From our anonymous insider…
Exams begin next week. Type-A Anita is particularly nervous. Beginning last week she has refused to learn anything that is more in-depth than the NBME questions: “only high-yield.” She interrupts class once per day to complain when a professor gives more detail than the Step 1 exam books do. She also requests clarification about the number of questions per exam topic. She dropped her sweet Midwestern demeanor and submitted a formal complaint to the administration when an older physician said males have to work more to learn patient interviewing because women are more naturally caring.
Lectures focused on glycolysis and summarizing metabolic pathways. A rather plump gastroenterologist in his 50s gave an “energy” synopsis about different states of metabolism. These lectures were paired with our patient case, a young anorexic teenager. Anorexia fits with the metabolism unit because it forces the body to break down protein to use for gluconeogenesis. We heard from her doctor that the patient is on antidepressants and receiving psychotherapy, but didn’t get to meet the patient.
We finished dissecting the upper extremity with the elbow, forearm and the bewildering hand, whose muscles and vessels entail hours of dissection. I share my cadaver with three other students. Yet, with three hours of dissection time, we had explored only about 10 percent of the hand. Fortunately, the instructors convinced a chief surgery resident to spend his evenings dissecting a demo cadaver and then come in at 10:00 am to give us a guided tour of a perfectly dissected hand. We were doubly appreciative of his efforts after we heard about his 24-hour hospital shifts.
One of our most passionate and funny doctors spoke about using ultrasound to investigate the shoulder and upper arm. Ultrasound sends high frequency sound waves into the body and relies on differences in the ways that tissues reflect or absorb the sound. We broke up into groups of six, each provided with a donated battery-powered 10 lb. ultrasound machine. The expert (attending) arrived at each workstation to help us diagnose each other. We were able to see torn muscles, ligament damage, tendinitis, and bursitis. As with Week 6, a high percentage of our classmates were able to supply examples of musculoskeletal damage. I contributed a torn supraspinatous (rotator cuff) muscle torn in the college weight room.
In an after-workshop discussion, our professor described his frustration that the medical school accrediting body, Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME), limits the number of “formal instruction” hours. “I’m not exactly sure, but it is only about 25 hours per week,” he said. He recounted stories from his professors’ education in the 1920s. For example, a instructor asked a first year class if anyone was uncircumcised. Two students raised their hands. They were instructed to drop their trousers, and in the pursuit of education, were circumcised in front of the entire class, including the two female students. His own 1950s education did not include any in-class circumcisions, but they were at school for 12 hours each day, with some mandatory Saturday sessions. Anatomy lab dissection was 4 hours per day compared to our 4 hours per week. Our professor noted that passing the NBME exams requires more knowledge than for comparable tests in years past. Thus today’s medical student faces greater pressure to study independently.
Statistics for the week… Study: 35 hours (about 5 hours after class each weekday plus more on the Sunday); Sleep: 7 hours/night; Fun: 1 hiking excursion with Jane.
The Whole Book: http://tinyurl.com/MedicalSchool2020