Thursday, April 15, 2010

Social Networking and Medicine: or, How Not to Be an Idiot

Today we had a lecture about social networking websites and the use of them by medical professionals.

It amazes me how little common sense some people have about these sites. There's always a lot of discussion about privacy settings, and how to make sure your site represents you in a positive, professional light. I could have explained how to do that in thirty seconds:

"Behave with integrity and don't do things you aren't proud of."

One student suggested that it was a problem that you couldn't take down photographs of yourself that other people post. I tend to agree with him that the site should allow that, but the thing that he seemed not to realize was that if you don't do stupid things in the first place, no one will have embarrassing pictures to post.

It seems like this is being presented to our generation as a huge challenge that we must overcome, to avoid being negatively portrayed online due to loss of the privacy that previous generations have enjoyed. It isn't about privacy - it's not about how "not to get caught" doing inappropriate things. It's about the fact that we cannot expect to reliably hide indiscretions, unprofessional or illegal behavior anymore. Everything we do might be photographed or videotaped by someone walking by with an iPhone, posted on the internet within seconds, and forever out of our control. The thing that people don't seem to realize is that what shows up on the internet about you is absolutely within your control - because you control what you say and what you do.

I don't want a doctor who has the "sense" to not post on the internet that he or she thinks I'm stupid and disgusting and slovenly. I want a doctor who doesn't think it in the first place. I don't want to trust someone with my health who drinks irresponsibly, or thinks its funny to laugh about people because of their weight, or race, or sexual orientation - regardless of whether I know about it or not.

The internet hasn't made people do these things, or think this way - it's just made it much more difficult to lie about it successfully. Frankly, I think that's a good thing.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

The Coffee Diet Makes You Old

So I am a coffee drinker.

I don't really mean, I drink coffee occasionally - or that I'll accept a cup of coffee with dessert at your dinner party. I mean, when I arrive at the ISP lounge in the morning, I start the coffee pot first thing, make a whole pot so I can share with my friends, and then drink the whole damn pot because my friends are mostly Mormons who don't drink coffee, and I am a Midwesterner born and bred and can't abide wasting food. Aren't I sweet?

Anyway, I've noticed over the last year or so that although I've yet to see the dark side of 25, I have wrinkles. Actually fine lines, but as someone who has yet to buy a car or work a full time job, I think we can stop quibbling about the details. They're wrinkles. In my forehead.

I bought some wrinkle cream, which made me feel like I was a lot older than I actually am. People my age across America are doing beer pong and tanning, and I am drinking countless cups of coffee and abhoring the time I spent in the sun in my youth. Which isn't much, because my dad is a redheaded Scots-English man, and my mother is as fair as I am (though since I'm on the subject of Mom, everyone I know says she looks very young for her age, as does Grandma, so thanks for the genes, sorry I am trashing my share with coffee).

I'm convinced it is the coffee, because otherwise I'm healthy! I do yoga every week, and pilates about every other - I don't drink soda, because we don't keep it in the house. We eat meat-free on Fridays, and I drink plenty of water and eat things that have fiber. I wear SPF 50 because while freckles are attractive, sunburn is not. I'm doing all those good things that people say to do, and I still have wrinkles. It couldn't be anything else, right? I mean, I don't even go out into the sun - I sit inside, all day, with my laptop and textbooks, and study.

Oh, wait.

Maybe it's med school.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Not Even Midnight...

and I'm done studying. So there.

I've been studying digestive/GI pathophysiology for the last week or so. It's interesting physiology, but I've decided there are two kinds of gastroenterologist - the kind who make it all about the hormones and nutrient absorption and pH gradients, and the kind who make it all about the poop. My instructor is a poop guy.

It was when I was eating beanie-weenie (a classic Dad recipe I'm sure you all know and love) and looking at pictures of stool that I realized I had reached an all-time low. It isn't that it's so bad, really - it's that it doesn't really bother me that much that is a visceral (ha, ha) reminder that my world has shifted pretty dramatically in the past year or so. I'm one of those people, now - the ones who make inappropriate dinner table conversation. You know the kind.

At any rate, now I'm done! and can move on to renal.

And let the cat out of the basement, where he's been for at least an hour because he will. not. stop. scratching. our kitchen cabinets. And the dishwasher. Somehow I don't think he'd much like what he finds in there, though I've been tempted to let him in and close the door for a few minutes as an object lesson. I've been good, though - so far it's just the basement.

We used to use the laser pointer to distract him and wear him out - we bought it over the holiday back in Missouri. This evening, though, I was playing with him, and he started looking doubtfully at the dot - and then speculatively at the little plastic cat with the shiny red nose. Back at the dot - back at the plastic cat. Then he reached up one paw, and batted - you guessed it - the plastic cat. He's got us figured out, all right.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Because I'm Technologically Astute

I just figured out how to change the profile associated with this blog to the email address I actually use now. Hopefully that will simplify my life a little. It may also lead to some new people finding this blog - hello, everyone! I hope that all my previous posts are fit for present company.

Anatomy is going well so far - it's really encouraging to see how well the first year students have been doing. It's kind of hilarious, because most of them seem to think I know everything, because I'm a TA - yeah... I don't, actually. But I have gotten really good at knowing how to look stuff up, so if you want help with that, I'm your girl. I'm sticking to my guns so far about not telling anyone what a structure is if I'm not sure I'm right - makes me look kind of stupid sometimes, but I'd rather look dumb than tell someone the wrong thing. If someone asks me, and believes me, "because I'm the TA," and I'm wrong, then that's unfair - so I'm taking one for you all, M1's, and you're welcome.

Studying CNS pathophysiology right now - basically seizures, headaches, strokes, etc. It's pretty interesting - the module is a little confusing, so I'm highlighting all the parts that don't make sense so I can tell the module author. Apparently, "You left out a bunch of words and phrased things in a really confusing way," isn't all that helpful when they're trying to revise. Who knew?

House is a mess... I need to clean, but don't really want to, so I'm not. The worst part is it would probably take about fifteen minutes to make things presentable. Oh, well.

On an entirely different topic - Eoin is the best cat ever. Know why? He doesn't mind baths, for one; he rides in the car well, for another - but the absolute best thing? If he feels sick, he meows (you all know the "cat about to throw up, meow, I'm sure), waits for someone to come see what's wrong, and then runs downstairs to throw up on the concrete basement floor - after showing you just where he's going to go, so you can clean it up right away. Fantastic. I may never get another cat - I couldn't top this one.

According to our neighbor (across the street), our next-door neighbors with the barking dogs and the tabby cat don't ever feed their animals. Now, I don't know how true that is - the cat's old, and old cats get kind of bony - and the dogs certainly look well fed. But I wonder. We'll keep an eye out. Another neighbor said her cat has feline leukemia, so I think we're going to keep Eoin in till he's got his vaccination in the next month or so. We only take him out on the leash, and don't let him approach other cats, but better safe than sorry. Everyone thinks that the neighbor tabby is the disease-spreading culprit - poor kitty. Unfortunately, poor kitty likes to spend time in our yard, so we want to be sure Eoin stays away from her and anything she might leave in the yard.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009


I generally try to be a nice person. I try to give people the benefit of the doubt. That said, I'm having a very difficult time with one of the other women in my program.

She's a sweet person, who tries really hard to be helpful. That said - she is incredibly distracting, irritating, and often says things that make life more difficult instead of less.

This person comes into the lounge nearly every day, and chats with the people who are trying to study there. Now, I don't know about you, but I usually assume that when a person is typing away on a computer, or discussing an assignment with another person, or smiles at me and then immediately returns to what they were doing when I arrived, that that person is busy and doesn't want to visit. This woman doesn't. She continues to talk, is oblivious to cues that are meant to indicate the end of a conversation, and often speaks to us condescendingly about the things we are trying to learn (she's a year ahead of the rest of us, and already on the wards). Or she tells us that the material we are studying is wrong, and that "the attendings say that..." - which is fine, but not really helpful - if we miss an exam question, "So-and-so said the attendings say..." is not a valid reason. I appreciate that she's trying to help, and she's probably coming in because she wants to socialize a little and relax. That's fine - but we are not taking a lunch break, we're studying, and we don't have the time to facilitate her down time.

It's aggravating to say, "Have a nice day," as she leaves, and then realize that your polite nothing has invited her to stop and lecture you for ten minutes on what she's going back to the hospital to do. She can't go out the door without stopping to talk at least three times.

The thing is, she is basically nice, and very friendly - but she has often wasted an hour of my time this way. I guess I should stop trying to be nice and just walk away and study elsewhere - but why should I have to? Our lounge is for relaxation and studying, mainly by the first and second year students in our program - if I'm using the lounge as it was intended, why should I have to leave because someone else is being disruptive?

Oh, well. Not really looking for a solution - I could be blunt and tell her I need to study, or leave the room. I know what my options are, I just feel mean for doing either, and kind of resent her for putting me in a situation where I have to be rude to her or not get my work done.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Memorization in Half-Lives

No, I don't mean that I spend half my life memorizing... although, this past week, I have. Jeez - I could have done without that realization. At any rate, I've noticed that I can memorize about half of any given set of information on one pass. So, for example, I had a drug list of 500 to learn for my pharm exam - the first time through the list, I got 300 right. Out of that 300, I got 180 the next time; and out of the 120 left, 50.

So what this makes me think is that I should start studying much bigger chunks of information, so as to learn more, faster. Flawed logic? Probably. But I kind of feel like a genius for coming up with it.

Pharmacology is kind of an interesting subject to study. It's a huge amount of information, and you need to understand a lot of physiology for it to make much sense - the less phys you know, the more you have to brute-force memorize. I am all for efficiency (read: lazy) and so I'm not so much a fan of straight memorization. As a result, I've reviewed a lot of phys this summer so the pharm would make sense.

Another result of not liking to memorize? I can't actually remember mnemonic acronyms. You know, "Some Drugs Create Awesome Knockers"? Not so much - I usually forget what acronym goes with what, and which of the 73 "K" drugs Knockers stands for. So, I go for drug-name based memory aids - "Eszopiclone" = "Iz Zolpi Clone!" (same basic mechanism as zolpidem.)

School officially starts back on Monday - I'm starting back to class for the first time since last October, because I'm independent study and a TA for the anatomy class. Not looking forward to 8 am class at all, but anatomy should be fun - it'll be a good review for me, and a little change of pace from studying flash cards and tables in my study all day.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

You Won't Hear This Advice at the Doctor's Office

But I'm firmly convinced that when taken in moderation, scotch cures everything.

Bad cold? Scotch.

Tension headache from reading about gastrointestinal phys all day? As I recently discovered - scotch.

Not a lot - I imagine that a lot would make everything worse in a number of ways. But a little bit? Let's just say I think there's a reason the Irish call whiskey "the water of life."

I'd probably never get my medical license if I ever said to anyone in a clinic visit, "Have you tried scotch for that?" But really - all things are good or bad in moderation, right? I wonder a little why everyone is so comfortable prescribing opiates for people with chronic pain, and yet no one ever says, "A hot toddy will take care of that cold for you." Oh, no. It's Neti Pots and clear fluids and wait till it's over. Why are doctors so comfortable with strong drugs that have potentially dangerous side effects, and yet you'd never catch one suggesting alcohol beyond a glass of red wine a day? I'm not saying it's always good for everyone - no drugs are, come to that - but surely it isn't any worse than anything else is. And anything that can get rid of the monstrous headache I had all afternoon that Excedrin couldn't touch is golden in my book. Thank you, Glenfiddich.