Wednesday, July 14, 2004


Another decent call-night on Neurology. So far my luck has really been holding out on this service.

Earlier in the day, I had to take an in-service exam for Pediatrics. The in-service is kind of a mock Pediatrics Boards that residents have to take annually. I'm not really sure what they use the data for (in some vague way, I think it's used to accredit the program, or to make sure that our academics are up to snuff) but the results of the test don't really directly affect us. For example, I don't think I'd get fired if I didn't do well on the in-service. Or I don't know, maybe I would. There are different bell curves, anyway, for how the average resident does as a PGY-1, 2 and 3, and one of the purposes of the in-service is to see that we're actually progressing in our learning from year to year. Therefore, interns are not really supposed to do well on their in-service. Aside from the fact that they've only been doing Peds for two weeks, doing really well wouldn't give them any room to get better. And then the program couldn't take credit for teaching them all that stuff. I definitely knew more on the exam than I did when taking it a year ago, but here was still some element of wild guessing. There were some genetic syndromes on there that I feel like I'd never even heard of.

My general strategy on taking standardized tests (I don't know if it's too lofty to call it a "strategy," really) is basically to take the exam as fast as humanly possible. Read the question quickly, scan the answers, and if there's a knee-jerk reaction to any of the choices, I bubble that sucker in and move on. I don't overthink, and I don't go back and check my answers. I know this sounds like horrible test-taking strategy, like some haphazard kamikaze blitzkrieg operation (yes, I like war-related vocabulary from other languages), but I've been doing this test thing for a long time, and it has yet to bite me in the ass. For example, when I took Step 2 of the Boards, I finished something like three hours early (including a 45 minute lunch break during which I langorously read something mindless, like Jane magazine), and Joe and I ended up getting the exact same score. (I guess it's also relevent to insert here that Joe is a smart guy, and something of a hyper-acheiver.) So there you go.

Sometimes I feel that this strategy works because I get into this Zen-like state while taking tests, where I can kind of feel out the answers with some sort of medical intuition radar, and the less I overthink things, the more answers I get right. This is how I can rationalize taking tests in such a reckless manner. But the real reason that I take tests so quickly, I think, is that I really don't care how well I do on them, so long as I pass. I hope that doesn't sounds like I'm being artificially laid back, in that Hansel from "Zoolander" way, because it's true.

And anyway, there's only so much I care about the Pediatrics in-service exam when I know I'm going to be switching to Anesthesia in the spring. I mean, not like I don't want to be smart in Peds, or know the material for my own sake, but as for my actual exam score: whatever.

So anyway, after getting some sleep on call, I kind of wanted to watch a matinee of "The Door in the Floor," but not really enough to want to pay $10.50, even if the New York Times did call it the best John Irving film adaptation ever. So instead I got my Irving fix and rented "The Cider House Rules" instead. I mean, not like I love John Irving or anything, usually it takes me a few false starts to get into his books because they're so long and kinda weird, but he's accompanied me on a plane ride or two in paperback form. It's actually amazing what a good job they (he) did of adapting the novel, paring it down to the essentials. Sure, a lot more stuff happened in the book--the whole Melony thing, all the stuff that happens after Wally gets back from the war--but the essence of the story is preserved in the film adaptation. And I don't particularly feel like watching an 8-hour movie anyway.

Currently reading: "House of Leaves." This book is making me feel stupid, because I can't figure out what the hell is going on.

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