Saturday, August 29, 2009

Sirens' Song on Isabella

Late on the Sunday before classes began, I was unloading my car after having moved most of my things from Cleveland. At about 10:30 PM a small black car plunged through the darkness and split the night with a hair razing shriek. It sped down the quiet residential street at about 55 mph, hit the curb in front of my house, and was launched 4 to 5 feet in the air. The car came down and totaled the front end into the street when it slammed into the street, skidded, and finally came to rest at least 30 yards from its launching point. I began running to where the car landed yelling to a family that was watching, "SOMEONE CALL 911!" as I raced passed.

I was first to arrive at the car and walked around looking for passengers. Not seeing any I proceeded to open the door. there sat a round man in the driver's seat with airbags flowing from the steering wheel. He still had enough sense left in him to remember to fasten his seat belt. Against my plea for him to stay seated, the intoxicated, barrel shaped man pushed passed me and began yelling at his friend over the phone, "DUDE, SOMEONE STOLE MY CAR! Can you come pick me up!?! I just crashed it but tell them someone stole it!" He was not really cooperative, but also was not seriously injured. He started walking away from the accident, telling those standing around, "Tell the cops that someone stole my car! Just tell them my car was stolen!"

And then enter the hero of our story, a tall, white haired corrections officer came from his house wearing a black muscle shirt. He sat the guy down on some steps, put a coke in his hand, and convinced him to wait for the police. I stayed with them just incase some sort of medical emergency arose, but none did. He just kept saying, "You guys are great, you guys are cool," over and over again. I was amazed that he had no injuries not even a scratch on him. Then came the fire department, followed closely by the police, and finally the curious neighbors mystically drawn from their homes by the siren's repetitive song. After having inspected the accident and verified that no one was hurt the fire department left, and the police took over the investigation.

The sidewalks were filled with curious on lookers out for a nightly stroll around the block, stopping short of their final destinations to talk with eyewitnesses and gawk at the scene unfolding.

When my cell phone said it was nearly 11:00 PM, I asked the police if I needed to make a statement, and after receiving confirmation that I was able to leave, I walked back down the street, continued to unload my car, brushed my teeth, and after a few minute talk with my roommate fell asleep to awaken the next morning. All in all a not so average evening on Isabella Avenue.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Oath of Office

I stood in front of the American flag, raised my right hand which was cramped from signing about a thousand forms first, middle, and last name and repeated:
"I, Colin David Brown (SSAN), having been appointed an officer in the Army of the United States, as indicated above in the grade of second lieutenant do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign or domestic, that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservations or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office upon which I am about to enter; So help me God." (DA Form 71, 1 August 1959, for officers.)
It seems as though every other week I am taking another oath. First the oath for medical school and now the oath for the military. As I was saying the oath I felt a little funny. I don't think it was because I did not agree or understand with what I was saying, but because I was now held to higher standard, and questions came through my mind like, "would I be able to fulfill this calling?" or "Defend the constitution, how do they expect me to do that?"

While this oath has not changed my day to day life yet, it does change who I represent and to who I am accountable. Now I am not only accountable to the profession of medicine but also the profession of one in the armed forces of the United States. I have a new found respect for those men and women, including my brother in the navy, who have also taken that oath.

Monday, August 24, 2009

The Next Contestant

The surreal feelings experienced immediately after being accepted have all but faded, and now my time is occupied by studying. The first week of classes has ended, and I have already learned an immense amount of information. I am now seeing how the Masters Degree I received from Tulane University has paid off. Previous knowledge in histology and embryology have been especially important. The biggest difference is that classes condensed everything into a few weeks time.

Most days classes begin around 8:30 AM and end around 3:00 PM. Currently, I am currently taking three lecture courses histology, the embryological section of gross anatomy, and biochemistry. In addition to lectures we also have small group learning in biochemistry, Evidence Based Medicine (EBM), Clinical Foundations of Medical Practice (CFMP), and the Medical Interview. Our schedule is extremely sporadic which helps break up the monotony that is normally accompanied with science education.
Medical School is a bit like being on a game show. All the professors ask questions, there are points and prizes for getting things right (medical license), and there is even an option for polling the audience. Pictured to the right is polling device the professors use to pole their audience pretty much exactly like on "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?" The instructor will post a question on the screen during lecture and we all vote which answer is correct. The computer tallies up all the counts and posts the results. I had never seen a classroom use this before. Now if only there were cash prizes.

Friday, August 21, 2009

The Whirl Wind of Orientation

I assume orientation at the UCCOM is similar to any other medical school with a few exceptions. We listened to speakers about financial aid, learned about professionalism, the professors told us what was academically required of us, and almost everyone, at some point, has given us the eleventh and final commandment: "DON'T FALL BEHIND!" I think were my experience differs with most other is on two points: the "Tell Me Your Story" Program and the drafting of our class oath (posted below).
"Tell Me Your Story" is an especially enjoyable program where the medical student talk to our elders in a retirement community about how medicine has changed, dealing with death and dying, and there general experience with medicine. The goal is to attempt to bring back some of the good things that have been lost in medicine and continue practice which are beneficial to the community.
I was had the opportunity to be apart of the drafting of an oath that we took that is in place of the Hippocratic Oath. One person was selected from each Clinical Foundations small group to help draft the document that we would all say at the white coat ceremony. In my small group the professor realizing that no one really wanted to do it for fear of the endless debates on semantics and phrasings. So the professor promptly said, "Who votes that the person who was accepted our class last has to do it." Well, it was unanimous. However there fears were unfounded and I actually had a pretty good time writing and met some really great people too. Even the second year person student helping out said that it went much smoother than she expected.
Well I was caught up in a whirl wind and finally set down again for the first week of classes, but I will save that for later. A copy of our class oath is below if you are interested.
UCCOM Class of 2013 Oath of Professionalism:
In the presence of my family, friends, faculty and staff, I hereby swear to hold myself and my peers accountable to the content and spirit of this oath. As I embark upon my study of medicine at the University of Cincinnati, I will act ethically and with professional integrity toward my peers, my instructors, my patients and the community; I will
Strive to treat all people equally, to create relationships built on trust and to maintain the dignity of all people.
Be an advocate for social justice, regarding the needs of others first.
Commit myself to service as a leader, recognizing that this will require me to exercise patience, listen diligently, communicate effectively, and work cooperatively.
Act not only with confidence but also with humility, acknowledging my limitations and those of medicine, while honestly presenting myself and my abilities.
Seek aid from others in times of need and, through continuous reflection, learn from both my patients and from previous experiences.
Be a lifelong student and teacher, expanding not only my own understanding, but that of my colleagues, patients and community.
Pursue knowledge and wisdom relentlessly, adhering to and building on the contributions of my predecessors to enhance my competence as a physician and advance the field of medicine.
Avoid selfishness and apathy, maintaining my humanity, empathy and concern for quality of life.
As I strive to fulfill this oath, I will remain grounded in my core values and identity. Driven by my passion to practice medicine, I will preserve a balance between my personal and professional endeavors, seeking fulfillment by selflessly caring for others.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

How it all came apart and then fell together

For about three years I had been applying to medical school. I had the medical experience, the grades, and I even received a masters degree from Tulane University, but I still did not have the allusive yes. I had recently applied for and received a military scholarship for four years of medical school, which was dependent on a letter of admittance. After July 10th rolled along, I had lost hope. My army scholarship was given away, I still had not received word from any school I was wait-listed with, and I had just finished all of my secondary applications for the coming application cycle. I even studied for and retook the MCAT, hoping a boost in score would give me a boost in chances.
On Friday, August 7, 2009, I received a phone call from the Dean of Admissions at the University of Cincinnati. And the conversation ensued as follows:
Dean: "So Colin, you know how there is always those last minute students admitted to medical school. Well, you are one of them. I tried calling several times and this was my last try. I was ready to move on to the next person on the list."
Me: "You are joking, this cannot be real."
Dean: "Oh No, this is for real, I am serious. Can you be here for orientation on Monday?"
Me: "Can I have twenty minutes to think about it?"
Dean: "Can you make it ten?"
Me: "Sure."
after five minutes of jumping up and down, a cart wheel, and a phone call to my parents, I called him back Immediately and said yes.
So I had approximately 48 hours to pack up what I would need for orientation, buy some new clothes, and get a hair cut. Spent the last bit of my time that night calling everyone in my phone book, spoke with financial aid, and looked for a place to live.
On Sunday, I loaded up my car and left for Cincinnati with $1.87 in my pocket which I promptly used to buy a Dr. Pepper. I did not know if I could get my scholarship back or get the money in time to live in an apartment, but I stepped out in faith, walking faithfully to my destination, Medical School. It finally happened after years of applications, tests, and research I was on my way.
I did not have a particularly good experience in the south. I think it was the transplantation of a cold loving, snow enthusiast to the hot, desolately humid, and oppressive air of the the gulf stream. Combine that with a hurricane evacuation and if the theory of first impressions are true Louisiana an I will not be able to be friends.
Cincinnati, on the other hand, was an amazing first day. I like the city, the people, and I enjoy all of my classmates. Not only did I have a good friend that I hadn't seen in a while put me up for a night on his couch but I also was able to find a good house to live on the first day, get some groceries, and even manage to show up for orientation.
On Tuesday, After a particularly difficult and terrifying financial aid session I received a phone call from my Army recruiter, and he said, "Colin, we are going to give you a four year scholarship." At this point I was only expecting a 3 year or 3 1/2 year at most, but a four year scholarship was unthinkable.
This whole week was better than I could have imagined, and even more, a huge answer to prayer. I know many of you have been praying for a long time for this to happen and this triumph does not just belong to me but all those who have helped read essays, carry the financial burden, helped me study, and the endless amounts of prayer throughout the years. I am now a medical student.