Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Medical Specialty Aptitude Test

A friend emailed me a Web site for the University of Virginia's Health System. More specifically, the link took me to where I can take a online test to see which medical specialty I am suited for. I've always been interested in paediatrics and infectious disease.

My top 5 were:
1. paediatrics
2. infectious disease
3. rheumatology
4. obstetrics & gynaecology
5. nephrology


Now, that I'm on this blog, I might as well give an update. :) Well, I've decided where I will be spending my week holiday. I'll be going to the tropical destination of Darwin! Darwin is the capital of the Northern Territory. Some people might be asking, "why are you going there?!" Well, there are a few reasons. One of my goals whilst being in medical school is to have travelled to all the state capitals and Canberra. So, going to Darwin makes some progress in that area. Since I am interested in infectious disease, Darwin is one of the best places in Australia to go and learn about it, as it is quite close to Asia and the tropical climate that it is 'blessed' with. It would be an interesting place to do my internship there (and I've been told by a number of people that they would see me doing tropical medicine and being in Darwin). The most important reason is that one of my best friends, Ruth, will be there as well. She is completing her paediatrics rotation up at the Royal Darwin Hospital; also, a number of her friends, that I became friends with when I went to Adelaide last year, are also doing their clerkship up there. It will be a great reward for completing my exam, which will be finished in 1 week and 1 hour from now. So much stuff left to revise...slowly but surely (or at least that is what I keep telling myself).

Alright, back to the books. This time, I'm starting cardiovascular...anyone up for learning about arrhythmias? :)

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Veevek. A member of the rural community?

This past weekend, a group of 30 or so allied health students (most of them which were medical students) went on a day trip to Toowoomba to visit Toowoomba Hospital and a local winery. The trip was hosted by an organisation called Towards Rural & Outback Health Professional in Queensland (TROHPIQ).

This is a photo of Rob and Leanne highlighting the entrance of Toowoomba Hospital's A&E.

When we got there, we had a couple of workshops. The first one was all about plastering, which was too cool! I know of friends that are in med school in Calgary were able to do this in their first year. I was quite envious of them but then I realised that I didn't sign up for this sort of workshops in first year (silly billy gilly I am).

After the plastering we were taken out to see the student accommodations. These accommodations are for the MBBS III and IV that come out to do their entire year's worth of rotations at Toowoomba. Students are eligible to do an entire year at a rural place, such as Toowoomba, Hervey Bay-Maryborough, Bundaberg, and Rockhamptom. The accommodations were quite basic, which isn't a bad thing. However, the bad thing about them what that the kitchen sucked! It was very simple, it had: a sink, small fridge and a microwave oven. The only thing that came close to a stove was a mobile hot plate. Shudder.

After that, we came back to the hospital to partake in the last workshop, which was on suturing. It was quite difficult to get the technique in the beginning but once you have a handle on it, it's pretty fun! Here's a picture of a pig hock with sutures a la Veevek. :)

After the suturing workshop, we headed to another very rural place called Oakey, which made Toowoomba look very large. We had a bbq at the house of one of the rural doctors who works with the Rural Clinical Schools. After that we headed to a quaint little winery. This was the first time that I've been to a winery in Australia. It was a good experience to taste all the different types of wine and know what you like and don't like. I ended up buying three bottles of their Classic Red. They were quite cheap and there is something to be said about supporting local wine industries as opposed to the very big names. This place also had herbal wines and were called IQ, White Satin, Buddy, Gee Spot, and Bedtime Bliss. Leanne bought a bottle of the IQ, and will be making its debut appearance at Claire's birthday, which is on Friday. They didn't taste bad at all; however, those wines would have been great as a conversation piece at a dinner party. I wasn't in the mood to do that, well at least not for the next 3 weeks.

Rob took this photo...I like it. See those cool sunnies that I 've on, yeah, they broke yesterday. Stupid big head.

So, here's the thing, I would love to go rural next year. Why? Because most international medical graduates end up getting slotted into rural internships and many of the already trained doctors that are coming into Australia are going to rural places. In 3rd and 4th year, UQ medical students are eligible to do one entire year in a rural location (Toowoomba, Hervey Bay, Bundaberg and Rockhampton). This programme is actually a federally funded programme, which means that international students get the shaft. The perks of going 'rural' is that accommodation is free and you are given a small amount of money for relocation. As international students you aren't given any of that. We can go but only if there are spots left. If it turns out that there are spots available, then we aren't able to stay in the student accommodations (which I sure wouldn't because I want a proper kitchen!), meaning that we would have to pay rent and we wouldn't get any funding towards relocation. This would also mean that the house that I've in Brisbane would have to be subletted or I would just not renew my lease, which would mean that I would have to look for a new place when I came to Brisbane. Ahhh...the decisions. But before embarking on those thoughts, I need to get back to revising for this blasted midyear exam.

Here's a photo that will hopefully tie you over until the next one...

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Va, Vis et Deviens

Go, Live and Become...

That is the movie that I saw last night with Liam at the UQ Schneoll Theatre. The movie starts in the early 1980s in Sudan.

The movie begins in 1985 when Mossad, with considerable assistance from the United States, ran the clandestine Operation Moses to airlift thousands of starved and persecuted Ethiopian Jews to Israel from refugee camps across the border in Sudan. These dark-skinned 'indelible immigrants', to use a term coined by historian Daniel Boorstin, known as the Falasha, are still not fully assimilated into Israeli society. The nine-year-old hero and his widowed Christian mother, last survivors of a family destroyed by famine and war, are at the same camp. When the small son of a Falasha widow dies shortly after being accepted for transportation, she agrees to take the Gentile boy in his place and she gives him the name Solomon, or Schlomo.

His mother bids him farewell with the words that gives the film its title: 'Go. Live. Become.' 'Go' is the urgent instruction to find security in Israel. 'Live' is her counsel to seize a sudden chance to survive and prosper. 'Become' is more problematic, and the movie is constantly alert to what it means in a world of emigration and immigration, asylum seeking and economic migration, where identities are assumed, imposed, blurred and recreated.

The opening section is full of suspense and danger. Can Schlomo convince the Israeli authorities that he's a Jew? Immediately before his interrogation on Israeli soil, a boy a few years older has his cover blown and is roughly escorted from the reception hall, shoved into a car and driven away to be repatriated. Schlomo gets by, but his ailing surrogate mother dies. He's adopted by a kindly Sephardic Franco-Israeli couple, extremely well played by French actor Roschdy Zem and celebrated Israeli actress Yael Abecassis.

These foster-parents, left-wing, semi-secular Jews who initially think the newcomer has been raised in the orthodox faith, draw the boy out and encourage their son and daughter to make him welcome. They represent much of what is best in the state of Israel and protect him from the prejudice, some of it truly ferocious, to which the Falasha are exposed.

The years pass, Schlomo takes on a new identity, has a Romeo and Juliet-style love affair with a Jewish girl, works on a kibbutz, experiences the tensions engendered by the Gulf War and the intifadas and, as part of his journey of discovery, attempts to contact his mother. The years Schlomo spends studying medicine in Paris, when he becomes aware of how he might transcend his problems and give practical assistance to his native Ethiopia.

The last scene of the movie is that he is at the same refugee camp and whilst he was handing out pens to kids, he sees this face half-covered by a shawl. He drops whatever he was holding and walks towards the seated figure, gazing into her eyes. He recognises his mother's eyes, squats down and calls to her. They hug and his mother then lets out this haunting moan.

It was an awesome film...go and watch it.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006


Finally, someone from outside my "med" world has visited me in Brisbane! My very good friend, Stephanie, came for a week and we had a blast! I've know Stephanie ever since I got back from doing an exchange at the University of Malta. We bonded over quite quickly and it seems as if we have been friends for ages.

S0, Stephanie came to Brisbane to start off her one month sojourn of Australia. Even though my midyear exam is only a few weeks away, I thought that I 'needed' another mini holiday in order to give the appropriate attention to Steph and also to recharge myself.

We did a number of things in the shortwhile that she was here. The first day she arrived, both her and I went to Mount Coot-tha (which in one of the Aboriginal languages means "place of honey"), which the highest point in Brisbane and you can see over the city and, if you are lucky, the islands off the coast.

The next day, we went to the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, which is one of the few places left in Australia that you can actually hold a koala. However you have to pay to get your photo taken with it and the time that it takes for one of the handlers to place the koala in your hand and then position it so that its face is facing the camera. CLICK. Koala goes back to the handler. Apparently, they don't like to be handled. Go figure.

And they are very cute. We saw so many of them - bachelors, breeding females, year olds, and those that were suited for retirement.

We also saw other Australian animals such as kangaroos, wallabies and, our favourite, the southern hairy-nosed wombat.

Steph and I also took a trip down to Byron Bay, which is considered of on the quintessential beaches in Australia. Not only that but it is the most easterly point on the Australian mainland. We stayed in one of the many backpacker's hostels and had a great time! We both concluded that Byron Bay was the Australian equivalent of Banff, Canada. It seemed like a hippy-esque/new age sort of place with a huge kick of surfing subculture. There were tourists everywhere; I reckon that if I were living there, I would get sick of things real fast.

My friend Lou gave us some great suggestions for eating and hiking down there. We went hiking in Broken Head Nature Reserve, which was absolutely breathtaking! Here's what I mean:

This is White's Beach. Steph and I climbed down some pretty steep terrain in the hopes of making it there. Alas, there was a large chasm between the rocks separating this beach and Craig's Beach, which was were we ended up.

This was taken at Craig's Beach. Here's a photo of our shadows. And in the sand I wrote, "Steph & Veevek, Broken Head '06"

This is Mile Beach, and if you can imagine that White Beach is really really far down. Follow the beach towards to the back of the photo. Where the land stops, White Beach is right behind that point.

This is the most easterly point on mainland Australia.

The next morning, Steph and I got up at 5:30am (and it was cold as!) to go down to the beach and watch the sun rise. It was absolutely fantastic! Not only that, but we were able to see dolphins as well. It ws the perfect wasy to finish off the trip. We stayed in Byron till about noonish and headed back up to Brisbane via the Gold Coast. Spending good quality time with friends on the beach is a great thing!

I just hope that from seeing this, some other friends, hint hint, will want to come down. :)

Friday, May 05, 2006

Some more photos from New York

So, I've been collating photos from friends who have captured photos that I wished that I had taken. Here you go:

This is a photo in the main foyer of the UN, once you've cleared security and gone inside the building. These stairs lead up to the General Assembly Main Hall. Apparently, this art work is something that will be put around the around. Meaning that this is the very beginning of the design and this design will travel (on rocks, bridges, and other things) around the world and it will be as if there is a ring of this art work all around the world. I don't remember who the artist is, if anyone out there does, then please let me know!

This is the symbol that has come to represent the UN. Its backdrop is a massive golden slanted wall. This massive symbol 'hangs' above the main podium, where the Secretary-General and the President of the General Assembly sit. I remember when I saw this hall for the very first time in 1999, it literally blew my breath away. To make that trip even more memorable, Kofi Annan was the keynote speaker! I still remember meeting his wife, Nane Anna. Absolutely wonderful woman.

Okay, I know what you are thinking...yes, it looks dirty, but we were just trying to cool each other. Still, it's pretty hot! :)

This photo was taken at a restaurant called Swing 46 and you ask what I am wearing. Well, this was Monday night and it was the 3rd day where I didn't have any new clothes because American Airlines was too busy trying to worry about illegal immigrants than making sure that my luggage would get to its intended destination. Hence, I wore a sweater that belonged to Erin. It had a fuzzy orange neck piece. It was definitely a conversation piece.

And here I am pretending to be Irish. That neck piece was just so versatile! Yes, at this point jet lag had definitely set in and I was just being dazed and confused.

Yes, my toe nails are painted...you've got a problem with that? Every time I go New York, Christine, myself and Peter (and whomever we've convinced to come with us) have gone to Bloomie's to get pedicures, sans colour for Peter and I. This time, Jill and I went to treat ourselves as the conference can get quite hectic and all. So, we found a place near the hotel and decided to get pedicures. Normally, I've never worn nail polish when I get pedicures done but I thought that this is my last time that I would be getting one in NYC for a very long time. So, I chose this colour and guess what the name of the colour was? UN BLUE!

I will try and add more photos from that trip as I get more. It seems that I've been updating this blog more and more. Perhaps it's because of my innate ability to procrastinate from doing some serious revising for my midyear exam. :) Speaking of which, pathophysiology of pulmonary disease is calling me.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Bronchoalveolar carcinoma and sunset drinks

This past weekend was a very unique combination of relaxation and studying. Lou, Leanne, Anna, and I went to up Noosa (Sunshine Beach, actually), which is on the Sunshine Coast, for the long weekend. The purpose of the trip was to partake in a study boot camp. There are 40 days left until our mid year examination (which is going to be held on Tuesday at 5:45pm; not very happy about the time). So, we thought that by getting away and focusing only on the study, we would jump start the brain and get the juices flowing for the weeks to come. The girls went up on the Friday night and I came up on Saturday afternoon, as I went to a friend's engagement party on Saturday arvo.

I drove up in Lou's car and arrived later in the evening to the beach house that we were staying at. It was awesome! It sense the ocean right next to you, to hear the waves crashing down and to be kissed by the salty mist coming from the water. I came just in time when the girls had finished dinner, which meant that there was an open bottle of red wine nearby. I had a couple of glasses and started the night of study, which was only for a couple of hours before watching some Sex and the City dvds (what do you expect?! you go away with some gals for the weekend and they want to do that sort of thing...as long as I get my work done and have a great time, I'm up for anything!).

The next morning, I saw the view from the balcony for the first time and it looked like this -

We had brekky and dived into the books. It was a great getaway. My mobile phone had very limited service and I forgot to bring my battery charger for my laptop, which meant that I did my studying the old fashion way - by way of pen and paper.

Sometimes it just feels as if you are accomplishing much more by that method as opposed to typing your notes out. After a full day's worth of studying (and grazing on snacks and other food stuff), we had sunset drinks in the spa on the roof, which overlooks the ocean. It was fantastic! Also, the rest of red wine that was brought up was finished. I tell you red wine and I are good friends. :)

The following morning, Lou, Leanne and I went up to Noosaheads for a swim (I didn't go for a swim instead I walked around the beach and soaked up some much needed sun) and then went for an awesome brekky. It was a bit surreal because we had to walked through a bit of the national park in order to get to the beach we went to. We headed back to the house and studied until lunch time. We ate lunch on the roof and saw dolphins frolicking in the ocean It was blissful. After lunch, we studied until 5:30pm and then headed home.

The weekend was restful and yet probably one of the most productive ones that I've had all year. I reckon that this was the jumpstart that my brain needed to get in 'exam' mode. To make things a bit tricky, one of my very good friends from Canada is coming next week. I'm hoping to get as much work done so that I can spend some quality time with her. We shall see how things go over the next few days.