Midterms: Check!

March 29, 2015 § Leave a comment

This past week took me for all I had. For many it was a calm week before Easter break, but for me and several others, it was quite the opposite.

I started off the week already pretty exhausted since, last week, we had our midterms in medical imaging and pathophysiology. The medical imaging exam was significantly more challenging than we had been led to believe by students of previous years. We’d been told that no one would get anything below a 3. For us, it was quite the opposite: only 1 person got a 5 and 78 people got less than a 3! The class itself is divided into two parts, anatomy and biophysics, and this midterm covered the material for the anatomy portion. The exam consisted of identification of 80 anatomical structures in CT, MRI and gross anatomical images. Since this midterm was at 18:00 on the night before the pathophys midterm, the only studying I did was on that same day, for about six intense hours. Luckily, I ended up with a 3. I would have liked to do better, but I’d made the decision to prioritize pathophys.



After the midterm was done, the last thing I was in the mood for was going home to do last minute cramming for pathophysiology. I battle quite frequently with anxiety before exams and one of the things Skjalg has suggested I do is to set smaller goals for myself. It’s so easy to say you’re going to “sit down and study patho” without actually specifying what you are going to cover. The problem with that is that you will never accomplish that goal. You’ll never be done studying a subject. The only way to feel like you are getting anywhere is to set smaller goals and actively feel proud when you accomplish those goals. So that night, after a little power nap, I asked myself what would make me feel proud, what would make me give myself a pat on the back and go to bed happy. I then stayed up as long as needed to make my goal, did a little extra and went to bed happy.

For this midterm, we had six topics for which we needed to know theory and diagnostics:

Screen Shot 2015-03-29 at 15.42.43

The exam itself consisted of one case, for which we needed to evaluate, diagnose and plan treatment. We go through the cases during the semester, so there isn’t anything new at the exam, but you need to be able to do more than state a memorized diagnosis.

I was pretty nervous before the exam. I spent maybe half an hour walking around in circles memorizing the various values we need to know. When I finally entered the room, chose my topic and sat down to start preparing, I realized I didn’t recognize my topic at all. I had gone through it at least three or four times before, but it apparently didn’t stick. So, I had to go blind, with the knowledge that I had gained while studying and hope that the diagnosis I came up with was the correct one.

Screen Shot 2015-03-29 at 15.43.34

Our examiner for this midterm was the same I’d had for my both my semi-final and the midterm last semester. He prefers you to walk him through your thought process, rather than immediately report the diagnosis. So, I took the time to read through the entire question with him while noting my inferences from the various symptoms and values. At one point I said that I suspected metabolic compensation due to the normalized pH value in spite of the low pCO2 and he asked the only question he asked me during the entire exam, “Is it?” (as in, “Is there metabolic compensation?”), to which I replied yes. At the end I stated the diagnosis – chronic respiratory alkalosis with metabolic compensation resulting from respiratory infection – and said that I would confirm it with a chest X-ray. His smiled and said, “Well…what to do with you…it’s a 5”.

Pushing through this week was tough. I decided to take my microbiology midterm covering fungi and parasitology this Thursday (it is scheduled for the 12th week, but he is letting us take it earlier if we want to) and then there was the matter of the surgery competition! The surgery competition took place on Friday, but before that, I had to pass the last mini-competition in our class on Thursday in order to be the one elected to go to the main one. We had a substitute teacher that day and were going to be practicing continuous sutures. I did ok during the practice and the substitute gave me good feedback, but when it came to our little group competition, everything went wrong…

To be continued 😉

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