Time is the longest distance between two places

February 28, 2015 § 6 Comments

Time has, yet again, completely eluded me. We have just finished week 4 of our sixth – our sixth! – semester. It feels like we’ve just started. At least until I look back and focus on some of the things we’ve done and learned. In those moments, I realize how far we’ve come.

Third year has been by far the busiest (something that is clearly reflected in my activity on here). I’ve planned my schedule in such a way that there is something I should be doing during almost every hour of the day. The breaks between my classes are sometimes barely enough time to run to the restroom and once I’m done at school I have to get as much studying done as possible.

We have very few midterms this semester, so pretty much everything is riding on our levels of self-motivation. Lucky for me, that’s one area where I’m not lacking. Though this self-motivation is chiefly anxiety driven, I’m just happy that I am getting somewhere.

I’ve still be struggling a bit with exactly how I should study for all my classes. In their respective classes, all the subjects seem so important. Prioritizing one of the other has been pretty difficult for me. So, I had to just decide to put most of my efforts into pathology. It was my worst subject this past exam period, and I think it deserves more attention this round. Plus, our final exam in it is going to be a monster. It will consist of several practical parts and then one theoretical part, consisting of 3 hand selected topics from a total of 191 topics (check the list here)! For the practical part we will have:

1 specimen identification with description (there are around 70 or so pathology specimens (body parts) in sealed jars)

All 3 pathpots

1 histopathology identification with description (i.e. told that this is the small intestine, identify that it exhibits features of Crohn’s disease and discuss the theory behind it)

Crohn's Disease

1 autopsy case: we will be presented with the internal organs of a patient, given time to examine all the pathological changes, and then determine the cause of death (primary disease) and any secondary complications.

1 case report: we will be asked to discuss one of the autopsy cases we reviewed during the semester (we have a total of 14, of which 10 will need to be remembered for the exam).

At the moment, my study technique is to prepare the topics as I would want to present them on my exam. For patho, I’ve switched to taking my notes in a notebook. I’ve found that the freedom of the note-taking app on the iPad is great for some classes, but more “damaging” to others (efficiency and efficacy-wise) . For example, for the pathology topics I did in my iPad, I unconsciously spent way too much time making the perfect layout and having all the points in a perfect order. Now, I read though the book, then through my lecture notes and notes written by a past student. After that, I visualize a sort of “topic- map” for myself and only then do I draw it out into my notebook. When I add in things, it can get a little messy, but I can tell that I am actually learning a lot more than when I took notes in my iPad.

Before: on iPad


After: notebook


But then for microbiology, it is really great to have the iPad notes. We have to learn so many different organisms and one of the ways to do this is image association. Last semester we covered bacteria and I used SketchyMicro. They just announced that they will be releasing videos for viruses and fungi on March 14th this year and I couldn’t be more excited! Before they announced the release though, I figured I had to take things into my own hands and make my own drawings. I did several for protozoa and Notability was the perfect tool!

Example of SketchyMicro’s images

Staph Aureus

Bianca style! 😉


Outside of these, we still have pathophysiology, genetics, surgery, internal medicine, medical psychology and…I honestly can’t remember the last one. Oh! Medical imaging.

Last week, we were supposed to have our first surgery practice, but we missed it. There was a lot of confusion around it because we were supposed to take it during the second week but there was a conference, so they moved it to the third week. We thought that the retake would be on Thursday, the normal day of our practice, but when we got there we found out that it had actually been the day before! We were both really bummed, so we decided that to make up for it, we would do a “surgery date night” that Friday.

Skjalg picked up surgical tools at school and we settled in for the night with some partially peeled oranges. We didn’t have any proper training, but it was still fun to pretend.

My first ever sutures!

My first ever sutures! Now I know that they are a) cut too close to the knot, b) knots shouldn’t be over the wound site, should be off to the side c) too close to the wound edge, d) not properly spaced 😛

This past Thursday was our “second” surgery practical and was going to be our day of learning sutures! Since Skjalg and I had practiced at home, it wasn’t too foreign. Although, there were a lot of “rules” that we hadn’t followed properly and suturing an orange is a lot different than suturing the weird tissue sponge thing we had in class. We spent the first half of the class learning two knot types: Viennese and surgical. We need to know how to do them with both hands and let’s just say that I was completely unaware of just how lacking my left hand is when it comes to dexterity. Practice, practice, practice!

For the second half of class, we practiced suturing. After about half an hour, our teacher told us that we had 10 more minutes of practice and then we would have a little competition. I suddenly got nervous and started shaking (great) and when she came over to check my work, I proceeded to do every single thing wrong (i.e. breaking the needle in the “tissue”, holding the forceps wrong, pulling the thread all the way through the tissue, making a knot in the thread before I was done, etc.)! Luckily, it was still practice time…

When the 10 minutes were up, she told us to clear our sutures and prepare for the competition: 3 stitches in 10 minutes. Since I want to be a surgeon and this is the closest thing I’ve ever been to that, I was putting a lot more pressure on myself than logically necessary. Still, I managed the three sutures and then did a forth just in case. The sutures have to be 1 cm from the wound edge, 1-1.5 cm apart from each other (and parallel to each other), and the thread should be cut 1 cm from the knot. After 6 years, I’m still in this weird limbo state between inches and cm, so I was a little worried I’d over(or under)estimated.

After the time was up, we all got up and walked around to examine each other’s sutures. We each then chose two people to vote for. Once the teacher had tallied the votes and announced the winners, I was shocked to hear my name called for first place. There are two more little class competitions and then the winner gets to go to a competition for the whole year. At this competition there will be one person from each group. The top 3 will get a grade of 5 for the class and the rest will get 4’s – so it is a pretty good deal!


Ok, back to patho for me!

Post title: Quote by Tennessee Williams, The Glass Menagerie

6th Semester’s a go!

February 4, 2015 § 4 Comments

School has started and I should be in bed. It’s early…or it’s late…depending on who you ask and what their personal day rhythm is like. Considering I have to get up at 6:00 and should be aiming for 8 hours of sleep, I’m going to go with “it’s late”.

After exams were over, my body somehow adapted an entirely new sleep schedule. I think it was the excitement of being able to stay up and do nothing coupled with the pleasure of sleeping in because there was nothing to do. So, slowly over a week, the schedule changed from around 23:00/midnight to 7:00/8:00 to 03:00 to 10:30 (and sometimes, embarrassingly enough, 11:00). It was horrible and wonderful at the same time. I really loathe waking up late. It makes me feel as though I have wasted the day away. Is there anything charming about having breakfast at 14:00 in the afternoon? However, after the brutal hell of exam period, it became a guilty pleasure. Why am I bringing this up? Well, because I never worked back to a normal schedule and now I am paying the price. I’m too awake at night and dead tired during the day. Self-imposed pseudo-jet lag we can call it…

Today was a long day of lectures and a 2 hr 15 min internal medicine practical. The schedule has changed this semester so we are in a totally different group, on a different floor, with a different teacher. While I am a little sad that it won’t be the same as last semester, I am looking forward to new challenges. The doctor we are assigned to is gone this week, so we had a substitute teacher. Hopefully we’ll be happy with the one we end up with (his name means champagne in Hungarian, so he can’t be all that bad). Dr. Champagne

My groupmate Batel and I were assigned a patient together and after the session was done, we stayed after to ask our substitute teacher questions about our patient’s diagnosis. The patient was quite old, very weak and had a violent cough. We were able to find that his/her heart was enlarged, but nothing past that. (Every time I have to present a patient…).

The doctor shared that the patient suffered from dilated cardiomyopathy and had acquired bronchopneumonia while in the hospital. The cause of the heart condition was chronic alcohol abuse, which we wouldn’t have been able to diagnose during our examination because the patient had told us that he/she had never consumed alcohol. (How I feel when the patient tells me one thing and then tells the attending something completely different).

Despite the long day, I’d planned quite the study load. By 19:00, I couldn’t stop yawning enough to read a sentence. I decided to give bed a try…and what a bad idea that was! All that happened was a short nap, some angry attempts at falling asleep and then a bunch of searching in the app store for the perfect apps for my books and schedule. Exciting, right? And now, I’ll show how awesome these apps are. Technology is amazing!

These will be my 3 main school apps. Last semester, I switched over to taking most of my notes on my iPad. It was a bit of a tough transition, but I’m really enjoying it. In fact, I’m noticing that I prefer how fluid the information is! Nothing I write is committed for eternity. It can be copied, enlarged, flipped, recolored – you name it!


iStudiez Pro will be my planner. It copied over my schedule from my calendar, so I didn’t have to input everything again. I’ll be using it to keep my study tasks organized.


Ignore the “Doctor Appts” title. Need to change the name of the calendar 😛


You can access each of the subjects individual to see the tasks assigned to them.

UPAD is a notetaking app, but I’ll be using it for my books. I’ve been using GoodReader until now, but really don’t like the interface. I wanted something as intuitive as Notability (see next), but needed a different program so that I can use them simultaneously. This one has a feature that makes it much easier to scroll through hundreds of pages, so it is actually much better than Notability when it comes to large files. It will allow me to highlight, take margin notes and take screen shots to input into my notes in Notability.


Last is my absolute favorite – and my lifesaver! Notability. I used this program all last semester and I honestly can’t recommend it enough. It has an iPad app as well as a MacBook version and they synchronize automatically over iCloud. Everything backs-up to Dropbox anytime I change a file, so I never have to worry about losing anything. I can take pictures and input them into my notes, plus take audio that follows along with any notes I make. I take all my notes directly into the program using my stylus. A little getting used to – but so worth it!


Here’s an example of how iPad note-taking trumps paper notes. This is from today’s internal medicine lecture. I wasn’t able to get down all the info in time and there were some complicated diagrams, so I just snapped a picture and drew directly on it. Saves me so much time (and confusion) later!


Ok, only 5.5 hours of sleep ahead of me – let’s try this again…

Paris pics to come!!

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