Archive for tag: boards

Fueled by Caffeine and Dreams

I'm recovering from near brain-death. In case you missed it, last weekend (Friday, Saturday, and Sunday) a group of us took boards: Physiotherapy, Part II, and Part III. I wish I could say it was 3 days full of fun-filled magical awesomeness, but I think you guys know me well enough to know I'd be lying through my teeth.

We all survived the weekend, in large part due to the support we gave each other. Julia was my right-hand this weekend. She made me study when I didn't want to, go over questions, and made sure I got out of the hotel room on time (and didn't get lost too badly getting back and forth from the hotel). Ricky and Alid were the humor for the weekend. The four of us (including Julia) and two of Alid's friends from Palmer, went for dinner after PT. I honestly thought we would be kicked out of the restaurant, we were laughing so hard. It was just what I needed to keep me going another day.

It was great to see the smiling faces of people we've taken tests with before from other schools, and also of each other. Kind words of encouragement were given by so many. Leslie, Bryan, Julia, Alid, Theresa, Ricky, Roshaun, and Dave: My huge thanks to you guys for keeping me going this past weekend -- even if you didn't realize that's what you were doing.

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It was a weekend fueled by caffeine and lack of sleep. We learned how little sleep we could survive on, how many questions we could answer in a short period of time, and how much caffeine was required to take an exam at 7:00 a.m. We were laughing at each other and our test-taking strategies, how long it took to finish certain exams, and how much we were stressing about something really and truly out of our control.

Boards are interesting, because you've been studying for them all along. There's really nothing to "cram" for, and yet we cram every time. Of course, it doesn't hurt to refresh memory on what we've not seen for a couple of years even. Part I, last year, was a test of the basic sciences. While these were more clinical, the basic science stuff just doesn't go away. There's always something that didn't get covered, that we haven't heard before, or that we've never seen. There are questions on every test that make no sense, and like all standardized test, more than enough opportunities to overthink something. I've always been baffled at how any exam in medicine can be made into a "Multiple Guess" test -- when everything we do in medicine is completely essay.

But, we survive. No! We endure. And however the scores come out, they come out. We'll take them as they come.

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In other news, clinic is in full swing. At the HEC NUHS Student Clinic, we are BUSY. We've been seeing sports physicals and regular patients -- several every day. As the term gets underway for the SPC students, we'll be seeing less of some sports physicals, and more of others. I believe we're serving at least 3 different sports teams now -- so there will be no shortage there.

I'm finishing up a quarter for the Master's program at UWS. Finals are this week. Hard to come back and tackle that after last week. But I'm SO looking forward to two weeks off with no pressing studies. Next quarter with them starts in a few weeks with Sports Nutrition and Fitness, Gastrointestinal Imbalances, and Oxidative/Reductive Dynamics and Energy Production. Sounds like a party.

Have a Great week, Everybody!!!!

Welcome Back Everyone

Photo of colored pencils"Don't you love New York in the fall? It makes me wanna buy school supplies. I would send you a bouquet of newly sharpened pencils if I knew your name and address. On the other hand, this not knowing has its charms." -- You've Got Mail

I always loved this quote. It reminds me of growing up and going to get school supplies in the fall. Things were a WHOLE lot different then. The seasons changed; things got a little crisper, a little clearer, and somehow a bit calmer.

Welcome Back, Everyone!!!!

I must admit, the last 5+ weeks have absolutely flown by. I honestly don't know where the time went. Between break and the first two weeks of clinic, it just kind of vanished. *poof!* I learned something new over break: singular tasking. I know; you must be asking yourselves. "What is she talking about?" I am a notorious multi-tasker. It annoys people to no end how I'm always doing multiple things at once. But, I made a concerted effort, to simply sit and do one thing at a time over break. It was weird; I will admit. But it was also interesting. I tried to relax, focus on what I was doing (or not focus on what I was doing), and it almost became meditative for me -- no matter what task I was involved in. I'm hoping to do more of that in the future.

We're back in clinic and we've got a new classmate that's joined us from Lombard. (Your loss, Lombard -- Leslie is great!) And we've also been joined by a new crop of now 8th trimester students -- some of which started out in our original class, but have been 5-track students. It's good to be back together again. I'd forgotten what a good crew we were. Next week will be the first week that we're all seeing patients together, but during the preliminary workshops and orientation, I can tell that they're all going to be amazing!

Our students have separated into the two different clinics. For those that aren't familiar, we have two clinics in Florida -- a more student-based clinic at the Caruth Health Education Center, and a more public-based clinic in Pinellas Park. Our student-based clinic treats students, faculty, and staff for NUHS and St. Pete College. Our public-based clinic treats people from the public, but also some faculty from NUHS and students and faculty from St. Pete College. We're BUSY!!!!! It's been really odd having lost half of our classmates. It's a lot quieter when the 8th trimester students aren't in the office, but also, everyone that we've been around, every day for the last 2+ years (depending on when they joined us), isn't around any longer. It's been very different.

That having been said, I LOVE the crew that's I'm at the clinic with now. Everyone is fantastic. They work VERY hard, and we all seem to work very well together. Even though we've already been here for 4 months, it's still a period of adjustment, especially as we get more and more responsibility. I'm looking forward to seeing how things go.

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While we've been working in clinic, we've also been trying to study for boards. Most of us are taking Parts II, III, and Physiotherapy this coming weekend. It's a LOT to study. This is the first time that I've felt extremely unprepared for boards. I think it's because too much of a good thing is just too much. I've got more board study materials than I had for Part I -- probably triple the amount of materials. We were told that there is such a thing as over-studying for boards. I don't feel like I'm there yet; I have quite a ways to go. Here's hoping I make more headway before Friday. I'm pretty nervous.

But, we will go, and we will fill in bubbles and say prayers and hopefully things will work out.

As things get closer and more boxes are checked and things crossed out, I get more excited, and a little bit more scared. But it's all a great adventure.

Have a great week, everyone!

Post-Boards Decompression

Welcome back! How was your break?

I'm fresh from Part 1 of NBCE board exams. I'm still not sure that I've recovered brain function--but I'm here. So, while I'm still thinking about boards and analyzing my weekend experience, I'll give all of you my thoughts on the matter. Here we go.

mahaffey theatre
Mahaffey Theatre

Andrea's Post-Board Decompression Thoughts

  1. No matter what you do or how long you study, there will be something that you missed. It's OK. You're not alone in this. There were lots of things that I missed. I hope it all comes out in the wash. As with all exams of this nature--it's impossible to re-cover everything.
  2. If there's a topic that you think you've "got," you HAVE to study it again anyway. I don't know how many people I heard say, "I thought I had (insert subject name here) down; man I wish I'd studied that more." I felt the same way. The topics I thought I "had" were the hardest for me. Other topics I knew I didn't have--so I studied them more and I felt less uncomfortable in those exams.
  3. These tests are NOT a good assessment of knowledge. They're just board exams. Maybe the board thinks they're a good assessment of knowledge--BUT, I kept thinking of how many exam questions I've answered on those topics, and how many times I've thought how they should've asked this or that and didn't. So take all of those questions in all of those topics and reduce the number of questions to 110 spanning entire areas of study. There are volumes of information that aren't covered.
  4. If there's a topic that you know you are weak in--study it harder (and then study it some more). There's no way to know what topics, questions, areas within areas are going to be on the board. They might harp on things you don't know or they might hand you all the topics you do know with a big pretty bow on them. There's absolutely no way of knowing. There were times when I was immensely grateful for the types of questions I was being asked, and times when I thought, "If I had another week to focus on THAT, then I would've gotten a perfect score" (haha).
  5. Time passes much faster while filling in those dots than it does anywhere else in the Universe. I would look at what seemed like 5 minutes after starting the exam, and 45+ minutes had passed. It really struck me during the first exam. Some tests are more doable in the time given than others. Some people were ALWAYS done with 30 or more minutes left. The first exam, I finished with barely 3 minutes left. The last one I finished with 47 minutes left. Some times the topic mattered and other times it didn't. The number of questions was always the same. I think by the end I just wanted to be "Done" (and so did everyone else).
  6. The whole 2 days is pretty surreal. It's not just that I was in a different place with different people doing different things. The weekend definitely had significance to it (other than that I was taking boards LOL).
  7. It was definitely an experience.  

St. Pete Marina
St. Pete Marina

So, now I go headfirst into Tri 6! WOW! There are lots of classes this tri. It seems that we're moving rooms nearly every hour. I think it's going to go fast. Christmas will be here before we know it.

Have a Great Tri, everybody. I'll see you next week!

Student Stress

Hey Everybody! I've had several great emails come in with questions. Thanks for contacting me. I hope that all the information that I've sent back has been helpful. I think there's one outstanding email left. I'll be getting back to you shortly. For those reading, if you have any questions, please don't hesitate to ask.

I find myself struggling with what to write today. At some point, I feel like I've said everything--and then again, I couldn't even begin to list what all I've done in the last week. It would take me 7 days. I'm losing track of the days as we pass midterms and look towards finals and boards. I seem to get more and more busy when I have less and less actual time. There are really only a couple of weeks before finals start as the summer winds down both quickly and slowly.

As of Wednesday, I'll be childless for a few weeks. The boys will be visiting their grandparents in the Midwest, and the house will be VERY quiet. This should be time to prep for finals, and start studying for boards. Maybe I'll get the rest of the house unpacked or just sit quietly in the middle of the living room doing absolutely nothing. As their summer comes to a close and they try to drain that last drop of freedom, I start looking forward to those two weeks off between tris.

I've talked to several of my classmates, and some in the other classes. All of those great plans for starting to study for boards have been replaced by trying to keep sanity and study for midterms and finals. Board review starts this next week. During our tri break, I'm sure we'll all be studying for boards. But right now, I've only dusted off my question book. Just for fun, I flipped to one question, answered it, and checked my answer. Then I closed the book and went back to something else.

The last exam we have this week before finals is in GI/GU and then there's a paper in Botanical Medicine next week. I can't believe how little time there is left.

I've had some ideas about students' behavioral health after receiving an article from a friend that was written by an anonymous Harvard student. Here's a link to the article: "In Sight, Out of Mind."

I keep wondering what our capacity is for counseling, or dealing with behavioral issues at all. As physicians, I know we'll be faced with people in a lot of trying situations, but two questions/issues came to mind after reading this article: Taking care of each other, and taking care of our patients.

Just like the author of the article, so many of our students could benefit from counseling or at the very least peer counseling. Going through medical school is tough. It seems that more people have problems with their personal lives that cause difficulties with their studies--than have difficulties with their studies alone. I'm not sure that we have the resources here, yet, to set up some type of peer counseling--but I think that we'd benefit from it. While we have the clinic in place, I'm sure that few people attend our clinic for behavioral health issues. This brings me to the other question--what do we do when we have patients that come in with a behavioral health issue?

Are we equipped enough (or confident enough) to work with patients with conditions like depression, anxiety, neurotransmitter imbalances, schizophrenia, and others? I've heard time and time again that we should probably refer these patients, but we're in the unique position as trusted providers to help. Can we? Will we?

Feel free to write me with your thoughts on this. I'd love to read and hear them.

Until the next adventure, have a great week! 

It's the Little Things

Hope everybody had a great 4th of July. I spent the day hiding in my living room and watching fireworks from the window. Even though it sounds boring, it was a GREAT 4th.

The last several days have been spent working on projects and cleaning and unpacking and organizing and I honestly wouldn't have had it any other way. It's not common to get to have this time and I really took advantage of it. Since we're out of midterms and now just into middle-term exams, things have calmed down a little bit and the frenzy is slightly less. So, now is the time to take stock, study, write, prepare, evaluate, take care of business, catch up, and so on. I have one more exam this week, then one next week, and a paper due the following week. It's "just enough" to keep busy without going nuts. Then the preparations for finals (and boards--yikes!) will be taking place.

Our class has decided that we would start studying for boards on July 1st. Now, I don't know if anyone has actually kept this solemn vow--but I imagine we'll be at least going over some questions or something at lunch starting this week. Given the amount of material that we have to review, I think we had better get busy. The question book isn't that scary, but the volume of review materials is. From what I hear from the upper tris about boards, we're more than prepared for them from our studies and the board review (which starts in a couple of weeks) also helps tremendously. Here we go!

"Lawnmower Girls" by Kelly Povo (Fine Art America)

On other fronts: I bought my first lawn mower today. The last time I mowed a lawn was at my parents' house and I was probably about 8 or 10 years old. My dad forbade me from ever using the lawn mower again (I like to run over giant rocks) and sent me on my way. Frankly, I wasn't that upset about it because I have horribly wretched allergies and it seemed like a job more fitting for my brother--who needed to be tormented. But today was different.

Now that I'm in a house and not a townhouse, I have to mow the grass. Grass trimming services around here are far too pricey for a medical student, so I bought my own mower. It's an old school reel mower. No electricity. No motor. Girl-powered! These things are awesome! It may not be one of those new-fangledy bells and whistles mowers, but it always "starts", and it's quite a workout. Given that it's rainy season here (Summer is rainy season and it rains nearly every day), it's something that just has to be kept up with.

After I got back from buying the mower (off of Craigslist--gotta watch that budget), I could see the clouds rolling in. I knew it was going to start raining. I started pushing the mower about, received some strange looks from my neighbors, and proceeded to mow down my very overgrown yard. I was unbelievably surprised to hear one of my neighbors comment on how "nifty" it was, and another one to tell me that now several of the neighbors want one. It cracked me up. Guess I am changing the neighborhood. When the rain started pouring, it was absolutely wonderful. I kept working on the grass bit by bit (my yard really isn't that large) until it was all done.

Standing there in the rain reminded me of when my dad and I used to go outside in the front yard and dance in the downpour. We probably only did it a few times, but I'll never forget. Hey Dad, I didn't mow over any rocks. Are you proud of me?

It's the little things, you know?

Have a great week, Everybody. Take some time to dance in the rain (and call your dad - he wants to talk to you).