What a week of ups and downs! I went from feeling fairly
confident about the results of the Advanced Lab
Diagnostics/Endocrinology midterm results to shock when I looked at
the results. Holy Cow! I've never studied so hard and felt
confident about a subject only to earn a score that was cause for a
bit of self-disappointment! Looking at my answers, I thought, "How
in the world could I answer that way?!?!"
Upon reviewing the exam with the class, our professor made the
point of stating this was a tough exam by design and endocrinology
is one of the toughest topics for both students and practicing
doctors. There are so many influences on the human
body--environmental and emotional stressors, sleep, diet, and
exercise--all of which can, over time, take a toll. The exam was
geared, both in the question portion, as well as the two cases, to
generate thought and come up with the single best answer. The cases
were quite general in nature with no specific complaint other than
fatigue or inability to sleep. We were required to look at the
small factors in each instance to help with the tests we would
order, our diagnosis and treatment plan, based upon the Therapeutic
Order of Naturopathic Medicine. Ultimately, our professor gave us
the advice that sometimes we learn more from our mistakes than we
do when we "ace" an exam. Did I mention that humility is a trait
that is well utilized in medical school? Lesson learned; that was a
hard "pill" to swallow though! (pun intended, hehe).
Well, immediately after I left Endo Class, I had my first
"head-to-toe" physical examination of a patient as a lab practical.
This practical examination was held in the teaching area of our
clinic. Here's the setup: Eight medical students in eight separate
examination rooms with a patient for each student and 45 minutes to
complete the exam. No professors are in the room as the physical
exam is monitored remotely via camera. We performed a head-to-toe
physical intake in a predetermined order on our patient as a
culmination of each of the regional examinations we learned to Week
8 of the trimester as well as those learned in previous classes.
This was a "show me what you know" sort of practical, followed by a
quick write-up of a randomly chosen (by the professor, of course)
portion of the exam you performed, along with any
During the exam, we could go back and complete any exams that we
might have forgotten or re-perform exams that we knew we could have
done better, as long as we were within our 45-minute window. While
some points could be deducted, the process was as much for learning
the entire procedure as well as for grading. This is the nice part
of the clinical studies portion of our curriculum. We are still
graded meticulously, and we continue to be taught even during our
lab practicals. So, back to the practical. The teaching portion of
the clinic was still pretty warm from a power loss (and subsequent
loss of air conditioning) during perhaps the hottest days
Chicagoland has seen in years! Some are saying we are in a heat
wave, but again, I'm from the South and this is normal weather for
me. I'm in a shirt and tie with a patient in a gown for a physical.
I'm trying to keep my cool, but remember, I just came out of some
disappointing news on a previous exam; I'm now setting up and
performing the absolute first 'scrutinized' physical exam of my
medical career and starting to sweat buckets. What did I do?
Stuffed my pockets full of tissues, offered some to the patient to
keep him comfy, and in between different steps of the exam, I
completed the "time honored forehead swipe" that one sees performed
by docs on just about every TV show from the early days of the tube
until Grey's Anatomy! The patient ended up being very happy; I was
OK, though a bit dehydrated after completing the physical exam; and
I think the professors were OK with my performance. A nice boost
after a bit of a dip just a few minutes before.
I suppose this is the "take away lesson" this week. Don't get
too dejected if an exam doesn't go perfectly; stay steady and be
prepared for the next exam. Despite all the preparation, study,
memorizing, theorizing, and compartmentalizing, one can have a bad
moment, hour or day. Those tough moments are only in that
particular window of time. As I sat here by Janse pond writing this
entry, I was fortunate enough to have three friends sit and chat
with me on a beautiful afternoon. This was a good time. I'm
thankful for both and hopefully learn from each moment, whether
good or bad.
Knee High by the 4th of July!
Regarding the 4th of July (Independence Day),
I'm thankful for the founding fathers' courage to draft and sign
the Declaration of Independence. That first step provided the
foundation for our great nation and the optimism that I believe
still exists enough for people to continue to desire to immigrate
to the U.S., plant their roots, and live out their destiny as they
Now, for the "knee high" reference. Around here in Illinois, the
saying goes for corn, "knee high by the 4th of July."
Check the picture! July 6th and our corn is well
over 6 feet tall! Can you find me? Now granted, this is a variety
of heirloom corn called Southern Gentleman, appropriate, that is
best suited to the hot, humid weather of the southern United
States. I'm not sure if my roomie and I have green thumbs or we
have simply been fortunate (and lucky) enough that we planted this
corn during the hottest summer on record in Northern Illinois! I am
grateful that nature has smiled upon our garden though. See if you
can find me in the photo!