Sunday, December 27, 2009

Holiday Vacation

The holiday floor strewn with gifts both adult and child reminded me of days with less stress and responsibility. This year we were fortunate enough to have three such weeks between semesters.

Prescribed Relaxation

Using vacation to get away seemed like such a good thought at first and it did the job to some extent. With upcoming board examinations, there is a lot of preparation that merits some planning. Whether finding the right question bank, registering for appropriate exam dates or making the perfect study plan I cannot let all of the vacation slip away to misdirected productivity.

In the meantime, vacation is here, classes are just around the corner and boards will be here in no time. If you happen to have a well organized study plan for boards and don't mind sharing please let me know.

Board Prep Question of the Week

A 32-year-old woman with no significant medical history presents to the clinic with visual complaints. On a recent trip to Arizona, she suffered an acute episode of visual impairment. She experienced blurred and double vision, which made it difficult for her to drive. On visual examination, her vision is 20/20 in both eyes. When she is asked to look to the right, her left eye only reaches midline while her right eye shows a beating nystagmus. Testing for visual convergence is intact. Based on the clinical history and physical examination, what is the most likely cause of her complaints?

A. Amaurosis fugax
B. Cataract
C. Multiple sclerosis
D. Optic neuritis
E. Panophthalmitis

Answer & Explanation

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Objective Structured Clinical Exam

Despite the likelihood that I am actually making a fool of myself rather than providing a form of enlightenment, I have posted my personal OSCE experience for your viewing pleasure.

Medical Training

In preparing for the exam, I searched the internet for similar scenarios and was surprised that there are no amateur versions around. Perhaps that makes this the first student version available to be mocked, ridiculed and berated. It is in no way flawless, especially since it was our first OSCE experience. Nonetheless, I rather enjoyed the opportunity to "act" the part and play diagnostic detective if only for a few minutes.

For this exam, the patient was assigned to have strep throat, so it makes me chuckle in embarrassment that I submitted him to the Romberg test. In my defense, I was trying to stall with the last couple minutes to make sure there were no other exams I wanted to perform. Once we leave the room, early or not, we are not permitted to return. Fortunately, my assessment and plan were on target with the premeditated ailment.

Anxiety driven exams certainly test us under pressure, and we tend to make irrational decisions as a result. I did not have enough time to test for somatic dysfunctions as I ran out of time. If I was better prepared, I could have finished the physical early with a few less tests in order to leave time for the SOAP note. Not realizing how long the written portion would take, I learned the hard way that 9 minutes is not much time at all.

In time I have learned to hone in on the critical findings and tests to maximize the use of my time. The SOAP note information rolls out of my pen with greater fluidity and I now have a little more confidence than is portrayed above. At least this was an educational and preparatory experience, the real thing this early in the game could have been much worse.

Board Prep Question of the Week

A 48 year-old female presents with progressive shortness of breath and anxiety. She has no notable prior medical history, and on physical exam, auscultation reveals an opening snap over the cardiac apex followed by a mid-diastolic rumble. The most common cause of her disease process is which of the following?

A. chronic hypertension causing dilatation of the left ventricle
B. repeated attacks of Streptococci causing valvular lesions
C. primary pulmonary hypertension causing atrial dilatation
D. a congenital atrial-septal defect causing chronic hypoxemia
E. a congenital bicuspid valve causing increased afterload of the left ventricle

Answer & Explanation

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Health Care Training

And it's over. All week long I thought for sure I would be looking for a new career path as the exams seemed to get tougher and tougher. One thing is for sure, your doctor has gone through a lot of tedious training to get where they are, more than likely they have some idea of what they are doing.

Allied Health Programs

When researching schools, I was happy to learn that Touro University Nevada supports a variety of health care professions such as nurses, physical therapists, physician assistants, and occupational therapists with the intention to expand into other fields of similar interest.

If you are considering health care careers there are many to choose from that may fit your personal interests. Whether you want to learn a new skill or need a complete career makeover, it can be done. A number of health care programs, online training, and trade development courses can be found with the click of a button.

The growing demand for health care professionals has shown a dramatic increase in nursing schools, radiography training, and various other allied health certification opportunities. Although there may be a shortage of physicians now and in the future, without the support staff, there is no way a physician could safely manage a patient's care.

Nonetheless, I am happy to say that when I reviewed my grades this time around, I was very pleased with the outcome. Despite contemplating other professions in case the exams had a poor outcome, physician is still at the top of my differential for future careers.

Board Prep Question of the Week

A 25-year-old professional cyclist is diagnosed with testicular cancer and undergoes chemotherapy. One month after beginning treatment, the patient complains of difficulty hearing. Which of the following chemotherapeutic agents is most likely responsible for this side effect?

A. Bleomycin
B. Busulfan
C. Cisplatin
D. Cytarabine
E. Doxorubicin

Answer & Explanation

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Second Exam Week Three

There is really no need to say it, but the general consensus is that we are ready for the winter break to be here. The endless hours of review and study are starting to take a toll, unfortunately we still have five more days of exams to push through. This napping station sure looks enticing...


Despite my best efforts to study into the next calendar day, I have found that I just cannot do it on my own. Taking time to break away from the books for a short period to shoot hoops, eat a meal or just squeeze in a short nap has fortunately lengthened my capacity to sit for longer periods. On the flip side, I have yet to determine the educational and graded benefits of this approach.

A fellow blogger and former medical student currently in his residency suggested an intriguing method for maximizing his time and efficiency. He calls it the Caffeine Power Nap as it combines the effects of sleep and drink to fuel ones durable energy. From personal observation I don't think my adenosine receptors are as responsive to the methylxanthine as others self-report, but the placebo effect seems to work for now. Ask me how I am holding up by the end of the week, that's the real test.

Board Prep Question of the Week

A 78 year old obese female with a history of bilateral knee arthritis and asthma presents to your office with symptoms consistent with stable angina. You choose to further evaluate her with a cardiac stress echo. For this patient, what agent is the most appropriate method to induce myocardial stress?

A. Adenosine
B. Dipyridamole
C. Dobutamine
D. Metoprolol
E. Treadmill Exercise

Answer & Explanation

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