Thursday, April 26, 2012

A Day In The Life

Being a medical student is more than a full time job, as anyone who is close to a medical student is well aware. Being part of the inaugural class of a medical school is no different. In addition, our class members here at CES COM have the unique opportunity of being able to start and shape different aspects of our program. Here’s an idea of what we’re doing on a day to day basis.

8:00am --10:00/12:00: Depending on the day, we have anywhere from 1 to 4 hour-long lectures.  These go very quickly, as there’s a huge volume of material to cover. So far, lecture topics have included embryology, biochemistry, genetics, histology (the study of what all of these body tissues look like under the microscope), pharmacology, microbiology, and immunology. Since we have an integrated curriculum, many aspects of these lectures overlap. For instance, we learned about the development and histology of the lungs, the biochemistry of lung surfactant, and dysfunction of membrane channel proteins while working on a case about cystic fibrosis during Problem Based Learning.

Hands-on studying: drawing some dermatome borders. A dermatome is the segment of skin innervated by one spinal segment.

10:00-12:00: On days that we only have two lectures in the AM, we go straight to PBL, or Problem-Based-Learning. Here, we sit around a table with a whiteboard and are given information about a fictitious patient whose ailment we must research. It combines basic science with clinical work, as we have to research basic things we don't know about (the biological basis of these diseases) as well as the clinical process of making a diagnosis and caring for the patient (what are normal lab tests to order? what do they measure? How do you tell a patient bad news?) This happens 2-3 times per week. 

Tuesdays are a little different. Tuesdays are anatomy days! We have anatomy lecture in the morning, followed by lab. Here, our PBL group is broken down so that four people are dissecting, two people are learning the bones from the "bone box" (box of plastic bones), and two people are learning what the anatomy looks like when using imaging techniques. We reconvene on our own time to teach each other what we've learned. So far, we’ve covered the entire upper half of the body, minus the head and neck.

12:00: Lunch! This is when all of our student interest groups take time to meet. Some of the groups that have been started thus far include AMSA, AMWA, Global Health, and a variety of specialty interest groups.

1:00-5:00: This is where it really varies. On Monday and Fridays, or Wednesdays and Fridays (depending on when we see our community preceptors), we have independent study time. Every day, our IT people record the lectures and post them. In the evenings, you'll find most of us going through the day's lectures at double speed in our respective study cubbies, which are our home base at school. We've even started to decorate: 

On Tuesdays, we usually have lectures and small group discussions relating to the more human side of medicine, such as ethics or problems in healthcare. Thursdays, we learn clinical skills, like taking a history or performing a physical exam. Wednesday is our day to go out into the community and observe our Preceptor, a doctor who has agreed to take us on for two years in order to show us the real life application of all of these clinical skills and allow us to practice the clinical skills we learn at school.

There you have it! Look out for future posts detailing different aspects of our new lives as medical students, including what our interest groups are up to, what extracurricular activities we’re starting, and what we plan to do during our summer!

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