Wednesday, June 27, 2012

First year done!!

We had our cumulative final this morning. I spent yesterday studying (with a two hour break around dinner time to see a friend and grab something to eat) and woke up around 6 this morning to go back over the most important things. I feel like I did well... for the most part the answer I was thinking of was one of the options I had to choose from, which I feel like is generally a good sign.

I still feel like laying down and having a good cry though. Just to purge some of the stress from the last week. Not that it has even been that horrifically bad... It always gets built up worse in my mind than it actually is. 

I called my husband on the way back to my car and gave him the report. He said congratulations and then dropped a bit of a bomb on me. Apparently the screening medical procedure my mom had done a few weeks ago had yielded a positive result and she'd gotten the results last week. And everyone in my family decided, what with everything else going on, that they wouldn't tell me until after my exams were over.

Which, while it shocked me, was probably the best course of action... especially considering that our Monday exam covered relevant material and crying makes studying harder. The good news is that as far as prognoses go, she has a really, really good one. Hearing medical news is a lot easier when you know what all the words mean and have a solid understanding of what is going on. And finding out about everything later meant that by today my sister already had a copy of the pathology report, and my mom and dad have had follow up appointments and a plan is already in place.

Monday, June 25, 2012

On not saying goodbye...

It belatedly dawned on me that our last interaction with the full class of med students was last Wednesday (and I was only there briefly). Their final exam is Friday so events are planned, but since my class elected to have our exam on Wednesday most of us will be scattered across North America by that point.

I studied this morning until around 10:30 with a handful of medical students. It wasn't until one was leaving to take her test that I realized I wouldn't be seeing her much anymore and I like seeing her! Facebook makes it easier to keep in some kind of touch with people and I'm sure there will be chances to get together socially, but it won't be the five days a week, seeing each other in class and hallways set up we have now. I will definitely miss them, their class was more welcoming and inclusive than I had any reason to believe they would be. And Duke School of Medicine's class of 2015 will always hold a spot in my heart (except for the folks who always streamed lectures, because it is startling how even after a year in class together I can still see some of them and think, who is that guy?! ;D ).

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Two down, two to go

This book has taken over my life
The pathology small group final was not what I expected from either the practice test or what the second years said about last year's test. I was expecting histology questions where they would be in groups of three or so related questions, which is more what they had in the past. But our questions weren't organized like that, we just had stand alone questions which made it harder since we had to keep mentally shifting between different organs, tissues and diseases. A classmate described the test as "demoralizing" but I think at this point we're so close to the end we just have to keep pushing through to the next test.

I'm not a huge fan of the fact that our next two tests start at 9 am again. One of the things I've really liked about body and disease has been that our tests have been at noon and we have the morning before the exam to review what we need to.  Tomorrow's test not so much. I don't think I'm going to forget everything tonight while I'm sleeping, but there's always that chance! So I'm going to review the major things tonight right before bed, go to bed early and try to be in the study room by 7:30. The test is open from 9 to 1 pm so I don't have to start right at 9, which helps. 

On Wednesday, with our cumulative final, we don't have that flexibility. It should still be okay, I think. Not having the kids helps a lot as well since I will have all day Tuesday to review and it will be quiet. I've been trying to, in any downtime the past two weeks, go over more Robbin's review questions. I have no idea how much of it I am retaining... I hope a lot!

Just a few more days. First year is so, so close to being over.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Senior Seminars and Oral Done

I opened my email to see an invitation to the class of 2012's senior seminar. I've seen facebook statuses saying how they're down to their last 30 days and while studying in the PA room yesterday they were all discussing their cases for their seminar talks. People are getting ready to move and looking forward to being employed and starting that phase of their lives. It is exciting for them, but hard not to be jealous!
I can't complain since it really doesn't seem like a year since I got last year's invitation for 2011's seminar! Time flies and it will be our turn soon. I was thinking about that last night, how this time last year I was insanely excited and very impatient to finish up my last month of work and start on this adventure. And now here I am, on the cusp of being a second year student!

I took my oral exam yesterday and passed! I don't know what my score was but after everyone finished taking it we received an email from our course director saying we all passed. I'm good with identifying organs and identifying the disease process... I am less good with symptoms/complications but not horrible. And with cirrhosis I couldn't remember a complication (spontaneous bacterial peritonitis) but knew that I knew it and my brain did that thing where it hung up on that one fact and couldn't move past it. Not horrible though.

And even though it was an oral exam and those are particularly stressful, I didn't have an awful time with anxiety. It wasn't completely absent but I could still function, which is a vast improvement over the way things were in December. I was able to push past the part of my brain that was freaking out and pay attention to the organ in front of me. It helped a lot that as soon as I looked at the specimens on the grossing table I knew what all four of them were. I was scared to look at the table while I was getting dressed because I was worried that they would all look foreign (which is, I know, an irrational fear), but once I did I was reassured. If nothing else I can sight identify organs. 

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Pathology Oral Exam is tomorrow

I'm visualizing this final stretch of exams like a row of dominoes and right now the first one is about a day away from being tipped over. Then it will be a boom-boom-boom sort of thing until the end.

I still have to figure out where the exam is going to be tomorrow since the idea of being late is mortifying and probably wouldn't impress our examiner very much. I'm going second, which I'm very, very happy about. We have class until 12 and the first exam is at 12 so being first means skipping out of class with enough time to get there. Even still I'll probably duck out of class early so I can have a decent time buffer in case I get lost.

One our classmates emailed out the flashcards she made, which are OMG amazing! I have been writing out note cards but hers have color pictures and more comprehensive information. They're really good.

Everyone else in my family is getting excited about the trip we're taking during the week between the first year and the second year. I feel pretty bad because I really don't care right now. If it isn't helpful for passing the tests, then I haven't really been sparing the mental space for it. I haven't researched things to do in Nags Head, I haven't started packing, I don't have a bathing suit, I can't get involved in planning the menus, etc. We have people coming to visit internationally and it is sort of a big deal, but... tests take priority. I will be very excited about it after next Wednesday.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Pathology Oral Exam Upcoming!

We are heading into the stretch of final exams. Wednesday is the PA Pathology Oral, Friday is the Pathology Small Group, Monday is our final unit test, and the following Wednesday is our cumulative final (which is extremely terrifying!).

The oral is probably the most intimidating, because in addition to being an important part of my grade it is also the opportunity to look completely ignorant in front of our course director. I'm allotting time this weekend to write out the major pathologies of the various organ systems. Thankfully this week's lectures have included both GI pathology and liver/pancreatic pathology so it'll kill two birds with one stone (pathology oral and test 10 studying). I really feel like I need to go back and re-study the renal pathology lectures though because it has been a month since we had those lectures and there have been soooo many other topics covered between then and now. There are other organ systems to review as well, but I just feel strongly about needing to do renal since I don't feel like my retention was particularly good on those. Lungs too, it feels like forever since we've had to study lungs...

Okay, so maybe it would just be safer to start at the head and work my way down! It can't hurt and will hopefully make cumulative final studying that much easier...

Thankfully my kids are with my parents so my out of class obligations are significantly lessened. It is amazing how much easier it is to study during the day when it is quiet and you don't have to take anyone to soccer practice or feed everyone. I'm going to have to take a study break on Sunday though because there is a food truck rodeo! Socializing is important and so is eating lunch!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Nooooo, they be stealing my bucket!

Slightly relevant, slightly amusing bucket picture
On Tuesday we had a group in our small group pathology lab present their autopsy case along with the previously blogged about roadshow. Because of that we didn't have enough time to really go over our assigned bucket of organs displaying pathological processes. We were hoping to be able to get the same bucket back after whoever was assigned to have it today was done with it, but when we showed up in lab today we found out we had a bucket we'd already seen.

Stealthy picture taken of bucket
The other PA in our class texted around and found the lab that had the bucket, but luckily they'd already seen it* and happened to have an autopsy presentation today. Unfortunately they'd already seen the organs in our bucket as well. But on consideration, I realized that by switching buckets with them they were no better or worse off than they were before whereas we would be much better off. So... since our lab instructor wasn't there yet (I get places very early sometimes) I decided to take the initiative and switch our buckets.

It might have confused the folks in the other lab just a bit but after a hasty explanation they seemed okay with it... I did feel a little strange stealing someone else's bucket but it did make our lab session a lot more effective today!

*I think there is built-in redundancy because of the autopsy presentations.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

In which I seem to know things!

It is biphasic! He stressed it in the lecture.
We had a mammography roadshow today in path lab led by the pathologist that is the course director for our program. We had a lecture on breast pathology from him last week but the associated TBL session was just a Q&A so it was good to have the roadshow to reinforce the material. It started with our traditional roadshow cheer (the class does the wave while going Roooooooooooooooadshow! and claps twice) which ensures everyone is awake.

There was a fellow from radiology that gave a basic overview of mammography and we had some cases with the doctors asking questions/leading discussion. No one really seemed inclined to answer questions so I ventured a few comments and it is... I don't know? Gratifying to be right and feel confident when answering. And if you're going to look competent in front of someone, it is nice to do it in front of someone who you want to have a good opinion of you!

Also, I got to handle the tools they use to do breast core biopsies which was neat. They are giant 9 gauge needle guns and are very intimidating! The GI biopsy equipment looks a lot friendlier after seeing the breast biopsy stuff.

It was a good morning and we have a free day tomorrow that I'm going to use to start studying for test 9--anything to make the weekend calmer! The kids are heading to my parents' house for the rest of the month starting Friday as well so that will give me quite a bit more downtime (and quiet!) for the rest of the studying I need to do. I will say that having Robbin's pocket guide on the kindle makes trips to the pool at my apartment complex more productive than they would be otherwise.

Friday, June 1, 2012

It's June!!!

June is going to be a crazy month, but right now, at this moment, before the gauntlet of testing begins I am so excited that it is finally here! If it felt like the homestretch after test 6, after test 8 it feels like the end is close enough to touch!

And it is more that we are all excited for the clinical year to begin than anything else. Not that I will miss the didactic year at all. The test anxiety has gotten a lot better in this unit (soooo much better) but I am still happier in the gross room than I have ever been in a classroom.

I have to admit that I took Wednesday night and Thursday nights off from studying so I'm not being particularly useful in today's TBL. I'm going to have to go over the endocrine lectures this weekend to play catch up, but I don't have anything exciting planned for tomorrow day so it shouldn't be a problem!

Sooooo close to the end of first year! I'm getting really antsy to get through with it so this next month will be a lot of me obsessing over that, sorry :D