medschool

The Guide to Your First Day of Sub Internship

I remember walking onto the floors of my first rotation exactly one year ago. It was like spectating an intense game of basketball right from center court. “Oh excuse me am I in your way?” “Oh ya, let me get that for you!” “Hey, want some water?” Feeling out of place was an understatement, and most days I looked forward to didactics and morning rounds because at least they offered some semblance of structure. But even in the middle of those sessions I would still feel a creeping sensation of ineptitude that would crawl up my legs and settle somewhere between my stomach and chest. Attendings and residents would rattle off imaging results, lab values, and H&Ps like they were naming the colors of the rainbow and I was still splashing around in the basic science pond proud of the fact that I knew that Hurthle cells were “pathogonomonic” for Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. Yup, as long as you didn’t ask me to read the EKG, point out the lesion on a CXR, or pretty much do anything of value I would be the best MS3 ever. Oh ya, I was kind of scared of the patients too. I just didn’t want to hurt them! So much was my care that I reserved myself to pretty much obtaining the entire history from the notes written by prior doctors. Good thing I...

Contents of a Medical Student’s Refrigerator

If you love food and you are having trouble remembering the nitty-gritty details of those disease states, just picture what a medical student’s refrigerator would look like! You’ll never forget “maple syrup urine syndrome” after you pour that syrup over your morning pancakes…or at least you hope it’s...

Profile of a First Year Med Student

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How Not to Get into Medical School

You want to go to medical school but are concerned that you might not do well on the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT). What should you do? a. Study hard b. Take a test prep course c. Concoct an elaborate plan to transmit real-time photos of the exam questions to a confederate who has duped three medical students into thinking they are auditioning for jobs as MCAT prep tutors. Have the confederate supply you with the consensus answers that the tutors come up with via a phone link. Do not worry that the tutors might become suspicious because the images of the questions are fuzzy, they are allowed to discuss the questions, and your friend has to periodically leave the room to call you with the suggested answers.   As difficult as it is to believe, someone chose “c” and was caught when the tutors reported their suspicions to university security. When the non-test taking accomplice left the room, the med students looked at his computer and saw that MCAT tests were being given all over the world that day and that sites describing how to use a pinhole camera had been recently viewed. This episode raises a few questions. What sort of proctoring was taking place in the examination room? Apparently, no one noticed the camera, the transmitter or the phone being used by the examinee. What did the cheaters expect...

Stuff I See on Charts that Drives Me Crazy

As I exist on the brink of extreme crankiness every day, it doesn’t take much to push me over the edge. Here are some things that do. Why do history and physical write-up sound like transcriptions of interrogations? Specifically, why to doctors write, “Patient denies alcohol use”? It’s as if the patient has been accused of using alcohol and when she says she doesn’t drink, we say she “denies” it. In my experience, the vast majority of patients tell the truth during H&P interviews. There’s a difference between saying, “Patient doesn’t drink alcohol” and “The patient denies alcohol use.” In reference to the examination of the head, eyes, ears, nose and throat, who is teaching medical students to write things like this? “HEENT: normocephalic, atraumatic.” With the exception of Joseph Merrick, known as “The Elephant Man,” just about every person I have ever seen is normocephalic. And other than those who have suffered an injury, the heads of most patients show no trauma. It is important for a physician to know how to write a coherent sentence and spell words correctly. Poor spelling and grammar reflect either ignorance or sloppiness. Take the word “guaiac” for example. It refers to a reagent used less frequently now for the testing of the stool for blood. It is not spelled “guiac” or “guaic.” If you can’t spell it, use the word “heme”...

The One Major Mistake That Medical Schools Are Making

As I prepare to matriculate in medical school in August, I have had some time to reflect back on this past year which I have spent at The “Almost” Doctor’s Channel. As I witness other friends happily celebrating their acceptances, while others struggle to make alternative plans due to not-as-happy outcomes, I can’t help but wonder, “why did they choose me?” I had a decent/good MCAT score (depending who you ask). I went to a good undergraduate school and had a good/decent GPA. I was in an a cappella group because I love to sing, played on a few intramural sports teams because I loved to play sports and held a position on the board of my sorority because…well, I like having a voice within a large group. That about ends the list of extra-curricular activities that I participated in because of my own desires and interests. As pre-meds, medical students, and residents, we train from a young age to be the physicians we hope to one day be. We go to “DNA Camp” in high school (uh, was that only me?) and finagle together a sad excuse for a Siemens or Intel paper (again…any others out there who did this?), and then when we finally get into our dream college, the cycle starts all over again. We hound heads of labs in the hope of being a (unpaid)...

5 Crucial Lessons I Learned From Working at a Hospital

I took a year off before going to medical school. It was less of a decision than I would have liked it to be, considering I was rejected from medical school my first time applying, but all’s well that ends well. In the meantime, I got a job working as a nurse assistant on a medical/surgical floor, and the experience provided me a very in depth look at a field I had only imagined myself getting involved in – a career I had only seen in episodes of Scrubs and Greys Anatomy as well as random, superficial stints in the hospital via volunteering and shadowing. What I would quickly come to find is that I really didn’t know what I was getting into. Here are some of the things I found most surprising.   1. Medicine is at best a dirty science. For all the davincis, google glasses, and cutting edge research that people love to think about when they think of medicine, at the end of the day there needs to be someone to wipe off the poop. For every one patient that is helped by a davinci, there are hundreds that require their bowels disimpacted, straight catheterizations, or wound and bed sore treatment.  It is smelly, dirty, and wholly underappreciated, but constitutes the bulk of what it takes to treat a patient every day.   2. Being...