>September 3 2002

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While it was nice to have the long holiday weekend, it was hard to appreciate it this early in the school year. I would have rather saved it for those interminable months of winter. February being the cruelest month, and all that. I felt guilty about how little studying I did until I talked to my classmates. Nobody would admit to hitting the books, so maybe I am not that far behind them yet.

I like to see the various little wrinkles that different departments like to put into their courses. In Biostats, rather than take attendance each day the professor gives a quiz. This way we have an extra grade and the professor can tell who was absent by the missing quizzes. Each quiz has three fairly trivial questions from the assigned reading for that day’s class. However, only one of the three questions is graded. To determine which one, the class selects one of our own, to go down to the front and select a numbered golf ball from a box. The number on the ball corresponds to the question that will be graded. The balls have some very subtle difference amongst them, and we always have a guy who is reportedly the top golfer in the class to be our drawer. After the administration of the quiz the class will call out which item they wish to be graded, and our man will draw the desired ball out. So far he is a perfect four-for-four. I went down today after class to fondle the balls myself, and I’ll be danged if I know how he does it. One of them has a small cut in it, but the other two seem indistinguishable to me.

In Pathology, we had a lecturer who I really liked for the first section on cellular pathology. While required by his department to give us a list of objectives, he commented that he always hated those kinds of things as they tend to be to vague to mean anything. “You should understand apoptosis.” OK, as he said, “There have been books written about it. What exactly should I know?” He kindly supplied us with a very detailed twelve-page handout of his lecture material, which apparently will suffice as a comprehensive document of things he expects us to know for his exam. The professor who followed him put a 25-page handout in our mailboxes. “Ah,” thought I, “another clean presentation of notes that will allow me to work crossword puzzles during lecture and still be able to read everything I need to know at my leisure.” Alas, it was not to be. This entire document consisted of objectives for the guy’s seven or so lectures on immunopathology. Ugh!

In Microbiology, the professors are much enamored of “POPS,” or “Patient-Oriented Problem Solving” sessions. In these we are divided up into groups of four, and work together to solve a clinical problem. These can be helpful, but only if we have had enough time to prepare for them before our scheduled meeting time. Inexplicably, however, the department doesn’t get us the material until the evening before the session. If you have already left school for the day, you don’t get it until the morning of the POPS session. Today we had one called “An Immunoassay Teaching Package.” It proved to be a total waste of time as nobody in my group had done enough background reading to contribute much.

The note-taking-for hire is going well. I have done four sets of notes so far, and have three more in the next few days lined up. I made the mistake of trying to do two lectures one night and it was too much. I drew an easy one today though in ICM. The lecture was on physical exams for pediatric patients and there was not a lot of hard, factual stuff, to go into the notes. Sometimes you draw a easy assignment and sometimes you get a marathon, non-stop, speaker who drones on for 50 minutes and you pretty much have to transcribe his lecture while searching the textbook for clarifications and background. For those the $40 isn’t nearly worth it, but I guess it all evens out.

 

About Marcus Lee

Child Neurologist
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