KCOM

The Tests That Shall Not Be Named

Question:  How do you know if you are a second year medical student?

Answer: If you are terrified at the very mention of Boards.

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Being a second year medical student is disconcerting for a couple of reasons.  The first is that professors assume that because you are a second year, you are prepared to be dumped back into school with little warning.  Personally, I could have done with a little coddling–much better than the “40 hrs of school with three quizzes and two labs right off the bat” approach this year began with.

The second reason is that people keep talking to me about Boards.  In case you didn’t know, to be a doctor you have to pass a series of horrific tests known collectively as “Boards.”  You might also know them by the names COMLEX or USMLE, for osteopathic and allopathic schools respectively.  At the end of your second didactic year of medical school, you take Step one of your boards (Step 2 is before fourth year, and Step 3 is before you start a residency).  Your Step 1 board scores play a role in determining what residencies you are able to get.  In a little under a year, I am going to be taking an 8 hour, 400 question test that will determine my future in medicine.

I'm not scared--you are scared!

I’m not scared–you are scared.

In the five weeks since school has started, the administration has spoken to us several times, as well as two separate board prep companies trying to sell us material.  STOP TALKING TO ME ABOUT BOARDS.  I get it.  My entire future rests on my performance. Stop trying to freak me out.  The worst part is that everyone agrees that you shouldn’t start studying until about 6 months before you take it–roughly January.

It feels like people keep running up to me telling me to panic about a future event, but stop me when I try to do something about it.  Its like a strange game of “red light, green light” where even if I get a green light, I have to stay put.

itanic

But at the same time, as much as I want to study (to get rid of the anxious “your whole future is riding on this” feeling), I am also really lazy/busy with school and don’t want to do any extra studying.  Seriously, med school.  Stop giving me stuff to do.  I hate to say it, but I might be getting just a little bit overwhelmed.

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So if you talk to me in the next year and I seem worried about something, you can pretty much guess what it is.  Boards.  Ugh, just typing the word gave me chills.  My new plan is to simply avoid talking about COMLEX or USMLE at all–Hence forth they shall be known as the tests that shall not be named.  Now excuse me while I live the rest of the year in blissful ignorance of the terror to come.

 

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Stress Spiral

I never thought I would be that girl.  You know, the one that worries about getting enough points in a class to pass.  But this last semester, I found myself going into finals with a C–the horror!–in one of my classes.  I wasn’t failing, but the final exam counted for so many points that I started to get concerned.  Last semester I went into finals worried that my grades would drop, but unconcerned about failing–the finals didn’t count for more than 10% of my grade, so I only needed a handful of points in each class to pass.  This semester was a little different, and because the finals counted for so much more, they were much more stressful.

In the case of my low grade, that particular class had very few points offered, which meant the final exam counted a great deal towards my final grade.  A few days before the final, I counted up how many points I needed in order to pass and I panicked.  It seemed like I needed so many points that I would surely fail.  I was under so much stress that I spiraled until I was sure that not only would I fail this class, but that I would be made to repeat my first year of medical school.

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I will ruin the surprise right now and tell you that didn’t happen.  In fact, looking back I feel incredibly foolish for freaking out as much as I did.  At one point I was crying in the study room while my perplexed boyfriend–bless his heart–tried his best to remind me that I am intelligent, I knew the material, and wasn’t going to fail.  As much as I fretted and panicked, I ended up with good grades.  I got a high C in the class I was worried about, but otherwise got B’s.  Its embarrassing the amount of stress I gave myself over an outcome that didn’t come close to occurring.

It was a terrible week, imagining the worst about something that didn’t even happen.  I am usually fairly calm, and am proud to say that other than this particular week, I do a really good job of keeping my stress to a minimal.  However, that week I lost it.  I don’t know how, but I went from having a normal healthy amount of anxiety, to panicking about having to repeat my first year of medical school (an outcome that would have required me to actively try fail).

Boy-That-Escalated-Quickly-Anchorman

I was not doing badly enough that failing should have been such a worry to me, but I lost myself in irrational “what if’s”.  Its hard to successfully manage stress when you are barely sleeping, studying 16 hours a day, and can’t maintain your normal schedule.    And after a long semester of stress slowly building up, I was met with a final week of trying to relearn all that material. I guess I should have seen my minor freak out coming!

We get bombarded with information, day in and day out.  We are tested constantly.  The hardest thing about medical school isn’t necessarily the complexity of the information, it is the shear volume of it.  With only a few days to reacquaint myself with the information before the final, I began to feel as though I would never get through it all.  This only added to my anxiety as I shut myself in the library and overwhelmed myself with information from past exams.

plaq

But after all that worry and heartache, my grades were fine.  I spent so much time last week in a panic, and it was absolutely not worth it.  I work hard, and in general, I get great grades.  This semester, I got a C.  The world didn’t end.  I’m still going to be an amazing doctor.  I’m never going to stop trying my best, but never again am I going to let my stress level spiral out of control like that.

I’ve been home on break for a week now, and I’ve done nothing but read novels and re-watch episodes of Parks and Recreation.  It has been glorious.  I really didn’t realize how stressed I was until I had the time to just do nothing.  I know that I can’t have this kind of freedom during the school year, but hopefully I will be able to hold on to some of the perspective.  I don’t want to be one of those people is miserable in medical school because I put too much pressure on myself.  I’ve got a few weeks of summer to recover from the stress of my first year of medical school–hopefully that is enough time to refuel before starting the next semester.  But in the mean time I will just relax and bask in the satisfaction of being 1/4 a doctor!

The Epic Fail

The first thing that I would like to say, is that despite the fact that I am writing about my “failures” in medical school, this is not a depressing post.  I am not sitting alone in my apartment, crying and feeling sorry for myself as I rehash occasions where I have fallen short.  Because ‘failing’ in medical school is very different from ‘failing’ in undergrad.

In college, I and countless other pre-medical students would loudly lament any  points lost.  Getting a ‘B’ on a test–or heaven forbid, a class–was unacceptable.  It was because we were all desperately trying to stand out to medical schools.  Any hiccup in our transcript could mean the reason that we would be denied entrance.  I may have had a higher GPA in undergrad, but I think my quality of learning suffered.  Many times, I simply crammed for tests, focusing on flash memorizing bits of knowledge rather than deeply understanding concepts.

Medical school is a whole different ball game.  You can’t binge and purge knowledge.  In anatomy I do have to memorize the names of all the structures, but my tests are not vocabulary tests.  Instead, the questions are critical thinking–if a patient is in a car accident and breaks this bone, what nerve is affected? What muscle attachment is severed?

Which brings me to my failures:  my friends, I (finally) failed a section of a block exam.  Try not to be too shocked.  As I described in a previous post, we have a single exam every 3-4 weeks that include all the subjects we have had during that time period.  Some subjects have lots of questions (like anatomy) and some have just a few (our first medical physiology section had just 6 points available).  So it can be easy to fail a section.  In fact, at least half of my classmates failed a section our first exam.  I lasted until the third, and I know there are people who have yet to fail anything.

The second years came and did a presentation after the first block exam.  The gist was this–everybody fails at least one section of one exam.  Most people fail more than that.  But you still get to be a doctor.  With the physiology example, you only had to miss 2 questions to fail the section.  So instead of freaking out because you missed two flimsy questions, you just do better the next time.  The only thing that matters is that, at the end of the semester, you have a passing grade.

This last exam I failed the physiology section–there were 15 points total.  Opps.  If I had failed anything in undergrad, I would have beat myself up about it for weeks.  But I can honestly tell you that I am not even bothered.  I would rather have passed, but I have more block exams and a final a head of me.  In this particular case, I got to make up the section and aced it.  But even if I hadn’t had that opportunity, I would have worked hard to make up the lost points on the next test.  Even in the future when (yes, I said when) I fail something, I won’t take it too hard.  Because I have two responsibilities in medical school.  First, to make sure that I understand the material.  Second, to get a grade above a 70.  As long as I am doing that, I am not a failure, no matter how many points I miss.

youfailed

anditwasawesome

One of my favorite movies is “Meet the Robinsons” (seen above).  Not only is it absolutely adorable, but it has an incredibly meaningful message:  Failure is just another way to learn.  If I beat myself up every time I miss a question, every time I make a mistake, I won’t make it through medical school.  Because in that sense, I ‘fail’ everyday.  Yesterday, I gave a microbiology case presentation and in front of a professor and my peers I misdiagnosed the etiologic agent causing my patient’s illness.  I won’t lie, I’m upset about it.  I hate to make mistakes.  But I learned more from that mistake than I did studying the disease on my own.  And I refuse to make myself miserable over the fact that I am not perfect.

As Winston Churchill said, “Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.”  My goal for medical school–beside graduating–is to stay positive about myself and my future profession.  I don’t want to be one of those people that gets burnt out and bitter.  And an absolutely necessary part of that goal is changing my definition of failure and success.

Broken Fingers, Anatomy Practicals, and the ALS Ice Bucket Challange

I’ve had a busy last week and a half, as you can see from the title.  So here’s a quick update of whats been going on in my life:

  • Last Sunday (8 days ago) I broke my finger playing Ultimate frisbee.  I walked around with a huge sausage link of a finger for a few days but now it barely even hurts. Its funny, I was so sure that it wasn’t broken that when the doctor called to tell me the results of the x-ray I burst out laughing on the phone.  All that swelling meant  I couldn’t hold things like pencils or, say, my scalpel for anatomy lab.  Instead I used a probe (a tool which doesn’t have a point or blade), but at one point I lost control of the probe, flicked it across the room and lobbed a huge glob of adipose tissue in my lap!  After that I just watched my partners dissect; it was safer for everyone involved.   (The picture is from a couple of days ago, after the swelling and bruising had started to go down, but you can still see the beautiful purple bruising.)IMG_0950
  • Also, I had to do my OTM practical with a finger that didn’t bend.  We were only checking for rotation and flexion/extension preference, so it didn’t impede me in any way.  For those of you not trained in osteopathic manipulations, I was using my thumbs to feel how my partner’s vertebra were rotated and and whether they moved correctly (basically).  So all my other fingers were curled up out of the way but my index wouldn’t bend so it was just sticking up awkwardly as I checked everything 🙂
  • Last Friday I had my first anatomy lab practical.  I spent HOURS in the anatomy lab making sure I knew where everything was.  Its harder than it sounds–Its not just big things like “identify her left arm” or even “identify her deltoid.”  No, they ask mean things like, What is the name of that tiny cord that could be a nerve or could be a blood vessel?  And then you have sixty seconds to name the structure.  After I finished it, I felt pretty confident, but after talking to people over the weekend about their answers I was pretty sure I had failed.  Luckily, they just posted grades and I did pretty well.  Whew.
  • In other news, I have a new baby cousin born this week and we just found out the sex of my sister’s baby.  So exciting!  Its funny how other people’s lives keep going on while I am trapped…I mean attending medical school haha.
  • Then this morning I had my second block exam.  I feel like I only came home to sleep and spent the rest of my time at school.  At first I was holed up in the anatomy lab, then as soon as that was over, I spent all my time in the library reminding myself that there were other other classes beside anatomy.  I’m exhausted now–I’ve done nothing but study for days.   I’m not sure how that went yet–I’ll update you in a few days after its graded.
  • After I finished the exam, I came home and made cinnamon rolls because yum.  Don’t judge me–I’m from the South and I express my feelings of stress in food.  It took less than an hour and they were delicious.  Feel free to be jealous.

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  • Finally, the ATSU-KCOM class of 2018 was challenged to the ALS ice bucket challenge by our dean, Dr. Wilson.  This afternoon about 25 of us gathered to douse ourselves in ice water.  It was miserably hot, so I thought it would be a pleasant experience.  Guys, it was SO COLD.  Also, some ice got down my shirt which is always fun.  But it was a great experience for a wonderful cause.  And in turn we challenged the class of 2017, so there is more fun to come!Screen shot 2014-08-25 at 3.45.50 PM
  • Its funny, I biked back home soaking wet after this and people were giving me funny looks.  Did it rain only on me?  Do I have some sort of sweating disorder?  Nope, just voluntarily dumped ice water over my head.  Don’t mind me.

Well, thats what I’ve been up too.  Now I’m looking forward to a nice relaxing day of….studying for tomorrow’s osteopathic manipulation quiz. But first, a nap!

All About Anatomy: The Cadaver

Fair warning:  This is an entire blog post about what it is like to dissect a human cadaver.  Its not terribly disgusting, but proceed with caution.

When we had our first cadaver lab, I sat down to try to write a post about the experiences, but I had trouble trying to describe it.  Now that I have several weeks of anatomy lab under my belt….well, its still hard to find the words without completely horrifying the non-medical readers.  Even after taking my time writing this post, it might be advised for the more squeamish readers to just skip this one.

Anatomy lab was one aspect of medical school that made me simultaneously excited and apprehensive.  As in, I was excited because I’m a science nerd, but apprehensive because I didn’t want to be the person that tosses her cookies when she sees a dead body.

cadaver

I had already “met” my cadaver during orientation week, but I wasn’t sure how I would react to dissecting a human being.  Now having gone through several labs, can tell you that the best word to describe cadaver lab is “weird.”  I know that isn’t a very specific word, but its the only one that works.

The cadavers have been preserved with formaldehyde, and seem more like plastic dolls than humans.  The skins is leathery and the limbs are all but immobile.  There were six of us to a table, all standing around her trying to decide how to start.  Our first task was to identify the muscle groups of the back, and it took all six of us to maneuver our cadaver face down so that we could access her back.  The process was messy and difficult, but we took as much care as we could.  I guess we were all subconsciously trying to keep from causing her “pain”. But the next step was to make the first incision, so that impulse would have to be overcome quickly.We carefully read the instructions, determining where to cut and how deeply. Then another student asked the inevitable question:  “Who is going to cut first?”

back-of-class

The answer?  Me.  I wasn’t excited about the idea of cutting into another person’s skin, but I wanted to start as I meant to finish:  confidently.  Someone had to volunteer–it might as well be me.  In the end, making the first incision wasn’t gross, disturbing, or life altering.  At the time I was more concerned that I would cut incorrectly then the odd feeling of cutting into a body.  In fact, for the majority of my time with our cadaver, I can honestly say I don’t feel ‘weird’ about it.  I can’t say the same for when I leave lab, however.

The ‘weirdness’ of cadaver lab first hit me the afternoon of that first incision.  After I had taken about three showers–the smell of those chemicals follow you everywhere–I started to make dinner.  While cutting zucchini, I looked down at my hand holding a knife and suddenly thought, ‘An hour ago instead of a zucchini I was using a knife to cut open someone’s back.”  It was an odd thought.  I wasn’t grossed out or anything–I was still ready to scarf down my dinner–but I definitely became aware that dissecting a human being was not a normal experience for most people.

In many ways I am distanced from the idea of my cadaver as a person.  Or maybe it is more accurate to say that when I am in lab, I am aware that my cadaver was a person, but the act of dissecting her seems normal.  I can imagine that if I were cutting into a person who was alive, breathing, and looking me in the eye it would be a very different experience.  But during the dissection you are following instructions, trying to figure out what you should be doing, and you get distracted looking at the anatomical details.

Every so often, I am ‘weirded out’ by the things while I am in lab.  Yesterday, for instance, I spent nearly three hours dissecting the forearm and hand of our cadaver.  At some point I looked down at my hands and realized how eery the situation was:  I was literally holding someone else’s hands in my own as I skinned her fingers.  Looking at our fingers side by side was disconcerting–we both had our fingernails painted red.

I don’t, however, want you to get the idea that I think the cadaver labs are a bad idea, or somehow disrespectful of our cadavers.  I cannot emphasized enough how helpful and educational it is to view the actual structures in their natural configuration.  I can look at pictures and slides for hours and not truly understand the anatomical placement of muscles, bones, or vasculature, but when you are forced to find a structure in your cadaver it solidifies your learning in a way that is invaluable.  I do not know the name or life story of the woman who donated her body to my education, but she has impacted my education and future career more than I can say.  The process of dissection might be occasionally unsettling, but 99% of my time in anatomy lab is spent discovering and learning.

The worst part about anatomy lab is that its a very long lab and I get hungry half way through.  I shouldn’t be hungry as I cut into a cadaver, but I am none the less.  Actually, I take that back.  The worst part about anatomy lab is that the smell follows you everywhere.  Half an hour later I’ll be eating a sandwich–because, you know, I’ve been starving for the last hour of lab–and I can smell the formaldehyde on my fingers.  Yummy.

LizzyB

But seriously.

StevenColbert

Ok, enough of the GIFs.  And for those of you who were concerned, I will have you know that we students are extremely respectful of our cadavers.  The faculty at ATSU takes the matter very seriously–especially since many of the bodies were from the Kirksville area.  Imagine how traumatizing it would be to overhear students chatting about their cadavers in Walmart while you are doing your grocery shopping and realize they are talking about your family member.  So we are expected to maintain a professional attitude, an expectation I am proud to say that we have met.

Anyway, I apologize for the overly gross and dramatic post today–I just thought that since anatomy is such a big part of my life right now, you all should be forced to hear about it too 🙂

The Dreaded Block Exam

So I’m sure you are all wondering where I’ve been for the last week or so (because I know your lives revolve around my blog posts).  Well, I will tell you.  This Monday I had my first block exam of medical school.   What is a block exam, you ask?  Why, let me tell you! A while back, KCOM decided to change the way they tested to better prepare students for the board (the super fancy, super hard tests that I have to take before I can practice medicine).  You see, the boards are these huge tests that mix up all the subjects we study in medical school and apply them to real life medical situations.  So now, instead of taking separate tests for each individual subject, we take one big test with all the subjects mashed together.  That way, we are accustomed to the format when we go to take the boards.

For the last three weeks, I have been taking classes in biochemistry, anatomy, embryology, and histology (among others).  On Monday, I took an 86 question test that encompassed all the subjects we studied.  And boy, it was a doozy. They don’t just ask you multiple choice questions like “What type of leukocytes phagocytize bacteria?”  Instead, you get a paragraph about a little boy who presents with recurrent bacterial infections, but has normal antibody responses.  And from that you have to deduce which leukocyte might be impaired in such a situation. Or a story about a medieval knight is stabbed posteriorly at the level of T4–what nerves and muscles are affected by the wound?

johnstew

I studied and studied.  I would leaving my house in the morning with all my school things, a mug of coffee, and a bunch of food to sustain myself and just study for hours.  Last weekend, nearly the entire class of first years camped out in the group study rooms and library in a desperate attempt to absorb whatever facts we could.  Sunday night, some very nice upperclassmen brought candy and sodas to give us a boost.

Monday morning came, and I spent 120 minutes answering 86 questions about the subjects we had covered so far.  I came out of the test knowing that I had either done very well, or failed completely.  And today, a whole 48 hours later, I can proudly say I did well.  I cannot explain to you how happy I am that I don’t have to remediate this exam.

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Now, I am by no means top of my class (unless no one made higher than a mid-B, in which case I’m #1 guys!).  Its weird, I got used to making better grades in undergrad, but now all I want to do is pass.  Its kind of a freeing feeling.  In undergrad I had to be concerned that any slip up would be questioned during the admission process, but I am past all that now.  None of my future patients are going to investigate my test grades after all.

I hope.

That being said, the entire class of 2018 was exceedingly glad to be done with this first block exam.  Yes, we have another in a few weeks, but for a brief moment we didn’t have anything to study.  I spent Monday afternoon canoeing with a friend at nearby Thousand Hills State Park, watching movies, and FINALLY cleaning my apartment (which became unforgivably unkempt during my frenzied studying).  Interestingly, the next morning at an 8 AM lab, I noticed that quite a few of my classmates were mysteriously missing!  I wonder what celebrations they could have been up to the night before….

I Don’t Know What I Don’t Know

I have completed one full week of medical school and the only thing I can say with confidence is that I don’t even know enough to tell you what I don’t understand. Professors and upperclassmen constantly ask if I have any questions, and the answer is no.  I don’t have any questions.  But its not because I understand everything, its because you just threw a ton of information at me and I still haven’t had time to process what you said, let alone determine what I have questions about.

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Do I understand that embryology lecture?  Maybe.  I’ll let you know if my notes make sense when I reread them tomorrow.

What about Biochem?  He just explained that titration question I missed and it made sense while he was working it out. But could I do it on my own? And don’t even get me started on histology.  So many tissue types.  So, so many. The scary thing is that, with a few exceptions, we are still covering topics that I learned in undergrad. Imagine whats going to happen when I’m spending 40 hours a week trying to learn things I’ve never even heard of before!  The professors are so nice–completely accessible.  They practically beg us to come to them with questions and problems.  And I know that I will have so many questions–just as soon as I figure out what is going on! I’m not lost, per say.  I’m just feeling things out.  How detailed should my understanding be?  How do I know what is important, and what is a tangent.  Right now everything is new.  I’m not sure what I’m supposed to be doing.  In lab the other day, we were learning to palpate for abnormalities, and our instructor looked at me and said, “Why don’t you start?” and pointed me towards my partner. And because I am clearly very intelligent, I said, “Do you want me to touch him?”  My professor laughed at me.  Of course I was supposed to touch my partner.  That’s what palpate means (I swear I know vocabulary).  But what I actually meant to ask was How am I supposed to palpate?  It was our first lab.  I didn’t know where to start. I mean, where do I put my hands and then what do I do with them?

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I will say this:  Group studying is essential.  I was never really good at in undergrad, but one week into medical school and I don’t know what I would do without it.  Just sitting around and talking things over with a friend is indispensable.  Yesterday over lunch, Stephanie and I had a discussion about cytology (cell structure) and she asked a question I hadn’t considered.  Working the answer out together solidified my understanding better than any studying or reading could. And I love all this learning.  Really! Its awesome to be challenged everyday in new and exciting ways. The best part is that I’m immersed in subjects that I genuinely enjoy.  Yesterday we had our first ultrasound lab and I completely geeked out!  It is SO COOL to look at muscles and organs on the ultrasound machine and be able to pick out what everything is.  I am truly thrilled to be here; I just don’t know what I’m doing yet!

Captain Kirksville

As you may or may not know, Kirksville College of Medicine is the founding school of osteopathic medicine.  Ever.  Anywhere.  In 1892, a physician named A. T. Stills decided that the medical practices of the time (application of bloodletting, mercury, arsenic, and cocaine etc…) was more harmful than helpful.  So he decided to open a new school that focused on holistic medicine and osteopathic manipulation in the town where he practiced:  Kirksville.  121 years later, I am moving to Kirksville to attend that very school.

Statue of A. T. Still outside the Kirksville courthouse in the town square.

Statue of A. T. Still outside the Kirksville courthouse in the town square.

In many ways the town is inseparable from the university.  They have grown together over the past hundred + years until they truly embody the saying, “It takes a village to raise a doctor.”  Ok, so no one except me says that, but it is true.  The sense of community that I felt when I came to interview is one of the most important reasons I fell in love with KCOM.  So in honor of a fantastic town, I thought I would do an entire blog post about it, so that all you non-Kirksvillians (that’s also a made-up phrase) will have a better idea of what it is like here.

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I grew up in a tiny (TINY!) town, so Kirksville, population 17505, is not the huge culture shock that it is to some people.  I told my parents that it felt like I drove ten hours from home to arrive in the same town, just in Missouri.  The center of town is a gorgeous town square, with the two universities (undergraduate-Truman and graduate-A.T. Still University) branching out to the South and West respectively.  And, just in case you plan on dropping by during the summer, there is live music on the courthouse lawn friday nights and a superb farmers market on Saturday mornings.

 

One side of the Kirksville town square.

One side of the Kirksville town square.

Opposite side of the town Square.

Opposite side of the town Square.

Better view of the courthouse.

Better view of the courthouse.

Everything is within walking or biking distance, which I love.  It takes me between 6-8 minutes to bike to school in the morning and I can already tell you that a brisk bike ride is a great way to wake up!  ATSU has several buildings for lectures and labs, and is positioned along side The Northeast Regional Medical Center (the hospital associated with the medicals school).  Not to brag or anything, but ATSU has some pretty advanced features, such as a state of the art ultrasound lab and human simulators that do anything from simulating childbirth to colonoscopies.  Its pretty cool, but more on that to come.

atsu atsuTinning

 

I know nothing about Truman University except that it has a huge, beautiful campus that I love to cut through on my way to ATSU. Wikipedia tells me that it is a public liberal arts college founded in 1867 and just over 6000 students.

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Fun fact:  The building to the left–Baldwin Hall–was where they held our white coat ceremony (ATSU didn’t have an auditorium big enough to fit all the family members).

But the best part about Kirksville is how truly and honestly kind its inhabitants are.  I have yet to meet an unpleasant person.  People will greet you walking down the side walk, and ask you about school in the grocery store line.  When I attended church this Sunday, not only did people in the congregation overwhelm me with congratulations on attending medical school, but the couple sitting beside me gave me their contact information (“just in case I needed anything.”)  I could not have chosen a better place to spend for medical school and I am excited to be able to grow and learn here over the next few years.

White Coat Ceremony

In the 1990’s, “white coat ceremonies” became standard among medical schools as a way to celebrate the hard work require to get the students into medical school before entering four long, hard years of academic drudgery.  I like this tradition.  It gave me a time to bring my parents up to Kirksville and celebrate before they never see me again (slight exaggeration).  As much as I tease, it really was an exciting moment where I was able to look back at the struggle of the MCAT, applications, and interviews with a sense of pride and look forward to the almost overwhelming excitement of beginning medical school in two short days.

They gave us our white coats the first day of orientation, and it had been hanging in my closet begging to be worn.  I had to wait days and days!  Our white coats are donated to us, given by former graduates, and in my pockets were thank you cards addressed to the donors.  I hope they enjoy the thank you notes I wrote them!

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The ceremony was on Saturday July 12, 2014 and lasted approximately an hour.  We were welcomed by speeches from the faculty, as well as the second year’s class president and the student body president.  Then, each student walked across the stage and was helped into their new white coats by the Dean.  I was scared to death I would trip in my heels or suddenly have trouble putting on the white coat on stage, but thankfully neither happened.  My new friend Stephanie was selected as the representative from our class, and accepted the symbolic “key to the school” from the second year medical students, as well as giving a wonderful speech about what it meant to all of us to be attending KCOM.  I would have been petrified, but she blew it out of the water.

Stephanie and I (the "key to the school" is making a cameo!)

Stephanie and I (the “key to the school” is making a cameo!)

It was a really warm day, and after a little bit I wanted to get out of the white coat nearly as badly as I had wanted to get into it earlier!

Mom, Dad, and I after the ceremony.

Mom, Dad, and I after the ceremony.

After the ceremony, there was an open house at ATSU and I showed Mom and Dad around the school.  They had people in all the rooms, ready to do demonstrations in osteopathic manipulation, ultrasounds, and even work with the human simulators.  Also, there is a small Museum of Osteopathic medicine in the Tinning Educational Center that we visited.  All in all, a good day was had by all!

Mom, Dad, and I in front of ATSU

Mom, Dad, and I in front of ATSU