Adventures in Medicine

Medical School and Beyond!

UMHS Medical Student Life in Maine

on January 15, 2015

Here I am, a week into the semester and boy have I experienced some a whole multitude of new adventures.  Let me start off with with the typical schedule for this part of the semester.  Until the Kaplan review course starts in March class only runs 3 days a week; that is Monday-Wednesday.  So yes I have a 4 day weekend but this does not mean it is time to explore and relax.  Granted since I have more ‘free time’ than I did on the island I will use some of that time to have fun.

Monday’s: Class runs from 9am-10:30 where we go over the main points on the organ system of the week including the main diseases and how they patients with problems with that particular organ system will present.

10:30-12:30 is small group time.  This group is comprised of 8 students and 1 local doctor or recently retired doctor.  In this group we can discuss anything about the organ system including diseases, treatment, tests, and how to examine this organ system.

Some weeks we are done and have the rest of the day to study but other weeks we have special lectures from 1:30-3:30.  This upcoming Monday we will be discussing EKGs during this time.

Tuesday’s:  Class starts at different time for different people depending on their assigned time for virtual clinic.  For me this runs from 9am-10:30.  Virtual clinic is a time where we have fake patients who are basically paid actors who come in for the day each week to pretend they have their assigned illness/disease that is described for them on a patient profile sheet given to them by the school.  Whatever signs are not able to faked by the patient, such as what we would hear while auscultating with the stethoscope, are detailed to us by the physician in the room.  So each week we will see two patients one time as the doctor who take the patients history and completes the physical exam, including telling the patient the results of the exam, what you think could be wrong, and what you want/plan to do from here, and once as the presenter who presents the case to the physician in the room as if we were doing rounds.  The presenter has the option before presenting to ask the patient additional questions or add to the exam if he/she feels the doctor forgot something important to the case.  Included in the presentation is a list of possible diagnoses as well as your plan for the patient.

The physician in the room will grade both the doctor and the presenter and give feedback on their performance so they can do improve and the patient in the room fills out a feedback form for the doctor and gives the doctor verbal feedback on his/her bedside manner.  In the 2nd patient room the two students switch roles.

The goal of this aspect of my education is to build my confidence and proficiency in theses tasks a doctor does on a daily basis.  We are only allowed 20 minutes for the interview and physical exam and the presenter only has 10 minutes to gather any more information needed and give the case presentation.  Thankfully, the vital signs are ‘completed’ for us and posted on the door so we don’t have to use part of our 20 minutes to get vitals done.

Virtual clinic is the only task on Tuesdays for some students and others also have Clinical Skills Lab.  There are 6 2 hour sessions of 9 students each for the clinical skills lab; 3 on Tuesday afternoon and 3 on Wednesday afternoon.  I am in the group on Tuesday from 3-5 pm which means I get done earlier on Wednesday’s.  Clinical skills includes many different skills that are necessary to be proficient in to be a successful doctor.  What we have learned and I have checked out, as every skill must be tested off by the instructors, so far are vital signs (temperature, pulse, respiratory rate, blood pressure, and oxygen saturation) and injections (subcutaneous, intramuscular, and PPD [TB] test). We will also be learning things such as arterial punctures to get blood gas, urinary catheter placement, blood draws, and IV placement to name a few.

Wednesdays:  8am-9am are Grand Rounds at Maine Medical Center. Here we will hear lectures on different topics by MDs at the hospital which the doctors, residents, and medical students at the hospital attend on a regular basis.

10:30-11:30 we are back on campus where we have case studies related to weeks organ system that we discuss as a class and come to a logical diagnosis.

All in all, the activities of the week help to prepare for the step 1 exam which is coming up this year…yikes.

For about 5 of the weeks we will spend a day with a local doctor in what is known as a preceptorship.  Here we will follow around a doctor and take patient histories and do any physical exams requested by the doctor and maybe even give injections if needed.  The doctor will also allow us to listen to any abnormalities in breathing or heart sounds encountered so we can start to appreciate what these sound like.  I start mine this Friday with a pediatrician.

When I am not in class it is major prep time for the step but this type of studying is different from studying on the island.  I don’t stick to just three subjects anymore and my study materials are not from class but Kaplan and First Aid books that covers all the material over all the disciplines I learned while on the island.

While what I do in class is interesting and fun (way more hands on) I also had a new adventure last Friday.  We had a diagnostic entrance exam which is a practice Kaplan exam of the Step 1 exam to see where we are and how much we maintained from the island with the goal to be at a 50 by the end of the semester which means are you ready to take the step and be able to pass.  To be in a good place you should be around a 40 when you arrive in Maine for this entrance and if you score in the 20s you are in trouble.  In order to be a good gauge of your actual knowledge base the school recommends not studying for the exam…and boy is it difficult to know I have an exam and not really study for it to a place where I free even remotely prepared.

Let me tell you this is an intimidating test.  It is 322 questions broken up into 7 blocks of 46 with a total break time of 1 hour built in for use in whatever way I want to use it between blocks (if I want a break in the middle of the block the time for the allotted time for my block does not stop so I would lose precious answering time…so no thank you…I can wait).  In total the test runs for 8 hours if all the block time and break time is used.  It is exhausting!  (For all of you who tell little kids to sit still you might want to try it yourself first.  Boy was it hard to sit for 8 hours and take that exam and I have a much longer attention span than the average child…and rightfully so…lol…I mean I am much older 🙂 ).  Despite not really studying and having to focus for 8 hours I did real well…61.  This means I could take the step now and be prepared to do so and pass.  So throughout the course of this semester I will, by the grace of God, improve this number and when I do sit for my real exam do well.  I am not sure as of yet but I believe that this 61 would relate to the step score higher than what I was hoping to get.  All I can say is I was pleasantly surprised with my score and so thankful to God for Him helping me get here and in my future endeavors in the field of medicine and else where.


2 responses to “UMHS Medical Student Life in Maine

  1. Cindy H says:

    Kimber! 61!!!! YOU are awesome! As is our God 🙂
    And you are working with a pediatrician, yay! We are so very proud of you!
    love & hugs, Cindy H. & family

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Bek Moody


my journey in this world

finding joy in everything

Redeeming Naptime

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