Thursday, 26 September 2013

Medical School: A Survival Guide - Part 2

Hello, dear reader, and welcome to the second volume in my handy medical school survival guide. What delight is to come next in our exodus into the deep chasm of textbooks and panic sweat that is medicine, wherein no light or hope shall ever escape?

Replace hope with a solid bowel movement and you're talking about Jimmy Chung's.
Well we've already made it as far as the actual medical school so the next thing you're likely to encounter is the thing I touched very briefly on last time:


Chapter Two - The Lectures


Yup. Those. These are the very things what the title of this blog suggests that I should be paying attention to more often. Which I isn't. Like. (edit: I've changed blog titles now, so this doesn't make sense any more)

I is fighting the system with my crippling illiteracy, yo.
So you've got up at 7am, trekked to the medical school through howling winds and lashing rain and you're now sitting in the lecture theatre, lightly steaming with your laptop open, ready to be learned like a bitch. You manage to connect to the painfully bad WiFi, download the lecture material and- oh. Today's lecture seems to have been replaced with a series of slides written in something akin to Aramaic detailing cryptic clues as to the location of the real presentation. Shit, the lecturer is here...and he's opened up the same powerpoint. Now he's talking about the various pathways for immune response to infection while showing a diagram with so many lines it looks like a pretty photograph of global flight paths.

Am I missing out on something important here?

At least some of the slides keep it succinct.
Be prepared to annotate what's already given with what the lecturer is telling you, especially when you're looking at a diagram with lots and lots of acronyms on them. That way you at least have a context for the stuff you're looking at when you finally get round to writing it up about six months later. I would encourage you to ask questions, but the unwritten rules of lecture theatre etiquette dictate that doing so is social suicide, so just hope you get it or get used to being confused. Leave the questions to the post-graduate students, they don't have any friends anyway.

Look at them. Smart. Studious. Friendly. World-wise. Makes you sick, doesn't it.
A lot of people don't come to lectures, they say all the info is right there in the powerpoint. No. Just no. Even if the information is there, everything is usually condensed down into little bullet-points, devoid of context or unnecessary definite and indefinite articles. I've missed lectures before and sat wrapped in my duvet with the remainder of last night's bottle of gin pressed against my fevered brow, staring at the same four lines of text for three hours with no idea what these strange shapes are trying to tell me. It's not fun and it's not productive.

Any self respecting alcoholic knows you drink more to get rid of the pain.
So the lecturer is just as important as the stuff you're looking at? Yeah, pretty much. But what are they like?

Good question, reader. A quick Google for types of lecturer comes up with over 10 million results and a countless number of these are various websites giving you painfully unfunny accounts of the "5 types of lecturer at unay" or some similar title. These are bollocks. You have one lecturer and one lecturer alone. The one that doesn't want to be there.

Behind those cold dead eyes a trapped soul yearns for a fire alarm.
Now sure, you get the "funny" lecturer, the "boring" lecturer, or the "weird" lecturer who shows you one too many pictures of penises (it happens more than you think), but despite how they deliver themselves they all share the common trait of wanting to be anywhere other than the lecture theatre. You have to remember that in medicine, these men/women/goats in a lab coat are actual doctors or medical professionals who have a contractual obligation to teach your sorry ass how to pretend you know what you're doing while you make people die slower. They could be doing doctor shit but instead they have to take time out of their day to stand in front of you and have violent, traumatic flashbacks to when they were in medial school. They want to be there less that you, and its not unheard of for them to speed through slides like a rat with an electrode in the pleasure centre of it's brain or take a pager bleep as an opportunity to cut the hour short.

"Oh, dang. Would you look at that, my pager went off again."
"Sir, that's just an empty Tic Tac box with a whistle on it."
That said, their part is vital in making the impenetrable powerpoints a little more malleable and they usually soldier on, bless 'em. But what about you? What are you doing during all of this, as the guy at the front with a funny accent grumbles about liver metabolism and shows you random pictures of penises?

I see.
The one and only rule of lectures: make sure you have a comfy notepad.

Circle of Dante's Hell Most Similar To


Anger (The Fifth Circle) - 
Much like the depths of the River Styx, lectures draw you into "a black sulkiness which can find no joy in God or man or the universe". As for being accosted by a Catholic loyalist, that will depend entirely on who is taking the lecture.

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