The big news is that, as of last week, we are finally done with anatomy and cadaver lab (thank goodness)!!! However, we'll continue going over to the hospital once a week during the spring semester for what they call 'vivarium lab', where we learn to suture, cast, and so forth. We're also done with EBM, a.k.a. Evidence-Based Medicine (or, at least, we WILL be done with it as soon as we present our final projects on the 16th), which is another huge relief; that class is mostly about statistics and research studies, how to read them critically, and how to know which ones are reputable and which ones aren't. It's necessary, I'll give them that, but it's also pretty boring compared to the rest of the awesome stuff that we get to learn. It will come back to bite us again in the second year when we have to spend one rotation (a solid month) writing a research paper on a topic of our choice, but it'll be great to have a few EBM-free months in the meantime.
So the two 'swaps' we're making are (1) picking up Surgery/vivarium lab instead of Anatomy/cadaver lab, and (2) moving away from Physical Diagnosis (learning to do a physical exam) and into Patient Assessment (going to the hospital and taking histories / performing exams on actual patients, YIKES!). In addition to those two exchanges, we'll also pick up a brand-new course, Behavioral Aspects of Medicine. I have no idea what to expect from that one; it hasn't been mentioned to us at all yet.
The other half of our spring curriculum will be made up of our normal 'trio' of Clinical Medicine, Diagnostic Methods, and Pharmacology, all of which run all year long because they're so (a) detailed, and (b) intimately connected to one another. This triad covers basically every aspect of what we'll see when dealing with a patient face to face -- what signs/symptoms will they present with (Clin Med), what labs/studies will we want to do (Dx Methods), and what treatment will we prescribe (Pharm)? These 'Combined' exams are our longest and most intense tests since they are tri-fold; each question is written in such a way as to specifically test our knowledge in each of the three areas, and we get three separate grades at the end of the exam based on how well we do in each 'category' of questions.
The three things I'm going to have to work on over break are (1) scholarship applications (because goodness knows that's a full-time job unto itself!), (2) practicing my physical exam in anticipation of starting Patient Assessment, and (3) my Global Health Elective application for the clinical year. Basically, that's where I 'officially' express my interest in going abroad and rank my preferences as far as a country to do my elective in, but it is a true application nonetheless, complete with essays -- if you're not serious enough to take the time to do all that, then you probably shouldn't be doing this elective in the first place -- so it's going to take a while to complete.
This is what my next two weeks look like:
Tonight - dinner out with Liz, then Duke Chapel Christmas Carol Sing-Along
Tomorrow - dinner out for a classmate's birthday
Thursday - dinner at home with Liz and Erin
Friday - DPAP Holiday Luncheon, spin class, DPAP Yankee Swap
Saturday - tickets to Duke vs St. Louis, then Liz's and my annual holiday shindig
Sunday - studying my tail off!!!
Monday - ANATOMY FINAL, advisor meeting about clinical year
Tuesday - ORTHOPEDICS FINAL
Wednesday - CARDIOLOGY FINAL
Thursday - EBM FINAL PROJECT PRESENTATION... and then a party to celebrate being done with our first semester!!!
Thursday at 10am marks the 'finish line', and we're in the final sprint. Just gotta keep on keepin' on...