This past week, the halls of NUHS had the familiar scent of
exams hanging in the air, making it seem almost sticky, as if the
smell had truly formidable substance. We all know the smell --
reminiscent of musk, garbage, and sulfur -- a smell that is only
produced by stress and anxiety. Normally we'd be spared the smell
for a couple more weeks but a new mandate, decreed on high, has
been instituted vigorously. The students in classes this trimester,
and those to come, will have three exams to take for every class
(one every five weeks, on average).
Happy 25th to these two lovebirds!
The explanation is centered on the belief that an early
assessment will allow teachers to identify struggling students
before it's too late to remediate them, in addition to providing
the students more chances to redeem their grades. Sure, the idea
seems reasonable in theory, and one could argue that some classes
already had that set-up. However, the amount of testable material
inherent to those classes demand the third exam to ensure all the
pertinent material is covered thoroughly. Unfortunately, there are
two sides to every coin and the flipside of this particular coin
contains the classes for which there isn't enough material to
create three exams that are truly reflective of the material. In
this situation, professors have few options other than reaching
outside of that class wheelhouse to create enough questions. A more
ideal solution would be to approach this issue of early assessment
on a class-by-class basis -- deferring to the professors' opinions
on the matter. Regardless of what I think of the matter, I can also
see its utility in regard to creating better retention and student
Of course, there is one more reason why 3 exams a trimester is a
positive thing... another reason to celebrate every trimester! This
past weekend, the reason to celebrate was two-fold. We had finished
our Week 5 early assessments, and there was a smattering of
birthdays as well! Moral of the story is: exams are transient, but
friends are forever.
Life can often seem hectic here at NUHS. Coming from undergrad,
where credits cap out at 18, the full-track first trimester load of
24-ish credits can seem daunting. The work-per-credit is also a
drastic increase from those blissful undergrad years, a fact that
only adds to weight of the credit load. The work-per-day also
stands in stark contrast to many people's undergrad experience --
characterized by free time, intermittently punctuated by class.
Here, it's the exact opposite. It's no surprise that the questions
I get asked the most deal with whether going it "full track" is
In Limbo = doing two things poorly
I finished my first trimester full track and it wasn't horrible.
However, I quickly succumbed to a common fallacy. I began to
convince myself that if I went "flex track," I would have more
time to absorb the nuances of the material, which would yield
better conceptual understanding and retention.
In my self-delusion, I forgot an important caveat to my argument
-- people rarely study more than their set-point, even if they have
more free time. Free time instead becomes just that -- free time --
time that gets filled with the latest TV show or aimlessly
wandering the apartment. The point is free time almost never
results in more work. In my experience, it actually led to less
studying. It wasn't until I picked up full track again, in second
phase, that my study time reached a new high, which my GPA
reflected with a corresponding up-tick.
Perhaps Newton was onto something when he stated "a body in
motion stays in motion." It seems the busier you are, the more work
you accomplish. This appears to be an excruciatingly commonsensical
phrase making it all the more necessary to posit, as common sense
thought often eludes serious consideration.
When there's an ample amount of free time, it's almost as if
you're hung in limbo between two worlds, and consequently can't
participate fully in either. As much as I despise scheduling
things, I believe the best approach to life at NUHS involves
letting the demands devour you and scheduling the brief respites
from studying so, either way, you can be fully involved in both
This past weekend I found myself, yet again, traveling to the
Mohr Lakehouse for a weekend getaway before a cluster of exams
crowding my schedule for the next couple of weeks claims my time.
Being the studious people that we are, a trip to the cabin hardly
means an interruption to learning. The two and one-half hour drive
down there was spent on a history lesson, as we basked in the
brilliant musical "Hamilton," as it put a beautiful story to the
face on our $5 bill.
Upon our arrival, our lessons only intensified as we delved into
proper biomechanics and how to implement them for hatchet throwing
and bow-and-arrow and shooting. When aberrant patterns were
identified, we performed thorough screenings to determine which
muscle groups weren't activating well. Once we crafted
reports-of-findings, a treatment plan was implemented that included
some functional rehab and, of course, chiropractic adjustments.
At this point you may be worried that we spent too much time on
intellectual pursuits, however, you'll be relieved to hear we also
spent time having fun as well. Hydration is always a concern in
colder climates so we made sure to drink enough liquids during our
adventures. Adam and I performed synchronized hatchet throwing to
raise morale for those studying tumors radiology, and Blair managed
to keep us entertained with his ceaseless abnormality. Regardless
of cabin antics, a trip there always serves as an incubation ground
for creative thought and insight gained from fellow students with
It's almost surreal to be almost three weeks into my seventh
trimester. It's easy to feel the charged atmosphere, fueled by a
shared realization that we, as a class, are together seeing that
glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel. Even the
classes are reflecting that reality. Every class I'm in this
trimester seems to be a sort of "tapered" experience of our
education thus far. What I mean by that is our professors, at this
point, don't need to pump us full of scientific minutiae, they
merely have to hone our knowledge and lend perspective. One of the
most beautifully constructed classes this trimester is Functional
And, just because...a picture of my nephew's first birthday
party a week and a half ago
Dr. Jim Jenkins has truly created a fantastic rehab class that
ties together every DC-centric class with succinct brilliance. This
class combines the identification of aberrant motor patterns, how
they tie into functional movement, and how to re-train those motor
patterns combined with precise use of the chiropractic adjustment
to restore optimal function. I view it as a capstone class and a
truly phenomenal one at that. It's not just the material taught in
class that magnifies the not-so-distant light down the tunnel
though, it's also the greater amount of time spent in an exam room,
with "simulated patients" (actors that we can practice our
Two to three days a week we don our white coats and interact
with a sim-patient. There's usually a specific diagnosis we should
arrive at via our powers of deduction and exam proficiency. The
encounter generally includes a complete history, a physical exam, a
report of findings, and a treatment plan with all the appropriate
paperwork. It is a class geared towards coaxing out easily remedied
mistakes and to polish our clinical reasoning as well as patient
interaction before we start in the clinic next trimester. It's a
crucial class, especially in light of the pace this trimester is
Break is the boon that we all look forward to throughout the
trimester. Its blessing is twofold: It serves as progress marker
during this journey and lights the final weeks of each trimester as
a beacon for the coming rest and relaxation break holds in store.
However, as one gets older and life gets more full, the most
unfortunate lessons are learned.
The particular lesson in store for most holiday breaks, is one
in which this particular protagonist comes to terms with the fact
that R&R is a truly rare thing. As this realization settles in,
the most delightful piece of irony presents itself around the end
of the second week of break, when you look in the mirror and see
this exhausted, bedraggled cretin staring back at you and you find
yourself asking, "So, when does school start?"
The Redline Holiday Train: another unfortunate product of
Time with family and old friends is amazing indeed, but as we
all know, it can drain you like nothing else. You find yourself
missing the weekly exams and the stringent schedule you've grown
far too accustomed to over the last couple of years. You find your
friends are night owls that often want to stay up well past 10,
which is already an hour past your bedtime as it is. Break can be
tough, between the late nights and the creative self-exploration
that has finally found space in your mind to slowly drift through,
as tendrils of smoke, awakening that executive, free-thinking part
of your mind that you thought had been buried under piles of
medical books. What a drag.
Brunch with the gang, yet another melancholy product of ample
Hence, the first day of class was quite a relief. Regimentation
and structure is what the human mind needs most. The transition was
a bit too effective as Dr. Ed Bifulco, himself quite the
master of irony and satire, opened up his class on End Range
Loading with a brilliant appeal to our executive, free-thinking.
Just when I thought I could put my mind back into that comfortable
box, we were encouraged again to use critical thinking (ugh) by Dr.
Jim Jenkins, NUHS' resident rehab guru. I guess I'll have to keep
my mind out of that box just a bit longer.
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