Wednesday, November 19, 2014

TGIF--Thank God It's Fourth---Block!

"Block 3 will bring you to your knees"--that's what we heard the first week of 4th semester.  Could it really be that bad?  After successfully fumbling through first semester not knowing what was really going on, how to study, what to study, when to study, and the constantly shifting schedules, we can make it through anything right?  Right???

Block three was ushered in on the heels of Hurricane Gonzalo and left with just as much fury.  Every day from start to finish was like a being in a vortex.  We had ICM 4!  I'm probably exaggerating by 1 or 2 days but it was all the time.  Along with ICM, we also started Pharmacology which included separate small group group sessions which last for 2 hours in the afternoon a few times during the block.

Gonzalo, was a real life hurricane.  Hurricanes are bad when you live inland in the winds path and worse when you live on a coast, but on this tiny island...ooooh honey!  It was something to witness.  Anyway, he managed to single handedly shut down both countries on this island (French and Dutch sides), and more importantly delay block 2 exams by 2 days.  Unheard of.  Many were without utilities for three or more days, there was plenty of damage including more than 30 sunken boats, boats run aground, roofs ripped from buildings, mudslides, and of course flooding.  Even now, 4 weeks later not all services are fully restored.

Here are a few pics of the aftermath of Mr. Gonzalo. 

ICM is a great experience.  It teaches us to integrate what we've been learning in classes with patient presentations and physical exam information in order to come up with differential diagnoses for various medical problems.  We start to really feel like doctors.  But man does it suck up a lot of time.  There's pre-reading for the small group classes, lectures, interviews with standardized patients, advanced interviewing workshops on how to handle patients in domestic violence situations as well as those suffering from early dementia and we learned some additional physical exam skills. Sounds like a lot right? Well, it takes a lot to be a doctor!  And believe me, there's still so much more to learn.  My partner and I beasted the physical exam check-offs, which are graded evals on how well we performed neurological and musculoskeletal physical exams.  In the midst of all of this, did I mention we still had our other "regular" classes to attend and theoretically keep up with?  It was A LOT of work to say the least.

Think you have a pretty good idea of what my family will be subjected to over Christmas break??  I wonder who will willingly let me practice on them versus the ones who I'll have to do a lot of convincing, hahaha.  I hope no one comes with real questions because I still don't really know what the heck I'm doing yet people!  Hmmm, I'm wondering where I'll set up my office for physical exams.  I digress...

Even with all of the madness going on, one of the bright spots was a visit from my family!!!  One of the perks of living in a place like SXM is that it's a popular vacation destination.  My family was on a cruise and they stopped here for the day.  We got to hang out (around the ICM schedule of course) for a few hours.  

The obligatory selfie....

According to the uppers (students that came before us), Block 3 is the most dreaded block of the entire 5 semesters on the island!!!! Oftentimes, you have to take what the upper semester students say with a grain of salt (or sand) because maybe those were the exams they didn't do as well as they hoped.  Maybe those weren't their favorite subjects of interest.  Maybe it was repeat material.  It could be scare tactics to make you study more and not slack off.   Well, this time around, I'm actually one of those uppers who agrees with the consensus.  All the hype was true!!  It was a lot of work.  It was a logistical nightmare made even more complicated by make-up classes squeezed in due to hurricane Gonzalo.  At this point, we are all running on fumes.  We aren't putting much effort into our appearance when going to class--it's a miracle we make it some days.  But guess what...The most dreaded block at AUC is now history!!!! (insert happy dance).  Now that we've completed block 3 and ICM-the final was today, we can get back to the old, slower pace of "just" going to class. I sorta kinda want to slap myself for letting that even come out of my mouth.  Who would have thought that I would look forward to that as much as I did.  Don't be fooled, the "slow" pace is still no joke.  I think everyone will attest to the fact that there never seems to be enough time to get it all done but somehow we manage.  As with everything important, some aspects of our lives are being sacrificed in order to be as disciplined as we need to be to get to the next level.

                       Forego what you want now for what you want most.

Last Tuesday (November 11th) was St. Martin Day.  Something to do with Columbus claiming this island as Spanish territory back in 1493, which just so happened to be on Nov 11th, so he named the island after St. Martin of Tours.  Nov 11th was already a day celebrated in different ways around the word in remembrance of St. Martin.  Around the world, people commemorate St. Martin in many different ways-- there are often feasts featuring goose or duck, gift exchanges, music, wine tastings, and children singing and collecting candy from neighbors (similar to Halloween).  Here in St. Maarten/St. Martin the two sides of the island alternate years when one side or the other hosts the big events.  There's music, dancing, food, and EVERYTHING shuts down so many people can freely enjoy time with their families and head to the beach!  This was the first time I've ever seen a casino shut down for the day!  We had off from school...Happy St. Martin Day!!! 

Here are a few pics from the day.

Oh! Guess who's featured on the school's website as a favorite student blog??!!  What an honor! No added pressure there, lol!!!  I randomly found this out when I was browsing the school site while checking my student email.  I hope the future students and visitors
who decide to take a peek get a little insight as to what this med school life is really like through my eyes and experiences.  You can check out other student blogs on the AUC Social Media Dashboard

I have big goals and even bigger dreams and I hope you do as well.  Whatever your dream is: put a plan into place, set measurable realistic goals, and start taking the steps  to make your dreams a reality!!  You can do it!  Time is going to pass no matter what, so why not make the most of it. The hardest step is the first one, after that, you know you can do it.  Every day here on this island--very far from home, with what seems like endless classes, notes, and studying, brings new challenges but also a new opportunities for growth & development--academically, professionally, and personally.  I'm doing my best to make every day count.

I think that's about all that's been going on in my little corner of paradise.  Next thing on the agenda is to plan our Caribbean Thanksgiving celebration.  I'm thinking a pool party sounds like fun!!!
There are only 26 more days until winter break begins!  Until next time...

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