Monday, February 17, 2014

A Light at the End of the Tunnel

Wow. It’s been forever and a half since I’ve posted. Then again, I’ve been studying night and day for the past few months, so it’s not all that surprising. To give you an idea of what it's like to be a medical student studying for boards, here’s my schedule over the past few weeks:

For about seven weeks starting in mid-December, I studied from 8 am to 7 pm, Monday to Saturday. I’m guessing that’s about average. I know some of my classmates studied more (although I’m not sure how that’s humanly possible) and some studied less (I’m entirely sure how that’s humanly possible). Those were some long days, let me tell you. At the end of every day, I could seriously empathize with this message carved into the desk where I studdied:

So why did I study so much you ask? Well, the exam lasts eight hours and covers all the material from the first two years of medical school (aka everything). It’s also the most important component on a residency application, so people take it seriously. My main resources included review books, flash cards, online lectures, practice questions, and practice exams.

Here are some pixelated iPhone pictures to give you an idea of what I spent eleven hours a day staring at. The quality of the pictures isn’t the best, but then again, neither was my quality of life, so it’s kind of fitting.

  • Flash cards, flash cards, and more flash cards:

  •  Online lecture after online lecture after online lecture:

  • Pictures that looked just as confusing to me as they do to you:

  • A million and one mnemonics:

  • Memorization tricks that I sometimes didn't think were worth it:

  • And a gazillion (give or take) practice questions that were way beyond my mental capacity (red=incorrect, green=correct, and the [percents]=% of U.S. medical students that chose that answer):

In addition to all of the studying, a death in the family, my brother's wedding, an inconvenient bout of gastritis, and nearly missing my exam (see my Facebook post for more information) helped to really push me to my limit. All in all, I'm going to compare the whole experience to a three year-old choking down vegetables. I didn't enjoy it one bit, but it was probably good for me. The end.

Ok. So. Deep breath. Glad to have that in my rear view mirror. After finishing my exam, I had two entire, wonderful, beautiful weeks of vacation. Audrey and I went to my family's house and then to the Outer Banks for a quick trip, before finishing up with a fancy Valentine's dinner.

  • While we were at home we played some ping pong. I plead the fifth as to who lost to who's little brother:

  • Cleaned out my room per my mother's request (after playing with all of my Cub Scout Olympics participation trophies, obviously):

  • Audrey and I inadvertently went to the sing-along version of "Frozen" at the local movie theater. Good thing I have a beautiful singing voice, otherwise Audrey might've been embarrassed by my singing. Oh wait....

  • We found this sign:

  • Then we swung over to the Outer Banks. We almost got frostbite, but it was still a TON of fun.

  • And then we made it back to Charlottesville in time to weather Snow-pocalypse 2014:

  • And make Valentine's dinner... Main course credit: me. Decorations/dessert credit: Audrey. Yea, we fancy.

 Well, I think that about does it. Life is great right now! A little part of me wishes this vacation would never end. Most of me, though, is eager to start rotations. This is why I came to med school in the first place. Next stop: pediatrics rotation.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Aaaaaaaand cut! That's a wrap. Pre-clinical classes are ova.

So here we are. The end of a VERY busy fall semester. And actually, the end of pre-clinical courses (AKA the "sitting in class and studying your brains out by yourself when you aren't sitting in class" part of medical school). Most medical schools pre-clinical curricula run for two years, but UVa Med squeezes it into a year and a half. You certainly won't hear any complaints from this guy. I'm ready to get in the hospital and draw some blood and stitch some people up and deliver some babies and other medicalish stuff like that. I'm ALMOST THERE. Just like this baby panda:

Currently, the only thing standing between me and rotations is the USMLE Step 1 exam. Psssshhh. Just one test. No big deal, right? I've taken hundreds of tests in my life. WRONG. It's a very big deal. From what I hear, the Step 1 score is the single most important factor on a residency application. That being said, I'm just going to study like crazy for the next 6 weeks and hope for the best. That's all anyone can do, right?

Anyways, in an effort to pretend like I'm still keeping a blog, I'm posting now, since I won't be blogging for the next few months. So...without further ado, here are a bunch of November/December pictures with barely informative captions.

  • I still go to UVa. And it's still beautiful. Cue Rotunda picture:

  • Anatomy officially ended. We had a beautiful memorial service in the UVa cemetery to show are appreciation to the cadaver donors and families of donors.

  • I also took a bunch of pictures by my house. I live in a beautiful place:

  • I also visited my friend Tyler. We rode scooters and ate applesauce while wearing business attire, because, you know, that's what 25 year-old guys typically do for fun.

  • We also visited Arlington National Cemetery on Veteran's Day weekend.

  • Played some flag football. A lot of flag football, actually. When you're 5'10" and weigh a buck fifty, you have to take advantage of all available opportunities to play the non-contact version of a sport you love.

  • I also got to pretend to be a doctor every Thursday from 1 pm to 5 pm with my clinical group. Fantastic group of incredible people. I mean, let's be real, I wouldn't know how to check for papilledema if it weren't for these people.

  • Also. I attended the Medical Society of Virginia annual meeting at the Homestead resort, located up in the Appalachians near West Virginia. The accommodations were alright, I guess.

  • And the speed limits were very specific. Which was good. I always appreciate well-defined expectations.

  • I went to a vineyard with a bunch Africa-trip friends. What does a Mormon do at a vineyard you ask? Oh that's easy. Eat an entire thing of brie by himself. At least that's what this one does.

  • And lest you think all I do is walk around Virginia taking pictures, here is a picture of what I spend 97% of my life doing. Not so glamorous, but it's the truth.

  • Of course, I get distracted by the internet every now and again. But hey, I learn medical stuff then, too.

  • Until I don't. But even then, I learn important life lessons, like how to handle finances.

  • Or what to do if I run into wild animals.

  • Or how to react if I'm attacked by a no-armed man.

  • Like I said, I'm learning VERY important life lessons. On that note, I should wrap this up. It's been a crazy year and a half. Exams. Friends. Family. Charlottesville. Africa. Anatomy lab. Patients. Fun. Not fun. Studying, studying, and more studying. And the best classmates anyone could ask for. What a ride. Lucky for me, it keeps going. See you on the other side of boards!