Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Foundations of Clinical Medicine, Echocardiograph Lab, and Stress Test

Foundations of Clinical Medicine (FCM) is kind of a fluff class. There isn't too much reading, and what little reading there is tends to be on the light side. Basically what we do is work on development of professionalism, and talk about the social and ethical issues of medicine. Today we started by having a brief introduction, and then we broke up into small groups in the PBL rooms to come up with suitable goals of professionalism for M1s. (The FCM groups are also groups of eight, but they are different groups versus the PBL groups.) My group came up with principles like arriving to classes and clinics on time; being responsible for our learning and for the learning of our classmates; getting involved in community service; and being prepared properly for class. It's not the most exciting class, at least so far. But from what I've heard from my friends at other schools, it's one of those things that everyone has to do no matter where they go to med school. The good thing is that later on in the year we'll be doing some service projects, and we'll also have some joint sessions with the UP students.

Afterward, we went to the echocardiograph lab at the CCF hospital. We rotated at several stations, where we learned how to interpret echocardiograms as well as about the physiology of the heart. Echocardiograms are performed by using sound waves, and you can see the valves of the heart opening and closing and the chambers contracting in real time. It's amazingly cool to watch someone's heart actually beating. Since we were seeing real patients, we had to be dressed professionally, including our white coats. It's amazing how much wearing the shirt and tie (or blouse) and a white coat makes us look like "real" doctors. But many of us were also wearing our backpacks, and I have to say that the backpack definitely ruins the effect!

In the afternoon, I studied in the library for a while until it was time for me to take my stress test. This was for a seminar that we're having next month. The scientist doing it is a physiologist, and he wants to collect data on a few of the people in my class to use during his presentation. Basically the stress test consisted of me having to walk and jog on a treadmill at progressively more difficult levels. I was wearing electrodes so that the technician could get an EKG, and I also had my nose clamped off and I had to breathe into a snorkel-like mouthpiece the entire time. Every few minutes, my blood pressure got measured using a standard BP cuff. I started out at rest, then walked at 1.5 mph at a 10% incline. Every couple of minutes, the tech would increase both the speed and incline. By the end, I was jogging at 5 mph at an 18% incline, and I finally had to stop because I was starting to feel lightheaded. I did reach my maximum heartrate though, and the technician said that he got really good data. Even though it's pretty early, I am totally exhausted now and ready to go to bed.

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