Saturday, September 29, 2007

A Leaf Falls

From the folks at
The Southwest folks have really tickled me with their autumn photography, especially the last one involving a lighthouse and a marsh. Although I'm usually a huge fan of autumn, I'm actually really sad and reluctant to let go of this precarious September hanging between late summer and early fall. It's like that second after you hold your breath and before you jump into the water.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Always Behind

Lavender sachets!
This entry is not going to be very meaningful, just wanted to drop a line.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Mentoring Each Other

Found on Hippie Hill in Golden Gate Park, 9/24/07
Just got back from a large audience interview with the UCSF Chancellor, J. Michael Bishop, author of an autobiography entitled, "How to Win a Nobel Prize." A nice lady interviewed and asked him questions in the newly renovated Cole Hall, and Dr. Bishop seemed to be a fairly charming and thoughtful guy.
Some excerpts (not verbatim, paraphrased loosely):
Bishop: "How many of you here are from dental [some cheers], medicine [few cheers], nursing [few cheers], or pharmacy [big cheer]. Great, we'll allot funding accordingly."
Bishop: "Cancer research progresses so quickly; being in the field is like driving a speeding race car."
Bishop: "I had never heard of the word 'tag line' until two years ago. Anyway, our new UCSF tag line is 'Advancing Health Worldwide.' Which is much better than Johns Hopkins tag line: 'Imagine.'"
Interviewer: "If you had another 40 years to do research --"
Bishop: [in utter mock astonishment] "You mean I DON'T??"
Interviewer: [polite brush off]"If you had another 40 years to do research, what would you work on?"
Bishop: "I wrote a paper during my third year at Harvard Medical School about two medical illnesses that I would like to see elucidated. One of them was cancer, which I have spent my career on, and the other is schizophrenia. Unfortunately, I don't think that I will see the latter elucidated in my lifetime."
Bishop: "In college, there was a physics professor whom I idolized. He said that I was bright and asked me why I was going into medicine, since doctors are just well-trained plumbers."
Anyway, those are the quotes that caught my memory. Another interesting topic that Dr. Bishop spent a lot of time talking about was the concept of mentorship and how important it is. Mentoring is more than giving advice, it's about believing in someone else and advocating for the advancement of that person's career. And, even more interestingly, Dr. Bishop brought up the idea that the most important mentorships occur not between student and teacher, but rather between peers, and that he learned so much more from his peers at HMS than he did from the faculty. He recalls sitting in back while his classmates critiqued the lesson, and how their involvement in research led to his initiation into the world of academic research.
It really touched me, because I feel like I have been very lucky to have so many people in my life who have fostered my growth. And I also realized that my friends in medical school have become some of my most valued mentors.
Obviously, I would never have survived beyond infancy without the love and support of my father and mother, who still sends me newspaper clippings to read and taught me to value creativity and really believed that I could do great things...her nurturing helped my brain make it to Harvard and everything that I do in the future will be thanks to her. In college, I didn't really have a Mentor with a capital M, but there were definitely several professors, teaching fellows (TA's in normalspeak), and classmates who changed the way that I think and encouraged me to continue writing and dreaming. At Stanford, I realized the value of a real mentor, and it saved my life in many respects. Almost unconsciously, also, the attitudes and skills that I learned at Stanford...the expression of "unconditional positive regard" that FPC likes to coin, became part of my outlook and I realized that taking pride in other people's accomplishments and encouraging their potential -- in short, seeing others succeed -- is an amazing high.
Perhaps more on this later.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

'Twas the Night Before Micro

'Twas the night before Micro,
and all through the school,
brown liquid was stirring --
it was coffee, not stool.

Clearly, I am not focusing on bugs and drugs well enough.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Oh, YouTube

It is late Friday evening, and the MS2's are faithfully studying in the S-rooms for an exam this Monday. Or so you think.

Imagine, if you will, one S-room in which three talented medical students are reviewing the antibiotic drugs in amazing detail.

Next door, in another S-room, imagine two marginally talented medical students who have not yet read the syllabus/ridiculously simple textbook...eating noodles while watching a video on YouTube in fascination.

The video was aptly entitled, "Baby vs. Cobra."

It consists of a home video of a female baby wrestling with a big defanged cobra on a rug.

That was my evening. :)

Thursday, September 20, 2007

E. Coli Cosmos

DNA bursting out of an E. coli
Does life reflect art or does art reflect life? Although I have always derived a scholarly pleasure from pondering this question, it does not completely explain the situation. Most pragmatists will tell you that art reflects life, because without life, there is no art. But devotees of the aesthetic will insist that art reveals a sharpened reality that life imitates in a myriad of permutations.
Looking at this picture of an E. coli bursting apart, the cell a mere white blob against a grainy black background, it looks simultaneously like a botched photo negative or a snapshot of a star imploding in the cosmos. Some pathology slides take my breath away, and it's hard for me to focus on the clinical details intead of the aesthetic beauty of it, and to not marvel that such art springs from the minutiae of life.

Stool Sample

They save all the good stuff for Year 2 in medical school at UCSF.

Tomorrow's microbiology lab requires that we collect our own stool samples and analyze them for bacteria. For the stool sample collection, they recommend that we put Saran wrap over the toilet seat and defecate into the clear plastic wrap. Then we're supposed to take a pea-sized amount and place it in a plastic jar provided to us for this special reason.

I will graciously spare you the details, but collecting my own stool sample has turned out to be one of the most sad/funny/traumatic experiences in medical school so far.

Maybe I'll go curl up into a ball now.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Found Objects

B. cereus

Some favorite photos from an outing a few weeks ago

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Quotes from Biostats

Quotes from shopping a biostats course with Paul:

Glantz: "There's a disclaimer under the copyright page in my book that says, 'do not use to practice medicine.'"

Paul in front of the class: "Statistics is a pseudo-math."

Glantz: "We were looking at...the things that make blood clot..."
Paul: [thinking] "You mean PLATELETS?"

Sunday, September 16, 2007

PedPAL Visit

Lots of things happened this week....I3 exam was on Wednesday, got a purple pedicure and drank fantastic butternut squash soup at Bistro, had a Synapse meeting on Thursday, met my new oncology preceptor on Thursday, and taught my first MSP session on Thursday night (2 straight hours of talking is actually pretty exhausting, maybe it'll get easier?).

Today I visited my PedPAL, whom I haven't seen in a while. We finally finished the ballerina painting that we've been working on since Aprilish...and now we've started one with a clown. :)

Monday, September 10, 2007

MSP Superheroes

In order to promote the Medical Scholars Program (MSP), an awesome program at UCSF taught by MS2's to tutor and help MS1's through the first half of the curriculum, we dressed up as "superheroes" to "save" the MS1's from Prologue. We wore costumes and ran around the lecture hall...some of the costumes made me giggle uncontrollably.

The following quote was uttered as we ran into the lecture hall wearing our capes:

"I think that we may have lost all credibility as teachers." - DK

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Late Night Thoughts

So tired right now, why am I blogging?

Some random thoughts:

Today was the White Coat Ceremony for the MS1's! Aww! Congrats!

The UCSF library really doesn't care about the med school. Although all of the other schools (Pharmacy, Dental, etc.) finished in May, the med school did not finish until June 22. What did the library do? They switched to a summer schedule with shorter hours almost a MONTH before the med students took the final exam. Although we started school 2 weeks ago, the UCSF library is STILL on a summer schedule because the other schools have not started yet! We have our first exam next Wednesday. Seriously, to borrow a description from Alex G, the med school is like "the red-headed step-child" of the UCSF library. It's really nerdy to rant about library policies. Don't be like me.

Today at 12:20 a.m., Paul said, "I think he will go into pediology."

Thursday, September 06, 2007

List of Things to Ponder

1) Why is it taking me so long to finish my MSP handout?

2) Is it bad that I haven't started reading for the I3 exam next Wednesday?

3) Most importantly, should I dress up as the Starbucks Logo or as Amy Winehouse for Halloween this year?

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Gifts for Little Sibs

Chlamydia from Giant Microbes

UCSF may not have a sports team or a mascot, but we've still got school spirit. Right now, benevolent MS2's are adopting MS1's as their Little Sibs and signing them up for anatomy lockers and leaving them gifts in their mailboxes.
Some of the gifts being given include: combination locks for the anatomy lockers, UCSF shotglass, $2 buck chuck (i mean, wine), UCSF t-shirts and hats in years past, chocolate, candy, little shots of liquor and books.
I adopted one sibling and gave her a combination lock. Then, because there was a shortage, I adopted a second sibling based on his interests (self-described enophile interested in oncology) and bought him some UCSF baby socks for his newborn.
Paul, on the other hand, has become the male-version of Angelina Jolie. He not only has a female MSTP Little Sib, but also two regular Little Sibs. He bought Maxwell's handbook for the two Little Sibs whom he has not yet met. At the bookstore, we saw these cuddly bugs (giant microbes) of common pests. The cutest one (all green and with tentacles) was an STD.
Paul looked at the stuffed animal thoughtfully and said,
"I guess I'll give my Little Sib chlamydia.
If the other two sibs are cool, I'll give them syphilis."

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Welcome, MS1's!

Tonight, a little less than 100 first-year medical students at UCSF are sleeping outside in the wilderness of Huddart Park. The camping trip kicks off the school year, and it's an exciting event full of heady introductions and initial meetings. The weather is pleasantly warm, so they should be snug in their sleeping bags...beneath the beautiful stars.

To recap, here is some advice for the MS1's (crap, my blog title is obsolete):

1) Don't buy any textbooks under the "required" list. I know that it's confusing because some are "recommended" and some are "required," but it's untrue. Buy the syllabus (you have to buy a new syllabus after every block, so it's a steady expense) and get Netter's anatomy and you'll be dandy. You're also supposed to read "The Spirit Catches You" by January.

2) Buy a stethoscope and a blood pressure cuff (a $30 is fine). Don't buy an oto-ophthalmoscope unless you have excess money ($500) and a burning desire to practice at home. You can use the ones in the exam rooms at the clinic. You will need a reflex hammer and tuning fork in May for Brain, Mind, and Behavior (BMB).

3) Relax. Pass/Fail will do wonders for your stress levels. Study as hard as you want for the first test, I can't blame you.

4) Focus on meeting people and making meaningful connections. Follow your passions and explore your interests (both academic and personal) this year, above all, do what you love.