Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Live in the Moment

This morning on my bike ride to school I saw the most amazing sunrise!  I made sure to slow down and thank my Heavenly Father for such a beautiful morning.  As I continued towards school I watched as the striated clouds went from deep purple to light pink to brilliant orange.  I rode in amazement of the beautiful color contrast and magnificent display. I know God made this earth for us...It is for us to enjoy! We can enjoy it fully as we
Live in the Moment.

I simply wanted to take a second to say I believe whole heartily that it would do us well to take the time to live in the moment.  

Take just 5 more minutes to watch a child play.  
Slow down your car or busy schedule to watch a sunrise or sunset. 
Take a little break from work to really talk with a friend.

It is in while living in the moment
that we truly live.  


Sunday, October 14, 2012

Anki Flashcards for a Medical School, an Undergrad, or even a Busy Mother

Last night it was just my son and I at home. It was a lovely evening playing with his tennis ball and stacking his colorful blocks.  I just love my son and it has been an incredible release to come home to him following a grueling day at medical school.

In the midst of stacking blocks I was privileged to talk to my little brother who is working on getting into the Business Program at BYU. He is incredibly busy as a member of the BYU football team and active in a variety of other roles in life. Science classes for him, is what accounting is for me; very meaningless. So, I sat with him and taught him about ANKI, a flashcard app/program that uses space repetition algorithms to plan your studies. The science behind the program is fascinatingly simple.
Here are some highlights:

Why Anki?
Learn a language
Study for medical and law exams
 Memorize people’s names and faces (which I am currently working on for my medical school class)
Brush up on geography
Memorize facts before a business banquet
Master long poems
Even practice guitar chords

What’s the Science Behind ANKI?
Use it or Loose It
We forget about 75% of material learnt within a 48 hour period
This applies to material we’ve studied hard to learn!

Spaced Repetition
 Sebastian Leitner popularized a method of spaced repetition with paper flashcards. By separating the paper cards up into a series of boxes, and moving the cards to a different box on each successful or unsuccessful review, it was possible to see at a glance a rough estimate of how well a card was known and when it should be reviewed again.

Active Recall Testing
 The act of recalling something strengthens the memory, increasing the chances we’ll be able to remember it again
 When we’re unable to answer a question, it tells us we need to return to the material to review or relearn it

Why I Like Anki
 Anki creates a drive to be honest with yourself. In undergrad I often found myself saying things like, “Don’t worry, you’ll recognize it on the test.” Or “You don’t really need to know that.” Statements such as these are KILLERS for your test scores and for your learning.  When I learn by using ANKI, I demand myself to memorize the material no matter how many times I might see that card in a study session. I am compelled to be honest with myself.

Another reason I like ANKI is it’s editing ability. When I study flashcards I especially like to write out pneumonics, silly phrases, or bizarre pictures to help me recall the details more quickly. 

 An example of this tactic is shown by Oligosaccaride Dolicol, That sugar means nothing to me. However, I do need to know it and remember it for the test and for an understanding of what happens to patient’s when it’s malfunctioning. Oligosaccaride Dolicol is in the Endoplasmic Reticulum and flips to the outside to grab glycosolated proteins.  How do I remember that?  I think “Ol go sac” the glycosolated Protein that looks like a “Dol”. That phrase helps me enough to remember the full name, “Oligosaccaride Dolicol” and the function of the protein, “get glycosolated proteins”.  Try it, it’s fun and it works.

To say the least, my brother and I had a good evening figuring out how he can remember the proposed theories of Molecules and Atoms. WE moved from the Continuous  Theory to Brownian motion and more.  I loved helping my brother and I hope you find ANKI helpful as you work on learning and memorizing for your specific class or career.


Monday, October 8, 2012

4th Test, Last Test of the 1st Block

THE DEATH TEST DAY! I seriously felt so defeated after our multiple choice section of our test today. It was the last test of our first block of Medical School and I felt like it was no fun. There were many dimensions going on during the test that made it particularly difficult for me.
  •  My computer didn't work for the test so I started late...which meant
  • I ended late and everyone was talking and packing up when I had 5 minutes left and 7 more question! I had to guess on the last 2.
  • It was so frustrating to feel defeated on that test because I felt like I could have answered 5-7 more questions more thoroughly, it was just timed so that made it so much more difficult. I couldn't do some of the math quick enough and I didn't know my stuff as readily as I needed to.
  • There was so much material on that test!!  88 questions in 103 minutes! So much biochem, anatomy and pharmacology. SO much!

At any rate, I got to the MSL to study before the last part of my test, the lab practical, and I just flat out didn't want to study.  I felt like eating lunch and listening to Reggae...which I did for a while:)  I called my wife and son on Skype and that was when my day got good. My son on the other side was just staring at the screen and waving to me. It felt so good to see them both and to remember one of the reasons why I am in medical school. What a blessing to have such a united and beautiful family. I am so blessed and so grateful for their support. I didn't talk with them love but I was re-energized. They said they would pray for me and I felt the answer to their humble prayers as I had energy to study and performed well on the lab practical.

I am grateful for these experiences in Medical School because I believe they are training me for more difficult experiences down the road. I want to be there for my family, first and foremost, and to my patients. I look forward to internalizing all these dump-truck loads of material and information. It will be great when it all applies to patients and I can see who I am treating. Right now it's easy to get caught up in tests and paperwork and miss the big picture.
I am grateful for glimpses of the big picture.


Thursday, August 23, 2012

Results From the First Test

So I learned today that some of my fellow medical students have been reading my blog. Ths makes me happy AND makes me realize that I am not the only sweating bullets the morning of the test.  I am glad to hear y'all are liking this blog. Maybe well be lucky enough to get a guest post from one of you!

The test, the test, we received the results of our first medical school examination today at 12:30 I s pretty hesitant to open up my score but I eventually did. Happily I passed! I am happy that it wasn't super close to failing either. As my wife said, it was a perfect score for my first test. I take that to mean, "honey, you did well for your first test, now it's time to step it up." step it up I will.  We have another test in just a week from today. It's mostly anatomy and will be heavily weighted by the anatomy lab practical. 60 questions from cadavers, CT scans of th e thorax and x-rays of the thorax region as well.  We've been dissecting the heart these past few days and it was awesome to hold a human heart in my hands. That s a crazy sensation. Hearts are incredible. Oh, today we had a professor give us a lecture. I really wish I could past the video on here, but I recorded her teaching. Man, she was so passionate about the cardiovascular system, she kept using awesome and exciting words to describe the flow of blood and the different cells that are flowing through the system, it was actually really cool to be taught by such a passionate professor. She's been teaching medical school for something like 35 years!

Until next time my friends.


Monday, August 20, 2012

My First Medical School Exam

Ok,  let's start from the beginning.  When there was a test in undergrad one could spend about a half a day, maybe a full day, studying for it, take it, and obtain pretty good results.  Studying for my first medical school exam proved a little different. Beginning three weeks ago...ok so not that far. Beginning last Thursday I began preparing for my Monday exam.  I made a game plan of conquering/solidifying my understanding of molecular medine (biochem), gross anatomy, and histology.  5 hours on thursday, 11 hours on Friday, 14 hours on Saturday and 4 hours Monday morning were what I put in to prepare for that beast.

Minutes Before
The exam was scheduled to start Exactly at 9am.  If a student showed up late they would not be permitted to take the first half of the exam but could join for the second half.  As you could imagine the place was buzzing around 8:15.  That's when my tacos started. I thought of taking a picture with my hands in the air and the sweat stains under my axillary region (armpits) but never got around to it.  IVE NEVER BEEN SO NERVOUS FOR A TEST IN MY LIFE!!
I could barely even talk.  I am not joking.  Someone asked me a question when I was in the hall and I could barely even answer it. It was the most bizarre feeling.  I sat near some of my friends and people I've studied with and and know really well.  I was talking with them seemed to lighten things up a bit nonetheless, I was still shaking. Really, it was weird.

The test
The test began right at 9:00.  The first 50 questions were all histology slides. We were to identify structures cells that. Had colored arrows pointing to them and to write down functions of certain tissues and the primary purposes of other cells, I felt good about this section.

-short break-

The remaining portion of the test was 100 questions timed for two hours max.  At BYU I rarely ever took timed exams by studying for the MCAT/lion I learned how to time myself pretty well and that helped today.  The questions were tricky and difficult. I felt supported and strengthened because I knew that others were praying for me. I definitely felt it.  My favorite questions were those where I knew what the professor was testing us on and thereby knew the answer pretty quickly.  I won't know my score on the exam until Friday. I just hope I passed and I really hope that I can set a good pattern for learning for the remainder of medical school.

Feelings after
On my bike ride home I just had this happiness come over me. I'm really doing it!

 I'm really in medical school and taking tests and learning how to become a physician. I am very grateful for my Heavenly Father allowing me to be here and study to be a physician at A&M!

-one step closer to dr. Mike:)

Friday, August 17, 2012

Preparing for my first Medical School Exam

Today was a wonderful 11 hour day iof studying. I had hopes/dreams of being top in my class before medical school I am simply hoping to pass this first exam.  It is a fascinating phenomenon; I go over my flashcards, create good study manuals and reviews notes and feel pretty good about things just to attend a review and find that I have so much more to learn and a whole other level of integration to encorporate.  T say the least, it never ends.

I have one more day to study for this test because the test is on Monday and I have made a decision not to study in Sunday (we'll see how that goes). My plan for tomorrow is to solidify all  current knowledge through flashcards haven and then to take some practice exams that the students have created along with some other tests that are practice. I think that might teach me some new things along with help me solidify even further.

Everything is going to be alright, I hope we all just rock this first test,

Time will tell.

-dr. Mike (hopefully:)

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Diagnosis from a First Year Medical Student

I have been thinking about this blog often. There are stories and details I could tell you about nearly every hour of the day! Seriuosly. What I have concluded is I will be making more frequent, but less lengthy posts.

Brazos County Free Clinic.
The 2nd-4th year medical students came to our lecture hall before class started today. They played this clip and since then have been laughing all day:

Did you like it?!

Clinical Studies Class Today
Medical school has been brutal. I have felt like I'm studying to take a huge test nearly every day and have seen my colleagues even more stressed than I. Many of my friends in the program come to class each morning just struggling to stay awake. They tell me they couldn't sleep or they were up till 3. One even says he goes to sleep, wakes up and studies and then goes to sleep some more. These people are on turbo charge. I have been getting about 7 1/2 hours of sleep every night and I have been even feeling my immune system slightly weaker with the increased tension and desire to succeed.
Let me calm your nerves by telling you that our professor today gave us some wonderful advice. B's still make MD's. As hard as we try, tests are going to be difficult and we are not going to get every question right. We must face that fact. He looked at us and asked, "Does anyone know what rank I was in my class?" Someone said, "32nd?" Then he replied, "No, not how old I was, what I was ranked!"  Everyone laughed, then he said. "Was I first? Was I last?  No one knows because no one cares!  I'm an MD and I am practicing medicine as best I can. You've been cut throat all your undergraduate careers. Now you're in. You've made it!  Help eachother, get some rest, exercise every day and relax. You will do well and no one will care what rank you were in your class!"

The doctor in the back said amen and we all felt better. I totally agree. I am going to work my gluteus maximus off this weekend as I study for my first medical school exam which will be on Monday, but I will not worry to the point of illness. I will relax and know I have given it my all and I will still come home and night and hug my wife and play with my son!

Conclusion, this is why it still might be difficult for me to write short glimpses of the days we have in medical school. I think about the day often and I like writting it down.

Enjoy your night because I'm going to enjoy mine!

-Dr. Mike