Friday, February 16, 2007

Neuropsychiatry, PBL, POD, CHI, and Attendance Policy

Yesterday I was still not feeling well, so I didn't go to my clinical research class. I did the readings though. They were about bioethics, and there wasn't very much there that we hadn't already covered in FCM and our online ethics training for med school.

I have to say that I was really looking forward to today's seminar. Our reading was about Freud and Erikson and all the other big psych gurus, and even the term "neuropsychiatry" sounds interesting and full of promise. Unfortunately, the actuality did not match the anticipation. First of all, the seminar leader spent the first half hour of the class fiddling around with the AV equipment, which used up a quarter of our time. When he finally got it working, the majority of the seminar consisted of him showing us movie clips of a baby growing up into a toddler and then a young child. He would stop the movie at various points and ask about what we had seen. The answer was something profound like, "The baby sat up." Wow, the baby sat up. Amazing. We were supposed to spend the last 45 minutes meeting with psychiatrists in small groups to discuss child development, but it ended up being about 10 minutes. To make matters worse, our guy spent most of that time defending the existence of his field. I also still don't feel like I really understand what neuropsychiatry is exactly or how it differs from plain neuro or plain psych. All in all, this was one of the more disappointing seminars that I've attended since I started med school.

PBL went better though. We were right about the diagnoses for this week's case, and I think everyone in my group did an especially good job with their presentations. We also had a talk about how if anyone has to miss a day of PBL (like half the group did on Wednesday), that doesn't absolve them from submitting their learning objective to the portal or emailing it to the rest of us so that we can use it. I had thought that was our understanding all along, but apparently not. Anyway, it is our understanding now.

The POD talk today was really good. It was about neuropathic pain, and the presenter did a nice job of making it interactive. I can always tell when it's a good talk because people ask more questions, and they asked a lot today. The research group is focusing on how to control pain by manipulating the calcium channels in neurons. There are different subtypes of neurons, and the ones that carry pain have unique calcium channels that react differently than other neurons with different calcium channels do. What the researchers were able to do was to convert one type of neuron's reaction into the other's by removing and inserting various calcium channels. It was really neat.

In the afternoon, I volunteered at CHI. There was another CCF media person there taking pictures of us for some newsletter. I was mostly doing the cholesterol and glucose testing again, although I did some blood pressure measurements also. Since one of my classmates wanted to learn how to do cholesterol and glucose, I had her practice doing the test on me. I am pleased to say that my cholesterol and glucose were both excellent, especially my cholesterol.

I came back to CCF to find an email from the deans about the new official attendance policy. The policy says that we cannot have more than one unexcused absence from any course. Courses could be blocks, or they can be yearlong threads like anatomy or FCM. I was not very happy about getting that email. But the more I think about it, the more I realize that what really upsets me is not the policy itself, because the policy is pretty reasonable and fair. What annoys me is that there is even a need for a policy. We were all told from the beginning that attending classes is part of our professionalism competency. So I don't understand why anyone thinks they don't have to attend classes. All I can say is that this is really the wrong school for people who don't want to attend their classes.

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