I am happy to report that I am finally finished with my first year of medical school. It took a lot of prayer, some late nights, and some long study sessions, but I took my last test for Disease, Diagnosis, and Therapeutics (DD&T) on 5/23 and 5/24 and am now on a much-needed break until the end of June.
If you’re interested, here’s what else happened in May.
- We started our Physical Diagnosis course at the end of April. So far, we’ve learned about conducting a patient interview, taking a sexual history, discussing domestic violence, and performing head and neck and dermatology exams. In addition to attending lectures and taking quizzes on these topics, we have also had the chance to interact with standardized patients (people who are paid to act as patients to allow students to practice the skills). We’re inching ever closer to becoming real doctors!
- For the last meeting of our Continuity Clinic Experience course (now known as CCX), students were required to interview a standardized patient about their medications, take their vitals, and counsel them briefly on smoking cessation. When I first found out about this session, I was really nervous; I’d basically never taken vitals before since it’s not typically done in my clinic. However, some of my classmates and I were able to go to one of the practice exam rooms and practice taking blood pressure on each other. The next day, when I met with my standardized patient, I was able to get all of the vitals I needed. My seminar leader, who had been observing the session from another room in the facility, commented that I didn’t look to be that nervous, that since there appears to be a wide range of comfort levels within my class, I’m definitely not an outlier. She also remarked that she enjoys watching me. ”I can tell that you’ve learned so much since we started Continuity Clinic,” she said.
- The formal memorial service for our anatomy lab cadavers also happened this month. Quite a few of the first years showed up to honor the anatomical donors and their families for their sacrifice. I read a modified version of the piece that I wrote for our student memorial service back in January, and it seemed to be well received.
- After the DD&T exam, the whole class celebrated in various ways. Some went back home to see family, others packed in preparation for international travel, still others (myself included) cleaned cluttered apartments for the first time in weeks. Many of us gathered at the house of some of our classmates and sang along to live music provided by the class cover band.
- I spent the next week sleeping late, choreographing and doing a rough recording of a short dance piece (yes, this finally happened), watching back to back episodes of The Office on Netflix (in the middle of Season 8 at the time of this writing), and eating at various restaurants throughout the city (Groupon is my new favorite thing). My sleep schedule is still turned on its head, but I’ve really enjoyed not having to study all the time (read: at all).
- On the last day of the month, I shadowed a physician in pediatric medical genetics for an afternoon. Many of you know that I have been interested in genetics since high school, but before today, I had no idea how genetics can come into play in clinic. It seems that the specialty is challenging, at some times hectic, and perhaps a bit stressful, but there also seem to be huge rewards. For example, I got to see a baby whose life had been saved by a physician who ordered a test after listening to a mother’s concerns that “something just wasn’t right.” I also got to see a child with an extremely frustrating but highly interesting clinical presentation that no physician has been able to diagnose just yet. It seems like choosing medical genetics as a career will allow me to truly commit to lifelong learning, since I’ll constantly be introduced to rare diseases and have to seek information about them. Based on what the physician told me about what is typical for the field, I would most likely become a board-certified pediatrician as part of my training, and I would certainly do some research both during and after residency. In summation, it’s a strong possibility for the future, but (of course) I’m keeping my options open for now.
That’s all for the month of May. For my month off, I’m doing a number of things. First, I’ll be moving into a new (bigger, less expensive, and hopefully more awesome) apartment down the street from where I currently live. Then, I’m going home for the majority of the remaining time–as usual, I have a list of “summer plans” that I hope to get to; this year it involves cooking, reading, music production, and attempts to navigate some free DJing software I downloaded. The week before class starts, I’ll be in St. Louis for the National Baptist Congress of Christian Education with my church (singing in the young adult choir this year–I’m so excited).