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imparting wisdom [Jun. 14th, 2009|12:32 pm]

10 Things I Learned in Residency
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for the undecided: another plug for PM&R [May. 13th, 2009|11:27 am]

The AAMC has been doing a new feature on careers in medicine and their April feature was on Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. PM&R is the field that I'm in and we're always trying to raise awareness about the specialty. Myself, I didn't find out about it till 1/3 of the way through my third year of med school, which hurt my application process. I'm now graduating from residency and I couldn't be happier with my choice of specialty.

I wrote a post a while ago about what PM&R is, but I'd like to make a post now featuring 12 reasons why PM&R rocks. Many of these focus on lifestyle and money, but hey, let's not kid ourselves... there's a reason why derm is so competitive and it's not because med students have a burning desire to cure acne.

--In many programs, you can take call from home even as a PGY2.

--Weekends are generally free. In my entire three years of residency (post-internship), I have worked a total of less than 20 weekends (out of about 150 weekends in three years). I've worked maybe 4 holidays total. (After being grateful to get one day off during Thanksgiving weekend as an intern, it was so amazing to get all four days off three years in a row.)

--Straight out of PM&R residency, you can earn $200,000. If you do a one-year fellowship, you can earn upwards of $300,000.

--In three years, I have never had to say the words: "I'm sorry, but your family member is going to die." (or "you are going to die" or "they already died")

--I have a child and I got to put her to bed every single night during residency. (OK, there were one or two exceptions. Still pretty good.)

--If you want a cushy specialty like derm or rads, you need to be both very competitive and geographically flexible. If you are stuck in a certain geographical area and don't have the grades but you want to have a good lifestyle during residency, you can either go the psych route or the PM&R route. If you don't like procedures, you can do psych. If you like procedures, you can do PM&R.

--With all the injured soldiers, PM&R jobs at the VA are really hot right now.

--Lots of procedures, but no surgeries. Procedures are fun and they pay the bills.

--As the field is still relatively young, there are tremendous opportunities for research.

--If you want to do pain management, it's a much easier route than suffering through three years of anesthesia.

--When I have to be at work at 8AM these days, it seems REALLY early to me.

--There are so many aspects to the field (brain injury, spine injury, amputation, stroke, sports, neuromuscular/EMG, pain, peds rehab), it is almost guaranteed that you will find something you like enough to do it as a career. Hell, you could even make a career out of doing acupuncture or cancer rehab.

If you have any questions about the field, please feel free to ask me. See, we're also really nice!

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Tips for Step 1 [May. 9th, 2009|08:16 pm]

It's come to my attention that some of you are studying for Step 1. This is used material, but hey, people seemed to like it four years ago.

Tips for Step 1

1. Your worst subject which will comprise 50% of the exam. The other 50% of the test will be on the female pelvis.

2. Most exam takers will bring ear plugs to protect themselves against noisy people in the room. It is also recommended to bring nose plugs to protect against smelly people in the room. You might also want to blindfold yourself to protect against ugly people in the room.

3. When in doubt, the answer is priapism (the painful prolonged male erection).

4. Regardless of chief complaint or symptoms, every African-American female on the exam has sarcoidosis or possibly lupus. Every Caucasian female has either pelvic inflammatory disease or thyroid dysfunction. The rest of the spectrum of disease is represented in men. Just like in real life.

5. If it's any comfort, nothing you're about to be tested on or have killed yourself learning for the past two years will be at all relevant to your future career. Do you feel better now?

6. The same #1 basic guideline applies as to every other exam you've ever taken: Never fall in love.

7. If you do badly the exam, you can always build a time machine, go back in time, and fix your score. If you do so, just make sure your mom doesn't fall in love with you because it'll, like, disrupt the space time continuum or something.

8. Due to increasing incidence of cheating, proctors have been instructed to perform randomized body cavity searches during the exam. So you may want to rethink some of your old hiding places from the MCATs.

9. Statistically it's been shown that students' scores on Step 1 are reflective of their performance over the past two years, so any studying you're about to do for the exam will statistically be a waste of time. But, you know, don't let that stop you.

10. If all else fails, there's always Plan B: Hide under a pile of coats and hope that everything turns out OK.

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(no subject) [Apr. 6th, 2009|11:08 am]

I'm not in med school yet (still premed,) and I'm not exactly friends with any doctors, or even premed students, as all my friends have chosen photography or history or something.. so I thought I would ask people who might actually know.

Are visible tattoos pretty much forbidden?
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Hi! I'm New [Apr. 5th, 2009|09:59 pm]
So I know this isn't a community about getting into and applying for med school but I need advice from people already in medical school or have graduated.  I have always loved studying medicine yet I never wanted to be a doctor.  My reason is I don't like blood and gore.  Yet, my fun book right now is "Case Files: Internal Medicine" and I've owned 2 copies of Gray's Anatomy since I'm 15.  People tell me I am a wealth of medical knowledge and I love to go off on rants explaining underlying biological mechanisms and what not.  All of these comments from other people have got me thinking.  Do I want to be a Doctor? 

Reason's Why I Should be a Doctor
1) I love helping people.  I volunteer doing outreach for an AIDS clinic a few times a week, was in the community service fraternity all 4 years of college and was in a few community service clubs throughout high school.
2) I have always excelled in science.  I was the top AP biology student in high school, won science fairs, was picked for the Rockefeller University Student Outreach program and always was the one tutoring people in my science classes
3) I love the human body and its intricacy.  I even study it for fun, as mentioned above.


Can I desensitize myself to blood? Was anybody here squeemish and overcome it?  I think I would love a career as a doctor if I can overcome my fear of blood.  I really, really want to be a diagnostician.  I've always said that but avoided doctor as an aspiration due to my phobia.  If anyone could give me feedback, it would be greatly appreciated.

I'm sorry if this isn't a suitable question for this community.

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It's that time of year again... [Apr. 1st, 2009|04:42 pm]

[Current Music |Talking Heads - Psycho Killer | Powered by Last.fm]

...when everyone goes a little bit insane.

I don't understand. We're medical students, we're supposed to be ready and accepting of a stressful, work-driven lifestyle. Why can none of these people cope with the idea of a few exams?

Take the guy in lectures who's started shushing everyone who talks.
Fair enough, but annoying when it's several times a lecture, or when its a boring lecture no-one would listen to all of anyway, or when he takes photos of people on his camera phone to report to the head of year... (I'm pretty sure thats illegal?)

Take my housemate, who is in the library 7am-9am every day, 6 weeks before exams... who writes me passive-aggressive notes about my mice's wheel rattling and only socialises on someone's birthday.

Take the people who email the professors every day asking very specific, hypothetical questions that in all likelihood we won't need to know the answer to, or should be able to look up/work out ourselves- what happened to initiative?

Take the girl who has started drinking caffeine drink again and comes to lectures talking at 100 miles an hour...

Apparently true/false questions are being abolished from our multiple-choice exams because some cultures are more prone to ticking "true"... I haven't heard of a religion that states you're not allowed to disagree with statements, but I could be incorrect...
Also does this now mean our university is changing questions because PEOPLE ARE GETTING THEM WRONG?

I signed up for medicine fully aware of the packed timetable, the need to tackle difficult ethical issues, the vast amount of information I would need to learn, and the upsetting situations I would face. I was prepared to face dangerous diseases, but there is one bugging me most of all- exam insanity.

I was not prepared for the vast amount of crazy all around me! Everyone is stressed, everyone wants to vent, no-one has any time at all to just... chill out a bit!
I just want someone normal to spend time with, please?

I've said it before, and I'll say it again... This is what happens when you only pick exam-oriented overacheivers.

(x-posted, sorry if you see this twice)
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Scramble Advice [Mar. 16th, 2009|05:07 pm]

I'm assisting a friend Scramble for prelim surgery spots. Any advice? What worked for you when you scrambled?

So far, it sounds like he's looking at the list at 10:15 CST, then I'm going to get on the phone at 11am CST to ask the programs he wants if they want him to use ERAS or email or fax for his app. If its fax or email, we have to get the student affairs office to send the stuff to them, because they won't let us have paper or pdf copies of the MSPE and LoR. Does this sound like a good plan? Should he be doing anything else, like writing cover letters or something?

Thanks. Sorry for x-posting.
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Black Monday [Mar. 16th, 2009|08:19 am]

This is just my shout-out to those of us in the Class of 2009.....good luck today! May the email bring great joy (and drinking)!


X-posted to med_school 

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Question for a Saturday night: [Mar. 14th, 2009|10:21 pm]

So yesterday my dean was giving a speech and he said that we were all really lucky to go to this med school because we got so much clinical experience and patient exposure in our preclinical years.

My first time interviewing a real, live patient (not a standardized patient) was when I did a 10 hour preceptorship during the second half of my second year of medical school. My second time seeing an actual patient with an actual problem was third year.

For obvious reasons I don't feel like I got enough patient exposure in my preclinical years and it's adversely affecting me now as a MS-3. A lot of my patients tell me I seem nervous, and I think part of that is due to the fact that the only patients I saw for a long time were grading me and making sure I asked all the pertinent questions listed on the checklist. And while they were doing that, my profs were watching me on the overhead video camera.

My question is this: How much clinical experience did everyone else get in their preclinical years? Because if my "experiences" count as "so much clinical experience and patient exposure" then I really wonder what happens at other med schools.
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away electives [Mar. 1st, 2009|10:02 am]

Ok, I hate to be the med school equivalent of the desperate premed, but I kinda have no idea what i'm doing here.

I'm supposed to be applying for electives at other schools but honestly, I'm not totally sure how to go about doing it. I mean, I know how, I have VSAS and all that stuff, but I'm not sure how many schools to apply to or which schools to pick. I've heard different answers to everything--some people tell me to pick really good schools so I can get a letter from them that counts more, other people tell me to pick schools that I have a shot of getting into instead. Some people tell me I need at least 3 options per month (we're only allowed to do 3 months of away rotations over here), other people tell me that it's likely I'll get an elective someplace and not to have so many backup plans. It's not helping that I have almost no compelling reason to go anywhere in this country (I'm single and my family is spread out) so that doesn't narrow down the field at all.

So...does anyone have any words of wisdom they feel like sharing? It would be much appreciated.

Thanks in advance!
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