Monday, June 30, 2008

General chem in med school?

Yes, unfortunately, it is important. If you think that physics or general chem are not important for medical school, you'd be wrong. I know that all pre-med students (I was definitely one of them) love to complain that the medical school pre requisites don't matter and are a waste of your time. But, I am currently sitting in physio II, nearly dying of boredom, as the professor takes the entire class to go over buffers. Turns out, this stuff is very important in your body. So, if you're still in college, pay attention! As for physics, just wait until you get to membrane conductance and the cardiovascular system. Orgo? The entire biochem class was based around it. I wouldn't say that any of it is absolutely necessary, but it is relevant and helpful if you've had it.

What I learned in path today

As you would expect, hospitals are pretty full of all kinds of sick people and their associated bacteria. Because of this, our path professor recommended the following things:
1) Hold your breath in the elevator
2) Use your knuckles to press the elevator buttons, since you don't use them to touch your food

Probably good advice, I suppose

[this is an older draft that I forgot to post a while back]

Friday, June 27, 2008

Exciting weekend ahead

It will be comprised almost entirely of studying...can't wait!!! I'm going home next weekend for the 4th of July, but that weekend also happens to be the weekend before block week. So, since I won't get much studying done that weekend, aside from the plane rides, I have to be 100% caught up (and maybe slightly ahead) by Thursday. I'm not really behind, but I haven't looked over much of the old stuff lately either, so I have a lot to do. Also, after getting shafted in physio due to some less than honest classmates, I need to make sure that I pull off another good grade to keep my grade right where it is. Also, I need to try to make up for my B in path, which I really was not expecting.

Amazon.com_ Philips VOIP841 PC-Free DECT 6.0 Wireless IP Phone_ Electronics.jpgUnrelated, I recently bought the Philips VOIP841 Skype phone, and it's amazing!! It allows me to use skype without being attached to my computer, has about the same call quality as a cell phone, and is just much more comfortable to use when you're on the phone for a while. It has a base station which plugs into your router, and then a cradle/charger for the handset, which you can put anywhere. The setup was much easier than I had expected, consisting of just plugging the thing in, entering my skype username and password, and waiting about 5 seconds while it downloaded all of my contacts and voicemails onto the phone. If you've got Skype, this phone is absolutely worth the money.

OK...time to stop procrastinating...back to micro and the wonderful world of urinary tract infections.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Integrated curriculum....almost....for the time being

In many US medical schools, they are making the switch to an integrated curriculum. This is opposed to the traditional curriculum where you have separate classes for anatomy, histology, biochem, path, pharm, physio, etc. In the integrated curriculum, you learn about each system one at a time (or some variation on that). But, you learn everything at once...including the anatomy, physio, and path. The general consensus is that this is a much better way to learn (which is why so many schools are switching to it). Now in my second year of medical school, I also feel like this would be a much better way to do it. Instead of learning everything all spread out, with little integration and having to put most of it together on your own, you get it all integrated at once.

Unfortunately, the caribbean schools probably won't have a truly integrated curriculum for a long time (if ever). But, even if it's been by accident, we've come close a couple times already this semester. For example, our first block we did endocrine path and physio at the same time. This block, we're doing respiratory physio, respiratory med micro, and respiratory path (after just completing from neuro path, which seems to have been just thrown in there for no particular reason). It's been really nice to actually see everything come together, and to see exactly why it's important that we learn the crazy amount of different bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites that can infect your body. From what I've heard, this happened by accident. But, if so, it's been a really nice accident and I hope they keep it up!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Thank you, George Carlin

George Carlin: May 12, 1937- June 22, 2008

George Carlin was certainly among my favorite comics of all time. He had a unique way of looking at the world. He said the things that need to be said, but people are afraid to talk about. He'll be missed. Here are a couple of his most popular rants. If you've ever heard George Carlin, you'll know that the language is far from clean, so be careful where you play them.



(if he's wrong about this one, he's in a lot of trouble. But, I suspect he'll be just fine)

Monday, June 23, 2008

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Wine and Cheese

Last night was the Phi Chi Wine and Cheese event. It occurs once every semester, and is always a huge hit. Over 200 tickets were sold for last night. You get a wine glass when you enter the party, and then go around to various wine stations, each with a couple wines from a different area of the world and food paired to go with it. I liked most of the wines that I tried, particularly one white wine from New Zealand, which I had two glasses of. That doesn't sound like a lot, but two glasses of wine is a lot for me, especially on top of all the others I tried. Some people, like my roommate, clearly drank WAAAY more than me!

For food, there was spinach and artichoke dip, some kind of really good chicken on a stick, steak with a cheese sauces, and a couple other little things, all catered by Halsey's, which is a pretty nice restaurant on the island.

I took nearly 300 pictures last night, but they're going to take a long time to get uploaded on Flickr. My internet is never very fast, but flickr always uploads very slowly. Probably because I'm uploading almost 2 gigs of pictures. Even trying to upload them to my blog is taking forever, so here's a few that are gonna have to hold you over for now. View the rest at, as they upload.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Watch out for falling grades!

SCV_021C.jpgIf you talk to most of the third semesters (and a few of the 4th), you'll find that they're in a pretty bad mood right now. The reason for this is that apparently, someone cheated on the Physio exam, and had answers to 28 of the questions. Without going into the details that I don't even know fully, the faculty claim to be certain that someone (or multiple someones) cheated, but cannot prove that any particular person did it. Their solution to this was to throw out all 28 questions and base our grade on only the 20 remaining questions. Why is this so terrible? Well, it's terrible because 40 people had their grade increased, 80 people had their grade decreased, and small number didn't change at all. My grade went from a 96 to a 90. However, others did not fare so well and saw their low B grade drop to a failing grade!

Why am I boiling with anger at this point, despite still having an A? Well, while I EARNED a high A, creating a comfortable buffer to maintain that A throughout the semester (with the two hardest tests of physio yet to come), I now barely have an A, which is not worth much of anything. Since this class is graded strictly by points, with all points being equal, my grade on this exam is now worth less than half what the others will be worth. So, to sum this up, I EARNED a high A, did absolutely nothing wrong, but I have now had my grade decreased 6 percentage points because some person or people decided to cheat. I can only imagine the anger of the people who previously had a B and are now failing.

And, because of the decrease in points, and the fact that the following tests are supposed to be harder, even the people whose grades went up want their old grade back! Those that did increase didn't increase much; it is better to have around 50 points worth of an 83% than 20 points worth of a 85%. Although the people who cheated do not deserve the higher grade and will hopefully be kicked out of AUC if/when they're caught, we do not deserve a lower grade for their screw up! I would bet that nearly every student in the class would prefer those cheaters get a few extra points, than all of us lose points. Hopefully AUC will do something to fix this situation. Because, the current solution sucks...a lot...for a lot of people.

Unfortunately, I'm not really sure what else AUC could do. It's 100% unfair that anyone who did not cheat should be made to suffer for those who did. But, if they were to give us all the points back, or keep grades exactly where they were, I don't know that it would send a good message to people who cheat. The best solution is to find out who cheated and send them packing. Maybe with everyone's grade lowered, someone who knows something will come forward. I'm still trying to figure out how the faculty is 100% certain that cheating occurred, without actually having a single person to show for it.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008


There's really not that much going on, but I thought I'd write a blog post anyway, so I didn't go too long without posting anything. Unfortunately, couldn't think of a good title. So...things that are happening here in SXM...

We're doing neuro in path, which is pretty interesting. Unfortunately, they had the [not so smart] idea to give us neuro path before we've had any neuro anatomy! It makes it a little harder, but I'm sure I'll make it through fine. We're doing respiratory physio right now. The stuff we're doing now, including gas exchange and ventilation, is very dense. If people didn't get the fact that you need to understand physio and can't memorize it after first semester, they're definitely going to get it this block! Med micro is same as usual...learning more bugs. Currently, we're doing the respiratory bugs.

Heather's parents are coming to St. Maarten on a cruise this Thursday, so I'll probably spend a couple hours with them, showing them around. Her mom is obsessed with castles, apparently, and thinks that Ft. Louis is a caste. I tried to tell her that it's not, but she wants to go there anyway. So, that's easy enough to do. Somewhere in an oldish post, there is a picture of me sitting on top of the fort.

I'm also an Orientation Advisor again this semester. For some reason, even though there were only like 20 or so of us last semester, there are about 50 this semester! I think that's way too many, but it is what it is. It is definitely nice that so many people are interested in helping out, but it remains to be seen how many of them actually put the time into it that they should. I was fortunate and got a very helpful OA for my first semester. I try to be even more helpful to my students. Since there are so many of us this semester though, I only have 3 right now. One is actually a friend from the firehouse, and the other two are both also from MD. Last semester there were no students from MD. This semester, there are 3 (as of now).

Finally, Saturday is Wine and Cheese, the Phi Chi event that most of the students and faculty look forward to every other semester. It is a formal event, with great food and lots of wine. This will be my first time going, but I've heard nothing but good things. It's at Dr. Atchley's house, which is probably the nicest faculty house on the island. She has a pretty large house with a hot tub, infinity pool, and lots of privacy. I'm very jealous. Anyway, I'm the official photographer, so there will be lots of pictures when it's over.

Now back to studying. On the agenda for tonight: rhinovirus, coronavirus, adenovirus, GAS, moraxella, influenza, and RSV.

Saturday, June 14, 2008


Our path teacher gave us a video to watch for neurotrauma. I like the guy a lot, and the video seems like it'll be great, but the audio is off! It starts off being fine, but then gets to be about a minute off. Since he says stuff like "here you can see the edge of the tentorium cerebelli," and the arrow is supposed to be pointing to it, it's kind of annoying to have the arrow pointing at the subarachnoid space, or something else. But, at least if this makes my brain explode (like it feels like it might), I'll know what kind of hemorrhage I've got.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Block results are in

Overall, I'd say this block went alright, although it should have been much better. The path exam was actually very fair, but I just made a couple of stupid mistakes. I still did well, but I should have easily honored this exam, which I did not. Everyone complained about the med micro exam (some people tend to complain about most of the exams, actually), but it really wasn't too terrible. It actually was pretty difficult, but after having Dr S for immuno already, people should have known to expect what we got. In my opinion, her questions weren't any worse than last semester. That's not to say that her questions were good, or that they didn't cover picky little details that probably don't matter, but they were at least what people should have been expecting from her. Physio was also a somewhat difficult exam, but I wound up doing very well and honoring it with room to spare. Fortunately, I've now got a nice buffer in that class and hopefully will be able to keep the honor for the rest of the class, especially since we don't have any quizzes this semester to bring my grade down. Path will be possible to honor, but I'll have to pick it up for the next block. Honoring med micro is most likely not in the cards, but stranger things have happened.

Edit: Apparently, some people are even more sensitive than I thought. So, I'll take this part down. But, the point remains: although some people may think medical school is easy, particularly during 1st semester, it will catch up to you very quickly if you let your guard down. I think that many of the second semester students have just witnessed that. But, semester is early, so hopefully those that were a little surprised will still be able to get it together.

P.S. - for those that were not aware (although they should be), med school is not graded on a bell curve.

Pretty sure this isn't gonna work...

My guess would be that this is not the best possible spare tire. Something about it just doesn't look very safe...
Seen in the AUC parking lot

OK, I'm back

And what better way to start off my return to blogging with pictures of dead fish! This was taken at Lee's Restaurant in Simpson Bay. Their service is generally veerrryyy slow (which they even warn you of on the menu), but they do have good food, once it finally comes. I've had a bunch of really good fish there, and they also have decent burgers and ribs. At least we know the fish is fresh! In this catch are two wahoo and one dolphin (mahi mahi).

To explain my absence from blogging, Heather just left this morning. It was a lot of fun while she was here, but now it's back to studying. I've done most of nothing this week, and have a lot of catching up to do. Fortunately, this has been a pretty slow week in class, so it will be doable. More blogs to come...

Sunday, June 8, 2008


A clip from the best show ever to air on TV....ever

The block approaches

Well I've been doing basically nothing but studying for the block for the past couple of days. I've yet to see how I'll do on this block, but I am at least feeling better than I did on any block last semester. In previous semesters, I was still going through my notes on Sunday, the day before the exam. However, I just finished going through everything tonight for Monday. I'll still be doing some review tomorrow to go over some of the details and make sure I've got everything down. But, at least I won't be seeing anything for the first time.

For the second block, I still need to do some more work with staying ahead, or at least solidly keeping up. This weekend was not the first time I've seen anything (like it was for past blocks), but there are some little things that I should have already known a little better. I did very good at the beginning of the semester, but things got crazy and very busy last week. So, for next block, I just have to be a little more efficient with my study time and plan things out a little better. Hopefully though, I did well enough this block to start things off strong and build a buffer that I'll hopefully never need.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Block Time

If you were not already aware, Monday is the block. So, that's my explanation for a lack of posting. I'll try to post if I have time, but lots to do in a little bit of time!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Yay for Heather!

I don't know if I already posted this, but my amazing girlfriend, Heather, graduated from her master's program a week or two ago. She's now getting ready to start a second masters, leading to a PhD. Since she works with children with disabilities (and that's what her degree is for), I thought it would be fitting to put up a picture of her graduating with one of the kids she works with, who came to see her graduate. Can't wait till she comes on Monday to visit me! Unfortunately though, I have an awful lot of studying to do between now and then, since Monday is also the day of our first block! Thankfully, I think I'm doing a lot better keeping up this semester than I was last semester, so this pre-block week should not be as stressful as they have been in the past.

Monday, June 2, 2008

AUC gets cleaned up

I'm not sure if I'm sad to see all of the horrifically tacky decorations go, or glad to see them go. I think I'm glad to see them go, since they were somewhat of an embarrassment. But, they were part of what made AUC, AUC. They were always good for a laugh. One of the many decorations which were removed were a couple of gold spray painted steering wheel covers. Literally, steering wheel covers. You can't make that stuff up! While some of the decorations remain (I suppose they didn't want totally bare walls), it has been very much toned down. Now, the decorations may look a little cheap, or a little tacky, but nothing that you'd really pay attention to. Whereas before, you walked in to the Rotunda and sort of had a little "what the hell am I looking at, is this for real" moment. They also put a fresh coat of paint on the walls, which make things look a lot nicer. This, combined with last semester's power washing of the exterior, is really making AUC look a lot nicer.

Unfortunately, I don't have any "before" pictures of the Rotunda, but you can take a look at my gym post from a month or so ago to get an idea of what they were like.