Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Our Professors: A Summary.

The things medical school professors do (and get away with) are absolutely ridiculous.  I am realizing that I have been very spoiled all my life with excellent teachers who are competent instructors, care about the students, and want them to succeed.  Well, those traits are virtually nonexistent in the medical school realm.  Here are a few examples of stupid/incredible things our teachers have done.

**NOTE: To protect privacy, all names have been changed.

1. Dr. Shlincoln.  Tells us on the first day of class that attendance is not required.  I believe a direct quote from him was, "I don't care if you're here or in Alaska."  However, when students take him at his word and actually start skipping class to go to Alaska (or, you know, to be in the library frantically studying) he starts to take it to heart.  So much so that he threatens us on a daily basis that our bad attendance is making him angry and it is making him want to give us harder test questions.  Which he does.  When the class scores poorly on aforementioned questions, he uses words like "abysmal" and berates their attendance and study habits at every opportunity.  

2. Dr. Shballard.  This guy is actually a pretty good teacher.  However, his darn appendix had to go and rupture right before the part of the course where he was supposed to be teaching us about the kidney.  Guess what this means... Shlincoln's back!  He gleefully informs us multiple times daily that "I haven't taught this since 1975!"  Top it all off with the fact that his renal physiology section began the week before our hardest histology test, meaning class attendance was really low, so now Shlincoln's angry AND incompetent.  This is a recipe for disaster.  

3. Dr. ShVan de Waa.  Does not teach us anything throughout the entire first two semesters of the course.  This is fine with the class, because (see #s 1, 2, 4, 5) we have plenty of other things to worry about.  According to past classes, 99.9% of everything we learn in Intro to Clinical Medicine is revealed in a group practice practical session held toward the end of the semester.  Great.  There's only one problem: no schedule exists for these group sessions.  When and if they occur is entirely dependent on Dr. ShVan de Waa's personal schedule.  We are not notified beforehand what group we're in or when we are meeting.  The details will be divulged at an undetermined time in an e-mail from Dr. ShVDW's secretary.  From my discussion with groups that have already met (my part of the alphabet has not been reached yet, so I'm still in the dark) these e-mails usually appear between one and four hours ahead of the time the meeting will take place.  (I'm convinced it's some sort of exercise in spontaneity, like they are secretly teaching us to be able to respond to our pagers at lightning speed or something.)  This would all be fine if it were not for the fact that he seems to have no concept of or access to our class schedule.  I believe almost every meeting he has scheduled has required the group to miss class.  Which would normally not be a big deal, but see #1.  One group, for example, was scheduled to meet the night before our last physiology test.  One member of the group e-mailed him (excuse me, his secretary) back and respectfully requested a rescheduling because they were all studying for the huge test tomorrow.  No problem, he responded.  The next day, after the test was over, the group members checked their e-mail to find a message from one of the women who works in the office downstairs reading something like this: "I have you guys scheduled as having a test right now, but Dr. ShVan De Waa is in my office right now waiting for your group to come do your ICM practice."  Like I said earlier - no concept of time.  Or schedules.

4. Dr. Shcohen.  Has no obvious job (teaching classes, etc.).  Sole function is to oversee our case study presentations that occur throughout the semester.  Obviously, introducing student presentations for two hours a week is not enough to fill all of his time for which I'm sure he makes a great salary, so he has come up with other ways to fill his days.  Not the least of these is "finding ways to make students' lives miserable."  This includes: telling students that they do not know anything about public speaking and that their choice of standing on the other side of the room to give a presentation is unacceptable; asking ridiculous cardiovascular-system-related questions at the conclusion of every presentation just so he can answer them himself when he stumps the group; and writing test questions that could probably not be answered by the rest of the physiology faculty.  Oh, but that's not all.  Perhaps the most intriguing part of Dr. Shcohen is (drumroll please) the cans.  Late each afternoon, he comes into the classroom and digs through the trash can.  It is quite an amusing picture, considering he is about 5 feet and 4 inches tall.  And he is not just skimming the top; he's digging in the trash can.  To find aluminum cans.  Last time I saw him, he was able to recover three.  I have never been to his office, but apparently the walls and floor are piled high with his stash of aluminum cans.  I have heard rumors that he cashes in these cans for recycling and uses the proceeds to fund some sort of physiology department banquet at the end of the year.  I am not sure this is true, or even possible, but it's strange anyway.  

5. Dr. Shbhatnagar.  This man has a good heart.  He really does.  And he's SO passionate about histology that 56 slides per day cannot contain the amount of information he's just dying to share with us.  So instead of cutting out irrelevant or unnecessary information, he uses creative methods to fit all the words he possibly can into one slide.  Now, you may have learned in school at some point that pressing the "Enter" key on the keyboard begins a new line of text.  This is normally used when one wants to separate two pieces of information.  Sometimes, if you want to be really fancy and super organized, you can even make a bulleted list.  However, most proponents of this concept neglect to mention that this method takes up SO much extra space.  Why would you want to separate your text into multiple lines?  Unnecessary.  For that matter, why are pesky phrases and sentences necessary?  No one cares about "the" and "such as" and "except."  You know, silly words.  Why don't we just cut them all out?  And you know, I always thought the semicolon didn't get used enough.  He's really on a different intellectual plane than the rest of us, one where his primary quest is to make sure as little blank space as possible appears on a PowerPoint slide.  Here is an example of one such slide:

(One other technique that helps to fit more words on a page is to make the pictures as SMALL as possible.  If the captions are legible, it's not small enough.)

Say hello to Calvin.

Calvin is my new phone. It's a T-Mobile G1, made by Google, and it's one of the most amazing devices I have ever seen.

A note about the naming of this device: I have a recent weird thing where I like to name things after Presidents.  My laptop is named Millard, and my sister's guitar (which I named) is Franklin.  As in Franklin Pierce.  Also, my future puppy will be named Fillmore.  

I got it yesterday, and I've been playing with it (AND studying histology, don't worry) since I got it.  Those pictures I took of it are not that great; the G1 has an amazing camera, but ironically it does not have a feature where it can take pictures of itself.  Bummer.  So those were taken with my old camera.  Anyways, I don't know how much you can see, but it has Gmail, Google Talk, Google Calendar, and everything fully integrated.  I already was obsessed with all those things in the first place, so really it's perfect.  I'm still playing with a few things and I don't completely understand how everything works, but it's pretty simple to use.

I've never had a fancy phone that had e-mail and Internet on it before; I've spent the last four years with two different Motorola Razrs, which I loved dearly but they were very simple.  So this is a huge step for me.  When my phone started fizzling out, I did a little research on what type to get.  I knew I wanted something with more capabilities, and I could have gotten a Blackberry for a lot cheaper, but this just seemed like the most logical choice.  It has a touch screen and a slide-out keyboard (as you can see in the pictures) and supports a whole lot of really amazing apps, iPhone style.  If anyone's interested, I'm going to run through some of my favorite and not-so-favorite things about the phone.

Apps.  The G1 is pretty much only as functional as the apps you download for it.  I'm still playing around with them and there are probably some more I need to get.  I only know one other person with this phone and he's been helping me out by recommending some. (thanks Gerrit, I knew you were in my life for a reason.  Well, other than that whole marrying-my-best-friend thing.)  So far, my favorites are:
- Locale.  The idea of this one is phenomenal.  Execution - not so much.  I think I may take it off, actually.  But the premise is that it uses the phone's GPS capability and the availability of Wi-Fi networks to determine where you are at any moment.  It then uses this data to change your phone settings.  For example, I have it set to automatically be on silent mode whenever I'm at school, and on "loud" when I'm at home.  I also have different wallpapers set for each place.  The problems with it are that it requires GPS be on at all times, which eats up your battery, and even so it still sometimes doesn't pick up location changes, which could be really bad.  
- Shazam.  Liz has had this on her iPhone for awhile, so most people probably know about it - but you can just hold the phone up to a source of music and it'll tell you what song is playing.  Pretty straight.
- ShopSavvy.  I haven't actually used this one yet, but it uses the phone's camera to scan barcodes and shows you prices of that item in different stores near you.
- WikiMobile.  Wikipedia.  On the phone.  Can you GET any more useful than that?
- Gmail.  This one comes with the phone, but it synchronizes PERFECTLY with my Gmail, which I am 100% addicted to already.

The keyboard is the one thing that's kinda annoying at this point. It is still really difficult for me to use, but I'm so glad it has a QWERTY keyboard.  I'm sure once I use it a little bit I'll get quicker at typing.  Also, the Chat application is being annoying today and not letting me sign on.  I'm sure I'll get the kinks worked out once I really know how to use it though.  I would definitely recommend this phone to anyone who is considering it.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009


I decided to accept the family medicine job. I know most of you probably think I am insane, but I feel really good about my decision. Maybe I'm turning down a great opportunity, but I think I will gain a lot more from what I will be doing because I haven't had much experience with primary care at all and I'm really excited to learn more about it. Plus, going into second year already burned out would be a BIG mistake.

It also occurred to me, right after I clicked the "I do not accept" button on Vanderbilt's web page, that this means I am opening up a spot for someone else who probably wants this a lot more than I did. So that person will probably end up winning a Nobel prize for diabetes research or something, all because of my decision. (Okay, probably not, but it makes me feel better to think that.)

I'm a pretty strong believer in NOT doing things just for the sake of putting them on your resume, and although it would have looked pretty fabulous on there, that would have been pretty much my only reason for doing the Vanderbilt thing.

Thanks for your opinions, everyone. (And just FYI, if any aspiring medical students are reading this, you should for SURE apply for this Vanderbilt deal during your first year if you think it sounds cool. Apparently they are not picky in who they take.)

Tuesday, April 7, 2009


Okay, friends and readers.  I am experiencing a conundrum of what to do with my summer.  Yesterday, two opportunities availed themselves, and I have to decide by tomorrow morning which I am going to choose.

1) Vanderbilt Summer Research Program in Diabetes and Endocrinology.
I applied for this program a few months ago on a whim.  I did not think there was any way in the world I would be accepted - I think they might have forgotten to read the part that said I had zero research experience and 2.3 GPA.  But nonetheless, I got an email yesterday saying that I've been accepted into the program and I have to notify them within 48 hours (so, 24 hours from now) whether I am accepting or decling the offer.

a. This is a really crazy prestigious thing.  I am still really confused as to why they want me.  I don't even come close to qualifying for USA's summer research program.  But it would look pretty phenomenal on my resume which is kind of empty right now.

b. If I decide to go into pediatric endocrinology, which is a pretty big option for me right now, this would be an invaluable experience and it would probably help me get a fellowship.

c. It might be really fun and interesting and a cool way to spend my summer.

d. It's a little more money.

a. I have never done research, and to be honest, the idea doesn't really thrill me.  It looks like they are flexible as to what type of research you do, and it can be more clinically based, but it's all very vague and I wouldn't be able to know until I selected my topic and was assigned a mentor.

b. My brain needs a break.  I am not even kidding.  This would be literally my entire summer, probably from a few days after I get back from England until a few days before 2nd year starts, and while it could be really laid back, that's not the vibe I am getting.  I don't think it would be a good idea to go into 2nd year (which is supposedly way harder than this year) with an already-tired brain.  

c. Even though it pays more, I'd have to find somewhere to live and pay for a lot more food and stuff if I was in Nashville than if I were home, so I'd probably take home less of that money.

2) Family Medicine Preceptorship.
This is a really cool program where I basically get to work in a physician's office in a rural area (probably Guntersville or somewhere else close to home) and the Family Medicine sponsors me for it by paying me $2000 for the summer. 

a. This would also look good on my resume AND give me some good primary care experience, which would be invaluable if I decide to pursue primary care (another big option).  

b. I think it would be a lot of fun and probably pretty laid-back.  The thought of doing this excites me a lot more than doing research.

c. Maybe I will fall in love with rural medicine (doubtful) and get to take that scholarship thing where they pay for your med school.  

c. I'd get to stay at home, which is nice and free, and I'd get to hang out with family and friends on my last summer vaca ever.

a. If I decide to go into endocrinology, it would be a lot harder to get a fellowship with no research under my belt.

b. I might be crazy to turn down the Vanderbilt thing, because how often am I going to get that opportunity?

So I don't know what I am going to do.  Does anyone have any thoughts?

Friday, April 3, 2009

The rudest cashier I have ever seen.

I stopped at Winn-Dixie a few minutes ago to buy a peach pie and a box of Hot Pockets.  (What can I say, frozen prepared foods are my favorite.)  The girl who checked me out was probably about 16 or 17.  Okay so first of all, I should preface this to say that during the whole exchange (you know, the part where I pay for my food and she rings it up and cheerfully smiles as she hands me the receipt) she was text messaging under the counter.  Now, I am not a person who has to have a conversation with every store employee I encounter, so not a big deal.  When it came time to pay, I pulled my debit card out because I was hoping to get some cash back.  I swiped the card.  I entered the first digit of my PIN number, which happens to be 3.  When I did that, however, the button got stuck and it typed 3 like 4000 times.  This was a problem because my PIN number is not that many digits long and there are some other numbers in there too.  I told the cashier something to the effect of, "I think the machine messed up."  Without a glance in my direction, she said, "Yeah, you're going to have to swipe it again."

So I swiped again.  I pressed 3 again.  The same thing happened.  I repeated this process three times.  While this was happening, I was providing a running narrative, just in case she cared what was happening or that the credit card machine was broken.  (She didn't.)  Finally, I just said, "Well, it won't let me use the 3 button and it is sticking.  I have another card I can use, though."  So I pulled out my credit card, swiped it, put it back in my wallet, and looked at her.  She finally looked up at me.  "I'm going to need the last four numbers on your card, please," were the words she said.  "You are an idiot and I can't believe you've been distracting me from my text messaging for the past five minutes," is what her face was telling me.

So I told her the last four digits of my card.  Thankfully, I did not have to type them in.  All I can do is hope that any future customers on Aisle 7 of Winn-Dixie do not have 3 in their PIN numbers.