Wait, medicine isn’t all zebra metabolic diseases and killer bugs? Welcome to Homeostasis, the third block of the FMK phase. Homeostasis is the first 12-week block at Vanderbilt and it hits the ground running, covering hematology/oncology, cardiology, renal, and pulmonology. That sounds like a lot, and I am not going to lie, it is definitely not a cakewalk, but it is one of the most fun and rewarding blocks of the year.
One of the biggest challenges of Homeostasis is the sheer amount of material. Twelve weeks of physiology, pharmacology, pathology, and anatomy on some of the most important organ systems in the body is daunting and not falling too far behind is a must, but it is definitely manageable! During Homeostasis, perhaps more than any other block, I found that studying and going through material with classmates was essential in grasping difficult concepts. Everyone in your class has different strengths and using your peers as resources is invaluable. Another important thing to remember is to stick to what works for you! Homeostasis is the first block in which it becomes very apparent that everyone in the class studies in different ways. Some rely on First Aid/Pathoma more than others, some swear by lecture notes, others Anki. Stick to what you find helpful and avoid resource overload! There is no one best way to study.
Now, time to exhale. Homeostasis is one of the most exciting and interesting blocks there is! Learning the physiology of key organ systems really opens up all of medicine to you and things finally start to make sense. You’ll find yourself thinking more like a doctor. The feeling you get when it finally clicks why Staph aureus causes tricuspid regurgitation is awesome. At the same time as you are learning concepts in class, Dr. Fowler teaches essential clinical examinations in Physical Diagnosis that does a great job of tying together lectures and clinical medicine. Go to Shade Tree during Homeostasis! You’ll be amazed at how much more you know now than at the beginning of the year, plus it is great practice for Physical Diagnosis. You’ll also be spending a lot more time in the anatomy lab with your Silent Teaching Partners through dissections of the thorax, which are some of the most memorable moments of the year. Anatomy is not stressed as heavily in this block as it is in the final two (sooooo much anatomy) but don’t forget that you do have your first lab practical at the end of the block!
Most importantly, spend time on personal health and wellness. The long block means that there is a LOT of time between tests, so take advantage of the time, particularly at the beginning of the block. Try out a new restaurant every weekend, go to a Preds game or to the Nashville Symphony, or indulge in a hobby. There are two breaks during the block, one at Thanksgiving and two weeks around Christmas/New Year. Take Thanksgiving Break and at least one week of Winter Break off from work and enjoy your family and friends. There is nothing more important than being mentally refreshed!