A Hectic New Start


So CMBMP, Cellular and Molecular Basis of Medicine, our next course in this whirlwind first year of medical school, is already well underway and already distracting me from my blogging commitments. Our first exam is this Monday and after two weeks of material, I’m ready to see how we will be tested in this course. CMBMP is completely different from Anatomy in many ways; everything from the way in which I process the material to the manner in which I study has changed to accommodate the different requirements and format of information within this new course.

To begin with, PowerPoints now dominate my desktop, both virtual and physical. I no longer spend hours coloring or poring over Netter’s Anatomy Atlas searching for relationships while reeking of formaldehyde. What I felt were permanent circles that had taken up residence beneath my eyes have now all but disappeared. The greatest difference between this course and Anatomy is the time we are afforded to study and just exist. We spend far less time in lectures and without a lab, I feel like I actually have some control over my personal existence. Working out every day has gotten a lot easier and making dinner no longer feels like an unnecessary waste of time. For these very simple reasons, I like CMBMP a lot better than Anatomy. The material is just as challenging and I spend a comparable amount of time studying but it’s having time for myself incorporated back into my days that truly makes the course enjoyable. I’m sure it will become a lot more challenging and time consuming as we start another course, Problem-Based Learning and as our additional clinical projects begin to pick up but for now, I am so happy to be able to stop studying on the Saturday before an exam at a somewhat reasonable hour and watch an hour of mindless television…and update you all on what I do with my days.

CMBMP truly covers all of the basic sciences in two courses, the first 8 weeks long and the second 6 weeks long. This course will dominate our academic calendar well into the Spring Semester when we will start BBD, or Biological Basis of Disease, another basic science course focusing on the scientific background we will need for our blocks next year. Now, we’re focusing on the very basics of biochemistry, pharmacology, histology, and chemistry. It feels a little like déjà vu in lecture everyday–I took biochemistry in undergrad and all of the pre-requisites mandated to enter the medical program have prepared me well for this course but it’s also unbelievable how much I am able to forget. We talk about reactions that I used to know every enzyme for and the reaction rates and I can barely remember the overall product of the sequence! Thankfully, I’m incredibly anal-retentive and have kept all my notes from previous courses–one brief scan and everything starts to come back to me. Granted, I need to spend a lot of time doing that “brief scan” but all of the fundamental information is still somewhere in my brain…it’s just about accessing it. It’s like searching for your car keys when you’re in a rush to get somewhere. You can almost remember where you put them but it just eludes you…yea, that’s the frustration I sometimes feel overwhelmed by! Share in my aggravation!

My grandfather was a pharmacist and I recently spoke with him on the phone and while I’ve always been impressed by my grandparents and their accomplishments, I have never been more impressed with my grandfather than of late when I have been trying to memorize countless drugs with similar names, pathways, and functions. Who needs 32 different anti-fungal creams? Glaxo-Smith Kline and the other big pharma companies have about one billion reasons why…

Pharmacology is a fascinating field and with the advent of new biotechnologies, our generation of physicians is sure to see a revolution in the way we administer medication and approach diseases. It’s really fascinating, and challenging, and it makes me that much more excited to be approaching a career in such a dynamic field.

Even though I have a little more time in my life, I’m still held by the constraints of my own conscience and now that I have taken a bit of a break to write this, the secondary structure of proteins is calling me back to my studying. I hope all’s well on your end and I’ll write again soon…after this exam! Wish me luck!


What I learned while investigating Ras proteins…it takes 12 to 15 years to patent and get FDA approval for a drug and about one billion dollars to get to clinical trials. Any takers?


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