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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