Tuesday, March 23, 2010

SpacedEd: Love This Resource


I discovered SpacedEd in physiology: our course instructor suggested we use it to keep up with the course. But it offers so much more! I'm signed up for Chest Radiology I/II, Cardiology, Endocrinology, Neurology and many others. Chest Radiology courses are really great. Every day I get 5-10 case-based questions to answer. It takes me only 10-15 minutes, but the cases are so much fun! There is a handy edition for the iPhone, which is available for free (no software download is required).

Friday, February 5, 2010

I'm Learning Real Medicine!!!


This week's NEJM issue features two clinical cases that I can actually say I understood!
When we were learning systemic and portal circulation, we had a clinical study case that
was just like this one. We had to identify at least 4 porto-systemic anastomoses, and predict
what would happen to these blood vessels should pressure go up in the portal circulation
due to liver cirrhosis. I knew what they were showing on the picture, too! This is so cool --
"Anatomy is Power" as my professors used to say every so often.

Bleeding Esophageal Varices

By coincidence, I've been learning pulmonary physiology this week -- and so this article jumped
out at me (I've just spent the past 9 hours predicting lung volumes and guessing at the flow rates
for tomorrow's quiz). When I look at this article now, it amazes me I actually know what I'm
looking at. I know what a CT is, I've learned some basics of how to read them, and I have an
appreciation for what should be on that CT and roughly in what sizes. My physiology class uses
lots of clinical cases like this one to practice solving "problems". So yes, I've just spent many hours
in solitude with my TI-84 and heaps of my meticulously numbered and dated papers. But it's a
trade worth anything and everything -- because I get to experience at least some of what this case
really looked like to the physician who treated it.

Under Pressure

Well, that makes me feel much better.
But I'm going to sleep --

I have class in 3hrs...

Friday, January 29, 2010

State of the Union: Keeping it Together Through Physiology

I'll finish this post when I wake up.
Hopefully I'll still be able to remember all the witty things I was going to say.

Quick survey of today's damage: 
- two finals this morning: done with January block!
- responded to email for 5hrs: how many calories does one spend per hour of typing?
- worked on my research proposal: two deadlines on Monday, many more coming up
- noticed but chose to ignore the Leaning Tower of mail on my desk
- failed to write this post in a non-bullet-point form... brain feels mushy
- slept less than 4hrs/day this week
- ate my classmate's cookies without sharing


Saturday, January 9, 2010

Kicking off 2010 with Medical Statistics :-)

A brief winter recess ended on Monday. My classmates and I returned to Harvard to begin our next class block: clinical epidemiology and population health. I’m going to go ahead and challenge the conventional wisdom that January is a take-it-easy month at Harvard. We are in the middle of the Boston winter, which is completely manageable if you follow one key rule and DON’T GO OUTSIDE. Too bad for me because my condo is a lengthy commute away from the Medical School, so getting here quickly while avoiding the cold is the first of the two problems I have to solve almost every morning. Number two is staying awake through an hour of statistics in the morning. In college I took statistical thermodynamics which threw me into such despair with Fermi and quasi-Fermi energies that I couldn’t sleep at all. I cursed the day semiconductors were invented, while my professors surely cursed the day I signed up for their class. For five months we suffered together and I ended up alright. But at Harvard it is me against the means and the medians, and the normal distribution at 8:00AM, and they are clearly winning...

But the course work is much lighter than the blazing hoops of Human Anatomy or Biochemistry because February 1st is an important deadline for submission of the student research proposals. Harvard has the luxury of being able to fund all proposals that successfully pass the rigorous review by the research committee. Two electives are offered this month aimed at increasing the quality of student proposals. Students who are planning to do basic or clinical research are offered to take Scholarship in Medicine (SIM). Physician in Community (PIC) is the equivalent course for social science projects. A lot of us are grudgingly taking one of these classes, while the MD/MBA students get to savor two extra free afternoons a week: they will be doing a summer internship which doesn’t require funding applications.

Such was the first week of the 2010. Four weeks to go until physiology begins (allegedly the hardest class this year), and three months to the next break. But these days I measure life in much shorter intervals: Cowboys and Eagles are playing in two minutes, Vietnamese delivery is arriving in thirty, and I don’t have to worry about a test for another eighteen hours :)
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