To achieve great things, two things are needed: a plan and not quite enough time

October 17, 2012 § 1 Comment

It’s unbelievable how much there is to do and how little time there is to do it. I still have not figured out the best way to maximize the few hours that there are in a single day. There’s some secret…I just need to find out what it is.

This morning I asked one of our anatomy TAs how long it took her to feel like she had the hang of things. Her response: “I still don’t”. If I’m not mistaken, she is in her 3rd or 4th year – which means there is no hope! Our professor is still out of town so the head of anatomy visited us a second time. She pulled out the arm we had begun dissecting on Monday, looked at it and said, “what have you done here? Who told you to do this?” Without our teacher there to guide us through our first dissection, we didn’t really know what to do – and it showed. We had cut back the skin and cut away the fat and fascia, exposing the muscle. What we didn’t know was that there was a series of superficial nerves and veins that should have been preserved during the dissection. She was able to find two of the main veins still in the skin and exposed them so that we could see more clearly. Afterwards, we split into different groups: 4 or 5 working on the arm, 5 working on the leg, and then Jannie, Avneesh and I worked on a shoulder covered in muscle. Our task was to identify the muscles and then remove them to expose the joint underneath. One interesting thing we found out today is that our semi-final exam will utilize the very same specimens we are dissecting during our anatomy labs. The bags are labeled with our group number to ensure that it is the same specimen that we are examined on. With this knowledge I now know that all the theory and memorizing should be covered outside of lab and that the time I use in lab should simply be practice for the exam and familiarizing myself with the parts I have already memorized.

While dissecting, there is a lot of eye-watering and sniffling resulting from the formaldehyde. Sometimes it’s easier to tolerate than others. As the head of anatomy was helping at the other dissecting table, we who were standing at the other voiced our thoughts on the formaldehyde. There are times when I can get as close to the specimen as possible without any problems and others where I get a whiff that makes my eyes water so much that it is hard to see and that makes my throat tingle. So, my comment was, “Sometimes I feel like I’ve gotten used to it, but then I get a strong reaction and realize that I’m not”. Without looking up from the leg she was dissecting, the head of anatomy overheard this and took the opportunity to correct me. She said that I was incorrect because the body cannot “get used to” a chemical and then continued to explain the types of things that the body can “get used to”. It wasn’t the best feeling to be corrected in such a way, but at least I know not to say it again 🙂

My chemistry midterm was much easier to handle than I expected. There was one page of open questions (Le Chatelier’s principle, different acid base definitions, hydrogen bonding, ionic bonds, etc), one page with 13 multiple choice questions, and then four calculations. The calculations were much more difficult than I anticipated. I was able to answer two of them with confidence, but the other two (which were coincidentally worth the most points) were a struggle. I filled in as much as I could, wrote down formulas and set up the problems, but nothing past that. At one point I calculated that if I were to miss only two points on the parts I had answered and receive no partial credit on the two difficult calculations, then I would be looking at a 3. I’m not happy with that, but it’s an improvement from me initially thinking that I was going to fail.

The hardest part about this whole process is having no idea what is expected of you. The teachers vary greatly from group to group and there is no clear connection between the lectures and the labs. There is a great deal of information that is on the exams that we are expected to know from before. There is no one book that we are following, but rather a long list of topics that are presented to us and that we are expected to learn about in depth on our own time. I study all. the. time. and yet I still feel like I am way behind. All that says to me is that I am not studying in the most efficient way and that I need to set stricter time limits on specific tasks.

I was happy to find out that I got a 4.5 on my Hungarian midterm, though I would have gotten a 5 if I had remembered some accent marks and switched around two answers. Since the majority of my studying was done in the hour before the exam, I’ll just have to accept it with gratitude. Otherwise we have our Latin midterm next Wednesday and biophysics and biostatistics on Friday. Our homework in anatomy is a light load: learn all the joints and movements of the upper and lower limb, the muscles involved in these movements, their origin and insertion and any limiting structures, and the ligaments, nerves and vessels. This weekend is a long one, due to a Hungarian holiday, which means study, study, study. Even four full days off doesn’t feel like enough time!



Blog post title is a quote by Leonard Bernstein.

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