Tox ‘O Clock: Carbon Monoxide

Happy holidays, everyone! This is your friendly toxicological reminder to not do stupid things like use propane heaters indoors, grill inside, or leave your oven range on for extended hours at a time. Why, might you ask, is this a bad idea?

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The answer is the subject of today’s Tox ‘O Clock discussion: carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning! We are talking about this for two reasons: first, because a spike in poisonings from this – because it’s cold, and families are together – is as predictable around the holidays as incessant Christmas music at the mall, jokes about me being a Grinch, and my people going to the movies and eating Chinese food on Christmas day itself. Continue reading

Are We There Yet?

Am I still a medical student? I am legitimately no longer sure.

In the last four weeks, I’ve flown to five different cities, taken a two-week family vacation to Japan, stayed in enough hotel rooms to bankrupt a minor consulting firm, and worn a suit enough to notice that I am clearly fatter than when I had it first tailored in 2012. Continue reading

Impostor Syndrome XXVII

Okay, so, my plan to write more and not less during Nate’s Summer Away From Home has not panned out. I probably should have expected that an audition/away rotation would take up more of my time than I thought, but I was pretending otherwise.

To recap, I spent last month taking shifts in the ED at a large county hospital on the West Coast. Like everything else here, it will remain unnamed out of the remote possibility that I can be identified. Continue reading

Eat Food, Not Too Much, Mostly Plants

Okay I know I stole the title from a Michael Pollan book; it’ll make sense in a minute. Hang on.

When you apply to college, you write your personal statement. It should be powerful, well-written, interesting, full of your personality, and should catch the eye of the reader – and as everyone always tells you, the reader is seeing hundreds of these each day. Be spectacular. Good luck: it is the most important essay you will write in your life. Continue reading

Step 2 Or March Madness…?

This past Wednesday, one of my closest friends, C., took Step 2 Clinical Skills (CS). You may remember me writing about and taking the 9-hour Step 2 Clinical Knowledge test (CK) back in December… but did you know there was another half to that exam?

Clinical Skills is another lengthy exam, but it’s hands-on. During the test, you “see” twelve standardized patients – actors – who simulate a variety of medical conditions. Your job is to connect with the patient, wash your hands, speak English, and figure out what’s wrong with the actor. Continue reading

Taking a (Practice) Step 1 Exam

When I started my embarrassingly long trek toward medical school three years ago, I studied for and took the MCAT. That exam was hands down the worst testing experience I’ve ever had – a six-hour MonsterTest covering basic science. I wrote about the studying process while cloistered in isolation in my Charlottesville apartment, where I didn’t see the sun for three or four days at a time. It was often hard to stay focused, which I covered.

Periodically I would take a practice test, a soul-sucking exercise in self-flagellation that I, of course, also wrote aboutContinue reading

Round and Around We Go

Just in case you were wondering, I hate rounding with a broiling, incandescent passion.

Unfortunately for me, I’m on my medicine rotation, where rounding is not just a part of the day – it’s THE day. For those of you not indoctrinated into this hateful but necessary practice, rounding is when the “team” – the attending, the resident, the intern, the idiot,* and sometimes other people see all the patients on the list in the morning. You should take the word “morning” with a grain of salt, as sometimes rounds can begin at 6 AM and stretch well into the afternoon. Why this occurs will forever baffle me. Continue reading

A Lexical Update

Halfway through last year, I wrote “Commonest Erythematous Palpation,” a post illuminating some of the ridiculous medical terminology doctors use every day. As second year draws to a close – I’m just five weeks from the end of my last rotation, not that I’m counting or anything – I thought I’d provide you with an update with a more clinically-focused bent.

See, last year we learned all these fancy words, but it was like learning formal Spanish when most people in the real world use slang. It’ll carry you in a pinch, but people think you’re an idiot. Continue reading