August 30, 2011

“Me” update

Filed under: "Me" updates — sanguinemare @ 3:52 pm

I’ve decided to create a new category called “Me” updates, which will basically be posts about things in my day-to-day life that are relevant to things going on during my stay here, but are perhaps not directly related to the med school or being an MSTP.  These will tend to be less polished/more stream-of-conscience-y, and might include stuff like: extracurricular activites, things I’ve posted about that I’ve said I’d follow up on, my thoughts, worries, etc.

So without further ado, here we go! 

Dang, workload’s really piling up.  I have a ton to catch up on.  We had our first grad school test yesterday – it was almost exactly like last year’s (they gave us a copy of last year’s exam to look at), except for one section, because apparently that lecturer didn’t lecture last year.  I totally bombed that section due to lack of studying, but apparently the other MSTP’s got it down pat, because they had gone over it in study group on Saturday.  Now I know not to miss any MSTP study group gathering in the future haha!  Oh well, hopefully the curve will be alright.

Had my first acapella performance ever on Saturday for Scholar’s Day, where the freshmen come to see what the school’s all about.  It was pretty early in the morning, so my voice was pretty scratchy in my (tiny) solo section, but it was pretty fun overall.  Apparently, it was the best performance the group has had together, so yay 🙂

I also went to worship team practice for the first time at the church I’m currently going to.  Apparently, one of their singers couldn’t make it anymore, so they asked me to fill in, and now they’ve made me permanently one of the vocalists (time allowing haha).  I gave a few tips to the team for both worship practice/performance, as well as improv, and they lapped it right up.  They are so talented – I bet they will be better than me by the end of this year (and they are only 8th-9th graders!)  It was so awesome to see them jamming away after practice. A love of music is an amazing thing 🙂

Finally, I said I’d update about honor council, and they finally sent an e-mail yesterday about who made it.  I made the cut!! 😀 Or I should say, I made the vote.  I don’t usually run for stuff, and when I did in the (very distant past), I never won anything.  So this is pretty new/exciting to me 🙂  One of my friends K also got in, but my other friend J, who I had hoped to work with (we had talked about being in it together), didn’t make it 😦 and the only guy I knew who ran also didn’t make it, so it’s kind of only a semi-sweet victory.  It’s cool that I get to serve on Honor Council though – looking forward to it!  I’ve also decided to run for LC rep after all, because I think it’s a good way to get involved in a way that is actually significant.  I’m encouraging J to run for her LC as well – so maybe we can serve together in some capacity still 🙂

Histology lab and quick curriculum organization overview

We had our first histology lab last week!  It was pretty neat, but before I go on, just a quick word on how the courses are organized here:

Traditionally, medical schools have different classes everyone is supposed to take, such as biochemistry, physiology, histology, anatomy, etc.  However, our school has changed their curriculum within the last three years over to the new “Organ-based module” system.  What this means is that instead of having 6 months worth of anatomy while also studying biochemistry, we will have anatomy (and histology) all throughout our 2 pre-clinical years in medical school, as we learn about particular organs.  This way, when we learn about the heart, for example, we will learn about the heart in lecture (the biochemical functions, physiology, etc), and concurrently do dissections of the heart in anatomy, while also learning about the pathologies (things that can go wrong with it) in histology.  I think med school makes a lot more sense this way, so you can integrate all the information you learn instead of having bits and pieces scattered throughout a general physiology course, then having to recall it again in anatomy a couple months later, and then again in a different course.

Anyway, so histology lab was pretty fun – we basically just looked at slides of different connective tissue and learned to recognize cell shapes (simple squamous, stratified cuboidal, etc).  I think I would rather like pathology – it’s neat to see all the staining of the cells and recognize different things going on.  I also haven’t really been able to use a light microscope since biology lab in high school, so that was fun. 

I’m really glad our school still lets us do “old-fashioned” things like looking at slides through a microscope.  I know a lot of schools are “upgrading” to having an all-computerized lab, so that basically their histology lab consists of just looking at slides of a powerpoint on the computer.  Where’s the fun and hands-on experience with that?  Sure they’re both slides, but with a real microscope, you actually have to learn to find abnormalities in the tissue instead of having it presented to you.  In real life, you won’t be given a section of tissue that perfectly illustrates what you’re looking for.  You have to hunt through sections and areas of each section until you see something strange. 

Some schools are even computerizing their anatomy labs!  Or have pre-dissected bodies, so all you have to do is look at it and recognize it.  To me, that defeats the whole purpose.  Now, I’m someone who is probably the least comfortable with dissecting what was once a living, breathing human being.  In fact, it is one of what I think will be my worst parts of med school, aside from needlesticks (I’m super afraid of needles) and possibly having to see people die on my shift.  However, I’m a firm believer of “if you’re going to do it, do it right.”  Anatomy has a specific purpose – to help us know what different parts of the body look like, so that we can use the information to help diagnose or treat someone (whether surgically or not).  At the same time, it trains us to work well with our hands.  If everything is already done for us, again you have the problem of having it done for you so you don’t learn how to do it correctly, and every person will have a slightly different manifestation, so you have to be able to recognize structures in different people, not just from a standardized slide.

Ah well.  I’m just glad our school is keeping to the “old-fashioned,” traditional way (except when change is actually better for learning, such as with the move towards an organ-based module curriculum). 

Med school exam (our first real one that counts!) on Friday.  Wish me luck!

August 26, 2011

Learning Communities

Filed under: Med School and the MSTP — sanguinemare @ 11:46 pm
Tags: , ,

We just had an announcement in class the other day about the learning communities I’ve mentioned we’ve started here.  Apparently this is a pretty new trend in the medical school system, and as one of the pioneering schools with this program, we’re going to be under close scrutiny of many researchers and educators who are trying to determine the success (or failure) of this restructuring of the medical school mentoring/social system.  Here are a couple abstracts/papers that have been done on this in the last few years:

Medical students’ perceptions of emerging learning communities at one medical school

Defining and Describing Medical Learning Communities: Results of a National Survey

and The rise of learning communities in medical education: A socio-structural analysis (downloadable pdf on website)

Why was this brought up?  Well, each of our 10 learning communities will be choosing 2 representatives each, who will join the 2nd year reps to “serve as a liaison between your fellow LC members and the… faculty members that have volunteered their free time to serve as mentors…” according to the e-mail.  And potentially to be point-people to talk to in case people visiting the school/researchers want to know more about the program.  That might be an interesting position to be in.  I really do believe that if you want to make an impact on society or whatever organization you are in, you cannot just sit back and provide reactionary commentary to the things happening around you.  One must be proactive, and oftentimes the only way to do so is to first become a run for/become a member of a committee such as this one, that will potentially influence decision-making in the future.

August 22, 2011

1st exam update

Filed under: Med School and the MSTP — sanguinemare @ 10:42 am

So, as to be expected, I failed the first exam.  7/11, 64%.  Not bad though – the questions weren’t nearly as hard nor confusing as I think most of the class was expecting it to be, so that’s encouraging.  And hopefully that means when I actually do study for the next test (and our first real test that will be graded), I’ll do ok.  XP Most of my classmates seem to have done really well this test, so good job to them!

It is a little nerve-wracking though, especially on such a short test.  One wrong click and your score plummets really fast.

Today I also realized another difference between the grad school and the med school: clapping.  Med students tend to clap for the lecturer after every class, regardless of how well they do (although of course the better lecturers get longer and louder applause).  In the grad school, even if the lecturers are really good, like today’s, no one claps.  It makes me feel kind of bad for the professors, because they’re spending all this time preparing a great lecture, and their feedback is just the same as one who doesn’t know what they’re talking about. :\

Most (if not all) of the MSTP’s are skipping the med school lecture today, since we will be covering the same topic tomorrow in grad school.  I usually never skip any class I can go to, since I’ve discovered it’s basically the only way I can learn… but since the lecturer tomorrow will be the same as today, I feel I’ll be able to understand the concepts enough that I don’t have to go to double the lectures.  And I’m encouraged that we will actually learn things in the same depth (eventually) in the grad school because today, we covered a couple questions on that were on the med school test in lecture.  Whoot! 

Ok, time to try to use this break time wisely. 😄

August 21, 2011

Sunday – the night before the first exam (and the official end of the 1st week of (real) med school)

It is currently 8pm on a Sunday right before our first ever (real) med school exam.  I am on facebook.  But not for the reason you think.

See, starting about 2 hours ago, people who apparently got together to study in a room at school began posting “trivia questions” (aka questions people made up from the lectures to test each other on) on our facebook group page.  Since then, others have discussed answers to the questions, added their own questions, or found questions from prep books that relate to the material taught this last week. Crazy? Yes.  Helpful? Very.

It’s nice to be in a school/class where everyone supports each other so much.  Med school, or at least this one, is not competitive like in high school or college where everyone is trying to outdo everyone and study to beat the curve.  Possibly that is due to the fact that there IS no curve in med school – only pass/fail.  It is semi-competitive in the sense that there are 4 quartiles for passing:

  • P1, the top 25% and those who are eligible for AOA, the medical honors society
  • P2 and P3 that make up the middle 50%
  • P4, the bottom 25% (that still pass).
However, I don’t think the quartile ranking will affect how much students help each other.  It just means some people will spend all of med school studying, while others will be able to do other things during their stay here.  I will (hopefully) fall somewhere in P2-P3.  I’d be happy enough with that.
I’m curious to see how well I’m going to do with the ~6-7 hours of studying/looking at stuff total that I will have going into this test, including what I’ll get done tonight after this post.  Probably a fail, but at least I’ll get to see what the questions are like.  It seems that is what many of the other MSTP’s will be doing as well.
Today also marks the end of the first real week of med school.  I say today and not Monday, because last Sunday, we had our White Coat Ceremony.  This is traditionally a ceremony that marks the beginning of one’s med school career.   Family and friend are often invited to celebrate, and this is where our class recited the Class Mission Statement we drafted up in PDS earlier.  The white coats are supposed to symbolize many things – purity, professionalism, high standards of excellence, etc – all the things people associate with good doctors.  I don’t know really how many of us thought of it that way, but it was neat getting our white coats with our names embroidered on them, and to have our families there cheering us on this new stage in life (before we all get crushed by the amount of work med school throws at us haha).  And it was cool seeing the whole class looking so professional.  (The class pictures we took right before it were brutal though – we literally were pressed chest-to-back because there were too many of us for the stage).
We’re required to wear the white coats when we go to the hospital or see patients, so it was always kind of a jolt to see my classmates with them on last week on the days they have ICM.  It’s a good reminder of what we’re actually here for.  And it makes me think twice about things I do or say, because I realize that I’m representing not just myself, but my institution and future profession.  I’ve caught myself doing things that are perhaps not the wisest (jaywalking, saying something that could be interpreted negatively by outsiders, etc) while having the coat, and immediately felt embarrassed at the looks people gave me.  I imagine them thinking “This girl is going to be my doctor later? I wouldn’t want to go to someone like that.”  While I’m sure that’s not the case most of the time, it’s definitely a good reminder to watch what one says and does.
And to sum up the last week, we have started a course in the med school that covers the “fundamental” information we need to know: biochemistry, cell biology, histology, anatomy, etc.  So far, it’s pretty much been a review of undergrad, although like I mentioned in the last post, there seems to be a lot more stuff for memorization (at a much faster pace) in the med school.  We also have a nutrition assignment this week which is pretty fun – we have to record down all the food/drink we intake throughout the week, and bring in the report next Thursday.  Should be interesting.
Alright, time to check facebook again!  (Well well, what do you know.  More Q&A’s have gone up. Awesome!)

The difference between grad school and med school…

Filed under: Med School and the MSTP — sanguinemare @ 12:00 am
Tags: , ,

is that most grad students take notes using pen(cil) and paper, whereas almost all med students use their laptops.  It’s a pretty interesting phenomenon – I wonder if that’s the case in other institutions as well, or just ours. As a pencil and paper note-taker myself, I was rather glad to see all the notebooks out on the desks of the grad school classroom.  Although some of the lecturers in the med school talk so quickly that as much as my traditional self has actively resisted getting an iPad, I may actually have to get one just to keep up.

So we (finally) started our grad school courses this week along with our “real” med school classes (“real” med school started Monday, grad school on Tuesday).  Since our class contents and schedules overlap, we were given a modified med school schedule last Friday, which shows which classes we are expected to know and which we don’t have to go to.  So every day right now, we have grad classes 8-10am every day instead of med school, then med school from 10-12pm, and often 1-3pm at least.  Since the grad school classes are pretty far away, we are usually late to the med school 10:10am class.  Technically, we didn’t need to go to med school on Tuesday and Wednesday, but all of us went Tuesday anyway, and half of us went yesterday.  In so doing, I have definitely noticed some differences between the schools (besides just the note-taking).

First off, the graduate school focuses more on how what we learn can be applied in the lab, and what lab techniques we can use to find out more about it, whereas the med school goes more in depth about each topic and throws a lot more information at the students.  Also, probably due to the fact that the med students had a chance to get to know each other in the more relaxed/less-competitive environment of our first module, the med students interact more with each other than the grad students, although that’s getting slightly better now in the grad school.  I know all of us MSTP’s still pretty much stick together (all in the last 2 rows of the class) – we haven’t met enough people to branch out yet.

Also, the number of students in the grad school is significantly smaller – I would estimate that we have about 30-40 people, compared to almost 200 in the med school.  So the classroom is a lot smaller, and we are much closer to the professor.  Speaking of which, we have pretty awesome professors in the graduate school.  The latest one actually flew on a space shuttle mission for science!  That was pretty trippy.  And my lab professor from this summer also taught a couple of classes, so that was neat.  So far, the grad school professors have been much more engaging/organized than the med school ones, but that may just be happenstance, based on the professors’ personalities rather than due to what school they are teaching in.

The grad school also seems to emphasize more that you cannot know anything for sure, whereas the med school seems to give you information as facts (that you are expected to memorize and know).

People have also been studying really really hard for this first med school exam coming up on Monday.   Luckily, we MSTP’s don’t have to take it, but several of us (including me, most likely), will be taking a modified version just for fun/to help gauge what tests are going to be like in the medical school.  But it’s just been crazy how much people have been studying for this.  I don’t know how hard the grad students are studying for their test the following Monday, but I don’t think it’s nearly as much.  Some people in the med school have been studying 3-5 hours every day after school, and since they woke up this morning until now.  The test is only going to have ~20 questions or less! And it’s only worth 5% of our grade!  Craziness.  As for me, today was really the first day I was able to review any material, because after I saw my family off after brunch today, so I finally had time to myself.  Not that I don’t like spending family time, but I’m pretty much a week behind already, and from all accounts, that is a big no-no.  It’s sad that it’s come to this point, but that’s the reality in med school apparently.  (And that’s why there’s the perception that med students don’t have a life hah). Ah wells.  I wasn’t as productive as I’d have liked, but hopefully I’ll have time to catch up next week…

August 18, 2011

Quick Honor Council Update

Filed under: Med School and the MSTP — sanguinemare @ 10:08 pm
Tags: , ,

Just so you know I’m alive…

So I did end up deciding to run for Honor Council.  Quick and easy – sent in my statement of intent (a paragraph saying why I wanted to run and not so much on why I’m qualified heh) last Friday and was put in the running.  Actually a lot more people than I expected ran – about 8-10 people, from which our class will choose 4.  Originally, when the e-mail for the poll was sent out, we could only choose 1 person.  To me, that was really inaccurate, because if there were 4 positions and people could only pick one but had a couple others in mind, the ones that most people want might not get chosen due to vote splitting.

So I e-mailed the girl in charge, and she said that’s how she thought they did it last year, but she’d check with someone else.  I was thinking that didn’t make a lot of sense, but I just thanked her and asked her to let me know what he said.  Yesterday, she sent out an e-mail to everyone in my class saying she accidentally formatted it wrong and that she’d extend the deadline to respond.  This time, we could choose 4 places.  Yay! So I e-mailed her and thanked her.

It’s always weird when you’re running for something.  Or at least it is for me (and that’s one reason I do it so often).  You don’t want to be selfish or cocky by voting for yourself, so I usually vote for other people when I run.  But then you might lose by that vote you could have used for yourself.  I think this is the first time I’ve run for something and voted for myself haha.  But thanks to the revamped survey, I could vote for some of the others I thought were qualified too 🙂  I hope we all make it.

Today, I had two people tell me they voted for me.  I really had no idea how to respond, but to thank them awkwardly… hopefully that doesn’t make them regret their decision haha!  But yeah, that was cool – it’s interesting to finally be involved in a school organization that everyone else in my grade knows about and is voting about.

August 11, 2011

Guess who just finished her first med school exam?? and mini-rant on computerized tests

Filed under: Med School and the MSTP — sanguinemare @ 12:19 pm
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We just had our first medical school test this morning.  We were separated into 3 groups by last name, and took the test at 3 different times this morning.  The third group should be going by now.  I caught myself almost violating the Honor Code because I almost slipped and mentioned what topic I should have studied more on when I was chatting with a classmate who hadn’t yet taken the test.  A slightly awkward silence ensued, and was politely covered up by both of us.  Oops.

I did fairly well, especially for not having studied much.  I got a little distracted with a new comedian I discovered on Youtube, and with talking with a friend about how much we miss my home state.  He also convinced me to finish my Wards reflection essay instead of continuing to study last night (which I will probably be posting on here at some point), because as he said, I wouldn’t want to work on it after finishing the test.  He was right!  Haha.  So yes, didn’t get much sleep, didn’t study that much, did fine.  The fact that we all knew we only needed a ~12% on the test and that no quartiles were being formed yet for the class was a major stress reliever.  Although I hear some students still spent the whole last week studying… guess that shows who the hard workers are.

There seems to be a pretty big dichotomy here – those who study for hours and “don’t have a life” and people who think it’s boring, a waste of time, and still have fun every day.  Of course, this may just be a last hurrah for the latter before the real grind starts, but it is interesting to see.  I personally am somewhere in the middle – I think some of the topics are interesting (otherwise I wouldn’t post about them haha), but I also subscribe to the feeling that “real” school hasn’t started yet.  We shall see how we change throughout the next year I suppose.

On a slight tangent, I really hate taking computerized tests. Why? Let me list the ways:

  1. Inability to use a pencil and paper, which is my preferred method of taking notes or tests.  A lot of stuff goes with this, as you will see in 2, 3, 5, and 6.
  2. Inability to fill in bubbles!  This goes along with the first one, but I used to love filling in bubbles for multiple choice tests.  There’s just something satisfying about it, and erasing and re-filling a bubble if you need to change an answer.
  3. Inability to mark the sheet when you are unsure of an answer.  Yes, I know, you can “flag” answers, like we had today, but it’s not the same.  And you have to scroll through a long list of numbers to find a particular marked question, instead of just quickly scanning a sheet that has everything laid out right there.
  4. Infernal clicking from all corners of the room, which interfere with thought processes, both when trying to figure out the answer, and when trying to read the actual question in the first place.  Perhaps I should invest in some good ear plugs.
  5. Inability to take notes/use the test question booklet as scratch paper to draw on the diagrams, etc to help figure out the problem.  This requires having to either supply your own scratch paper and redraw any figures, potentially difficult for those who can’t draw and wastes precious time, or having to do things in your head.
  6. Along with that is the annoyance of having to move your head up and down as you try to solve the problem on a piece of paper, then looking at the answer choices, then going back to the paper if you messed up, then looking back at the screen to click the answer. And repeat.  Much easier if you just write and fill in a bubble right on your desk.

August 10, 2011

Geriatrics and the Senior Mentor sessions

Filed under: Med School and the MSTP — sanguinemare @ 4:54 pm
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My apologies for being rather AWOL – things are starting to pick up, and I’ve had to take care of some other things, such as house-hunting.  (I figure, since we’re going to be here 8 years, might as well buy a house so the money you spend on mortgage, etc will actually come back to you when you go to sell it, instead of going down the drain through renting the next 8 years.  2 of us my year have already bought houses, and so have many of the other, older MSTP’s.  Something to think about when/if you plan on going into one of these programs.  Of course, it also depends on where you’re living… places like NY or CA, for example, are not going to be the best place to plan on buying your own home, unless you’re extremely well off.)  House-hunting has been a pretty big/tiring thing to deal with – more on that later.  We also have our first test tomorrow for this Patient, Doctor, and Society course module we’ve been on the last 3 weeks.  And here I am, procrastinating by posting, just like in good old undergrad days.  Ah well.

Just a side note:   I have been making an effort to keep things in chronological order, but I’m so backlogged with nebulous, half-written posts that if/when I ever get a chance to finish them, they will likely be posted way out of order or spaced very oddly along the current timeline.  Or, they will very simply never see the light of day. I am very sorry for this, and can only promise to do better in the future, but with no guarantees.  “Real” med school starts next week, and my family is coming in this weekend for our White Coat Ceremony and to help with house-hunting, so I may well be gone from here for another week.  Eep!

ANYWAY, onto our topic of the day: Geriatrics!  A field rarely considered when one first starts medical school, but one with ever-increasing needs as greater numbers of people live longer and longer.  According to the lecture, most of the U.S. states have 10-15% of their population 65 years and older in the year 2000, with projections of the average state having 20-25% of their population 65 years and up in the year 2025.  That’s a quarter of the population!  Crazy.  Statistics show that the greatest increases of people growing older over the last few years are for those 85 years and up.  But even more recently, the fastest group are the centenarians (people 100+ years old)!  And how many doctors are there to serve this growing population?  Only 7700 geriatricians across the U.S., according to the lecture.  I just looked up the numbers to double-check online, and the American Geriatric Society (AGS) ( says there’s about 9000, plus a few osteopathic geriatricians, and 2,400 board-certified gerophysiciatrists.  That’s a pretty small number compared to say, 661,400 practicing physicians/surgeons in 2008.

Getting a little away from statistics, the professors brought up the point that the older we get, the more heterogeneous we get.  In other words, the older population has people ranging from the bed-bound senior who can barely control their own bodily functions, to the athlete training for the Senior Olympics.  They emphasized that aging is not a diagnosis and not a disease.  Rather that many diseases are associated with aging, such as cataracts, cancer, diabetes, but there are also very healthy seniors who only come in once a year for their annual check-up.  That was a good point for me to think about, because as someone who’s never really known her grandparents (they all passed away before I was born or when I was very young), I usually associate the image of an “old person” with someone who is frail, sickly, and needs help with many day-to-day activities.   Perhaps many others also had this view, which is why our school has set up a “Senior mentor” who we are supposed to pair with throughout the next two years in medical school before the clinical years.  We are to meet with them semi-regularly, and the goal is partly to help us practice our skills in interviewing/talking with the patient and to learn about the challenges they might face, but also to help us realize that being old doesn’t necessarily mean not being healthy.  They want us to see that people are still highly active and functional at their age.  And hopefully of course, we can give back to them as well through our interactions with them, whatever form that might take.

The other cool thing they did today was the SECURE Adult Sensitivity Activity we did in class today.  I assume this is something they do at other campuses too, because there was a whole videotape and kit and everything.  So if you’re planning on going to med school, you may want to skip the rest so you can experience it yourself the first time without knowing anything.  But if you’re curious, feel free to read on (I’ll tell you what all the stuff was supposed to simulate at the end, so you can also read through until the last bit to keep some of the suspense). So inside the kit, they had:

  • 5 pairs of paper glasses – some with cut-outs, others with different “lenses”
  • a pair of large, cloth gloves that felt kind of rubbery on the outside
  • an mini sewing kit – the complimentary kind some hotels give
  • a medicine bottle with circular sprinkles you find on cupcakes  inside it
  • a paper with numbers and letters scattered across it from 1-13 and A-H or so

We were first told to try on the 3 pairs of glasses with different cut-outs.  The first had just two holes in the center of the glasses, so you could only see the very middle of your vision range.  The 2nd had a U-shape cut out that spanned the bottom edge of the lens, so you could only see the bottom and a little of the sides of your vision.  The last had the left half of each lens cut out, so effectively, you could only use your right eye to see, and only half the vision range.  Want to take a guess what the 3 glasses were supposed to simulate?

Next, we were told to put the 4th pair of glasses on and take out a pen and the piece of paper.  We were supposed to try to connect the numbers, starting from 1 and ending at 13.  It was really tough though, because the numbers were scattered all over and with the alphabet letters scattered in between, and the lens was so distorted/fuzzy that you could not see anything.  I literally put the paper about 2 inches from my nose and still could not really make out the shapes.  Guess what what one was.

Finally, we took the last pair and were told to take the medicine bottle out.  We shook out the colored pellets and were supposed to find 1 white one, 2 green ones, and 3 blue ones.  The lens was clear, yellow plastic, and it made it really difficult to see certain colors, especially green and blue.  Apparently this “yellowing of the lens,” pretty common among people with light-colored eyes as they turn ~50, may be a contributing factor to why some people wear really strangely mismatched clothing.  So don’t judge too quickly when you see people like that – perhaps it’s a vision problem, not a mental problem.

Next, they talked about hearing loss, and played samples of each.  Apparently the normal range is between -10 to 26 dB.  Mild hearing loss is between 27-40 dB.  At this stage, people will not usually notice it, and will deny having any hearing problems.  Moderate hearing loss is at 41-55 dB, and it really was hard to hear, especially the woman’s voice.  At this time, the problem will be noticed both by people around the person (they will need to repeat themselves, talk louder, etc), and by the person themselves.  Male voices are easier to hear because they are in a lower range, and

Lastly, we put on the glove, donned a pair of the aforementioned glasses, and set to work trying to thread a needle. Or button two buttons together.  Or grab something small out of a purse.  I pretty much decided the first was going to be more work than it was worth, so set about trying to put the buttons together.  It was surprisingly, much more difficult than expected, mainly because I was trying really hard not to drop the two buttons, because I knew it was going to be a pain trying to pick them back up with those unwieldy gloves.

So, what were the age-associated problems these were trying to mimic?*SPOILER*

  • Glasses 1: Glaucoma, which gives one “tunnel vision” – due to increased pressure in the blood vessels of the eye
  • Glasses 2: Macular degeneration – giving the opposite effect of tunnel vision, where you have the middle of the vision cut out due to a kind of blockage in the retina.
  • Glasses 3: Blind on one side due to stroke
  • Glasses 4: Cataract – the most common eye disease for older people, and a major cause of blindness
  • Glasses 5: Yellowing of the lens
  • Gloves: Arthritis


They also went into a little bit about mental illness and dementia, mostly caused by illness or medication/alcohol toxicity.  One interesting thing patients might do is to put all their different medications in a bowl, then pick out the total number they are supposed to eat for the day/meal.  This can obviously create problems with them potentially eating multiple doses of one medicine and not eating any of another.

All in all, an interesting exercise and good food for thought.

August 4, 2011

Day 9-ish and various extracurricular/other stuff

Ack, sorry, I’ve fallen sooo behind on posting.  I already have at least 5 or so posts lined up, but with my days so full and coming back so late every day, I’ve barely been able to walk in a straight line, much less string two words together (and no, I have not been partying, although it sounds like there’s some sort of hang-out thing almost every day after school.  I don’t know how people manage it, haha – major props to them for being able to do that and still get to school on time every day).  This post isn’t going to be the most coherent, but I just wanted to do a quick/informal update since I feel I’ve been gone from this too long.  Sorry!  I promise a better one soon.

Anyway, basically, every day so far, we get to school ~8am-8:30am, and we leave around 5pm or so, with about an hour for lunch in between, on average.  It’s rather like being back in high school really, except you don’t change classrooms – more on that analogy later (it’s one of the 5 posts lined up).

We did class mission statements this morning, which was basically our class trying to come up with a mission statement that we can all agree on, and which we will read during our White Coat Ceremony.  Our class was split into 4 classrooms to do this.  Within those classrooms, we were split into 4 groups.  We were first told to each individually come up with 3 things we would want included in the statement.  These were written down on post-it-like notepad paper, then pasted onto the board under the categories they fell into (ie integrity, professionalism, dedication, service, teamwork, etc).  Then, we were given 6 stickers which we could stick on any of the notes to vote for them.  Finally, each of the 4 groups were told to come up with their own mission statements.  At the end of the class, 1 representative from each group would discuss, and they’d choose/”word smith” 1 final one to e-mail to the professor, who would then e-mail out all 4 final statements from the 4 different classrooms.  We’ll vote on them later supposedly via e-mail, to come up with the final class mission statement.  It was actually a pretty interesting exercise, and a good medium to think about these things before we actually start.  Also, I’m just happy because one of the three I wrote got a decent amount of votes, and was included in all 4 versions of our classroom’s mission statement, hehe ^.^ (it was one about supporting each other to foster a good learning environment, in case you were wondering).

Since I’ll be posting about the academic stuff for the last few days later, I’ll just briefly talk about the non-academic stuff I’m getting involved in.  So yesterday, the reason I got back so late was because I went to my old violin teacher’s place for a violin lesson – my first in at least 4-6 years! – because she was in town, possibly for the last time, and wants me to play for the orchestra conductor in the area.  Her place is in a gorgeous, woodsy area overlooking a golf course, but it’s also about an hour away, so it was pretty tiring, especially after a long day of med school.  I stayed there about 4 hours, and got back around 11pm.  Man, it was crazy to actually learn stuff for violin again, and to have to actively think and break bad habits.   I definitely have a lot to work on.

Today, I came back late because after interviewing my professor for the History of Medicine assignment (where we had to interview someone over 65 years old to see how medicine has changed over the last 50+ years), I went to check out the acapella group.  I’ve never sung in any organization before (no choir, acapella group, etc), so I had no idea what to expect.  Luckily it was all very low key, and surprisingly, one of the other MSTP’s (one of the older ones) was there as well as one of my MSTP MS-1 friends.  We don’t seem to have many members, but it was fun and good to wet my feet a little.  We’ll see how that goes.

Today was also my “socializing” day of the week, so to speak.  It was one of our classmates’ birthday, so we went over to her apartment complex to celebrate.  Apparently there’s this game they play here, which Wikipedia tells me is the “Bag Toss Game,” aka the “Tailgate Toss Beanbag Game,” which I am terribly bad at.  Basically, two boards slanted upwards with a hole cut at the far ends are placed a certain distance apart.  You stand behind one of them, and try to throw a beanbag into the other one.  3 points for making it in the hole, 1 point for landing a bag on the board, and you add points that equal the difference between the two teams to the team with more points for that round.  For example, Team A makes 5 points, Team B makes 2 points.  That means Team A is awarded 3 points for that round.  After watching me a bit, and hearing me say I had never played this before, one girl remarked “It’s obvious you’re not from around here… this is like, the typical tailgate party game.”  Too true.  Also explains the name, I suppose.  I was also able to meet some more of my classmates, which was nice.  I think I may know/met about half now?

The other thing I’ve been doing is Chinese Folk Dance on the weekends.  This is also a very small group of people, who started it just 2 years ago as a hobby. Most are elderly ladies, but it’s fun getting into it again. More on that some other time perhaps.

Goodnight, world!

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