Mental Health: What’s the deal?

Wow,

I am terribly behind with my regular blogging! 😦 There’s no excuse, but it’s been busy and blogging about our recent vacation took a lot longer than usual.

So what’s the deal with school now?

Well, I’m 5 weeks into my Mental Health rotation, and yes, I’m quite enjoying it! By random luck (or is it bad luck? Haha), both Mike and I got placed as the only 2 students at a private mental health hospital in Brisbane.

The experience so far has been very enlightening. We found it initially daunting and awkward learning to take a psychiatric history from patients and formulating our thoughts. The feeling is quite similar to being in first year again, learning how to take a medical history and talk to patients. Fortunately, we’ve gained a lot more confidence in the last few weeks. Taking a medical history is like second nature to us now, hopefully taking a psychiatric history will, in time, feel the same.

We are humbled and grateful every time a patient agrees to talk to us or allows us to sit in during a consultation. If you think about it, these people are sharing with us, complete (not yet qualified) strangers, the most personal aspects of their lives. Some people have been victims of sexual and/or physical abuse, others have gone through great losses, some struggle with their spouses having affairs, while others have thoughts of self harm and have even tried to kill themselves. Every single patient we’ve met has taught us something, in some way, that we could never learn from a textbook.

Every patient we’ve met has a different story and is fighting a different battle. One of the first and biggest challenges for us has been, “How do we talk to these patients? How do we approach sensitive topics in a way that will not be upsetting?” We quickly learned that despite all the differences, these patients are all still the same in one way: Like you and I, they are people too.

Talking to patients with mental illness or a difficult life/past can be hard. But it’s not necessary to over-think how to talk to them. As long as you are patient, empathic and a listener, most people will be more than happy to talk to you and share their stories with you.

We also get scheduled teaching time with 3-4 consultants every week, which has been great. They have all been great teachers and we’ve learned so much already! Not just in terms of knowledge aspect, but also plenty of real life stories and experiences – something you can never learn from reading a book.

Have I mentioned we have a great Registrar? Yes, thank goodness! Most of our day is spent with him and the patients. He’s pretty awesome with them and definitely a good role model to try and emulate. As one of our profs said, “Shamelessly steal!” Adapt the styles, sayings and techniques from your seniors and colleagues that can make you a better doctor!

The most scary aspect of Mental Health at this moment? The fact that we are approaching the end of Week 5… only 2 more weeks until final exams. Absolutely crazy. It’s insane how quickly time has gone by!

Surgery: You’re full Vietnamese?

During a chat with one of our patients, it was mentioned that both my parents are from Vietnam.

“Both your parents are Vietnamese?!” This pleasant gentleman asked.

Yep!

“So you were born in Canada?”

Yes I was!

“I wouldn’t have guessed you were Vietnamese!”

I’ve heard this many times before, so I responded with, “A lot of people have said I look Chinese or Japanese.”

He said, “Well… I thought you were a half case…”

A what?

“You know, a mixed race. Because you speak English perfectly!”

Why yes, that’s because I was born and raised in Canada!

The end of GP and 1 week holiday

GP Rotation is finally over after a multiple choice exam last Wednesday and 2 oral exams on Friday.

How did I do? Only time will tell. I always find it hard to gauge my performance, especially during oral exams because I can always think of things I could’ve said or things I could’ve managed better. All I can say is I hope I didn’t fail!

Ended my GP rotation performing a wedge resection of an ingrown toenail – sounds gross but I was pretty excited!

We have this week off before starting our Surgery Rotation next week. No plans to go anywhere or do anything in particular but time is flying. It’s already Monday!

I miss the GP Clinic already, it was such a wonderful place to learn. Thinking of starting a new rotation next week makes me nervous already…

Photo #272: Rewards of the Past

November 26, 2012

Look what I found. When my siblings and I were very young (grade school), my mom gave the three of us each our own sticker book. She had this container full of different stickers and whenever we were good (behaved well, received good scores, did the chores, etc) she would reward us with a sticker that we’d stick in our book. Growing up was so much simpler then! We worked to earn stickers and that alone made us happy and proud. Sure we were also rewarded with TV time, computer time, sweets, etc., but I still can’t imagine growing up and wanting a cell phone, laptop, mp3 player, tablet, etc. Oh, times have changed. There are still many stickers left, so into the donations box they go! Hopefully they will make another kid happy 🙂

https://i1.wp.com/i1143.photobucket.com/albums/n626/nguyfamily/PHOTO%20A%20DAY/26-3.jpg

Photo #256: Halfway Dinner

November 10, 2012

Tonight was our Halfway Dinner to celebrate the end of our second year of medical school. I had a great time with this gorgeous group of people (and company of course!) – last year’s PBL 25!

Thank you James, Christine, Kristen, Fiona and Andrew for being amazing people! Love!

5 more weeks of school

I cannot believe there are only a few more weeks of second year medicine remaining… how time has flown!

I’m starting to feel a little stressed as there is still a lot to do before the year is over! In just 2 weeks, I will have my Objective Structured Clinical Examinations, more commonly known as OSCEs. I must pass this practical exam, as well as my written final exams, in order to move onto third year.

The OSCE will be a series of 5 stations and I’ll have to pass each one. We’ll have 2 minutes for perusal at each station followed by 8 minutes to complete the task.

The stations will be:

  1. Taking patient history
  2. Performing a patient examination. This might be focused on a specific symptom/joint or it can be generalized to any given system.
  3. Clinical reasoning. Given a patient’s history, examination and investigation results, I will have to give a series of potential diagnoses with relevant positive and negative findings of each.
  4. Procedural skills. A number of skills could be tested, including venepuncture, cannulation, blood pressure, BLS, etc
  5. Communication skills. Could be facilitating behaviour change, breaking bad news, etc

Am I worried? Yes, definitely! Will be practicing every day from now until then. I am also part of the first batch of students to have their OSCE… scary!

And the rest of the year:

  • Oct 20 – a 10 minute group presentation in front of our peers for Global and Community Medicine. The topic our group chose is “Schistosomiasis in China” – should be interesting!
  • Nov 5 – Clinical Science imaging exam
  • Nov 7 – Clinical Science exam
  • Nov 8 – Ethics and Professional Practice exam
  • DONE EXAMS! Woo hoo!
  • Nov 10 – Halfway Dinner!
  • Nov 18 – On the plane home!

There’s a lot more to do before the holidays, but oh so close! 🙂

 

 

Procrastinating… as usual -_-‘

I have 2 exams this Saturday: Clinical Science and Ethics & Professional Practice.

Am I ready yet? No.

Will I be ready? Maybe!

But as usual, I’m taking many breaks to go on (what Michael likes to call) YouTube Adventures!

Join me for a smile as I procrastinate!

Medical Terminology Concerto
(Not everyone will find this amusing as I do…)

2 Hamsters 1 Wheel
(Mike laughed so hard, he cried – for real)

Sugar Painting: Chinese Dragon
(Such a low cost business and so good! I wish I had such a talent!)

and because one video is never enough

Painting on Water
(Reminds me of doing marble nails if anyone has ever done that before)

Flexipan Small Cakes
(I really really want these pans now…)

Funny Japanese Pranks
(Because they never fail to make me laugh)

Gangnam Style!
(Come on… don’t tell me you haven’t seen this yet? :P)

The world’s first tuition-free online university

An old professor of mine recently shared this link: http://www.uopeople.org/

It is the University of the People‘s website, “the world’s first tuition-free online university dedicated to the global advancement and democratization of higher education.”

From their website:

The University embraces the worldwide presence of the Internet and dropping technology costs to bring tuition-free undergraduate degree programs to qualified high school graduates around the world. UoPeople offers Associates and Bachelors degree programs in Business Administration and Computer Science.

With the support of academic leadership from top universities and having accepted more than 1500 students from over 130 countries to date, UoPeople is well on its way to becoming a global higher education leader.

As you can see, there are currently only 4 programs up and running, hopefully more will be available in the future. And as of now, the University of the People is not an accredited university but they are in “the process of applying for accreditation from an agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.”

Initially, the course itself was completely free except for an application fee. Otherwise, there were no costs associated with materials and exams. However, starting next application cycle, the university is asking students to pay a $100 per end-of-course exam fee, if they can. Students who cannot afford the fee are referred to a “Micro-Scholarship Portal to enable donors to contribute directly to students in need of assistance. Additionally, students may apply for a UoPeople scholarship to cover up to the full cost of the Exam Processing Fees.”

This university is the first of its kind and I hope to see it flourish. Hopefully they will soon become accredited and be a stepping stone towards opportunities otherwise not available to many people around the world. 🙂

Thinking about Phase 2 of MBBS

That time of the year has finally come!

As we head into the new semester, all second years need to start deciding where we’d like our paths to unfold for clerkship beginning next year.

What is clerkship? It’s when we stop learning in class (Years 1+2) and start learning in the hospital (Years 3+4). Finally, yay!

Year 3 comprises of 5 hospital rotations, each 8 weeks long and must completed in the following order: General Practice, Surgery, Mental Health, Medicine, and Medicine in Society. We can start with whichever rotation, but they must follow that order.

Year 4 will continue with more rotations in other specialties including Obstetrics & Gynecology and Pediatrics.

So now the question is, in which order do I want to complete my Year 3 rotations and more importantly, which Clinical School would I like to attend?

After much thought and consideration, I have decided to pick my current hospital, Royal Brisbane & Women’s Hospital (RBWH) as my first choice and hope to start with Medicine in Society.

Medicine in Society sounds particularly interesting. As international students, we have the option of organizing a rural rotation back home or stay in Brisbane and complete it in the field of Rehab, Indigenous Health, Geriatrics and/or Palliative. I don’t plan to go back to Canada for any rotations until 4th year, but I’ve always found Palliative Care and Geriatrics interesting!

Why RBWH? It has many perks including being a huge quaternary and tertiary hospital (largest in Queensland) and only a few minutes from home… 😀

I’m glad I’ve finally made up my mind. Our allocation system will be opening a week from today. I hope I’ll get my first choices!

First semester – done!

Phew!

Thank goodness my exams are finally over! I was seriously getting burnt out after studying for over a week straight and then having 4 exams in 4 days!

June 12 – Clinical Science Imaging (1 hr) exam – went well. Luckily I was in a small room and could see the screen fine but many I know were in larger rooms and had a hard time making out some of the pathology in the images.

June 13 – Clinical Science written (2 hrs) exam – Any more studying would not have prepared me better for this exam. Multiple questions testing random tidbits of knowledge. The level of difficulty of past exams compared to ours was like night and day. Did not like this exam as much and was really happy I didn’t have to regret taking the evening before off to go see a soccer game instead!

June 14 – Ethics and Professional Practice (1hr) exam – much better than anticipated! Although I wished for a few more minutes to have another read through of my answers.

June 15 – Global and Community Medicine (1 hr) exam – went well! But there were only 40 MCQs each worth 1.5% of our final grade – eep!

Our last exam finished around 12:30pm and with a huge weight lifted off our chests we spent the rest of the day hanging out with friends and relaaaaxing 😛 Good times!

And today?

Lots of cleaning… and packing for Singapore! We fly out of the Gold Coast on Monday morning so going to spend Sunday there. Yay – excitement building! We still have to decide what to do though! Thank goodness for friends helping us out and giving us good advice! 😀

Last week of Semester 1!

Hello everyone,

Hope you are all having a fantastic day 🙂

I have exciting news to share – I’m almost done first semester of second year med, woo hoo! What a great year so far – some downs but definitely lots of ups!

This is my last week of school and then we have next week off to study for exams. I have 4 final exams this semester, spread over 4 days – June 12-15. They’re coming up soon!

I’m feeling confident. Not because I’ve studied and know my material but simply because I have to succeed! There’s too much at stake to be lazy and fail. So much stuff to go through but there’s still lots of time to get everything done.

We do not start Semester 2 until June 25 so guess what I’m doing for the holidays?

Singapore!

Mike and I have bought tickets to visit Singapore from June 18-22 – very excited. It’s a place we’ve been wanting to visit and didn’t get the chance to while we were on elective in Vietnam.

You know what makes it even better? There was a sale and our tickets cost only $200/person for a return trip – how could we pass up that opportunity? In addition, a couple of our Singaporean friends are also going home and have offered to take us around and show us the little gems of Singapore 🙂 I’m so excited! I will finally be able to experience epic food adventures I keep hearing about!

So great to have this little opportunity to look forward to but until then… study study!

Are you preparing for exam too? Good luck!

 

Thurs Oct 20, 2011 – Last day of exams!

Woo hoo! My last exam of first year medical school!

My third exam went from 10am to 12pm. It was overall very fair and of same difficulty as last year’s, thank goodness!

The class then headed over to the Rugby Club for BBQ and drinks aaand we even got a class picture! 😛

Where am I?! :O

I haven’t seen 1/2 of these people and I’m sure quite a few weren’t even present – what a crazy huge class!

Great year, great memories, great times!

And now, the 3 of us are on to even more exciting things… in Vietnam!! 🙂

Good luck to us! Here’s to hoping nothing bad will happen and that we’ll be learning lots while having tons of fun!

2 exams down, one more to go!

Woo hoo! Yay!

So far so good… don’t think I’ve failed any yet, which is always the most important thing 😉

Exam #1 – PSA 2.1 – Oct 18, 2011
Exam #2 – PSA 2.2 – Oct 19, 2011
Exam #3 – PSA 2.3 – Oct 20, 2011

I feel completely burnt out but I am so so excited for tomorrow! My final exam will be from 10am to 12pm and then freedom! Most of the grade will then be gathering for a BBQ and celebraaations!

First of med school…DONE!

Actually, that’s not true. My first year technically does not end until I’ve completed my 4 week medical elective from Oct 24 to Nov 18. Not to mention I have to pass that AND these exams!

But I can’t wait 🙂 Flying out to Vietnam Saturday morning so Friday will be a busy day for packing and running around in order to get last minute things done. Michael and I are traveling on the same flight and will be arriving a few hours after Kristen. Ong Ut Duong has kindly offered to pick us up from the airport and helped arranged accommodations for us – so we are set to arrive!

Our itinerary