Sunday, January 27, 2008

Lost our first classmate

Of the 119 member class of 2011, there is now 118. It was inevitable as we have finished 3 courses (gross, developmental anatomy & biochemistry) and everyone knows where they stand.

On a better note, everyone in the class passed the gross board exam with a class average of 560. The national average was 500 & the class of 2010 averaged 460. So the accomplishment makes me feel proud.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Making the effort to "Go Green"

I hate creating waste. I hate looking at all of the things that I throw away. I hate living in a house with things that I never use. If you have ever been to my house in Jackson, MS, you will realize that I don't keep things that I don't use. The house looks a little sparce, but it is much easier than having a ton of stuff that you don't want to have to move, take care of, and clean around. None of my closets are over flowing. I have nothing in the attic. I have very few things in my garage. I recycle as much as I can. I compost. I put on one, maybe two kitchen size bags of trash each MONTH. Still, I feel like I should be doing more.

I signed up for "We can live green." It gives you one thing per day that you can do to live green. The first tip is to stop all the junk mail from coming to your house. How do you do this? Go to this website STOP JUNK MAIL. Opt out of that junk mail, just like you opt out of telemarketing calls.

I also joined It is a site where you can give away stuff or ask for things that you want among people who live in your town. I have a ton of bamboo in my yard that I constantly cut down. I hate that it goes to a landfill, when it is nice thick bamboo. I listed it, and someone came and picked it up. I also list stuff to be given away of This site is also divided by city. It sure does beat throwing stuff in a landfill. Other good options is donating to a local charity like the Salvation Army or Home's of Grace. I keep a box in the closet with things that I need to put in the Salvation Army drop box. When I am going in the direction of the drop box, I put my items in the car and drop them off on the way.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Act in Time

Physiology lectures about the heart are great. I have spent so much time in cardiology, I am finding this block to be a breeze. I just want to take a moment and remind you about the warning signs of heart attacks and strokes. Even if you don't want to read this, glance over the bolded terms. Just in case you forgot one.

Some times heart attacks happen instantly with great pain, but lots of times, most heart attacks start slowly, with mild pain or discomfort. Often people affected aren't sure what's wrong and wait too long before getting help.

Here are signs from the AHA that can mean a heart attack is happening:
  • Chest discomfort or pain - occurs in the center of the chest. It can feel like uncomfortable pressure, fullness or squeezing. It lasts a few minutes or goes away and comes back.
  • Discomfort or pain in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach.
  • Shortness of breath with or without chest discomfort.

Other signs may include:

  • breaking out in a cold sweat
  • nausea
  • lightheadedness

Women are somewhat more likely than men to experience some of the other common symptoms, particularly shortness of breath, nausea/vomiting, and back or jaw pain.

Signs of Stroke:

  • Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body
  • Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding
  • Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
  • Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
  • Sudden, severe headache with no known cause

Minutes matter! Fast action can save lives — maybe your own. Don’t wait more than five minutes to call 9-1-1. You can get treatment in an ambulance on the way to the hospital which will help save your heart or your brain. The sooner you get this treatment, the better your chances of a full recovery. If you wait a long time, then decide you need to go to the ER, drive yourself & sit in the waiting room, you could be causing unneccesary, irreversable damage.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

I love this poor hungry kitty almost

I love this hungry kitty almost as much as I loved my fat kitty that I left at home when I came to medical school.

Finding time to volunteer...

Medical school students have plenty of chances to do volunteer work. Many of us are overachievers who were required to volunteer and join social clubs in order to show that we could not only excel in academics, but in social affairs as well in order to be accepted into medical school. I swear that their are as many leadership and volunteer positions at UMC as their are medical school students. For every specialty, their is an interest group. For every interest group, there are officers and liaisons to each of the four classes of medical school students. We also have officers for each class, and we have a student body which has another set of officers. We also have the Ever's Society, which is group of students who coordinates surveys of each class and each professor to ensure that the classes continue to improve year after year. We have a liaison committee, which is responsible for challenging questions on our exams. This allows the instructors to keep from receiving 50 emails after each exam wondering why someone didn't get something right. There is no shortage of activities.

Personally, I am the Director of the 2011 Note Taking Service (NTS). I coordinate to have all of the audio for each day's classes to be recorded. The audio is made available on our class NTS website. Each person in the NTS is assigned an audio file for which they have to transcribe nearly verbatim within 40 hours of the lecture. The transcription is then posted on the website. (Beats going to class!) I don't do this alone. The NTS has 4 members and falls under the direction of the VP for my class. There is me, a treasurer, a web site coordinator and a recording coordinator. I am also one of two web site coordinators for my class' website and the medical school help website. These aren't huge jobs, but I cherish what I do.

I also volunteer at the Jackson Free Clinic. The clinic is staffed by students to help the people of Jackson who have inadequate access to medical care. It isn't anything special as far as clinics go, but it is special. It provides learning opportunities for students. It allows them to practice real time skills on patients under the supervision of a volunteer physician. It also allows people who can't afford to go to a physician, the ability to get the medical care that they deserve. Students work in teams with an M3 or M4 heading the team and M1 & M2's with them. The upperclassman has the skills that s/he passes down to the lowerclassmen. It also provides the lowerclassmen with an opportunity to discover what the next few years of our lives will be like by socializing with the upperclassmen that we rarely get to see because they are in the wards while we are still in the classroom. Each weekend, you get to work with different students and a different physician, maximizing the learning experience.

If you ever wanted to donate to a cause that helps underserved patients and medical students of Mississippi, considering donating to JFC. It is completely tax deductible.

There are probably even more volunteer activities, but I can't keep up with all of them. You will never lack for a position and a way to spend your free time in medical school.

Coming Soon

I created this blog to give information to other student applying to medical school the University of Mississippi Medical Center. I believe that I covered it all with...

Grades/MCAT Score & Preperation
Low MCAT score advice
AMCAS Personal Statement
AMCAS Activities
Interview, Tips & Preperation

It is about time that I start talking about what actually occurs in the courses that I am taking and what I need to start thinking about for my future. Please check back each week to learn about the courses I take, how my days are structured, time committments, how to get a free lunch, nbme board exams, finding time to volunteer, etc.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

I want to say something profound, but all I have is this...

Some many months ago, I lost a friend. She didn't die, but she walked away when I needed her to still be there. I haven't yet gotten a true explanation...but I am waiting. I want to say something profound and emotional, but all I have is; 'I miss you, friend.'

When I see her, she avoids my eyes and pretends I am not there. Some things hurt more deeply than I believed they would. I have tried to empty my life of the things that remind me of her just to stop the pain I feel.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Denise, Development, Life

The astounding complexity of human development is understated to say the least. To summarize, skipping most of the details, two solitary cells find one another among billions of others, and manage to join together. Together, they're barely visible to the human eye, but they start dividing and growing. After a few days, the tiny clump of cells is called a morula (because it looks like a mulberry) and this is what all the embryonic stem cell fuss is about. Each of these cells has the potential to change into any cell type in the body. By studying these cells, scientists could solve some of the major mysteries of medicine, and develop cures to some of our worst diseases.

After a month, you would be hard pressed to distinguish the human embryo from that of a gecko. It's only 5 millimeters long, which is a bit smaller than a tic-tac. One short month later, and you can clearly see a 3 centimeter long version of a little person. It has all of the muscles and bones of an adult by this point. The heart beats, and the eyes, nose, and ears are formed. Each step along the way makes perfect sense, one tissue inducing another to fold, or differentiate, or break free of some attachment, and it all coalesces into that two-month-old floating fetus we all saw in 8th grade health class (unless you went to Catholic school and learned how amazing Jesus was instead.) And it's really interesting to learn why and how this all happens.

Now this little fetus is what the other big fuss is about, and I don't really want to get into that here because that's not the kind of point I'm trying to make. What I really wanted to say is: for those of you with kids, or thinking about having kids, you should spend a little time and read about this process. It's tough--really complicated and confusing, but I think you'll learn a lot about life by studying how it actually keeps itself going. Everyone always calls it a "miracle." Personally, I don't think something that's happened to every single person, everywhere, ever, should be called a "miracle," but I understand the sentiment. Also, make sure you take in enough folic acid during the 4th week.

I guess that's it... Not much of a point here. Just wanted to remind everyone that they're part of something that's truly amazing, and sometimes we miss it all when we don't stop to look at the details. And, amidst all the relationship troubles, financial worries, and general misery that is most of human life, there is a pervasive and elegant beauty, entwined. And I know it sounds stupid, or sappy, or effeminate, or something, to type what I just typed, but I think there's a lot of value in stopping your life for a while to really appreciate these things. The basics. I'll get off my soapbox now. Thanks.