Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The Med School Report - Sleepwalking

I believe I might have sleepwalked early this morning at around 4 or 5 am.

I was at my desk till 3 in the morning, and I decided to take a nap - I felt I needed to spend time with Tropical Medicine, so I really wasn't in a mood to sleep.

I shut my eyes, and the next thing I knew, I woke up on my bed, 2 stories below, snuggling comfortably under my blanket with my pajamas on. I knew I had taken a nap with my office wear - but as to how I awoke wearing my pajamas - the only explanation is I sleepwalked my way to the bedroom, changed into my pajamas and took a long rest.

Thankfully my subconscious Self was able to walk without tumbling down the stairs.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

The Med School Report - End of Week 2 of IC2

And that makes us 10 weeks closer to the summative exams - Lord help us.

So much to study, so little time. So much to cover, and everyday it's the grind.

But I guess I've enjoyed the hectic schedules, and on the brighter side of life, I get to enjoy calm mornings because I have to friggin force myself to wake up to study.

Thank God they scrapped the public health project for this year's IC2 programme.

Thank God they reshuffled the topics in Tropical Medicine.

Thank God they decided to give us one week of study break rather than none at all.

Thank God I am still alive typing this post even after such a hectic week,

I'm gonna reward myself today, with a movie. I know it's kinda like a mini self-indulgence spree, but I don't think I care.


Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Confessions of a Workaholic - Deadlines

Is this little blog becoming sort of a busy-o-meter for me? Only my readers can tell. But anyhow, this post is going to be a summary of whatever happened during the past first week of IC2.

This semester, we have to complete 4 modules:
a) Tropical Medicine [TM]
b) Gastrointestinal Medicine and Hepatology [GI-HEP]
c) Reproductive, Endocrine, Genitourinary and Breast Medicine [REGUB]
d) Central Nervous System, Movement, Locomotive and Forensic Medicine [CNSLMF]

To be honest, it is going to be a very packed semester.

Nearly all the Tropical Medicine topics were squeezed into one single week - last week, to be exact. But I must admit that it was exhilarating, learning about all those bizarre creatures such as cestodes, nematodes, trematodes, plasmodia and understanding the mechanisms of dengue fever. However, my weekends have become so packed - reading material, lecture notes, supplementary exercises, case studies and all, that I think I may become cross-eyed later in the semester. But it will be fun, I am sure, once we've got the whole picture in mind.

Let me see.

I need to:
Finish studying TM, finalize the paper on restraints-usage among Klang Valley road users, finalize the IC3 guidebook, oversee the September-October projects pertaining to The PEN, complete the articles on Dengue and Ebola for the November-December issue, arrange interviews with lecturers for the Cutting Edge column, and revise my anatomy before CNSLMF dawns upon me. Oh the joy of being a medical student, forever busy without time to think about time-wasting nonsense.

Holidays over, work has started. but it ain't a sin to dream of such serene scenes

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Today Is The Day

I guess it is about time - better to say it now than to allow further delays.

I knew you were the one I would desire to spend my life with; the one I would want to cherish, care for, look after and love more than anything else.

The journey would be difficult; the challenges many. But time and tide wait for no man- and I guess it is time to consolidate what I have long wished to say:

I love you truly, in body, soul and mind. I take you to be my constant companion, my life-long dedication, the spring from which my life draws meaning, the source of my inspiration and the light of my life, both now and in the days to come.

Till the seat be truly filled, this will hold fast.

A whole new exciting journey lies before us

Thursday, September 11, 2014

What Should I Get For Junior Cycle

Good day to all juniors, current and future.

The basic principle [based on personal experience] is to use one to a maximum of 3 books per field [might seem too little, but after two years of med school, this will be practical advice].

The recommended books are as follows:

a) Anatomy - you need one text and one atlas.
You can use a combination of one or two texts as follows: Clinically Oriented Anatomy [Keith Moore, Agur Dalley] and/or Clinical Anatomy [Snells] AND Netter's Atlas of Anatomy/ Grant's Atlas of Anatomy.

Grants' Atlas has got helpful tables/notations at the bottom of each page, whereas Netter's provides very very detailed illustrations of the human body. My personal preference is Grant's. But you decide - you want a very complete atlas (Netter's is like a map of Malaysia with every single kampung and jalan kecil listed in it, whereas Grant's gives you all the important anatomy without bogging you with the tiniest details, and Grant's will prove to be useful for card-signing too]
For JC3 - you will need Snell's Neuroanatomy and Monkhouse's Cranial Nerves.

b) Physiology - the recommended combination is:
- Guyton + Linda Costanzo's Textbook of Physiology
- Guyton + Sherwood
- Guyton + Berne-Levy's Textbook of Physiology
My recommendation is either one of the first two listed above.
And on top of that, get a quick revision book for physiology - 'Physiology' from the BRS series written by Linda Costanzo is the best option

c) Biochemistry - the first-and-best text for all beginners is the Lippincott Illustated Series Biochemistry book, by Harvey. Master this text and you will do very well for the exams. It makes your lecture notes simpler to understand. So, my advise is read this alongside your lecture notes. The second book is Harper's Biochemistry - but read this if you have the time for it.

d) Pharmacology - Rang-Dale's Pharmacology is still the best book by far. And, for pharmacology, try to get a revision book - 'Pharmacology' from the Deja Review series is one of the best. Try to avoid thick books for pharmacology because the thick books tend to be littered with plenty of ambiguity and 'still-under-research' stuff whereas your exams require you to answer based on current knowledge. So, Rang is still the best.

e) Histology - Use the Histology Module on Moodle - all the pictures there WILL be tested in the exam - and everything that will be tested in the Histology exam during your summatives will be taken only from this site. Although Histology tends to be neglected among PU-RCSI students, PLEASE DO NOT neglect this subject because it is one of the cornerstones of understanding Pathology in Intermediate Cycle 1. You must be able to recognise the cell types in a given tissue - there should be no blind reliance on the lab technician to tell you what it is, given that we all know how hospitals are like here. You must make it a point to study histology over the weekends - it doesn't take long since there are many pictures with labels. And, the Histology Module on Moodle is just the bare minimum - you can use it to pass the exams but that doesn't mean you are ready for the real stuff in IC1 onwards - so, although nobody will tell you this, I'm telling you to get yourself a Textbook of Histology [preferably by Junquiera] and study it alongside the Histology Module on Moodle. Recognition of tissues and cells without doubt is the main outcome of studying histology.

f) Embryology - everyone says they hate it - but if you think of it, it is actually one of the cornerstones of medicine. You need to know it to understand the various abnormalities you will encounter in the hospital. Everyone will tell you that they leave it till the last minute - but it really is a waste to ignore such a precious subject. The recommended text is Langman's embryology [the other text, if you like, is Keith Moore's The Developing Human]. Studying embryology using just the book can be really horrible, so make full use of the video links on Moodle - these links are often ignored by PURCSI students but the truth is, they make embryology SO EASY to understand. Also, Youtube has many fantastic simple-to-study videos for embryology. And there are plenty of sites that provide even better-and-simpler explanations/diagrams than the mainstream texts.

g) Clinical Medicine - Over the course of your studies, you will encounter the mention of a few diseases, for example, myasthenia gravis in NM, and phenylketonuria in CPB. To be able to understand, and not memorize, it would be great to know more about the disease, right? So, a book on clinical medicine would be of great use to you. The best text for Junior Cycle students is Kumar and Clark's Clinical Medicine.

g) Pathophysiology - This is an option which I still strongly recommend. To understand how abnormal physiology leads on to disease states, use Porth's Pathophysiology.

Lastly, if you have any questions that cannot seem to be quickly resolved by looking through your books, DO NOT HESITATE TO GOOGLE.

For example, if you are finding some parts of anatomy to be rather tedious, and the explanation in the book isn't helping, GOOGLE or GOOGLE IMAGE it. The images on Google are often more interesting, colorful, better labelled, or even better-angled than some of the textbook drawings. So, be flexible - Googling is not a sin. And referring to Wikipedia is encouraged if you need a rough answer in a short time.

For pharmacology, sometimes the side-effects of a drug can be difficult to understand - GOOGLE for the answer.

For physiology, there are also fantastic sites to aid in learning your physiology - for example, you can use cvphysiology.com for cardiovascular physiology. In other words, if the Internet helps you find answers fast and accurately, why not use it alongside your books? :)

I hope this helps. For your anatomy lab sessions, remember to find the answers to the questions in the lab book the night before the lab session - it will make anatomy learning VERY interesting and you get to ask the anatomist deeper questions instead of trying to run after every word he's rattling about. Preparation reduces stress. Sleep late if you need to.

In short, yes, it looks like a costly bomb now, but they will be of valuable help in your studies. Studying without books is like sailing the oceans without a map.

If you have any more queries, don't hesitate to ask - and yes, at the middle/end of ANY lecture, if you got questions, STOP the lecturer and ASK. No need to be shy. The lecturers appreciate that somebody is actually asking or else nobody is going to talk to them.

PS: 
A medical dictionary is a good investment. The choices are Dorland's Illustrated Medical Dictionary - the full sized version. But I do not expect you to carry it with you to college daily since it is quite a huge volume. Home use only. But if you can get the App version (ask a tech-savvy friend), you may do so. The other option is the Oxford Medical Dictionary.

For those wondering about the Health, Behaviour and Society module, the lecture notes should suffice. And if you interested in reading further, Google. The book that is recommended for this module (photocopy it - the original is costly) is Psychology and Sociology Applied to Medicine (Illustrated Colour Text series).

Good day!

Monday, September 8, 2014

The Med School Report - Day 714

I can't believe the past two years have flown by just like that. Today, I step into the world of Intermediate Cycle 2.

And I can only gasp in awe and wonder as the action-packed week unfolds before my eyes - days of back-to-back lectures, of epic topics compressed into the space of a few hours, of yet another hectic race against time. I can feel the hot and invigorating flow of adrenaline course right through my veins as I behold the rich tapestry of Tropical Medicine reveal itself before my naive eyes.

Yeap. IC2 is going to be about lots of topics crammed into 12 weeks. But I know I can do this if I trust in the Lord and His providence.

IC2 - Day One may have been a tad tiring - but I'm still going to take you by storm nonetheless.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Confessions of a Workaholic - Long Drives

It's been a hectic day - standing by the roadside playing I-spy for the sake of the observational study - can be quite tiring especially when we have to stand under the afternoon sun for up to 3 or 4 hours.

And then when you arrive home, you need to key-in all that data - up to 1800 cars per day - and Excel can sometimes be a pain in the arse. And on top of that, complete the daily log and write a short report for each day.

Learn how to use SPSS, read up for the Physiology quiz - I think my physiology seems to have rusted quite a little (and so the need to go through Guyton - again)

And then there are the articles I need to complete by the end of this month for the July 2014 issue of The PEN - about 4 in total.

My table is starting to look like: A scientist looks up gloomily from a mountain of paperwork

Yeap, but without the coffee mug. I am kicking the coffee habit for the next 3 months - until my new semester begins in September.Till then, I don't wanna smell even a whiff of Nescafe!

So, yeap, my day begins early - at around 5 am - because I need to finish keying-in data for the previous day, and then quickly browse through Google Maps to check out the perfect locations to plant ourselves for the observational study.

And then go for a quick jog.

Then it's the observational study from as early as 8 in the morning right up till 5 or 6 in the evening; and then the day's not over yet because we need to transfer all our 'I-spy intelligence' to Excel. This can take up to 3 hours to key-in and double check 1800 cars and 500 over motorcycles on average per day. We need to reach up to 10,000 vehicles and above in order for the study to be significant.

And the fact that the Klang Valley is about to experience a severe haze is not helping.

At around 9 at night, it is time to begin drafting the research paper - reading up various articles on accident rates, careless drivers, lack of awareness in the usage of restraints and etc. Interesting to note that for a small nation like Malaysia - we have one of the highest mortality rates due to RTAs in the world. I am not surprised, given that nearly half of all the cars I observed weren't wearing their seat belts - and there was a sizeable portion of vehicles which had 'back-seat parties' comprising of unbelted kids dancing to their boom-box unaware of the danger they've placed themselves in.

By 11, I'm already feeling so dead tired - but then again, I need to stay up in case my beloved calls to discuss some matters pertaining to studies. And this can last till late at night. But I don't mind because my beloved is dear to me!

Then, I try to write a few paragraphs for the articles per day - and catch up on my reading because these articles ain't flossy - they're based on papers and all that, so, again reading and more reading.

So, my day ends at (give or take) 2 in the morning, And then sometimes I can't sleep - so I go for a drive. At night - yeap - but it's fun because you get to own the entire road. And I'll just sit by the lake and talk to my beloved. My beloved listens to me, even when I decide to 'call-up' at such an ungodly hour.

But overall, this has got to be one of the most solid summer breaks in my life ever!

Transmission ends.

Signing out.