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Zebras, Ulcers, and Clinical Sciences

by May 26, 2016

Home » Chiropractic Medicine Student Blog - Illinois » Zebras, Ulcers, and Clinical Sciences

Two weeks of school have now passed and I suspect that within another week, I’ll have slipped into a semi-comfortable routine. When taking about 29 credits, there isn’t a lot of wiggle room in a day to build an ideal routine, so the three weeks is really just time to come to terms with the schedule. Of course, the stress comes in abundance before the fight for summer ebbs into inevitable quiescence. It’s the fight against the inevitable that causes the stress of course.

2016-05-26_bookIn a symphony of beautiful irony, I found myself neck-deep in envy of zebras as I was reading Robert Sapolsky’s book, “Why Zebra’s Don’t Get Ulcers.” Of course, zebras aren’t unique in the animal kingdom in this regard, as most wild animals don’t fret over imaginary futuristic circumstances, creating chronic stress that predisposes them to ulcers. However, this is something that humans are particularly good at, which is why ulcers were one of the first conditions we learned to identify in E&M of GI/GU (Evaluation and Management of the Gastrointestinal Tract and Genitourinary Tract). It’s fabulous when my extracurricular reading parallels my curricular learning. Thankfully, much of what I’m learning this trimester corresponds with my extracurricular interests.

After all, these are the clinical sciences.

Most of the classes this trimester begin with EM. This simple two-letter designation means one thing to my classmates and me–the culmination of all the work we’ve put in during Phase One. We finally get to learn how the reams of paper we’ve filled with notes and facts factor into the identification and treatment of disease.

So far, the days have been filled with those pesky, yet information-packed, squiggly lines of an ECG, the columns of numbers in CBCs or urinalyses, and the degrees of translucency that indicate one arthritis or another. The hours may be long but the material is anything but bland. There’s an unprecedented blanket of silence within the class–an air of focus and intrigue permeates the air. Sure, graduation is still two years out, but one year of that is actual clinic practice.

The end is in sight and that fact is sinking in. This is the time to really start planning life after school. The real world awaits and everyone is chomping at the bit to get out there and canter about. We may have a propensity for creating stress from nothing but imagination, but we also possess the unique ability to plan for the future and find extreme joy in accomplishing those goals. They may be ulcer-free, but the zebras have nothing on us.

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Gregory Swets

Gregory Swets


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