Posted by Jenegie On March - 8 - 2009

For anyone interested in how long it takes to get through medical school

HIV, HepB, HepC, syphilis, oh my...

Posted by jenegie On 10:45 PM 0 comments


Back in the days when we had cable t.v., I remember watching some "real life" medical show in which the doctor in training was "stuck" with a needle. The risks of disease were explained, and she had to go through serial blood tests to ensure that she did not contract any life-threatening diseases...I couldn't imagine her fear...

Several days ago, I was in the operating room. I was allowed to stitch two small incisions. I had been practicing my knot tying techniques and was thrilled to get some practice. Focusing diligently on my clumsy fingers as I tried to remember the sequence of knot tying, I poked my finger.

I felt the sting of the needle as it entered my finger. I proceeded to tie.

Somewhere within the "loop", "flip", "karate chop" instructions that were flowing through my head, it dawned on me that I had indeed been poked. I then started realizing that the needle had been in someone else. I looked down at my finger and noticed a small pool of blood forming under my gloves.

But I wasn't worried until the OR nurse rushed me over to the scrub sink and started pouring iodine over my finger and telling me about the testing that the patient would need to undergo. Testing for HIV, Hepatitis and syphilis....

Long story short, because I am a student, the patient is not being tested. But, I will be tested for the next year to make sure that I didn't contract any of these diseases.

I'm reminiscing about the days I wanted to be an architect...

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Posted by jenegie On 11:02 PM 0 comments
School has taken a new journey.  Rather than spending my time in class and the library, I am now learning in the clinical setting.  And, I have to say, I LOVE IT!!!!!!!  I will go into detail about surgery tomorrow...
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Posted by jenegie On 11:33 PM 0 comments

When I tell people that I am in medical school, one of the first questions that I get asked is "how long is that going to take?"  Usually, I just respond with "a very long time".  When I say this, it isn't because I am trying to seek sympathy, be witty, be rude or evade the question.  The thing is, it varies and it requires some explanation.  Most of the time, I'm not sure how much information people really want.  So here is the full explanation for how long it takes to become a doctor.

Let's start with Undergraduate.  For many students this is called "premed".  Thank goodness I am done here.  For MOST people that go to medical school, they start out by getting a degree in one of the sciences (most often, biological sciences).  If they don't get a degree in one of the sciences then they still have to take a number of science prerequisites to get into medical school.  The whole process for MOST students takes about 5 years.  Some students are able to complete this requirement within 4 years and others a lot longer.

Then there is medical school.  This is where I'm at.  Technically, medical school takes 4 years.  the first two years take place in the classroom and labs.  The second two years are in the hospital (called rotations because we rotate through the various areas of the hospital).  

Then there is residency.  This is where it becomes more complicated.  During residency, we are not in school anymore and we are called "doctors", but we are still learning and are getting paid very little.  This is also where there is a lot of variation.  Depending on the residency, it can take as few as three years to complete and I honestly don't know how long the longest residency takes.  After residency has been completed, one can become a full fledged, practicing doctor or one can continue their education with a fellowship.

Fellowships allow doctors to gain extra experience in a particular area.  Many times, this is how a doctor "specializes".  I am not sure about the various fellowships and their time commitments.  

So, in total, it takes 4 years to get through medical school.  For primary care doctors it takes about 7 years before they are finished with their training but I think it took 13 years for Emmy's cardiologist, to get through his training in medical school, residency and fellowship.  As you can see, there is a lot of variation and in either case, it takes "a long time".  
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What a day....

Posted by jenegie On 4:42 PM 0 comments
Our first lab today was a doctoring lab.  In these labs we learn how to be doctors by practicing on each other.  Thats right, our first time giving injections, drawing blood, listening to a heart, etc. is on each other.  Today we were learning how to do an abdominal exam.  Ok, no big deal right?  Listen with a stethescope, tap to listen for abdominal fullness, then feel for any abnormalities and any enlarged lymph nodes.  

Things seemed to be going smoothly.  My partner seemed to be a little tense while feeling his abdomen, but nothing excessive.  

To find the inguinal lymph nodes one must trace a line between the hip bone and the pubic symphysis.  Thats right, we need to find the "pubes".  Here is a diagram.
Pubic Symphysis of pelvic girdle picture used from 'Principles of Anatomy and Physiology' - Sixth Edition. By G.J. Tortora and N.P. Anagnostakos. Published by Harper & Row - 1990
The highlighting is pubic symphysis.  Actually, this we have found this spot on each other many times for various exams.  Slowly walk your hand down the belly until you hit bone, done, you have found the pubic symphysis.

 And, that what I tried to do.  When I came to the bone I poked in my middle finger to show that I had found it and my partner literally jumped off the table and yelled "ouchhhhhhhhhhhh".  Several nearby tables turned to look at my terribly red face and my partner grabbing his groin.  

The day proceeded in the afternoon with another lab in which we had to make case presentations.  3 pages of information about a patient were supposed to be presented to the class.  We were allowed a 3X5 to write down certain information on one side (such as lab values and medications).  They picked people at random but it was apparent that they were picking those students that didn't talk as much in class, the shy ones.  I knew I would be called.  And I was.  I don't think that I have ever been so nervous...I have given plenty of presentations.  I have taken two college speech courses.  But for some reason, I got up there and went numb.  Every other word was "um" and I stumbled to find words such as "diagnosis", "conclusion" and "patient".  Of course, this doesn't ease my concerns for the much larger presentation that I am supposed to give in two weeks.  

Week before tests...

Posted by jenegie On 8:32 PM 0 comments
It is that time again, it is the week before exams.  This means that the intense studying has begun. I can't wait to be done with classes.  Just seven more weeks of class, and three more sets of exams and I will be done...kind of.    
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Doctors get sick?????

Posted by jenegie On 10:04 PM 0 comments
I was seven when the family dog died.  She was old and sick and I remember so vividly the day that my mom came home and told me the news.  I was sad that the dog had died but the vision of my mom sobbing, shattered my understanding of grief.  Up until that point, my mom's softly spoken words and her gentle hugs would instantly give me comfort no matter what may have happened.  I had trusted that all things bad could be erased with a hug and a pep talk from a mom.  But when "Jenny" died, mom was inconsolable.  Mom lost her "magic".

I guess, I felt similarly about doctors.  Aren't doctors the ones that heal and comfort?  Doctors aren't supposed to be the ones that get sick (I know that some of you might find this ironic being the hypochondriac that I am).  Logically, I knew this wasn't reality, but tonight I was made aware that my favorite professor has been diagnosed with a brain tumor.  Doctors do get sick.  Knowing the cellular mechanisms of cancer does not make you immune from these DNA derangements.  Knowing the statistics about death rates and treatment options does not make you immune from being one of those statistics.  Knowing how to break bad news to a patient does not make you immune from receiving it.  It just means that you know things that maybe you wish you didn't know.

Thinking about you Dr. B.  

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