Taking a (Practice) Step 1 Exam

When I started my embarrassingly long trek toward medical school three years ago, I studied for and took the MCAT. That exam was hands down the worst testing experience I’ve ever had – a six-hour MonsterTest covering basic science. I wrote about the studying process while cloistered in isolation in my Charlottesville apartment, where I didn’t see the sun for three or four days at a time. It was often hard to stay focused, which I covered.

Periodically I would take a practice test, a soul-sucking exercise in self-flagellation that I, of course, also wrote aboutContinue reading

Rules for Step 1

I haven’t written in a while because I’ve been in a hole these last couple weeks studying for Step 1, or “the boards” as it is colloquially known. Step 1 is the first of three licensing exams you have to take to become a doctor.

Which, of course, means that Step 1 has almost nothing to do with doctoring. It’s not that bad a test, actually, it’s just incredibly challenging to assess medical knowledge. Step 1, for instance, focuses on the basic science – the science underpinnings to how the body works and what goes wrong in disease. Future exams, like Step 2 and 3, focus on the bigger picture of diagnosis and treatment. Continue reading

We Need To Talk About Your PET Scan

This is not funny, so if you’re not in the mood for some serious, come back later.

Yesterday was my last day of inpatient medicine for the entire year. I have two weeks of outpatient clinic left and a shelf, but for all practical purposes we’ve completed our clinical year. It’s terrifying to think that in a typical curriculum, I’d be applying for residencies right now. Oh god.

The night before my last day, my team admitted a gentleman, whom we’ll call Mr. P. He came in after hours with a months-long history of difficulty peeing and some blood in his urine. Why he chose to address this in the ER in the middle of the night, I have no idea.

(I have, of course, changed many details here for privacy reasons.) Continue reading

Round and Around We Go

Just in case you were wondering, I hate rounding with a broiling, incandescent passion.

Unfortunately for me, I’m on my medicine rotation, where rounding is not just a part of the day – it’s THE day. For those of you not indoctrinated into this hateful but necessary practice, rounding is when the “team” – the attending, the resident, the intern, the idiot,* and sometimes other people see all the patients on the list in the morning. You should take the word “morning” with a grain of salt, as sometimes rounds can begin at 6 AM and stretch well into the afternoon. Why this occurs will forever baffle me. Continue reading

A Lexical Update

Halfway through last year, I wrote “Commonest Erythematous Palpation,” a post illuminating some of the ridiculous medical terminology doctors use every day. As second year draws to a close – I’m just five weeks from the end of my last rotation, not that I’m counting or anything – I thought I’d provide you with an update with a more clinically-focused bent.

See, last year we learned all these fancy words, but it was like learning formal Spanish when most people in the real world use slang. It’ll carry you in a pinch, but people think you’re an idiot. Continue reading

Giddyup!

Since my last post, I have finished my pediatrics rotation and completed an emergency medicine elective. I know I haven’t written too much about peds, but I had a great time on the block chiefly because a) no one yelled at me for six entire weeks, which is a clinical year record, and b) kids get better, as I mentioned before in It’s Always Turner Syndrome. Continue reading

A Second Look

I write to you this time from a cruising altitude of 35,000 feet, in the midst of my second travel nightmare of 2015. Frankly, though, nothing can top the horror of the Three Days In Ramshackle-Houston Where I Potentially Came Close To Having My Kidneys Stolen. As such I will refrain from discussing the joys of getting out of Portland with a broken plane and a pair of enraged business consultants with Very Important Meetings early tomorrow morning that surely cannot go on without their august presences. Continue reading