Friday, October 19, 2007

Back to School

I got home last night from my conference. It was really good, but also really exhausting. I have come to the realization that it is not very much fun to go to a conference as a second year medical student in the middle of an organ system block. The thing is, the psych profs are not giving me any extensions to turn my work in late or anything, so I had to spend several hours every morning and evening doing my reading and homework for school while all of the residents and fellows were going out having fun and sightseeing. I did manage to do a bit of sightseeing myself, but I definitely didn't have anywhere near as much fun as everyone else did. On the funny side, my PI commented to me that he was glad I came because I probably learned more at the meeting than I would have learned if I had stayed in Cleveland. I said I knew that I had definitely learned more than I would have otherwise, because I still had to do all of the assignments for school anyway, PLUS I attended a bunch of talks at the meeting. :-P

This morning we had PBL. I had been reading the case from the conference and had emailed some ideas and articles to the other members of my group, so I had a clue about what was going on even though I missed Monday and Wednesday. We have decided to be more organized and start having someone be the official board scribe each week. We also agreed that we would go back to doing formal learning objectives from now on.

The seminar today was about personality disorders. It's really funny, but as I was reading about the personality disorders yesterday and listening to the seminar today, I couldn't help but think about all of the people I have met in my life who would fit into one or another personality disorder category. I think probably everyone does this, but it was funny how many people I could say to myself, "hmm, yeah, he IS kind of borderline personality with features of anti-social personality." Yesterday on the plane, this surfer dude was sitting next to me. He saw the article I was reading about personality disorders for today's class and said that probably several of the categories would apply to him. I told him not to worry, substance abuse wasn't a personality disorder. He just kind of looked at me, so then I had to explain about the DSM axes and that personality disorders were a completely different category than being a pothead. Once he understood that he doesn't have a personality disorder (Axis II) because substance abuse is lumped in Axis I with things like psychotic disorders and dementia, he said, "oh, good, I'm really glad I'm not crazy." It made for a rather interesting conversation until he finally passed out after downing his third or fourth gin and tonic.

Our ARM seminar today was kind of boring, and I had a hard time focusing and paying attention the whole time. It was supposed to be about addiction, but instead it was about how some variant of the GABA ion channel seems to cause epilepsy in rats who were irradiated in the womb. Besides the fact that it's kind of cruel to irradiate pregnant rats, I'm not sure how well this rat model even mimics the human disease. The speaker did do studies on human tissue from epileptic patients as well, but he used "non-epileptic" tissue from these same patients as his controls. I wonder if non-epileptic tissue from epileptic patients is actually equivalent to normal brain tissue from non-epileptic patients? It's not like you could take some brain tissue out of a normal person and find out!

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