Flashback to the first week

September 27, 2014 § Leave a comment

With the seemingly unbelievable amount of work that I have to wade through and the little amount of time I have to do it, I’m realizing that I am going to have to work on being more efficient/effective with the time I do have. It is Saturday morning and my plans for today are to head to the gym and then lock myself in my apartment (or at a café) and dive into ECG studying. Skjalg will be out doing the Legion Run (a 5k team race through a series of 20 or so obstacles of mud, fire and barbed wire) so I shouldn’t have any distractions.

This post will actually be a post that I started writing on the third day of school and which I never got around to finishing.

Rewind to September 10th:

My head is buzzing with the chaos that has been this week. On our way to the Basic Medical Science building today, after our Immunology practical, Skjalg said to me, “I can’t believe this is only day 3.”. It feels like we have been at this for weeks… and we’ve barely even scratched the surface.

On Monday, we experienced something that I never thought we would experience. I’d been told things would be different for third year, but I had no idea what we were in for. On Monday, we became “colleagues”.

We started the morning with an Internal Medicine lecture on History Taking. Our Internal Medicine “professor” (the doctor we follow around during practicals) would later tell us that the diagnosis is 70% of what the patient says/the patient’s history, 25% physical examination, and 5% diagnostic tests. The department for our Internal Medicine classes is located on the Buda side, which means we have to spend a lot of time traveling to and from there. We spend about 30-40 minutes in the morning to get there from home and 40-50 to get to our classes located in the 8th district, at Klinikak and Nagyvarad tér. With all the running around we do, we are clocking in almost 10 km a day! For the first two years, the classes are almost exclusively located at the Basic Medical Science building. After that, classes are kind of spread out over the city.

After 40 minutes of public transport, we were at Corvin, searching for the pathology building. There are two pathology departments and our year is split up between the two. When we registered for our classes, we also had to consider which department we preferred. There was very little information to go off of, other than recommendations by past students. We ended up choosing the one that is often considered “the harder one”.

We were soon directed through a beautiful, sunny courtyard to a bright, yellow building. The entire interior glowed with natural light and the white marble staircases and columns gave it a classic feel. The lecture hall has a modern anatomy theater style and the roof is made to mimic natural sunlight with opaque plates and ambient lighting. During this first introductory lecture of ours, the department director told us of the history of the building, of pathology and of what they expect of us and what we can expect from them. He shared that our pathology department was the 4th ever in the world and that they have the most advanced histology lab in the world. Then he shared something with us that made me feel very lucky to be studying here at Semmelweis. He first asked if any of us knew how many autopsies Harvard, “the best medical school in the world”, does during their pathology course. I had no idea about what was normal, so I guessed 100. The answer? 1. Yes, 1 autopsy. Then he asked how many we thought we would be doing in our course. After a small bout of silence he said, “28”. We will do 14 autopsies each semester, an opportunity that will grant us a lot of experience to say the least.

After wowing us with facts about the pathology department and our opportunities there, he began to speak to us as we have never been spoken before. Students who have already completed 3rd year have always told me the same thing: “Just get through the first two years. When you are third year, they are going to treat you so differently. They are going to open their arms, smile and say ‘welcome!'”. Seems a little dramatic, yes, but after the hell that we push through during the first two years, the idea that we would one day be congratulated for that feat was motivating. And it happened. It really, actually, happened.

“You are our colleagues,” the department head said, “if you have any questions about anything in pathology, if there is anything at all you don’t understand, you can ask us. Please, ask us. You can stop us in the halls, you can ask doctors who are not your teachers, you can ask me during lecture. We are here to help you learn pathology and learn it well. That said, we want you to be here for lectures. On our end, we promise to deliver good lectures. When attendance is good there is more incentive to prepare a good lecture, and on the other side, when the lectures are good, attendance follows. If you have any criticisms about my lectures, please come and let me know. Let me know that there was something that wasn’t clear, if the structure was hard to follow or anything else you feel. What I can offer you is this: pathology as I see it. This is the biggest topic you will ever cover. You will be learning everything you will be using in practice for the rest of your medical education. That said, there is a lot of information. More than you will be able to cover on your own. Attend the lectures and practicals and use the book to supplement the points that are stressed and the concepts we, through practice, find to be most important. Welcome, to pathology.”

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