Wednesday, 11 December 2013

One Day Matters

At my school, they run a program called 'One Day Matters', where first year med students get to shadow a surgeon for a day and watch their surgeries. I got to participate in the program back in November, but am just getting around to posting about it now (oops). I was lucky enough to get paired with an orthopedic surgeon for the day, which is super cool because bones are my thing! I was really excited to see some surgeries, but was also terrified that I'd pass out at the sight of the scalpel (and it wouldn't be my first time passing out, haha).

About a week before my placement, I went to the hospital and checked the schedule, which said that I was going to be seeing two hip replacements, a knee replacement, and a first MTP debridement (the first MTP is the joint between your big toe and your foot). I made the mistake of watching some videos online in the days leading up to the surgeries, and man, let me tell you - a lot of the videos you can watch online are actually way worse than what it looks like when you're in there! So I psyched myself out nicely, and was pretty stressed the day before surgery. 

The morning of my day in the OR, I got up and forced myself to eat a decent breakfast (that's pretty much the #1 thing they tell you - do NOT go into the OR on an empty stomach!), and headed out. I got there super early (I'm always paranoid about being late), and got changed into scrubs and was told to wait for the doctor I was working with in the surgeons lounge! I felt so out of place, the lowly little first year med student sitting amongst a bunch of surgeons (most of whom were men, but who's counting?). The surgeon I was working with got there fairly quickly though, and she (yes, I was lucky enough to be paired with a kickass female surgeon!) was amazing. She was super nice and welcoming, and after she changed we went to see our first patient of the day, who was getting a hip replacement. We went to the OR while it was being set up, and chatted a bit. At first, she wasn't sure whether she was going to have me scrub in (which is when you're completely sterile and can be at the operating table), or just observe (when all you have to do is wash up and wear a mask, and you just stay back so there's no risk of you contaminating anything). She decided to have me scrub in though, which was super cool. I actually stood right next to her the entire time and got to participate! I didn't get to do anything that could be screwed up (as it should be!), but she let me do things like hold retractors, cut sutures, wash out a joint, and even hammer a couple things! Such a cool day. 

This is a screencap from Grey's Anatomy and not a photo of the surgery I was in, but it's good to show what ortho surgery looks like (though the OR I was in was about 1000 times brighter, they make everything look dark and mysterious on TV. Also, there were way less screens everywhere - if you're looking right into the joint, you don't need to project what you're doing on a screen, haha). With orthopedic surgery, it's incredibly important to control the risk of infection as much as humanly possible, because if an infection gets into bone it's bad. Really bad. Bone infections aren't something you want to mess with. So, in addition to gowns and gloves, you also wear these crazy hoods! The best part of the hoods though is that underneath them you wear a helmet-like contraption that plugs into a battery pack and has a fan in it! So that actually kept me pretty cool the whole time (because the gowns and gloves get pretty warm!). It was awesome. 

A close up of Callie in the hood. 

I couldn't believe how quick and efficient the surgeries were, either! The surgeon was amazing, and definitely didn't rush at all, and still each surgery I was in lasted less than an hour. It's awesome to be part of something that's going to improve someone's quality of life so drastically. I was also super proud of myself when I made it through the whole day without passing out! I did get a little woozy at the very end of the first surgery, but was totally fine during the rest of the day. Pro tip: between each surgery, I was lucky enough to have a small snack and a juice box to keep my blood sugar up, and run to the washroom. Eating and drinking regularly is super important. 

So, my first day in surgery was pretty awesome. I don't know if I want to actually be a surgeon, partially because the lifestyle can be ridiculous and I want to be able to balance work and family. I think I could maybe see myself in a specialty where I'd be in the OR maybe 2 or 3 days a week and in clinics the rest of the time, but I'm not sure how feasible that would be. Good thing I have time to figure it out! 

Friday, 6 December 2013

Thumper, Bugs, Roger, Peter...

All of the names in the title of this post have one thing in common... they're all famous rabbits! As you may have guessed (or seen on facebook), Matt and I picked up the Rabbit this week, and I'm in love. It's a way nicer car than I ever thought I'd be able to own (especially as a student), and it makes my 40 minute commute so much more enjoyable on the days I drive. The seats are so comfy. :) Here are some pics!

Me and the car in the pickup bay at the dealership... it's so they don't have to do outdoor deliveries in the winter. Nice touch!

Me again, very excited. 

Oh look, me again. Matt wasn't as excited as I was about the prospect of a photo shoot (though we were equally excited about the car). 

The little rabbit icon on the back. I know this is ridiculous, but it's part of what makes me love it!

So, now the big question: what should we name our car? I like Thumper (though wonder it's a bad omen to name a car Thumper), Matt likes Bugs. Any other ideas? I tried googling famous rabbits, but strangely enough there aren't too many of those. ;)

Also, my PSA is that if anyone living in my area is looking for a VW, let me know and I'll hook you up - I know a guy. ;)

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Happy December!

Man, that three day weekend between MFs was so needed. I did a lot of relaxing (and no school work!), caught up on some sleep, and cleaned the apartment top to bottom (it looks awesome!). Now all that's left is to put up curtains (which has become quite the saga), and get some artwork up on the walls.

Friday night, Matt and I had dinner with some friends from grad school. It was so nice to see everyone and catch up! Also, because we're old, we all met up for dinner at 5 and were done by 8:30, which is my kind of night. I unfortunately still am not good at remembering to take pictures of these things, so there's no proof, haha. Then we went and met up with one of Matt's friends from school and his girlfriend at a place downtown called The Caledonian - it was amazing and you should all go (especially if you like scotch - they have a ridiculously long scotch list). We didn't have dinner (since we had already eaten), but the food all looked amazing, and the Scottish woman who owns the place is so friendly and welcoming! She kept stopping by our table to make sure we were enjoying ourselves (which we were), and it was so nice that she was so genuine. Matt and I will definitely be having a date night there soon. :)

Saturday was more low-key, which was nice. Sunday was December 1st, so I got to start my DavidsTea '24 days of tea' advent calendar! It's such a great idea, you get little tins of 24 different kinds of tea (each tin is enough to make probably 2-3 cups of tea). It's a great way to try different teas, and it's way healthier than a chocolate advent calendar!

Then later Matt and I went out for a coffee and donut date at Krispy Kreme... it's our guilty pleasure, and we try not to do it more than once a month. It's really cool, you get to watch them make the donuts and then they serve them to you right off the conveyor belt, still warm. Delicious. 

Frying and then being pulled on the conveyor belt. 

Going through the wall of glaze.

My happy place (we each had one, to be clear... I exercised self-control). 

The coffee actually wasn't that good. I was sad. 

Dinner - pan-seared tilapia and asparagus. Can you tell we also went grocery shopping this weekend for the first time in a while?

Then we capped off the weekend by watching Elf on Netflix! Such a good movie. Will Ferrell cracks me up in that movie... I have no idea how he managed to keep a straight face while filming it. 

So, that was my weekend! MF2 started yesterday (my tutor and group seem amazing, so I'm excited to get started), so expect to hear more about GI and the Endocrine system on here eventually... exciting stuff! 

Tomorrow morning we pick up the new (to us) car - hopefully the weather is good so I can take some pictures to share! 

Thanks for stopping by! Talk to y'all soon. :)

Friday, 29 November 2013


Hi everyone!

I can't believe I'm writing this post, but we're finished MF1! To explain, the in-class portion of med school at my school is divided up into five blocks, or 'medical foundations'. MF1, which we just finished, included learning about respiration, cardio, and hematology (blood). We start MF2 on Monday, which runs for 9(?) weeks and includes the Endocrine system, GI, and nutrition. It's actually designed incredibly well, in that everything we learn builds on what we've already done - I can't imagine how much effort must have gone into designing the curriculum.

I have a couple of other posts in the works on some of the specific things I did in MF1 (like spending a day in the OR and how my family medicine rotation has been going), so I figured I'd post a general update to start, now that I'm 1/5 (!!!) of the way through pre-clerkship.

School has still been fantastic - I absolutely love the program and medicine. It's a ton of work, but I'm still really enjoying all of the work, which is great. Knowing that what I'm learning will be the basis of treating all of my future patients makes those 12-hour weekend days of studying so much easier! Not that I enjoy 12-hour days of studying, but you know...

On Tuesday night, my MF1 tutorial group had a fabulous end-of-the-foundation dinner party at our tutor's home. Our tutor is a cardiologist (which was super helpful during the cardio/resp section!), and he and his family are just the nicest people you could possibly imagine. It was so nice of them to host us for the evening, and I'm sad that we're changing groups! I'm a bad blogger and it didn't occur to me to take a group picture, so I have nothing to show for it, sorry!

So, I figured I'd post a general update on some of the things that have happened in my life during MF1, since I haven't been nearly as good about keeping up this blog as I'd hoped. My plan is to write a couple posts this morning and roll them out over the next week or so though, so stay tuned!

The med student backpack - the holy grail for aspiring doctors!

To start with, at the end of August at Orientation we got our backpacks! For those of you who don't know (which is probably anyone who isn't an aspiring pre-med in Canada), the OMA (Ontario Medical Association) and CMA (Canadian Medical Association) along with MD Management give backpacks to all of the first year medical students in Canada each year (except for students at UOttawa, something about corporate sponsorship not being allowed on campus there?). Every year the backpacks are a different colour, and they're a kind of weird status symbol on university campuses - most premed students know what they are, and carrying the backpack identifies you as a med student. Honestly, it's just super helpful to recognize the other people in my class! There are 203 of us in first year, and I've met maybe 1/4 of the people. If you walk by someone else with an orange backpack on campus though, you automatically know that you're in the same program and you can just start chatting! It's happened many a time. We also joke about how we'll never get hit by a car because they make us look like traffic pylons, but that's a different matter. :)

Matt and I discovered that there's a Krispy Kreme donut shop about 10 minutes from our new apartment... I think it's the only one in Canada that still makes the donuts fresh in house (there's a location in Toronto, but this location makes their donuts and they get shipped). This is dangerous. So far we've successfully limited ourselves to going about once a month, which I think is fairly reasonable. 

Stethoscope day! I think you guys have already seen this particular picture, but it was an exciting day so I'm posting it twice. 

Learning to intubate at a medical student conference - best day ever. 

Fist pump happy dance after getting the tube in on the first try!

In October I got to attend OMSW in Toronto, which stands for Ontario Medical Students Weekend. It's a conference put on by med students for med students, and U of T hosted this year (next year it will be at Mac!). I wasn't sure whether I was going to go until the last minute - I'd registered, but was worried about losing an entire day of school work time to go, so until the night before I wasn't totally sure if I was actually going to make it - but I'm SO glad I did. It was a great day - in addition to learning to intubate, I also got to do a casting workshop where we actually got to put plaster casts on each other! So fun, and also a great skill to learn before the first time I actually have to do it. So, future med students, if in doubt, go to OMSW. You won't regret it!

Then at the end of October it was my 27th birthday! I'd been talking about wanting to go apple picking for weeks, so Matt took me on the morning of my birthday. The apples were delicious, but it's so easy to pick WAY too many because you're having fun - we picked something like 12lbs of apples in 20 minutes! Oops. We shared with my parents and ate a lot of apples for about a week and a half, and I'm sad that the season is over because they were SO much better than the apples you buy at the grocery store. Having been able to shop at farmer's markets, etc over the last couple years has been amazing and I'm really glad that I'm lucky enough to live near markets. It feels great to eat (reasonably) local, and everything tastes so fresh. It's also nice to buy directly from the growers, instead of having everything route through a store (and I've also noticed that buying at markets can be cheaper, because it eliminates the middle man). So that's me, really happy with my apples. Haha. 

At the beginning of November, Matt and I officially graduated from UWO with our Master's degrees! This is the only picture I have at the moment since it was on my phone and the others are on the camera, but maybe I'll post more later. It was a fun day, and we had an amazing dinner with family after at Morrissey House (if you're in London, go - it's amazing). 

Then later in November, Matt turned 25! Yes, I'm older than he is, haha. I made this cake and was really proud of myself, usually my cakes are way messier than this. I definitely don't have a future as a cake decorator, but it's better than nothing! For his birthday, I took Matt to Chilis up in Vaughan - it was a bit of a drive, but Chilis is an American chain restaurant that he grew up with and loves, and it's the only location in Canada! It was really nice - because it was a Thursday night, the restaurant was fairly quiet, and Matt was happy because he got his southwest egg rolls. :)

Then this happened. I'm not sure if you can see, but that's a big horizontal crack in the windshield of the Mattmobile. Ugh. We decided this summer that we were done putting money into the car (after all the money we've poured into it in the last year, things keep going wrong). We had already decided that this summer we'd buy a newer car so that while I'm driving all over the place during clerkship I'm in something more reliable, so this was kind of the last straw for us. Which brings me to.... 

Last night, Matt and I bought a car! 

I'm so excited. It's a 2009 VW Rabbit, which is my favourite VW (from something like 2006-2009, they made the Rabbit instead of the Golf - they're essentially the same car, but the body design is a bit different). As most of you know, my dad works for VW so he got us a great deal and I know that he'd never sell us something that he didn't think was great, so it was a fairly stress-free process. We won't pick it up until sometime next week, but I can't wait. It's just so nice to drive (we took it for a test drive last night), and it just feels so sturdy and well-built. My dad called last night to say that the loan was approved and everything is a go, so at this point all that's left is setting up insurance and picking it up! I'll post some more pictures once we get it. 

So, that's the news in the life of me. Keep an eye out for some more posts, coming soon! 

Thanks for reading, y'all. :)

Thursday, 31 October 2013

Where I've been, and White Coat Ceremony

Well, it seems the theme of all my posts is beginning with an apology for disappearing for so long in between posts. The last few weeks have been absolutely crazy - I thought the first month was a lot of work, but that was nothing. My family has been gently reminding me that I haven't posted anything in a while, so I thought I'd put up a quick post to update you (and I have a few more in the works, so hopefully posting will be a more regular thing!).

At the beginning of October, we finished the respiratory module and started cardiology... and somehow, we finished cardiology today and we're moving on to hematology! I don't know where the time is going, our first 'medical foundation' (or block of systems we're learning) is over at the end of November! Jeez. If the rest of med school goes this fast (which I'm sure it will), it feels like I'll be a doctor next week.

A week and a half ago, we had our White Coat ceremony. It's a nice evening, sort of a 'welcome to the profession', where we get our white coats (which are short coats because we're still in training - we don't get the long white coats until we're done med school and are actually doctors). My grandfather (who is a retired GP) was able to come up for the ceremony, which was really nice - Dr. Brown getting to see the future Dr. Brown get her white coat. Here are some pictures from the night:

Me on stage shaking hands and having my coat put on.

Matt and I, post-ceremony. Our clothes matched... that happens more often than I should admit. 

The family - my parents and Grandad. :)

So, now I have a stethoscope and a white coat... this medicine thing is starting to feel official. I have some cool stories about being on the wards in the hospitals, but that's a post for another day. Thanks for stopping by, everyone!

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Stethoscope Day!

Hey friends! Something exciting happened on Friday... the stethoscopes that we ordered during orientation came in!

So, we clearly decided that the appropriate way to celebrate (on our way to clinical skills class) was to take nerdy pictures in front of the medicine office's sign. We're so cool. 

Note how the Caribbean Blue colour of my stethoscope matches my blazer. Total accident, though Matt pointed out that it will, in fact, match 90% of my wardrobe since it's my favourite colour. 

This post is going to be a bit of a drive-by - I promise a real post will be up soon - but we just had our first CAE (concept application exercise, which is another Macronym - my term for McMaster acronyms, though I'm sure someone else thought of it first) this morning, and so I've been busy studying! It was unnecessary to put in as much time prepping as I did, since it really was just testing our comprehension of what we've been learning about the last four weeks, but I feel pretty good about it. 

Now... to learn how to use my fancy new stethoscope. I found out on Friday that there's a wrong way to put it in your ears - who knew that there was a front and a back? Apparently I still have a lot to learn about this medicine thing. I foresee some internet videos that teach auscultation technique in my immediate future so as to not look like an idiot in clinical skills on Friday. 

Well friends, gotta run and do some work. Maybe I'll chase Matt around the apartment for a while trying to listen to his heart with my fancy new toy. :)

Sunday, 22 September 2013

On Patients and Privilege

I've been a bad blogger, I know. It's been almost two weeks since I've posted - school has been so busy, and by the end of the night when I'm done my prep for the next day all I want to do is put my computer away. I'll try to be better and post more often though.

So, on Friday my tutorial group got to see our first patients. Whoa. Now, I should clarify here: when I say that we got to see our first patients, I don't mean that we treated anyone - far from it! In clinical skills, we're currently working on history taking, so when our preceptor walked into the room to start our session, the first thing he said was "so, are you ready to head to the wards?". We knew that we might be interacting with patients this week, so we had all prepared checklists for history taking, but we figured that we might sit and go over them for a while before jumping right in. Luckily, our preceptor took us to the room of an incredibly friendly patient who was willing to sit there for half an hour and let us ask all kinds of questions in order to put together a history. This particular patient was hoping to be discharged this weekend, so we all appreciated the fact that they were so willing to answer questions that they had probably answered 10 times just to help us learn, without any real benefit for themselves. (I apologize if I'm being super vague here, I just want to make sure not to give away any details). So, in a nutshell, best first patient ever. The other students in my group and I all have a few pages of hastily scribbled notes, and have instructions to type them up into actual histories that we can bring to class and present next week. Then, we might even get to go talk to more patients!

After we had taken our patient's history, our preceptor decided to take us down to the unit where our other preceptor was working to see if she had any patients we could talk to (for clinical skills, our group is lucky enough to be taught by a team of two amazing doctors who have been teaching students together for 10 years). Instead, we got there and found out that she was in the middle of a procedure, and actually asked for an assist from preceptor #1! Luckily for us, that meant that we got to go into the room and observe, as long as we followed two simple rules: 1) stay out of the way, and 2) don't talk. Haha. Easy enough. So, we got to watch them work for half an hour trying to place a femoral line. So cool.

After the procedure was over, our preceptors decided that in order for us to know what questions to ask a patient, we need to also have a solid clinical background, so they took us into a conference room and pulled up a bunch of lab tests to go over with us (echocardiograms, x-rays, CTs, etc). It was a great learning opportunity, and I was proud of myself that when they asked spontaneous questions I actually got a couple of them right. Woohoo!

The story of my afternoon does have a point, though, other than just a narrative of my day. It was a really interesting experience, getting to walk into restricted areas of the hospital without anyone questioning me (an ID badge is a powerful thing). I'm not going to lie, I did a little happy dance as I walked past the volunteer check in desk without actually having to check in, haha. I was talking to some of my fellow students about it, though, and we were all pretty conscious of the transition we're going through, from pre-med wannabes to actual, legitimate, medical students. It's a really privileged position that we're in. People trust us, just because we're a part of the medical profession. We took a history from a patient, and the patient answered every question we asked without hesitation, because we're med students. We get to go into patient rooms and observe procedures, because we're med students and we have to learn. People trust us and are willing to open up to us, because (as they keep telling us at school) we're the newest members of a trusted profession. It's an amazing feeling, but it's also a lot of responsibility.

A story that, to me, exemplifies what most of us are feeling right now was told by one of my favourite authors, Louise Penny, when my mom and I saw her speak in January. Louise's husband is a retired doctor, and he's the former Director of Hematology at the Montreal Children's Hospital (aka he took care of children with cancer for the majority of his career). I actually had the opportunity to meet him this past week, when I saw Louise speak once again, this time with an amazing friend who got Louise to sign a book for me. Anyway, Michael is an incredibly sweet man, and Louise always talks about how wonderful he is and what an appreciation he has for life after seeing every day at work how valuable life really is. Back in January, Louise was telling the audience a story of a Christmas party that she and Michael were attending at the Children's Hospital not long after they had met (at this point, I believe Michael was still the Director of Hematology). All of the children who were inpatients at the time and their families were enjoying the festivities, when Louise noticed Michael standing with his back to the room, looking at the wall. She went over to find out what he was doing, and she noticed that he was crying. When Louise asked him what was wrong, he replied that he knew which of the children in the room wouldn't still be alive for next year's Christmas party.

Whoa. I know I didn't write that nearly as well as Louise told it (which is why she's the New York Times bestselling author and I'm not), but let me tell you, there was not a single dry eye in the room when she was done (and I'm misting up a bit now as I rewrite this). My point is, doctors are trusted with a tremendous amount of privilege and responsibility. People invite us into their lives, sometimes the very worst moments of their lives, and they trust us to take care of them. Patients answer our questions, and let medical students watch as they have a procedure done. It's a crazy thing.

I know that this week was just the tip of the iceberg, and as time goes on I'll become more and more involved with patients. What I hope, though, is that I never forget this feeling of privilege at the beginning of medical school. I understand that to do your job well as a doctor you have to find a way to stay professionally detached, but I think it will be important to remember how lucky we all are to be part of the medical world.

Now, I think this might have been a bit of an unintentional downer, so I'll end with one last plug for Louise Penny and her books - you can read more about her here. I'm also happy to lend my copies out if anyone wants to get into the series.

I promise to try to write more often, though my posts may not always be this long. Thanks for stopping by my little corner of the internet. :)

Monday, 9 September 2013

One week down, 129 to go.

Well, somehow the first week of classes has come and gone. I'm not really sure where the week went, but really, that seems to be the story of my life lately, so that's nothing new.

I have a ton of ideas for things to write here (and somehow, not enough time to write them all, haha), so I think today I'll just give you an idea of what a typical(ish) week looks like in the life of a med student at my school.

Last Monday was Labour Day, so we had the day off and I got to see some of my family at our annual BBQ (hi to any of you who are reading!). It was really nice to get to see everyone, but unfortunately having Monday off just meant that they squished five days of classes into four days, so it was a busy week!

My school is really big on PBL (which stands for problem-based learning - my school is also really big on acronyms), so instead of traditional lectures, we do a lot of our learning independently. The PBL format is great for me, having just spent two years doing self-directed learning in grad school, so I can study on my terms. I learn way better when I have to teach something to myself and actually understand it, as opposed to being fed the information in a lecture (and let's face it, during the lectures some inevitable internet-surfing occurs). So, we have two three-hour tutorials per week, in which we get assigned case studies that we're expected to research, then we go to tutorial and talk them over (all while our tutor, who is a doctor, makes sure we're on the right track and covering all the important points). My tutorial group is really awesome - I don't think I could have asked for a better group to work with. Unfortunately we're only together for the first 13 weeks of school, then we get reassigned to other groups, but I'm really glad that we have a strong group to start off.

In addition to the tutorials twice a week, our tutorial group has a three-hour clinical skills session at the hospital with our preceptors, who are doctors. In clinical skills, we're going to learn things like history taking and patient exams... and we might be working with real patients as early as this week! EEK! I mean, it's not like we actually have any real responsibility at this point (can you imagine someone treating you who has had a whole week of medical education, haha?), but it's crazy to think we will be interacting with patients right from the beginning. For the most part, from what I hear, the people we'll be working with are patients who are kind of bored and have agreed to let us come in and practice taking a history, so hopefully it won't be too intimidating. :)

We also have a class called Professional Competencies (or ProComp, since we like acronyms so much), which we jokingly refer to as the hugs and feelings class. Really, though, it's probably one of the most valuable classes I'll take during med school. We work with the same small group of 10 students and two facilitators for the 15 months leading up to clerkship (which is in-hospital training, for anyone who doesn't know), and in this class we'll be talking about the non-medical aspects of being a doctor - professionalism, ethics, and anything else that you can think of. ProComp is kind of the 'bedside manner' class - we'll be practicing all kinds of things, ranging from introducing ourselves to patients to practicing breaking bad news to a patient (which sounds terrifying, so I'm glad we get to practice on each other before we have to do it for real).

Lastly, we have sessions in the anatomy lab, which are also self-directed, and we have some sporadic "large group sessions", (also known as LGS), which I think is just a fancy term for lectures, haha! All in all, my schedule is pretty full, but still has room for some extra curriculars and electives and hopefully spending some time with Matt when his schedule and mine line up!

Well, that's a typical week in the life of me. As it stands now, I have Tuesday and Thursday afternoons off of scheduled classes (which probably means they'll be spent in the anatomy lab), and some mornings if we don't have an LGS scheduled.

I'll try to write more soon - heck, I could write an entire post about today (which included the day starting off with being subpoenaed to testify in court in November, fighting to get a refund on some stuff I bought online that never showed up, and returning home tonight to many many fire trucks outside my apartment building - apparently there was a fire at the sub place on the ground floor). In the meantime, though, I'll leave you with a photo of what my life currently looks like - books, and more books. Yay, respirology.

Thanks for reading! I'll try to be better at this blogging thing and post more frequently.

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

And so it begins...

Well, orientation started early Monday morning. Now, when I say early, I mean 'grad student early', which is only 8:30 - grad school gives you a skewed sense of time because you essentially get to make your own schedule and have no time commitments other than getting your work done. Anyway, I digress - 8:30 isn't early at all for the world of medicine I've entered into, and luckily I'm getting used to the new schedule. I'm now sitting on my couch after day three, and thinking about how much stuff they've been throwing at us.

Monday morning was great - it consisted of speeches from tons of different high-ups in our program and from the school who all welcomed us to the school of medicine. Turns out that the assistant dean of medicine has recently taken up farming sugar cane in Mexico as a hobby/investment. I have to say, at first I just thought it was funny. Now I'm hooked and want to know more about sugar cane farming! How did he get into it? What does sugar cane farming consist of? Is it lucrative financially? Most importantly, can he bring us some samples? Haha. If medicine doesn't work out for me, I guess I can always farm sugar cane.

Monday afternoon was a whirlwhind. We rotated around to eight or nine different stations, some super exciting and some terrifying. Some of the fun ones were getting fitted for scrubs and white coats, browsing through stethoscopes to pick which colour tubing to order (newsflash: I ordered the Littmann Cardio III in Caribbean Blue), getting free stuff from banks who are trying to get our business, etc. Some of the scary parts occurred when we went into the anatomy lab and were told that we're going to have bell-ringer style tests this year (that was NOT part of the recruitment package, haha), and when we went to the clinical skills lab and were told all about everything we have to learn this year. Honestly, at this point, I'm barely thinking past the end of this week, let alone even the first Medical Foundation (which lasts 13 weeks and consists of the cardiac and respiratory systems) - I really don't need to be hearing about everything that we need to do in the next year! I think all of our blood pressures were a bit elevated when we left that station. Operation stress out the new med students: complete.

Seriously, though, everyone I've met so far is pretty great (when 4500 people get selected down to 203, you're probably going to end up with a pretty good group), and the staff all seem amazing. It seems like there is a ton of support to get us through the next (gulp) two years and eight months. Jeez. That doesn't seem like much time at all, does it? When I was applying to a three-year program (for anyone who doesn't know, med school is usually four years with summers off - mine is three years but we don't take summer vacation, just a week in the summer and two at Christmas, and we're in school the rest of the time), I didn't realize that it's actually only two years and eight months. It seems crazy to think that we'll all be competent doctors in less than three years, but the school knows what it's doing, and their residency match rates are on par with the four year schools, so it seems that the medical world agrees.

I'll fill you in on the rest of orientation week later (and add some pictures, this blog is boring!), but tonight is Matt's last night before starting law school orientation, so I'm going to sign off and hang out with my boyfriend for a while. :) Talk to you all soon!

Saturday, 24 August 2013

Master's Defense: Complete!

Hi everyone,

I've been talking about starting a blog for a while now, and now that I'm starting med school I feel like I actually have something interesting to write about. I'll be blogging my way through the next three crazy years of learning to be a doctor, talking about whatever is on my mind at the moment. At this point, I figure the only people who will read this are family and close friends who actually care what I'm up to, but when I was applying to med school I read any med student blog I could find, so who knows? I may have some pre-med visitors down the line.

The title of this blog, 'From Bones to Bandages', describes my shift from bioarchaeology (a fancy way of saying that I study bones, mostly from archaeological (aka old) contexts) to the world of medicine. For the past two years, I've been working on a Master's degree in bioarchaeology, and I'm proud to say that yesterday, with three days to spare before starting med school orientation, I successfully defended my Master's thesis.

What, you may ask, is a thesis defense? Well, in my program, which was two years long, we spend the first year doing coursework and preliminary research for our particular research project. The second year is devoted solely to conducting our own original research and writing the results up into a thesis, which can be anywhere from 70-125 pages before appendices, etc (I think mine came in at around 114 pages, over 150 with appendices). At the end of the two years, we have to defend our thesis in front of our advisory committee, which consists of two faculty members within our department and one faculty member from another department. The actual defense is about two hours long, and consists of sitting in a room with your three-person committee, a thesis chair, and your supervisor, while you're grilled on your research during two question periods (to start, each committee member gets 15 minutes to question you, then there's a second round where they each get 10 minutes to question you). After the question periods are over, you're asked to leave the room while the committee decides whether or not you've passed the defense. I'm happy to report that I passed with only very minor revisions! Revisions which I should probably be working on now, but I decided to start this blog instead, haha. So, in about a week my thesis will be published online for all to see (but in all honesty it's probably pretty boring for those of you who aren't bioarchaeologists, so I promise not to make any of you read it).

So, with two days to spare, I finished my Master's, and am moving on to new things. It's going to be a crazy ride, and I can't wait to get started.