A Year in Review

Yes, I know it’s been 2011 for almost a month. Sometimes life is a little crazy and it doesn’t allow you to reflect as properly as you should. A lot has happened in the last year of my life. Here are a few of the big events:

I finished up the interview trail about mid February. I went on seven interviews total, most on the west coast. Finishing interviews was a huge relief: all the hard work in the application process was done. Of course, then I had to wait to hear back from all those schools.

I stopped working as an ER Scribe at the end of March. This was bittersweet, I loved the job, but it was demanding in many ways. I was ready to move on to something else.

This happened in April as I travelled to Peru with my girlfriend. We spent about two months volunteering in Cusco and then explored the rest of the country for 3 weeks. Peru was awesome. Highlights: observing 20 births in the clinic we volunteered at, climbing to Machu Picchu at 5AM to catch the sunrise and surviving a grueling trail down into a crazy deep canyon to be rewarded with some incredible hot springs.

Upon returning to the states we celebrated my brother’s wedding. Go hermano! (And new hermana!)

While in Peru, I was fairly certain I would be attending Des Moines University for med school. This changed when I was accepted at Creighton a few weeks before school was to start, yikes! I chose Creighton and have loved it so far.

My girlfriend and I moved out to Omaha in August (Rachel is amazing!). I started orientation and then school. I proposed to Rachel in September and we decided to get married in December!

Five days after my Molecular and Cellular Biology final I married my best friend. It was the coolest wedding I’ve ever been to. : )

And that’s my brief recap of the year. I travelled around the country for interviews, quit my job, went to Peru, was accepted into medical school, moved to a new city to start medical school, proposed to my girlfriend and got married. Not a bad year!

Netter Atlas of Human Anatomy: A Med Student’s Review

There’s no way around it; learning Anatomy is hard. The Netter Atlas of Human Anatomy makes it easier. Netter Atlas

I just finished a grueling semester of Anatomy in medical school. While trying to absorb a dizzying amount of information about Anatomy, the Netter Atlas has been my rock, a steady hand during a turbulent time.

I haven’t purchased many textbooks for medical school. Netter was highly recommended by the seasoned medical students. After I purchased it I found out why. Simply put, it is the best resource (outside of actually being in the anatomy lab) to help you learn anatomy.

Here are a few things about Netter’s Atlas of  Human Anatomy that are particularly helpful:

-Clear and Detailed Pictures

While at times overwhelming, you quickly grow to appreciate the level of detail present in the illustrations. The pictures are clear, colorful and well labeled.

-Multiple Viewing Orientations

One of the challenges in Anatomy Lab is identifying structures from multiple viewing angles. The Netter Atlas demonstrates anatomy from multiple perspectives and cuts. Countless times I remember coming up to a cadaver during an Anatomy exam and recalling an illustration from Netter that matched the same view during the test.

-Sheer Amount of Illustrations

Over 500 pages of anatomy fill this book. Every limb, every organ, every cavity in the body is peeled or cut away and displayed clearly. Only rarely did I ever crack open Netter and not find what I was looking for.

If you are a medical student taking Anatomy, there is no getting around the huge amount of time you will need to spend studying for the class. But Netter’s Atlas made everything a little better, and I cannot imagine going through the class without it.

Click here to check out the Netter Atlas of Human Anatomy at Amazon

I also found the Netter Flashcards helpful, although they are not a replacement for the Atlas.

Note: If you click through to Amazon on a link from this page and purchase something, I will get a small percentage as a referral. It will go towards helping pay off my mountains of medical school debt. Thanks!

The Semester in Stories: Anatomy

I finished my first semester of med school and it looks like they’re going to let me keep going. That’s good news.

I’ve been reflecting on the semester, trying to decide how best to describe med school. I recently finished reading Donald Miller’s book A Million Miles in a Thousand Years. It’s a wonderful book about life and story. So I think the best way to paint a picture of med school is through stories. Here are a few about anatomy that stand out:

Anatomy lab is rough. You get into med school to try and heal people and the first thing you do is tear someone’s body apart.

I remember the first day of lab. The locker room was packed full of people changing into scrubs. There was palpable tension as we entered the lab. I had worked with a cadaver before, but even I was anxious. We gathered around our bodies exchanging nervous smiles. The professor made a short statement, then our school chaplain said a prayer, thanking the donors for this final gift and reminding us to be grateful.

We opened up the bags containing our bodies, snapped our scalpel blades into place and started cutting. It finally felt like med school had begun.

Our lab group became close throughout the semester. Spending hours together will help facilitate that. Two of the guys grew mustaches to raise money for cancer research and convinced the other three to grow mustaches as well. We have an epic picture with all of us in the lab, along with our anatomy professor whose mustache put us all to shame.

We spent countless hours in the lab going over bones, muscles, nerves and blood vessels. Patient TAs worked with us, quizzing us over and over again.

I remember the first practical exam. The energy was similar to the first day of class. We were nervous, unsure of ourselves. Will my mind go blank? Have I studied the wrong things? Will I get kicked out of med school? These are the questions that run through your head.

At the end I was exhilarated knowing how much I had actually retained. In a strange way it was fun to demonstrate what I had learned. All the doubts and uncertainties fade, at least until the next exam!

We had great professors throughout the course. Doing one enjoyable lecture the professor stuck a tube into his pants, called it “Nigel the Trouser Snake” and proceeded to demonstrate how the gut tube rotates during development. In another, the professor crawled under a white sheet to demonstrate how the uterus and ovaries are covered by peritoneum. You can see that here:Uterus and sheet

Those are just a few of the highlights from anatomy. Now I’m off to start second semester! If I get a chance I’ll post some more stories from the past term.