Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Keeping my head above water

Med students; I'm front and center. (These are actually marines.)
Strangely, last year was substantially different from this year. Last year, we layered on knowledge about anatomy, pharmacology, and the body's general function. This year, our professors assume we have an empty mental index of bodily ills and have commenced stuffing said index with entries. We go at a pace of eight to ten new conditions per day.

Last week, we did lymphomas (forty varieties, eight of which we are responsible for), leukemias (five), stem cell disorders (six, some of which were redundant from last exam's plethora of anemias), bacterial and parastitic blood pathogens (eleven), blood clotting problems (eleven), and miscellaneous (four).

Whoa! A) Who knew there was that much that could go wrong with blood and B) Who knew that someone could learn all that in a week without feeling overwhelmed? (Wait.)

Another way to clock the med school pace is to count practice questions done. At the end of this year (spring 2013) I will take my first licensing exam (the USMLE Step 1). Apparently, all agree that this is the hardest test a future doctor takes, because it is the first time he has learned the material and lessons from books doesn't have as much sticking power as lessons from patients. The universally-proven best way to prepare for this exam is practice multiple-choice questions.

In the past three weeks, I've used 166 practice questions and made another 57. Today, I want to take a practice test and make another thirty- or forty-odd questions based on the material we've worked through so far.

As overwhelming as this is, it's also riotous fun. Without the reassurance of Christ's presence, I don't think this could be really good; with it, I can appreciate how fascinating the material is and how exciting this career will be.

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