Saturday, October 11, 2014

Medical School: Round 2

Image from here
I’m sure you could tell from the distinct lack of posts over the past couple of months, but second year has started. In fact, we’re already about half-way through the semester and in the middle of our week-long fall break (the existence of which is probably one of my favorite things about Loyola). Finally, a chance to catch my breath.

Our pace has essentially doubled compared to first year. For example, last year we had about one test per month per class, and each test covered maybe 20-25 lectures. Not too bad, really. This year, though, we've had a test every two weeks, with each test covering about the same amount of lectures. So that’s been fun.

As I've talked about previously, the first year at Loyola – especially the first half – is sort of a hodge-podge of classes meant to get everyone up to speed and then cover some of the fundamentals. We started off with two classes that ran for about a month covering behavioral sciences and basic cell biology/genetics, followed by anatomy, and then picked up after winter break with physiology and added in immunology near the end of the spring semester. All throughout the year, we had our patient-centered medicine course (which covered things like patient interviews, basic physical exam skills, and various other topics that didn't quite fit in elsewhere).

Second year is a bit more systematic. We essentially have two courses – pathophysiology and pharmacology – that run simultaneously and complement each other throughout the year. So, for example, right now we are learning cardiac pathophysiology and also learning the relevant cardiac pharmacology as we go along. And of course we still have our patient-centered medicine course that runs throughout the first three years.

Although it’s been busier, the actual information has been quite a bit more interesting. Also, I’ve finally given up on going to classes. I essentially went to classes religiously all throughout first year, except for the last few weeks when my wife had our son. This year, though, keeping up on studying while also making sure that I can take evenings and most weekends off means that time has become even more of a precious commodity, and the time spent going back and forth from school, waiting in between classes, etc., could be better spent.

So, to try and be a bit more efficient, I purposely put myself a day behind so that I watch the previous day’s lectures each morning. The advantage of that is that I can get started a bit earlier than classes actually would normally start – and thus finish my day earlier as well. So far, it’s working out pretty well. I usually have to go in once or twice a week or so for various small groups and things, but that’s fine.

As far as resources go, I HIGHLY recommend Pathoma for pathology and SketchyMicro for microbiology, at least for the bacteria. Incredibly helpful. I’m still using Anki – I’m trying to really only make cards for so-called “high-yield” information. I’m basically converting the Pathoma lectures into cards, along with stuff from First Aid as we cover it, plus whatever information from lectures I think is worth including. Hopefully this will all come in handy for Step 1 – which, really, is not all that far away at this point. More than that, though, my hope is that this will drill this information in for the long term. We’ll see.

My son is about five months old now, and really starting to develop his own little personality. He’s also growing like a weed – he’s a little over twenty pounds and fitting into twelve month clothes now. Still not quite sleeping through the night, but hopefully that will come soon. Hopefully.

Although things have been busier, it’s been a good year so far. I’m thoroughly enjoying the time off with my family, and finally having the opportunity to catch up on all those little things that get pushed to the back burner when life gets crazy.

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