Sunday, July 26, 2009

Healthcare Reform

Political propaganda just keeps rearing its face in lieu of the healthcare debate. Making sense of it all is an entirely different story and I am no where near understanding.

Healthcare Debate

With the new president and political party, we are soon to be introduced to a new form of healthcare. As medical students we may not yet be intimately involved in the business aspects yet, but we certainly will be in the future. Medicine as we know it today will change to adapt to the new policies decided in Washington.

In March, the largest gathering of osteopathic students and professionals held a conference in Washington D.C. to share their voice with politicians concerning healthcare reform. Considering the task before them, politicians may take a while before coming to a consensus, but the August deadline remains.

It is exciting to imagine how things will change by the time I and my colleagues graduate. Nevertheless, the majority of physicians are not content with the way things are moving. Understandably, the idea of doctors doing more and getting paid less is not an appealing alternative to their current standing. Perhaps if doctors were to be sponsored like professional athletes, there would be no need to worry.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Online Preparation

As new books are coming in, old books are being sold. The cycle seems a little ridiculous when we have so much technology available. How long will it be before there is an online medical degree for physicians?

Online Medical School

Although it may not be too far into the future before medical degrees come via online schools, at least online resources are a great place to study for such degrees. Whether a student or simply intrigued you can get a feel for questions that are asked on board examinations at WikiTestPrep. It is a free question bank composed to help students prepare for Step 1 (after second year) and Step 2 (near fourth year) board exams.

It doesn't take much time to answer a couple questions making this a simple addition to board prep exercises. Detailed explanations help to give a better understanding of difficult concepts. Add this to your routine as early as possible and reap the benefits when boards come around. Question banks are useful but can have expensive subscription fees which is why the above link is provided. Below are a few qbank offerings:

  • USMLE World - ($185, 3 months, 2000 ?s) Good reviews
  • Kaplan - ($189, 3 months, 2400 ?s) Most popular
  • Exam Master - ($99, one month, 7900 ?s) Commonly free through school libraries
  • USMLERx - ($129, 3 months, 3000 ?s) Similar to the Kaplan service but with a free trial
  • Score95 - ($59, 3600 ?s) Poor reviews
  • Scrub Notes - Blog post with an insightful qbank opinion
There may be other question banks available, but these tend to be the standard. I have been using Exam Master through Touro's library in addition to the WikiTestPrep just to get started. Getting in the right mindset to approach the boards has been a challenge, and the little time spent using these programs has been helpful in exploring the process. It may not get me a degree, but the internet has been my online medical school this summer and definitely keeping me busy.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Early Board Review

More than halfway through summer vacation and I can't seem to stop thinking about preparing for board exams and the second year of medical school. Despite being a year away, they loom incessantly in the back of my mind. It's time to start warming up the memory centers I turned off a while back.

Board Review Books

Since pathology is taught predominantly during the second year of medical school, it is wise to know the normal characteristics and actions of the physiological processes. Many students before me have suggested a self paced refresher course focused on physiology. For a relatively inexpensive price, I was able to procure the Board Review Series text. I figure with a couple hours every day I can at least review the important concepts so they are less foreign when we get into the material this coming year.

Many students have also recommended comprehensive books, such as First Aid for the COMLEX, First Aid for the USMLE, or question banks that will guide the study sessions towards board material. These are often used in conjunction with course materials throughout the year. In any case, there is more material available to prepare for boards than anyone has time to consume. As for enjoying summer to some extent, I think I have plenty of materials to work with and expect to see an improvement in information retention.

Clinical Corner

Home Medicine

Who isn't a fan of self-diagnosing? Admit it, you always try to guess what you have before asking the professional. I had an experience this past week where I was headed to the clinic and stopped at a book stand before arriving. To my surprise they had available a home edition of the Merck Manual. After a little thumbing, and I have to admit a selfish desire to have it on my shelf, I found a detailed description of the ailment, symptoms, treatment and more all in understandable English. For a quick reference, an abbreviated online Merck Manual is also available.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Matriculating Year Two

Hoping everyone had a great independence weekend, this blog comes to you while I'm actually out of town on vacation...enjoying every moment of it. Meanwhile back home, the school registrar is signing me up for the second year of medical school.


Registration has to be one of the simplest homework assignments I've had all year. With a quick signature, I was on my way to 45 more credits of graduate education. From what I have gathered, the first year of medical school is the most tedious as it concerns everything normal. Second year may have less credits, but a lot more material to cover in the way of pathological systems. Third and fourth years are just plain great due to the clinical experiences and freedom from the classroom.

Fortunately, some of the courses will be continued from last year so the terrain will not be foreign, but the rest will prove to keep me busy without a doubt. If Pharmacology and Pathology don't have me buried in a book all the time, I'm sure Clinical Systems will. (This comprehensive course, for example, touts a cumbersome set of notes and a lot to learn.) At least the information is becoming less dry and more interesting to learn as time goes on.

Assuming all goes well, I will be starting classes as planned in early August with adequate funds and supplies. In the meantime, I'll be enjoying vacation and honoring those who serve our country to protect our freedoms, thereby supporting my education.

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