Sunday, November 2, 2014

anatomy reflection

I'm going to try to do a reflection at the end of each core. Keep in mind these are only my thoughts, and I certainly can't speak for every medical student. I also want to make very clear that I am so grateful for the opportunities I have to learn all that I am learning. I couldn't picture myself doing anything else and I'm very lucky. 

The first day first week first two weeks of Anatomy I was nervous as could be. I mean, this was it. I've never worked so hard in my entire life as I did the past ten weeks.  At some points I felt like I was on a train that was moving too fast and I couldn't get off, and if I would jump I'd fall. (maybe that's a poor metaphor, I never claimed to be an awesome writer). But at the same time it was amazing to look back week after week and see how many concepts I'd learned in such a short amount of time. 

I was never as nervous as I was before the first exam. I didn't know what to expect or even if I was studying the "right way." The other exams made me nervous, don't get me wrong, but I knew I was prepared for those at least. There were only a few restless nights, and one night where I only got three hours of sleep due to anxiety, but otherwise I've been good about going to the gym three times a week, eating healthy, and getting enough sleep.

I enjoyed learning about everything during this class, and I truly saw the importance of it. My only wish was that it wasn't all happening so fast. (But we have a lot of info to cover in four years , so I suppose I'm glad I don't have to be in the classroom for even longer). This makes it really hard to take days off, you can't get behind. In fact, my only days off occurred the Saturday after an exam. 

When I first started medical school I thought I'd be working hard for myself, to be the best doctor I could be, but I quickly realized that it wasn't for me at all. If I was working hard just for myself, it wouldn't be enough motivation. I was working hard to retain this information and learn as much as I could for my future patients, for every person that will come to see me with real problems (not our simulated ones in class) , people who are in real pain, or who are really struggling with something. This will definitely continue to be a main motivating factor in all of the classes that follow. 

Anatomy consisted of lectures daily, lab daily, and occasional Living Anatomy lectures. On exam day we were tested for about four hours on a Friday or Saturday where we would take half of the test on the computer (multiple choice, essays, and short answers) and the other half would be conducted in the lab. There were structures pinned on donor bodies and we all were at a different station with one question at each station. The buzzer would ring every minute which signaled the progression to the next question (stressful if you can't think of the answer in 60 seconds ;) ). Five of the stations we rotated through were Living Anatomy stations where you meet with your partner, take off your clothes (you get to leave bra and shorts on), and go into a curtained off area with your partner  where a professor has your question. You take the card and perform whatever tasks it asks (palpate the bony structures of the hip, perform some hearing tests, test for damage of _____ nerve, etc.). Keep in mind you get only one minute to walk in, read the card, do the stuff, and leave. Living anatomy probably gave me the most anxiety each test day. 

After my grandma Skidmore passed away, I found some anatomy textbooks on her bookshelf. I was only in high school, but for some reason I put them in my suitcase before we left after her funeral. I didn't buy any textbooks for Anatomy because I had those. Netter's atlas is a classic, and I certainly used it every day. The other book I took was a book of photographs of cadaver sections with labels that was really beneficial as well. While studying, I would glance at notes she made in the margins, and smile knowing that we shared an interest that I never even knew she had until now. (Grandma did not have a profession in medicine, just an interest) In fact, her notes helped me understand the brachial plexus, atrial septal defects in the heart, and the pathway of the cranial nerves! Those books sat in my closet for over 5 years, I'm so glad I remembered that I had them.

I studied each day by reviewing the days lectures and outlining them by rewriting the objectives given to us at the beginning of each lecture. I looked at the atlases mentioned above, reviewed lecture notes, visited the lab outside of class, quizzed myself with an online database of questions (Prep-U), and drew out structures. The most beneficial things I did were planning out my days, and staying productive and disciplined during "study time." 

Using my planner, every night I'd write out all that I wanted to accomplish the next day and approximately how long I'd spend doing each task. There will never be enough time to learn everything, it's definitely necessary to set stopping points. During my study time (during most of it) I'd set my phone across the room and time myself for 60 minutes and then take a 10-15 minute break, and start on a new study goal. 

I woke up at 5:30 most days and either worked out, or drove to campus and started studying before class which started at 8:00. I'd usually take only a half hour off for lunch, study throughout the afternoon, and most nights I'd be done by 7:30/8:00 PM. Test weeks stressed me out if I studied all day with only short breaks, so I'd have to take an hour off in the afternoons (and nap, read, or go on a walk) and then I'd study until 9 or 10. (Usually at around 8:30 or 9:00 my wonderful husband would quiz me on material that I'd been working on that day). 

My school has a wonderful lab. We all have our own screens and projectors to help us during disections, and instructors rotated through the rows to make sure we had all  most  of our questions answered .  Donating your body to science is an unbelievably generous thing to do. Not a day went by when I didn't think about how generous of a gift it is just so that I could learn and eventually help others - that is truly amazing. I tried to remember this and learn as much as I could, because it's quite an incredible opportunity. 

The next core is biochemistry, which occurs over the next seven weeks, and I'm excited to see what that has to offer as well. 

Bring on the Kreb's cycle, DNA processes, and that protein stuff.... :) 

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