Blog | Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Day 31: block 4 - renal and urinary

We started our M2 year off delving into the convoluted structures and functions of the renal and urinary system.

Course overview
This block was five weeks and ran similarly to the last two blocks (Cardiovascular, Respiratory ... Neuroscience was kind of an outlier.) We had weekly quizzes, TBLs, Anatomy labs and lectures. Our final grade was determined by our performance on the weekly quizzes, TBLs, the final NBME exam and anatomy practical.

What I loved
WHITE SPACE. Dr. Augustyniak started off the block explaining just how he designed the course to have a significant chunk of white space. Looking back upon the last month or so, I have to say that this extra time made renal and urinary much more pleasant. Not only was I getting a decent amount of sleep each evening, I had more time to study and digest the material. Although there was definitely more time off as a whole, unfortunately the last week before our final exam was jam-packed. I would have much rather had those classes earlier and more time off later.

Improved lectures/interactive sessions. A couple of professors really stepped up their game. It was really great to see some of our feedback in action. (I guess this isn't so much a renal-specific thing, but more of a school-specific thing).

Final exam. Just like the last couple of blocks, our final exam was a customized one written by the NBME. I thought that this exam didn't do a phenomenal job of assessing my renal and urinary knowledge, however, it was still a pretty darn good exam [it doesn't hurt that I passed, haha].

What I felt neutral about
Weekly quizzes. In the past, I've raved about the weekly quizzes and for the most part, I still think they are a positive thing. However, as time passes, I'm starting to see them more as a burden and less of a way to study/assess my knowledge. At this point, I think the pros and cons of having them cancel each other out.

What could be improved
Anatomy. When I realized that we would only have two anatomy sessions, I figured that it made sense since the kidney and urinary tract were not phenomenally complicated structures on a gross level. However, we soon discovered that we were also responsible for the abdominal wall and the parts of the inguinal canal region. Come examination time, I was surprised by how little we were accessed on our knowledge of gross kidney anatomy and how much emphasis was on abdominal wall muscles. Additionally, the examination didn't run as smoothly has it has in the past, which only added more stress to an already painful situation.

I am confident that this issue will be resolved, but it was still frustrating.

Attendance policy. (This is another school-specific and not really renal-specific item.) OUWB has implemented an attendance policy, although this change does not really affect me. (I attend every lecture to take care of classroom technology, anyway), the way by which we track attendance is a bit rudimentary. Surely the system will be improved as time goes on, but for now ... we're signing a physical paper every single hour. It gets to be a bit nerve-wracking and distracting to feel like I have to chase a piece of paper around every hour, but for now, it'll have to do.

Order of material presentation. It is likely that the order was dictated more by the clinicians' schedules than anything else, so I'm not sure there's much that can be done on this front. However, I think order of presentation is important in organ systems, particularly learning anatomy, histology and embryology relatively early on so we can build upon these basics. For renal, we had embryology the last week before the exam, although there wasn't a ton of embryo to learn, I still felt like it would have been better placed earlier on.

Final thoughts
Like in cardio, Dr. Augustyniak was really dedicated to making this course a success. Additionally, Dr. Dumler (clinical course director) was available for the majority of the course, which added to its overall high level of cohesiveness. Overall, I'd say the course was a success, albeit a little bumpy here and there.

Amanda Xi, ACP Medical Student Member, is a first-year medical student at the OUWB School of Medicine, charter class of 2015, in Rochester, Mich. She has a Bachelor of Science in Engineering [Biomedical Engineering] and Master of Science in Engineering [Biomedical Engineering, again] from the University of Michigan. This post originally appeared at her blog, "And Thus, It Begins," which chronicles her journey through medical training from day 1 of medical school.