Thursday, March 29, 2007

One Track Mind

Forgive me if my posts are more sporadic than their usual sporadicity (I know I know, not a word). My computer power cord has decided to give up the ghost. At first I thought it was my laptop and I was very concerned, but then I plugged it in with my friend's cord today and it works, so I guess I have to buy another stupid 89 dollar cord for this thing. This is the third Toshiba satellite I've heard of within my class that has a broken power cord... I think they may have a product reliability problem.

I'm also cramming like I've never crammed before (or similarly, probably, to how I crammed for Christmas exams) trying to learn all of resp, renal and cardio in the next week and a half. Exams start April 13th and I'm scared shitless (as usual). Thank god I've got my tunes. I was thinking today that exam time is that time when I listen to one album obsessively over and over. It becomes my study soundtrack. Sometimes it can be one song. I tune it out mostly but I'll forever associate that album/song with that exam thereafter. This exam period it's the Dixie Chicks album "Taking the long way" which I bought right after I saw their movie "Shut up and Sing". This album has some great catchy tunes and some really nice sad ballads and a few real country numbers. I'm not what I would call a country music fan, but I've always liked the chicks and this album is their best yet.

Past exam albums have included: K.T. Tunstall - Eye to the Telescope
Mashups by various artists including soulwax
I am Sam Sountrack (beatles covers by various artists)
The Weakerthans - Fallow

Tuesday, March 27, 2007


Do you ever feel like your life is a movie? Today I was walking home from the OSCE and it was lovely out and the sky was clear and blue, I was listening to James Taylor, and suddenly I felt like I was in a movie. Everything was perfect, the air was clean and refreshing and there were runners and bikers going past, and I was finished my OSCE!!!

It went well I think. Nothing I wasn't expecting, nothing out of the ordinary, a resp exam, a cardio exam, a depression history, an angry patient with a UTI, a guy with post cancer surgery pain, a girl with a sore throat and ear, and an upper extremity neuro exam. I finished most of the physicals early... the sore throat station seemed a little short but there wasn't anything else I could think to do, and, 60 is a pass so even if I screwed up 1/8 stations I'll still be ok. And, the best thing, is that I'm done! Yay!

Now on to studying for finals, I'm really behind.

Painting by Luke Chueh

Monday, March 26, 2007

Tomorrow is my OSCE. I'm officially freaking out. 8 stations. 8 stations. No break. 8 stations. What's going to be on it? Am I going to have any clue what I'm doing? Am I going to finish the exams in time? 8 stations!!!

Sunday, March 25, 2007

I just ate so many cherry nibs while studying that I have no appetite for dinner. Shame on me.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Med School Interviews

I had a great day today interviewing prospective medical students for my university. I saw 6 people during the day and each one of them brought something unique to the experience. The interviewee performances ranged from fabulous to awful (I won't give numbers in case someone who interviewed is reading this and crapping their pants) and the doctor I interviewed with was hilarious. I kind of knew him before through his wife, but getting to know him today was awsome. He refers to himself as an "old-timer" because he recently retired and he had a really unique perspective on clinical medicine. He favoured applicants who had no idea what they wanted to go into (specialty-wise) and asked people tough questions about medical resource allocation. He gave people encouragement when they answered a question really well, and he agreed with me about most things which obviously makes him a very smart man :)

I'm sorry that this will be my last opportunity to participate in the interview process... until I'm one day a faculty member I guess (which I may never be). It was really good to have a hand in the shaping of the next generation of med students.

I'm also kind of glad it's over because by the end of the day I had the worst headache known to man. It was so bad I actually feel like my eye is bruised, it's tender to the touch and hurts to close it, in addition to my pounding head. I feel like I should have had a really good time last night (instead of studying at home) to deserve it.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Bringing out the crazy

Bring up the subject of clerkship to a whole bunch of people starting clerkship next year and you open a big can of crazy. Our clerkship schedule has been messed up due to some changes with the timing of CaRMS interviews. This means that we have to come up with a new schedule that accommodates both the upper year students' existing schedule (as no two classes can be on core rotations in our hospital at the same time, it's too small) and the never ending list of opinions my class has about what makes a good and a bad schedule. Someone actually got up in my class during a meeting the other week and suggested that it was "us vs. them" between the students and the administration because one administrator suggested a schedule in which a core block would be split into two chunks by electives. This student accused our clerkship committee representatives of not trying hard enough to shut down all of the administration's proposals because, clearly, in this student's mind they're out to get us for shits and giggles. In my opinion, everyone involved has been doing a great job to give us as many options to choose from as possible and address all of our concerns.

I have seriously never seen people come so close to crying in class as some of the gunners got on the day of our student meeting.

To add to the craziness, I sat down to lunch with a few classmates and one of our esteemed colleagues gave us a lecture for 10 minutes on how she doesn't think that "playing the game" to get a clerkship spot (meaning doing research when you hate research and shmoozing with program directors whose programs you don't want to go to but would consider as a last-chance resort) wasn't being misleading or a bad person, it was just what needs to happen. This individual wants a competitive surgical subspecialty (a very competitive one) and proceeded to tell me that her backup is another very competitive surgical specialty... hello, a backup is supposed to be something easier to get into! Anyways, the two of us who were sitting at the table, including a girl who wants something very competitive herself, were stunned to hear this coming out of one of our classmates mouths. I guess that's what it's like to be type A. The thing is, if you're going into a specialty that wants you to do research that badly, maybe it's because research is highly regarded in that specialty and you'll be expected to do it when you're in your residency and after you've graduated. If you don't like research, maybe the specialty isn't for you! And, maybe if you want something so competitive you shouldn't look down your nose at certain schools' programs (especially if there are only 21 spots in the whole country) - you might end up going there! If you think it's second rate and you would be upset to say you went there, don't apply, I'm sure there are many people who would be very proud to take that spot.

At times like these I'm thankful that I've chosen a specialty that isn't very competitive and I'm able to do the things I want to do with my time. I'm doing research this summer, but for a month in a subject I'm genuinely interested. I hope to shadow at least one doctor and spend a few weeks at an abortion clinic. I'm glad I'm not going to feel like I'm going to be punished for the rest of my life for pursuing things I enjoy.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007


Today we had a "career planning" session from 5-8:00, well, I left at 8:00 but it wasn't finished yet. They had people from different specialties come in and talk about what they do and how to get into their program etc. etc. Mostly, it was useless. I came to support my friend who's the chief resident in family medicine here who was coming to talk and I wanted to hear a bit more about the R3 programs in family medicine. As I have a huge interest in obstetrics, I am curious about extra training in that field. I think it would be really cool to practice rurally and be able to do sections. I think I'd probably go out and practice for a while and then come back to do extra training, but the prospect of doing a 3rd year to get a little more experience under my belt before embarking on the world is certainly tempting. We'll see what happens.

On Saturday I'm being unleashed on unsuspecting medical school applicants! I've been honing my interviewing skills and thinking of good questions all week long. I'm stoked to see what these kids are made of. I hope that my questions give them a chance to really shine and show me what they're all about. I've tried to design questions that will give them opportunities to tell the panel about what makes them unique and great and the perfect candidate for doctoring. We'll see if it all works out. And, there's free lunch. perfect.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007


I haven't updated in a little while because things have been busy here! I'm back at school after a nice one week holiday in which I went snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, snowboarding, hiking, and studied for a few days. Coming back and having to go to class again is a bit of a shock because exams are only a few weeks away.

My OSCE is a week today and I'm pretty scared. I have to go over scenarios because I'm still too slow at certain examinations. My neuro exam is always too slow for the allotted time. I think I get caught up with the myotomes and range of motion etc. and then run out of time for sharp/dull, reflexes, vibration, etc. etc. This happened to me last OSCE and it's not going to happen again! A few of us are getting together on Monday to practice and I'm going to do that damn neuro exam until I can fit the whole thing into 5 minutes if it kills me. I have to also review my associated symptoms for a bunch of conditions so I don't forget to ask about anything. There is definitely going to be something psych oriented on the exam so need to bone up on the depression screen, psychosis, etc. and there's definitely going to be a knee exam so I'd better remember my lachmans and drawers etc. There's so much to remember that I'm bound to forget something - hopefully it becomes second nature with experience.

Match day was last week. 5 people from my school (100 people) did not match in the first round. This is about 1/2 of the national average I was told. All of those people applied only to surgical specialties and none had backups. I hope they are able to find something that's an OK fit for them in the second round, but I doubt there were any ENT spots that went unmatched :) We had a record 3 students this year who matched to ophtho which is great! Also suprising, some of the people who wanted obs/gyn did not match to that specialty. I have been told by numerous docs that if you really want obs/gyn you will match to it. I can only suspect that they didn't apply to every program and were more concerned with location than specialty. My good friend matched to his second choice, family in rural BC and I think he'll be really happy there. He was ok with getting his first or second choice so hopefully he still feels like that after the fact. I'll find out when I see him in a few days. All of this makes residency seem so much more real. I actually started looking at residency programs today, which I haven't done before because I thought I was more concerned with location and what I want to do isn't competitive. Now, I've got the bug! Especially because we're starting to get more and more into planning for our impending clerkship!

Oh, and to those who wonder if that's me in the picture: yes. If someone really wanted to find out who I was, they could, but what I write here is mostly about myself and if there's something that is sensitive I change the situation and the names involved. I like that picture and it has the most important person in my life kind of in it, so I decided to put it up!

Friday, March 16, 2007

Another setback in a sea of setbacks

I thought that at least 1 month of my summer was worked out. There are 4 programs where I live that place medical students with preceptors for 4 month summer rotations in rural communities. Their sole purpose is to place clerkship and pre-clerkship students in rural centers so they can experience what it's like to work in a rural community. Last year I did a week in the country with my medical school through one of these organizations and the people were great. They were super organized, most of us were in great communities with great preceptors. So, I decided to try again this year with the organization that covers the part of the province that I want to go to this summer. I specified not 1 but 2 four week blocks that I was free during, I submitted a letter of good intent and proof of good standing from my medical school, and then I waited, and waited. Finally, I emailed them yesterday to see what the status of my application is.

Not yet processed. They have 3 clerks to still place for manditory rotations during the time I specified before they will try to place me. The first time slot I specified is in a month... I guess I'm not getting placed. So, I asked about the second time slot I asked for and I still haven't heard back... cross your fingers.

I really find this disappointing that an organization that's purpose is to place students for volunteer positions (the other organizations in the province reimburse students for travel expenses and living expenses while they're in the community, but not this one) can't manage to place clerks let alone pre-clerkship students. I'd heard bad things about this organization in the past, and now it's solidified, they just can't keep up with their counterparts in other areas of the province. I don't know what it is. They probably get more students than other regions, but their region also has a bigger population and therefore more doctors to canvas. Maybe doctors are tired of taking students and being asked to take students. I think that's a shame. Maybe the government should look at putting a bonus into the alternative funding agreements for taking students - maybe they need a bit of incentive to make up for the time they lose having a student. The family health teams already use an incentive-based-approach so if they government is serious about having more family doctors, maybe they should give an incentive for teaching and helping students gain exposure to family medicine.

All I know is that I'm frustrated. I'm not asking for money, I'm just asking for someone's time.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Barbados Butterfly

I went to check out one of the blogs I read on a regular basis (although I can't say I read it every day - I'm one of those on again, off again blog readers), barbados butterfly, only to discover that it has been changed to an 'invitation only' blog. As I don't actually know barb or how to contact her for an invite I guess it's a case of another one bites the dust. Blogs come and blogs go, they change, they evolve, some become more interesting and some less. Barb is a spunky surgeon who speaks about being a woman in a field that has maintained some of its boy's club tendencies. I enjoyed reading her blog and I'm sorry to see it go. So, if you notice that it's gone from my links, that's why.

Exams are in 1 month, I've been trying to hit the books hard this week (we're on a break) and it's semi-worked. I have a lot of work ahead of me. If you've got any great tricks/tips about renal/cardio/resp let me know!

Wednesday, March 14, 2007


Driving back to school this afternoon after a weekend at home, we had a very interesting conversation. Have you ever moved to a new place and convinced yourself that you were going to change your personality and become the person you always wanted to be? That you would reinvent yourself and suddenly everything you didn't like about yourself would melt away because these were new people, they don't know your past? I sure have. Every time I go to a new place or a new school I tell myself that everything I don't like about myself is going to change. I will be more outgoing, I will participate in all of the activities that create lots of friendships with my peers, I'll be surrounded by people who like me, I'll never spend another Friday night wishing that someone would call me and include me in their plans.

What I've realized, after trying this 4 or 5 times, is that you can't change the big stuff. You inevitably will go back to being the same core person you were before; after a few days/weeks all those good intentions seep away because they don't mesh with who you are. But, you can adopt a few small changes, things that make you more likeable, loveable, easier to live with, and if you persevere, you can modify how people see you as a person. You can't change the foundation of your personality, but you can maybe change the curtains or the colour of the front door.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Ever have that problem that there are some words that you just can't spell? For my entire life I have been unable to spell "Shiny" I always sit there and debate whether there's an 'e' between the 'n' and the 'y'. Even after I look it up, I forget for the next time. I am missing the part of my brain that is dedicated to spelling the word shiny. Even as I look at it now it looks like it's spelled wrong. I'm glad I won't often need to write shiny in a medical chart because then I'd have to carry a sticky note in my pocket as to how to spell it and because there are several other words I have trouble with, I'd have a huge collection of sticky notes. I'll probably just need a PDA with a dictionary on it (although how I feel about PDAs is a subject for another day).

Today I had an interesting experience. I interviewed a candidate for the new head of the family medicine department at my med school. Every time there's an important interview, students are encouraged to come along and talk to the candidate and ask them the questions that they feel are important. As the student rep on the undergraduate family medicine committee I felt that I had a few things I wanted to ask, so I went along. I was the only student who showed, so I had a nice one on one conversation with the first candidate. It is an interesting thing to interview someone who is already in a position of authority with respect to one's self. I think it's hard for them to step out of the role of advisor and teacher and into the role of answerers of the freaking question. Some people get carried away with getting their own agenda across and don't really address the questions asked. Some people are very good at staying on track to what you say and tell you exactly what you want to hear. This candidate was a mix of both. I think he would do a good job, but I'm looking forward to hearing from the other two candidates in the next month. All of the candidates are internal, so I have the advantage of knowing most of them already. It's hard not to be neutral going into the interview though with people you already know. Overall it was a really positive experience. Too bad the free lunch landed on a day that someone else was buying me free lunch. I gotta spread my free lunches out more!

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

quotable quote

Instead of writing about how exhausted I am for no reason and how I have taken a nap in the evening for the past 3 days and then gone to bed at 9:00, I am going to share a funny quote:

"And, I would like to end with a final note to Angelina Jolie who has recently put in an application to adopt another child, this time from Vietnam: Is it that hard just to have sex with Brad Pitt?"
- This Hour Has 22 Minutes

I will update for real soon.

Monday, March 05, 2007