I needed a couple of days away from my computer screen and away from the confines of my office. Now that I've read a few hundred pages of my book, slept in, gone for walks, talked to my family, prepared a turkey feast for 10 people (on one hours notice), and worn my housecoat for >5h straight...I feel like I can sit in here and stare at my computer screen again.
It's been wholly up-and-downish since my last exam (anatomy spotter of doom) on Wednesday afternoon. If you want a more detailed account of how those exams work I linked to my previous explanations in the last post. A quick and dirty version: there are 25 desks, 50 questions. 1 minute per question. When the buzzer goes, after two minutes, you get up and move to the next desk. Everyone starts at a different point on the exam, this time I started at question #15.
I was flying! Remember, these exams are designed to make grown men cry (and they do). This semester I opted for a different study tack, and I think I cracked the code. Our anatomy prof gives us about 15-25 images each week with our learning objectives for the case. That is what most people study on because often it is these images that turn up on the exams. Now that we've been in school for a year and a half this means the amount of slides that could be chosen from are >600. Instead of madly trying to go through all the slides from the past I picked the concepts that keep coming up and looked at as many images of those things, from different sources--especially imaging atlases (because I am really trying to train myself to visualize the 3D version of x-rays, CT, MRI). I spent time reading up on hernias, embryology of the face, cardiac circulation, head injuries, lung pathologies, etc. in general and avoided my notes all together.
It totally worked. The first 10 questions seemed almost laughably easy. I was trying not to grin at how well prepared I felt and how much I was ROCKING THIS EXAM!! Oh what a feeling.
I am supposed to be at question 26. But I am at question 25 on my bubble sheet? BUZZZZZZZZZZ!!! (i.e. move to the next station)
Yep. Somehow I got out of sync with the numbers, I missed filling in a bubble somewhere. Somewhere between the vagus nerve question and the head injury one.
Oh God. I am going to vomit. What question am I looking at now. Yes, ok fine common fibular nerve question...ok should I try and figure out where I made the mistake? Should I flag my prof down? I thought for sure that vagus question the answer was "D" but it looks like I put "E", maybe that is where I screwed up, maybe...BUZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ!!!
Ok I am going to be sick. No, don't be sick. Forget it. Move on. Finish this exam as well as possible. FINISH in STYLE. Don't have a meltdown now. Don't vomit now.
Head in the game. Game face. Bring it.
I finished the exam. Told my prof on the way out that I'd gotten out of sync somewhere between 15 (where I started) and 26. He just said "Oh, ABB!" with genuine empathy and disappointment for me. He said he'd look through my answers and try to rectify the situation if he could.
It was actually too much. He's a real hard ass, so getting his very kind response brought on wave of nausea number three--I bolted.
Home, called my mother. Cried. Composed myself and called my prof. I told him I didn't expect he could really fix anything but that I'd told him only because my ego/vanity couldn't handle the thought that he wouldn't see the mark that I had been on my way to getting. I know, I lost prob max 10-12% in the mistake (and maybe a smattering more due to the momentary panic), but that I passed overal. Thing is, I don't obsess about grades. I want to learn this stuff for the sake of being an excellent, safe, competent physician. I can't even tell you what I got last year because I looked at my marks and then forgot about them. But for once, and for the first time in medical school I felt like everything came together during an exam!
He told me not to worry, the exam was only worth 14% of my total marks for the year and that it would in no way compromise my academic standing overall. We wished each other a Merry Christmas and hung up.
I changed from my nervous-sweat-soaked t-shirt and headed to the pub. I suddenly missed my friends and classmates and I wanted nothing more than to be getting "yay we're done!" hugs and drinking a Guinness. It was over, I was past it, and I wanted to reclaim the celebratory feeling that I deserved.
I reclaimed it and it has been a sweet, sunny, quiet few days since.