January 26, 2008

Any Given Sunday

Being a former football player, I am well familiar with the saying that football is a "game of inches." Well, so is medical school.

Yes, my enjoyment in life is directly proportional how many inches thick my syllabus is for that given block.

To keep my football analogy going (you know how much I love analogies), I have established the "how much my life sucks at any given moment" scale - complete with football comparisons.

Syllabus is 1" Thick
Football Analogy: This is like having a three touchdown lead in the forth quarter. You're calling a running play every time just to chew up the clock, the other team knows you're calling a running play every time, and you're still averaging 5 yards a play and the game in totally in the bag. No anxiety, the fans are cheering their heads off, you're sipping some mighty fine gatorade on the sideline, just soaking in the scene.

Medical School Translation: Yeah, I love when my syllabus is this skinny. This is when I truly love medical school. The amount of material is manageable enough you can take a good number of days off from studying. I can find time to do more actually medically related things like scrubbing in on surgeries or reading the new england journal of medicine. But mostly I am finding time to go to the gym, go on runs, frequent bars, drink beer, and watch sports. Ah, life is good at 1" (that's what she said).

Syllabus is 2" Thick
Football Analogy: This is like having a one touchdown lead going into halftime against a team that on paper you should beat but is putting up a good fight. The other team is good enough you can't coast and the game isn't nearly in the bag yet. But at the same time, you got the lead and you got the better team. You should win, but there's just enough of a question mark about the outcome you got to be on your game.

Medical School Translation: This is status quo for medical school. Everyone should theoretically be able to handle the amount of material just fine, but at the same time, its just enough to strike a small bit of fear into you. You can't coast on two inches, but at the same time, you can handle it just fine. If you stay on top of your shit.

Syllabus is 3-4" Thick
Football Analogy: This is being down by two with two minutes left and you just received a punt on your opponents 40 yard line. You got a proven clutch time quarterback and all the pieces to drive within range to kick the field goal for the win. But you're down. And time is your enemy. Will you be the hero or the goat?

Medical School Translation: This is where you start to go "oh shit." It seems like a LOT of material and you wonder if you have enough time to get all your studying done. But at the same time, you have a proven clutch time quarterback (your brain). This is make or break time in medical school, when you need to start giving up an inordinate time with things you enjoy (beer and sleep) for time with the books (lame). But when you kick that field goal for the win (pass the exam), damn, it almost makes it all worth it. This is where legends are made. At least thats what I tell myself. Wow, I'm lame.

Syllabus is 5"+ Thick
Football Analogy: This is where you're out of timeouts and down by a touchdown with 45 seconds left and attempt an on side kick to get to ball back to try and tie the game. Only the other team recovers the on side kick and just has to kneel to run out the clock. Game over. You lose.

Medical School Translation: Thankfully, I have yet to experience a syllabus of 5 inches. And hopefully I won't have to anytime soon. But I know I will have to at least once in my medical career. One word: Boards.

So where am I right now? Squarely at 3.5":

By my very definition, I should be giving up things I enjoy right now, so why the hell am I posting a new blog? Well, I might just have to chalk that one up to ego. Or being an idiot.

January 20, 2008

Cue the theme music

Welcome to my PCM small group.

Last week marked our first experience with the so called "case study" that med students know and love. We're given a workup of a new admission, complete with chief complaint, past medical history, all that jazz, then they let us loose with our minuscule medical knowledge to run a differential diagnosis on the case.

Now anyone who's watched their fair share of House knows there is one unifying theme to all of the differential diagnosis they run through. No, its not House's asshole attitude or Dr. Cameron's thin shirts.

It's lupus.

Yes, no matter how bizarre the symptoms or the case, House and his crack team of whatever-kind-of-doctors they're supposed to be (here's a hint, such a doctor doesn't really exist) always have lupus in their differential when trying to solve the puzzle of that week's episode. One week the person even had lupus - which was a cause of great celebration (and drinking) for me and my friends.

So we were given our first case study, a poor 45 year old woman coming in with the responsibility of saving her life falling squarely on our shoulders. We start talking about symptoms, her family's medical history, her traveling habits, and begin to come up with a list of ailments most likely to be the cause of her problems. We narrow it down to a top 10 list, and sitting there squarely at #1 was...


Yes, that moment marked a defining checkpoint in the progression of my medical career. I have now reached the technical and mental proficiency of the fake doctors you see on TV. I couldn't be more proud. Maybe now should be the time to pitch myself as the subject of a new medical TV show...

January 12, 2008


Every medical student knows this image.
Every medical student fears this image.
Every medical student hates this image.

Yes, it's reached that time of the year when we have the privilege and honor of studying... metabolism! Of course, this is only our first romp with it, we'll get it again next year. And that's what so great about metabolism - it sucks so bad that they give it to us twice!

What's that you say? If I had a dollar for every disease that somehow involved the metabolic pathway I could likely pay off all my med school debt? Ok, so I guess its important. But you try learning it all in 12 days. Yes, if there's one thing I've gotten good at lately its complaining. And all of this ridiculous information will be purged from my brain within minutes of taking the final. But still, you try learning it all in 12 days.