Saturday, October 08, 2011

Family is important

Even though I am so far away from my family as I study, they are always at the front of my mind, especially since our family (extended & hippie family included) is a walking medical school textbook. You want it? We got it. Cancers (lung, tongue, skin, and more), emphysema, cystic fibrosis, diabetes mellitus, addiction, obesity, OCD, bipolar, depression, sudden cardiac death, cardiac bypass surgery, childhood meningitis, broken bones, pinned bones, full joint replacements, carpal tunnel, ganglion cysts (in the wrist), hepatitis, suicide, alcoholism, drug addition, twins, normal births, emergent c-section births, hysterectomy, endometriosis, vasectomy, and more.

It seems like the majority of what I read in my pathology textbook, I can in some way personally relate to a family member. This makes it easier to remember a lot of things, but it also makes the often times boring textbook come alive. Thank you to my immediate, extended, and hippie family, those living and gone, for helping me in med school. Without you, this would be much harder.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Exam eve

Pathology is our BIG class this year, or at least the biggest one so far, and we have our Block 2 exam tomorrow. Over the past 3 weeks, I have read, re-read, studied, and done as many questions as I can stomach. I have reviewed cellular pathways, diseases, morphology, and more. I think I am as ready as I can be...and it's 8pm on Sunday night.

Time for a glass of wine and a TV show!

Monday, September 05, 2011

Another one bites the dust

Another exam out of the way.... again. Biochemistry has come back to bite me in the ass too many times. From the NBME scandal of old exams being passed around to rescheduling of the Final exam two, no, three3 times, I cannot wait to be done and finished with this department. As soon as my grades are submitted (proof that it's finally over) I will be writing a very detailed and honest letter to the dean describing everything this department has subjected us to this year. What makes it worse is that I like biochemistry and this department has made be grow to dread it. But (hopefully) it's all over with. I passed with a good mark and feel great about it.

The week before the biochemistry exam, we had our first pathology exam. While I am not in love with everyone in this department (there will always be a couple of crap TAs) I am in love with the 82-year old professor who is a total hard ass. I love being held accountable for the material. I love being scared into being prepared for class. I love that I rocked that exam. The best part is that because I passed both exams, I have no retakes this week. That makes me one of the few double hitters in the class.

On to the next one...

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Pathology quotes

‎"Regrettably, neither life nor terminology of neoplasms is simple..." -Robbins pathology

‎"...perhaps it is irrational to expect humans to be rational." --Robbins pathology

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Quotable Profs

From the pathology professor as told to a student: "I hope that someday you will be very rich. That way you can buy a big car to fill with medical textbooks to take with you wherever you go because THERE IS NOTHING IN YOUR HEAD."
 Sometimes I do really love Poland. :)

Monday, August 15, 2011

Time to get back to the books

My parents in Kraków
My parents leave this morning, heading back to the states to resume their own adventures. The 2 months they've been here have been amazing. It has easily been the best summer in years. Even though they were here long enough, and in close enough proximity, to be annoying at times, I wouldn't trade this summer for anything. It'd been two years since I'd seen them and (in my opinion) two months wasn't enough.

But now, as they are about to board the plane, I have to shift my frame of mind and return to my studies. Pathology has its first exam a week from today, biochemistry after that, pathophysiology somewhere in between and then we're in full force in 2nd year. This year is going to be potentially the biggest challenge of my life and I have to get started. Vacation ends today.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Welcome Back!

I had wanted to write a post about how great my vacation was and how relaxed I feel after spending three weeks traveling around Europe, but this is not that post. All of that seems to have disappeared in a matter of hours. Not only did I have an 8am class on the first day back from vacation, but I got to spend over two hours running around the school trying to get some information about upcoming classes (as in tomorrow!) and exams with no success AND I get an email announcing that the school has lost its US Direct Loan funding:


Poznań, July 29, 2011

Dear students,

This letter is to inform you that on July 20, 2011 the University received a letter from the US Department of Education which states that Poznan University of Medical Education lost its eligibility to participate in the Direct Loan Programs.
The reason for loss of Title IV, HEA Program eligibility is the fact that PUMS did not meet the 75% pass rate threshold for USMLE exams (Step 1 and Step 2) taken by PUMS students. The current pass rate for PUMS indicated by DOE is 74.5%.
The loss of eligibility is effective September 30, 2010, however, the University was informed about the decision no earlier than on July 20, 2011.
According to the decision, the incoming students will not be able to participate in Direct Loan Programs. As for the current students, PUMS may award and distribute Direct Loans and process loans deferments for one more academic year 2011/2012 which will enable the University to take appropriate measures.
Currently, the University is taking its right to appeal against the decision of US Department of Education. Our appeal will be considered by DOE after August 8, 2011.
We would like to assure you that the University is taking all possible steps and measures to continue its eligibility to participate in the student financial assistance programs offered by DOE. Together with our admission offices, we are also looking for alternative loan options for you.  
We will keep you updated in this matter and inform you about our progress in reinstating participation in Direct Loan Programs.

Prof. Grzegorz Oszkinis, MD, PhD

Center for Medical Education in English

You know, medical school is supposed to be hard enough on its own without having to worry about whether or not I'll be able to eat or pay for school. At least we're set for this year, but that still doesn't leave any of us in a great place for next year. I can only hope and pray that the appeal goes through and that this year's USMLE scores are higher. I don't know if I can handle moving and starting this shit over again.

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Summer: Now or Never!

My summer this year is short, only  weeks, but I'm  making the most of it. My parents are here in Poland for the duration and we're partying like it's 1984! We've seen much of Poznań already. Last week we were up in Trójmiasto for the Open'er festival and a leisurely week in Sopot/Gdańsk--my old stomping ground. We also held Parent Summit 2011--the first meeting of the parents--and all of it went great.

We're back in Poznań for a few more days now, taking care of business (mostly school and laundry). P's mom is coming down for the weekend to see our Poznań place. Then on Monday, the 'rents and I are starting our epic trip with 4 days in Kraków. P will meet us in Zakopane and then we'll drive together to Budapest. Four days later we descend to Zagreb, Croatia, and begin the beachy part of the trip. We'll have about a week to explore and explore we will. We only have reservations until Budapest so far and we're going to wing it the rest of the way!

The real challenge is going to be trying to study while on this amazing journey. The reality is that we will get back Sunday night and I have an 8am class Monday morning. This year, there is no ramping up to a full schedule--we start with it on day 1. Should be fun!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

The last of the first

I finished my biochemistry exam a little before 11:30am this morning and it was the last exam of the first year of medical school. Time to sleep, celebrate, and then sleep.

Sunday, June 05, 2011

Physiology Exam

Yesterday I finished my board exam for physiology. Many of the questions give little clinical vignettes about a patient and then ask a (sometimes) related question. Some of the more memorable patients presented included a college age man who had just eaten 100 bananas (he was trying to break the world record) and a 16-year old girl who was 18-weeks pregnant, drinks 2 beers a week, and just started running on her high school track team and was wondering why she was so tired. After the test, several of my classmates and I laughed about some of these characters and their presentations. The best part is that these patients are not in any way abnormal or exaggerations, in fact these cases are mild compared to what I've seen in real life in the emergency room.

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Exam season begins

This week starts off our crazy 6-week long exam period beginning with our neruoscience midterm. Most of our exams, the National Board Medical Examiner exams anyway, are on Saturdays--4 of the next 6. Let the studying commence!

(I'm sure I'll be posting more here during this time as a form of procrastination. Stay tuned.)

Thursday, April 07, 2011


In our genetic counseling seminar yesterday we were discussing the clinical tests used to diagnose Marfan syndrome. The picture shows positive results for the two most common tests: the thumb and wrist signs. In class, the doctor asked us if anyone had a positive thumb sign. Everyone holds up their fists and there are only two of us with positive signs. She then explains the wrist test--not just wrapping your fingers around your wrist, but to be able to touch or overlap your index finger with your little finger--and asks again. Again, I test positive (very positive) and get to show the class. At this point the entire class is convinced that I have Marfan syndrome, especially "since you're so tall." They all had concerned looks on their faces.

It seems as if the self and group diagnosing part of medical school has begun! The funniest part for me is that I'd already talked to my doctor about Marfan years ago and despite the positive clinical signs, I'm fine. Though, it is entertaining to show off for the class all my crazy tricks. I think I'll save my leg hyperextension for another class.

Monday, April 04, 2011

Only the best

We had a guest lecturer in Microbiology today, a well-dressed man who spoke impeccable English. He's a pediatric infectious disease specialist and gave great information regarding viruses and their clinical presentations. After class, as he was headed out the door, I asked him if I could perhaps shadow him in his work or volunteer in his department. He said of course and handed me his business card, making sure to write his personal cell number on it. I didn't look at the card until after he was gone...he's the Rector of the University (Stateside, that would be the equivalent to the President of the school). Of course, I unknowingly ask the #1 person in the school to ask to shadow. Only the best for me!

Friday, January 14, 2011

As some of you know, I usually knit during class, but this fall in my free time I tried my hand at crocheting. I had a specific request from a friend for a Hobbes doll and just couldn't figure out how to knit one. Four and a half months later, this guy finally arrived on their front porch.
Hobbes Doll. Photo credit Cameron Booth.
I created the whole thing by myself consulting a few arigurumi patterns for body building and of course the comic strips for style.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Thought I forgot about you?

Ok, to be fair, maybe I did...for a little while. I had such an amazing holiday break that words don't do it justice. P & I were back in Canada at his mom's house surrounded by family, friends, and the warmest generosity. We made it back to Poland and have adjusted back into our routine with only a few New Year resolution-style changes.

We are both choosing to eat better and are adjusting some habits in our lives for the better as well. So far I've been impressed with both of our efforts and I think we may just be able to keep this up. Hopefully by the end of the month we'll have a gym membership, so we'll be able to add some exercise in the mix.

School will begin to ramp up soon as all my "exempt" classes come to an end. I am trying to build better study habits now before things go full swing and so far so good. By February, anatomy will end & we have the NBME exam, microbiology will be in high gear, parasitology will be moving as well as biochemistry and physiology. Throw in some genetics lectures and classes and the beginning of neuroscience and now we're talking. I am excited for this and am looking forward to having to work!