Tuesday, May 6, 2014

2nd Semester here and gone in a flash

Wow, 2nd semester came so quickly! It feels like we just started but then when you look back you realize how much you have accomplished in just a few months.  The semester started in January with a move to our new place, an ocean front condo about 2 blocks from school.  I love it!  I don't know how I'm going to go back to living in a city after waking up to amazing ocean views every morning.  I'll think about that when the time comes, there's so much more to worry about in the nearer future.

Second semester classes are MCB 2, Physiology 1, Immunology,  Biostats, and ICM 2.   I didn't think it was possible but the pace seems to have picked up even more since first semester.  The material is more dense and detailed.  The never ending pathways in Biochem made me want to pull my hair out.  Physiology was interesting because we were starting to really get into the medical and physiological aspects of how the body works.  Immunology presented it's own challenges of countless interleukins and cytokines, transcription factors and helper T cells.  It was a toss up between Immunology and Physiology as to which class was more interesting.  No matter what, they were both highly relevant and the foundation they provided will surely take us far.  My favorite part of the semester is getting to play doctor...more on that in a few.

Some of the highlights from 2nd Semester:

>My computer crashed, again! It happened 1st semester the week before blocks and it happened again.  Luckily I found a computer genius at Office World who worked a miracle and got me up and running again.

>A visit from my parents!
My parents came to visit for a week and it was so nice to see them in person.  FaceTime and Google Hangouts are great but being able to actually touch them was priceless.   My mom did my laundry and ran errands for me that I didn't have the time to take care of an my dad walked me to school in the mornings; with all of life's responsibilities, I actually felt like I was a kid again and for those few days it was great!  Can't wait for them to come back =)  When they weren't taking care of my honey-do list they explored the island and weren't in any hurry to go home.  The visit was nice, but the amount of work I had to catch up on when they left was mind boggling.  I don't recommend having family or friends visit if you don't have enough will power to let them be on vacation while you are still a student.  I 100% failed at that but I learned what works and what doesn't.

>I bought a car.  It makes those monthly trips to Cost-U-Less and other errands so much more manageable.  The reduction in my stress level just from knowing I can get around when necessary made it worth it.

>ICM- Beginning Social History, History of Present Illness and HEENT (Head, Ears, Eyes, Nose and Throat) exams were the focus this semester.  Learning to ask open ended questions so that the patients can tell you what's wrong is challenging but we had tons of practice with both peers and more Standardized Patients (SP's).  The SP's are so good you would think they are professional actors.  There was even an evaluation when we were recorded and then given feedback on how well we obtained the Social History.  Super weird watching yourself on video being the doctor but hey, these are the first few interviews of thousands to come in our careers and the experience was worthwhile.

>The Clinical Studies Fair was held this semester.  It's a once a year expo where reps from most of the Clinical Sites (US and UK) come to campus to interact and engage students to promote their location for rotations.  The fair was a huge hit with students from all semesters interested in seeing what our next steps would be.  We have 72 weeks of clinical rotations after leaving the island when Basic Sciences is over and getting to interface with the program reps was helpful and opened my eyes to many of the options for rotations.  I am sure I will view next year's fair with a totally different mindset since it will be right before it's time for me to leave the island.  Having the exposure early will allow me to be better prepared and more focused with questions next time the fair is held.  I'm looking forward to at least one or two UK rotations!

>We had a small earthquake!  I didn't even know there were earthquakes in the Caribbean.  As a non-coffee drinker, I had a few cups and thought I had the shakes from caffeine overload until my roommate and I locked eyes and she felt the movement too.  She's from the West Coast where earthquakes are normal.  She was calm and I was a bit more freaked out.  My first thought was to go outside and see if anyone else felt the earth moving.  She had to tell me that's exactly what you're NOT supposed to do during an earthquake!  Well, now I know.  Turns out the epicenter was near Anguilla which is pretty close to St. Maarten.  Hopefully this was my first and only Caribbean earthquake.

Saying goodbye

Friends that we made when we first got to the island are leaving to go and prepare for Step 1 of their USMLE (the first part of the medical licensing exam).  It's a bittersweet goodbye.  We're happy that they are advancing in their pursuit of the MD degree but we're sad to see them leave.  So, the only thing we could do was send them off with the best party ever!  We have to make sure they remember the good times and good friends they met on the island. 
Not only did we say goodbye to a few 5th semester friends, we also said goodbye to our 2nd semester! We're almost at the half way point of being on the island. The half way point of Basic Sciences being finished...

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