March 2015

How to Study

  1. Its Saturday, which we all know means “uninterrupted day of studying.” You wake up later than you mean to, because you either a) were a gunner and stayed up late on Friday night studying or b) took a mental health evening and stayed up watching Disney movies until 2 AM.  Better make yourself a big cup of coffee to wake yourself up and a good breakfast to fuel your studying.                                                                 anna
  2. Oops! You get distracted watching Saturday morning cartoons while you eat breakfast and an hour goes by. Oh well, better get your notes out and start some intense studying.  But your desk is trashed from constant work during the week.  Honestly, it would be difficult to study under these conditions, so you HAVE to take twenty minutes to tidy up your desk.    cleaning
  3. In the course of cleaning your study area, you trip over the dirty clothes that cover your floor.  That’s a safety hazard–you could have seriously hurt yourself!  It would be irresponsible of you not to pick them up and wash them.  It will only take a few minutes to throw them into the washer.                                        GIF-Doing-laundry
  4. Now that the clothes are in the dryer, you could start studying, but you only have an hour before you have to interrupt your studying again to get the clothes out of the dryer. Besides, you noticed that your shower was getting a little gross.  How could you possibly focus with a dirty shower?                                                         brock
  5. Now that you think about it, the kitchen is still unkempt from breakfast.  And how long has it been since you cleaned your stove top?  That’s unsanitary. Better take care of that quickly.     colbert
  6. Clothes are out of the dryer!  Might as well save yourself some time and fold them now.  And look, you can watch Modern Family reruns while you do!                                                                                                                                       laundry
  7. Now its lunchtime and you’ve worked up an appetite with all that hard work.  You could make a sandwich to eat while you start studying, but you’ve got some hamburger meat that will go bad soon if you don’t use it.  It won’t take that much more time to whip up some lasagna.                                                                           pooh
  8. And the kitchen is messy again.                                                           snowwhite
  9. No more nonsense!  You’ve wasted the morning and now it is time to buckle down.  You get out your computer to access study materials, but while you are there you might as well check your emails.  Also, you should check facebook.  Hey–I know what you are thinking, but this isn’t irresponsible!  Checking the class facebook page could alert you of important things that you need to know about!  But somehow you fall down an internet spiral and end up looking through entire albums of your friends’ pictures.  When did she cut her hair?  Also, everyone you know is having babies–is something wrong with you?                                                                                                                                                       mylife
  10. Ok, pull it together!  You are smart and funny and in medical school–unless you fail out of school because you never got around to studying.  Focus!                          pro1
  11. Hungry again.                                                                                                                                                                                                     food
  12. This is the worst—you’ve been studying for two hours and you’ve barely gotten through two lectures worth of material.  Nothing is sticking.  Better make some coffee so that you can focus.                                              adventuretime
  13. Study break!  But no facebook–you know what happened last time.  Just pop over to youtube for a few minutes and watch a funny video.                                                                                                                                                                   break
  14. 30 minutes of youtube later, you are hungry again because you watched a video listing the thirty best donut flavors.  You are starved, but you don’t want lasagna.  You look in your pantry and realize you have no study food–no wonder you couldn’t focus!  Who could possibly review biochemistry without M&M’s and potato chips?  Better make a snack run.                                                                                              snacks
  15. An hour and $50 later, you are back at home with unhealthy food stuffs, ready to study.  You are going to be so productive, except you started eating Cheetos and get orange stuff all over your fingers.  You don’t want to make a mess, and you don’t want to constantly wash your hands every time you need turn a page, so you wait to start studying until you finish the bag.                                                          cheetos
  16. And now that you have eaten something salty, you want something sweet.  Where did you put those cookies?                                            cookie
  17. No more distractions!  You sit down, blast the study music, and focus on your notes.  Its slow going at first, but the next thing you know you look up at the clock and its midnight and you’ve looked over most of the material you meant to cover today. Good for you!  You are crushing the medical school thing.                                                                                                studying
  18. Time for bed–you want to make sure to get a good night’s sleep so you can do this all again tomorrow!
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Thank You Jimmy Kimmel

Fair warning:  this blog post contains pro-vaccine opinions. 

I don’t know about the rest of you, but I was incredibly sad to hear that we would be loosing both John Stewart and Steven Colbert in the coming year.  Where will I get my news?    I find the loss of these programs particularly upsetting because there is a special kind of truth that comes from satire, and in my opinion both Stewart and Colbert did a wonderful job of presenting difficult and dividing issues in a way that made their viewers think.  I’m bringing this up because the other day I saw a clip from another TV host–Jimmy Kimmel–that did a fantastic job of using humor to get a message out (á la The Daily Show).

The Anti-Vaccine movement has been attracting a lot of media coverage recently, what with the Disney measles outbreak.  As a medical student and future doctor, I have a vested interest in this debate (if you can really call the issue a ‘debate’).  It baffles me that people would want to put their children in danger.  I don’t understand why we are still having this discussion, but apparently there are those that are still confused.  And as physicians (not famous people), I’m sorry to say that the medical community doesn’t have the popularity to get the word out as much as say, I don’t know, Jenny McCarthy.  At the end of the day, it really comes to which side is yelling the loudest, and unfortunately the anti-vaccine movement often wins in that arena.  Which is why I appreciate this unsolicited support from someone like Jimmy Kimmel.  Its humor makes the clip a form of entertainment, but the seriousness of the message still shines through.

There are two big reasons why I love this video (and a dozen more small ones that I won’t bore you with here).  The first is that Kimmel addresses what I think is one of the most important arguments against the anti-vaccine movement (besides potentially saving their life):  that it puts other children in danger.  Yes, feel free to argue that your healthy child can probably survive measles and get their immunity ‘naturally’.  But what about people with impaired immune systems?  What about children with cancer, genetic immune deficiencies, or those that are too young to have developed an immune system?  Your child could pass on the disease to someone who might not be able to fight it off.  Besides, its not just the immunocomprimised that have potentially life threatening reactions to these diseases.  Regular, seemingly healthy children can get encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) from chicken pox, or hearing loss, pneumonia, or subacute sclerosing encephalitis from measles (yes, the measles that you are so unconcerned about).  Children die–we have forgotten this fact because with modern medicine, the number of childhood illnesses has fallen so much in the last century.

The second reason that the video brings up is the implied mistrust of doctors that inherently comes with the anti-vaccine movement.  Twelve years of obligatory school, four years of university education, four years of medical school, and 3-??? years of residency and fellowship to become a doctor and you still don’t trust our medical knowledge?  The main argument that I seem to hear from the anti-vaccine community is that Doctors and Scientists are ignoring the evidence against vaccines (possibly for our own gain?).  First, any evidence that suggested danger in vaccines has been disproven over and over again.  Do you think we looked at information that suggested we were harming people and said “Eh, its probably fine.”  No.  We have invested time, money, and effort to make sure that vaccines were safe.  And then when we proved that they were, we kept checking, because the safety and well-being of others is kind of our job. Besides, as a former professor of mine once said:  Scientists never agree on anything.  We like to argue.  There is always someone willing to oppose your ideas.  The theory that all of the scientific community has come together to deceive the public is absurd–we are not nearly that organized.  Second, vaccines are the single most important medical development of the last century.  As the video states:  “Do you remember that time you got Polio?  No–because your parents got you vaccinated.”  Walk through a really old church grave yard sometime.  Look at all the graves of children and remember that death in childhood was heartbreakingly common even 50-100 years ago.  Vaccines have allowed us to stop many of these common, devastating disease outbreaks that previously swept through the population.  When I suggested that a child get vaccinated, I’m not twirling my evil mustache, laughing maniacally to myself about my evil plan to cause the child harm.  I am taking the best medical evidence out there and giving the child the chance of a better, healthier life.

So thank you, Mr. Kimmel.  It is a wonderful thing to see you using your fame and reach to advocate for such an important issue.  I hope you continue to do so in the future.