Quality of life at TCOM?

Discussion in 'Medical Students - DO' started by sdude, Apr 19, 2004.

  1. sdude

    sdude Member
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    Hello,

    I'm a graduate student at the University of Houston (philosophy right now, but I may switch to mathematics--still checking out the departments). I'd considered med school before, and got a 34 on the MCAT, but also got cold feet and didn't apply anywhere.

    Recently I discovered *Harrison's Internal Medicine* and sort of went nuts over it. I've got several other medical books now, and I really love reading them, and I'm also getting a kick out of learning ausculatory skills.

    So it sounds like I could really ENJOY medical school, but I'm really sensitive to depressing environments. I went to Baylor to get a book I needed from their bookstore, and I thought the school had a kind of oppressive rabbit-warren atmosphere. Students scurried around like frightened bunnies. A doctor I know said most med schools are like that.

    I'm curious about what people think of life at TCOM. I'm really enthusiastic about the basic sciences as well as clinical work, and I want to go to a school where most of the students genuinely enjoy what they are doing (most of the time!) and enjoy their classmates and have real lives outside of class.

    I really appreciate any suggestions. I just don't want to risk being locked in a dingy building with sadistic instructors and paranoid, miserable classmates. I got all I can take of that at the University of Chicago (BTW, I didn't graduate; I escaped).


    Thanks again for any input.

    Dave
     
  2. sophiejane

    sophiejane Exhausted
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    I totally understand what you mean about being sensitive to depressing environments. I am the same way. That is the reason I chose TCOM.

    With the exception of the 2nd year lecture hall and one hallway that feels like you are in a never ending tunnel, the place is fairly aesthetically pleasing. There are rotating art exhibits in a big, airy atrium. There are 3 fantastic art museums across the street. There are good, local restaurants and a coffee shop within walking distance.

    It feels small and collegial, but there's also a sense of a lot going on. There is a huge new research and education building, a patient care center, and a hospital across the street.

    People smile at you in the hall and say hello. Classmates regularly send out study aids and forward messages from instructors that might be helpful. There is a muted sense of friendly competition, but no backstabbing, no note or information hoarding. People play ping-pong and pool at all hours or watch TV in the lounge. People laugh, they sit outside in the sun. It's not a prison or a rabbit warren. If you ask most students, I think they will tell you they are happy (unless they are DO-by-default and really wanted to be at an allopathic school, then they are miserable).

    Come up and see for yourself sometime. Just call admissions and they will gladly set up a visit for you and get someone to show you around.

    Have fun with Harrison's...though that seems like an outrageous thing to even consider...:)
     
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  3. sophiejane

    sophiejane Exhausted
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    By the way, most of the instructors are really great (at least in the first year, which is all I can comment on) and they do things like circulate in the library to answer questions before tests. Most of them have totally open-door policies and are really glad when you stop in for a question or help with something.
     
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  4. sdude

    sdude Member
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    Thanks a lot Sophie, that really helps me alot.

    I've been pretty intrigued by osteopathic medicine. I'm looking forward to visiting TCOM, since it sounds really appealing.

    Could you (or someone else at TCOM) answer a few more questions?

    Does the DO philosophy really work in practice? (i.e. are you encouraged to take extra time with your patients and focus on their long term health rather than just reacting to their symptoms and moving on?)

    What do you think of the basic science curriculum? Do you get a comprehensive gross anatomy experience with lots of practical dissection? (I really like anatomy, and I'm interested in sports medicine so I really want to see how the joints are put together)

    If I did attend TCOM, I would really want to return to Houston to do my internal medicine residency. (Having family support and my psychoanalyst available would be pretty necessary when I lost my first and subsequent :( patients...that would be really tough.) Would that be a problem with TCOM or the AOA? (assuming I did get into a AGCME residency here).

    Thanks again for the great info! (Being a DO would be cool, especially since my brother is in allopathic school--I'd be able to lord it over him with my OMM skills when he gets lower back pain!)

    Dave
     
  5. sophiejane

    sophiejane Exhausted
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    The DO philosophy works to the extent that DOs make it work--some do better than others, as with any profession. Yes we actually are taught the things you mentioned. We are also taught that reality dictates that we will not be able to spend as much time with patients as we'd like.

    The basic sciences here are very comprehensive and rigorous. Our curriculum is not watered down because we also learn OMM. We learn everything (with the possible exception of biostatistics and with a little less biochem) that our allopathic colleagues learn...plus the extra anatomy and manual and palpatory skills for OMM.

    The anatomy lab here is state of the art. Well, you'll see it. People come from all over the country to see what we have. Our dissectors are not greasy old falling apart manuals--they are all on computers at each tank, and we can purchase the CD to study at home. The anatomy faculty are excellent. No prosections--4-5 students per cadaver, we do it all. We start with musculokeletal and finish up with reproductive 8 months later.

    80-90% of TCOM grads do allopathic or dually accredited residencies. This year's match list includes Johns Hopkins, UTSW, Mayo, Baylor, etc. and specialties like otolaryngology, surgery, radiology, path, plus lots of primary care. You won't have a problem matching IM.
     
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  6. HowUdoin

    HowUdoin Junior Member
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    I agree with SophieJane,
    I'm a MS III (almost MS IV) at TCOM, and as far as OMM, I was very skeptical at first. But when you meet professors who do it well and see the patients they treat, it is amazing what they can do. Now this is not something to substitute for medical or surgical therapy, but rather as an adjuvant treatment.
    Furthermore, I was taken aback when I matched at TCOM (ranked it 5/5 with UTSouthwestern being #1) because I felt I was a very strong applicant, MCAT 30, GPA 3.67 at TCU. However after going through the first three years here, I know it was the best thing that has happened to me. The friendships, faculty, city of Fort Worth with neighboring Dallas have provided wonderful memories.
    Anatomy lab - if you love it, you can live there 24/7 because you have access to it whenever you want, as long as you want.
    If you have anymore questions, feel free to PM me.

    GO Spurs GO! :D
     
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  7. PACtoDOC

    PACtoDOC 1K Member
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    Hey Houston,

    My input will be with one year of additional experience over Sophie, and with an allopathic PA training and degree from UTMB. I agree with most everything she said. It is hard at times here though to see the forest for the trees. And these trees come fast and hard!! You sound exactly like someone who should be a DO though. But just so you know, with the exception of osteopathic manipulation, there is really no difference in philosophy of the other courses we are taught here. Most MD schools in Texas have done a superb job of training students to follow the patient centered model to interviewing and exam, and many schools use the same book we do for clinical medicine. MD schools learned a couple decades ago that prevention and holisitic thinking was half the battle, and they absolutely teach it that way. I think I actually got more touchy feely stuff while in school at UTMB with the medical students than I have here. Now I cannot speak yet for the 3rd year, but I certainly expect there to be a bit more osteopathic teaching and thinking than we have received in the first 2 years. But you can get a quality education at virtually any Texas school, and if you stay in the top 50% of the class and do decent on boards, you can get into a Houston IM program. I honestly came here only to learn manip and then choose what part of it I wanted to practice in the future. Would I have preferred the MD degree to eliminate confusion, of course, but I wanted manip skills so badly that I declined to rank TCOM less than first. Now any academic institution has the typical crap you have to deal with from those who can't hack being in the real world. But other than those select faculty, most are very approachable and fair. I am very happy to have selected TCOM and I enjoy it here overall. I have tons of friends and there is very little bickering or rivalry among classmates. This school used to not be on the map, but now it is firmly on the map. In the next 10 years, it will probably have annexed a great deal of the map!!! Our grads go everywhere, with the exception of the fact that we don't fill many DO residencies. Now I don't know what that means in terms of future for DO only residencies, but that is how the cookie crumbles. DO residencies are probably going to have to become dually certified with MD residencies to continue to attract grads, and that is the current trend. Good luck and don't be afraid to try it. We have tons of people here who seem way less articulate than you, so you should have no problem.
     
  8. sdude

    sdude Member
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    I'm really grateful for the time and effort everyone took to answer my questions. So far I've been very impressed with what I've heard about TCOM, and especially impressed with the semi-random sample of TCOM students whom I've heard from so far! I'm looking forward to visiting.
     
  9. STAC

    STAC Senior Member
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    I don't know about the match list for 2004 but I know for sure you could easily get a copy of the 2003 by calling the admissions office at 1-800-535-TCOM. They readily hand them out at conferences and they were in our interview packets. If I run accross it tonight at home, I'll bring it to work and post what it says. Unless you have seen the 2003 list already from somewhere...then please let me know. Check out this link from the UNTHSC website.

    www.hsc.unt.edu/education/tcom/Residencyopps.cfm

    Hope this helps!

    And this!

    www.hsc.unt.edu/artcompetition/default.cfm
     
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  10. sophiejane

    sophiejane Exhausted
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    I don't want to hijack this thread, (and I realize that PACtoDOC's post is from April!) but I was curious about how you came up with the top 50% of the class requirement for IM residencies in Houston in particular, or was that a general opinion about IM residencies? There are so many factors, it seems to me. In my class anyway, as I have stated previously, we are so tightly packed in the A-B range that it seems ridiculous that we still even use rank except for the top 10%. Even then, there are people with 94% averages who don't make our top 10%. Very, very few people have averages below 85%. Everyone I have asked who has been through the residency match process has told me that class rank matters very little to not at all unless you fail or make the Dean's List every semester. I have been told that the only individual course grades that will really even be considered are rotations, or any failures in the first two years.
     
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  11. Plinko

    Plinko Senior Member
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    Sophie-

    I'm not sure why PACtoDOC made that comment. I'm sure he'll chime in soon and explain. Here is what he wrote on a thread I started a few weeks back. I agree with everything he wrote.

    "Rank is meaningless!!! Take it from someone who is 4th in their class after 2 years. It should have no bearing on residency entry. Every school is different and tests differently. The real issue should be boards because we are all compared rather equally across the board!! I know for a fact that there are at least 30-40 people in my class that are much smarter than myself in terms of all around ability to understand concepts in general. I just take tests well and have a knack for knowing what they are going to ask. And trust me, I'll probably take flack for this one but of all the people above me in rank, I cannot think of one that is smarter than those 30-40 people I just mentioned. Our numero uno is about as ditzy as a Barbie even though she is sweet as can be. If they gave everyone in the class 124 chances to guess the top one of 125, most people would not end up guessing the top one!! It is just simply that way because this person studies non-stop and for all we know is playing us with that ditzy personality. But overall, there is no competition among people in our class and everyone is very well aware of the ranking system in place. But in truth, the closer I get to graduation, the more I hear that residencies are mostly achieved by going to them and rotating...and kicking ass while you are there. I know several buddies who matched into ER this last year with average numbers at best. I also know some that matched surgical specialties with being bottom 50%.

    Truth be told.....the day you take your boards is the first day of the beginning of your stupidity. Life to that point has been like walking up an elevator the wrong way where you do your best to touch every step and not fall behind. The fact is, when you finally get to the top you realize that the first step is so far behind you that you don't even remember stepping on it!! We are the smartest as physicians that we will ever be academically as of today (for new 3rd years), and now we simply have to learn how to forget useful concepts, pick up bad habits, and how to work really fast!!

    Everyone gets a clean slate after years one and two and anyone can accomplish any goal even if they are last in their class. You just have to find alternate ways to get there. The number one in their class will probably be able to land that ortho residency without even rotating there, while the last in their class may have to make connections, rotate there, show confidence and do better than average. But it can be done."
    __________________
     
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