Hello, my lovely readers!
I have been in medical school for just over a month, and I have to say that it has been amazing. This experience, so far, has been a dream come true and worth all of the hard work that it took to get here. I am finally learning about the clinically related topics that interest me and applying my knowledge to real life situations faced by physicians. My classmates and I get to work as a group to conquer virtual patient cases, present our ideas to practicing physicians, and get to learn about the clinical skills needed to be the doctors of the future. It is so rewarding learning about all the different tools that will shape us into amazing physicians one day.
Medical school has definitely been busy, but it is so enjoyable and interesting that it is manageable. Each week is different, in terms of our lecture material and topics taught, but we have a pretty consistent schedule.
Our Mondays are composed of morning lectures followed by a virtual patient case that we work on in small groups. Our patient case is always related to the scientific and clinical content presented in lecture. For example, in our first week of class we learned about genetic diseases, their diagnosis, and management, so our case was about a boy who was suffering with cystic fibrosis. Our group had to figure out what kind of genetic tests were needed to confirm the diagnosis based on the symptoms he presented with. These cases are very interesting, and it teaches us how to find the information we need online or in literature.
Tuesdays are usually meant for our anatomy labs, but could also be presentations on leadership in medicine followed by our reflective group sessions. Our anatomy labs are an incredibly useful way to learn about the human body since we are provided with cadavers and cadaveric prosections. Each week students are provided with modules outlining all of the material that will be covered in the labs, and we are expected to prepare for the labs in advance so that we can contribute to small group discussions, as well as answer quiz questions. This month, we have learned about the vertebral column and spinal cord, as well as the bony thorax. We have also covered histology of neural tissue, epithelia, skin and breast tissue.
My medical school does not cover any anatomy material in lecture, so we use the modules and lab time to facilitate our learning. In my opinion, it is amazing to see how much I am learning about the human body in these labs and how beneficial they really are. I was so worried that I would be overwhelmed by the material, given that there are no lectures on it, but working in small groups in the lab promotes collaboration and solidifies learning.
Additionally, Tuesdays could also be for our self-reflection sessions, called Portfolio, where we get to discuss our feelings about our education and experiences in small groups lead by physicians. It is a great support system to have since students can share their feelings and concerns about their progression through medical school in a safe, non-judgmental environment. This month our topic for reflection was called “The Physician as a Patient,” and focused on moments when we, or our family members, were patients and how physicians made their experience positive or negative. We then discussed how these experiences inspired us to go into medicine, and how we will continue to stay empathetic and humble throughout our careers.
Wednesdays are our days off. Each week there are self-learning modules to complete that are supplemental to the materials taught in class. It is a great way to expand our knowledge on the topics covered in lecture. We usually have interesting videos relevant to our in-class topics. This is also a great time to do things that you enjoy. I try to exercise, relax, and prepare my meals for the rest of the week.
Thursdays and Fridays are when we have lectures on non-science, non-clinical topics. These are the days we learn about medical ethics, leadership, collaboration, team work, and all of the things that are so essential to be a good physician (aka the CanMEDS roles). After our lectures on Thursday, we head to the hospital to discuss our virtual patient cases with practicing physicians. They review our answers with us and ask us other questions related to the topic to promote our clinical thinking skills. We also get to listen to stories that the physicians tell us about what it is like to practice medicine in different specialities. The physicians also give us many pearls of wisdom about work-life balance, self-care, and how to prevent burn-out. It is an amazing session full of open discussion.
Further, on Fridays we head back to the hospital for a four-hour session on clinical skills. This month we have learned about how to take a patient history and we got to practice our skills on standardized patients, who are actors. So far, I have learned about how to structure my patient interview in order to get all of the details needed for diagnosis, and I have also learned about the importance of picking up non-verbal cues. Since we do a lot of our work in small groups, we also receive and give feedback to each other on our clinical skills in order to continuously improve.
I have absolutely loved this first month of medical school. I finished my first “block” on genes, chromosomes, and molecules, as well as wrote and passed my first exam! It has been such an exciting journey thus far, and I cannot wait to see what the future brings (and share it all with you)! As I progress through this first year, I will share with you what I am going through and experiencing along the way.
Again, thank you for all of your continuous support!
The Girly MD (to be)