Medical School: Round 1

It’s official: I completed my first exam of medical school today (terrifying). I finally have a chance to write a brief update. Now I know what real academic volume is. I especially sympathize with my classmates who have children because I can barely manage myself these days. Graduating from William and Mary, I feel adequately prepared in terms of my undergraduate education, but being two years out of the classroom came with challenges. Bright side: I don’t find it horribly difficult to sit eight straight hours studying on a Saturday. I have averaged about 11 hours a day of school/study time in the past three weeks (weekends included). Granted, I am a slow reader, but I feel like my schedule is probably reflective for most of my classmates as well.

Our first module, Fundamentals, highlights biochemistry, histology, pathology, epidemiology/biostatistics, microbiology, and immunology. It is a good introductory review of science as well as getting the basics of histology and pathology down (we have computer-based labs for these courses too). It’s a nice way to level the playing field in terms of everybody’s background education in science.

In terms of patient experience, we are already learning how to conduct medical interviews and how to perform a full-body physical examination. These take up our Tuesday and Thursday afternoons. I was incredibly anxious at first, but all of our preceptors are amazing and approachable. These sessions are opportunities to begin developing specific skill sets in physician-patient communication and the ins and outs of performing an examination. Medical interviews are done with standardized patients (actors) or real patients at Walter Reed. We practice the physical exam with other classmates in small groups.

Thus far, I am excited about the USU medical school curriculum. They instituted a recent change that bumped up Step 1 scores remarkably, and the layout seems well-thought out and organized. Each module usually lasting 7-8 weeks has a major theme: Fundamentals, Musculoskeletal (MSK), Cardiopulmonary-Renal (CPR), Neuroscience, GI/Hepat/Nutrition/Metabolism, Reproduction/Endocrinology, and Multi-System/Complex Disease. Between Fundamentals and MSK, we’ll be heading out to Fort Indiantown Gap in Pennsylvania for 10 days of leadership/teamwork training and some patient role-playing for the fourth years.

All in all, I am enjoying medical school despite not seeing my friends/family in the area very much. I definitely have my moments where I feel like I am riding the struggle bus to downtown struggle city. But don’t we all?

Stay tuned. I might be changing the blog up a little bit because med school talk cannot stay interesting on its own.

Happy Belated Memorial Day

I had the well-timed opportunity to get a tour of Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on Memorial Day. It felt quite patriotic! An Army child psychiatrist in his fourth year residency at Walter Reed showed Andrew and me all around the hospital and the campus (which is why networking at conferences is a big win). The hospital is amazing – albeit quite confusing to navigate. Afterwards, I got to show Andrew my soon-to-be USU academic buildings.

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On a similar note (I wish I had posted about this earlier), I had also recently toured the Pentagon for my father’s promotion ceremony to SES (Senior Executive Service) in the Department of Defense. It was the first time I have been to the Pentagon since 9/11. I met a couple generals, some of my father’s friendly colleagues, as well as the Assistant Secretary of the Army (for Financial Management and Comptroller). Quite the surreal experience. Our tour guide gave the family great insight into the history of the Pentagon, and the September 11 Memorial was really well-done.

With father and brother at Air Force Art Gallery for my father's promotion ceremony to SES

With father and brother at Air Force Art Gallery in the Pentagon for my father’s SES promotion ceremony