Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Can I Get You a Wheelchair?

Note: Again, another incident I wrote up for myself last year, posted here for your reading pleasure. 

December, 2011

I was on my way out of the ED today after a shift full of "malodorous" drug users, sick people, and a very persistent crying kid who had fallen on sheet metal and lacerated his chin.  Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed a heavyset man, probably in his sixties, leaning against the wall just inside the main entrance but out of sight of the triage desk.  I wasn't sure what he was up to, but I was tired and needed to get home and study for finals.  I slowed as I passed him and looked him over out of the corner of my eye--he appeared ashen and couldn't seem to catch his breath. That's not good.  I walked over to him.

"Sir, can I help you?"

No response, except for heavy breathing.  Now he is pulling himself along the wall towards the triage desk.

"Sir?  Can I get you a wheelchair?"

"My...pacemaker..." he gasped.


I looked around quickly for a wheelchair--there was one just outside the door.  But now he was beginning to slide towards the floor.  I put my arms around him to support him and nodded towards one of the individuals in the small crowd that had gathered.

"Can you go grab that wheelchair?" I asked. He made a beeline out the door.  Then, I looked over to the triage desk, made eye contact with one of the staff, and gestured for her to come over.  By now, the bystander was running back with a wheelchair.  The triage staff member was running over with one too.

"Looks like you've got your choice of chairs, sir," I said, continuing to hold him up.

I had the bystander bring the wheelchair just behind the soon-to-be patient, bear-hugged the large man, and lowered him into the chair.  Once he was in the chair, I brought him back to the rest of the triage staff.

Working as a scribe has been an awesome clinical experience and a great opportunity to see how a doctor functions day to day in the ED.  But I realized after this episode that I really miss patient contact. Even though my previous job working as a patient transporter at a different hospital was a simple, often routine job, I had the opportunity to interact with and care for patients.  Though scribing is and will continue to be a valuable experience, one that I am extremely grateful to have, I look forward to the day when I get to "glove up" again and provide tangible care to patients.

Don't Taze Me, Bro!

Note: I actually wrote this last year, just for fun. Figured I'd post it here for kicks and giggles.


I had two night shifts this week.  Back to back, with school in between.  That was fun.

The first one was actually decently interesting.  Some guy almost got tazed.  He came in complaining of back pain after getting into a fight.  Apparently his girlfriend got into a tussle with some rather butch lesbians.  He, of course, came to her rescue...and got his butt handed to him. His girlfriend said something about him being thrown six feet.  Of course, after spending a few minutes around the guy, the rest of us wanted to throw him too.

"I've been waiting twenty minutes!" This came from his room. Nobody really responded at this point.  So he escalated.  He began shouting, cursing, and generally making it known that he was being treated unfairly and wanted to go somewhere else.  A nearby security guard came over to tell him to calm down.  The patient, yelling all the while, walked quickly toward the guard.  Big mistake. The guard stiff-armed him to keep him in his room and put his hand on his tazer.

"Get back in your room or you will be tazed!" shouted the now-pissed guard.  Repeatedly.  And to no avail. He called for stat backup to room 4, all the while keeping the patient in his room. The patient, of course, would have none of it.

"He pushed me!  Did you see that?" he said to no one in general. "He pushed me!"

Buddy, you're getting off easy.  The rest of us want him to taze you.

Of course, while all this is going on, EMS wheeled in a cardiac arrest victim into a nearby trauma room. This patient had been found down after an unknown period of time with a hypodermic needle nearby. The paramedics had intubated him, given ETT Narcan, and CPR was in progress,  but he was in asystole—a non-shockable rhythm. Once in the room, the doctor I was scribing for drilled a hole into the patient's left shin to insert an intraosseous line and administered epinephrine and fluids.   Didn't work.  CPR was stopped, and after the artifacts on the cardiac monitor passed, we all could see that this wasn't going anywhere fast.  CPR was restarted, epi was administered again.  No change.  Code was called at 02:42.

This type of contrast between life and death isn't uncommon in the ED. In one room, one patient had experienced his last high. In another room, the patient was going to live to be a jerk another day.

Somebody Loves Me

After much waiting, hand-wringing, email-refreshing, praying, nervously checking my phone for missed calls, and more waiting, I am incredibly excited and humbled to report that I have finally been accepted to medical school. Three, actually—Wayne State, followed by Saint Louis, and finally, Loyola—which, as of now, is my top choice.

I didn’t hear anything particularly exciting the first week that acceptances could go out, which, although totally normal, was still nerve-wracking. To make matters worse, Temple sent me a letter in the mail saying I was waitlisted and wouldn’t hear anything back until May 15 (cue dreams of being waitlisted at every school, anxiously wondering if I’m actually horrible at interviewing, worrying if I would have to reapply, etc.).  

Finally, half-way through the second week and before I had started crafting a new personal statement for the next cycle (ok, just kidding. I was going to give it another week…), Wayne State sent me an email saying that I was accepted for the entering class of 2013. Of course, they couldn’t just come right out and say it—the subject line of the email contained the vaguely condemning phrase “Wayne State School of Medicine Decision Date.” The body of the email continued the trend of impending doom:

“Decisions have been made for this round.  Offers are being made to approximately 1/7 of our class at this time.  The attached document indicates the decision of the committee.  We appreciate your interest in our medical school."

Of course, while reading this, especially after Temple’s waitlist decision, I thought for sure I was a waitlisted again—or worse, rejected. But when I opened the attached document, the first thing I saw—much to my relief—was “Congratulations” written in large, green, Microsoft Word 97-esque font.  Even though Wayne State wasn’t necessarily my top choice, it was incredibly humbling and exiting to know that I will, in fact, be going to medical school next year.

The next day, Saint Louis sent me an acceptance email. They were much more straightforward about it, which my nerves were grateful for—the subject line read “Saint Louis University Acceptance.” Now, not only am I going to school next year, but at a place where I really felt like I fit well and would enjoy going. Also, I’d much rather take my wife to Saint Louis than Detroit…

The rest of the week was spent alternately feeling incredibly excited about knowing what we would be doing for the next four years and growing increasingly nervous about the upcoming Monday—the day the admissions committee at Loyola Stritch would be meeting to discuss our fate. Although I would be more than happy to attend Saint Louis, my day at Loyola had blown me away and I really fell in love with the school.

That Monday, despite refreshing my email as if my life depended on it and keeping my phone close by (I literally held it in my hand during class, ready to bolt for the door at the first hint of a vibration), I heard nothing from Loyola. I had been thinking that it would be fun to go out to dinner that night with my wife and grab a movie in celebration if I was accepted. However, once I didn’t hear anything by 5:00 pm their time, I had begun to resign myself that perhaps it wasn’t going to happen, at least that day. Even so, we still wanted to go out. Before heading to our favorite local 60’s-themed diner, we stopped at a strip mall—I had recently ripped a pair of jeans helping my in-laws move, and needed a new pair. While checking out at around 6:00 pm Chicago time, my phone started ringing, and there was a 708 area code on the screen. I whispered an excited “Loyola!” to my wife and made a beeline for the door—there was loud music playing in the store, and I thought it best that the good people at Loyola didn’t think I was taking their call in a club or something. Accepted! We were then able to carry on with our evening, this time with an awesome reason to celebrate!

Now I’m just waiting to hear back from UW, which will probably happen in the next few weeks. I honestly wasn’t personally blown away by the school, though it does have an awesome reputation. However, given its price and proximity to family, it will complicate things if I get accepted there. Boston won’t say anything till January. Also, I think I’m officially going to be done interviewing, unless Baylor decides to send an invite my way. That’s exciting in of itself—though it’s fun to see new places, traveling really gets old after a while. I’d rather be home with my wife.

I am extremely grateful to have been accepted this early in the cycle. I know it’s not uncommon to have to wait until spring to find out if you are accepted or not, and many people end up having to endure multiple cycles. That could have easily been me. There are thousands of highly-qualified applicants, and though there are certain things that can be done to strengthen an application, as well as some rhyme and reason to the selection process, there is also a good bit of arbitrary randomness as well. I am exceedingly thankful that I have been accepted, particularly to Loyola, one of my top choices. Now, I can just settle in for the last part of the pre-med ride—for me, the remainder of senior year.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Interview Experience: University of Washington

University of Washington School of Medicine 10/22/12

For this interview, my wife and I spent the weekend before in Seattle with a relative, which was awesome. We were able to spend some time touring Pike's Place Market and downtown Seattle--a nice change of pace from some of my previous trips, which tended to be along the lines of "fly in the night before, fly out right after the interview."

The Monday of the interview, my wife and I arrived at the school around 9 am. We went up to the admissions office to check in, and they gave me a yellow envelope with some info about the day, a little information on the school, and a flash drive with a bunch of additional stuff on it about the school. After a bit, a gal introduced herself to the applicants (there were seven of us) and gave an introduction to the school and the interview day. A fourth year then came and led us on a tour of the school and hospital. The facilities weren't anything to write home about. I mean, they weren't in disrepair, but they weren't particularly nice. It looked like they were in the process of updating/expanding, though. The building is supposedly the 13th longest in the world...don't know if that's actually true, but I could definitely see how you could get lost!

After the tour, there was a faculty "meet and greet," where a doctor who taught a second-year course came to talk about the school and answer any further questions we had. Then lunch was brought in, and three more students came to talk with us...and probably to get free food.

The curriculum for the first year is fairly traditional. It sounded like two days of the week were longer...maybe 8-5 pm or so. The other days go from 12-5 pm. Second year is organ-based and goes from 12-5 pm. The students sounded like they were fairly busy, though they did have time to participate in some of the numerous interest groups available. Lectures are recorded (though it sounded like the system isn't always reliable) and each class has a syllabi with the information you need to know. There is the usual doctoring course once a week throughout the two years. Second year, all the students from the satellite campuses (twenty in Spokane and twenty from Pullman/Moscow) come back to the main Seattle campus (though it sounds like students will be able to stay in Spokane for the first two years starting next year). Grades are pass/fail for the first two years. Third and fourth year rotations happen largely in Seattle at a blend of private, safety-net, academic, community, clinic, and VA settings. This is where the cool part about UW kicks in--you can spend time anywhere in the WWAMI region and the school pays for your travel and arranges your lodging. In fact, you have to spend at least 24 weeks at least 50 miles away from Seattle.

After lunch, I had about an hour and a half until my interview. You can attend a class if you want, but nothing really worked out well with my schedule, so I just went back to the admissions office. They actually had an applicants' lounge with snacks and computers to help pass the time, and of course you can talk with the other applicants. Finally, a man came out and called me in for the interview.

The interview is a panel format with three people-faculty, staff, students, etc. One of them presents you to the admissions committee. I had heard interesting things about UW's interviews, but my panel wasn't particularly mean or anything at all. They weren't buddy-buddy either, but it wasn't too bad. No ethical questions, but they did do a role play, which was actually sort of fun. I sort of bumbled through the first few seconds, but then I felt like I got into the swing of things and made up for lost ground. I didn't have any "Why UW" questions--they were mostly about my application or how I handle stress. Overall, I felt ok about the whole thing...maybe not amazing, but ok.

Overall, I honestly wasn't really blown away by the school. It seemed pretty lecture-heavy, and the facilities were so-so. Its shining point was the clinical opportunities in the 3rd and 4th years (though, it would be a bit of hassle to spend a lot of time out of Seattle--especially since I'm married and will likely have kids by that point [though I do vaguely remember reading that kids qualify you for an exception to the 24-week policy]), and it's obviously highly ranked. I didn't quite get the "feeling" I did with Loyola and Temple, though...for what it's worth. We'll see.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The Waiting Continues to Continue…

October 15th, the first day that US MD schools across the nation can accept applicants, has come and gone. And here I am, acceptance-less.

Ah well…

This process takes time. Or so I keep reminding myself. And only two of the schools I interviewed at—Temple and Saint Louis—actually began handing out decisions for my wave of interviewees this week, and neither school even said anything to anyone until the 16th.  I won’t even hear something from Wayne State until the 24th, and Loyola’s admissions committee doesn’t meet to go over applicants from my interview date until the 29th. Boston won’t say anything until January, for goodness’ sake. I have another interview lined up for next week. So it’s still really early, and realistically I shouldn’t be worried yet. Besides, my wonderful wife has continued to provide plenty of much-needed encouragement.

This entire process does nothing but foster neuroticism, and all this waiting provides plenty of fertile ground for dreaming up worst-case scenarios. There are hundreds of applicants in my shoes. I should be—and am—grateful for the interviews that I have had thus far. In all likelihood, I’ll be just fine.

But still….

Interview Experience: Loyola Stritch School of Medicine

Loyola 10/9/12

Since the students were on fall break this week, I wasn't able to get a host. I ended up staying at the Travel Inn down the road, and used the metro (or "L") to get to Forest Park, where I took a bus to the area where the motel was at. In the morning, I just took a cab to the school, since it was like $5. Turns out there is a bus system - PACE - that isn't yet on Google Transit. I probably would have used this if I had known about it beforehand.

The admissions office staff was absolutely awesome - they really made me feel welcome and were eager to help. My first order of business was an interview at 8 am, which was really conversational. I felt like it went really well, and had a good time. I found out later that my interviewer was the former dean.  After the interview, which lasted for an hour, I had some time to complete the paperwork they give you about your coursework and things. Around 10 am, a doctor (who is the dean of something...) came and talked about Loyola and answered any questions we had (the interviewing group, by the way, consisted of four people total...which was actually really nice). A few minutes before 11 am, he ended and I went off to my second interview. This one didn't start off quite as well, in my opinion. The doctor seemed a bit busy and tired, and by this point I was really liking the school, so maybe I was a bit more nervous about the whole thing. But he was nice, and eventually we got into the swing of things. Again, the interview was very conversational, with no ethical questions or anything terribly out of the ordinary. Overall, despite the slow start, I think it went pretty well.

Afterwards, I went back to the admissions office, where an MS2 came to meet us for the tour. First, we went to grab lunch - courtesy of Loyola. He then took us throughout the main education building. The anatomy lab was nice...despite being in the basement, it was open and well lit. There was a computer with access to online reference materials for each cadaver. The lecture hall was gorgeous, with plenty of outlets and WiFi. I lost count of all the little study areas they had. The hospital was nice, too. They have a "virtual library," so they have a library area, but no's all online. Pretty cool. He also took us to the new gym, which was amazing. There was a hot tub in the locker room. Enough said. Overall, the facilities were beautiful.

The curriculum isn't a true block system, but it's not traditional either. First year, you basically take one "big" class at a time, in addition to the three-year long doctoring course, PCM. In the first year of PCM, they learn interviewing skills. In the second year, you take 2-3 classes at a time, but they are all correlated with an organ system. In PCM, you learn the physical exam, how to read an EKG or chest xray, etc. You are generally in class from 8:30 or 9:30 am until 11:30 am. One day a week (ish?), PCM goes till 3 or 4 pm. A couple other days a week, you might have a small group session till 1:30 or 2 pm or so. Tests are computerized and in USMLE format. They are H/HP/P/F, but not curved. Lectures are recorded, and there is a student-run note service. Third and fourth year rotations are generally within about 5 miles; about two were 30-60 minutes away. Loyola is proud of its clinicians....apparently a disproportionate number of students go on to become chief residents.

After the tour, they had us fill out a survey and then Dean Jones met with each of us individually. It wasn't an interview, he just wanted to put a face to our files and tell us when we could expect to hear something. I thought it was a nice touch, and though some of what he said was fairly generic....though helpful...I also had the impression that he did in fact know my application.

I loved Loyola. Everything I had read about people being happy and really nice there was true. I liked the curriculum and school...the gym is a nice feature, too. Overall, I loved the "feel" of the school and could really see myself going here. Temple, meet your new rival.

Interview Experience: Boston University

Boston University School of Medicine--10/3/12

I flew into Boston a little late in the evening the day before my interview, so I opted to stay at a hotel this time instead of with a host. I stayed at the Best Western Roundhouse (they had a pretty significant BU discount), which is within walking distance of the school and provides shuttle transport to and from Logan airport. Unfortunately, the shuttle service was closed by the time I flew in. Since it was late, and the hotel was about twenty minutes by car versus an hour with public transit (plus, I would have had to walk a little under a mile to get to the hotel from the nearest bus stop, which isn't terrible, but still...), I just took a cab, which was about 29 dollars, including a tip. Painful, but efficient.

The hotel was nice and within walking distance of the school, so in the morning I just strolled on over. The day began with a light breakfast at 7:30 am, followed by an hour-long presentation given by Dean Witzburg on the history, mission, and current state of BUSM. Afterwards, the interviews began. There were basically two waves, and those applicants that were not interviewing participated in an open discussion with a faculty member. My interview was one-on-one, lasted about 45 minutes, and was very conversational. I had been expecting an ethics question, based on other applicants' experiences, but there really was nothing of note... (unless asking how I would react when presented with a right and tempting wrong choice counts??). Overall, I felt that it went well.

After the interview, my wave of interviewees had their open discussion with a faculty member, followed by a tour, lunch, financial aid talk, and a wrap-up talk by Dean Witzburg.

The facilities at BU are a mesh of nice, new, modern refurbished floors and floors they haven't done anything with for a while. The lecture hall was nice, and the anatomy lab was open (and was on the tenth floor, if I recall correctly, so it had windows).  The campus as a whole has a Boston-y, red brick building feel to it. They recently opened up a student residence, which is apparently really nice. First year students are guaranteed a spot if they want it, and rent is currently $850 a month (though there was a rumor that this would go up by a hundred dollars or so next year, when I would be there).

BU's curriculum is pretty cool. Over the first year, it's fairly traditional. Second semester is basically histo and physio, which are integrated by organ system. It is pass/fail, unranked, and tests are computer based and grouped together. Many tests tend to fall on Thursday or Friday. Second year is totally integrated and organ-system based, so you are basically taking one big class. Patient contact starts in the first week, with a clinical skills class and a  PBL-ish class occurring throughout the first two years. Class occurs from about 8:30 am to noon, and sometimes till about 1 or 4 pm, depending on the class. Two afternoons are dedicated self-study time. Lectures are recorded, and comprehensive syllabi are provided. The school hosts a Step 1 review course at the end of the second year. Last year their average score was 18 points above the national average. For the clinical years, most of your time is spent in Boston Medical Center, a busy safety-net hospital and trauma center. It sounds like students get a lot of hands-on experience.

Overall, I was impressed. I liked the curriculum, though I like Temple's fully integrated curriculum and schedule more. Also, if you opt out of student housing, Boston is an expensive place to live. But, it's a good school, and I would totally go here. For my list, I would probably rank BUSM at or just below the level of Temple.

Interview Experience: Wayne State University

Wayne State University School of Medicine 9/25/12

For this interview, I was able to stay with a student host again. He actually picked me up from the airport, which was awesome. The night before the interview, we went out to dinner with some other medical students (it sounded like they did this every Monday). We had a good time, and everyone seemed down-to-earth and easy-going. His apartment was within walking distance of the school, so on the way home he actually took me on a "pre-tour" of they medical campus and the relatively newer Mazurek building, where the admissions office, library, and study areas are.

The morning of the interview, my host (he was an MS3) had to leave for rotations at about 7:30 am, so I was pretty much on my own. The tour didn't start until noon, so I walked over to the library and passed the time reading and preparing for the interview. Finally, around 11:30 am, I checked in with the security guard at the front desk (the library and first floor are public areas, but everywhere else is secured and requires an access card) and took the elevator up to the third floor. At the admissions office, I was given the usual school packet, a fairly thick pamphlet about the ongoing research at Wayne, and a 90+ page book written by students at WSU SOM that had all kinds of info about the school, curriculum, what books are needed/not needed, living in Detroit, student interest groups, etc, which was actually pretty cool.

The tour guides took our group of about eight or so through the Mazurek building, the library, the study rooms, the lecture hall for first and second years in the connected Scott Hall, some lab areas, and the anatomy lab. Everything in Mazurek was pretty new and  shiny. Scott Hall was a bit older looking, but not run down by any means. The lecture hall was a pretty good size, but apparently can't hold all of Wayne's many students--they have an overflow area for any required occasions.

The curriculum at Wayne is pretty traditional, with lectures 9 am - 5 pm most days for the first two years. Students take 2-3 classes at a time, with a "doctoring" course beginning in the first week or so. Most lectures are streamed online--actually most students don't even attend school, except for required events. There is a "course packet" given out for each class that contains pretty much all you need to know. Tests are computer based. Grading is H/P/F, with honors meaning that your score is greater than one standard deviation above the class mean. The hospital is associated with about eight hospitals/medical institutes within walking distance, including the Detroit Medical Center...and most, if not all, are connected by tunnels. Wayne has a simulation lab, and uses standardized patients for all years.

I had to leave the tour early to make my interview, so I missed the hospital tour. The interview was pretty conversational, lasting about 45 minutes and mostly revolving around questions like why Wayne, why Detroit, my application, what should I tell the admissions committee about you, etc (the adcoms, by the way, meet regularly throughout the season, your interviewer presents your file, they vote on you, and you are assigned a score that then is used to compare you with other students). It seemed to go pretty well, and I was told I'd be informed of a decision on October 24. Afterwards, I changed, walked to the nearby bus stop, and hopped on the bus for the two hour ride to the airport.

Overall, I felt like Wayne would provide a solid clinical education, and I liked the streaming option and the course packs. Detroit is Detroit, though (although it really wasn't that bad....I suppose in some areas it did seem like every fifth building was abandoned....), which can be great for education, but maybe not so much for living. It's doable, though. However, I didn't like the 9-5 pm schedule or the potential for crazy multiple test weeks (I think Temple spoiled me in that regard....), and it's very expensive for out-of-state matriculants--63k a year. Maybe with a merit scholarship....?

Interview Experience: Saint Louis University

Saint Louis University 9/18/12

For this interview, I was able to stay with a student host. I flew in the afternoon before my interview, took the metrolink to Central West End Station, and my host picked me up there. We drove back to his apartment, which he shared with another student, and pretty much spent most of the afternoon talking. That evening, we went out with a group of med student hosts and their "interviewees." He drove me around the downtown area, which was nice. Overall, the city seemed like a very liveable place with decent rent and lots to do.

We ate at a place called Fitz's--they make their own root beer...and it's good--and grabbed some ice cream at Ted Drew's. The students all seemed like cool, laid-back people, and we had a good time.

The next day, my host drove me to the school and I went to a lecture with him, which was cool. Eventually, I meandered over to the admissions office and checked in. I thought I would be early if I showed up 15 minutes ahead of the recommended 15-minute buffer suggested on the schedule....but nope. Even though I was a half hour early, most of the 30+ interviewers were already there. Neurotic premeds, all of us...

Anyhow, the day started with a tour. Our mega group was split into groups of eight, and an MS4 led our group around the campus. The facilities were all pretty nice. They just built a new lecture hall/study area/hang out/cafe for the students, which was really nice and modern-looking. We also saw the library, a lab room, and SLU hospital--all of which were obviously a bit older, but still pretty nice. The clinical simulation lab was sweet, but apparently first and second years don't use it much, unless you're in an interest group or reserve it. They do practice on standardized patients, though. The campus itself was beautiful, green, and open.

After the tour, there was a luncheon. They had pre-packed bags with sandwiches, a cookie, and chips. At each table, one or two med students camped out and answered questions--I've heard conflicting reports as to whether or not they have any input to admissions, but they were helpful and seemed happy with the school.

SLU SOM, by the way, is pass/fail. They are on a block system, with the first year consisting of classes like metabolism, anatomy, pharm, path, etc. Second year is an organ-system based curriculum. Class seemed to go from about 9 am-2 pm, with some days shorter and some days longer. During anatomy, you're at school till about 3 pm. Tests are on paper, and you have the day off before a test.

Finally, I had my interview. My interviewer was really nice, and basically just asked questions about my application, why I want to be a doctor, and why SLU. We started early and ended early, going for somewhere around 40 minutes. After that, I hopped on to the free shuttle SLU runs up to the Grand Station, and took the metrolink back to the airport.

Overall, I would rank SLU as a close second to Temple. I really liked the campus, the students, and the city--and the pass/fail system is great. The new education building is really nice. However, I still really like Temple's integrated block curriculum and clinical training in early years. Also, SLU doesn't give out merit scholarships. They're reasonable as far as private tuition goes, but still....

I could see myself at either school. I really did like Saint Louis, and am looking forward to October 15.

Interview Experience: Temple University

Temple University 9/13/12

Had my interview at Temple today. Since the school didn't have their host list up yet, I had to stay in a hotel. I ended up staying at the Motel 6 near the airport... it was decent enough, other than the aura of sketchness and the cigarette holes in the comforter. It sort of looked like the kind of place I would go if I ever needed to hide out from the cops...

I used the public transportation system, SEPTA, since that was the cheapest option. It worked out okay, other than my bus being half hour late on the morning of my interview. I was on the verge of calling a taxi when the bus finally showed up. I took the bus to downtown Philly, where I hopped on the subway, which was pretty easy to figure out. Then, I rode the subway up to Allegheny station, which pretty much drops you off at the southern border of the Temple campus and northern Philly.

I had heard quite a bit in preparing for my interview about North Philly being kind of sketchy area. And it's true, by the way. However, the actual Temple campus, which is pretty big, is really nice. Big sidewalks, big buildings, lots of people, and quite a few little food carts on the side of Broad Street. There were flood lights on top of the main hospital, which supposedly light the place up like day at night. That said, the area surrounding the campus is...less than safe. I wouldn't really want to wander out there in a suit.

I walked to MERB, the new medical education building, and checked in. I got there early enough to talk a little bit with the group that was interviewing that day. Everyone was really nice, and we all got to know each other a little bit better throughout the day. The day started off with the financial aid talk, which was fairly informative. It was supposed to start off with the welcome talk, but that gal was running a little bit late. She did get there, though, and talked about about Temple, the new curriculum, the new building, the class profile, etc. Then, the students tour guides showed up, introduced themselves, and showed us around. They were actually very helpful, knowledgeable about the school, and seemed excited to be going there.

The MERB building was shiny and beautiful, as advertised. All of the lectures, studying, labs, etc, happen here. The lecture halls were big and modern-looking. All lectures are recorded online, which is a nice feature. The curriculum itself is organized into several blocks, with each block composed of an integrated course of study (i.e. you learn everything about a particular organ system at one time, instead of pulling a bunch of information from different classes for the same organ system). The exams are in blocks too, and you don't have a bunch of exams in different subjects occurring at the same time. In fact, it seems like most blocks only had a final, and maybe a midterm. The first two blocks were a bit different, with the first being 7 weeks of anatomy and the second being about 4 weeks of biochemistry, if I remember correctly.

Class last from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. 5 days a week, with 2 afternoons being taken up with a doctoring class. This is where students learn to obtain histories, perform physicals, etc. There are also a number of electives that students could choose to participate in-- these seem like they occurred about 6 Fridays a semester, and were pretty much "showing up = pass."

The anatomy labs, by the way, were very nice. They keep the rooms smelling fairly decent, considering the multitude of preserved bodies lying around. Each station had its own computer with internet access and access to an interactive anatomy reference, dissection instructions, etc.

We also toured the clinical simulation center, which was awesome. This is where the students first practice patient interactions skills, exams, procedural skills, etc. They use standardized patients and had a pretty high tech simulation manikin that breathes, has a heartbeat, vitals, can die, can be intubated, poked, and prodded. It seems like an awesome resource to have for your preclinical years. Residents use the center to practice their skills as well.

At one point in the tour, the students took us over a sky bridge that connected for the new building to some of the other facilities. Looking out to one side, you could see the expansive, nice-looking Temple campus. On the other side, though, you could see a run down, sketchy-looking neighborhood. It was a pretty stark contrast. Most of the students, it seems, live about 10-20 minutes away from the school in the surrounding suburbs, which is a reasonable commute.

The students then took us to a conference room, where sandwiches were laid out for us. They were the sticky kind that got stuck in your teeth.

After that, I had my student interview. The girl that I had was nice enough, but seem tired. The people who interviewed with me said their student interviews were really conversational. Mine was to some degree, but she also asked a lot of a kind of vague questions that I didn't feel like I had amazing answers for. Finally, I had my faculty interview. I don't know if they purposely did this, but I had somebody who was working in the field that I am interested in, which gave us quite a bit to talk about. We actually ran about 15 minutes over and had a pretty good time. It wasn't really stressful at all; it really was more of a conversation.

After the interview, I took public transportation back to my motel room. For most trips, I normally flew out in the evening after the interview, but this time there were no flights that worked with my schedule, so I ended up flying home early the next morning. That meant navigating the public transportation system again at 3 am. This would have been totally doable...if the bus actually showed up. It didn't, and after forty minutes of waiting, I ended up bribing a shuttle driver at another hotel to let me ride along with him to the airport.

Overall, I was really impressed with Temple. I love the new curriculum and the facilities. There were some pretty awesome resources to help students, including the new anatomy lab and the clinical simulation area. It seemed like the school is really concerned about its students. The location is questionable, but you can live elsewhere, and it does provide some awesome clinical opportunities. The only major downside is it's really expensive... rain down the money, Temple.