Part one: medical school
This is week 8 of medical school. I considered dropping out 8 weeks ago, but I won’t.
This is where I want to be, and what I’ve been working for since around 2004/2005 when I started figuring out that I wanted to be a doctor and not an engineer. I won’t give up, but I’m sure will feel like doing so many times during the next four years, and I won’t be alone. My class is around 200 strong, and as of today nearly half are technically failing anatomy.
Let’s get this out of the way: I knew what I was getting myself into. A rough estimate would be that I knew this better than many of my classmates. In addition to heavily researching medical school like every other pre-med out there, I worked in the healthcare field in EMS for two years and actively learned more about my field during that time. I’ve had countless conversations with doctors (M.D. and D.O.) about med school, shadowed plenty, volunteered plenty, talked to dozens of residents, and spent way too much time on SDN. That said, everyone that enters med school knows it will be hard. The problem is, there is a difference between knowledge and experience.
I risk appearing to be a complainer in my posts, I’m sure some will see it that way, and maybe they’ll be right. But, I hope to never lose my hold on why I wanted to do this and never forget this is a choice I made and wanted. I look at the med school site of this blog as just a way for me to talk out what I’m experiencing, if others are interested or can relate, cool man.
After 8 weeks, I feel like I’m in the ocean and fighting my best to keep my head above water. This is a weird feeling, because I am a damn good swimmer. Fact of the matter is, most of us in med school are damn good “swimmers”, and struggling is a weird feeling for any of us (I know, world’s smallest violin is being manufactured on a nano machine right now).
Okay, okay… enough intro, a little about my experiences thus far…
We’ve nearly completely dissect our generously donated cadavers, and our clothes stink of formaldehyde. There have been weird moments, like when you mistake the tibial nerve for the fibular nerve at first because your cadavers leg is on the wrong side of his body. Oops. Or, when your partner dissecting on the other side of the table slips while trying to muscle his way through fascia and fat, and splashes embalming fluid onto your face. That’s when you thank the professor that loudly emphasized to wear goggles. I believe this dissection has been highly valuable, and could not be replaced with a “virtual cadaver”, but I also cannot help but think these people had barely a clue as to what would happen to their bodies. You think someone told them students would casually examine their heart while their lungs were set outside their bodies on top of their abdomen to better visualize the vessels surrounding the heart? Probably not, but I also have yet to see someone be disrespectful to a cadaver outside not being an expert dissector (and how can you blame someone that’s never held a scalpel for that?). And hey, who cares if we accidentally transect the cadaver’s great saphenous vein, not like he was using it…
Part two: skepticism and osteopathy
The title of this blog as of today (and it may change) is “The Skeptic Osteopath” (though, I suppose more accurately, until 2015 add “ic Student” to the end). I’m sure some (especially hardcore osteopaths) will initially think “why did you choose to attend a D.O. school if you’re so skeptical?” The reason I chose to attend a D.O. school is pretty simple. It was in a location I liked, the students seemed to get competitive residencies, and I didn’t get into an M.D. school that was in a location I liked. That said, I am far from anti-D.O. I think learning physical palpation skills and some musculoskeletal techniques early will be valuable and put us a bit ahead of the game during residency and clinical rotations for our physical exams. I’ve spoken with more than a couple M.D. attendings that praise D.O.’s for their physical exam skills. However, I am anti-woo. I advice like-minded individuals to read one of my favorite blogs on this topic: Respectful Insolence.
The particular area of osteopathy that ignite the skeptic lightbulb is cranial osteopathic manipulative medicine. For those unfamiliar with this aspect of osteopathy, practitioners of “cranial” believe they can manipulate the fused bones of the skull, sense minute fluctuations in CSF (cranial spinal fluid) pressures through their fingers, and diagnose disease (such as diabetes) by a simple “laying of hands” on someone. Mainstream D.O.’s do not seem to believe in cranial, and there is very little evidence for, and good evidence against the technique. I hope to examine some research articles on this blog. The problem is that despite lack of evidence, and the supposed emphasis on “evidence based medicine” (EBM), cranial is still taught in most D.O. schools, and all D.O. students are tested on the topic on the most important exam in medical school, the Step 1 boards called the COMLEX.