Posted tagged ‘Ross U’

Practical Magic

August 4, 2009

Today, I will be taking (what I fervently hope is) my last practical exam on the island of Dominica. It’s also the last practical of basic sciences, so you know they’re making it hardcore. Here’s the setup: 4 rooms – two task rooms, one scenario room and one ‘Harvey’ room. In the task rooms, I may be instructed to perform, for example, a pelvic exam (on a model) or test pupillary reflexes (there are about 29 ‘tasks’). In the scenario room, they’ll give me a little vignette (e.g., ‘Patient comes in with a headache. Please show how you would examine the patient.’) and I must choose which tasks to perform (and justify them during the question period). In the Harvey room, I must inspect, palpate and auscultate Harvey (the cardiac simulator), describe the type of heart problem he’s having and diagnose him. No matter what I’m asked to do, I must do it competently and confidently AND leave at least 30 seconds for the followup questions, which could be on practically anything (‘what drug would you use to treat this?’ ‘what syndrome presents with this symptom?’). Even though I’ve been practicing pretty regularly, I’m a bit nervous. Some tasks I feel fairly confident performing, but what if I get something like fundoscopy and can’t see the fundus?!** Or, what if I have to perform the entire respiratory exam* in 5 minutes and 30 seconds?! Eeeeee!

I guess I just need to keep my mnemonics in mind.





For musculoskeletal tasks:





Let’s hope I can competently and confidently IAPP and TPRS my way to an A today.

*If I do get the respiratory exam, they won’t make us do diaphragmatic expansion and they probably won’t make us auscultate the anterior thorax. But still! 5 minutes and 30 seconds is not a lot of time…

**aaaaaand I got fundoscopy as a task. Still couldn’t see the fundus. But I described papilledema well, I think (I hope). I also had thyroid exam as a task, angina for my scenario and ventricular septal defect for the Harvey case. :::sigh::: One down, two exams to go. Wish me luck!

Say Ah…

July 4, 2009
mature cystic teratoma

mature cystic teratoma

Although it’s independence day back home, at Ross, it’s the Saturday before Mini II, so instead of celebrating, I’m trying to be diligent and review all of the pathology we’re covered over the past four weeks. While there’s probably a million things I’d rather do than spend my day looking at hundreds of pictures of diseased genitalia, this one, with its absolutely perfect caption (and three exclamation points), made me laugh out loud (in the middle of a crowded classroom, no less). Apparently, 25% of ovarian tumors are dermoid cysts and 90% of those have random contents like teeth, hair and sebaceous material. But seriously? Come on. Of all the things one would expect to find growing in one’s ovary, teeth is probably the very last on the list.

Back to the grind… Happy 4th of July!

The Home Stretch

April 1, 2009

An update?! Is it some April Fools’ Day miracle or a trick? Well, it’s not a trick. Things have been so busy lately that I’ve scarcely had time to process them, let alone chronicle them. There’s less than a month left of school and everything seems to be moving at the speed of light. Not even mediasite on double-speed is this fast. And yes, I gave up on mediasiting. Call me old-fashioned, but I’d rather go to class.

Today’s April 1st, the beginning of the end, and I need to quit fooling around.

catch-me-if-you-canThe Sunday before last I once again participated in the Salybia 5K run and to my delight, finished 15th out of all the women (32) with a time of 27 minutes and 25 seconds, 3 minutes better than my time last semester! As usual, I tried to glean some sort of greater meaning out of the race because each semester is like a mini-marathon. Will I be able to do better than I’ve done so far when the scores come in at the end of the term? I certainly hope so. This semester has really been kicking my butt.


How to Survive Semester 2

January 14, 2009

When other students tell you that semester 2 is tough, they’re not lying. Even the people I know who passed with flying colors can attest to moments of misery and my Mini III neuro grade was like a chess gambit that could have gone horribly wrong (but didn’t, thank God!). Even though the course work builds on what you learned in semester 1, semester 2 is a whole new ballgame. Here are some tips that might help you play it better than I did.

  • Kill the Practicals!

The practical exams in Anatomy, Histology and Neuroscience may not seem like big deals but doing well on them can save you a lot of stress and grief when it’s time for the shelves. Try to knock them out of the park or at least get a nice healthy B. For anatomy, spend time in the lab, go to TA sessions (and ask your pals about their TAs! Not all TA sessions are created equal; just because you’re assigned to one session doesn’t mean you have to attend it. Shop around!) Also, spend some time with skulls and guts. You can check out a skull from the anatomy secretary (if you sign one out on Friday afternoon, you can have it for the whole weekend!) For guts, you’ll have to wait until that dissection. For neuro, the TA sessions are also very informative (again, shop around – different TAs have sessions each night). The neuroscience society holds a mock practical (mocktical) before the first practical and it is well worth the $5 EC admission fee. For histo, ask around for the labeled or powerpoint slides.


The Orange Sticker and the White Envelope

January 11, 2009


Finally back on the island and officially registered for my third semester of med school! It kind of blows my mind that a bit less than a year ago (last March), I was visiting a 2nd year pharmacology lecture, full of yearning, wondering when it would be me sitting there writing down notes on antibacterials and lo, it turns out that my first real taste of pharm is tomorrow morning (we’ve got two hours of it)! I feel a bit silly for being so excited about beginning my second year of med school; even more so for being proud of myself for having come to this point when there’s still so much further to go. After all, the vast majority of our class passed and it’s not like I did it with straight As or anything, like some were able to do. Despite that, I was grinning when I received my atomic orange ID sticker and can’t wait to select a spot in Classroom 6, our new campus home. I also can’t wait for our first ICM section, if only to see how well the guys in my class clean up. We only have 4 classes this semester (not counting PBL): Pathology I, Pharmacology I, Microbiology and Immunology I and Behavioral Science. There’s also something on our schedule called CPC – I don’t know what that is but our first one isn’t until next Thursday so I guess I’ll find out then.

Even though I already miss home (family! friends! food!), I guess I’m glad to be back on the island. Let’s hope this semester will be my best yet…

Holiday Treats

December 21, 2008

Here’s something for the students coming in January – some pictures from around campus!


Fortnight of Hell – Addendum A – Shelf Exams

December 4, 2008

I keep mentioning shelves and I’m sure you know I don’t mean 棚*…

The NBME Basic Science Subject Tests for Medical Students (commonly referred to as “shelf” exams) are standardized tests, much like the SAT IIs one might have taken in high school. According to their website:

NBME subject tests are achievement tests in a broad sense, requiring medical students to solve scientific and clinical problems. Although students’ performance on the tests will reflect the learning specific to their course and clerkship experiences, their test scores will also reflect educational development resulting from the overall medical school experience. These tests are constructed to be appropriate for a broad range of curricular approaches and have at least four distinct advantages over locally constructed examinations in the assessment of student achievement.

  • The tests provide national norms and relevant descriptive information.
  • Considerable care is taken in preparing these materials, with items selected only after extensive review and pretesting.
  • These tests concentrate heavily on application and integration of knowledge rather than recall of isolated facts.
  • They attain better accuracy of measurement.

NBME subject tests are intended to complement other sources of information about the educational progress of medical students. The test results should be interpreted in light of other available information. Likewise, curriculum evaluation cannot be based on test results alone. The quality of teaching can and should be evaluated by frequent peer observation and student feedback, not inferred solely from the level of test scores. Medical school faculty and administration should not view the results of NBME subject tests as the beginning and end of evaluation.


Inside Out

November 18, 2008
Is everyone's rectum this red?

Is everyone's rectum this red?

Pictured to the left is a particularly vivid visual from a fascinating lecture we had yesterday on the ischio-anal fossa. The puborectalis is a part of the levator ani muscle – innervated by the by the perineal branches of S3 & S4, it forms a sling around the anorectal junction and keeps it closed so that the contents of the rectum don’t fall out (as they would if it were in a straight orientation). It relaxes during defecation, allowing the anorectal junction to straighten so that movement and expulsion of feces can occur. It also provides support to the bladder. Paralysis of this little sling could cause all sorts of problems, including rectal prolapse. Yikes! Although, it kind of reminds me of I.R. Baboon… (more…)

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.