Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Spring Break

Spring Break

This is the time of year when I think many of us become a little more positive about our oppressed existence as lowly students. Difficult to see, it is the slightest suggestion of a spec of a light that feverishly emits from the long tunnel of the tough grind.    

It is in my mind of no coincidence that these delicate strands of positivity that begin to pass though us coincide with two delightful events. The first being the bitter sweet occurrence of daylight saving; the event in which the blatant atrocities of robbing each an every one of us of a full hour of blissful sleep is soon forgotten by the splendid experience of an hour later sunset (and with that the tentative notion that winter is now behind us). The second of course is spring break, that little island of recovery were we can take a breather from our academic obligations and reacquaint ourselves with a little fun.

As a non-American I have never (until recently) experienced spring break, in fact my expectations of the whole event has been completely molded by the MTV camera lens. The image MTV portrays (or at least the one I decided to adopt) is that for one week, the whole of America dons bikinis and surfer shorts and proceeds to descend into a frenzy of party and inebriation. You can therefore perhaps appreciate my sense of betrayal with the severe lack of carefree scantily clad women on the snow kissed streets of Cleveland last year. Of course I now therefore understand that this perception is just one of the possibilities that one can engage in with their 7 day allocation.      

Whether you plan to spend time with family, the classic debaucherous week at the beach or something completely different, I think we can all agree that a week away from the books will do us 1st and 2nd years the world of good. Have fun!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Back to Work (Andrew Franklin)

Back to work

Welcome back everyone, and I hope we all had a wonderful break and a quality rest from the hardships of study, I know I certainly did. I find it is a strange experience however when we are blessed with such a long break. In the midst of the exam week, all of our attentions and efforts are squarely placed on the objective of doing well in the exams. Our priorities, (as hard as it is at the time) are simplified and tuned into this one task. I, as I’m sure others do during these times, dream of our post-exam life, the simple notion of say watching a day-time TV or going for an idle walk become a coveted future reward for our current predicament. Yet when all the hard work is over it is invariably difficult to initially deal with the new found freedom and lack of focus. As we progressively train ourselves for the tortuous efforts of exam taking we temporarily lose the ability of essentially being lazy.

Dedication and hard work is required in large volumes to achieve good results in our exams, mindless procrastination must equally be worked on and nurtured (although maybe not to the same degree); it is an art form that takes time and effort to perfect. However in a sinister manner, by the time New years day rolls around and we become accustomed and comfortable in our new form of existence we start back up for a new semester and expectations of work are thrust upon us.  This sine wave of productivity is an inevitable consequence of the stark contrast of the presence and abrupt absence of the academic demands imposed on us at medical school. As we begin our first few classes the mind cogs again slowly begin to turn as they break from our freshly constructed inertia and before you know it were back in the swing of things dreaming of future procrastinations.   

For me right now as a second year those mind cogs are refusing to budge! Our schedule resembles many remnants of last semester, continuing with the heavy subjects of Pathology and Pharmacology, however we are now starting to be exposed to more clinical aspects of the course with podiatric medicine skills and surgery. For me this marks the beginning of the exciting transition from book based core foundation academia to the more podiatry directed learning. A transition that I greatly welcome as we get that little bit closer to becoming podiatrists.    

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Andy Franklin

Guy Fawkes Night

The English are rather inclined not to partake in the mass celebration that drapes over America every year on July 4th. The celebration that is denoted for its exuberant and colorful display of fireworks illuminating the night is absent from the skies above my beloved home and rightly so… we lost! From this, an impertinent question would then be "so what do the English do with their annual stash of fireworks?" Well they light them up and let them off on November 5th, for November 5th is Guy Fawkes Night.

Guy Fawkes was one of 13 conspirators, that back in the 17th century England attempted to the destroy the houses of parliament along with the protestant King James and replace him with what they saw as a more favorable catholic monarch. It is commonly thought that that their devious plan was to dig a tunnel from a nearby house to go under the famous structure. When they were in the right location and with the king in residence the plan was to then set alight copious amounts of gunpowder that would ultimately take out the building and the protestant King. This act of antiquated political terrorism was therefore termed the Gunpowder plot.

Well the plan didn’t work; On the November 5th 1604 the King got wind of this dastardly crime and ordered his minions to investigate the cellars underneath Parliament. Any attempt of Guy Fawkes to deny participation in the plot were seemingly quelled by the fact he was found within those cellars accompanied by 28 barrels on gunpowder. In the physical struggle that preceded his capture and in a last ditch attempt to bring the plot to fruition, Fawkes threw his candle lit lantern against the barrels, however fortunately for the King the gunpowder did not alight.

The capture and subsequent torture of Guy Fawkes along with the Kings averted assassination was and continues to be celebrated every year. In addition to fireworks, the celebration takes on the form of big controlled bonfires from which on top is placed a flammable effigy of Guy Fawkes. This effigy is now interestingly become known as simply ‘the Guy’ from which is where the American term for a generic male is derived from.

Knowing that Americans don’t need too much of an excuse to throw a party, I thought I would offer this to you this coming weekend, Happy Guy Fawkes Night everybody!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Andrew shares how he prepares for exams!

An Eskimo riding a bicycle, smoking a cigar, that’s one of the scenarios I currently have running in my mind in an attempt to memorize a collection of related facts for an upcoming exam. The Eskimo is not a lone cyclist however, on the contrary it’s a surreal merry little party up there right now, Mickey Mouse, Marry Poppins and Denzel Washington (don’t ask) to name but a few are also performing various tasks in the vain attempt to relate the sometimes obscure information in a temporary but cohesive manner. They perform their function for just enough time for me to hopefully click the correct answer and then they are unceremoniously expelled. Any proof that they ever existed is the percentage value on a screen that ultimately results.

We harbor these characters (or at least I do) within our minds along with a colorful collection of acronyms, mnemonics and whatever else we care to create to aid us in memorization. They all provide us with a softer way to consume the large amounts information we are subjected to. A word, half a word even will trigger our thought process to navigate swiftly though the tunnels of our mind to a pre-prepared treasure trove of viable information. An unraveled acronym or mnemonic will provide at worst a clue and at best the key to the hidden answer. I am sure it would be considered cheating if the process could be externally observed.

However perhaps we should take heed, be aware that in time, acronyms become jumbled, mnemonics less melodic and the neuronal tracks that lead us to our other creations faded. The friendly smiling face of Mickey Mouse who helps me today may well have a sinister grin tomorrow, for the answer should not based on ‘because my Disney friend said so’ but rather based on a profound understanding of fundamental facts and their application to the question in hand. Of course where’s the fun in that?

Best of luck to all in the exams, whichever way you navigate to your answers.       

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Andrew Franklin

Medical school is a demanding beast, relentless in its expectation of its subjects to apply themselves fully and continuously for excessive periods of time. Its demands at the peak of study can be considered to bear on fringe of the impossible or even the absurd. Medical school takes away, but it also gives back. The conventional argument of enduring such an unbalanced existence is that we are all working towards our dreams, our sacrifices now will equate to our future success and ultimate contentment. While this belief holds true and enables us to persist with the continual reassessment of our worthiness as future podiatrists there is something else, something more simple and delightful that medical school gives back.   

They don’t come by very often (and first years, they will be sadly taken from you in the 2nd semester), but when they do, the only proper thing to do is waste them!  I am referring to those little nuggets of time when all is well, when we can sit and watch mindless TV just because we can. When we are not consumed by the unyielding notion that we should be perpetually studying and time simply loses its importance. It’s the weekend after exams and apathy should not only be tolerated but also indeed celebrated. For that brief moment we become the common man and woman, a weekend becomes the justified rest stop for the arduous endeavors of the previous five days. It provides us a window of a previous life or perhaps even a future life and then just like that it disappears once again.

So medical school will provide us with a wonderful profession, a great career full of great challenges and experiences but lets also acknowledge those blissful pockets of guilt free laziness that blesses us every now and then along the way. 

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Exam Week...

Spoiler alert, OCPM has the best test schedule of any school I have ever been to, hands down. 

I'm pretty close with my family and as such we spend a lot of time on the phone talking about things that are going on in each other's lives. Coming in to this week I knew my family was getting worried seeing how this week sparked the beginning of my first grad school exams. As families often do they call when big things are going on and if they want to know how you are doing and so on and so forth. 

Just to be clear I do love their phone calls and all their well wishing, it has done me good so far and I'm sure will continue to benefit me for many years to come. 

When they call and ask how tests are going I say,"Great," and they ask, "So, what tests do you have this week?" Then, when I say I have 5 tests this week there is a long silence on the phone...followed by, "How are you handling it all?"

Truthfully, it's a pretty great system. For the exams, you have one class's exams per day, and then a day's rest in between tests to really focus on the next exam. It's fantastic! In undergrad I had what seemed like exam after exam, and most classes gave a test every other week, so I was swamped. So to only have one week every month and a half and only one class's exams per day it really gives me a chance to get a good grip on my class, internalize the information and commit it to permanent memory. 

I'm not going to lie, the exams and classes are hard, but OCPM has really found a way to ease the pressure a little bit and really help the students get a grip on the material and be able to do the best they can. 

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Andrew Franklin

So four weeks into the new academic year and I have to say it has been rather pleasant so far. Of course its always hard to tell how well things are going before the first set of exams, but to be frank I’ve rather enjoyed the freedom (in the absence of clinic or simulated patients) that pertains to having no classes scheduled on Tuesdays and Thursday. The price of such a luxury does result in long days sitting in a classroom on Mondays and Wednesdays, but I’ll take it for the indulgence of a cheeky lie-in every now and then. I don’t want you to think that such a schedule has been completely wasted with an extra few pushes of the snooze button. On the contrary I have made some endeavors to be somewhat productive. For example I am lucky enough to be a member of a research group working for Dr Yavuz. Along with some fellow 2nd years and 3rd years we are collecting data on diabetic patients. I wont go into details of the research but from a student’s point of view it’s been a great experience to interact with patients and practice our under-developed pod-med skills.

These past first four weeks have also had a sport theme for me, and while I continue to hack at dimpled balls in a vain attempt to at least look somewhat presentable on the golfing green or more so the rough. I have also plied my trade with the OCPM soccer club. We have been meeting regularly every Sunday morning at the Independence high school for an informal ‘kick-about’ for some time now. It’s been a great way to get active and get the lungs going for at least a little while. I encourage anyone who is interested in ‘the beautiful game’ to come along and get involved, before it gets too cold (although we will then move to an indoor league). Incidentally the soccer club also had a trip a few weeks ago down to Columbus to watch the MLS game between Columbus Crew and Philadelphia Union. And although I would always argue that it’s no EPL (English Premier League) it was a great day out with many OCPM students attending and the home team taking the points.

My other recent sporting escapade has been at a local rock gym, there is something rather rewarding about the challenge of negotiating yourself up a wall, there are levels for every ability (I started on a ladder!) and wonderful way to distress from school.
With exams coming up I think such activities will be temporarily curtailed for now, but it’s nice to know there are many avenues outside of school that we can all take part in. Good luck in your studies.