As I sit in my comfiest chair with sweet tea on the table next to me and no class until tomorrow (yes, I am done at noon today), I can’t help but marvel at what a glorious week of medical school this has been. After miraculously beating the average on the last exam (despite spending hours doing house projects with my wife), this week has been cake. A main focus has been epidemiology and biostatistics, which sounds hard, but really it’s just common sense with a little bit of math thrown in. There have been a few Cell Biology/Metabolism lectures thrown in, but we have covered a fraction of the material I was expecting. The rest of the time has been taken up with optional small group exercises (nope), clinical skills groups (already done), and sessions on our non-optional electives.
Ah yes, electives. Electives are courses you want to take, right? I took some in undergrad, like swimming, wine tasting, etc. Not in medical school. My university has decreed that between now and April, we will occasionally be given an afternoon off to pursue our individual interests, so long as we are interested specifically in their University sponsored electives. A quick glance at the offerings is not encouraging. Research, while helpful, has so few spots that 4% of our class will fill it up. Some bogus options include an online Sexual Health and Gender Studies course, which isn’t actually accredited, but somehow counts as an elective, as well as the ridiculous and potentially hilarious seminar called “Acting Like A Doctor”. There are some other electives that involve health literacy advocacy, disparity in health outcomes, and even lobbying stuff for local legislation.
I should be fair and say that there are some legitimately good options here. For example, I would enjoy tutoring immigrant high school students in math and science. I have a strong background in tutoring and really enjoy it, so a position like that sounds great. Unfortunately, the good options are so few that they will be gone faster than the Jimmy John’s turkey sandwiches at a lunch meeting. I should also mention that the popular electives are filled by lottery. I have a pretty solid history of never winning anything that involves luck, so that rules me out of any good lottery electives.
My last hope, of course, is the vague and potentially awesome “Self-Designed Electives”. I have a few ideas that fit nicely with my interests, as well as the reasons I will be using to encourage their approval.
1) Gainful Employment – In the interests of not being broke, I would like to utilize this time to make money, so that I can put gas in my car and drive to school every day of the week. I have worked enough places in the past that I could likely find a job near my house. I could probably tutor local undergrad and high school students as well (I already hope to do this on the side, I could just do a lot more on my afternoons off- I mean “doing electives”)
2) Self Designed Study – Effects of consistent napping on memory retention. In this individual study I will compare my ability to study with or without a nap. My controls will be every day that isn’t elective day, when I study without a nap. On elective days I will nap (they recommend spending at least 4 hours per day on your elective) for at LEAST 4 hours, then see if I am able to recall more material after studying. I have to admit, this sounds like an ideal elective.
3) Dietary Education in the Community – In this activity (which would probably require funding), I would spend time in the community gathering information that would directly enhance the lives of my classmates. Specifically, I would eat at multiple local restaurants and determine which places serve great food. Because there are so many restaurants in this city, this elective could potentially last for two years, if the funding is there.
4) Writing and Self Development – In this elective, I take entire afternoons to not study. Instead, I could write for my readers on this blog, work on my book, and develop my self. This sounds pretty great, especially if my book were more than a 20 page Word Document and a notebook of scribbled ideas. Oh well.
On a more serious note, I will probably find a decent elective and do something productive. Hopefully.
What does everyone think of the design here? My very talented brother in-law helped me design it, and I think it’s awesome. If you also think it’s awesome, let me know in the comments.
Thanks for reading!