Wednesday, November 30, 2011

5 More Days.

So yesterday it finally set in...the sense of impending doom - exam is just around the corner. It has been a very tough revision period. It was particularly hard to muster up some motivation as it is quite weird to have an exam so soon (as I just had an exam in May). I think I'm still recovering from May's exam - it was brutal/traumatizing. Horrible experience.

I've spent about 6 weeks revising now, and I feel like I haven't really learned anything, which is an unsettling feeling. Worst bit is that no matter how much I study/revise, I am not going to know everything. That's the thing with Medicine, it's just a bottomless pit of knowledge. Give me another month, I'd still find something to study. Went to look at specimen papers earlier today - had a semi-realization. No book will teach you how to pass a clinical year exam. It seriously is common sense. I mean I went through a whole paper and I was like "...nothing I've studied has been asked." Then I realized clinical questions is the application of knowledge. Take the basics and apply it to the question. No book will teach you how to diagnose. It is a matter of taking what you know and putting it together to form an a puzzle. After 2 years of medical sciences, you forget that Medicine isn't about 2+2 = 4. It's more abstract and requires critical thinking and pattern recognition. And then I kept flipping through the specimen and seriously some of the questions they ask really deserves a fat: "What...?" And then you look up the answer in a textbook and find the answer in tiny fonts as a footnote at the bottom of a page. Seriously think some questions are put into exams just so it's impossible to get 100%. If anyone ever gets 100% in our exams I will personally go to them and bow to them. Then again I forgot how disliked my year is in the medical school so I'm pretty sure there will be questions on the exam where you just want to pick up the paper and throw it at someone.

Anyways...looking forward to end of exams and at the same time I am scared out of my mind for this year's exam. Ugh. ALMOST THERE!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Practice Makes Perfect.

I was signed off from placement on Monday so I haven't been doing anything particularly interesting other than revising for exams. Met up with a friend on Thursday to do some physical examination practice on patients at the hospital. As you may recall in my first attachment back in the summer (doesn't seem that long ago...time flies) I was drilling Cardio an Respiratory Examinations. Well exams are in 2.5 weeks so I got to get drilling on the rest of the examinations.

So we went and practised Abdominal, Shoulder, and Knee exams. Got that down pretty quickly. Never really had trouble with those examinations to be honest. Then we practised Cranial Nerves, peripheral neuro, and hand examinations. We did these with each other as these exams have quite a lot of steps. Before practising, I was hopeless at Cranial Nerve exams. I was not slick at all and obviously needed some serious practice. After a few attempts, I have finally gotten it down and was starting to get slicker at it. Did the same with the other examinations and I could definitely see an improvement. I was starting to feel much more confident with my examination skills and a bit more confident for my OSCE exam. Have arranged another physical examination practice session for Monday so hopefully I'll continue to improve and get better at these things.

Today I finally reached the last system to revise (Gastrointestinal). It surely doesn't feel like the last unit as my binder is still full of notes and it just doesn't seem real that exams are so soon. It's really weird. Most of my friends and I agree that exams don't seem near and the panic still hasn't set in. Generally been feeling quite unmotivated so I constantly have to remind myself how close exams are which results in mini panic attacks/a kick up the ass. I guess it kind of works as I've been revising furiously for these last few days and really pushing to get ahead of my revision schedule to give myself an extra half week of revision for anything I'm unsure of. At the moment I have scheduled in 1 extra week prior to exams for random revision/going over sample questions. Hopefully if I work hard enough I can make it 1.5 weeks of extra revision time to actually properly learn Microbiology. I swear Microbiology is my new nemesis. It used to be histology, but because we don't do that as much anymore...Microbiology has quickly taken Histology's crown of being my nemesis. There are so many things to remember! And all the stains for the different bacteria. Mental.

Pharmacology comes close behind. Drug treatments for Cardiovascular disease and respiratory are fairly straight forward. The minute you get to Dermatology...oh wow. You start feeling like a walking BNF (British National Formulary - it is a book of drugs)...but more like a BNF written with fading ink. Put some new drugs into my brain...the old drugs fall out. Dermatology...endless amount of drugs. So many names as well! Half of them I can't really spell! I can picture myself writing drug names in my exam and writing the first few-ish letters and then squiggling the rest and making sure it looks like the drug I'm thinking of. Thank goodness spelling doesn't count in our exams! As long as the word is recognizable they will take it.

My Oxford Handbook of Clinical Medicine is also finally getting beat up. It had been in mint condition for 2 years and FINALLY it is getting used...and I am seriously using it to death. Also random note - think I might be getting tennis elbow as my desk isn't great to write on as it is fairly deep. That means my elbow is constantly resting on the hard surface and sometimes I can feel my hand go tingly and numb. Also my elbow is sore from resting on the hard surface. The things you sacrifice for exams. Sacrifice sleep, good food (yay for quick microwave food), social life, going out, sanity, blah blah blah, and now sacrificing joints! Prospective future for my body. YES!

I hate revision. I miss lounging around and being lazy.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Exam Preparation.

To be honest...I haven't really done anything in placement, hence, the lack of updates. As you probably noticed from previous posts, my exams are coming up which involves 2 written papers and 1 OSCE. It's my first year of taking OSCE and doing more clinical based papers, so I'm quite nervous as I don't know what to expect. Yesterday, I finally got an idea what the OSCE will be like though as the school held a mock OSCE session for the students.

Essentially, our OSCE will be 6 stations of patient histories, and 6 stations of physical examinations. Each station will be7-8 minutes long. Before going into the mock, I had an impression that it will be really difficult. To my delight, the mock turned out a lot easier than I thought. Obviously could have done better as I didn't study for it (haven't had time to) or really practice for it. All in all, it wasn't too bad. I do have to work on making my examinations more slick and quicker as I take too long examining the peripheries. For example in Cardiovascular examination, I spend too much time looking at the hands and face. I think I need to just quickly glance over the hands and really just scan it instead of really looking at every single detail. Obviously the most important part of the exam is to examine the chest and I felt that I spent less time on the chest than the peripheries. Again, I think this is down to practising more.

It was really nice getting feedback from people on how I did in the mock OSCE and I now know what to focus on. Prior to the mock, I wasn't too sure what I needed to work on so I will be making a trip to the hospital tomorrow with one goal in mind: get slick at examinations. It should be good and I'm quite determined to get this down as the OSCE is worth 70% of our mark. In terms of history taking, it has always been my "strong point" as I do enjoy talking and I feel that I have a really good logical system of asking questions. In a patient history you would ask Presenting Complaint, History of Presenting Complaint, Drug History, Family History, Social History. Once I get that in my head, I find that asking questions and getting info from the patients quite easy. During mock, I was also helping out and was a patient for a station. Some people don't have a system at all and you can tell as their questions are all over the place. It's nice to see the level of history taking other students are at as it gives me a good idea of how much I need to work on my history taking skills.

Other than that.....3.5 weeks until exams. Eep.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Late Again!

I left my flat really early today to make sure I would show up on time to meet my new consultant. Obviously turning up on time is going to be my new enemy for this placement. Despite leaving my flat much earlier, I still ended up being 5 minutes late and the new consultant started his ward round right at 9am. I can't wait until the roads are reopened so I don't have to deal with the nightmare traffic I had to endure for these 2 days. However, I was quite lucky as this new consultant is really nice. He assumed I was late because I had some teaching earlier and was running a bit late. He greeted me and introduced himself and made sure I felt part of the team. It was definitely a nice thing for him to do and I do admit I felt bad for being late.

Anyways saw a new patient today who was moved from another ward. Found myself sympathizing with this patient as he had a metastatic tumour in his brain. He had undergone chemotherapy and radiotherapy, but is now placed for palliative care as it is an advanced tumour. Met the family today and you see the family trying to be strong and keep their chin up, but in the end the wife broke down. Felt quite useless as a student as no matter what you say - it isn't going to change the situation.

What confuses me the most about this placement is that I am placed in Endocrinology but majority of the patients don't have an endocrine related illness. Most of the patients I've seen have chest infections/pneumonia. It's quite weird. I only saw 1 patient today who had an endocrine related illness (Cushing's). I guess endocrinology is quite flexible? Will definitely have to ask one of the SHOs or FY1/2 doctors about this.