semester until you have completed those first three weeks of rotation, which may be months after you begin AICM. Please keep this in mind and try to budget yourself accordingly, as expenses in Miami can be steep, the fees for the Step (and for Step prep courses) are monstrous and there are other incidentals (travel, shipping, health insurance deductibles, etc.) to consider. You may end up having to secure an additional loan (or, find yourself dependent upon the kindness of your parents, if you are fortunate enough to have generous ones) if you don’t keep an eye on your finances. Most personal finance guides recommend having enough emergency money set aside to last you for six months of rent, bills and expenses. If you don’t have that much money just lying around, at least try to live frugally.

2. Practice Early (and Often!) for the Practical

You may have already heard about the 200-point 45 minute physical exam you will have to perform during fifth semester for 20% of your grade. This exam is tough, but certainly not impossible, especially if you practice often with your partner and take advantage of the practice sessions offered by the junior faculty. Even though the grading rubric is made available and an exam demo will be posted on mediasite, it would seem that there is some subjectivity in the grading and how well you perform is not only a function of how much (and how well) you practice but also, who is grading. Since you won’t know who’ll be evaluating you until right before your exam, it’s best to make sure that for your part, you’re as close to flawless as you can be. The standard is quite high – scoring below 90% is usually a failure and if you do fail, you will have to stay a week after the final and retake the practical before you can pass 5th semester (even if you have As in everything else). Also, for the ladies – you must have a bikini top to wear during the practical (as you will serve as the patient for your partner). If you’re shy about that sort of thing (as I was), you’ll have to get over it…

3. Take Medical Spanish

In Miami, there are 2 ways one can earn 5% extra credit in AICM: one can complete an extra DXR case (they’ll tell you more about that) or, one can participate in a weekly hour-and-a-half-long medical Spanish class. I strongly recommend taking the class, even if you are already conversant (or fluent!) in Spanish. If you are a native (or fluent) Spanish speaker, you can get credit as a TA. If you are proficient or conversant, it’s an excellent chance for you to broaden your knowledge, as you will be provided with a medical Spanish “bible” with a full H&P glossary. If you have never studied Spanish before, I implore you to take the class because it is nearly impossible to avoid having to communicate in Spanish in Miami. Everywhere you are sent to rotate, people (patients, nurses, even surgeons in the OR!) will be speaking in Spanish around you. You’ll get so much more out of your experience if you can understand and communicate with even the simplest phrases. You can still do the extra DXR case if you want, you just won’t get credit for it. It’s easier to get credit for the Spanish class than for the case (which is graded) anyway. Plus, the instructor is delightful and for the final class, she makes tres leches, which is delicious.

I hope this advice is helpful. If you have any questions, please feel free to leave them in the comments section.

Half Crazy

October 27, 2009

A note to my Ross 後輩*: Miami might occasionally be breezy but don’t let anyone tell you that 5th Semester is a breeze. It’s week 7; we are officially in the latter half of the semester, and things have started to get crazy. After being brutalized by the midterm yesterday, I’ve been at my wit’s end trying to prepare for the slew of assignments due in the next week: a SOAP note (with a to-be-determined presentation date), a literature review (for which I am still scouring JAMA and NEJM to find research articles) and a 15-20 minute presentation on preeclampsia and eclampsia. Ahead lies the 45 minute full physical exam, the final and the Step. It’s enough to drive a person insane, or drive a person to doubt. Can I handle this? Am I smart enough for this? Can I make it through this? (more…)

All Night Long – ER、その2

October 4, 2009

Last night’s ER shift was about a thousand times more awesome than my first. Over the course of the 9 hours we spent there (we were set free at 6 AM), we dealt with 2 car accidents, 4 sick infants, a volcanic abscess, a hernia, saw three pelvic exams, two ultrasounds and my rotation partner got to remove a catheter! The doctor in charge (Dr. F) was ridiculously cool and he showed us so many awesome things. He allowed us to watch him perform a lumbar puncture on a tiny, mysteriously febrile 3 month old (the poor thing!). I even got the chance to brush up on my fundoscopy (I finally saw a vessel! Hallelujah!). Our next shift is on Thursday and I think the same doctor will also be in charge, so I’m really looking forward to an excellent learning experience.

Even though I was exhausted, that wonderful, giddy ‘I’m going to be a doctor!’ feeling was with me all night. Dr. F would instruct us to go see a patient and I’d practically skip to their bed, grinning with excitement. I know the grins would start to fade if I were working every night, having to stick babies with sharp needles and push herniated bowels back through fascia and all of the other things that come with helping the ill and injured but at least for now, that wonderful glow of certainty that this is exactly what I’m supposed to be doing with my life is there and it makes me so happy. I can’t wait for Thursday.

Just for fun, here are some lumbar puncture videos. Our poor little baby didn’t even get lidocaine.

The volcanic abscess patient actually asked us to tape the lancing on his Blackberry. I wish I had that video to post too…

The Real World – ER、その1

October 1, 2009

On Tuesday, I began my ER rotation at North Shore Medical Center (not to be confused with North Shore LIJ). Although my rotation partner and I are assigned to this rotation for 2 weeks, we’ll really only be spending about 36 hours in the ER. We started with a 7 to 7 twelve hour shift which we spent taking patient histories, performing basic physical exams and trying to get our assigned doctor’s attention. Only a few doctors and a handful of nurses and techs run the ER; patients are triaged according to how life-threatening their injuries/complaints are and tended to accordingly. Mostly, we were left to our own devices so we periodically visited the patients, listening to their stories, assuring them that the doctor would be coming around soon and trying to make them feel less neglected.

Although it was a daytime shift early in the week, we did see some interesting cases: a mangled finger, a pelvic exam, a case of lupus, and a code blue, as well as a thrillingly belligerent patient brought in by police handcuffed hand and foot and yelling curses non-stop! (They didn’t let us get near that one). Quite a few patients were in the ER due to cardiovascular complaints, which shouldn’t have been surprising, since heart disease is actually the leading cause of death in the US. We also saw a few with respiratory complaints and got to hear some crackles and a real live murmur.

Even though I hear my classmates in Michigan are going to be giving out flu shots (so! jealous!), being in the ER was still pretty cool. Every now and then, I have these random, giddy ‘I’m going to be a doctor!’ moments and I can’t help but grin. Even though I was exhausted after my shift (which I better get used to, stat, ’cause twelve hours is nothing!), I felt that way the whole ride home, and fell asleep reflecting on my awesome experience. I’m really looking forward to our next shift, a Saturday overnight. I suppose it’s kinda wrong to hope for excitement in the emergency room but if we’re going to be there all night, I hope we at least get to see something educational. People get up to some crazy stuff on Saturday nights. But who knows, maybe my excited smile might help a patient feel a little less miserable to be there.

ALF and PE guinea pigs

September 22, 2009

Yesterday, on my first visit to the assisted living facility (ALF), I managed to incur the wrath of the doctor in charge before we were even assigned patients! After we met Dr. L, one of the on-site physicians, he led us down the halls of the facility, peeking in to patients’ rooms and asking if they’d mind having a bunch of medical students mess with them. When he emerged from one, he shouted, “Anyone speak Spanish?” Even though I was, at one point, quite good at Spanish and had visualized myself conducting an interview so fluid and fluent Telemundo could’ve televised it as I lay in bed the night before, my anxiety got the better of me and I blurted, “…not well enough.”

“Don’t be a smart@ss!” Dr. L yelled, and tears sprang to my eyes. He came out of the room and fixed me with a frightening glare, his voice dripping with disdain as he told our faculty doctor, “I asked if they could speak Spanish and this one,” he pointed, “says, ‘Oh, not well enough!'” He inflected it with a girly additudinal lilt*, shaking his head. “Sounds like she should be a lawyer.”

I was mortified! “No, I didn’t mean…I’m sorry, I wasn’t talking about everyone, I didn’t mean them, I meant me, I don’t speak Spanish well enough to feel comfortable and do a good job, and I…” As I stammered out apologies, he chuckled.

“Well, here’s a patient for you.” Dr. L directed me and my partner to another bed in the room. “These two young ladies are medical students and they’d like to talk to you. Is that all right?” The patient agreed and Dr. L left us to introduce ourselves. When I made my introduction, the patient gave me a knowing smirk and said, “Oh, so you’re the lawyer.”

Blushing**, I shook my head. “Not really.” (more…)

Whale $#%! – AICM in Miami

September 15, 2009

Welcome to a new chapter of the chronicle! When I began 医者の卵, I was getting ready not only to embark on a career in medicine, but also on an adventure in another country. For 16 months, I studied the basic medical sciences at the Ross University campus in the Commonwealth of Dominica (again, not to be confused with the Dominican Republic). It was certainly an experience – at times, exciting, at times, frustrating, at times, lonely, and yet, at other times, wonderful. I learned a lot during my time on Dominica and made a lot of friends. Luckily, most of us survived the basic sciences (even if it was by the skin of our teeth!) and, despite enduring some crazy trials and tribulations, we managed to get to 5th semester. The most satisfying part of making it through was knowing that we’d accomplished something. Even though we were technically only halfway through our medical education, we’d survived the worst Dominica had to throw at us and emerged stronger, wiser and better than we were when we arrived. However, at the end of the basic sciences, we knew we were destined to part ways. There are three sites at which Advanced Introduction to Clinical Medicine (AICM)–the transition module designed to bridge the basic and clinical medical sciences–is offered: one site is the Princess Margaret Hospital, the Ross teaching hospital in the capital city of Dominica. One is Synergy Health in Sagniaw, Michigan. The other is where I am now, sunny Miami, in the sizzling south of the sunshine state. (more…)