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Another CFM Week Down

Hey everyone!

The M1s just wrapped another busy and fun-filled CFM (Clinical Foundations of Medicine) week. Many of us have dispersed throughout the country this weekend to visit friends and family, taking advantage of one of the rare weekends where we can take our open-book exam anywhere in the world. I have been enjoying the weekend in Boston, visiting my husband and reveling in the chance to relax, eat seafood, and bask in the high temperature of 28 degrees (which seems really warm compared to A2 right now!)

This past week was a great representation of Michigan med students rocking at both work and play. We started out our week learning how to conduct abdominal and musculoskeletal physical exams and had the chance throughout the week to practice the exams on each other and to meet patients who were kind enough to tell us their stories and share their musculoskeletal ailments. We were also privileged enough to participate in a domestic and sexual abuse panel, which was one of the most meaningful and educational experiences I have had in medical school so far. Between the panelists and the patients we met this week, I continue to be amazed with the resilience and grace found in the human spirit, despite the absolutely terrible things that can happen to people… I feel so lucky to be exposed to this range of human experience so early in my medical training. Another highlight of our CFM week was the opportunity to learn directly from M4 students when practicing our physical exams. As someone who is really interested in educating, I love to see that I will have opportunities in my clinical years to come back and teach the pre-clinical students. I got to work with some really talented M4s this week — thank you for taking the time to teach us!

Amid our clinical education this week, the M1s also found a bit of time to have some fun. Ashley’s, a State Street favorite, helped us sponsor a fundraiser for the Student Run Free Clinic on Tuesday night, which brought many members of our class out on the town for good food, drinks, and most importantly, the opportunity to watch Michigan basketball defeat Ohio State. (Loving Michigan hoops this season… Let’s Go Blue!!) Many of us also enjoyed a Wine-and-Cheese party together, movie nights, adventures out to Main Street, and even an outing to a bowling alley. (Oh and, on behalf of the M1 women, I would like to officially thank the M1 gentlemen for our in-lecture Valentine’s Day serenade. Most of you can’t sing or dance at all, but the sentiment was truly appreciated!)

Much of my non-studying time in the past month has been spent at rehearsal for the Galen’s Smoker, which is an event you definitely do not want to miss! Check out the poster for this year’s show below and then make sure to come see the Smoker on March 7/8th!

Grandroundhog Day!

CFM Week and Tag Days!

Hi everyone!

The M1s just wrapped up one of the most enjoyable weeks of the school year. Most of us came back from Thanksgiving break well-rested (and well-fed!) and were treated to an eye-opening week of Clinical Foundations of Medicine (CFM). We have had one full CFM week prior to this one, but, at least for me, this week was the first time in medical school where I really felt that I was practicing my clinical skills. My classmates and I spent hours tapping on each other’s chests, listening to each other’s heart and breath sounds, and poking around at vessels in each other’s necks to learn how to do pulmonary and cardiac physical exams. In our Cardiac and Pulmonary Classics sessions we were lucky enough to have patients volunteer their time to come to the hospital and help us learn by listening to murmurs, lung disease, and more. I feel like I learned so many practical skills within just a few days — and we got to test out the new Clinical Skills space for medical students in the old Mott hospital, which worked out great! Of course, we all have a long way to go before becoming proficient at these physical exam skills, but it feels great to already be starting down that road!

On top of all the fun of CFM week, this was also a fantastic weekend for the UMHS community — it was Galens 87th Tag Days! For those of you who don’t know, Tag Days is a huge, amazing fundraiser put on by Galens Medical Society every year to raise money for the children of Washtenaw County and Mott Hospital. Medical students from all years are stationed out on the streets of Ann Arbor with red ponchos and buckets, requesting donations from the community. Anyone who donates gets “tagged” with a red, green, or yellow square of paper, which they can tie to their coats and show off proudly for the rest of the weekend. Of course, this fundraiser must always take place in December when it is bitter cold outside, but the brilliance of this ploy is that the frozen, dedicated students get the joy of being visited by Happy Vans. Happy Vans, driven by our most upbeat and fun-loving faculty, circle around Ann Arbor to bring food, warmth, and smiles to all of the Taggers, so that we were never too cold for too long.

I worked three separate four-hour tagging shifts this year, including one in which I sang with the medical school a cappella group, the Auscultations, on Main Street for Ann Arbor’s yearly Midnight Madness event (see photos below). I am so impressed with the generosity of the Ann Arbor community. People were so excited to donate to Galens — some families came all the way into Ann Arbor from out of town just to find one of our buckets. Tag Days is such a unique event, because it really brings the medical school, the hospital, and the entire Washtenaw County community together to work toward the wonderful goal of raising money for children in need. So, for future Michigan medical students, don’t pass up the opportunity to participate in Tag Days! It really is some of the most fun you’ll have all year.

Starting Renal tomorrow … one last sequence before we head off for the holidays. Thanks for stopping in!


Oh hey, MSK!

Well, the M1s have just completed our first week of the ever-ominous Musculoskeletal sequence and, I have to admit, it’s a pretty different beast than our last Cardio/Respiratory sequence. As M1s, we receive a lot of resources and tidbits of advice from the “upperclassmen” about how to best adjust to each new sequence and I’m pretty grateful for those, now that the learning curves are becoming a bit steeper with each transition. The Musculoskeletal sequence (or, MSK, as we affectionately call it) has a pretty heavy focus on anatomy, which means we are in the lab far more frequently than in past months. For some of my classmates, this extra time in anatomy lab is less-than ideal, while others are exceedingly eager to get elbow deep in all of the new structures we are discovering. The anatomy labs are open to us almost all of the time, so many students find it helpful to spend time in the lab in the evenings, between dissections. Personally, I fall between these two extremes… I really enjoy anatomy lab and find it incredibly satisfying to dissect and uncover structures, but I can’t quite bring myself to spend extra time in the lab at night, just yet.

This week we focused on dissecting the Upper Limb, which included my favorite dissection so far — uncovering the brachial plexus.  It is so satisfying to look at networks of nerves and vessels in books and lab manuals and then be able to actually find structures that look exactly how they are supposed to look in our donor bodies in the lab.  The brachial plexus is huge, intricate, and beautiful, and while dissecting this week I had to step back and appreciate just how incredibly complicated, yet consistent, our bodies are. I have heard that a lot of newer medical schools are moving away from hands-on dissection to learn anatomy, but I am so grateful to have the opportunity to go through the process of physically exploring a body and to experience the satisfaction of uncovering muscles, nerves, and vessels in the lab.

Amid our adventures in anatomy lab, the M1s are also spending time learning biochemistry, physiology, and histology within this sequence. And, although this feels like a lot sometimes, many of us have been using our free time to take advantage of the many non-academic opportunities offered here at the med school. In the past week alone I have attended a cappella rehearsals (check out the Auscultations here!), hip hop dance rehearsals for the upcoming Biorhythms show, a suturing workshop, a Michigan basketball game, and a football game in the Big House. As important as it is to study, I think a big part of maintaining a healthy balance in medical school is to find those outlets through which you can best express your other talents and interests. Sometimes it feels like a lot to pack into our already busy schedules, but all of the “extra” stuff certainly keeps me smiling at the end of each day.

And here’s some proof that we still have fun:

‘Til next time!


A Whole New Role

Since I last posted, I have survived the Cells and Tissues sequence, as well as our first Clinical Foundations of Medicine week. The M1s start our Cardio/Respiratory Sequence tomorrow, which is pretty exciting and seems even more relevant to our future professions. This week, alone, we get to dissect the thoracic wall and heart in anatomy lab, examine blood and bone marrow in histology lab, and learn all about the cardiovascular system! Aside from the academic spectrum, this has been a great social weekend to be a Michigan med student. Our football team played a great game (or, at least a great second half of a game) against Minnesota for Homecoming weekend yesterday and a big group of us went apple-picking this afternoon in Milan. I am not willing to admit how many cider donuts I ate, but let’s just say that I did not need dinner this evening. (No regrets, the donuts were seriously delicious.)

In the past week, I had two distinct experiences that made me realize the responsibilities that go along with my new role as a medical student. First, I had a friend (who is not a medical student) ask me for medical advice. She asked me to feel a bump on her arm and make an assessment about what it could be and what she should do. I know this sounds rather simple, but it felt kind of poignant to me. This friend, as my patients will in the future, put trust in me to help with her with something private, which involved physical touch and asking her personal questions. Of course, I told her very quickly that I am essentially a baby doctor and have absolutely no experience in diagnosis yet, but the fact that she even asked felt like a bit of a transitional moment for me. As I continue in my medical education, I expect that I will be asked questions like this frequently. I’m sure I won’t be able to answer them for quite awhile, but it’s such an interesting social phenomenon to be a part of — I am amazed by how personal people are willing to become with those that they believe may be able to heal them.

The second experience actually occurred in the hospital. I was able to shadow an internal medicine physician as part of our Clinical Foundations of Medicine course this past week. The doctor I shadowed was wonderful and did a great job modeling how to build rapport with patients, how to give bad news, and how to actually get through his many responsibilities in an efficient manner, while still treating his patients with kindness and care. He introduced me as a medical student in every patient room and, before long, I realized that this was the first time I had ever been in a patient care setting where I was being perceived as a potential care provider. Before medical school, I was a clinical researcher in a hospital for three years. Though I spent a great deal of time with patients and in clinical settings, it was always in the context of research, rather than providing care. This week, I had patients address me as part of the clinical care team, ask me questions, and thank me when I left the room. Again, I was very quick to redirect all questions to the doctor, but I still found it interesting to be in this situation so soon in medical school. At our White Coat Ceremony in August, many of the speakers mentioned the symbolism of the coat and how it represents a great deal of responsibility. This week I feel like the perceptions of others about my level of knowledge and abilities were perhaps a bit distorted by my white coat. However, being in these situations and learning how to navigate them gracefully is helping me settle into my new role as a medical student, a future care-provider.

Until next time, thanks for reading and go blue!

A Night Under the Lights!

This has been a fantastic weekend to be a University of Michigan student. The weather has been lovely, despite a few quick showers, and the entire city was seeping with school spirit yesterday for our huge football game: Michigan vs Notre Dame, Under the Lights – our only night game of the year in the Big House. Thanks to flextime quizzing, many of my classmates and I quizzed on Friday evening or early Saturday and were able to just completely enjoy ourselves on Saturday! I started out at the Galens Medical Society tailgate around 1pm. Galens is a fantastic group at UMMS that organizes social events, creates opportunities for students and faculty to work together in non-clinical settings, runs service projects that raise money for the children of Washtenaw County, puts on the annual Smoker show (which I know has been written about extensively on Dose of Reality), and more. I am very excited to be part of Galens this year and the tailgate was a very fun way to get ready for the big game!

Once the game started, the actual Big House experience was ethereal. Even after four years of undergrad at Michigan (and during the Lloyd Carr years, nonetheless), I had never experienced anything quite like being “Under the Lights” this weekend. Our student section was blazing with energy, all of us filling the air with our cheers, our maize pom-poms, and our glowing blue bracelets. There was a multi-jet flyover before kickoff, a tribute to Tom Harmon (one of our football legends), a Beyonce-themed half-time show (which she even introduced!), and an Eminem sighting in the press box. This game felt more like attending a Superbowl than your average September college football game. Plus, with a crowd of 115,109 fans, we were the largest crowd at an NCAA football game on record. There’s just nothing more energizing than watching a great game with 115,000 of your closest friends!

Oh, and we won, 41-30. 🙂

I’m so happy that I am able to experience the energy of the Wolverines again in medical school. I love being back in this fiery college town – and having the time to actually enjoy all of the perks of living here!

Time to go prepare for the second week of our Cells and Tissues block. Thanks for reading and Go Blue!