Monday, November 26, 2012


No we didn't get off school for Thanksgiving, but at least the school threw all the English speaking programs a big Thanksgiving Party. It was actually really nice, considering some of the other things they've done to "help" us. The whole of the dentistry building was turned into a restaurant, there were buffet style food lines and tables on every floor, on the bottom floor there was a dance floor complete with lights and a DJ...not too shabby.

Seeing as it's considered a "black tie event" all the boys donned their best and so too did I. I bought a dress over the summer, but I needed heels and nylon. So, I went to the mall a few days before and here's the thing: do you have any idea how hard it is to find dress shoes that aren't stilts in Poland!?!? It's impossible. 

There was also the issue as to what to do with my hair. It's quite long and usually it stays in a pony tail as it's quite unruly. After some thought I decided to curl it for the occasion. I tried the day before using normal curlers but to no avail; I only succeeded in making myself look like I'd just got out of bed. The next attempt was much better (I rag curled it instead) and instead of looking half asleep I looked like I had just time jumped from sometime in the 80's. I guess you can't have everything.

Once I was all snazzed up I headed out with my friends. The main course I have to say was TERRIBLE, but the effort was appreciated (Turkey with cashews and apricots...YUCK!). But the dessert was AMAZING! (Sernik and Apple pie! I had about five or six helpings of the two). 

Finally, before heading out my friends and I did a few dances: including the macarena. This is a big deal, because I never dance. Not only am I extremely self conscious, but the music and the lights tend to have implications which are not generally desirable, but that night I was feeling good! Unfortunately, at about 11:00pm right when I was getting into my "groove" my feet started giving out from the heels, so I headed home.  

Normally, Thanksgiving would be a time to spend with my family- as annoying as they can be ;-). But, seeing as they're not here, this was definitely the next best thing. I'm happy that the school at least understands the importance of some of our holidays; and it was a good excuse to have a great time.

My friends and I did get together later in the week for a real Thanksgiving dinner and that was some good eating! 
Me begging for mercy. 

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Five Hours Later

It just gets better and better....

Today I spent two hours taking a pathology test, just to have the computer system block the remaining test questions (about 40 total) meaning myself and the rest of my class had to spend another two hours retaking the test (120 USMLE type questions with an impossible difficulty level and in terrible English- it makes USMLE world look like a cake walk).

You'd think this would be fine and dandy, and it would have been, had I remembered the reasoning I had used for the test the first time I had taken it! It also would have been nice if I had been as alert as I had been the first time I started. I was falling asleep by the end of my first go around! By the end of it all, I was just picking answers because I could barely see the screen and really didn't care. I hadn't eaten yet so on top of being totally exhausted from spending the previous night cramming, getting up at six to study more, then going to class from 8am till noon only to have to go right to the test right from class- I WAS STARVING. So when I got out of the exam at 5:30 I was not a happy camper.

On top of it there was a five year old girl prancing up and down the aisle between the desks and the TA's were involved in a riveting conversation.

This place needs to get it's head out of it's &$(#*. If they want us to be successful, they're gonna have to give us something to work with. If we're supposed to take a test on the computer there needs to be someone there that knows how the computer system works, in case something like this happens!!! Additionally, because we're taking a test EVERYONE should be expected to keep their yappers shut!

On a final note, if 40 people in a class of 50 fail a test (and no one who does pass does well) it should reflect badly on the teaching style and those in charge of the teaching; clearly something isn't working. Failing everyone does not make better doctors, teaching us what we need to know and how to apply it to real life situations is the hallmark of a good teacher. I'll let you know if we ever get one who's allowed to do more than stand in the corner and bow to the great head of the department - and no I'm not just talking about patho.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Teddy Bear Hospital

Yesterday might have been one of the most interesting days of my medical education thus far. Because they won't let us work on real patients...we worked on teddy bears instead.

Okay so it was for community service. But, it was so much fun and more medically oriented than half of the things that I've done since starting medical school. About ten people participated and we all met at one of the local international schools where the kids speak English. Someone had build little medical devices like an x-ray and MRI machine and we also had an excess of bandaids, gauze, tongue depressors and what not. 

So how this worked was that first, the twenty-five kids who ranged from ages 4 to 8 came in with their bears to the registration desk where three of us asked them their names, how old they were, what their bears names were and finally what was wrong with their bear. Some kids insisted that their was nothing wrong with their bears while another (boy of course) said that his bear had pain in the "femoral/groin" area. I about died laughing. 

The OR
Once they were done "checking in" we sent them with their registration slip to the next table which we'll just call the general care table. At this table we had a bunch of stuff you might find in a kids playschool doctors bag, we examined the bears let the kids try out the stethoscopes we brought, play with the blood pressure cuff, take the bears temperature, and even let the kids give the bears shots. Some of the kids immediately at the word shot ripped their bear off the table and insisted that their bear did NOT need one. If they needed it we put a bandaid on the bear or splinted its arms/legs with the stuff we had. 

After general care the kids were sent to imaging where we explained that this is how they take pictures of the inside of the bears bodies. Once the bear came out of imaging we had a few x-rays to show them of what the "bears" arms and legs looked like. The only issue with this was that we only had x-rays of the chest and skull and MRI's of the abdomen so when the bear had a broken arm or leg we kind of had to make it up and point to random things saying, "oh yeah looks broken!" Only one caught on and pointed out that the x-ray we were saying was the leg was actually of the lungs. Whoops. 

Finally, after imaging we sent the kids to surgery. Where we had gloves and masks and even smocks for them. We explained the importance of washing hands here and all about how germs can make you sick. And then we let the kids "operate" on their bears with fake scalpels and forceps. I think most kids enjoyed this part the most. 

When all the bears were treated and healthy we sat the kids down and did an assembly teaching them about what do do if they get sick and how to avoid getting sick, we also went over what to do in an emergency. 

Overall, it was a GREAT experience. It was nice to catch a glimpse of why I wanted to become a doctor in the first place, which is something that I seem to be forgetting quite often these days. And the kids were just so darn cute!!!

Friday, November 9, 2012

"Did you got?"

My patho professor is a very interesting person. Apart from the fact that in every lecture/seminar/lab we have with her she goes over her time by about two hours , she also has a tendency to talk about deadly diseases which both herself and former acquaintances have had. In case you were wondering, most of those acquaintances died of the afore mentioned diseases, occasionally someone lives, but not often. This usually causes a total teary eyed breakdown on the behalf of the professor near the end of class. At first we wanted to comfort her, but now everyone in the group has become immune to tiny old women crying- granted she brings it on herself. Right now we're averaging about three deaths per class most are repeats, but we get to hear the story anyway.

During lectures if you're not taking notes, or if you happen to take a short break from taking notes she will look at you and say incredulously, "Did you got?" To which most people would reply, "yes." She continues on giving you this beady eyed stare, "why you not write!?!" At this point you're thinking because I already know it lady, but obviously you can't say that because she's the all powerful. She takes this pause as you think it through as you having no idea what's going on so she says, "You write!" In defeat you pick up your pen and start to copy some bit of common knowledge which is on the board only to have her change the slide as soon as you start to do so. 

And heaven forbid you like to follow her in the book or check something she's saying. I think I mentioned before about what happened to one guy who did that- he was thrown out of lecture for, "bringing a cello to an orchestra concert." Don't ask... 

So the reason that I brought this topic up is that as a medical student doing other activities apart from going to class and passing tests is important. In the United States and in other countries participating in research and doing community service is the basis for medical education. In fact, most residency programs want to see that you were active outside of class. One of my classmates and myself are members of a pediatric club which is one such organization that does research and community service. This coming Monday we are invited to go to an event called Teddy Bear Hospital, where kids from a local school bring in stuffed animals and we basically play doctor with them to help them be less afraid of going to the pediatrician. The deans office has issued both of us official excuses so we can miss class. 

Thinking that this benefits not only the kids but us as well, my friend and decided to speak to the professors to tell them we wouldn't be there on Monday. The first professor who we have four hours of lecture with had no problem with it and offered to give us the power points so we didn't miss what we needed to know. 

The second professor (yours truly) who we have only a forty-five minute lab with which covers only two lab slides (unlike the usual seven or eight) was mortally offended that we would even ask. The conversation went something like this, "what you think of a doctor who went off to do their own activities when you have an appointment." My response, "the doctor wouldn't have made the appointment if he/she was busy." She continued on briskly after I explained we have an excuse saying, "I do not agree with this! You have class."Also added in the conversation somewhere, was that no one would want to see us as doctors because we put our personal gains ahead of our patients- which made both of us chuckle.  

I can understand her response, but it's not like I was asking to go on vacation! I was asking to go do community service. On top of that we have three absences we can use anytime (neither of us have missed a class yet), and this doesn't even count as one because the deans office has written excuses for us! I think in most places trying to get out of class (when you're allowed to not come anyway) to do something to help people or further your education would be easily accepted and the professor would be happy to help you make up any information you might have missed- but not here. 

To sum this story up, my friend and I are both still going to the Teddy Bear Hospital. We're not going to let an old professor stop us from doing community service just because there is a forty-five minute class with her smack in the middle of the time we'll be there. I'd like to thank her though, for reminding me of the type of doctor that I DO NOT want to become.  

Tuesday, November 6, 2012


The best part about going to an international school is that most of my classmates are not from the United States. There are people from everywhere! Canada, England, Ireland, Ukraine, Lebanon, Israel, Cameroon, Germany, Nigeria, Russia, Norway, Somalia, India, Sri Lanka... the list goes on. Half the time I forget that not everyone is from the same place, because for the most part we're all so similar and after a while you can't hear the accent anymore.

One of my best friends just happens to be from Dublin, Ireland so when he went home for the All Saints Day Break, he was nice enough to bring myself and a few others to stay at his home. This was the second time I've been to Ireland, the first time was last spring with the same person. But, this time we stayed in Dublin the whole time and did way more touristy things.

Day 1: We left at about 10pm on a Ryanair flight, lucky most of us got to sit together despite getting on last. The flight was two hours so we got there around midnight. Just in time to see the most grumpy immigration officer ever (the way he acted, you'd think that illegal American immigrants were a common occurrence in Ireland). And then we headed to my friends house where we all promptly passed out.

Day 2: We woke up a bit late but headed into town around noon to meet up with some other friends and go on the viking splash tour. If you've never heard of it, the tour takes place in a retired world war two vehicle that can convert from a bus to a boat. While on the tour everyone is obliged to wear viking hats and roar at passerby's. It is really a good time and the tour guide gives an excellent tour of the city. On our way to the next attraction we stopped at a Chipper for a late lunch and then headed off to the Guiness Factory where we saw how Guiness is made. I wasn't much for the stuff, but it was a good tour.

Day 3: Lazy day. We went to see the new James Bond film and went for Indian food. I'd highly recommend both.

Killmainham Gaol

Day 4: Our Irish "tour guide" had to go see some people so we went into town on our own. We saw quite a bit this day. We started with the national museum and then saw the Oscar Wilde statue and home where he grew up. After that, I stopped for a burrito (a rare commodity in Poland) and then stopped at Trinity College to see the Book of Kells and the campus. Our last stop of the day was the Killmainham Gaol which is one of the largest unoccupied jails in Europe and has a ton of history behind it! It was nice to finally feel like I understood another countries history almost as much as I understand part of my own! We were supposed to have dinner at the Arlington Hotel, but they failed to mention that all of us had to purchase dinner (which was 30 euro a piece!!!) so we skipped out on the step dancing show and went around to a few different bars instead.

Day 5: After getting in at about 3am most of us were exhausted so we slept in and my friends mom made us a very nice proper Irish breakfast fry. We then went to the grocery store to stock up on things that we absolutely can't fined in Poland; for me this meant lined notebook paper and about ten packages of card-stock note cards. At about 4pm we headed to the airport and had a fairly uneventful flight home! (Oh gee I just called Poland home...YIKES!!!)

And now, four exams this week and two next week!!! Only a few more weeks till winter break!!!

Robbins Pathology First Edition