sanguinemare

July 26, 2011

Orientation/Day 1 of Medical School

Filed under: Med School and the MSTP — sanguinemare @ 2:10 am
Tags: , ,

Today officially kicked off my medical (school) career.

Well, sort of.  Technically, my MSTP career started 6 weeks ago to the day, on Monday, 6/13/11, when I first stepped into my PI’s office to meet him and the other professors/people in the lab I would be working with for this summer rotation.  That in itself was a pretty interesting experience.  Learned a lot more about HPLC’s and MS than I would have ever expected – I thought I’d be done with looking at strange, static-y looking pictures on a graph after freshman chemistry, heh.

(Some terminology here: for those who don’t know:

  • MSTP = Medical Student Training Program, aka a fancy name for MD/PhD programs that are funded by the NIH… in other words, the government.
  • PI = Principal Investigator, aka the senior professor in the lab.
  • HPLC = High Performance Liquid Chromatography, and MS = Mass Spectrometry  – basically some lab techniques you will probably never have to worry about.)

Anyway, as I was saying, today was the first day of medical school, and as such, I figured it would be a very appropriate day to start this new blog dedicated to just that.  Unfortunately, it’s almost 1am here, so I probably won’t be writing nearly as much as I’d like, but here goes.

As someone who missed being in school since her last semester in college was spent doing full-time research instead of schoolwork, I was pretty freaking excited about starting school again.  Especially after working 10-12 hours a day and weekends during this rotation , haha.

The day started out bright and early, at 7:30am.  A bit tough to get going in the morning since I couldn’t sleep all night, I guess partly from excitement, but probably mainly because I got 24-26 mosquito bites on Saturday from blueberry picking and they were itching all night.  Ah well…

Today was all orientation, so we heard a lot of people give speeches (but each one was only 30min max so it wasn’t too bad).  We were told to dress in business casual, and we’ll be needing to dress accordingly tomorrow as well, since we’ll be touring the hospitals and need to look “professional.”  This seems to be an ongoing theme here, and I guess it makes sense – imagine how it would look if a med student/doctor were getting trashed at a bar or disturbing the peace.  Probably not a good impression on potential patients.

They also told anecdotes about what patients felt made a good doctor.  To paraphrase one speaker: “You know all that other stuff?  Making the correct diagnosis, giving correct treatment, efficiency, etc?  That was expected to them.  But what they actually look for in a doctor are these things: kindness, and someone to listen to them.”  Though this seems like it should be common sense, I have heard that it isn’t for some people.  And so, I think it is good that we emphasize that here, because through my shadowing experiences, that does seem to be the consensus among patients.  And as a recipient of surgery and other healthcare myself, I know how it feels to have a doctor who is, shall we say, a little too efficient.  My dad even had a doctor tell him to “just look it up online” when he asked them to explain what something meant.  Seriously?  I think all med schools should try to incorporate more of the EQ side of being a doctor like it seems we’re doing here.

I debated for a while whether I should write the name of my school due to potential privacy issues, and I’ve decided not to disclose that for now, just in case.  But for anyone reading this who might want to have some idea of which tier my school is in for comparison purposes, suffice to say it’s one of the top 30 ranked schools as of this year, and we have quite a strong program in both research and clinical practice.  And the people here are awesome.  Everyone is very willing to help each other in lab, in class, to classes below them… at least so far that I’ve gleaned from what people have said both years (I deferred my admission from last year), and from what I’ve experienced in lab and at orientation today.  Though I won’t be telling my school name, I don’t think it’ll hurt to give a few stats for this year, since this blog IS meant for people who want to know about med school.  Here they are:

Total matriculating: 176  (in-state residents: 155, out-of-state: 21)
Female: 82, Male: 94.  Majority ethnicity: White
Age range: 20-36 yrs old, mean = 23.6 years
4 MD/MPH, 8 MSTP, 2 deferred from last year (heh)
# Times people applied for med school before getting in: 1=152, 2=22, 3=2
MCAT avg: 30.2 (VR: 9.7, PS: 10.1, BS: 10.4)
BCPM GPA avg: 3.76, Total GPA avg: 3.72

After the speeches, we got our registration done on the computers, got our clickers (ah, undergrad memories), lockers, and mailboxes, tested out the fit for our white coats, and got more info on the rest of orientation and the school semester.

One interesting thing about this year is that we are divided into “learning communities (LC)”.  And each LC is put in a House (2 per house), with a specific color and mascot associated with it.  The student orientation leaders literally explained it as being “set up just like it is in Harry Potter,” and we actually do earn points doing certain activities.  Someone from my group even asked if we were going to have hourglasses to record the points, and received a positive “yeah, we want to try to do that” response from the student coordinators! @___@  I think they – the 2nd years – are more excited than we are, haha.)  This is the first year our school is actually putting this to practice, but apparently this is a trend that’s spreading around med schools across the nation?? Craziness!  So the idea is partly that we’ll be able to get to know our classmates more, and partly so that we can get more interaction with our mentors and classes above/below us throughout the rest of our time at this school.  They’re trying to eventually have a system set up so all the mentoring will be done through these communities, and even have a “common room” for each group, or so it sounds like.  Interesting.  Well, for the record, the yellow panthers are gonna ROCK the competition!  (The others are the blue bears, red eagles, green cobras, and black lions.  Totally HP with us being the odd animal out ahaha).  It’s like I’m in middle school again with the panther mascot, only our colors then were white and blue.  And if I were in the blue bear group, it’d be like being in undergrad again haha! Strong memories there. Anyway.

Finally, there was a dinner reception where the LC mentors/faculty mingled with the new students.  Very good food and music, I might add – and it was all in the “Great Hall” in our school.

This year is apparently the first (lots of firsts this year…) that the orientation events are planned out by the students (mainly, if not all, 2nd years) instead of staff.  I think 1) they must have done a TON of work to prep for this – it sounds like they got rid of a lot of stuff, added a lot of stuff, and generally made it much more organized and less head-on-desk-worthy – and 2) they have pulled it off quite well, at least so far.  Kudos to you, MS-2’s! (More terminology here: MS-2 = 2nd year med student.  So we’re MS-1’s).

This day ended with a spectacular demonstration of how crazy the weather is here.  About 2 hours ago, as I was writing an e-mail updating people on my life here, it started to thunder and pour.  Like, really. really. pour.  With thunder so close that literally shook the floor of this house O.o. With lightning literally every 2-3 seconds (I counted) that lit up the whole street as clear as day. I actually understand that expression now, haha!  For CA people who have never been to the south… that tiny lightening of the clouds you see?  That’s not lightning.  Lightning is when you can see a clear thunderbolt shooting down from the sky or spreading out across the sky.  Lightning is when the darkness of night is illuminated to where you can see the house on the other side of the street like it was in a black-and-white movie.  And the thunder, man.  Now I know why the kids in Sound of Music were so scared, haha!  I would probably be too, if I were their age.  It was seriously super sunny and hot during the day today too… the weather out here really is schizo.  And after about 30min-1hour, gone. Just an occasional flash of lightning maybe, but it is completely silent outside now.  Perfect for getting some shut-eye.

Signing out,
-sanguinemare
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