Weeks 41 & 42: Count Back From Ten

At last, Thanksgiving break is near, and I cannot wait for the extra time off to relax and to try my best to catch up with the seemingly endless load of work that I must complete prior to the end of this semester. It’s amazing how little time remains in this semester (three more weeks!), and how many more exams I must get through before I truly experience a month of freedom. But, before I get too caught up in what’s to come in my near future, let’s look back at the events of the last couple of weeks…

One of the highlights of the past two weeks was the long-awaited approval of my research group’s thesis concept. The presentation of the thesis topic went very smoothly and the first four chapters of our thesis paper require only minimal editing before we ultimately sign an agreement with one of our professors who will mentor us throughout the remainder of the program and help us conduct the study that we have designed. I know I keep promising details on the thesis, but I will write a whole post about it soon enough. In Pharmacology, we switched focus to drugs used for procedural sedation and anesthesia. With these drugs, it’s extremely important to know their dosing regimens (based on patient’s weight), in addition to the speed at which the drugs begin working and how long they last. You never want a patient to awaken from sedation before a procedure is complete…that would be a very bad thing. Some drugs act within seconds. Before a patient reaches the number nine, after he or she begins counting back from ten and the drug has been infused, he or she has already drifted to sleep. We also learned how to calculate the necessary volume of IV fluids to administer to a severely dehydrated pediatric patient, when he or she presents to the emergency department (also based on weight). Unfortunately, we are expected to perform these calculations in our heads, without a calculator, so I’ll undoubtedly be practicing a lot before our Pharmacology final. In Surgery, we completed our Orthopedics midterm, which was thankfully much easier than the General Surgery midterm and final. I definitely needed that confidence booster. The Orthopedics midterm focused on the diagnosis and treatment of upper limb (arm and hand) fractures, and so the final will focus on fractures of the spine, pelvis, and lower limb (leg and foot). In Clinical Skills, we have been learning how to perform comprehensive physicals on specific populations of patients, like older patients and pediatric patients. It’s very different performing physicals on infants (the class demonstrations have been on dolls); everything is obviously much smaller and the patient is extremely delicate.

The specialty courses have all continued as well. We ended Psychiatry by focusing on the diagnosis and treatment of substance abuse disorders (alcoholism/drug abuse) in addition to childhood psychiatric disorders (depression, anorexia, bulimia…etc.). I took this Psychiatry final on Thursday and checked yet another specialty off my list. In Gynecology, we have been focusing on abnormalities of menstruation (painful, frequent, absent…etc.) in addition to gynecologic surgical procedures and imaging. We haven’t had Neurology for a couple of weeks, but we continue with this specialty next week. Yesterday, we began our final specialty of the semester, Rheumatology (study of joint disorders). Since we only have two weeks of Rheumatology, each class is six hours long, to compensate (usually each specialty is spread out over four weeks). So, needless to say, we learned a lot of Rheumatology yesterday, including the diagnosis and treatment of osteoarthritis, osteoporosis, gout/pseudogout, rheumatoid arthritis, and fibromyalgia. As I said a few paragraphs back, luckily I have time over Thanksgiving break to catch up with all of this!

I would offer a glimpse at what the last three weeks of my semester look like, but I’d rather not think about it myself. Let’s just say I have 13 more exams (including another standardized patient lab, a couple of papers, and quizzes that I know of) to get through between now and December 19th. It’ll be an extremely bumpy ride to the finish line, but I’m way to close to give up now.

Question of the week: True or false: Alcohol is a stimulant.

Last week’s answers: The most frequently fractured bone of the human body is the clavicle (collar bone).

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