Wednesday, November 21, 2012

It's that time again

Well.....I've almost made it through my first semester of medical school. Just have about 2 weeks of classes left and then finals week will begin. I'll have 3 final exams, in anatomy, histology, and biochemistry; just like before. This second half of the semester has gone well and the topics have been more clinically relevent, especially in biochemistry. It is hard to believe that I've already been on this island for 4 months........time goes fast when you're having fun....haha not really. You just lose track of time fast when you devote your entire day to medical school. I am extremely happy (as I'm sure you've seen through my various FB posts) to get back to the US and have plenty of time to rest and enjoy it with family and friends. This will probably be my last post of the semester as I'm sure you all don't want to be bored with posts about my studying. Thanks for reading though, hope to see some of you during winter break !!!

Monday, October 15, 2012

The Greatest Feeling

Grades from all of my midterms are officially posted and I just wanted to let everybody know that they all went very well! All the hard work and studying is paying off and I now know that I do belong here and deserve to be in medical school. After being told 'No' and after being denied from so many schools, there is no greater feeling than being accepted by one and going and proving all those other ones wrong and showing them that you do deserve to be in medical school.

This reminds me of one of my favorite quotes:

"Whether you think you can or whether you think you can't, you're right." -- Henry Ford

Back to the grind.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

We're Halfway There

So it has been quite some time since I last posted on here, sorry!! I have been studying like a mad person for these midterms that just ended on Friday. We had our Biochemistry midterm on Monday, Histology on Wednesday, and Anatomy (w/ practical) on Friday. So far I have only received one grade (biochem) and I am pretty happy with it. It is weird that you study as much as you do, hours upon hours, and yet when you still do not get an A on the exam you are still content with that grade. Although I was close to the A, I still wish I had done just a couple points better for it. I was very prepared for the histology final so I felt like that went well. The anatomy final was split into 2 sections, a written 125 MCQ exam, and then a 25 question practical in the cadaver lab. The MCQ portion was not horrible and I felt pretty good about it but the practical was much tougher. Overall I was happy with the way the exams went and it is nice to start over with a new half of the semester tomorrow!

The past month before midterms was pretty quiet. It mostly just consisted of me studying, sleeping, classes, labs, and eating subway every day. This weekend after midterms we finally had the opportunity to go out to THE bar (Bananas) and on Saturday we went on a Catamaran trip and went snorkeling. Today I have been watching football and I just got back from cliff-jumping. It has been SOO nice to just sit back and relax for a full weekend and get caught up on sleep before the second half of the semester starts up again.

Hope everybody in the states is doing well. I am starting to really miss all of my favorite things......friends, family, favorite food places, Mexican food, hamburgers, football, ESPN....December 16th can't come soon enough.

Monday, September 10, 2012

One Month

Just wanted to update everybody and let them know that I have officially been in Grenada for a month !! Its hard to believe that I haven't been in the US for such a prolonged period of time but I guess I am just used to everything here on the island. It all seems pretty normal now......except for the 30 minute wait for Subway. Classes are going well and we actually have our first examination next Monday. It is called the 'Unified Quiz.' Basically it is a multiple choice quiz with 25 questions per class. It will make up about 7% of our grade for each class and more than anything, it is used to gauge where you are in terms of studying. It will give us an indication as to whether we need to change our study habits or stick to what is working.

In other news, I finally found the fruit stand that sells a variety of Grenada fruit on campus. I got gnips, or skin-ups as they are locally known (see earlier post) and I got this fruit called carambola, or starfruit as it is locally called. I love fruit so much so it is awesome to have them come onto campus and sell the fruit to us because that eliminates a 90 minute trip to the grocery store. The best part though is that I only spent 5 EC (eastern caribbean dollars) on the fruit which is about $2 USD. So cheap! It will be plenty to last me the week. Pics of the fruit are below so you can see. Have a great week everybody !

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Real Texans Drink Cold Beer

So the title of this post would describe my week in a nutshell. Real Texans Drink Cold Beer is the first (of many) mnemonics that medical students use to remember different orders or organization of things in medicine. This week in anatomy we started going over the brachial plexus, and in an effort to remember the organization of the nerves (Roots, Trunks, Divisions, Cords, and Branches)in the plexus, we used this mneumonic. The upper limbs and axillary regions are extremely complicated and the information is finally starting to stick in my head which is nice. This upcoming week we are moving onto the different organ systems in anatomy.....I think we have the lungs on Thursday in fact.

We had our first anatomy lab this week!! For anatomy lab, which goes on for 4 hour and 15 minutes, we have a small group discussion section, the wet lab, and the dry lab. The small group discussion starts at 7:45 on Tuesdays (for me) and the first hour is spent with standardized patients (basically paid actors from the community) and we practice physical examination skills on them. The topic for lab this week was the back, spinal cord/vertebrae, and shoulder so all of the parts of the examination were centered around those areas. The second hour of the small group discussion is spent in a group of about 7 people and we have these clinical cases with different diseases/problems/questions that we have to answer about the various weekly topics. For example, we had a case about a patient who needed a spinal tap and the questions were all associated with that. The next hour of anatomy lab is spent in the actual cadaver lab. This is the big part of anatomy lab that everybody looks forward to. The cadavers were already prosectioned for us and we went around in groups and had about 8 minutes at each station. At each station (deep back muscles, for example) we had a list of muscles, nerves, blood vessels, anatomical landmarks, etc. that we have to identify and know for the exam. The coolest part was the presence of the visiting professors that walk around the lab and help us identify everything. We had one professor from Albert Einstein SOM, another from Harvard SOM, and one from Loma Linda SOM. After wet lab, we moved into the hour long dry lab session which is learning how to read x-rays, MRIs, CT scans, and ultrasounds. Dry lab was pretty sweet too, especially learning how to work the ultrasound machine.

The rest of the week was just spent in the normal classes and of course the histology and bioethics groups that meet throughout the week. Studying is going well and I keep getting better at making my studying more productive by learning what methods work best for these classes.

Our books arrived this week (after the boat that was bringing them got lost somewhere) and one of the biggest aids has been the Gray's Anatomy, Netter's Anatomy Atlas, and the Gray's Review Questions. The Gray's review questions are supposedly very similar to how the questions are asked on our exams. When I first saw these questions I couldn't believe that I would ever be able to answer them.

So you all can see what I am learning, here is a question I just answered before updating the blog:

A 45-year-old man is admitted to the hospital after a car crash. Radiographical examination reveals mild disk herniations of C7, C8, and T1. The patient presents with a sensory deficit of the C8 and T1 spinal nerve dermatomes. The dorsal root ganglia of C8 and T1 would contain cell bodies of sensory fibers carried by which of the following nerves?

A. Medial antebrachial cutaneous nerve
B. Long thoracic nerve.
C. Lateral antebrachial cutaneous nerve
D. Deep branch of ulnar nerve
E. Anterior interosseus nerve

It's truly amazing how much I have already back to studying :)
Have a nice week everybody!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

One week down......

Well I have officially completed my first week of medical school !!! Unfortunately, its not all that exciting in reality. I learned fast that the weekends in medical school are not welcomed nearly as much as they were in undergrad. The weekends consist of studying, studying, and more studying.....and CPR training this first week.

All of the first termers were required to complete the BLS CPR training which was alot more involved than normal CPR training. In addition to learning how to just do CPR, we learned how to use the AED (automated external defibrillators), and the breathing bag valve masks (that you see on tv shows that the EMTs always have). Even though it took up three and a half hours of studying time, it was a cool class and its pretty evident that we need to be certified if we are medical students.

As for the first week of class, I'll just go day by day and say how everything played out!

Monday: Although it was technically the first day of classes, we only had 30 minute sessions with each class and essentially the professor went over how the class is organized and other basic orientation stuff. By the way, my classes for this semester are: Histology (the study of cells at a microscopic level), Gross Anatomy and Development, Medical Biochemistry, and Bioethics and Professionalism. In addition, I have a histology, anatomy, and bioethics laboratory/small group sessions. Monday night was the best part of the day because we had the White Coat Ceremony !! It was an awesome feeling to put the white coat on and although I feel undeserving of the white coat now, it was a good feeling. The keynote speaker at our ceremony was Dr. DeAngelis, who some may recognize as the Editor-In-Chief of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA). She was a great speaker and as a pediatrician herself, she had tons of insight into our futures and lives as medical students.

Tuesday: The 'real' first day of class. I had my bioethics/professionalism small group discussion that morning. Essentially a group of about 7-8 of us students are matched up with a physician at the school and we go over different situations with ethical dilemmas that we may see someday. It was the first session and everybody was pretty nervous and shy about the whole thing so I think next week may be more interactive. We also had bioethics and histology lecture this day.

Wednesday: I had histology lab in the morning which I enjoyed alot. Again we were in groups of about 7-8 with a clinical tutor and we went over different histological slides. The awesome part is that everything with histology is digitalized now and there is no hassling around with the microscopes. We also had biochemistry and anatomy lecture. Biochemistry was not that bad but anatomy was insane. We went over the entire back and all the important muscles, their innervations, and their blood supply in addition to their actions. It was a big lecture and it kinda scared me at first.

Thursday: We had anatomy and biochemistry again. Anatomy went MUCH better and I felt alot more comfortable with the nervous system (Thanks UA PSIO dept. !! )

Friday: Anatomy and histology. Most of histology was a review of connective tissue (Thanks to UA PSIO again :) ) Anatomy was the autonomic nervous system.

Overall I had a great week. Although I felt overwhelmed after the first lecture, I have fallen into a good study schedule. If I don't have lab in the morning, I study from about 8-noon, then grab lunch, class from 1-5, and then study from 6-11 and then go to bed. The 8-noon studying sometimes gets messed with on days I have lab.

This upcoming week we start anatomy lab !! That will be both exciting and challenging, but I am looking forward to that.

Hope everybody is doing well, have a nice week !

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Vacation is over

Its been about a week since my last post; during which I have been partaking in various orientation activities. Orientation began last Monday and ends later today. Before orientation, I was at the beach every day and had no responsibilities which was wonderful. Orientation week has also been a blast but mixed in with the fun, we have had many informational sessions. The week kicked off with some Grenadian history, culture, and information about the place we will be spending the next two years at. The people of Grenada (who ran this session) absolutely love their country and are very proud of its accomplishments. Most notably, the winning of their first Olympic Gold Medal by Kirani James. In fact, they made us watch the video that they called, "The Greatest 43.94 seconds Ever." We also had a lecture about safety in Grenada, Grenadian law, etc. Throughout the rest of the week from Tuesday until now, there have been other sessions about health insurance, on campus living, technology on campus, succeeding in school, and today we had the convocation and met the different department heads. That pretty much comprised most of the week in terms of the logistical, boring side of everything. My personal favorite aspect of this past week was the hike and tour we took on Thursday. The orientation staff took students to the Grand Etang Rainforest and to a place called Annandale Falls. They are located near the middle of the island and took about 45 minutes to get to because of how slow and narrow the roads are. The waterfall was absolutely gorgeous and there was a 10 ft jump that we were allowed to jump off of into where the water fell into. In addition, there is a 40-45 foot jump that we were not allowed to do. However, it is common for the locals to jump down from that height because we actually 'tip' them to make the jump for our entertainment. Essentially that is one form of the way they make money. The water was somewhat chilly but it was just great to see the waterfall and get in the water. Then we went further into the forest and after seeing the Grand Etang lake, we hiked uphill for about 45 min. Although it took 45 minutes, it was probably no more than 1-2 miles. The catch is that you are hiking through mud that is about a foot deep in some areas and is EXTREMELY slippery. I fell about 4 times into the mud (pictures below) and I would say I was luck to not fall more based on how muddy it gets. There was an awesome view at the top and then coming back down was even tougher and that is where most of my falling happened. After that we got back into the bus and on the way back to campus, we drove through the city of St. George's. St. George's is the capital of the country and it was really neat to see the main city where everything happens. The city seemed to rely alot on small fruit stands and shops and markets on the sides of the road. In fact, we stopped at one point and bought some fruit, called a skin-up. I had never had this fruit before and I would be surprised if anybody in the US had tried it either. It was delicious but also very strange. Essentially the fruit was a small green sphere. If you bite into it, the soft shell pops off and inside is another spherical object, the seed. You do not eat the seed but the seed has a gooey grape-like material wrapped around it that you have to eat off of the seed. It is difficult to describe because I have never had anything like it before but I loved it. That pretty much sums up this past week. Just alot of orientation sessions and meet and greet type of things going on. Classes officially start tomorrow and unfortunately, the airplane that was shipping our books broke down so those are going to be a few days late. Tonight there is a bazaar on campus in which there will be lots of local food stands and all the student organizations will have booths so I am excited for that. I'll make sure to update next weekend after a full week of classes!! Also, my white coat ceremony is tomorrow night!! I'll be sure to post pictures. Take care everybody !

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

This Is Grenada

'This is Grenada' has become the phrase we use to describe anything that happens to be unique to Grenada. There seems to always be something new that happens in Grenada that makes us use this phrase. For instance, because we are on an island, everything is much slower paced. This means that waiting for food at a restaurant can take up tons of time. Just yesterday, it took about 15 min for my sandwich at Subway to be made when I was the only person in line. The workers would chat a bit and then just take their leisurely time. After this, we reminded ourselves that, 'This is Grenada' and we just have to accept the fact that stuff like that will happen. Customer service is not exactly their forte here. There are also no speed limits in Grenada, at all. People drive as fast as they wish or as slow and because of that, people are always driving around and swerving in an out of traffic. We went to Carnival last night which is actually a 3 day event that is HUGE here. I've never seen an entire country stop and close down for a full 3 days like Grenada does. Although we don't understand what exactly Carnival is celebrating, I do know that it is a big deal. The first night, called J'Ouvert, which is essentially a dancing parade where the locals throw paint and motor oil all over each other......very weird concept. The second night is another parade with lots of glow up lights and the third night is a costume parade. Me and some friends opted for the 2nd night because we didn't want to ruin our clothes. I put some pictures below but it was lots of fun actually and it was cool to take part in a local tradition. Today I went to the store and got some of the things I needed still since the stores have been closed the past few days. Spending money in Grenada is very odd because it feels like you are spending so much money. The exchange rate is: 1 USD = 2.66 Eastern Caribbean Dollars. Therefore, a typical lunch is 20 EC.....but that really is only about $8 USD. The Spiceland Mall, which is next to the Grand Anse Beach, is actually pretty normal. They have many stores (not the stores we have in the US) and the grocery store was pretty typical too except because of island time, the lines were ridiculously long. This is Grenada. Not sure if I talked about the Grand Anse beach in my last post but it is simply amazing.....I love it so much. We have been going there everyday because once classes start, there goes any free time. Orientation starts tomorrow and we have events going on every day until the weekend. I'll probably update this weekend after its all over with. Thanks for reading!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Officially In Grenada !!!

I finally have some time to sit down and write about the past few days. I have been in Grenada for the past day and I guess today is my 2nd full day here on the island technically. I left Friday night after having dinner with my family and waiting at the airport until my mother let me go past security. It was definitely bitter sweet leaving Arizona. I am very excited to start medical school and experience everything that Grenada has to offer but obviously saying good-bye to my family for 5-6 months at a time is tough; especially when I have only been 90 miles away for the past 4 years. My first flight was delayed an hour but because I had a 6 hour layover originally in NYC there was no problem. In NYC I met some upper term students who gave me lots of advice and tips about medical school and the island so that was nice. The flight from Trinidad to Grenada was also delayed due to rain so we had to wait another hour before arriving in Grenada. This was also a scary flight because the plane was so small and we landed about 50 ft from the ocean. Once we got into Grenada, we got off the plane on the runway since it was such a small plane. I was immediately handed a glass of rum punch; what a welcome to the island!! Because we took such a small plane, lots of people didn't get all of their luggage but luckily I got both of my bags. Some people are still waiting for theirs to arrive. In Grenada, when you pass through customs, you have to declare any electronics you have that cost over about $200(USD). They force you to pay a tax on these items just to bring them into the country which is somewhat ridiculous. After having to pay for my ipad and laptop, the welcome crew was waiting for us outside the airport and they paid for a cab to take us to campus. The cab ride was probably the single most frightening ride I have ever been on. The fact that they drive on the left side of the road already worries you and then your cab driver decides to swerve in and out of traffic to get to the destination as fast as possible. The ride was very similar to what you see with cabs in India and Africa. After getting to my dorm, there was really nothing I wanted to do more than sleep considering I had been traveling for the past 23 hours and had hardly slept at all. Yesterday was a nice day and because it was my first day on the island, there was alot of exploring to be done. Me and a couple of other guys that are all first termers met up in the morning and grabbed breakfast and then wandered around campus. Lots of the pictures I took (which are on my fb account) were taken during this excursion. We explored for a few hours and then I came back to the dorm, talked to my parents, and tried to get my room set up a bit (pictures later). SGU has a nice and free bus system for students and one of the buses goes to the Grand Anse beach which is about 5 min away. We spent some time there and it was absolutely gorgeous. The water was easily around 75 degrees and the sand was so fine.....such an amazing beach. I'm sure we'll go back today. Later we grabbed some dinner and although I have no idea what type of fish was on my fish sandwich, it was delicious. Last night we went to the local club/bar called Bananas. This is pretty much the only bar hangout for the students here since it is also very safe and close to campus. We had alot of fun and there was even a live band playing on some type of steel drums. Overall everything has been great!! Carnival began today and because of it, lots of the stores are closed today so tomorrow I'll have to grab some of the things that I couldn't fit in my suitcases at the store. All of the people I have met thus far have been extremely nice and everybody who has been here before is willing to help and answer questions. I will register and get my ID tomorrow and then orientation begins on Wednesday! (Sorry that the whole post is one large paragraph....not sure how to change that)