2nd Year…A Pause to Remember a Sacred Oath

Paige, Second Year Medical StudentAs is evident by the fact that this is my first blog post since the summer before year 2 of medical school commenced, 2nd year is BUSY!  Last year, we heard the 2nd year students grumble about how much they missed 1st year and how busy and completely consuming the ominous 2nd year was.  However, as a 1st year student, it was hard to believe that things could really be that much more difficult.  Little did I know, all the grumblings about 2nd year being one of the most difficult years of my academic life would indeed be indeed prove to be true.  In addition to a heavy academic load that includes: Pathophysiology, Pathology, Microbiology, Pharmacology, Neurology, Psychopathology, Preventive Medicine, and Biochemistry there are the additional requirements of labs, self-study lectures, continuity clinics, medical simulation labs, clinical skills OSCEs, and the ever-looming Step 1 test that will basically determine which residency programs we will be eligible for upon completing medical school.  Throw in extracurricular service activities, time to eat (cooking optional), exercise, spending time with loved ones, and devoting time to building a relationship with God and needless to say, there are never enough hours in the day to accomplish everything with the type of perfectionistic approach that we medical students desire.

If you have read my blog posts prior to this, you must be thinking, “Wow, this girl has suddenly become quite the Debbie Downer!”  I hope that you will continue to read however, because it has been this process of fully realizing the difficulty and challenges of medicine that has shown me even more of the immense value of this profession that I have chosen to pursue.  Moreover, it has shown me that even when things get tough—which they do—if you have the right support system, priorities, and determination, it can be done!

As I sit here on my last weekend of Christmas break and reflect over the past few months since beginning this year, I can honestly say that there have been many times, in fact, the majority of times when I have not had my priorities straight.  Relationships with family, friends, and God have all been stretched to the limit as I have put school again and again at the top of my priority list.  I have always had to work hard in school, but I have always been up for the challenge and have always truly enjoyed the process of learning.  Yet, at the beginning of this Christmas break I was exhausted, burnt out, and dreading the thought of once again immersing myself in the firehose of information that never gets turned off.  As far as I was concerned, the challenge was starting to look like it was a bit more than I could handle.

However, God showed me once again in a most unsuspecting way that He was the one guiding and sustaining me down this career path.  On New Year’s Eve my family had the opportunity to visit the Reagan National Library near my sister’s house in Ventura, California.  There are thousands of quotes scattered throughout this exhibition of President Reagan’s life story and accomplishments, and it would take days to read all of the information provided about the life of this incredible man.  We only had a few hours to walk the museum so we casually perused the information, taking note of just the main highlights.  One quote, tucked away in the volumes of information, stood out to me immediately.  It was spoken by President Reagan on his inauguration day and read, “I consider the trust that you have placed in me sacred, and I give you my sacred oath that I will do my utmost to justify your faith.”

Upon reading this quote, I was immediately struck with awe at the relevance it had in my own life.  It reminded me of that day a year and half ago when I recited a sacred oath “To Make Man Whole” and received a white coat that would signify the sacred trust of many patients that I would soon encounter.  I have no doubt that God used this quote to remind me of the reasons why I am currently working so diligently to conquer this difficult 2nd year of medical school.  As I look to begin this last 6 months of year 2, I am reinvigorated by this reminder of the sacred trust that has been placed in us as healthcare providers, and our sacred oath to be the best physicians that we can be in order to justify the faith that our future patients will have in us.

New year!

Janna, First Year Medical Student

It’s a new year and time for new things! We received our first official final grades for a science course- biochemistry/genetics, and now have new classes: neuroscience, human behavioral science, and (for me) a medical ethics religion class. Within the first week, we have already covered the gross anatomy of the brain, learned how to empathize and encourage patients to adhere to a treatment, and faced the ethics of medicine in a documentary about a boy who became a girl and later went back to being a boy because his penis was burned off when he was 2 months old.

I also saw my first “patient” named Harvey in the Harvey Stimulation Lab for Physical Diagnosis. However, Harvey isn’t quite like the normal patient; he’s a robotic head and torso lacking limbs but complete with heart murmurs, pulses, and JVPs. His abdomen even rises when he “breathes”. He helped integrate the information we learned from lecture.

Fellow blogger Lauren (second from left) and her classmates practicing on Harvey when they were freshmen.

Fellow blogger Lauren (second from left) and classmates practicing on Harvey when they were freshmen.

Lastly of my new experiences, this week I also joined some of my classmates and co-blogger Abby at the BATs (buns, abs, and thighs) class at Drayson Center. We jumped, punched, and kicked for an hour! My muscles, used to sitting around all day, are still in shock. But, the class was a great de-stresser and fun opportunity to hang out with friends. I can’t wait to go this week!

Beginning of the End of the Beginning

I’ll start with the best part: Friday, I presented my thesis proposal––and passed! I’ve spent the rest of the weekend being ecstatic. Typically, the response from others follows a somewhat less enthusiastic motif. “Wow, that’s great…what does it mean? Do you start med school now?”

No, I’m not going to start med school anytime soon, but as far as the PhD goes, making it through the proposal process is significant. Getting a PhD is somewhat of an elaborate hazing ritual, in which pledges must prove to a council of five established researchers that they are worthy of joining their ranks. The thesis proposal is a particularly intense Harrowing, in which I must publicly present my intended doctoral work. I must also let the five scientists on my thesis committee that I know what I’m presenting and that I’m capable of completing the work. Passing means I’ve made it through the first level of graduate school, and am now a PhD Candidate. Now all that stands between me and the PhD is…a whole lot of research and writing.

For anyone that’s interested, my thesis (which I’m sure will come up again) explores the relationship between cholesterol regulation and Alzheimer’s disease. My presentation can even be viewed online. Of course, I’d be happy to answer any questions––what researcher doesn’t love the opportunity to talk about their work?

Since I’m MD/PhD, I have four years of med school after that, and we won’t go into the post-post-graduate years of residency. As my friend described it, I’m at the beginning of the end of the beginning: It’s the beginning of the final push toward my PhD, which is itself the beginning of my path through the combined degree program. Regardless, I’m allowing myself some satisfaction. I might even venture to say I’m around 25% complete, and that’s worth celebrating.

Goodbyes and New Beginnings

Tamara, Fourth Year Medical StudentIt’s hard to know what to say, at times like these – I’ll admit, I’ve never been very good at goodbyes.

I can’t believe my time at Loma Linda is over.  I leave Loma Linda overflowing with love, filled to the brim by a community that has embraced me, supported me, and given me four amazing years.

Some highlights from each year:

Freshman yearDSC00433

 

[first day of school, so excited!]

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[‘Frank Netter skit’ for Pine Springs Ranch talent show with my best girlfriends]

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[intense lab sessions]

Summer Break

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[mission trip to the Dominican Republic]

Sophomore year

The only pictures I could find of sophomore year involved studying…it was that kind of a year.

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[studying through an extremely severe ankle sprain, which required crutches]

Junior Year

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[medical student abuse ;), my resident added necessary ‘artistic touches’ to my mask]

Senior Year

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[my Grandfather (class of ‘53b) and I at graduation]

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[M.D. diploma in hand]

And finally, my crowning achievement of medical school – envisioning, choreographing, organizing, and successfully performing a flashmob at the end of graduation. It was soooo fun!

Graduation Flashmob – Loma Linda University School of Medicine, Class of 2012 from looheru on Vimeo.

Loma Linda, it’s been one heck of a ride.  I’ll do my best to make you proud.

[Learning the basics of blogging has been a fun, unexpected gift during senior year.  Thank you all, our readers, for your support and encouragement.  If you want to keep following my occasional musings, I will continue this blog journey at http://theyetidiaries.wordpress.com%5D

My Glue Stick

Ryan B., Second Year Medical StudentTracing. Probably the 1st grade homework assignment I hated the most!  As we moved through the alphabet, learning how to properly inscribe each new letter, I was BORED. Plain and simple.  Just imagine my little ADHD brain trying to find the point in tracing an uppercase J, then a lowercase j.  Tracing an uppercase K, then a lowercase k. Even if they were dashed and incomplete, the letters on my page were clearly already written.  So if I already knew how to write basic letters, why did I have to practice when I could be outside, running around to my heart’s content? I at least wanted to do something more engaging with my mind, something that would help the focus a little better. Uppercase L, lowercase l. Uppercase M, lowercase m.

Needless to say, whatever it was that I turned in usually got pretty low marks… much to the chagrin of my parents. 😉 It probably looked a little something like this:

IMG_1184First grade wasn’t the best year of my life, that’s for sure! But even now, as I laugh at the idea of what my teacher must have had to put up with having me in her classroom, I can’t help but notice some similarities between then and now.  Even though I so desperately wanted to do something more challenging, I couldn’t learn how to spell words or write paragraphs until I first mastered the art of writing letters.

That’s the frustrating thing about medicine right now. While the sciences fascinate me and I wouldn’t rather be studying anything else, I’m getting so antsy to try some actual patient care.  The last two years of sitting on my duff all afternoon and studying have taken their toll, and most of us second years long for the days when we might feel more like a doctor and less like we’re still in undergrad.  But until we first get a good grasp of the basic sciences, we can’t even pretend we’ll be ready to take on any actual patients.  To put it succinctly, we must first learn how the body works before we can learn how it becomes diseased, before we can learn how to treat it, before we can actually put that into practice and influence someone’s life.

Patience… one step at a time. (no pun intended?)

And that’s where the glue stick comes into play… Maybe I thought those elementary art projects were useless, but who knew they would be helping me construct microbiology flash cards some day?  Adding to the base that will lead me to the next phase of my education, it sure helped me put parasitology into my brain for our last set of exams:

IMG_1124So with only two more rounds of exams left, one BIG national board exam to climb over, and lots of questions still left to be answered, I continue on.  So close… and yet so far away!  The pieces of the puzzle are slowly and continuously building into a much larger picture… and then the next level of the adventure begins! I can’t wait!

In the mean time, let me show you how to get ahead in medical school:

IMG_1155The Deans and I, From L to R: Dr. Nyirady (let me into school), Me, Dr. Lamberton (getting me through school), and Dr. Hadley (head dean of it all)

I am of course, once again kidding, haha, but the Freshmen recently celebrated “Family Day”, and so after seeing the three standing together following the Friday evening dedication service, I couldn’t help but sneak in for a picture with some of the more famous figures on campus. 🙂

And with that my mind snaps back to other things… such as skin rashes and the pathophyisiology of stomach disease.