Saturday, June 16, 2007

FAQ #29: What Books Do You Use for the ERB and HIM Blocks?

For the Endocrine and Reproductive Biology (ERB) block, you really don't need a supplemental book. Most of the assigned readings come from Boron. There are also optional readings that come from another book and that were posted on the portal as additional reading. I'm not sure what book those optional readings came from, but I liked that book's coverage of these topics WAY better than Boron. After the first week, I mainly read the additional readings instead of the Boron readings.

Hematology, Immunology, and Microbiology (HIM) block:

For immunology, you should get Immunobiology: The Immune System in Health and Disease. 6th ed. by Janeway, and also How the Immune System Works by Somparyac. Both of these books are recommended, and I liked them both a lot. It's best to read the Sompayrac book, which is very short and entertaining, early on in the block. Then you can focus on the denser Janeway book afterward. Just in case you're interested, Lippincott's Illustrated Reviews has also just put out an immunology book as of summer 2007. It didn't come out in time for me to make use of it during the class, unfortunately, but it might be a good alternative if you like Lippincott's books and don't like the Janeway book. If anyone reading this post has bought the Lippincott immunology book and is willing to tell me what you think of it, please leave a comment.

For hematology, no additional books are necessary. You might want to go ahead and get the Robbins path book for next year if you haven't already, because there are some very useful heme readings in there. Also, we weren't ever assigned any readings from the Hematology for the Medical Student book that we bought last fall, but I read several chapters out of it and found it to be a very helpful book for heme. Some of the heme articles we were assigned to read weren't as good as the readings from these two books.

For micro, I had bought a book from one of the upperclassmen as my main text called Sherris Medical Microbiology: An Introduction to Infectious Diseases. 4th ed. by Ryan. That was the book used by the first two CCLCM classes, and I just read the appropriate sections depending on what topics we were covering. The new required book for my class was Medical Microbiology by Murray, but you can use either that one or the Sherris book. Whichever text you buy, I recommend also getting Clinical Microbiology Made Ridiculously Simple by Gladwin. It's a much more digestible way to learn micro. Also, if you like the Lippincott's Illustrated Reviews series (pharm, biochem), you might want to also get their micro book. The pictures and diagrams are really awesome and helpful for conceptual learning, and the Lippincott micro book goes more into the clinical aspects of the lab tests than either of the other micro books I bought did.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Last Day of Year One and Promoted to Year Two!!!!!!!!!!!!

We had a second seminar this morning about anti-fungals, but as for the rest of this entire week, it was very hard to stay focused. I spent part of the time finishing up one more last-minute eval that somehow hadn't been in my account yesterday. I wrote to the secretary and swore on my life that last time I checked all of the evals were complete, and this eval hadn't been there! It turns out that it was a computer glitch and not my fault. But even so, I still had to get it done right away if I wanted my MSPRC letter today.

I think we spent about half an hour in PBL. My presentation was the shortest, least complete one I've ever done. When I first got there, I warned my group members that I had twenty slides and a quiz for them. They were starting to argue with me because they wanted to get out early, and finally I couldn't help it any more and I started cracking up. Somehow, no one ever knows when I'm joking! I really only had seven slides, and my presentation lasted about 5 minutes.

At noon, we got our letters. They're a page long, and each one is personalized for that student. The first paragraph of mine says:

"Dear CCLCMer,

The Medical School Promotion and Review Committee met on June 6, 2007 to review your Year 1 Summative Portfolio. Based on its deliberation, the Committee determined that you met the Year 1 standards for all nine competencies and will be promoted to Year 2."

This is followed by two paragraphs about my specific strengths and weaknesses based on what I presented to them, and then a generic paragraph that we seem to have all gotten commenting about the organization of our portfolios. Now it's official: I'm an M2.

We had our last POD session at 12:15 right after we got our letters. I couldn't believe that they scheduled POD on the last day, and I figured no one would show up once they got their letters, but actually most of us did. The speaker does basic science research on preventing rejection in kidney transplants. His work was pretty interesting, but he had way too much material to present. I mean, today of all days was NOT a time when we wanted the speaker to go all the way through to 1:15 PM, which he did. At the end, he asked if anyone had questions, and no one said a word!

So, that's it for year one. We have four weeks off, although I'm only getting three because of my fellowship. Still, I'm looking forward to having some time to chill. I'm going out of town on Monday. Before I leave, I'm going to do consults this weekend with Dr. Tomford, who is an incredibly funny and very knowledgeable infectious disease (ID) doctor here. I'm not really thinking that I want to do ID for a career necessarily, but I just want to see what it's like while I have the chance.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Tuesday and Wednesday Stuff

Yesterday was a really short day. We just had one seminar on HLA matching and blood typing. I think there was another optional micro review session before that, but I didn't go in early. Today we had an antibiotics pharm seminar and PBL in the morning. Then we had a mandatory FCM Course Evaluation in the afternoon. The course director wanted to get feedback from us about FCM, the physical diagnosis class, and the clinics. Several people in my class are unfortunate enough to have to drive long distances for their clinics, which is really going to be hard next year since we have clinic every week. That was the main thing that we talked about during the feedback session.

I don't really have much to suggest on how to make things easier for people who have to drive long distances, so I spent the time working on the eight zillion surveys we have to get done by Friday. We keep getting emails from the college staff to tell us that if we don't get the evals done by Friday, then we won't get our MSPRC letters. It's getting to be a pain to keep filling them out, because they're essays and not just multiple choice. But I can't really complain too much considering that one of my criticisms of some of the FCM faculty was that they didn't provide detailed enough comments so that I could use them as evidence for my portfolio!

Monday, June 11, 2007

Antibiotics Seminar and PBL

We've reached the last week of school! I feel like classes should have ended two weeks ago--I just don't feel very motivated to study at all. It kind of amazes me because this week is going to be all about drugs and bugs, which I like. But even so, I did basically no reading over the weekend aside from finishing "And the Band Played On" and doing my homework from last week. It's like my brain has decided to go on vacation already.

The classes themselves were good, but like I said, I am just not focused on them. One of the two pharmacists that I really like was leading our seminar. We went through several cases, and it was tough to concentrate. Even for PBL, people have not really been in the mood. We're doing our last case this week, and I think all of us just feel burned out and not in the mood for it. I still can't bring myself to go to the gym, so I'm going home instead. To do what, I don't know. Maybe I'll feel like doing the reading for tomorrow later tonight. Yeah, right.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Virology Seminar, PBL, POD, and CHI

I had a very busy day today. We started with a virology seminar on HIV that I think was a bit too elementary. It wasn't bad, but I had done some extra reading, so it was just kind of tedious. By the way, for anyone who is interested and has a copy of the big Robbins path book, there is a very nice section on the immunology of HIV in there. It's only about 10 pages. I just bought this book recently, and I've been reading random sections from the micro and immunology chapters here and there. So far I really like it, much better than I liked the Boron physiology book we used this year. Lately I've been reading sections of the Robbins book instead of some of the random readings we're assigned sometimes.

We were done early with the learning objectives in PBL, so we spent some time talking about the social issues of the case. I don't normally like to spend PBL time discussing these things, but I'll concede that it was pretty relevant to this case. Still, I would have rather gotten out of class earlier. I'm reaching a point of saturation where I'm really tired of sitting in classes and eager to be done with them altogether.

The POD talk was given by one of the same docs who spoke during our seminar this morning. It was about the history of HIV research. The talk was really interesting, especially because this speaker has been involved in HIV research for many years, and he knows many of the scientists whose work he was telling us about. He also mentioned a book I read several years ago in college called "And the Band Played On" by Randy Shilts. It's about the first several years of the HIV epidemic during the Reagan era. The focus is mostly on the U.S., but it talks a little bit about the spread of HIV in other countries too. I've started re-reading the book, and somehow the experience of reading it is very different now. I don't know if it's just that I'm older, or that I've been in medical school for a year already, or some combination of the two. But I really struggled to get through it the first time, whereas now I feel like I could stay up all night reading it.

I left POD a few minutes early so that I could meet with my PA briefly before I went to volunteer at CHI. We did our last CHI screenings for the year today. I was taking blood pressures. All of us were acting a little silly anyway, and since several of the patients brought their kids, we just got sillier while entertaining them. I took the blood pressure of a three-year-old after she saw me take her mom's blood pressure and wanted me to do hers. It was incredibly low, and I had to listen really hard to hear it. I also had to use the tiniest little peds cuff I have ever seen. As soon as I finished taking her blood pressure and removed the cuff, she solemnly held out her other arm. So I took her blood pressure again on that arm. I can't say that I ever see myself doing peds as a career, because being around screaming kids just makes me want to kill myself. But I have to admit that this one was really cute.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Two Seminars and PBL

I have nothing too exciting to report for today. We had two seminars, one on miscellaneous bacteria and one on platelets. We had kind of covered platelets a couple of weeks ago, so a lot of the material for today was review. My PBL group was right about the patient in our case. He did have a second diagnosis. My learning objective is on the pharmacology of anti-retroviral drugs.

I haven't been going to the gym at all for the past couple of weeks even though I have more than enough time to go now. I don't know if it's just that I'm exhausted or that the weather is so beautiful or what, but somehow I never feel like going. Every single day after class I struggle with myself about whether I'm going to go, and every single day I come up with some excuse not to go. At least I've been going for walks in the evenings though, so it's not like I'm not getting any exercise at all. As much as the weather here sucks in the winter, the summers are gorgeous. I guess that there are good seasons and bad ones pretty much everywhere.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Fungi and HIV/AIDS Talk

There was a morning review session for micro, but I decided not to go. I just don't feel like I get as much out of the seminars in comparison to reading the material myself, and it's not like I don't have enough reading to do without needing extra classroom sessions. Actually, this has been the first week where I've more or less been keeping up with all the reading. I have no Masters class, no FCM class, no portfolio, no other outside things to do at all besides the readings for school. I did go to the regular seminar at 10:00, which was about fungi. I don't think that microbiology is the kind of thing that you can really learn much about from a lecture though.

After class, the HIV/AIDS Interest Group had a speaker from Oberlin. She is a social scientist who studies how the media portrayals of the HIV epidemic and people who are HIV+ affect societal views about whose "fault" it is when people become HIV infected. The particular work she was telling us about is related to men on the "down low," which is kind of loosely defined as men who are heterosexual on the surface but secretly have sexual encounters with other men. The portrayals in the mainstream media tended to look at these men as bisexuals who are secretive or dishonest, and as people who spread disease to innocent heterosexuals, especially women. The portrayals in the black media also focused on increasing the visibility of men on the down low and protecting black women, but there was also more of an examination of the historical mistrust between the black community and the American public health system. It was an interesting talk, and it didn't hurt that that the lunch was catered by Cedarland (a really good Lebanese restaurant on campus) either!

Monday, June 04, 2007

Anatomy and PBL

I had a very pleasant, relaxing weekend. There were no portfolio essays to write--I only had to do the usual SAQs and CAPPs. Even our anatomy reading for today was pretty minor, just 8 pages. We did a review of the cranial nerves. It wasn't a bad idea to review them, but I wish we had done this about six months ago when we were struggling to learn the cranial nerve exams in Physical Diagnosis class. Now it's a little anti-climactic.

The new PBL case is pretty interesting so far. Some of the symptoms don't fit with the diagnosis though. I think that this will end up being another case where the patient has two different problems.

I met with my summer research preceptor after lunch to discuss what I'll be doing this summer. I'm going to be working on the same project that I wrote about in the protocol for my clinical research class. I'm really excited about doing this project. My preceptor gave me a copy of the final protocol to read over break, so I'm pretty much all set.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Blood Smears, PBL, POD, and Portfolio Done!

I am happy to report that I turned in the hard copy of my portfolio yesterday without a hitch. So that's it. I'm officially done with my first year of medical school now except for the last couple of weeks of class.

We were divided into four groups of eight for seminar. My group's seminar leader was the same hematologist who had been my communications preceptor. I really like him, and the workshop he conducted for us today was pretty good too. We worked our way through several cases of blood cell disorders and looked at slides of blood smears. As much as I usually hate histology stuff, these were interesting. I think I already mentioned that one of the pathologists promised me that I'd enjoy path way more than I like histo. So far at least, that seems to be true.

Yet another PBL patient survived her illness, thankfully. After having had two in a row die on us, now I'm a little paranoid about it. It sounds kind of silly on one hand, because of course we're not really seeing these patients. But the cases are based on real patients, and it's very real to me in that sense at least.

I really loved today's POD talk. It was about stress and its effect on the immune system. Dr. Moravec, who runs the POD sessions, gave part of the talk. But the main speaker was a CCF psychiatrist. He gave us some articles about things we could do to reduce stress. (Gee, I wonder why they thought we'd be feeling stressed the day after our portfolios were due???) The best part of the talk was toward the end, when he hooked up one of my classmates to his biofeedback machine so that we could see how someone's stress level could be measured. My poor classmate was kind of volunteered involuntarily, but was a very good sport about it. I think that this was one of the best, if not the best, POD talks that we've had all year.