Friday, September 30, 2011

They like me! They really like me!

Or at least my notes.

Remember that lecture slide I posted yesterday? That was from the lecture assigned to me for the *Notes Group.

Today I was in the bathroom and one of the med students was saying to one of the others that whoever did the notes yesterday also put up a really good outline for that slide.

Yay! I was worried people would think it was awful. I'm glad to overhear nice things about me, not that I was eavesdropping intentionally or anything ;-)

It was a good lecture to have to do since there was so much information given and being responsible for the notes group meant having to listen to it twice and having to make my notes while it was still fresh in my mind.

*If you're not familiar with the concept, every lecture is assigned to a different person who makes notes and shares them with everyone else in the group so in exchange for a little bit of work (you should be doing anyway!) you get access to a lot of information. The med students organize one every year, but this has been the first year that we've been so openly invited. Our med students have been amazingly inclusive, it is nice :)

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Power Point Tips for the Medical Educator

I promise I will write a real entry on the classes we have in block 2, but for right now I just want to make a comment on Power Point slides.

Most of our lectures range from 30 to 55 slides per hour long lecture and the doctors do a pretty good job of keeping the amount of information on each slide reasonable. We've had a couple insanely complicated graphs but they have been relatively isolated incidences.

If, as an instructor, you have a topic that you are planning to discuss for more than half an hour maybe try breaking it down into more than one slide. That way your text won't be teeny tiny and your students will have more room on their slide print outs to make notes (instead of having to use a second copy because they run out of room on the first one...).

I normally print two to four slides to a page, but should have printed singles for this one.
When I had to take a class in public speaking they taught us that you should try to limit yourself to no more than six lines of text per slide. That sounds reasonable and it is even better if you toss in a picture or an animation every now and then... Not to say that I didn't learn a lot but that one slide was turned into a four page outline! Four pages! That seems like a lot, right? I thought so anyway. At least it is a good instructor otherwise it could have been a lot worse!

Monday, September 26, 2011

A castle full of books

I want to pose on these stairs in a costume...
Yesterday I decided to go to the library to study since the kids were having a crazy sort of day. Up until then I'd only seen it from the outside and it looked appropriately Duke-ish (which is to say there was a definite castle-y Hogwarts sort of vibe), but the little foyer I stepped into really surprised me. It is so pretty!

The rest of the library was quite nice as well (and much more modern!) with a lot of different areas for studying. It was also incredibly quiet, which was fantastic and surprising given how many people were there.

But yeah, I just had to share these pictures because Duke is gorgeous.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Where babies come from and other things

Everyone's early baby pictures would look like this.
We had our first Embryology lecture today. The consensus was "OMG that's a lot of information all at once" but the lecturer was good. I'm glad I've already had kids though because I imagine being pregnant while knowing all the things that can go wrong would drive a person insane.

From the beginning of life to the end.

Gross Anatomy started today. There is a lot of variance in size and health, but we are very lucky with our cadaver. He doesn't have a lot of fat while having decent musculature. Having surveyed the rest of the room, it is a rare combination that makes our job much easier. We have named him Atlas Revadac (cadaver spelled backwards because one of our group members really wanted to give him that last name). His back was so nice everyone else was told to come to our table to look at him.

I have a copy of Netter's Atlas of Human Anatomy being shipped from Amazon and sent an email to my sister to see if she still has her copy of Gray's before buying one. Our group did well though, we finished a bit ahead of schedule so we flipped all the muscles back to their original position and had a review. I think the plan is to go back over everything again at the beginning of lab on Monday.

The course director for Gross Anatomy was saying today in lecture how he liked for people to come to class because he felt like it made it worth his time for there to actually be students to teach to. Same sort of thing for going to the lab. Someone, or their family, had to choose to donate their body, someone has set up the facility and multiple people who could be doing research or teaching a class are staffing the anatomy lab. It is disrespectful all the way down the line not to go. Plus, you can probably guess, our group is just motivated in general to be there.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

I meet my cadaver tomorrow

Not just my cadaver of course, I will be sharing it with the other PA students. I can't wait to see if we have a man or a woman. Which ever gender we have, I hope one of the groups with med students we're friendliest with have the opposite gender.

Autopsies are no where near as involved as gross anatomy so this will be a completely new experience for me. I am excited about it.

This anatomy chart will not be helpful at all, but our second years have been really helpful in letting us know which dissectors are more useful. I'm going with Netters. Plus the PA room has a copy for us to have in the anatomy room (which no one ever wants to touch without gloves) as well as dissecting kits so that is less money we have to spend.

I'm wearing scrubs to school tomorrow. I didn't think to get any from the hospital but I should have some from home somewhere.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Pretest mood: Surprisingly not stressed

Procrastination Horse is eating my note cards :-O  Bad Horse!
With the exception of one class last summer I've been out of school for a long time (I graduated in 2007), so getting back into studying has been strange--especially studying on this scale.

This is our third test and I'm feeling okay. I don't feel rushed or that I won't have enough time to study everything.  I managed to make it through the weekend without completely neglecting my family or driving myself crazy.

I have about 3 hours before I go to sleep and I have one last note set to look over. I also have the old tests printed off to go over, but my timeline is pretty good. I'll also have some time in the morning to look over my flashcards.

The silly thing is, having this ridiculous stuffed horse on my desk has helped. If I find myself slacking off he's staring me down (you have to admit it is a disquieting stare) and it reminds me to get back to work.

After my test tomorrow I have to take my youngest child to the doctor for a school physical and then it is time to study up on my histology slides. I feel pretty good about the histology exam, but that isn't an excuse to not study for it!

And then Tuesday night and Wednesday are going to be amazingly awesome!!!!!!!! Why? Because for the first time in six weeks I won't have to feel like any time I take for myself is time away from studying. We will have a day and a half of downtime. Delicious, delightful downtime! I'm going to catch up on laundry for the first time in a month (I have 4 Ikea bags full of clean but unsorted/unfolded clothes), deep clean my apartment, and on Wednesday night I'm having my classmates over for dinner and game night. Yay! I'm making Filipino food again, but different kinds of Filipino food because I polled everyone and that's how the votes fell. At some point I'm going to have to figure out how to feed the second years as well! I feel bad not including everyone, but I don't know that I could fit everyone into my apartment.

The kids are going to go insane, because there's nothing they love more than strangers in our house. Massive amounts of excited over stimulation!!  But hopefully they'll still be able to go to bed on a normalish schedule. I might have to set up a sleeping area for them in my study room which is more removed from the living room than their bedroom but we will see. :) I have to survive these upcoming tests first!!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Procrastination Horse is a Bad Influence

He's watching you! And someone to your right.
When I find myself stressed out and near a doll grab I usually permit myself to waste a dollar on it. And between the dog and the kids someone is usually happy enough to take custody of my winnings. Monday night I won this crazy eyed horse and dubbed him Procrastination Horse. He's brightly colored and looks interesting and fun...but isn't really anything worth getting distracted by--much like every TV show, book, or random project that comes up whenever it is supposed to be study time.

I'm going to put him on top of the shelves in my desk so he can watch over me and remind me that studying is more important than fun looking stuff without any purpose or substance.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Class Schedule AKA There is no typical day in the life of a PA student!

The first six weeks of PA School at Duke (and to be technical, a first year medical student at Duke) are spent in a class called "Molecules and Cells." The first five weeks have included courses with names such as: Pathways of Signal Transduction, Chromosomes and Cytogenetics, and Action Potential Generation. We have a test every two weeks and a TBL session on the weeks we don't have tests.

Days can run from 8:30 to 4:30 with an occasional delightfully short day when the med students have something in the afternoon that we aren't required to go to. Most of our days are filled solely with lecture but a few times a week we also have histology lab which is usually on a structure we've studied in class. We can have one to five different lecturers on a given day. Sometimes the day's lectures are distinct topics, but you can also get two part lessons as well. We did have that one week that covered metabolism in depth (I cannot stress how much it helped to have the doctor we had teaching it teaching it. *He was fantastic!), but that's been the only time we've had something that distinctly inter-related over that long a time period.

There are one to two clinical correlations a week. The format is pretty similar--a physician comes in and gives a presentation on a given disease, followed by a patient who is generous enough with their time to come in and discuss their condition. The clinical correlations are really interesting and hopefully give the future physicians some perspective into the patient's point of view. 

There are two half hour Q&A sessions each week which are pretty free-form, some days have more questions than others. Last year's med students voted to discontinue them but this year's still seem to be utilizing them. Attendance is not mandatory and they start before the normal class time so it doesn't hurt to have them.

We usually have an hour for lunch and 10 minute breaks between classes. Since we stay in the same amphitheater and it is right by the food court and restrooms the 10 minutes is usually more than enough. The labs, which are also where we have tests, are up on the forth story in a different part of the building (not that far as long as you don't get lost, and I don't get lost nearly as much anymore!).

Our parking garage is a ten or fifteen minute walk (depending on how fast you walk) from the amphitheater. Sometimes in the morning I will take the bus if it is there when I arrive, but since the time waiting for the bus plus the time it takes to go through its route is longer than the time it takes to walk waiting for it doesn't make sense. In the afternoons we usually tend to walk back to the parking garage in a large group chatting and socializing.

Then I get to go home, feed the family, do the dishes, make an effort to keep the laundry levels under control and study enough to keep from having to cram before tests. This weekend is the first time I'm ever having to play catch up, so I'll have to see how much time that takes.

It is busy, the days are full, and every time we have a clinical correlation I have to wear business casual clothes but I really do love it.  I'm happy. Every other weekend I am intensely stressed out about the upcoming test, but every week that passes is another week closer to grossing again.

Now that my overview is finished, and my husband has made it into town (3.5 hour drive for him) I have to go get ready so we can go out to Chapel Hill with some of the med students and some of the other PA students (two of our number are out of town, and one's wife is running a half marathon starting early tomorrow). Hope you guys have a good weekend! I'm going to go off and enjoy maintaining my life/school balance for a few hours ;-)

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Classes to make up :(

If I was going to choose a week to be sick, then this one was a good one to pick. Our schedules are intensely variable (I will try to write about our schedule for molecules and cells this weekend!), but because we were off Monday and had a test Tuesday this week has been our lightest so far.

Which is good because I am officially behind. I missed 2/3rds of yesterday's classes since my fever was in the 100s again and I only went in for the mandatory session. Today the fever was significantly better but I was exhausted and slept 14 hours (until 11:30! I felt like a sloth!) so I missed my morning classes. That was entirely unintentional though. I took the kids to school and was going to just lay down for another half hour before I had to drive to class... But then I slept through both my alarm clock alarm and my cell phone alarm (I don't remember doing so but I apparently got out of bed, walked across the room and unplugged my alarm clock). Luckily when I woke up I felt better than I have in days and made it to histology lab this afternoon.

I'm not happy about missing the classes but they are pretty easy to make up. All of our non-mandatory classes are available to be streamed online about 20 minutes after the class ends any time you need them. The majority of the medical students don't come to class unless it is mandatory (I counted once and there were about 40% actually in class) and just stream the lectures either at home or at the library on campus. A couple of the PA students will do that occasionally but for the most part we go to class, so I felt weird not going!

Today's Histology Lab Topic: Cartilage and Bone
It would have been much harder to make up missing my histology lab. Even though I can look at the slides on my laptop at home (isn't technology useful? Instead of two dozen microscopes, or one microscope hooked up to an overhead projector we can all just view the slides online.) and just follow along with my lab manual, you can't replace having a teacher available for when you get stuck on something. Today having an instructor handy was very useful at least twice and the end of lab review was helpful as always.

So it could have been worse, but I still feel bad having missed most of the past two day's worth of classes. At the pace we go, two days is a lot of material! At least I will have time this weekend to be caught up since the next (and final M&C test!) will be here before I know it.