Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Kevin has too many med student pet peeves

I've noticed quite a few oddities in medical school that for some reason never really bothered me during my undergraduate studies. They’re not offensive but odd enough for me to take notice. I don’t think these people are unique to my particular medical school so maybe everyone can relate. Who knows, maybe you’re one of my pet peeves.  Here's my top 5

5. Inappropriate questions
We have one particularly gross offender that can just fire off questions non-stop. Most students average maybe 1 question per week, if that. I think I can count on my hands the number of questions I’ve had to ask in class. But this guy is prolific in his question asking. Most of the time, the questions are only marginally relevant to the discussion and usually much too in-depth to be of benefit for anyone else. Instead, the rest of us are forced sit through his ego stroking barrage of questions while subtly shaking our heads.

4. Too many colored pens
I never really understood this but some people still insist on taking all their notes on paper even though everything is prepared on powerpoint slides. Environmental irresponsibility aside, I’ve noticed some people who really really love color coding their printed notes. I’m not really sure what color corresponds with what, only that these people have upwards of 8 pens of lovely pastels to help them remember conjugation is just a fancy word for bacteria sex.

3. Laptop on laptop sleeve
This really isn’t bad or annoying as much as it’s perplexing. I’ve noticed that some people like to place their laptop sleeves underneath their laptops while in use. I can only assume this is somehow meant to protect the machine from the ravages of our plastic table top. Such misguided attempts to protect their $1000+ investment is understandable but ultimately ironic. The most likely source of damage to laptops, and most computers, comes from improper venting and the accumulation of heat that damages CPUs, RAM, Hard Drives etc. And nothing builds heat more than placing a insulating foam pad on the bottom of the computer to effectively block any and all vent holes the engineers might have placed. Don’t believe me? Try using your computer by putting it on top of a pillow or bed and feel how hot it gets.

2. Taking too long to leave the classroom
At the end of every class I’m among the first to pack up and get ready to head out the door. However, I am always impeded by those who are just a bit slower, leaving me in the middle of a row twiddling my thumbs. This is quite frustrating since I dont actively rush through my packing, yet somehow I'm always among the first to be ready. Other people seem to take an endless amount of time packing and talking (never at the same time). Perhaps they love medical school so much, they subconsciously stall their packing ritual to milk ever last drop of medical schoolness before the day is over. Who knows.

1.  Jess
No explanation necessary.

Monday, April 28, 2008

David Discusses 5 Things He's Learned in Microbiology

One of the most important skills one acquires in medical school is the ability to synthesize endless amounts of information and develop useful frameworks with which to organize and understand seemingly disparate concepts. In Microbiology, we learn about myriad bacteria, viruses, fungi, and other baddies ad nauseum, and depend on a variety of such strategies in order to make sense of what sometimes feels like an insurmountable mountain of minutiae.

Looking for high-yield study tips? You've clearly come to the wrong place. Instead, here, in no particular order, are five important things I've learned in Micro so far:

5) Not all fungi are fun.

This pearl of wisdom is from Kevin. They can't all be winners...

4) It's time to page Dr. Robot.

So far, it seems like a computer would be as good or better at diagnosing all of the diseases we've studied. Sure, there are subtleties about each, but for the most part we're focusing on things that approximate a complicated checklist (Fever? Y/N. Burning while you pee? Y/N. Excessive play with turtles? Y/N).

Clearly, the next step is to invent Dr. Robot. One probe in the mouth, another down south, and a way to input the patient's responses to a series of questions that help the robot pinpoint the disease. You could even put a little white coat on him and give him some outstretched arms so people know he cares. (Alternatively, we could just find a human physician named Robot who's a whiz at ID. As long as someone's called Dr. Robot, I'm happy.)

3)Noah should have raised admissions requirements for the Ark.

After God told him to pack up the boat, perhaps Noah should have been a bit more selective about which animals made the cut. He really couldn't find two rabbits without Francisella or a couple flying squirrels that were disease free? He couldn't spare five minutes for a quick delousing effort? Pretty lazy, Noah, even for you.

If animal cleaning wasn't Noah's bag, at least he could've sealed the ship before the syph hopped on board. Nobody wins when genital lesions are involved.

2) There already is a Kevin* Disease (with a twist).

Apparently, a Kevin* Disease already exists. Yet instead of one that Kevin discovers and names after himself in order to watch his viral namesake wreak havoc across the third world, this is a bug seemingly tailor-made to infect Kevin. Perhaps we could call it Bizarro Kevin* Disease? BK*D is actually Bacillus cereus , a bacterium sometimes found in poorly heated fried rice. Tragically, his greatest friend has become his deadliest foe.

Now, every time Kevin uses the microwave, he's walking a tightrope walk of death, through a ring of fire, over a pool of sharks with laser beams mounted to their heads and dogs on their backs that shoot bees out of their mouths with each bark. His life has devolved into a terrifying game of Chopstick Roulette.

1) The vagina is an extremely dangerous place.

Contrary to popular belief, what may seem like a bed of daisies and kittens can actually be a raging cesspool of microbiological evil. Every bug and its brother kicks it in the vagina. Want more evidence? Look at all the bad times that befall neonates. What more would you expect from something that has to bust through this danger zone to make it to freedom?

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Kevin Warns You About Perineal Silicosis

Perineal Silicosis aka Sand in your Crotch

Perineal Silicosis is characterized by silicon dioxide deposition in the perineal region.  However, PS has a characteristic neurological component that is the basis of clinical diagnosis.  Patients with PS are irritable, adversarial, sarcastic and annoying during social situations. Behavior can best be described as "bitchy," complaining endlessly over trivial matters that no one else cares about. PS patients are prone to overreactions and endless whining. The rants generated by a patient with PS are frequently vitriolic, overly emotional, and most unfortunately, completely devoid of humor.

Etiology and Epidemiology:
The cause of perineal silicosis is currently unknown but recent studies suggest a heavy genetic influence, with certain populations more prone to infection than others. Rates of occurrence tend to increase during times of stress, perhaps hinting at a hormonal component. Though this is an acquired affliction, the source is undetermined and it is not believed to be communicable with human to human contact. It is believed to strike men and women at equal rates but more accurately diagnosed, and treated, among men.

There is no established treatment protocol for PS but common practices usually include social isolation and/or mockery of the patient. With extreme cases, blunt force trauma across the patient's face using either the metacarpal or dorsum of one's hand may be necessary.  Treatments should be applied PRN by classmates, co-workers, friends or any other volunteer nearby.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Kevin wishes these classes were real

Top 5 rejected class proposals

MED 451: Healthcare for the Overserved/Majority Communities
This course is designed to give graduate students in health sciences an introduction to the issues faced by overserved populations related to health and obtaining too much health care. Course will focus on proper treatment of ailments such as twisted ankles, tennis elbow, liposuction as well as breast augmentation. Students will be taught to overdiagnose ADD and dyslexia as well as overprescribing Ritalin and Prozac.

MED 454: Advanced Infectious Diseases. Pre-req: Infectious Diseases
This course prepares health profession students for work in an Infectious Disease specialty through first-hand experience. All registered students are infected with an infectious disease drawn at random. They have until the end of the quarter to identify the infectious agent and design a successful course of treatment.* Course is Pass/Fail. *No credit given posthumously.

MED 696: Medicine and future relationships
This course prepares physicians on leveraging their degrees in social situations for maximum benefit. Male students are taught subtle but useful tricks in a variety of situations to pick up unsuspecting ladies (and gentlemen if that's your style). Examples include casually saying "I'm sorry I can't do another shot, I have heart surgery tomorrow morning" at a bar and "I just love saving all those children" anywhere else. Women are taught to downplay their significantly above-average education as to not scare away insecure, but otherwise eligible males. Techniques include asking obvious questions you already know the answer to, twirling your hair and stressing your desire to practice only part-time. Final is a practical test of learned skills at the local college bar.

MED $$$: Advanced Selling Out. Sponsored by Pfizer (R)
This course prepares health profession students for work in private practice, specificially in surburbia. Curriculum will focus on the importance of prescribing commercial brand pharmaceuticals over the obviously inferior generics. Small group sections involve role-play situations in which students will learn to turn away the majority of medicare and medicaid patients and strictly adhere to a cash-only policy. However, students also learn the nuances of such a policy such as taking on flashy charity cases for publicity and dealing with medical errors through rapid and effective out-of-court settlements and non-disclosure agreements.

MED 000: Alternate career paths
This course prepares health profession students for work in fields other than medicine. Given the state of the healthcare system today, it is important to educate medical students on other career pathways that could make use of their skill set. The class will focus on three major alternative paths: 1. Medical TV show authenticity consultant, 2. Weightloss commercial spokesperson 3. Medical School professor.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

David realizes things finally matter now

At this stage in our education, there has finally come the point where what we are learning will have an immediate, signficant, maybe even life-alterating effect on others in the relatively near future. For me, this marked shift from previous educational experiences seems like a big, perhaps too often glossed-over transition. That is not to say I didn't see this coming long ago - soothsaying and double-negatives are two of my hobbies - but I still think the distinction warrants mentioning.

In high school, some people may undergo fundamental intellectual changes, as they begin to think more abstractly and independently without necessarily allowing teachers or other authority figures to dictate their conclusions. Yet despite all this wonderful personal and intellectual growth, the main scholastic endgame is a golden ticket to the highly-coveted next round: college, and hopefully a good or great one at that. For a lot of students, the academic part of the high school years is less about truly learning and more about getting the grades and SAT/ACT/SATII/ACT3/PSAT9 scores to climb the ladder of undergraduate tiers and get as high up as possible. Though obviously not the only, or even most important, measure of success, getting into a good college still remains a landmark achievement that many identify as the primary educational goal of their upperclass years.

Once you reach Eden University, with its manicured lawns, red-brick quads, flowing fountains, and more libraries than one could ever imagine, then what? Do you learn for learning's sake and explore a whole new intellectual world whose vivacity tickles you deep within your knowledge loins? Maybe you do (or even should). Or maybe you, like countless overs have before, find yourself in the next race, working towards another weighty, seemingly nebulous yet arguably life-changing achievement four more years down the road - med school. That'll be a profound, baby-saving party that won't quit, right? Actually, yeah, it very well could be all that and a bag a Fritos.

Yet because reaching that goal can be challenging, your college time might be spent working towards similar grade/score ambitions that might occasionally force actual learning to the back-burner out of sheer practicality. This isn't necessarily bad. It's hard to do well enough in college to get into medical school, and sometimes, where learning best and improving a grade aren't 100% compatible, it makes sense to favor the latter for the time being. For many, paving the road to the next step is more important than appreciating or learning from every noteworthy stop along the way. Besides, there will be time to catch up on things that were missed or glossed over, and even what's been well-internalized will require quite a bit of brushing up in 1-2 years. So, even if one isn't completely sacrificing learning at the alter of the almighty 'A', a bit of a compromise is sometimes made en route to the ultimate goal.

BUT, once in med school, things actually matter. Sure, grades and scores remain important, but skating through important material with only a mind for H/P/F/whatever may leave students unprepared for the clinical applications that are fast approaching. In college, one could feasily put off O-chem and only do enough to get by in the class. Even the BS MCAT section doesn't require any particularly in-depth O-chem knowledge. In med school, we can't just ignore microbiology and expect it never to pop up in the future. Sure, one might pass the class without knowing all the important details, but the difference is that, sooner rather than later, this stuff is going to be of practical, unavoidable importance. Perhaps this is no big revelation for most people, but I'd argue it represents a fundamental difference in the educational endgame and significantly changes the required approach to the curriculum. This is simultaneously awesome ("Hey, this stuff actually means something now") and maybe even a bit daunting ("Hm, if I don't learn this, there will be real consequences for other people"). Or, perhaps, everyone knows and takes this concept for granted, and I'm just slow enough to find it worth discussing.

Hopefully, this is food for thought. As long as it's not Moroccan food. Excuse me, can I get a fork...

Friday, April 4, 2008

Kevin finds Moroccan Food Illogical

About a week ago I went to a Moroccan restaurant for a friend’s birthday. This was my first foray into Moroccan cuisine and the food, while good, left me confused. Throughout history cultures have had a myriad of methods for consuming their food, whether that be knife and fork, chopsticks or just using hands. Usually no method is better than the other since people modify their cuisine to fit the style (or perhaps vice versa). For example, it would be really inefficient to try to attack a steak with chopsticks, just like how it would be foolish to try to eat a bowl of ramenwith your hands.

Moroccans, flaunting conventional wisdom, have decided to take their cuisine in a different direction. They have opted for the use of hands, a fine and dandy , albeit unsanitary, option. However, unlike their smarter Indian friends, they’ve decided to eschew naan or some kind of bread-like staple. Instead, people simply bare fist hot saucy dishes without the benefit of some kind of protection. This might not be so bad if it’s just rice or a piece of sushi but Moroccans decided to go the couscous route. For those who don’t know, couscous is a type of wheat that is incredibly granular and thus really loose. This is served in conjunction with steaming hot meat (let’s stay professional here) piled on top. So as you try to scoop yourself some couscous goodness, you burn your million dollar fingers on the piping out dish all the while little bits of food is falling off the sides. By the time your hand actually makes it to your mouth, you’re left with maybe 25% of what was originally your share, with the remaining 75% becoming the tears of starving African children.

Do I have to re-invent the spoon from leftover chicken bones?

OtherMoroccan dishes don’t make much sense either. For example, they love serving meat on the bone. This would be fine as finger food if it was served individually, but given the Moroccans’ love of sharing, you feel obligated to break off tiny pieces rather than taking the whole thing. So basically there are multiple pairs of hands going over the same piece of chicken, tearing off tiny pieces of meat over and over again.

Just in case this might be too clean, all their meats feature some kind of fruit sauce that you would normally find in a dessert. Apparently, Moroccans have no time for multi-course meals (edit: in the traditional sense). Instead they prefer to lump all their meals into one dish, resulting in the b'stilla royale: puff pastry enclosing shredded chicken and scrambled egg, and topped with powdered sugar and cinnamon. So basically if your local KFC and Cinnabon collided in a tornado, the result is Moroccan food. Either way, I resisted being the guy to ask for a spoon and finished my meal like a champ, sticky fingers and all.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Kevin presents 5 More Guys You Don't Want To Be

5. Asking for knife and fork at a Chinese restaurant guy
I think everyone knows one or two guys like this. Even though they frequent Chinese restaurants regularly, they refuse or even attempt to use chopsticks. Instead, they flag down the nearest waitress and demand a knife and fork to go with his meal. More amusing than offensive, this guy has steadfastly resisted even the most minor amount of cultural immersion. A close cousin of :Knife and Fork at Chinese restaurant guy" is “Ordering the same thing every time guy.” A mainstay of every Panda Express and Safeway deli, this guy consumes “Chinese” food on a biweekly basis yet never wavers in his dedication to one particular order, whether that is sesame chicken, General Tso’s chicken, or some variant therein. Like true American heroes, these two guys tackle their local cultural forays with a dogmatic ethnocentrism that makes the whole experience rather pointless.

4. Too enthusiastic about racist jokes of other ethnicities guy
Everybody loves racist jokes, especially minorities. Look up any minority comedian and his set is inevitably racially oriented. Chris Rock, Carlos Mencia, Russell Peters… all comics working off of racists stereotypes. All this occurs on a smaller scale among groups of friends, especially ones that are racially diverse. Anyone that hangs out with me or David will inevitably discover our love of Asian jokes. For the most part it’s all in good fun and everyone has a good time. If the situation is right, even our white friend will toss in a couple of good natured ribs. When things go a little too far and the humor becomes just a little be offensive, most white guys will simply smile uncomfortably while observing from a distance. This is a pretty well understood social convention that while it might be ok to laugh with minorities as they make racist jokes, and maybe even toss out a few softballs, it’s never ok one-up your minority friends in their own proverbial house. However, there’s always that one guy who thinks he’s exempt from this convention. He might be inclined to toss out the occasional racial slur during the rowdiness and for the most part it goes unchallenged. After all, no one wants to be Overreacting guy either. But please take note, while it’s ok to laugh, it’s rarely ok to make jokes at or above the level of offensiveness your minority friend are tossing out.

3. Jesse
Yeah, I don’t want to be him either

2. Overplays inside-joke he’s not part of guy
“I love inside jokes. I hope to be a part of one some day. ” –Michael Scott, The Office. Inside jokes are a fundamental ingredient in any good friendship dynamic. They are inherently funny with very little set up and can be tossed out frequently as long as it’s situationally appropriate. Given their popularity and the overwhelmingly positive response among those “in the know,” some people might be inclined to force themselves into an inside joke they’re not really a part of. Often times they may hear the joke done once or twice but without fully understanding the back story. Thus, armed with an incomplete understanding on the inside joke, they’ll toss it out at random. This, of course, results in awkward silence or perhaps a pity laugh as the rest of group wonders who this guy is. Don’t be that guy.

1. Being named David guy
Historically, being David has been cushy. A biblical story here, a statue there, pretty good. However, if David was a stock, the opportunity to sell high has long passed. The current crop of Davids has been disappointing to say the least. The slide began with David Duke, born 1950.
After graduating LSU, he decided to dabble in politics and race relations by starting a local chapter of the KKK, eventually rising to the level of Grand Wizard.

Feeling this wasn’t douchey enough, he left the KKK in 1980 to form the NAAWP. Yep, the National Association for the Advancement of White People. Unwilling to settle for racist, Davids decided to enter the entertainment arena as well.

Born 2 years later than his fellow David, The Hoff has enjoyed a long and fruitful career making horrible television, songs, movies and anything else that was meant to entertain human beings. His last television outing was apparently “epically ironic guy”, being one of the regular judges on America’s Got Talent. Clearly, nows not a good time to be a David.