It’s the beginning of February, but it feels like spring. The mid-40s weather is a welcome change from the sub-freezing series of days we’ve had recently. It’s been nice to thaw out a bit, and I have especially appreciated it since I’ve had the last few days off.
My last post left us at the beginning of our hematology/oncology sequence, conveniently shortened to heme/onc colloquially. Heme/onc was very involved, with many different concepts coming together at the end of the two-week block, but it was an interesting block nonetheless. In my pre-med life, I did cancer research, so it was great to revisit the newest advances in cancer treatment, especially since so many of us know someone undergoing chemo or radiation therapy.
To complicate things, I managed to be ill throughout the sequence, and it certainly made for a rough start to the year. I was sick enough to have to go to the doctor, which reminded me that (future) doctors make the absolute worst patients. Advice such as “take care of yourself,” “you need to rest,” and “you need to slow down” does not bode well with medical students. However, that really is the only way to get better. I was even sick on my birthday and didn’t feel much like celebrating. However, I have the best friends who surprised me with cake a couple days later when I was feeling a bit better, and my family came to visit the next weekend. Family and friends are so instrumental to making it through med school.
After finishing heme/onc, we began our last ever Clinical Foundations of Medicine week. I used to call them our “how to doctor” weeks, and I still can’t think of a better name. We spend these weeks working on our physical exam and history taking skills, as well as participating in lectures and small groups about topics that we don’t often cover, including interpersonal violence, rural health, and palliative care. In addition to having the chance to feel like doctors in training, the weekends are another great part of CFM weeks, mostly because we have them off with no quizzes or exams.
Naturally, that means that we usually take a trip, and this round was no exception. Several classmates and I headed to Chicago, where we spent the weekend eating excellent food, laughing our heads off at a comedy show, salsa dancing, meeting up with friends from other med schools, and just generally enjoying a free weekend. It was wonderful.
We headed back for the last week of CFM, at the end of which was the dreaded M2 CCA. While I jest, the CCA, or Comprehensive Clinical Assessment, is a test of our ability to take patient histories and perform physicals to make sure that we are adequately prepared to use these skills on the wards (in a few short months!). My friends and I had prepared for this exam extensively in the prior weeks, and we went into the final week with our game faces on. I took the CCA relatively early, on Saturday, so I had to be prepared. The experience was actually a pleasant one, and now I’m more excited than ever to head to the wards in May.
Since I took the CCA on Saturday, and students were able to schedule their exams from Friday to Wednesday, I’ve had the last couple days off. I spent the time visiting my family. Tomorrow, we start our Gastrointestinal (GI) sequence, so for now, I’m enjoying the time off and trying to catch up on things that I’ve neglected in the past couple weeks. With Step 1 study period less than 7 weeks away, I know that come tomorrow, I will hit the ground running with few breaks until I take Step 1. It’s daunting and always the elephant in the room, but I’m trying to focus on the tasks ahead of me right now. I try to stay positive and remember that on the other side of Step 1 is my introduction to the wards, and I couldn’t be more excited. So for now, it’s all about taking things one step at a time.
As always, thanks for reading. Until next time, take a moment to enjoy life even when it’s crazy busy.
Angelica is a fourth-year medical student at the University of Michigan Medical School. When she’s not on the wards, you can find her on a run around Ann Arbor or passionately discussing medicine and public health over tea.