Sunday, April 26, 2009

The Immune System

Perhaps the denouement is behind us and we are finally on the down turn of coursework for the year. Getting out while the sun is still in the sky and having understandable lectures is a nice change for the new spring season.

Immune System

We have started our coursework in Immunity which at first seems a rather simple subject. It's not until you learn about the variability and diversity that exists when it becomes very complex. Sometimes I wonder why my immune system is just not performing so well. Does anyone know how to treat chronic rhinorrhea? Perhaps when school is out it will cure itself.

The immune system has many components that together provide a healing response to invasions. Having a good knowledge of individual parts will simplify the learning process of understanding how they interact to function efficiently. Although it is good fun learning how it all works, experiencing this process is anything but fun. Fortunately, vaccinations are available to help ward off possible infections.

Resistant or mutant strains of viral and bacterial organisms can prove to be chaotic. The common cold and flu are results of this phenomenon as well as more serious illnesses. Despite our best efforts to enhance the immune system with pharmaceuticals and exercise, it will still have the occasional bout of weakness leaving us in the proverbial pits.

Creative minds have made a variety of infectious agents available for purchase with an added sense of comfort and wit. Check out these giant microbes.

Clinical Corner

Antibiotics

Physicians prescribe antibiotics to eliminate infection. A growing concern is the resistance that develops when patients do not finish their prescribed antibiotic regimen or take it as prescribed. (Some of the bacteria that is not killed may not be susceptible to the specific antibiotic.) This leaves a window of opportunity for bacteria to alter its response to drugs creating a new strain that is more resilient. If this continues to occur in the general population, antibiotics may not work on general infections causing severe complications in public health. The moral of the story, take your antibiotics the way your doctor prescribed them.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Starting Refreshed

The taxes are filed, financial aid has been requested and the groceries have been purchased. It sounds like spring break has been a success, not to mention sleeping in once or twice.

Back to School

It was hard to stay away from the books for a week knowing full well that the next six weeks will be building upon previous information. Gearing up for the last block of the first year of medical school has taken some effort as the tank of enthusiasm was reading empty.

Fortunately, the last set of exams went well and only one exam week remains. We are on the verge of starting two new subjects Renal Physiology and Immunology. From my understanding both are rather challenging subjects. I will take their word for it as I have learned professors know how to pack a lot of information into a few weeks of lecture.

Clinical Corner

Sleep

Sleep, it does a body good. Sleep disorders can make getting the rest you need very unpleasant. Circadian rhythms help to cycle our sleep patterns which induce relaxation and waking affects. No less than 7 hours of sleep are recommended to maintain optimum health and cognitive functioning. Thanks to spring break, I think I am back on schedule.

Technology and other methods are available to help individuals who suffer from the lack of a good night's sleep. If you are having trouble sleeping or getting your child to sleep, check out the Marpac SleepMate and the Conair Sound Therapy Clock.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Spring Break

As I wait to board my plane to kick off spring break, the ringing of bells and spun slot machines echos in the background. They are one of the obvious features of the Las Vegas airport that seem to pacify impatient passengers looking for one last effort to win a buck. I'm just trying to get away from it all.

Vacation

This break could not come at a better time. I know my classmates and I were all burnt out, ready to get a breather from the books and excessive notes. The thought of getting away for the entire week and a half was tempting, but the weather in Vegas is just to nice to miss out this time of year. (I'll be back to enjoy the weather soon)

TUNCOM provides a spring break during the passover holiday, which extends beyond the common week-long break. In an effort to get my head out of the books and into the real world setting, I plan to visit the Emergency Department where I gained most of my clinical experience. This is a much needed reminder as to why I sit through 8 hours of lecture and lab every day. Being among the patients and providers has appeal that cannot easily be put into words.

Safe travels to my colleagues, Happy Easter or Passover to you, and welcome back Spring!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Choosing a Medical Specialty

After a grueling week of exams I finally had time to repose and realized it has been one year since the start of this blog. Thank you to all who read and comment, your encouragement is greatly appreciated.

Clinical Experience

With one more exam week in the past, I had time to consider my future as a physician. Knowing what field of medicine to enter is the difference between a happy doctor and the miserable one you don't want an appointment with tomorrow.

As is the case with other medical schools, TUNCOM offers students an opportunity to shadow physicians as an introduction to clinical medicine. For some, this experience can be an eye-opener to the routine doctor-patient interactions they will one day conduct. Fortunately, I have some clinical experience under my belt and will be using my shadowing experience to explore some of the various fields I may not have otherwise considered.

Although I have a few fields of interest, I would like to ensure my rotation months are spent in quality rotations that pertain to my future. Too often, students return from rotations only to realize they have just wasted a month of their time in a field that has no personal appeal. That said, I feel confident that the more clinical experience you can get, the better.

Clinical Corner

Medical Specialty

In an effort to save you precious time, I have listed a few resources that you may find valuable in your search for the perfect specialty.

  • Specialty flowchart (above) - It is a quick and simple method of generally learning where you stand with an added touch of witty humor.
  • Specialty flowchart No. 2 - If the first one didn't cut it, try this one.
  • MSAT - Short for Medical Specialty Aptitude Test, the University of Virginia has compiled a simple survey that takes 10 minutes to complete. The results are ranked specialties according to the answers you provide.
  • The Doctor Job - Gives a great rundown of the basics along with factors to consider when choosing a specialty.
  • The Ultimate Guide to Choosing a Medical Specialty - Written by a resident for students choosing a specialty.
  • Specialty Ranker - I have put together a modifiable document that allows you to view various aspects of individual specialties and rank them according to your interests. It covers the basic specialties and then some. If you would like to try it, click the image to the right and save it to your computer. Leave a comment or email me if you have questions. Please consider donating $1 payable through PayPal in exchange for this file...thanks and good luck!

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