Jan 28, 2009

Comedic hiatus

Woo hoo! Day off! Due to skipping last week's day off and being really really industrious studying my ass off, this puts me (drumroll) only a week behind schedule! Yee ha!!

So as I'm off to bed at this delicate hour, I leave you with this hilarious description someone wrote who was apparently spying on me while I was in college, which carries over some of its nasty habits to USMLE study:


Jan 23, 2009


Finished my first pass at biochem!

As many of you may know, biochem has been the beast that's haunted me since I got into medical school and snapped on my alpha 1 receptors so completely that I thought I was going to have a stroke. After sacrificing all of embryo and half of anatomy to it in first term, plus the entirety of my first summer, I figured it'd just be a few days to get it all back into my head since I'd gone over it so thoroughly, leaving me more time for pharm, which I didn't bother to be too freaked out about since it was last term and I had senioritis, which translates to me knowing way less about drugs than a run-of-the-mill crackhead

So twelve days later...

In my defense, we had that whole country-changing, finally got an articulate man in office, tear-up, comin' back to America, history-making presidential thing, so after promising myself I'd only watch the meat of it as a compromise (similar to what I promised myself on election night with similar consequences) and instead stayed glued to the tv for two days and made up for my truancy by doing about twenty-five minutes of videos.

Wedged around that though, I've actually been studying my ass off, glued to my desk, recreation consisting of an episode of Scrubs in the evening to help me as I go to sleep, a once-a-week House episode (both count as studying) and occasional Daily Shows when I'm willing to watch them while on a fitness glider thing.

All this productivity makes me feel ill... no beach, no sangria, no boyfriend, no walks to the point.

Oh, though it freaking snowed on inauguration day. Which is completely awesome, particularly since I'm in an area that never gets snow.

In celebration of the end of biochem, and a gradual discomfort that I was avoiding taking the first NBME practice exam because I was worried about my study methods so far, since I'm kind of piecing together study techniques out of spare parts, I coughed up 45$ of money I don't have to take the NMBE, which bought me four hours of realizing I really need to learn what theophylline does (four questions! Something to do with asthma), and that for the time being, it projects me as being okay.

And I apparently overkilled in biochem. I got an asterisk and no bar in that one, which put me off the charts, yet dipped down to borderline in nutrition, a class I generally write off, don't study, and then predictably do badly in, yet remain surprised every time it happens. Probably because I still think arachidonic acid is a horror movie about spiders. That shoot acid out of their... uh... I'm not too up on spider anatomy either. Eyes. Let's go with eyes.

So now I'm onto embryo (after a post-NBME celebratory Warcraft hit; since I don't know anyone in New Bern, I drown my sorrows by murdering helpless cartoon animals), complete with finally breaking out the colored pencils and markers and doing a full scale mock up of the damned fetal circulation because I never really bothered to learn it and just decided to keep getting ductus venosus questions wrong since I figured no one in their right mind would ever trust me with a baby anyway. But now I know what a ductus venosus does!

Jan 8, 2009

Back to the books...

Since I'm kind of flying blind on this whole USMLE thing, and don't have the crutch of having SGU notes to direct me toward a loose idea of the exam questions, and don't have the history of lecture attendance to make a review course feasible, I'm starting off by borrowing EXTREMELY heavily from Topher's suggestions (anyone who wants to go to SGU, do well in school, ace the USMLE, and transfer out of SGU should head right over there, by the way) at least in the beginning.

I'm on day one, but I'm feeling WAY better for having a tentative plan. I guess that's why 99% of people that have passed it, written books on it, or have heard of it, recommend having a schedule. Hey, never too late to start, right? I'm using the First Aid as a guide to what else to review, and am starting off with behavioral, epidemiology, and statistics so I can be eased into the meat with not only the beginning of the First Aid, but also with the mindset I had in third term, which was "whew, that's way less suicide-inducing than the last year". I'm using the BRS Behavioral Science book to supplement this study, and so far, it seems pretty good, and is adding in a few points the First Aid left out that still seemed important.

I'm also going to try to follow the First Aid book's format of being system oriented since I think it'll help me link key ideas, as I started to do in pathophysiology. It also may be the only chance in hell I have of learning any concept related to dermatology, since I've been steadfastly avoiding it as filler in every class where it came up, therefore the only thing I know about the skin is that it tends to hurt a lot when it's removed.

In the meantime, I'm trying to augment my studying with exercise and a healthier diet, since this long haul is going to require my not feeling like crap for the duration so that I have a hope of focusing my attention for longer than three seconds.

In short, I figure I've got close to 9 weeks to remake myself into a completely different person: specifically one that's not a cynical cheese-fed ADD slacker. anyone want to play odds on my chances?

Jan 7, 2009

A scary new year

But an exciting one.

Winding down to when I stop my shameless recreating, playstation 2ing, warcrafting, beading, and so forth, dive headfirst into a slew of books, notes, advice, mp3s, and videos, and cram like I've never crammed before.

Krash and I had a conversation about whether medical school can be crammed, and the answer is yes... kind of. Cramming, as she pointed out, starts earlier in medical school, so what was a 36 hour coffee-addled stress fest in college, in medical school, lasts two weeks. But does that mean it's not crammable? Ask most of the people who passed micro whether medical school is crammable. Sometimes. Kind of. If you plan it right.

So the USMLE kind of proves the ultimate cram session for terminal procrastinators like me. 7-9 weeks in which I must recapitulate the entirety of my basic sciences, and then be tested on them against a national scale, meaning if the school dropped the teaching ball on genetics one year, gotta fix it. If I decided biochem was way more important than embryology and as such, COMPLETELY blew off the later for the entirety of the final exam, counting on my anatomy to coast me through, now's the time to pay in blood by having to learn, pretty much for the first time, the entire formation of the human nervous system. Didn't read the antivirals in pharmacology because you didn't get to that packet in time, and it was only 5 questions on the second midterm in a curved class? Ha ha sucka, time to learn it now. Only the stakes are higher.

So how am I going to study... uhhh... videos, Goljan lectures, a mishmash of review books, particularly those from which I could not be separated during basic sciences (BRS physio and Lippincott biochem, I'm looking in your direction), and a possibly misguided dependence on the First Aid. Hopefully that'll work out since I decided that given my attendance history in lecture over basic sciences, signing up for a 4000 dollar class in the hopes I would resurrect as a completely different person and cheerfully skip off to 8 hours of high yield lecture beginning at the crack of Starbucks opening was a complete pipe dream.

Time will tell.

On the plus side, I'm in a quiet pretty town with some good walking areas, which will facilitate being jumpy by allowing me to listen to lectures on my ipod, I have my own room with a set up study center, and even my own printer! After two years in Grenada, I've come to view having my own printer like most people view getting their first car.

My room has a view of the river from one side, and city hall from the other, which is one of those old class small town brick models with colored lights on the clock tower. It's very nice.

And since it's America, it's also got a Walmart (fortunately NOT in view of my window) where I can buy more printer cartridges, paper, and chex mix at 11 PM. Or grab fast food at 3 AM. Awesome.

Sooo, my Dad's been here since right near Christmas, and surprisingly, has enjoyed watching me play God of War while taking out my frustrations for having it take 90 minutes for me to kill a hydra by having my avatar destroy inanimate objects. And yes, I'm immature.

I spent New Year's in Carolina Beach, since I refused to spend the evening glued to the Times Square feed again, and I'm hoping to be IN Times Square (for the first, and probably last, time) next year. Carolina Beach was a pretty cool time though. We watched the lighted beach ball drop from the ladder on a fire engine (small town), a surprisingly impressive display of fireworks over the pier, and best yet, found a honky tonk bar right near the water that even featured the requisite jukebox featuring a disproportionate ratio of Journey and old time Aerosmith. Don't ask. Oh, and I'll say it, to anyone who complains about Grenadian brews, Budweiser is still 10 times worse than Carib.

Drove dad back over to Winston Salem yesterday, stopping by Greensboro to retrieve some of my textbooks from Krash, who magnanimously took about 20 pounds of them into her luggage when I realized that my estimations of my bag weight was hideously optimistic. So I've been reunited with my Netters, and there was much rejoicing. It was also weird/cool to see someone from the Rock in the real world, since I still am carrying this sort of sadness about wondering which people from Grenada I'm going to get to ever see again.

Needed a Nawab's curry fix in Winston Salem. Holy crap, that stuff is good. I thought Grenada had ruined my taste for anything remotely resembling Indian food, but I was wrong. Now I have to spend the next three months not only studying, but getting rid of the results of my beer, meat, wine, ethnic food, fast food vaccum impression. Gods.

Good luck to all you other exam takers, and good luck to all you SGUers heading back soon!