25 September 2013

Med School Update: First Didactic Week

I have slacked a few days in posting about Didactic Week. As I briefly mentioned before, the medical students schedules in years 3 and 4 include a one week break between rotation blocks (blocks include three 4-week rotations). During didactic week, all students in that year return to campus.

Since there are approximately 100 students in Scott's class and only one-third of the third yearders are based in Lebanon, that meant that there were a lot of students looking for housing. Two of Scott's med student friends asked if they could stay with us during this last didactic week, and we were more than happy to house them. That may sound sarcastic, but we really loved seeing everyone from the class again, and I know that Scott was giddy having so many friends with which to share medical jokes. I loved hearing all the rotation stories and the student's insight into their future career choice.

To give you an idea for what the students do during the week, I pulled this description from Western University's website...
Didactic weeks take place on campus and will include, but not limited to, the following activities related to the disciplines they have rotated in for the prior 12 weeks:

1. Facilitated case reviews
2. Objective Structured Clinical Examinations (OSCEs) which include: a. Videotaped graded Standardized Patient encounters b. Post-patient written S.O.A.P. notes c. Post-OSCE video review
3. OMM review session
4. Standardized subject examinations
5. Completion of CoursEval surveys related to the rotations block and the didactic week

Before the week began, Scott mentioned that he was pretty nervous about the standardized tests. The test is a standard test administered nationwide, and the subject of each student's test is based on the completed rotations. Scores from these tests are included in your transcript and can be viewed by residency programs. The school hadn't provided any idea for what material would be covered based on their rotation subjects, and since each clinic is different, Scott wasn't sure if he would have all the information he needed. Student took the tests during the first two days of didactic week, and all of the students I talked with reported that the tests were difficult.

The school suggested that students plan to be occupied from 8:00 Am - 5:00 Pm during didactic week unless told otherwise. There were really only a couple of days during this didactic week where that schedule applied. Most days didn't start until 9:00 Am ended before 4:00 Pm. The joke of the week was that with that kind of free-time, Scott would likely visit the golf course no less than three times. You can ask HIM how many times he actually went.

Block two, here we come!

16 September 2013

Med School Update: Family Medicine

Third year rotations are organized into blocks of three rotations, separated with a "didactic week" on campus to review rotations and prepare for the next block. Scott just finished his third rotation of the first block, which happened to be with a family medicine physician in Medford (time is flying by!). His block included OB/GYN, Pediatrics, and an elective rotation. Because Scott's elective rotations were so early on in the year and the hospital systems were struggling to keep up with the scheduling of regular core rotations, it was difficult for students to schedule electives within their hospital systems. We were really lucky that Scott was able to arrange for the elective to be with a physician that he had previously shadowed last summer. It really worked out to Scott's advantage, because this experience provided the best insight for Scott into the career path of a family physician. 

Sorry, I failed to take a picture of Scott at his family medicine clinic in Medford. The clinic was part of the Providence hospital system. While on his rotation, Scott conducted patient exams and would help in the walk-in clinic. While family medicine clinic sees a plethora of symptoms, common diagnoses during these four weeks were diabetes, hypertension, and high cholesterol. He heard a heart murmur, which can be an exciting event for a student who has only previously heard recordings.

Many family physicians select the specialty because of the variety of cases that come through their office each day (as opposed to sub-specialties that focus on one body system, or for some surgeons one limb). This desire to avoid monotony was also the motivation for the physicians with whom Scott rotated. In the evenings, Scott would tell me about the array of cases he saw that day and how the physicians' analysis was very intelligent and sometimes over his head. He asked the physicians what they enjoyed about their jobs and work/life balance. They mentioned that the pay is comfortable for their families, though they prefer to live comfortably within their means as opposed to extravagantly. The family medicine physician plans to retire in his mid-50's. From the stories I've heard, the physicians have good work hours and family time, though they often take business phone calls at home and are sometimes on-call with the clinic. 

Overall, Scott really enjoyed his rotation in family medicine. He left feeling that because of the great physician examples he saw, that he would continue to consider a career in family medicine. 

Now all the third year students are returning to Lebanon for their didactic week. This is something that Scott and his classmates have commiserated on, as no one seems to know what didactic week entails. They do know that they will have two patient encounters (with actors) covering a diagnosis from their block of rations. However, the students have debated whether or not those encounters will be conducted and graded based on how they would be conducted in the clinic or a school rubric. Other didactic week activities are also unknown, though likely will be explained on the first day. For those who are interested, I will be sure to post a post-didactic week download. 

The second block of rations will begin next week. Scott's second block includes Sports Medicine (Family medicine base), Osteopathic Manual Manipulation (OMM), and his vacation block. We purposefully scheduled the vacation block in the winter in order to give ample time to celebrate my 30th birthday...

Which leads me to a shout-out to my best friend, Maura! Happy 30th birthday week! I'm so lucky to have a best friend who understands me so well that she knows how I think, even though I am the worst communicator! Whenever I spend time with her, I come away smiling for hours. Just being around her and her family makes me happy! On top of  her amazing friend skills, she is a wonderful mother and wife, and a great example to me in those roles. I hope you have a fantastic birthday, Maura!!