Peach Pie

Hello, again. What a weekend I had. After clinic last Friday, I met a few friends at Tampa International Airport and took off to Atlanta, Georgia. We flew up to meet another friend who had recently moved to Atlanta, plus attend the Music Midtown music festival. We could not have asked for a nicer weekend for a music festival; the sun was shining, the wind was crisp, and the music was incredible. My pals and I jammed out to Ludacris, Florence + The Machine, Neon Trees, and Pearl Jam throughout the day on Saturday. I made it home late afternoon Sunday, was asleep by 9:30 p.m. and ready to go this morning...for the most part.

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With friends at the Midtown Music festival.

Today's blog somewhat plays into last week's submission, which spoke about being prepared for each patient encounter. Today I'd like to talk about peach pie. No, this isn't a foodie blog, and I won't be handing out a recipe per se, but last week I heard the analogy of peach pie, and today I'll share it with you.

So, to make a good peach pie the first thing you need is good peaches. If you make your way into the forest half-heartedly looking for peaches and end up picking up rabbit poop, you're going to end up with a pretty crappy peach pie. How does this story relate to seeing patients? If you are evaluating the patient and not looking for the right things, you end up with a "crappy" diagnosis. Get it?

As a doctor you have to think like a doctor; you have to put things together and look for things that aren't always readily apparent. Always remember, your patients haven't read the textbooks and may not always present exactly how the book tells you they should. An orthopedic test might yield a "negative" response to what its textbook definition is, but may in turn tell you everything you need to know in a significant other finding. It's all about looking for the right ingredients. Let the patient show or tell you what's wrong. Don't tunnel vision yourself into a diagnosis or orthopedic test finding and end up just picking up rabbit poop. Be present during each patient interaction. Look at every aspect of that patient and take something away from each thing they tell you, what they can do, and what they can't; it will all be leading you to the peaches you need for a quality diagnosis.

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Pearl Jam at the Midtown Music festival.

I hope my analogy today made some sense. I tend to gravitate to the offbeat ways of learning, so this was right in my wheelhouse. I love dealing with patients; it's like putting together a puzzle. You really have to keep an open mind and look and listen to everything the patient says and does to find where all the pieces fit together. Man, I'm full of analogies today.

I hope everyone has a killer week. Remember to always keep an open mind, and never stop practicing!

Dex

Be Prepared

Hello, all. I hope everyone who took boards this past weekend is happy they're behind them. The good news is, I've been hearing from everyone that they were well prepared. That's one thing about our education here at National, if nothing else, we are prepared for board exams. I know at the time it seems as if some of the information you see in power points or highlighted in notes is there for no apparent reason, but trust me, that one line that you disregard will be back in some shape or form to haunt you.

I have written in past blogs how I like to study and prepare for exams, which may help, and I also have a ton of board study material that I am more than willing to share. If anyone would like to get a head start on studying, please don't hesitate to ask, and I'll send you any information I can.

Speaking of being prepared, that's the name of the game when you hit clinic. Now that I am a big bad 10th trimester intern (HaHa) that is the one piece of advice I have been giving to all the new student interns. When I hit the clinic, it was a unique circumstance where we were short-handed on interns and I had to hit the ground running. My fellow interns and I didn't have the option of not being prepared; we had patients day one.

Being prepared mentally for every visit is a key part of giving the best care possible to your patients. We have all the tools necessary to treat our patients when we hit 8th trimester, the challenge is putting it all together and knowing when and when not to use certain tools. I was speaking with a student intern this morning whose first freshman physical was today, and she was a little nervous, understandably. We sat together and talked through the entire visit from start to finish, and when we were done, her nerves had settled and she was prepared to rock out a freshman physical. It really is that simple. Having a mental map of your visit sets you at ease and encourages an efficient visit--two birds, one stone.

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This weekend I took a brake from preparing, and enjoyed some serious sports. My pals and I watched the FSU Seminoles put on an exhibition against Wake Forrest, winning 52-0 on Saturday, followed by being disappointed by the Rays and Bucs on Sunday. New York had our number this past weekend. The Bucs put up a heck of a fight against the Giants, and the Rays looked decent against the Yanks, but sadly they both bettered us in the end. 

Sunday wasn't all bad. I recorded a fantasy football win, and enjoyed myself at a pig roast with friends. I hope everyone has a great week, and remember to never stop practicing.

GO NOLES!
Dex

Welcome Back

Hello all and welcome to my final trimester's blog! I can't believe that in 3 short months I will be a full-fledged Doctor of Chiropractic.

It seems like last week that I was sitting listening to Dr. Joe Stiefel warn us of how rigorous the next few years will be. He wasn't joking either. Now, as I look back on the trimesters past, it seems like it was all a breeze; but if I really sit and remember how my life was just a few years ago I realize that I was a hermit and slave to everything chiropractic. I would wake up and arrive on campus hours before my first class to study, duck out of lunch early to review material, and get home and read for another few hours before passing out to be ready to do it all again the next day. After remembering all of that, I still would not change a thing.

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The truth is, I love what I've gotten into and after working in the clinic for the past 8 months, and I can honestly say I have a passion for what I'm doing. For all the prospective DCs reading this, that is the key to not going crazy and being a successful student and eventual doctor. Have a passion for what you are getting yourself into, and please do not trick yourself into thinking that this program is an easy way get a doctorate degree, because it most definitely is not. Sorry, I'm not sure where that rant came from. Anyway, I'm stoked to get my final trimester underway and even more excited for graduation in December.

This is only the first blog of the tri, and I plan on hitting as many topics as I can regarding different treatment options, getting ready for graduation, what I'm planning for after graduating, and probably some embarrassing stories from the weekends or when something goes amiss with a patient. If anyone out there ever has a question, please shoot me an email (dexalvarez@student.nuhs.edu) and I will do my best to answer your query--and you may get a shout out on the blog--after all, this blog for is you guys, the readers.

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For anyone who may have missed it, my birthday was last week (yes, I am still accepting presents), which meant a weeklong celebration, all kicked off by a killer surprise from my fellow interns, Dr. Heiser, and Shirley Raychel. The remainder of the week was taken up by dinners with family and friends, a few drinks here and there (Ha Ha, "a few""), a weekend at the beach, and 3rd row seats to the Bucs season opener on Sunday. Not too shabby. I hope everyone is getting settled into the fresh tri and if there is anything I can help with please don't hesitate to ask.

Catch ya on the flip side,
Dex

Another Tri in the Books

Well, another tri has come and gone. I can't believe my 9th trimester is already coming to an end. I have to say it was a pretty eventful tri. Clinic is a great experience and I'm amazed at how much I still continue to learn. I hope some of my stories of triumphs and failures were helpful and maybe a little entertaining. 

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Some of the 8th and 9th Trimester interns.

Finals week is a stressful time everyone. It's important to continue to prepare for your tests, and be confident that you know your material. When you know that you have your material down, it takes the anxiety down to a manageable level. There is a light at the end of the tunnel, I promise. There are only two weeks of exams, then a nice break to regroup.

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A sunset picture from the boat Friday night.

If you have a chance during the break, reach out to a local DC to see if you can shadow them. I know you probably want to be as far away from anything chiro after finals, but shadowing doctors is one of the best professional moves you can make as a student. I would try to shadow at least two doctors during each break to create a relationship with future colleagues and try to see what works and what doesn't in the real world. It's only a day off your break and it's extremely worth it.

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Sunday night's Rays game.

I hope everyone has a killer break. I had an awesome weekend, fishing Friday night (caught a 22 inch Snook, and a 40 lb. drum, no big deal), went to the WaZoo beer and food festival at the zoo on Saturday, and capped off the weekend at a Rays game on Sunday. There is always something to do down here in Florida, and with your break coming up, take advantage and recharge for another trimester. Thanks for reading; I'll be back in a few weeks.

Catch ya on the flip side,
Dex

Preparing for Finals

Hello, all. I can't believe its already Week 13 of the trimester. Though the break between trimesters doesn't affect us in the clinic, because we work through the break, it does mean we are that much closer to graduation. It's not just patient numbers we need to hit while in clinic, there are also blood chemistry and urinalysis, SOAP notes, patient narratives, and community service hours that need to be completed also. It seems monotonous at the time, but these other requirements really do prepare you for real life practice. Needless to say we have been busy trying to knock out all these requirements before December rolls around.

While we've been busy in the clinic, everyone else has been busy preparing for finals. Since finals are around the corner and it's been a few trimesters since I wrote about how I study, I thought it'd be pertinent for this week's blog. The first part of the plan is to realize that cramming is not the way to go. I had to learn this the hard way during my first trimester. Studying really should be done each day to stay current with your material and keep the topics fresh in your mind throughout the tri. The best way to learn something is by repetition, like Malcolm Gladwell wrote about in his book The Outliers, it takes 10,000 hours of practice to master a skill. Once you are in the proper mind set for studying, the next step is to get into the material.

Hopefully, through the trimester you have been reading and highlighting pertinent material in your books. This is the first step. Our professors do their best to give more attention to more difficult topics but there is just not enough classroom time to hit every topic so it will be your job to read up on everything else. While reading the book, it helps to read aloud and highlight as you go. This feeds information through several parts of the brain, which helps with retention. With this same principle in mind, the next step of the plan is to transcribe book notes and class notes into a consolidated form. This not only makes you look at the material another time, but also gives you a compact study guide to read over as much as you can.

Remember there is no substitution for rest. If it comes down to getting a good night of sleep or cramming, take the sleep. While you sleep, your brain continues to review information you introduced to it before you hit the sack. A solid 8 hours of sleep will do wonders for retaining information as well as help with test taking stamina.

To recap, read the book aloud and highlight, transcribe your book and class notes into a solid study guide, and try to get some sleep. Endurance is the name of the game, if you put in the work through out the trimester, studying for midterms and finals is extremely manageable. Don't let the exams stress you out, prepare as best you can, go into the exam confident and relaxed and you'll do fine.

I hope this helps settle some test taking anxieties out there. After finals are over there's a two-week break waiting for you, so let that be some of your motivation. Once you hit clinic and your number of tests drop, you'll have some free time on the weekends to finally have a social life again.

2012-07-31_Domino Beach

This past weekend was 2 of my best friends' birthdays, so we celebrated on the beach. Family and friends got together for some beach soccer, domino tournament, and a few drinks to top it all off. It was a killer weekend, and I feel like I need another weekend to recover from this last one. Study hard; there is a light at the end of tunnel.

Catch ya later,
Dex