6:00am -- The alarm goes off. I'm out the door by 6:30 and pulling my folding bike out of my car trunk (where it lives so I don't have to drag it up and down 2 flights of stairs every day). I unfold it and set off toward downtown Durham. I get to bike on the greenway for almost the entire trip, with no traffic to contend with, so I feel only slightly guilty about channeling my inner Dutchwoman and popping my earbuds in. It's such a nice way to start the day -- just me, a pink sunrise, and Josh Groban or Wicked on the iPod...
7:40am -- I arrive at school. Class doesn't start until 8:10, but getting here early gives me time to visit my locker, tidy up from my hourlong ride, chat with some classmates, and brew some coffee from our class's communal stash.
8:10am -- We launch into our first two-hour block, which is almost always physiology. If it's Monday, we have an exam; if it's Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday, we have a lecture (which, most recently, involves the cardiovascular system). Fridays are entirely different; half the day is spent doing small-group work and practicing physical diagnosis skills, which is normally a lot of fun, while the other half is spent in the cadaver lab. My group has named our cadaver 'Arthur'; I didn't feel that I could be respectful about cutting him until he had a name. :)
9:10am -- ten-minute break to stretch, visit the bathroom, and refill our coffee.
10:10am -- The second two-hour block begins. This is almost always spent in lecture, either a single two-hour lecture or two separate one-hour lectures. Lately, we've been doing a lot of anatomy during this time block. The program really tries to tie all our areas of study together, i.e. if we're spending one class studying the physiology of how the heart works, we're using our other classes to study the anatomy of the organ, what the symptoms of cardiac problems can be, what various heart murmurs can sound like, etc.
11:10am -- ten-minute break
12:00pm -- Lunch! 5-10 of my friends and I usually grab our lunches from the fridge and retreat to a breakout room (small-group room). Sometimes we study or do schoolwork, but most of the time we just eat, talk, check Facebook, make phone calls, and do informal 'cross-checks', just to make sure we're all conscious of all the readings, assignments, and exams that are on the horizon. My classmates are all incredibly brilliant, amazing, hilarious people, and I feel so privileged to count myself among them.
1:10pm -- The first two-hour block of the afternoon. Lately, this time slot has often been filled with History & Physical Diagnosis class, which is one of my favorites. This is where we start to connect the anatomy and physiology that we're learning to the actual clinical signs, symptoms, and diseases that we'll have to be familiar with. We're still in the very early stages of this, but I love it.
2:10pm -- ten-minute break
3:10pm -- Last two-hour block of the day. No way to predict what will fill this space. Sometimes it's a two-hour lecture, other times two one-hour lectures, other times something entirely different, like last week's phlebotomy practicum, where we learned to draw blood. (Many of us were experienced in that area already, but it was still a lot of fun!) Other times, we have small-group work, a program-specific 'housekeeping' discussion, or even (dare I say it?) an early dismissal day. Even when we do get out early, though, there's always so much to do that half the time I end up staying at the building anyway.
5:00pm -- Class is over for the day. Lots of people stay at the building to get a jump on studying, but I always go home. I work well at the building during the day, but when 5pm comes around, I need to be able to shift gears. I get on my bike, pick some music, and ride home.
6:00pm -- I arrive home, fold up my bike, and put it back into my car. I'm usually drenched in sweat by this point -- August and early September in NC are still pretty brutal -- so the first thing I do is take a shower.
6:30pm -- I'm clean and settled in. Since I biked to school, I no longer have to worry about a workout, either. Time to find something to eat and cozy up with my textbooks. The amount of work varies from day to day, but there's always something to do, and usually several somethings. For example, I always have at least one or two chapters' worth of pre-reading to do, in preparation for the next day's lecture -- we're not 'required' to do that per se, but I've found that the material sinks in a lot better for me if it feels vaguely familiar when I see it in class. Also, our professors provide us with lists of objectives -- general concepts to learn for exams -- and sometimes sample problem sets as well; I usually use the PowerPoint lecture and the textbook to slowly work my way through these sheets, writing down all the answers in excruciating detail, then use them to study from. This system has been working well for me so far.
9:00pm -- Depending on how the workflow is going, I try to stop at some point during the evening to spend some time with Liz, read a few chapters of a pleasure book, watch a movie, or take a bath.
10:00pm -- I pack my lunch, pick out my clothes, and pack my bag. If I do it now, I won't be stressed in the morning.
10:30pm -- Bedtime -- at least, if I'm planning to ride my bike the next morning. I can sleep an hour later if I drive to school, but I try to only do that once or twice a week -- usually Monday mornings (when we have an exam first thing) or Friday mornings (when I have to get straight onto the bus for cadaver lab over at the main hospital).
This schedule is constantly changing, and no two days are alike. This is a little stressful for my Type-A personality, but I'm doing my best to adapt. :)