Friday, November 26, 2010

The importance of "Me Time"

Hello there fellow non trads and a happy thanksgiving. This holiday marks a very important milestone in anyone who is in school. For the most part, it is the first real family holiday since Labor day or even 4th of july and people are going to want to talk to you and to see you and to find out how you are doing in school. Most of the time you are going to be telling the same story to multiple people. In addition, this marks the start of finals. It just seems as though time will get to warp speed once thanksgiving comes around and next thing you know, it is time for finals and then winter break. So if you have been putting off reading that chapter or writing that paper, get em done.

This brings me to my topic today. Now as non trads, especially those of us with families, our days are spent either at school or at home. And during that time we are either spending it with classmates and then when we get home, there are families that need our time. However, we tend to neglect a very important person. Ourselves. And surely, yours truly has and is very guilty of this as well.

The importance of having some me time is that you get to decompress. There is no one who is bothering you about going to the bathroom, being hungry, wanting to go home, buying a toy, talking shop, or having to deal with family issues. Rather you get to go to where you want to go, drink what you want to and let your mind settle down and enjoy some solitude. It is also important that you change where you have the me time as to not make it mundane. Little cafe's are wonderful. And if you can, try not to bring school work as this is NOT me time. Maybe, bring nothing and just listen to some music on your ipod, close your eyes and listen to the music at starbucks. Or even, bring a journal and write down your thoughts and feelings. You will find that you will not be resentful, and that you will actually be rejuvenated by the experience.

A question was asked about pattern recognition, let me explain.

When studying try to put things together in a pattern. In biology you know that A=T and G=C and that everytime you see a DNA sequence you will automatically know what the complementary sequence would be. In as much, when studying, you will recognize that when going from DNA to a protein, the pattern is always DNA to mRNA to tRNA to Protein. So if a question asks you about a defect where a protein is not made, you know that there will be something wrong in the pattern and you can recognize it. Same thing for chemistry, you know that the pattern for combustion is always "something + oxygen=carbon dioxide and water" it is always that. So if there is a question about why combustion has not occurred, or if the equation is not balancing you can know that the problem lies with one of the 4 elements of combustion. The same goes with medicine. If you know that if a person who has chest pain needs to be evaluated with an EKG,  blood pressure, pulse, oxygen saturation, chest x-ray, get a past history of the chest pain and their medical history and social history and if they are consistent with a cardiac problem, then you can recognize the pattern of treatment is nitroglycerine, morphine, aspirin, beta blocker (if not contraindicated), ACE-inhibitor, oxygen. And you know that the labs you are going to run are a Complete blood count, basic metabolic pattern, cardiac enzymes, arterial blood gas, etc. That is because you recognize the pattern of treatment. Eventually is becomes second nature but you must repeat, repeat, and repeat to know to recognize the pattern.

In the above example, if the patient with chest pain is a woman in their 40's and you find out that they just got off a plane from Australia, then the pattern points to a blood clot. On the other hand, if the patient is in their 40's and their father died at 51 from a heart attack and her uncle had his first heart attack at 48 and she has high cholesterol, the pattern points to cardiac.

I hope that this has answered the question about pattern recognition. If not, let me know and I will try to explain it better.

Now, off for some "me time"

With that in mind, I am off for some "me time".

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Some Study Skills

Hello there fellow nontrads. I am officially done with my ICU rotation and starting on Tuesday I will be at my combined EM/FM rotation. Also next month I have 3 interviews making it a total of 6. And the countdown to match day has begun (February 14th).

So I decided to write about study skills since in the past I wrote about time management. Now as nontrads, many of us have not been in school for a while and have either lost the study skills we once had or never really had them to begin with. And usually that translates to poor performance on exams. Most of the time though, we have the information in our head but we are so nervous about the exam that we blank out. And I think that these ideas can help with all types of educations.

The secret is..................Repetition, Repetition, Repetition, Repetition, Repetition. The more times you read about it, the more it will sink in. Once you start with Repetition, the second secret is pattern recognition.

For example: When I would start a class, I would take notes and listen as well as I can. Of course, during that time I would miss some things because I was writing notes. But that was alright because I was recording the class, In the old days (1990's) I used a portable tape recorder. Then, on my way to work, I would pop the tape into the car and listen during my commute to/from work. Then at least I would hear what the teacher was saying. And because I was not writing anything, I did not miss anything.  In addition, I would then transfer my notes from the presentation I wrote all over to a notebook in outline form. This forced me to read the notes several times as I was writing them. However, before I would start a new set of notes, I would read all of the notes that I had written up to that moment. As the semester went on, of course that took longer and longer to do. Then before the exam, at least 2 weeks before. I would put all of my notes together into a review sheet and study that.

So how would I not get distracted? Good question, I would listen to white noise.

In the past, I would listen to a recording of a thunderstorm. It was enough to break the silence and not let my mind wander. Now with my ipod, I downloaded the whitenoise app and there are plenty of white noises to use. Presently, I have been using an mp3 that my friend had told me about that helps with brain waves and what not. I noted it in a previous post.

To prepare for an exam though, I would hunt the internet for inline quizzes and exams. You need to play with keywords. And I was able to take practice tests to see where I was lacking.

I hope that this helps fellow non trads. You can do it. Just keep your eyes on the prize. As always, below are some books that I think would help. Until next time. And if I do not see you sooner: Happy Thanksgiving. Enjoy it, you deserve it.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Interviews have begun

Hello there fellow non Trads. I have been really tired to update my blog recently. You see, I have been on my Intensive Care Unit month and basically I am working 12 hours a day for 5 days. Then I have to come home and help out with the kiddies and the wifey. So as you can see, being a non trad with children and in medical school is not very easy. In fact, it is downright tiring. However, that is not to say that it is not rewarding.

One thing that I did find out is that I truly enjoy critical care medicine. It is so important when it comes to the Emergency room that they are almost one and the same. However, there is more to critical care than meets the eye. And since I have also applied to Internal Medicine residency programs, if I do match into IM rather than EM, I am going to do a fellowship in critical care/pulmonology. however, there lies the rub. What do I tell my wife? This is something that us non trads have to deal with that 99.999% of the other medical students do not. We have to talk to our spouses. Unlike EM and straight IM, being a critical care doctor will require 3 more years after residency for a fellowship. And that is going to be a hard sell to my wife.

Recently, my 2nd oldest has been having a hard time with her spelling. Mostly in part because neither myself nor my wife have been sitting with her to help her with her words. My fault, because after a long day in the ICU I just want to crash and my wife has the other kids that also need help, be fed, be changed, etc. This is another uniqueness with us non trads, especially those of us with kids that other medical students do not have to worry about. Not only do we have our school events, but our kids have theirs. There is back to school night, parent teacher conferences, plays, book fairs, play dates, you name it. Not to mention homework. So this has to be added to the scheduling process. For that we have "Central Command Calendar"

Basically, I went to Staples and I bought a laminated erasable calendar and white board markers. Then each person was assigned a color of marker. Now we have 2 months of activities that we can check. I write down my schedule so that everyone knows what time and where I will be. Also, I will know when the other events are. Everything has to be put on the calendar. Doctor's appointments, interviews, playdates, dinner dates, etc.  Now we have everything scheduled and it can easily be seen.

Time to take my eldest to Karate, be back soon non trads.  Here are some ideas for pre-meds.

As for pre-meds: let me know about questions and I will reply with them as soon as I can.