Thursday, April 19, 2007

Clinical Research Class and Summative Portfolio Workshop

I thought I had reached rock bottom with this research class already, but oh, was I wrong. This morning, I was incredibly tempted to skip class, but I decided I ought to go since I already had missed one session. I should have stayed home. The instructor was out sick, two of the other students in the class were out, and the speaker was the same person who had given one of our POD talks two months ago. It was the talk about making a website for people with MS, and it wasn't the greatest POD session we've ever had. But I can tell you that sitting through a second, longer version of the exact same talk (complete with the exact same slides) was definitely worse. If we weren't so close to the end already, I'd drop this class for sure. Only two weeks to go now though. On the not so good side, our protocols are due in a week, and we have to start working on our portfolios too....

Ok, so the portfolios. I had hoped to volunteer at the Minority Men's Health Fair, which was this afternoon. But I wound up not going because we had our Summative Portfolio workshop today. Writing the Summative is going to be a very long, drawn-out process that I imagine being somewhat analogous to a cross between writing a resume cover letter and keeping a personal diary. You have to bare your soul, which requires analyzing your strengths and weaknesses; providing adequate proof (complete with working hyperlinks, the bane of my computer-challenged existence); and adhering to a very picky set of formatting rules that I swear came straight out of a Dilbert cartoon. The other difference is that, unlike a real diary, this properly-formatted, proof-laden manifesto is going to be read by people who will evaluate whether you meet certain standards at a high enough level to merit being promoted to the second year of medical school. I don't keep a diary (unless you count this blog), so this should be an interesting experience.

Here's how it works: Each week, for the next five weeks, we will be submitting essays for one or two of the nine competencies to our PAs for review. The essays are due every Thursday at 5 PM. They should not exceed more than two pages in 11 point Arial font with 1.5 line spacing, and the standards for each competency should be bolded, not italicized. (Doh!) Your PA reviews the competency essays and makes "suggestions," which you should then incorporate in order to garner your PA's signature. (Your PA has to sign off on each competency.) Many people's PAs send them comments by email, but my PA is meeting with each of us for half an hour every Friday for the next five weeks. Sigh. The final copy of the Summative is due to the MSPRC on the 31st of May. We'll get our decision letters at high noon on the 15th of June, which also happens to be the last day of classes. That's assuming that the MSPRC doesn't decide to ask you for more info before they decide on your fate, and that you have correctly followed all of the directions. Curse those directions!

As wacky as this whole system is, all in all, it still beats having to take exams any day of the week and twice on Sundays. I make this feeble protest about writing it mainly in mirth, dear reader. More to come....

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