Term 3 lasts 6 weeks and requires you to either stay six weeks later (if you start your first term in January) or start six weeks earlier (if you start your first term in August). I started in August of 2017, so we started July 2nd, six weeks before term one, two, and five would get back. We were officially MS2 — second year medical students. The island was quiet, but it was nice!! All the study halls were empty, which meant you could sit in the same spot everyday, if you wanted. They recently changed the curriculum, which meant term three would include public health, biostatistics, epidemiology, ethics, environmental health, microbiology, and immunology. The majority of the material was definitely less science and more ethics/public health, and that was definitely weighted heavier on the test, as well. We also only had two lectures a day, with DLAs and articles, and more small groups. I thought I would enjoy having two lectures a day, but I don’t like trading them for more time in small groups or online learning. It’s the way its going to be from here on out, so gotta adapt and keep on moving. The two lectures a day change is going to continue on in term four, which starts tomorrow. They have also implemented this change in term one curriculum. Lastly, we got four days off in between term 3 and 4.
Pre-Mid term we started off with epidemiology — this was new material for most of us. I struggled with this initially, but Boards and Beyond has really good videos explaining the formulas and studies, and while I’m not big on outside resources, it was definitely worth the time. We also had 4 microbiology lectures. I studied Clinical Microbiology Made Ridiculously Simple during the summer, and I found it to be extremely beneficial. It explained major differences between gram positive/negative bacteria, viruses, and fungal infections (which shows up post-midterm). We also had 7 immunology lectures. I studied a little immunology before coming back for term three, however, immunology was the most difficult part of term three for me. It took me a while to understand the material, because the challenge of learning all the interleukins, cytokines, and soooo many three-five letter number variations (IL-1, LT-B4, CXCL8, C2a, etc). It took so much repetition to learn and understand immunology, but be conscientious of your time investment on immunology, because it was not the majority of the test for us. Another large component of the material pre-midterm was biostatistics, which wasn’t so bad if you has some sort of statistical class undergrad, but you needed to be able to apply the concepts to do well. We also had public health lectures, which were important to understand and apply. The DLAs pre-mid term were not bad, and if you get bogged down with formulas, first aid has helpful ways to remember them. Pre-midterm test was worth 42.78% of your grade along with post-midterm test. So, the challenging part of term three was having no wiggle room if you wanted to do well, you had to do well on both tests. I was so scared of the pre-midterm test, because I got sick and threw up all day, to the point where I had to get a shot in my ass from the SGU health clinic to even keep water down. I lost a couple of days of studying, but it is possible to do well on these tests, even with lost time! Grind, Grind, Grind, or as my mom says, “Grit, don’t quit.”
Post-midterm was much more tedious. The majority of the material was research and ethics, and since they changed the lecture format to where we only had two lectures a day, they gave us an ungodly amount of articles to read, in order to understand ethical applications. (Tbh I did not read the articles, and I don’t think I know a single person that did). Ethics is not black and white, it is very grey, and it is easy to get tripped up on questions, because you feel something is right (to your own standards/morals) and then there is the right answer (for what SGU teaches you). My advice — don’t pick what you know is right, pick the answer that you were taught. We also got four more micro lectures, which included two virus lectures, one parasitology lecture, and one fungal lecture. The two virus lectures were pretty general and mainly served as an introduction for next term. The parasitology lecture was general, yet included specific examples of each kind — protozoans and metazoans; I was soo grateful for my undergrad parasitology course. The fungal lecture also served as an introduction with specific types of infections. For all the micro lectures it was definitely more important to understand concepts and less important to memorize every species (but that can change — so take that with a grain of salt). There were about 7 immunology lectures post-midterm, again. At this point, immunology was finally starting to make sense, which was nice. For Ethics, I did the Kaplan questions, and watched an hour long Dirty USMLE video, which was an interactive 30 case scenario video. SGU gives you an 80 page ethics companion, and expects you to read and understand it. I focused on the 5 bioethic values — Respect for person, Utility, Non-maleficence, Beneficence, and Justice, the different theories — Deontological, Consequential, and Virtue-Based, and lastly, the parts of Informed Consent — Understanding, Voluntarism, Authorization, Disclosure, and Decision-Making Capacity. Typically, I stick to the slides and avoid outside resources, but I think it was necessary for applying the ethical concepts.
During term three, we also experienced our first flooding of Grenada. It was insane. It literally rained all day, and I have no idea how the buses were running. If this happens, while you are here on the island, make sure you have plenty of water (because it could get contaminated), and food. I filled my Tupperware with water, did my laundry, and cooked for the week, to prepare for the flooding. These pictures/videos are not mine, but they were shared on our term’s facebook page.
Final thoughts — don’t sleep on ethics, biostats, public/environmental health, and epidemiology. I think it is easy to have a bias towards science, and understanding principles that we believe we are going to “actually use.” However, if you want to do well in term three, you can’t neglect material, because you don’t think it is as important and there are only two tests. I didn’t explore the island or go on any adventures during this six week term, because I knew we would have four days off after the term was over and I got sick. All in all, grind it out, and you will do fine in this term. It’s hard being here, when everyone else isn’t back yet, but I am glad the term is over and done. I am ready for term four — looking forward to pathology, where allegedly everything comes together.