June 26, 2012

First Steps

Vacation is over.  Like raindrops on a June sidewalk, the time between Step 1 and third year clerkships has evaporated.  My meager free time was divided evenly among moving, relaxing, and orientation for third year, and now it has almost drawn to a close.

The exam was....well, I don't even know.  It was what it was.  Eight hours of questions focused on patient vignettes and clinical scenarios and lab results made for an intense morning and a headache-ridden afternoon.  After accounting for the various questions focused more on scientific knowledge or genetics or biochemistry, the number of patient vignette questions is definitely above 200, maybe even more than 250.  It's an impressive feat if you think about it: by the end of the exam,  you have effectively been pimped on 250 separate patients over the course of slightly less than eight hours.  That's definitely a full work day.

After the exam, my friend's parents took the two of us out to dinner to celebrate.  It took us both about an hour and a half to even be able to form coherent sentences, and even longer to really participate in their conversation.  Before we even got back from the exam, our conversation kept circling back to what had happened.

"It was so hard.  I think I failed it."
"Umm, I think that's normal.  Everybody thinks they failed.  Plus we all get random questions, so maybe yours were harder than average."
"I don't know.  What if I failed?  I'll have to retake it.  I don't want to do this again."
"You didn't fail.  WE didn't fail.  We did it.  We're done!"
"I don't know...I hope so."

Moving apartments was a welcome, physical distraction the next week, but it still took about three days for my mind not to boomerang back to the test, to questions I had been asked, to the questions I thought I had known, to the possible mistakes I had made.

We'll see when the results come in: now it's just waiting.

June 6, 2012

Study Psychosis

I have lost all sense of time.  Every day is the same, the endless knowledge being shoveled into my brain while the piles of facts from yesterday trickle out my ears.

In my dreams, I see slides with swirls of pink cells, whorls of calcium here and there that I wake up naming "psamomma."  I cannot read about a homeless man with a cough without thinking "alcoholic, probably aspiration pneumonia," or if his stomach hurts, "pancreatitis."  When I hear, "Eastern European," my algorithm checks off "unvaccinated."

In a few days, it will all be over.  I just hope I remember that it's Saturday on Saturday.