Right, first day of med school proper. Today was a full-on assault of new knowledge, as we can apparently expect for several days at the start of each block. The first such block, and the focus of our attentions for the next six weeks, is entitled 'Health and Homeostasis'. We started the morning with biomedical lectures on some basic examples of homeostatic mechanisms, namely blood sugar control, temperature regulation and balance of fluids and electrolytes. This was followed by another lecture recapping the basic biological molecules relevant to our course before we dive further into the Metabolic Biochemistry topic.
I struggled to get any of the lecture materials downloaded in the morning, as Moodle (the Warwick Virtual Learning Environment) seemed excruciatingly slow, to the point where the lecturers struggled to get it working at first. This resigned me to painfully 'offline' pen and paper notes, although thankfully later on I was able to access the servers.
I've found that I like to make notes on my laptop screen to review later - the volume of content is such that it would be virtually impossible to write everything relevant down in time with the speaker. My strategy at the moment is to simply mark down things that I need to look up at another time, or if the lecturer says something that is not written on the slide that gets recorded too, to save me having to listen to the entire recording again.
We had a talk from a dietician mid-morning about energy expenditure and balance within the body - actually very interesting and a far cry from the 'energy in / energy out' slogan I've heard so often before. Again there was a clinical focus on the sorts of conditions that might emerge due to imbalances in the system.
After lunch we had our first 'Social Perspectives and Population' lecture (or SocPop as it is affectionately referred to), which served as an introduction to the two main models used when considering medical treatment and how we define terms like 'normal' - be it statistical, biological or social. While I still remain somewhat cynical about social approaches because of how difficult it is to define many of the terms, let alone measure them in some statistically verifiable way, I do agree that humans behave irrationally at the best of times and practicing medicine is clearly not going to be a black-and-white affair.
This was also our first in-class use of responseware, in this case a messageboard where my coursemates could post anonymous messages to the big screen at the front of the lecture theatre. This went about as well as you might imagine, with memes aplenty and 'She Didn't Think This Through' being the star response in my eyes. I'm sure she did, but clearly the early twenties are not too distinguishable from teenage years when the mind is presented with an anonymous open poll.
This was followed by an introduction to endocrinology, going over basic terms and definitions once again and starting to examine integrations between the nervous system and hormonal release, as well as the roles of positive and negative feedback. The day ended with a 'self-directed learning' slot, an empty study period. We did not study, we went home and slept. I did work later in the evening, but everyone still seems to be finding the transition to full-blown study quite taxing. I'm sure this will level out once we get into a routine, but for now I seem to be sleeping more than I have in quite a long time.
Interesting Fact: When the world's biggest carp was caught, the two guys that landed it had used their best friend's ashes as bait.
Q: Do you have any tattoos or piercings?
A: No, I'm nowhere near cool enough. I do hope to get a celebratory tattoo when I finish med school though (assuming that happens). It'll be tasteful mum, I promise.