Anatomy Is Hard and Other Deep Thoughts

My first quiz in medical school is tomorrow. So naturally, I’m writing on my blog.

Actually I feel fairly prepared. The amount of material we have covered in less than two weeks is staggering (as in, I feel like I’m studying for finals just for this quiz), but I am fortunate in that much of it I have covered in previous undergraduate courses. I know some of my classmates are not so lucky.

I have a couple photos I want to share. Here’s a picture of me studying at a coffee shop last weekend:

IMG_0207 

This was taken by my wonderful girlfriend who has an eye for photography.

Here’s an idea of how I’m trying to review for things, including the brachial plexus in anatomy: 

IMG_0213

And finally, here are a few thoughts/observations from the first two weeks of med school:

My classmates are awesome. I feel incredibly lucky to be surrounded by such great people. They are passionate about medicine, committed to service and just generally fun to be around.

Cadaver smell is hard to get off your hands.

Anatomy is difficult.

While the amount of info is high, it is still doable and I do have free time on my hands. This may change if I completely bomb this quiz.

In many ways, I’m looking forward to demonstrating what I know. I may be strange, but one of my favorite things about school is performing confidently on a test. It’s a challenge to overcome, and if I am prepared taking a test can actually be a satisfying experience.

That’s all I’ve got for now. Until next time, peace.

Is Breaking The Law Ever Ethically Correct?

“Don’t ever tube me again.”

The seventeen year old male stares at the ER physician intently. A breathing tube had just been removed from the teenagers throat. The doctor and patient then have a discussion about what that means. The conversation reveals the teenager is clearly competent. He has had cystic fibrosis his entire life and is near the end. He desperately fears a slow death on a respirator like many of his friends. He is ready to die, but on his terms.

His mother has different ideas. She wants him alive as long as possible and at first refuses to sign a do not resuscitate (DNR) order. After a discussion with the physician, she finally relents. However, the boy starts to fade and the mother changes her mind at the last minute, threatening the physician and demanding he be intubated.

The physician looks at his patient, apologizes and intubates him.

The scene is fictional, but reveals a significant ethical dilemma. In this case, the show implies that the mother has the legal right to decide whether or not her child should be intubated or not. It is pretty clear the doctor made the correct legal choice in this case.

The question is, did the ER doc make the correct ethical choice?

We discussed this in our ethics class last week. Several students made the point that the doctor’s hands were tied by the law. While unfortunate, the decision was fairly straightforward. He clearly had to intubate.

I disagreed.

Was the choice really that simple? The argument was made that if he had chosen not to intubate, he may have lost his medical license. I find that highly unlikely. It may have led to a legal mess, but is that enough reason to subject your patient to a highly invasive and traumatizing procedure that he clearly did not want?

What really frustrated me about the discussion was how some of my classmates viewed such an ethically messy situation in black and white terms. Even the physician himself seemed terribly conflicted, but they did not. He was bound by law, what choice did he have? They seemed to say.

There is always a choice. History is marked by people standing up to unjust laws and often jumpstarting the process to changing them. Law is a crucial part of a functioning society, in no way am I advocating the law should be discarded. In this situation, it should have a prominent place in the discussion. I do not believe however, that the law should be the final word.

And those are my thoughts. What do you think?

Making College Great Courtesy The Simple Dollar

Trent over at The Simple Dollar has a wonderful article titled,

Five Thoughts About Making College Great

Here’s a quote that might resonate with some of you-

“Knowing the ins and outs of organic chemistry might help you if you happen to wind up in one of those rare jobs that utilizes it. The skills you’ve built in the process of actually getting through organic chemistry – those are ones you’ll utilize time and time again.”

True and true. Take it to heart when you’re stuck in the middle of aldehydes and carboxylic acid.

Orientation, The First Day, The First Anatomy Lab: Medical School Begins!

Orientation at medical school started a week ago. My first class was yesterday, my first anatomy lab was today. The last week has been a blur.

I have to hold how I view the last two days in tension. In one way it has gone by crazy fast. However, when I think about the amount of information we have covered it feels like about two weeks.

Here are a few thoughts/observations from the first week:

-I’m much better at remembering names than I thought. I can’t tell you how many fellow classmates I’ve said hi to and they’ve responded, “I’m sorry, what was your name again.” Maybe I just have a forgettable face.

-No joke about how trying to assimilate information in med school is like “drinking from a fire hose.”

-When I start to feel a little overwhelmed, I think about how lucky I am to be here and how many want to be in my position.

-The Creighton Medical School chaplain said a prayer before we started anatomy lab today. She thanked the donors and reminded us of the privilege we have in dissecting them. Pretty cool.

-The squeamishness of cutting open a dead body passes very quickly. This is replaced by getting over the awkwardness of handling a scalpel and trying to tease away tissue without cutting through muscle. Periodically the thought of how strange this is still passes through your mind.

-My first quiz is next week. Yikes.

Until next time, peace.

A Phone Call

The phone rang clear and sharp, cutting through the quiet evening. The young woman looked at the screen, a puzzled expression across her face. She did not recognize the number.

“Hello?”

“Hello, is Rebecca available?”

“This is her,” she answered.

“Hi Rebecca. I’m calling on behalf of Creighton University School of Medicine. I have some good news for you. A spot has opened up in this year’s medical school class and we want to offer it to you.”

Rebecca drew in a startled breath. What?

“Rebecca, are you there?”

“Yes… I’m just, well, surprised.”

She heard a slight chuckle. “Yes, it is late in the process. While we understand you may need some time to think about it, as school starts so soon we will need to know your decision in two hours.”

“I don’t need two hours,” Rebecca responded quickly, finally finding the words. “I gratefully accept and will be there as soon as possible.”

“That is great news. Congratulations Rebecca, and welcome to Creighton’s School of Medicine.”

Rebecca said thank you and hung up. Thoughts flooded her mind. I’m going to medical school. I’m going to be a doctor.

She smiled.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Orientation at Creighton starts tomorrow. Today I met up with a friend I have worked with in the past who was also planning on starting at Creighton tomorrow. We had a great chat, we talked about Omaha and our fears in starting medical school.

I received a phone call from him later this evening, he told me he was accepted off the waitlist at his state school. The day before orientation. He’s headed back home tomorrow.

I congratulated him. While he made it clear he would have loved to be at Creighton, he knows his state school is the right place for him.

I reflected on our conversation this evening. My thoughts wondered to what it would be like to get an acceptance phone call this late in the game, so my imagination conjured up that story. Congrats to whoever received that call, I’m looking forward to being your classmate.

Countdown To Med School

Six days until Orientation starts at Creighton University. I’ll finish my journey to Omaha on Saturday and try my best to get settled in a few days.

I’m excited/nervous/everything you’d expect to feel about starting medical school. I’m looking forward to meeting lots of new people and making friends. Having been out for two years, I’m actually looking forward to the school work, although I’m sure that will change in a couple weeks.

I’m anxious about being able to handle the workload and still have a life. From the conversations I’ve had with med students, it seems to be about boundaries. It’s about setting a schedule and sticking to it, and when you’re done studying, you’re done. I believe I can do that, but have yet to put it into practice. Do I have the discipline to stop studying even though I know there’s more to learn? I’ll keep you updated.

I’m curious, are any of you starting med school soon? What are you excited or nervous about?

Welcome To MD Journey

A new chapter in my journey means a new blog. I am excited to announce MDJourney.com, the next development in my blogging exploits.

I considered keeping Pre Med Journey and MD Journey separate, but ultimately decided to combine it into one site. I have a feeling managing one blog while in med school will be plenty. You’ll notice that premedjourney.com now redirects to mdjourney.com. Pretty neat, eh?

I hope you’ve also noticed the new theme which I think will improve the usability of the site.

While Pre Med Journey is no more, I will still be posting on pre med issues. I’ll also be talking about stories from med school.

Hope you like the changes!

Pre Med Reading List

2072134438_bb943459a8_m

Several important books have shaped my views of medicine, leadership and life.

Here I humbly present a pre med reading list to consider. A few books I’m recommending I realize I may love because of personal preference, and may not appeal to a larger audience.

I always recommend checking your public library as a great way to save some money. If you choose to purchase, you can use the links to buy through Amazon.

Medicine

If you don’t know a whole lot about medicine, these books will be a great introduction. If you do, they will just make you more excited to go into the field.

How Doctors Think. This book does a great job in identifying how doctors make errors. It’s interesting to read as a patient as well as a future physician.

Mountains Beyond Mountains. One of my all time favorite nonfiction books. Challenging but ultimately inspiring, Dr Paul Farmer’s story makes you want to be a better person, whether you want to be a doctor or not.

Better. Written with authority and candor, this book touches on several important issues in medicine including malpractice and suicide.

In Stitches. In this hilarious memoir, Dr Youn recounts his often awkward journey through medical school. One of the few books that has made me laugh out loud.

Pre Med

These are books I recommend to help guide you through the pre med process.

Essays That Will Get You Into Medical School. If the idea of writing your personal statement petrifies you, this book will help. I did not read the whole thing, but found much of it quite useful.

How To Become A Straight-A Student. Oh how I wish I had this book during undergrad! I’m a little over half way through reading it right now and it is awesome. The book is all about being a great student while maintaining a great college life. Definitely worth reading.

Med School Confidential. I’m still using this book because it covers the entire med school journey, including medical school and residency. (Cool side note, one of the books authors is a doctor I worked with in the ER Scribe program.)

Novels

Some novels are great at telling an amazing story and having important life applications at the same time. Here are a couple of my favorite that I feel can be applicable to the pre med journey.

The Lord Of The Rings. Sometimes the road to medical school feels like the path to Mordor.

Watership Down. Yes, it’s a book about rabbits. However, it is one of my favorite adventure novels of all time, plus it has some amazing lessons concerning leadership.

Do you have any suggestions to add to this list?

Affiliate links are present in this post.