Saturday, May 18, 2013

Today's Offering to the Gods of Procrastination

I'm in the midst of reviewing 107 physiology lectures for our cumulative final Monday morning but I needed a break to give a shout out to my amazing classmates.

I really lucked out with my decision to go to BCMS.  I've friends at other schools who talk about the competition and the frustration of the ubiquitous gunners.  Here, we have a contest for 'resource of the week'.  It's such a collaborative environment. There is competition but it's mostly as a class trying to beat the performance that other years had on exams. (we rocked the immuno midterm- our average was 7 points higher that the '15 class).

Pre-exam weekends always show a flurry of activity on our facebook page with post after post of practice exams, summaries, review material from upperclassmen or other schools, people posting info garnered from office hours. It's pretty amazing how so many of my classmates are so generous with their discoveries.

For anyone applying to medical school, a non-curved grade structure really makes a HUGE difference in the learning environment. I remember when I was looking at schools, it fell lower on the totem pole of priorities.  Now I wouldn't trade it for a full scholarship to JH.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

VA tape

 BCMS arranges lots of rotations at the nearby VA hospital so we had to go thru the federal background check, fingerprinting etc for access. It was a pain in the *#a.  Last year, I had 5 ppd skin tests, 3 background checks (in which I needed to list ALL of my lifetime addresses & local (to said addresses) people to vouch for my existence there, and two fingerprinting sessions.  The extent of my civil disobedience consists of 3 parking tickets that I accumulated a decade ago by parking in the staff lot at a local community college. I can't imagine how much worse it would have been if I were a naughtier person.

I've lived in 7 states. I had to dig through old letters that I saved to find all my former addresses (15 of them that I could recall- I'm sure I missed one or two..). Then I had to supply references for a) places that I had lived and b) places that I had worked.  I actually used myself as a reference a couple of times.  I laughed when I received the letters "Can you confirm that 'Narrow Room' was a resident here between August 1997 and July 1998?". Why yes, yes I can.

Ironically, the med students who struggled more than me with this insane process were the few who were actually current members of the armed services (and already had partial clearance). The VA required additional paperwork from them. Insane.

But now I have a med school ID AND an official "get thru security at the airport quickly" government ID.  I'm so cool.

But in reflection, the VA sat on our application paperwork for 4 months. I received an email in December that all was in order for my background check. The class didn't get notification until last week, though, that all was in order with our application and we could go to the HR office to press our fingers to the confirmation screen and pose for our (dashing) ID photos. 

Then, two days after this notification, BCMS sent out an email that the background check/fingerprinting for the VA expired that weekend, leaving us just 2 days to get to HR before we would have to start the process all over.

I waited in line (the day before an exam, mind you) for three hours. Apparently, all the VAs in the US operate on two servers so the backup during busy times can be insane. Several of my fellow students did end up having to be re-fingerprinted thus delaying their "go straight thru security cards" by 3 months.

Now I ask: "Why did they have us submit our application, background check and fingerprint us on the same day leaving only 4 days for the processing completion?"  Wouldn't it have made more sense to process the application (the rate determining step), then do the background check?

And this is for (useless MS1s). I can only assume that all new VA staff, those who can actually help the backlog of over a million veterans, struggle with the same stupid delays.

I'm not even going to start on the old Commodore computers they still use....