Bright Lights, Shiny Objects

This week I started my emergency medicine month and I am a kid in a freaking candy store.

I’ve loved emergency medicine, or the concept of it, since I was sixteen years old when I first took a lifeguarding class. I did this so that I could spend my summers on staff at jewcamp getting tan instead of shepherding campers around, because I am lazy and vain. Continue reading

Chomp. Chomp. Chomp.

Last week contained fourteen hours’ worth of exams – our comprehensive “end of block assessment” for the systems of the heart, lung, kidney, and blood. Plus anatomy and many other things I didn’t know. The Friday portion of the exam was a three-hour multiple choice exam of boards-style questions. For those of you that aren’t medical people, boards questions are notoriously difficult and are representative of the test all graduating medical students must pass to match into a residency program. An example: Continue reading

Presentation Skills: Needs Work

I’ve written quite a bit this academic year about our Physical Diagnosis class, including encounters with standardized patients. But starting in a couple of weeks, things change dramatically. Instead of practicing skills on standardized patients, we enter the hospital under the guidance of an assigned “tutor” to apply our lecture knowledge of the physical exam. Continue reading

“Does He Stitch, Too?”

I STITCHED UP A GUY’S HEAD.

It was pretty much the coolest thing ever. Last night, I shadowed a doctor who moonlights at the after-hours clinic at the pediatric hospital here. The patients there are the ones who aren’t emergent or “urgent,” but can’t really wait until tomorrow for their regular pediatrician. Most patients were kids with high fevers, babies throwing stuff up, ear infections, etc. I was about to head home a little early (it was a slow night) when a patient popped up on the dashboard with “HEAD LAC” written as the complaint. Continue reading

Life In The Basement

After covering the heart and the kidneys, we’re now on the lungs. And with the lungs come chest x-rays. With chest x-rays come opacities and focal calcifications and diffuse consolidations. Also confusion, incompetency, and dismay. 

We had an hour-long lecture on chest x-rays earlier this week by a very effusive radiologist. He was quite intent that radiology is the best specialty and nearly begged us to come visit him in the radiology suite, which I can only assume is a dark closet in the hospital sub-basement. He spent so much time trying to impress upon us that radiology is the funnest, greatest specialty of them all that I am quite convinced it is not. Continue reading

IDENTIFY. DESCRIBE. fail.

Somewhat boring/necessary background unless you’re in my class:

At most schools, anatomy is taught in one continuous block, usually at the beginning of the year. By the time September rolls around, most students can identify bizarre-sounding muscles and tell you which stringy pale thing is a vein and which is a nerve. It’s harder than you think.

Our medical school works differently than most. We learn anatomy in segments, according to whatever physiologic systems we’re covering that block. For instance, this 12-week block, called Homeostasis, includes the heart, lung, and kidney. So we’ve dissected most of the thorax, where the heart and lungs are, and examined normal and abnormal kidneys in pathology lab (I’ve written about this previously). Continue reading