Friday, March 22, 2013

Schizophrenia, Insane Finals, and Twisted Sister

My last final starts at 9:30 tomorrow morning. I probably know the material as well as I could ever know it. Still, I can't just walk away from it, go to bed, and leave it alone for the night.  It has penetrated my brain and has invaded every aspect of my consciousness. I'm sure if I tried to sleep and were successful, I would dream of inverse Gaussian distributions, compound Poisson processes, cumulative distributive function, probability distribute function, leptokurtosis, platykurtosis, and their ever-important adjective forms, leptokurtic (a distribution's kurtosis that is greater than three), and platykurtic (a distribution's kurtosis that is less than three). This doesn't even begin to address the Kolmogorov-Smirnov test,which primarily establishes either whether in empirical distribution differs from an ideal distribution, or whther two empirical distributions ar significsantly different.

I sense a big yawn and a "Who gives a shit?' from the other end of this cyber-connection. I sympathize, as it isn't of prime importance to me at this time, either, although my grade in the course is.  To me, it seems as though the content of this particular course is of the sort that I'd like to remain in my brain for just long enough to get through tomorrow's final. Then I'd probably wish for it to go away as though the course, or at least my enrollment in it, never happened. Such might not be wise, however.

Let's be hypothetical, here. Not everything in the practice of medicine is neat and clean or conducted under controlled and ideal circumstances. Anyone involved in medicine, be that person a paramedic to a certified nursing assistant to a surgeon  will, if he or she remains in the field for long enough, witness one or more truly horrific sights. I've seen a little of it myself from the other side -- I saw my own tibia and fibula protruding through my skin, exposing flesh and connective tissue, with blood spurting everywhere it could reach.  Furthermore, medical school, medical internship and residency, and medical practice will expose a participant in any or all of the aforementioned to at least a limited element of trauma.  I think  I'm equipped to deal with the trauma. Sometimes the medical personnel are going to win, and sometimes they're going to lose. I've been around enough doctors to know that any physician, surgeon, or whoever, is going to have some great successes and highly rewarding moments, but is also going to have a few dismal failures -- to lose a patient or two (or three, for four, for five, or . . . .) on the ER gurney, O.R.  table, or elsewhere.

In some cases,  time will be the crucial factor in a patient's death.  Sometimes nothing under the sun will have changed the outcome. Sometimes it will be medical error that results in  a patient's death. Doctors are only human, and even insurers recognize that once in a great while, a doctor is going to make a mistake that will cost a life. It had better not happen often as far as the hospital mortality review board and the malpractice insurance carriers are concerned, but it WILL happen. I think I'm equipped to deal wih this when it does happen. I don't expect for it to be easy, but I think  I'm enough of a realist to know that it will be gut-wrenching and will cause some temporary depression, but that I will eventually move on. It's also one of the reasons for maintaining a professional distance between oneself and one's patients. Grieving for the loss of a patient in a professional sense is difficult enough without adding the grief that accompanies the loss of  someone who has become a close person friend.  Occasionally boundaries will be crossed and this will happen, but it cannot be habitual if a person is to succeed in the medical field.

In any event, I think I'm up to all of this, especially as the worst of it will happen in medical school and residency, as I intend to go into pathology.  My dealings with patients in that branch of medicine will be minimal. Still, four years of med school, two of which will include heavy dealings with patients, and probably four year of residency are a lot of years to spend dealing with patients. What if I think I'm up to the rigors of it all  but am not?

My original plan was to enroll in law school as soon as I did my initial year of residency -- my internship. After that, I would be a licensed physician in whatever state with which I cleared matters with the state medical board.  I would work roughly three twelve three-hour shifts (ERs are pleading for MDs even without specializations; for want of doctors, they're utilizing physician's assistants and nurse practitions working as doctors; employment would not be difficult to find)) while attending law school for three years. Following that, I would complete my residency. My hope is that it all works out well, that the law degree is just something that comes in handy if I ever choose to go into hospital administration, or in helping me and my colleagues in dealing with sticky situations. I might also shift courses and defend doctors against malpractice suits.

One other option though, and one that would pay extremely well, if I ever decide that money is extremely important to me, is that I could go to work for a major insurer writing malpractice insurance policies. I wouldn't technically be an actuary, but with this course I'm taking, and with combined law and medical degrees, few insurance coverers would care that my degree had not been in actuarial science. My qualifications would actually exceed those of most actuarial science graduates. If such becomes the case, I would hope to remember every single thing I ever memorized about skewness (or, as some prefer, skewedness), leptokurtosis, and the Kolmogorov-Smiirnov test. It would behoove me not to forget a single thing I learned in this class.

My study partner and I seem to have a better grasp of the course content than does anyone in the class. Study groups are a new experience for me. As a minor, being heavilyinvolved with study partners or groups was not practical. As a  minor, I dealt with the curfew here for minors, which, though not tightly enforced, was a factor for me.  A seventeen-year-old who looked twelve  sent out red flags to campus police and to sheriff's deputies patrolling the off-campus community.  Furthermore, other students didn't really want a minor studying with them who could only study until maybe 10:00 p.m.  Turning eighteen has been for me like discovering that the glass slipper fits and that I'm the real Cinderella, and everything doesn't turned bag]ck into ragged clothing, pumpkins, rats, etc, just because the clock strikes twelve.

Though I still look like a child, I generally have my pick of study partners or groups. In the larger classes, we tend to form ourselves into informal groups and find convenient times to study. In Risk Theory, there's one other guy who "gets it." We've paired up. He's a twenty-four year old MBA candidate. He's  married, which makes things a bit awkward, but we work it out. We usually study at his apartment  when his wife is home.  Once we studied at my house because his wife was at work, but my mom called his wife and told her that she would not leave the house with the two of us there, and that, no offense intended toward the lady's husband, but that she would never leave her daughter alone in a house with a man who wasn't an extremely close relative,  regardless of how much she trusted the man. We've studied about ninety minutes a week, and it's been time well-spent. I expect both of us to ace this course, and, as for the rest of the class, they'll be lucky to pass unless I've really mis-assessed the situation.

A good study partner or group is worth a great deal. I've found the old adage about not judging a book by its cover to be true when it comes to study partners and group members. In my "Hunters and Gatherers" course, we even had a frat rat in our group. He wasn't a bad guy and actually had a brain; he pulled his share of the load, and he did a little to convince me that just because a person is affiliated with the Greek system is not necessarily proof positive that the person is a reprobate.

I've found that I'm not competitive where my study partners'  or groups' grades are concerned. (Perhaps I would be less generous  if they were all getting A's and I was barely pulling B's, but as it stands, if they don't do well, I consider it at least in part my own failure.

In the meantime, do I just stay up and watch TV, or do I try to sleep and risk dreaming about  Poisson processes, among other matters equally counterproductive to quality rest? I would avise anyone to think long and hard before enrolling in  Risk Theory.

Be cruel to your school.
'Cause you may never get another.
Be cruel to your school.
In the name of rock and roll.
Be cruel to your school.
Just like a sister or a brother.
Be cruel to your school.
In the name of rock and roll.

       -- Twisted Sister



  1. You do a fair amount of blog reading, too!

    I was just reading about the Obamacare changes that are a little frightening. We do need to do something about healthcare expenses and affordability in this country, but the media makes it sound like we're doomed. Hopefully your ambitions won't be affected too much by the way healthcare is going to change in the future.

    Good luck on your exam!

  2. Yep, good luck with the eaxams. The only word I recognise in the first paragraph is 'Smirnov'. The Kolmogorov-Smirnov test sounds like a drinking game. I looked it up on wikipedia, I'm not sure it's even written in English. Tough course but I'm sure you'll do fine.