Evolution is a weird thing to experience.
The cello was relatively new to me at age 10 and I was still preparing my sheet music by writing the note names above the notes themselves. Then, one night about 15 years ago, I distinctly remember going to bed and then waking up the next day and realizing I could interpret the symbols on the staff lines at orchestra class. It was an epiphany.
When I entered high school, I decided to come out for track and field. My decision was primarily motivated by Liu Xiang’s 110m hurdles race at the Athens 2004 Olympics. This was the first time I had ever really enrolled in organized sports, so practice everyday after school and even the idea of staying in shape during the offseason (which I didn’t do) was new to me. I always died on the first day of practice during warmups because I was out of shape. On top of that, I struggled as a new hurdler for two years before I could 3-step. 3-step, for hurdlers, is a huge milestone because that is one of the most important things in hurdling progression; it means that you take 3 steps between each hurdle which means you minimize the time spent between each hurdle and efficiently maximize your speed between hurdles. Beginning hurdlers usually take 5 steps between hurdles which is what I did for my entire freshman year. My sophomore year I cut that down to 4 steps which meant I changed my lead leg each time over the hurdle. By the end of my sophomore year, I finally reached the 3-step milestone and finally felt like I could call myself a hurdler.
This past week I completed my first week of medical school. You’d think it would be a milestone in my life like reading musical notes or finally 3-stepping hurdles, but, except for the “Aha!” moment which I describe below, it really wasn’t all that remarkable to me. Following my little story, I’ll throw out a few notes and thoughts on my first week in school.
My “Aha!” moment, when I realized that I was the “same animal but a different beast”, was when I was preparing for my Embryology lecture. I had no idea what Embryology entailed. In fact, I was surprised there was a textbook on the subject. All the more, I literally skimmed over meiosis and all the reproductive stuff I had to learn for General Biology. But, as I learned after skipping studying the entire Physics section on the MCAT on my first attempt because I didn’t like Physicis, I can’t skip subjects in medical school because I don’t like them. So I set up camp in Auditorium 1 and taught myself some Embryology.
It took me maybe 2 hours (still debating whether that was too long, but it was really helpful) to read through 1.5 chapters worth of cleavage, blastocyst formation, gastrulation, neural tube development, and the determinations of the germinal layers. I had no idea what these things were prior to Tuesday night. However, as I slowly traced myself through each step in prenatal development, things started to click. I was finally beginning to understand how each of us evolved from a single cell into an organism that is essentially a series of tubes magnificently enclosed together. Everything came around full circle (literally) when I realized that the amniotic cavity becomes the amniotic membrane. That was my poetic “Aha!” moment, when I realized I was in medical school and had reached Kobe System Level 6. I was a different animal and the same beast. I was the kid that couldn’t read bass clef or 3-step hurdles, and now I’m studying medicine.
- We received our ID badges that label us as OMS-I and Student Physicians. We’re “officially” medical students. For some reason I forget this, that I’m being given the privilege to study medicine. It really just feels like college again. I study a significant amount more than I did in college–literally until my bedtime (my soft bedtime is 11 PM)–but I’ve surprisingly made enough time for some low commitment extracurriculars such as Bible study, church, soccer, and maybe even a little CS:GO–none of which occupy more than an 1.5 hours of my day. I’m hoping I can also regularly run in the mornings (because you either have to run really early or in the evening down south lest you desire to run in 95 degrees) and rotate soccer, ultimate frisbee, and basketball each week.
- Although most of the introductory lectures were of subjects we all had studied extensively previously, the lectures literally covered a few weeks or months worth of undergraduate classes in one hour (Body Compounds, I’m looking at you). We had an awful 7 lecture day on hump day in which my attention was nonexistent for the lecture after lunch and then began to slough off around lecture 6. I can’t wait for more of those days /s
- I’m doing pretty good with my meals. I prepare a meal for the week on Sunday, and for lunch I’ve been packing either rice, pasta, or a sandwich. It’ll get boring eventually, but hopefully I can find some interesting recipes. I ran across a recipe for a Thai Steak Salad which looked interesting, but I’m not convinced I could make a sustainable amount at a reasonable cost for the week. I also already went through a bag of Sour Patch Kids which is my study food.
- A classmate and I were paired with our mentor, an OMS-II. The mentor program is representative of the collegiate atmosphere at my school. The second year class has been incredibly friendly and gracious; they want us to succeed. For some reason I thought the classes would be segregated just because we’re naturally at different stages of school, but this has not been the case at all. I definitely want to pay this forward when I reach second year status.
- We met our “first patient” (i.e. cadaver) on Friday. For whatever reason that wasn’t remarkable for me, and I’m guessing that was because I generally hate labs (undergraduate Chemistry labs, I’m looking at you). However, as I’ve been studying this past weekend, having dissected the muscles, nerves, and arteries is actually helping me retain some of the information I need to know for anatomy. I get to dissect next week, and I’m not really looking forward to it.
- I’m using OneNote to take notes, and the program started to poop on me on my second day. This, of course, is all exacerbated by the fact that I chose a Mac book Air instead of a Windows Dell laptop. So, first, I’m trying to do cross-platform work with my Windows desktop and Mac book. Second, OneNote on Mac has a reduced feature set so I can’t do a lot of the useful things on OneNote on my Mac. And lastly and most importantly, my notebooks in OneNote wouldn’t sync from my desktop to my Mac book, so I spent my an extra hour on Tuesday night making sure I had slides prepped to take notes on for Wednesday. I wasn’t happy about losing that one hour over a technical problem. I like the design of the Mac book–especially the gestures on the touchpad! But I hate how I have no intuition on organizing folders, saving documents, and other things I deftly maneuver on Windows. I’m seriously thinking about dualbooting Windows, but I’m going to wait until Windows 10 has been around for a little. But then I have to find out if Mac will support Windows 10, and my biggest worry is that will take a significant amount of time out of my studying. So, maybe I can hope this system with OneNote lasts me until Thanksgiving?