UNC-Chapel Hill SOM

Today was my first day of medical school at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. I love the sound of that!! Classes do not actually start until Monday so today and the rest of the week is orientation.
I got on the bus at 7:30am and I looked around for other people with large empty packs and grins on their faces. I found one person, though I wasn’t sure until we were both walking towards the same building upon leaving the bus. When we entered the building there were several second year students to greet us and show us the way to the check-in table. Still grinning ear to ear we received a black brief case labled “UNC School of Medicine” full of stuff about orientation week. We were then directed to the lecture hall where the days activities began. The second year co-presidents began the day by introducing themselves, and congratulating us for getting in. Several quick speeches were given by the various deans of the school, all with congratulatory remarks and words of wisdom.
The next hour was spent filling in forms and taking a Myers-Briggs personality assessment test. The next speaker was from student counseling and talked to us about balancing our lives with all of the hard work to come. We then heard from our second year student advocates who were all very enthusiastic about sharing words of wisdom and assisting us first years in the months to come. Lunch was next, provided by Panera.
After lunch we separated into out lab groups. There are five labs with 30-35 students in each lab with whom we were promised we would become very close to in the next 2 years. Each desk in the lab is supplied with a compound microscope, slides, electron micrographs and a bone box. I met my Big Buddy and he promised to give me some hand me down books and study materials. After we made sure everything was there we were given the keys to our desks and allowed to go home. Later, the first and second years came together for a barbeque mixer at Homestead park. We ate and played a game of kickball.
What a day!! During the brief hour I was home before the barbeque I just sat on the couch in my living room and smiled. I cannot believe how lucky I am to counted among the 160 students selected to be in the class of 2008. My classmates are so diverse, come from many different backgrounds and have accomplished so much in their lives already. I am beginning an amazing journey full of hard work and full of amazing rewards. I could’t be happier that UNC selected me. The elation I feel is indescribible. The message I got from the 2nd years today was loud an clear, "Work hard, but play hard too!"
Tomorrow we will begin the day with OSHA training on blood/airborn pathogen safety, receive our laptops and get measured for our white coats. Dinner with our lab groups is planned for the evening. Thursday we will get our computer access and learn about appropriate treatment of medical students. Thursday night is the annual start of the year bash at He’s Not Here. Friday, we will evaluate our Myer-Briggs and have a career workshop followed by financial aid informationa and the student activities fair. Moday starts at 9am with Molecular Biology.

Hold on to your shorts because the ride of your life is only about to begin! In very short order, you will come to fully appreciate how it feels to attempt to sip water from an open fire hydrant…and you will eventually become more adept, efficient & self-directed than you ever thought possible for yourself. You will undergo massive personal & professional growth in the next few years - but it is critically important to always stay vested in the wonderful idiosyncrasies that make you, you.
My congrats! Welcome to the profession!

I can just feel the excitement pouring from your post! Isn’t it wonderful to finally be where you have worked so hard to get?? You go girl!

Hey Danielle,
Your orientation sounds exactly like mine. (ENFJ) here on the Meyers-Briggs testing. It was suggested that I should pursue one of the Internal Medicine specialties but here I am, happily cutting away as a surgeon. Like you, we had all sorts of sports activities: B-ball, soccer and volleyball. We also had plenty of mixers with the law and dental students!
I know that Chapel Hill is an awesome place to go to medical school and that you are going to have great fun. Like you, we received our scopes, slide boxes and bone boxes. It was totally fun to take the bones home and spend time memorizing them. I used my bones to study muscular anatomy too. We had plenty of skeletons to look at muscular origens and insertions. I really loved anatomy and ended up being one of the peer tutors for my school.
Are you going to have a White Coat Ceremony? It’s pretty cool too! You are going have so much fun at UNC. Enjoy orientation week because once classes start, you will be wishing for the barbecues and games.

Tell me about it!! We finally got access to the online syllabi and I am already overwhelmed (HAHAHA), but I love my new laptop. We had a sobering financial aid workshop today. Before the poop hits the fan next week I have to look at everything financial in my life. That’s what I’ll be doing this weekend.
Our white coat ceremont is scheduled for October 2nd. I am very excited about that.
Thanks for all the support guys!!!

I’m so excited for you! UNC is my top choice, and I can completely understand walking through the first orientation day with a huge grin on your face. I’m sure that’s exactly what I’ll do. I hope all goes well for you!

Today was the first day of real classes for me in medical school. It wasn’t too difficult! Classes started at 9am with Molecular Biology & Genetics, Cell Biology and a review session for Biochemistry. It was interesting to see the all different ways my classmates took notes and prepared for classes. Some people were taking notes on their new laptops. Some people had blank notebooks and were furiously writing down every word the professor was saying. Some people were recording the lectures. I printed off all the powerpoints and lecture notes and wrote notes on those. I don’t think I could take notes on a laptop. I have never done that before and since there is enough change in my life right now, I think Ill stick to what has worked for me in the past.
Bought all my 1st semester books today as well ($500). OUCH!
I spent most of the weekend indoors due to the rainy weather. I installed some software on my new laptop and moved all of my Ipod music files over. I took care of my bills, cleaned the house and had the oil changed in my car. I wanted to make sure that everything was up-to-date before I began the week.
Tomorrow is the first day of Gross Anatomy! I am not sure what to expect tomorrow as I have never dissected a human being before. I hope I don’t get queasy. That would be embarrassing and terribly inconvenient. Tonight I am going to review today’s lectures and get ready for tomorrw’s lectures and Anatomy Lab.
This week and the following 2 weeks are pretty full of lectures and labs:
9am Molecular Biology & Genetics
10am Cell Biology
11am Biochemistry review
8:30 Molecular Biology & Genetics
9:30 Cell Biology
11am Biochemistry
12-1 Lunch
1pm-4:30 Anatomy & Embryology
8:30 Molecular Biology & Genetics
9:30 Biochemistry
10:30 Medicine & Society
12noon-12:30 Lunch
12:30 Whitehead Lecture (Student Government)
2-5 Intro to Clinical Medicine
8:30 Molecular Biology & Genetics
9:30 Cell Biology
11am Biochemistry
12-1 Lunch
1pm-4:30 Anatomy & Embryology
5:15 Session II Biochem Review
8am-11:30 Anatomy & Embryology
Sigh I am a medical student afterall!

In the words of the immortal Bear Bryant (who haunts UA fans so that they are incessantly miserable till they die):
Dance with the one who brung ya.
I think you’ll get it.
I modified mine a bit, but only because I was unsettled in what I needed to do to learn. Good luck.

Congrats Danielle!
Glad to hear it’s going well!

Thank you for posting your daily schedule! Seeing it makes real all I’ve heard Mary and Natalie say about Med school: the pace is unlike anything you’ve ever experienced!
May you excel in all your classes!

thanks for writing about starting Med School. When you wrote about how you smiled, I couldn’t help but smile with you. Congrats!

Hey Danielle,
I can’t wait to hear how the first day of dissection went. I must admit, that I swallowed pretty hard when I made that first cut to expose the back muscles. After that, I just kept finding structures and getting the hang of fine dissection. I was really fortunate to have five tank-mates who were meticulous dissectors. We really worked well as a team. Even when we lost one of our mates, we were able to carry on and get all of the dissection done.
I would visit the Gross Lab at UVa and work on suturing with some of the first-year students. It is very easy to do subcuticular closings on preserved human skin. Easier than using chicken breasts for practice.
I hope you are enjoying this wonderful gift that will allow you to see how wonderful human structure can be. I also rocked in Embryology which greatly helped with Gross. I guess that I was just destined to be a surgeon. I still love the anatomy on cases like modified radical mastectomies and below the knee amputations.
Have fun!!

Hey Nat,
The middle of the week is pretty stacked for me, but I plan on writing tomorrow evening about anatomy. I feel like have been in med school for a month and it’s only been three days!! I should be able to catch up with myself this weekend. WHEW!! what a ride!

After almost 6 hours of lecture, 2 hours of small group and 4 hours of self-study just today, I have to say, I am pooped!! I feel like I have been in medical school for months and it’s only been 4 days. Don’t get me wrong, I am loving every minute of it, but every minute is jammed packed.
I am very happy that I have some Cell Biology and Molecular Biology & Genetics in my background because without it I would be lost in most of the lectures due to the pace. Thankfully, most of it is review and I spent about 2 hours each night on the 2 classes mentioned above and Biochemistry.
Anatomy and Embryology is a whole other ball of wax. This class meets 3 times per week for 4 hours. The first hour to hour and a half are spent in lecture discussing embryology and difficult concepts in anatomy (like the spinal nerves!). The last 2 hours or so are spent either dissecting our cadavers or in small groups learning about radiology, ossteology, etc. At the end of the four hours, the group that did not dissect will go to the “tanks” and will learn from the group that did dissect. Before each session we are given assigned readings and a list of concepts and terms that we must be familiar with that can be up to 3 pages long.
I love the anatomy class!! I was in the “A” group that dissected first on Tuesday (group “B” continued the dissection earlier today and then group “A” goes back in tomorrow, and so on) It was a surreal experience for me and there was definitely some ambient “freak-out” occuring for me. Eventually, after I got used to the strong smell of the fixative, the site of several dead bodies in one room and the general excitment in the room, fascination gave way to freak-out. My partners and I had a moment of silence before we began our dissection. I began to get a little choked up when I saw nail polish on my cadaver’s finger nails. I could almost imagine someone that loved her painting her nails and brushing her hair while she was nearing death. It was an incredible and humbling experience.
Wednesday, we were introduced to 2 weekly classes for the first time. The first on was Medicine and Society which I think will be my favorite class. It’s a chance to think about ethical and social issues surrounding medicine by reading, discussions, visits with patients, writing and presenting. I am really looking forward to these sessions on Wednesday afternoons. The other was Introduction to Clinical Medicine. Although we did nothing related to learning clinical skills in this first session we did go through a “low ropes” course with our small groups to develop team building skills. Next week, our mentor promised to take us to see some of his patients to begin our interview skills.
Today, I am really beginning to feel the full force of the fire hydrant, but feel ready!! I am looking forward to catching up and organizing my anatomy notes and readings this weekend. By this time next week, I should be a pro!!

I really enjoy reading your entries about your first week in medical school, especially this entry. What a beautiful thing you and your partners did when you all had a moment of silence before dissecting. My eyes would have teared up for sure, too, after seeing the painted finger nails on the deceased.
I start premed classes on Monday, and accounts such as yours definitely inspire me.
The best of luck to you, and God bless you.

Hey everyone!
This week has been a little more eventful than last week. Last week was full of wonderment, newness and surprise. Everyone was smiling and enthusiastic. This week we are going through some growing pains. Some people are hiding it, some people are losing it, me…I have become clumsy and forgetful, like a child going through a growing spurt. Through this week it has been interesting to watch the different personalities in my class come through. I was very lucky to fall into an anatomy lab group that is very driven and interested in the discovery process.
Anatomy is chugging along at break-neck speed, but I feel like I have my hands around it. Our first practical and written exam is next Tuesday, so I’ll have a better feel of my study habits afterwards. I am really enjoying learning the structures and how they all work. Fascinating!!
Wednesday, during the Intro to Clinical Medicine class our preceptor took us to see 2 of his patients so we could observe the “Interview” in real life. It’s basically a series of questions starting with open ended questions and ending with specific questions to illicit information from the patient. This is definitely where the ART of medicine comes in because people are so different. I am looking forward to practicing this skill during our week in the community in october. This class, and anatomy help me to get through the 4-hour mornings of molecularcellbiochemistry.
I will be volunteering at our student run clinic this semester. The organization that runs it is called S.H.A.C. (Student Health Action Coalition) It’s an integrated organization run by students from all medically related disciplines like nursing, social work, public health, dentistry and medicine. We will provide free health care to people in our community and learn valuable clinical skills in the process. I am very excited to be a part of it. My big buddy is actually the director of the organization. I thought that was kinda karmic since the mission of the organization really resonated with me.
I called my family last night to let them know how everything is going and it was nice to hear from them. I can really understand how easy it can be to let the little things slip while I am in medical school. It’s not that I find medical school difficult in terms of groking the concepts, but it’s just the pace and the volume that can wear you down. I am determined to get through this without too much sacrifice of “my” life!
My husband is coping with my schedule by immersing himself in his work. While this is good, on one hand, because I am really busy and would very likely be required to ignore him while Im buring the midnight oil, it’s a bummer because I really miss him and the quality time we used to spend together. I know it’s not permanent, but he is so important to me and I want to share every little joy I have throughout this process with him.


The best thing I’ve done in medical school:
Date night.
Every Friday night it’s date night with my honey. Only extreme things can distract us. And it’s very grounding and good; and, since everything else is scheduled, it’s important not to just expect that your time with your honey will come spontaneously like it used to. It has to be scheduled too. This gets more and more important as med school goes on, so the sooner you can make it a habit, the better from my point of view. My classmates make fun of me for it sometimes but to me date night is sacred; it makes my week whole.
It’s also nice to read such sincere and reflective and excited descriptions of what it’s like to be in med school. Best wishes for the next steps in your journey.

Hey Joe and Danielle,
I have really relished the time that I spend with my fiance. I have been more selfish with getting away from the hospital when I get the time. This year is very, very intense from the standpoint of most of the time being the only person in the house that can take care of critical patients who are trying to die. After 33 hours straight of operating, putting in lines, and getting post CABG and carotid patients stabilized, I was ready to get home to my sweetie and put the whole experience behind me.
These days, my focus is so keenly on assuring technical excellence. This take hours of practice with both hands. I have honed the practice of holding each instrument without taking my eyes off the incision. The scrub nurse has to hand me everything in exactly the same way. Some people resent me even being the person doing the case but others have been very supportive.
If I didn’t have an outlet, I can see where I could get sarcastic and sadistic pretty quickly. Steve just doesn’t let me sink that that level. Dogs are good too. There is just something about curling up with a couple of beagles that melts the day off of you.

Week 3 of medical school is over. I cannot believe how quickly time is passing by for me. I believe that means that I am truly enjoying every minute that passes. Sure, it’s a lot. Sure, it can be stressful. Even today, I cannot believe that I am really living my dream, but by God, I AM!! Time flies when you’re having fun.
I had to get another Tetanus and Diptheria shot today, and am acheduled for another in 6 months. It was either that, dig up old records or be suspended from school. I figured if I was going to be suspended from medical school that it should be for something really juicy and not noncompliance!
Monday we had our first Biochemistry case conference. We have been studying enzymes so we took our new knowledge of enzyme binding and applied it to HIV medications and viral resistance. It was a great way to apply an otherwise dry topic to something relevant. We are scheduled to have theses types of conferences every week.
After much debate, I have decided that I am not going to attend the Molecular Biology lectures. We are provided with a comprehensive syllabus for the course and the lecturers tend to follow it by rote. Since the material is somewhat of a review for me, I feel like I can learn it better on my own. It is also the first class of the day, so an extra hour of sleep in the morning is an added benefit.
Our first Anatomy and Embryology exam is Tuesday. I am somewhat apprehensive, but I am confident that I can pass. My class as a whole is experiencing a great deal of anxiety and everyone is buckling down this weekend to be ready for it. Once it’s over, however, there will be no rest!! The Cell Biology midterm is the following Monday and the Molecular Biology midterm is the week after that. AND, our first paper for Medicine and Society is due on September 15th.
I added a few more activites to my life as well. I decided to run for the office of educational development. I will have a co-vice president (2nd years are presidents) and we will work with faculty to help the students to decide what career that would like to pursue by organizing informational seminars and shadowing experiences. I am also going to work with a group called the Bloomer Hill Free Clinic (in addition to the SHAC free clinic). This group travels to a rural town one Saturday a month (I don’t have to do every month) and offers free health care. This experience will afford me a greater net patient contact experience than SHAC.
Next week, I am going to buy my diagnostic kit. I am so excited about it. It’s the toys of the trade and they will be MINE!!

Danielle Inman

Week 4 is now over and done. Time is still FLYING! I studied for about 20 hours last weekend (Fri night, Saturday, Sunday and Monday) for my first Anatomy and Embryology exam on Tuesday covering fetal development through week 8, limb formation and Back and Upper Limb. The written test was 100 questions all multiple choice. About a 3rd of them were the “K” type questions, where your choices are: a is true, b is true, both are true or neither are true. I hate those kind of questions with the intensity of 1000 white suns! The practical was 64 questions where we had a minute at each station to either identify a structure OR answer a specific question about a structure. I got a 91 on the written and an 86 on the practical for a comfortable final score of 88. I only needed a 70% to pass so I am very pleased with my performance! I ranked 33rd out of 163 on total overall performance.
I cannot believe how much information I had to cram in my head. The good part is that I do not need the information for the rest of the semester because the exams are not cumulative. The next unit is the Thorax and Abdomen. So far heart development has been really fascinating. Did you know that the human heart undergos 14 million years of evolution in just 3 weeks of development? I was in total awe on Thursday when I was holding a human heart in my hand. Very humbling and very cool experience.
I bought my diagnostic kit this week as well. I had dinner with a friend of mine on Sunday night who is also a physician and she instructed me to buy something that I wouldn’t mind getting stolen. When I am at school, I have people telling me to buy the Welch Allen this and the Littman that. So I went for the middle of the road. I got a higher voltage otoscope that takes longer to charge and is a little heavy. My stethescope is an Adscope that my sister-in-law bought me for Christmas. She was a respiratory therapist for many years so I trust her judgement and I don’t think I will be left behind if I don’t buy a Littman Cardiac III.
I received all my information for my week in the community last week. I will be stationed about 3 hours away and put up in housing supplied by the school Area Health Education Centers (AHEC). Community Week is the week of 10/18 - 10/22 and I will be with a Family Practice physician all week. I will have the opportunity to practice my interviewing techniques that I have been learning in Intro to Clinical Medicine. So far we have covered Chief Complaint (CC), History of Present Illness (HPI), Past Medical History (PMH), Family History (FH), Social History (SH) and Review of Systems (ROS). Next week we will have a Standardized Patient come to our classes and we will have an opportunity to practice.
While I completely understand the need to cover all of the above points in an interview with a patient, I am a little confused about the appropriateness of certain sections in certain situations. In the ER, for examle, I wouldn’t be able to find out everything about a patient if they are unconscious and alone. Also, given the time constraints in Primary Care these days, I would have to fire off the questions very quickly to make my quota. I am sure it will all become clear as I develop my skills and adapt to certain situations. Our mentor uses a ROS checklist for the patient to fill out while they are in the waiting room. That way he can pick out any points relevant to the visit and save a little time.
On Monday I will take the Cell Biology midterm. This class will be over mid-October and Immunology will start. After the midterm the course director is taking everyone to Ben & Jerry’s for ice cream. I thought that was so nice!! The following Monday is the Molecular Biology & Genetics midterm and then another Anatomy exam the week following. On Tuesday evening I will be attending the Family Medicine Interest Group annual fall kick-off dinner. FM is one of my future career prospects so I thought I would check it out. UNC has the 2 nd best Fmaily Medicine training program in the country, so if that’s what I decide to do I definitely want to stay local.
Until next week!
Danielle Inman