Monday, September 17, 2012

The Rush

Today is as great as Friday was abysmal.

Today, I spent almost 3 hours taking exams - one hour and forty-five minutes on the lecture exam and an hour on the lab practical exam. The lecture exam was by far the most difficult, and though I felt well-prepared going into it, I was still a little shaken up by what happened on Friday. The nervousness was unfounded though; I passed, and was just a couple points shy of "mastery level."

It gets better.

With Anatomy, they combine our lab and lecture scores, weighting the lab scores twice as heavily. If you don't do well under pressure, then lab might be a little harder (I'll explain why in a minute), but I enjoy that sort of thing. Another point for emergency medicine as a specialty? Possibly.

Lab practical very interesting. We have about thirty cadavers, and there are sixty questions on the practical, which means about two "stations" per body, one student at a station at a time. At each station, a notecard stating something like, "Name the structure / bony prominence / vessel indicated by the yellow pin." If it has a red dot on it, that means you have to specify "left" or "right." For example, the card for a pin marking the left brachiocephalic vein would have a red dot on it because there's also a right brachiocephalic vein, but the card for a pin marking the brachiocephalic artery wouldn't have a dot on it, since there's only one.

Anyway, you have 45 seconds to write the name of the marked structure down on the station's corresponding line on your sheet. After 45 seconds, a tone sounds and you have to move on to the next station, whether or not you finished writing. After sixty stations, you get an additional 45 seconds to frantically make any completions or changes to any of your answers. There were actually two stations that didn't involve cadavers. At one, there was a vertebra in a cloth bag, and we had to identify the region of the spinal column that it came from based only on touch. At another, one of the proctors had a box of notecards beside him. We had to draw a card, show it to him, then on his body palpate the structure whose name was written on the card. He then wrote whether or not we got it right on our sheet. The possible structures we'd have to palpate were the inferior angle of the scapula, the vertebral prominens (spinous process of C7), the xyphoid process, or the manubriosternal joint (angle of Louis). Those weren't too hard, so that station was sort of like a break - though his vertebral prominens (the card I drew) was WAY less prominent than my own, so it took me a second to feel it.

The lab exam was really stressful for a lot of people, but I enjoyed it. Well, all except for the part where I completely forgot that the oblique pericardial sinus was a thing, thought about putting "pericardial space" instead (which I later found out would have been right...) and ended up putting inferior-middle mediastinum. I don't know if they'll take that... Technically it's right, just not as specific as what they were going for... With that aside, it was a bit of a rush, putting to the test my brain's ability to rapidly recall this massive amount of information. Nerd fun.

I got tripped up by a couple other questions on the lab practical, but overall I think I probably did better on it than I did on the lecture exam, which is just fine. I'll find out in a couple of days. In the meantime, I've had some catching up to do. I sort of let myself get behind in Physiology and Biochemistry to prepare for Anatomy. I'm now caught up with Physio, but have some work to do still in Biochem... 


Susan said...,wow,wow! I just loved hearing how you were tested! All that info to know and understand and then throwing in having to feel something through a bag...creative. No boredom in that series of testing! Rush was a good term to put for this post. So glad you had'd you put it... "Nerd Rush". LOL

Bekah said...

I have to admit I miss those tests! It was toyasly a rush to hear that chime and move on and see what was next. Loved it. I'm so glad yesterday was better for you.

Rod said...

Nerd fun....I totally get it. Maybe not with dead bodies, but I other than that - yeah. Great to hear it went well.

Jill said...

Very interesting. Sometimes I think I should've gone into the medical field. I'd be a nerd too.

Tyler said...

Nerd Fun! Love it! Glad to hear it went so much better - keep it up!!

Bekah said...

And apparently the stress/exhaustion from my test caught up with me when I commented! ;) I promise that I will not tell you next year that Neuro was a breeze because everything was in the coursepack. Even if it is true. Because it did not feel like a breeze. On to ID!

elisabeth said...

Wow!! So interesting to read how yours go. Ours are very similar, but we have 1 minute at each station and about 50 cadavers, for a total of 100 questions. We have 50 rest stations where we have a moment to breath, read ahead or go over previous questions. However, all of our exams are strictly multiple choice.

I couldn't imagine having to write something down.. yikes!! Good job and keep it up! I love reading about everything going on at MSU.

Justin said...

Thanks for all of the encouragement, everyone!

@Elisabeth - That's awesome! We would KILL to have our lab exams be multiple choice. In every case where I most of the cases where I got something wrong, it was simply because I didn't word the structure name correctly, or because I didn't exactly understand what they had pinned. If I had choices, they would ring bells in my memory... I'd think it would be nice to have some rest stations in there too, even if it would make for a longer exam. There were multiple times where I was having to write rapidly as I took the four steps from one station to the next. It's always a balance between finishing the previous question while banking on the chance that the next one will only take you ten seconds instead of the full 45. It's definitely interesting to hear the difference between different schools!

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