Friday, April 12, 2013

Quick facts about the upcoming month or so...

Last Monday I received the scores of my CBSE (Comprehensive Basic Science Exam) a diagnostic test for the upcoming STEP 1. Now that I have them, I go through a ritual of meeting with the test-prep advisor at my school and formulating a STEP 1 Study Plan for the weeks between me and the STEP.

(I actually don't know when I'm taking the STEP, due to a potential week-long program on prayer which I might attend out of state. Because I'm not sure whether that should happen before or after STEP, I'm waiting to schedule the test until after the meeting with the test-prep advisor. If I knew the date, there would probably be some sort of count-down widget on the blog.)

Anyway: this post is really not a post. It's a disclaimer: I may not post at all until after third year begins, which is in mid-June. Pray for me, my classmates, and all medical students taking licensing exams this spring! As we prepare for a profession presenting so many occasions of grace and sin, we need prayers to choose good and avoid evil.

Monday, April 8, 2013

How Pro-Choice Doctors Think (Part III)

We had a lecture about contraception. We learned about all kinds of hormonal stuff (combo OCPs, progestin-only OCPs, IUDs, depots, and implants) and then a few "contragestational contraceptives" like mifepristone/misoprostol and methotrexate.


Those last two are abortifacients. I emailed the professor.
Are "contragestational contraceptives" abortifacient? We had mifepristone/misoprostol in our therapeutic abortion lecture and I'm wondering whether this is the same as a medical TA [therapeutic abortion].
And the professor replied that, yes, "contragestational contraceptives" were identical to medical therapeutic abortions. Here is the place in the post where I would place some kind of acidic quote from social-commentary-fiction about the toxicity of euphenisms, but I'm not well-read and I'm not willing to go Google stuff to appear like I am.

That seems to be the main problem with doctors who ignore the sanctity of life: applying words to things without thinking about the thing itself. Distancing oneself from real knowledge by putting one or more (and more and more and more as the existing labels become meaningful or disproven).

Fundamentally, it's carefully maintained ignorance, a barrier placed between one's mind and the truth. In a way, it's like intellectual contraception.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Quick Takes


I had my second-to-last test in clinical skills. A group of about 25 second-years came into a room in the simulation center. Two of the three course directors were already there (the course directors are primary care physicians and very earnest about physical diagnosis, professionalism, and accountability...I don't know any better examples for us) and they explained the way the exercise would test our knowledge of history-taking and physical exam skills (taking an "H&P").

We would have a patient come in and pretend that we were doing a full H&P to admit this person to the hospital. Names would be drawn at random from a box and the students whose names were drawn would complete sequential parts of the H&P. This is meant to ensure that we all know the H&P very well (not unlike random selection of students to demonstrate propositions in freshman math at TAC).

Surprise! Our "patient" was the third course director, dressed in overalls and a John Deere hat. That made us laugh! It took away any potential intimidation that we'd feel, doing our exam on a teacher and doctor. It was fun. As a group we were well prepared, although I think I was not as well-prepared as some other people. I have my final test next week.


I am in my last block before the second year ends and I spend a few months on STEP 1 before third year. The musculoskeletal/integument (bones, joints, muscles, skin, hair, nails) block has been pretty easy so far. We're all tired and can't wait to only study for one thing (STEP) instead of two (STEP+school). 


We had a presentation on third year today at lunch with some current third-years. We asked "what exactly is 'rounding'?" and about weekends, calls, and schedules. What did they wish they knew? What would help us shine? The general gist was: be humble. The third-year medical student is the lowest on the totem pole and should acknowledge it and be comfortable with it, using her time to diligently learn, work hard, make other people's lives easier and not harder. She should be professional, not mind the lowly tasks, get used to feeling out of place, be open about her knowledge deficits, and roll with the punches. "We all just have to be humble," one third year said in closing, using the word 'humble' for the first time. "Pride is your biggest enemy third year."


The end of the ERHS (endocrine/reproduction/human sexuality) block was the "HS" component, and I am really striving to let everything roll off my back instead of getting depressed about all the sin/mess/wounds/errors/backwardness currently accepted as love/awesome/healthy/normal/progressive, especially touching sexual "orientation," sex "changes," sexual practices (before/during marriage/"marriage"/any relationship with whatever person(s) consent)....

But you know what's interesting? My Catholic faith is strengthened by the fact that we couldn't leave the block without someone talking about the Catholic Church. One lecturer in particular, who was supposed to teach about the specific healthcare needs of the LGBT community, spent most of his time talking about the Church. At one point, I doodled in my notes, "why are we talking about women priests?" We also covered how Pope Francis would be so much better than Pope Benedict, celibacy, chastity, St. Teresa of Avila's transverberation (shudder), exclamatory prayer (double shudder), biblical hermeneutics (his term), repression (moan), and indulgences (yawn). There was more, but I might bore you. The upshot is: you know it's Truth when it is maligned to justify insanity.


Interestingly, that talk made me realize how much scandal is given by Christian dis-unity. This lecturer used the fact that people have different bibles (e.g. zero or two or three books of Maccabees) and that there were apocryphal gospels and different interpretations of scripture to justify his rationalization of homosexual lifestyles with Leviticus 20:13. If we were more unified, we could set a clearer example for the world. I didn't realize that the world needs Christian unity as much as the Church does.


I've also learned recently (during the Triduum) that to be called or perfected isn't to leave our sins behind, as though you only become a saint or "get" a vocation when you're all perfect so that you'll look good in your halo. No: we are called and redeemed at the same time and out of our muck. 

One of the hardest things I'm dealing with is the guilt of hurting others, and that comes to a pinnacle when I think about Good Friday and the Crucifixion, when I hurt the Incarnate Word who was suffering me so that he could have me with Him in heaven forever! This Lent/Holy Week/Easter was very good for me. Thanks be to God! I hope it also was for you.