>December 01 2001

>One of the great things about academic life is the constant cycling of finishing a course and starting something new. You continually get a fresh start. I love the feeling of relief when something is over and that is the way I feel about Gross Anatomy today. It was kind of like hitting yourself with a hammer because you knew how good it would feel when you quit!

We had our last regular exam on Tuesday covering head and neck. The way our school handles exams is to divide our 105 member class into two groups. One group does the written portion first while the other group has the lab practical exam and then we swap out. It has taken me all term to figure out how best to prepare for these exams. I had improved my grade on each of the first three exams and was hoping to continue the trend.

On Friday we took the National Board subject exam in Gross Anatomy and Embryology as our final. It was to count for 20% of our final grade but after our results are curved by the department it usually pulls peoples grades up a bit. The rumor is that no one has ever failed the Board exam. I suppose that means that they set the lowest mark in the class to a 70 and curve it from there.

As soon as the exam was completed I rushed to my mailbox to get my head and neck results. The department doesn’t get our scores out until the Board exam is complete so as not to interfere with our studying, or so I presume. When I opened mine, I felt like I had been kicked in the teeth. The first number I saw was my practical exam score and I completely bombed it. I felt a cold fear going through me until I saw that I had done enough on the written portion to keep my head above water. Still it was a major disappointment. I had not done as poorly on an exam since the first anatomy test.

A fundamental part of medical school is learning how to cope with the fact that for most of us, there will be exams that we do not do well on. Some are dealing with it better than others. We had our second casualty of the year as one of my classmates dropped out this week. I hated to see each of them go, knowing how much effort was put into getting into school in the first place.

To celebrate completing our first course in medical school we had a “Claus Ball” Friday night. The schools of Dentistry, Nursing and Health Related Professions were there too, but I don’t think any class looked as happy as the M1 class. Angie’s Mom stayed with our four kids and we had our first night out alone since school started. It was a great time. Angie was impressed when several of my classmates said some flattering things about me. Since I am older than most of them (I’m 34 and the average age is 24.5) I am glad to know that I fit in well. I actually feel as young at heart as any of them. Angie was particularly taken in when one girl on the dance floor took her arm and told her what “a great guy” I was. I had to point out that she was pretty drunk.

Another thing I like about school is the feeling of starting fresh with a new class. We start Histology Monday and I am eager to get into it and as usual, have big visions about staying caught up with the readings and really being on top of things. Of course we are still in Biochemistry and have a big exam a week from Monday that I must start busting my tail for. And today was a big zero for academic progress. We saw our second daughter Macey on a float in the town Christmas parade with her school choir. I then got our Christmas tree up and put the lights on. The girls and Angie do the rest of the decorating. The rest of the day was spent watching football. Oh well, all work and no play make Mark a grumpy boy.

About Marcus Lee

Child Neurologist
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