5th Trimester: Legendary
Each trimester in the New York Chiropractic College curriculum has a reputation. As popular notion goes, first trimester is the mess of getting accustomed to graduate studies, by second you have a routine down but the classes are hard, and third trimester is just plain ‘easy’ (if you don’t succumb to distractingly nice summer weather). Fourth trimester gets mixed reviews: on one hand, you can burn your dissecting scrubs, on the other, you now have Visceral Pathology.
Sound vague? Usually it is, but there is one trimester whose memory can still elicit a shudder from students who have reached the relatively cushy life of clinical rotations. They are known to sit for whole seconds at a time between patients, swapping survival stories.
“…There we was, creeping through pages of Lab Diagnosis, thinkin’ we were covered, when all of a sudden one of those professors sprang up and unleashed a wild volley of Skeletal Radiology quizzes. There was academic carnage everywhere.”
Another students clears his throat from the back corner. Surprised, the other interns spin. He takes a swig from an aged bottle of scotch, though everyone recognizes the smell of a kale shake. “That’s nothin’. You want a real story? Lemme’ tell you about Board Exams, Part 1.”
Needless to say, I have been bracing myself for this rumored climax of my educational career since the trimester began in early January. Here is what the battlefield looks like from my current station:
- Bone and Joint Imaging (with radiology lab) – 6 credits, 8 hr/wk
- Patient Assessment Methods II (with practical lab) – 4 credits, 6 hr/wk
- Chiropractic Technique VI (with practical lab) – 4 credits, 6 hr/wk
- Clinical Laboratory Diagnosis (with practical lab) – 4 credits, 5 hr/wk
- Soft Tissue Techniques (with practical lab) – 3 credits, 4 hr/wk
- Postural Assessment – 1 credit, 2 hr/wk
- Basic Human Nutrition II – 1 credit, 1 hr/wk
- Pathomechanics of the Lower Extremity – 1 credit, 1 hour per week (an elective!)
For those counting, that comes to 8 classes, various associated labs, 24 credits, and 33 hours in class each week. Feeling outnumbered? One of those classes is actually thrown in there voluntarily, and most of my classmates have more than just one elective.
The colossal Bone and Joint is the focal point of this semester’s intimidation factor. At a whopping 6 credits, it is the largest class in our whole curriculum. With a two-book text set (Essentials of Skeletal Radiology, Yochum & Rowe, ~$300) totaling 1900 pages, and the expectation of covering all of that material, the class really has some heft. Fifteen pounds, actually, with notes and books taken together.
Adding to the challenge, one weekend in March will be dedicated to Part 1 of the National Board of Chiropractic Examiners certifying exams. No pressure. Altogether, you can understand why I may have developed a new tic, and/or several of the more insidious pathologies in our vocabulary.
I hear that a good wound really adds to the effect when swapping war stories. “This one is from when I reminded Sal of an upcoming exam while he was testing my reflexes. In retrospect, I probably should have considered his sheer strength before I assumed that little reflex hammer was harmless.”