Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Movies Every Med Student Should See

I've come across many lists that have movie suggestions for medical students or even doctors, but most of the suggestions are kind of redundant and miss some of the best ones! So here's my list of top movies any would be doctor should see. Some are repeats from other lists, but some aren't on any list I've seen thus far.

1. Wit (2001)

Stars Emma Thompson as an English professor who has been diagnosed with advanced ovarian cancer.    It's not so much because of the hospital death theme that I'm suggesting this movie but because it shows how many doctors treat their patients and how patients are able to muddle through it. Not to mention the acting is awesome and it's a great tear jerker. I can't get ten minutes into it without starting to sob hysterically. But, it's still a GREAT film. (You can find it on youtube)

2. Gross Anatomy (1989)

So many lists over look this great film centered on a group of first year medical students who are coming to terms with their selected career. Mostly this film centers on Joe Slovak who must discover that there's more to being a doctor than just memorizing facts.

3. Lorenzos Oil (1992)
A movie about a little boy named Lorenzo who is discovered to have a rare genetic disease called adrenoleukodystrophy and his parents fight to save him. Which ultimately leads to the first treatment for the disease. It's sad, but not as sad as some of the others....I'd say more heartbreaking and slightly uplifting in parts. If you don't want to punch the one doctor in the lecture hall scene, you're not human.

4. Doctor Diaries (2009)

It's a documentary, but it's still good. It follows the journey of a group of medical students who 'grow up' to become doctors. Yeah, they're from Harvard, but we won't let that demote the quality of the film. (and on youtube if you search hard enough).

5. Something the Lord Made (2004)

I think this one was originally made for TV, but wow it's amazing. Basically it's about two men (one of whom never graduated from medical school) who cross the racial divide to pioneer new forms of heart surgery.

6. And the Band Played On (1993)

Another film that was originally made for TV but is still among the best. It focuses on the CDC and their search for the cause of the HIV/AIDS virus. This one is on other lists as well and for good reason. It actually made me want to work for the CDC for a while, something that I think I'd still really like to do given the chance.

7. Awakenings (1990) and Patch Adams (1998)

I can't help but to put these together because sometimes at least to me they feel like similar films- it's probably because Robin Williams plays the lead in both of them. Either way, they're both on most lists and name one medical student who hasn't seen one or the other.

8. Article 99 (1992)

It's funny at moments but serious when it needs to be. It's also a great story about doing the best you can for your patients.

9. You don't Know Jack (2010)

I love it when the movie is based on real life events (as you can probably tell from most of this list). This one centers around the questionable topic of euthanasia in humans and one doctors fight to help his terminally ill patients who want nothing more than to rest in peace.

10. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975)

This has a definite psychiatry theme, but Jack Nicholson is at his best and Nurse Ratchet still gives me the heebie jeebies after all these years.

11. First Do No Harm (1997)

It's not as good as some of the other films on this list, but it's still good. I haven't seen it in years, but it was memorable enough that I thought about it just now. Basically it's about a little boy who has epilepsy and his mothers fight to use the ketogenic diet to help treat him. (It's on youtube!)

12. Extraordinary Measures (2010)

Not one of my favorites, but still worth a watch. Stars Harrison Ford and Brendan Fraiser who are trying to find a cure for Pompe disease for one character's (played by Fraiser) kids.

13. Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story (2009)

This one stars Cuba Gooding Junior as Dr. Ben Carson a gifted neurosurgeon at Johns Hopkins who overcomes a ton of adversity to become a great doctor. In real life Dr. Carson is a pretty amazing person and this movie deserves way more attention than it gets. (This one is also on youtube).

14. Bad Medicine (1985)

I put this one at the end just because I feel like only certain people will really enjoy it. I personally think it's hilarious- but I go to school in Poland so what do I know? Steve Guttenburg stars as a young doctor in training who has gone to Mexico for medical school. It's a bit old, but there are still some things that are true in it, even if no one really wants to admit it.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Going to the Doctor

What a typical Polish doctors office looks like. 
I've been sick the last week or so with a sore throat and the general symptoms that accompany being sick. So today I decided to go to the doctor.

The school has clinic that it uses that's associated with the hospital and I just have to call the deans office and they make an appointment for me. This is where simply going to the doctor becomes like one of those impossible foreign adventure movies. First I have to go to the main building of the hospital and pay for my visit. Before I go, I write down phrases I might need to help with this because no one but the doctor speaks any English. Even with these phrases the lady at the desk where I pay doesn't seem to have even the remotest idea why I'm there. So I spend about ten minutes pantomiming why I'm in the hospital and trying to give her money- as though it weren't obvious enough.

Next I walk from the main building to the smaller clinic next to the hospital and have to check in with the nurse at the desk there. Again, even after I hand her my papers from the first building she has no idea what I'm doing there. All I have are a few slips of paper with phrases like, "I have an appointment" written on them to help the situation. In the end she gets the point and she marches me off to the doctor.

In the doctors office the doctor sits at a desk and is there waiting, unlike back home where you wait in a cold room for them. I sit down at a chair by the desk and she asks, "what wrong." And I delve into my symptomology and what not which takes about 30 seconds and then she has me sit on the examining table in the corner where she quickly checks my mouth and my ears and then says I have an infection (no duh...the giant, white, swollen tonsils didn't give it away?) and that she's going to prescribe some antibiotics. After about two minutes, I'm out of the office prescription in hand.

I might not be a doctor yet, but I feel a bit uneasy about this whole situation. Yeah, my sore throat is nothing serious, but my temperature was never taken, she didn't check my lymph nodes, no microbial swab for strep throat or anything else was ever performed, no one checked my vitals, and no one asked me if I was allergic to anything- which is troublesome seeing as she prescribes sulfa drugs! What if someone came in and was really sick and they missed something because they forgot to ask or perform something as simple as a BP, or prescribed something that they're violently allergic to?

After speaking to a few friends about this, apparently this is the norm. They never check vitals or look beyond the chief complaint to make sure it's nothing worse. That's kind of scary from a medical perspective.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Things I love About Living in Poland

I am painfully aware that I post many negative things about Poland and even my school and some of the things that go on here, but let me make it absolutely clear that I wouldn't change (most) of the experiences I've had given the chance.

I was speaking to a friend the other day and I worded it something like this, "I'm glad it happened. I just wish it hadn't." Sure it would probably have been a ton easier if I had stayed in the US, but I wouldn't have met the people who I consider my best friends among other things.

Poland is really a pretty cool country, sure it has its quirks but I get to see and do some neat stuff that I never would have done if I was back home studying. Even the professors that I complain so much about, sometimes reveal themselves as deeply caring

So here is my list of things I like about Poland so that I can feel better about all the bad stuff I post about it and my school.

1. My friends- they're from everywhere!

2. Copper my dog, he's Polish.

3. Being so close to so many historical places. Poland is filled with history: Numerous castles, some of the oldest churches in Europe, even Auswitz concentration camp.

4. Baked Perogie's- generally speaking I really don't care for cabbage or any Polish food, but baked perogie's and drogdufka will always have a special place in my heart.

5. The buildings. Where I live in Poland wasn't too destroyed during wwII so there are still a ton of old buildings apart from the old soviet blocks. I love walking the dog and looking at the architecture and finding the occasional bullet hole.

6. The old town square during the summer and sometimes the winter. It's always so full of people and during the summer you can eat outside and listen to the clock and the random street performers.

I have more things I like about this place, but I've got to go to class. So until next time, I'll be here trying to stay positive!

Friday, May 10, 2013

Passing Scores

.Long story short, for most of our classes we have to take NBME's which either factor into or count as our final grades. For those of you who don't know what an NBME is, it's basically like a mini version of the USMLE to help make sure that we're on par with American standards.

Recently, my year took the pharmacology, pathology, and physiology NBME's. The pass score is always a 36 and has been for all of our other classes in which these were required. They use 36 as a base line and curve our numerical score based on how everyone did as a whole- only one of these classes has an exception where the pass is 40. So on our scale which is 1-5 a 3 (= 36 on the NBME) is passing and a 5 is like totally amazing. Usually our class has a high of around 70-ish and a low of about 16 with an average somewhere in the mid to low 40's.

Rewind to a few weeks ago, we took one of the NBME's with the 3rd years in the 6 year program. It was the same test, with the same requirements. We all have to pass this particular class and achieve passing scores to take the USMLE at the end of this summer. So when we got the scores back for one of the NBME's those who scored below a 40 were disappointed because had it been another class they would have passed, with no problem because usually they only need a 36.

While discussing this with the 6 year program who we took the exam with, my classmates discovered that their pass mark had been lowered to the normal 36, but our class still had the pass mark of 40.

Not that it affects me or anything but I find this kind of stupid.  It's was the same test, we were taught by the same people, and the requirement to pass this course to take the USMLE are the same- so why was the pass mark lowered for them and not for our class? Shouldn't they be made to live up to the same high expectations as the rest of us, especially seeing as they have way more breaks and time to prepare than we do? Better yet, how is this class 'better' than the others, aren't they all equally important in preparing for the step?

Is it just me or does this not make any sense?