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Last min advice from CCOM upperclassmen?

Discussion in 'Medical Students - DO' started by ebola95, Jun 12, 2000.

  1. ebola95

    ebola95 Senior Member 10+ Year Member

    Dec 28, 1999
    Downers Grove, Illinois
    ok, any last min advice from any of the MS-I through MS-IV's out there from CCOM?

    anything like things you would have done differently from the start of school, lifestyle changes, study habits, classes to take and to avoid like the devil, how is the food in the dorms, etc.

    thank you all in advance

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  3. BlueCub

    BlueCub New Member

    Jun 11, 2000
    I'm an M4 at Chicago and I'll try to give you my version of the skinny:

    1) Courses: I'm a year or so out of basic science hell, but Anatomy, Physiology, and Pharmacology are the most well-taught courses we have. Path was really struggling but I hear that they have new faculty who's decent. Biochem was somewhat of a joke. I personally thought the Micro department was pretty good, but the general consensus is that they didn't provide enough clinical correlation. My class was the guinea pig test group for a clinical correlates course, Topics in Medicine, and it just stunk when we had it...however, I've heard that they've improved it quite a bit. (Pay attention to that class!!!) And Intro to Clinical Medicine and our OMM classes are yours for the participating (read: you have to make the most of them).

    As far as avoiding taking a class, I don't think that's really possible [​IMG]. But skip out on whatever you feel comfortable and hope your notepool will be decent.

    2) Tests: Ouch [​IMG] These are our defining, unifying moments as Chicago students. You get about a one-month respite at the beginning of each quarter, and then the relentless onslaught begins...Two tests a week, plus OMM quizzes. Believe me they will wear you down. Ask the third-years...I think they tallied about 150 tests or so in 2 years.

    My biggest advice to you is to study to LEARN, not simply to pass the test (whatever test). You will do yourself the most justice on clinical rotations if you understand the underlying pathophysiology, the characteristics of disease, and the therapeutics. It makes it more difficult for Chicago students, since we don't have the opportunity to see these processes while we're learning them (our hospital is not located on campus)...but if you keep in mind that you're learning with the sole purpose of treating and healing, you should make it through.

    3) Study: Can't blow it off...but where to do it is the problem. They're in the process of building a library. People either struggle on campus at our suffocatingly small library space, at the LLC, or wherever they find a niche. Others go off-campus to the libraries of surrounding schools: Elmhurst, Benedictine, COD.

    4) Living: I never stayed on campus but I can see how great it must feel to roll out of bed 5 minutes before class and take a test in your PJ's. Downers Grove and surrounding areas are pricey...get a roommate or live in a teeny studio like I did. I loathed the cafeteria; I do think that they changed the food, but who knows if that's an improvement [​IMG]

    There are plenty of restaurants and movie theaters and malls. It's a good area to live in. Obviously you're close to downtown Chicago, and I definitely recommend forcing yourself to get out there regularly. It's too tempting to lock yourself in the West Suburbs for two years, but the city's too great to wait for third year.

    5) Get involved: I may be biased, but as a former SOMA chapter officer I have to say it's the best group on campus. They give you a discount on medical equipment that basically pays for your membership fee. Their committees put out some great projects that allow you to do some type of community service, to keep you from being so self-involved. Other groups on campus have a specific focus: UAAO, ACOFP, SOSA, etc...check them out for yourself.

    6) Clinicals: It's never too early to start thinking about what you'd like to do when you graduate and where you'd like to be. Olympia Fields, our main hospital, is a big source of ambivalence for our students. Some like it, some don't...but while you're in a city like Chicago, you owe it to yourself to make the most out of each rotation. The way I see it, you HAVE to go to Cook...Rush...Christ Hospital...Lutheran General. We have affiliations with some really amazing hospitals in the area, and you simply have to capitalize on the opportunity.

    Alright I'll get off my soapbox. Last bit of advice: Enjoy your summer like it's 1999 [​IMG]...don't worry about a thing for the next few months, because you'll have plenty of opportunity to stress later. Congratulations.

    Daphne '01
  4. johns8

    johns8 Junior Member

    Jun 2, 2000
    Hi there -
    I just took the COMLEX, and I'm five days into my first rotation (OB/Gyne at Christ Hospital). The good news - I've already delivered 5 babies! Say what you will about CCOM but we really do have great rotation sites, and everyone here seems truly devoted to helping us become good physicians.
    I basically agree with everything Daphne said. I can add that the Topics in Medicine course has been completely revamped and is currently probably the best class in your second year - very topical info that will really help you on COMLEX and in rotations. I also liked the micro dept., but like Daphne I'm in the minority.
    The basic science courses here are very strong, but the exam schedule does get to be a bit of a drag. The official tally for my first two years was 116 exams and many, many OM quizzes. Speaking of OM, we have a good department with our share of luminaries (Kappler et al).
    The dorms are okay, but it's really not fun living on campus. You're going to be spending 90% of your time on campus anyway - it's nice to leave when you can. There are many apartments in the area that are reasonably priced, and if you have a roommate it's probably cheaper than living on campus. Oh, the cafeteria is fairly miserable. If you need an exhaustive list of every eatery within a 15 mile radius, let me know.
    Well, if you have any other specific questions, I'd be more than happy to answer them. I've been very happy with CCOM and I hope that you are too! CJM

  5. spunkydoc

    spunkydoc Senior Member 10+ Year Member

    May 2, 1999
    chicago, IL usa
    From an M4: lessons learned

    1) Classes: Know your study style--If you learn better by hearing it said, attend class..if you can read and synthesize, pick up the voluminous handouts and do that..there were way too many class hours to accomadate a rather hellish exam schedule of 2/wk..pick and choose your battles and realize that much of what is required is memorization..i agree with daph, micro has a few characters on the faculty but is a strong course..pharm will get you thru the boards...i understand topics in med is much changed and improved--take advantage of any opportunity to apply your basic science knowledge to clinical pictures and to actually LEARN, not just memorize..we all did it--but try not to completely blow off Intro to clinical med--you will find yourself more comfortable when you begin clinicals if you already really know how to do a physical exam.

    2 Exams: There are 2/wk so be prepared to always be living from exam to exam..the good news is that this builds the stamina you need to endure 2 days of the boards and also makes you comfortable with answering zillions of multiple choice questions..the bad news is that sometimes you just memorize and don't really learn the material due to the pressure of time..some exams will be complete blow offs and others will be truly challenging..take each as it comes and truly try to understand will be surprised at how much you actually retain later on..

    3 Study locations: downers is not exactly home to a major university library..hopefully the new one being built on campus is a great place to go..again, know your own study style and choose accordingly..there are a lot of little community colleges, coffee shops..but if you are trying to escape your classmates, you may need to seek out cubby holes a bit farther away from downers.

    4 on-campus vs off-campus: downers is a wealthy burb w/ high rent..the llc is a fairly modern and comfortable dorming experience..the cafeteria is nasty but all in all, you come out a bit cheaper on rent etc. by living on campus where you get free utilities--heat and central air, is a matter of preference..there are definite advantages to rolling out of bed 5 minutes before an exam.

    5 academic affiliations: there are many clubs on campus in which to participate..don't worry, there are no advantages to being a member of all of them..however, it is nice to become involved in one b/c it does give a sense of control over something at a school where i always feel that there is a lack of response to student concerns. involvement also provides a very needed diversion from the constant studying.

    6 Clinicals: the major advantage to going to med school in chicago is that you can rotate virtually anywhere in chicago..oly fields, or the holy oly as it is now affectionately dubbed, has its good and bad parts...rotations such as surgery, urology,unit, are some ones that are good to do there..still, part of your education is diversity..don't ever take "you are not allowed" for an answer from the med ed can go wherever you want to go be it christ hospital in chicago or some podunk in alaska..make sure to take advantage of the major and better known hospitals in chicago b/c they have well established programs and better resources...don't be afraid to leave chicago and explore other opportunities or experiences...if you only know one system, you may never know what style of medicine really suits you.

    7 social life: chicago is a great city--very an east coast transplant who misses a true ny bagel and an ocean, i must say that chicago has a great deal to offer..the traffic sucks but there is tons of culture to take advantage of--improv, symphony, etc...the summers are full of festivals usually by the the winter everyone looks like a snowman so fashion is not much of an issue..take advantage of the city and force yourself off campus at every chance you get during the first two years..whether you make it to last call once a weekend in downers of hit the club scene , whatever, it is part of your mental health check to get out and about..keep in mind that the curriculum at ccom can create a competative atmosphere that is tough to beat..remember that being a doc is a job--work hard and play harder..don't let this consume you..

    8 what to do while you are waiting to start:
    go far far away and enjoy yourself..get on a ship and sail away, party, get it all out of your system have just made a committment to a life of learning and studying that will not end when your residency does..take this time to be as carefree as you want to be..

    as a sidebar of practicallity, i found it extremely beneficial to get a job and earn wads of cash so as to live more comfortably these 4 yrs here without taking out the full loan.

    congratz, good luck
  6. ebola95

    ebola95 Senior Member 10+ Year Member

    Dec 28, 1999
    Downers Grove, Illinois
    thanks to everyone who replied....i appreciate all the sage words....and good luck to everyone on thier individual careers!


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