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2008-09 issue 3



l l a W of e m a sh

The Sphygmo Team Media Officer: Claire Vella Editor: Marquita Camilleri Article Co-ordinator: Stephanie Azzopardi Layout and Design: Anne Marie Bonnici Mallia Thank you to all those who have contributed to this edition of Sphygmo

GO TO: http:/sphygmo.


EDITORIAL SHOT OF HUMOUR Laughter is truly the best 

uncertain  without  looking  things  up,  or  to  have  a  go  at  a 

medicine.    We  have 

difficult  question  but  to  admit  uncertainty.    These  situa‐

heard  this  time  and  time 

tions  are  often  confusing  and  always  demanding.    (Sokol 

again.    Yet,  little  did  we 

and Bowman, 2009). 

know  that  this  statement 


is  backed up with  lots  of 

Some people frown at all this… Others just don’t care and 



the few who do simply grin and bear it.  But the best pre‐

Laughter  reduces  pain 

server of sanity always remains laughing things off… And 

and  allows  us  to  tolerate  discomfort.  It  reduces  blood 

why?  Because laughter is good for us!  It’s good for us as 

sugar levels, increasing glucose tolerance in diabetics and 

individuals  and  also  as  a  student  body.    Medical  school 

nondiabetics  alike.    The  most  recent  evidence  supports 

does,  in  itself,  encourage  strong  bonds  between  students 

that  laughter  helps  your  blood  vessels  function  better, 

since friends who understand the rigours of the course and 

increasing blood flow to both the heart and brain.  Its role 

share the burden of a heavy workload and frequent exami‐

in  intimate  relationships  is  vastly  underestimated  and  it 

nations  are  valuable  sources  of  support.    And  laughter 

really  is  the  glue  of  good  marriages.    This  is  because 

helps establish, and even restore, a positive emotional cli‐

laughter  synchronizes  the  brains  of  speaker  and  listener 

mate and a sense of constructive connection between peo‐

so that they are emotionally attuned. 


  Laughter also improves job performance, especially if the 


work  depends  on  creativity  and  solving  complex  prob‐

laughter is to bring people together.  And that is the main 

lems.    So,  a  shot  of  laughter  is  something  surely  worth 

aim  of  MMSA  and  most  certainly  the  main  aim  of 

giving  especially  during  exam  time.    In  times  of  great 

Sphygmo  for  this  year.    As  Nokia  would  put  it,  MMSA 

stress it is the little things like laughter that would make 

Media  is  all  about  “connecting  people”.    I  just  hope  that 

the world of a difference.   

we have managed to do it successfully this year, and that 

  Of course, the studying is required and the pressures and 

the  new  Meida  Officer  Stefan  Buttigieg  together  with  the 

strains  at  medical  school  remain.    Laughter  does  not  al‐ ways  cast  out  the  fear  of  finals  and,  perhaps,  the  unfair‐ ness of a resit in September.  And despite Sphygmo being  a good crack up, the naked truth is that medical school is  not easy.  And the fact that we are part of an educational  system which is at times contradictory in its expectations 

In fact, some researchers believe that the major function of 

editorial team taking my place will be able to take up this  mantra  again…  Compiling  together  publications  that  will  focus on connecting people.    In the meantime, on behalf of the whole Sphygmo team, I  wish you all the very best of luck in your exams!     

does  not  help.    This  January’s  Student  BMJ  has  pointed  out that students are expected to pass written exams but 


attend  all  clinical  opportunities,  which  is  in  itself  contra‐


dictory. (Sokol and Bowman, 2009) Students may also be 


expected  to  answer  exam  questions  without  resources  to 

Sokol, D. and Bowman, D. (2009) Secrets and Lies.  Student 

hand whilst being taught not to make a decision if  

British Medical Journal. 9: 50–51.    


Lessons on Management Management Crash Course in 6 lessons… Because there’s more to life than just medicine! Lesson 1: A man is getting into the shower just as his wife is finishing up her shower, when the doorbell rings. The wife quickly wraps herself in a towel and runs downstairs. When she opens the door, there stands Bob, the next-door neighbour. Before she says a word, Bob says, 'I'll give you $800 to drop that towel.' After thinking for a moment, the woman drops her towel and stands naked in front of Bob, after a few seconds, Bob hands her $800 and leaves. The woman wraps back up in the towel and goes back upstairs. When she gets to the bathroom, her husband asks, 'Who was that?' 'It was Bob the next door neighbor,' she replies. 'Great,' the husband says, 'did he say anything about the $800 he owes me?' Moral of the story: If you share critical information pertaining to credit and risk with your shareholders in time, you may be in a position to prevent avoidable exposure. Lesson 2: A priest offered a Nun a lift. She got in and crossed her legs, forcing her gown to reveal a leg. The priest nearly had an accident. After controlling the car, he stealthily slid his hand up her leg. The nun said, 'Father, remember Psalm 129?' The priest removed his hand But, ! changing gears, he let his hand slide up her leg again. The nun once again said, 'Father, remember Psalm 129?' The priest apologized 'Sorry sister but the flesh is weak.' Arriving at the convent, the nun sighed heavily and went on her

'OK, you're up,' the Genie says to the manager. The manager says, 'I want those two back in the office after lunch.' Moral of the story: Always let your boss have the first say. Lesson 4: An eagle was sitting on a tree resting, doing nothing. A small rabbit saw the eagle and asked him, 'Can I also sit like you and do nothing?' The eagle answered: 'Sure, why not.’ So, the rabbit sat on the ground below the eagle and rested. All of a sudden, a fox appeared, jumped on the rabbit and ate it. Moral of the story: To be sitting and doing nothing, you must be sitting very, very high up. Lesson 5 A turkey was chatting with a bull. 'I would love to be able to get to the top of that tree' sighed the turkey, 'but I haven't got the energy.' 'Well, why don't you nibble on some of my droppings?' replied the bull. They're packed with nutrients.' The turkey pecked at a lump of dung, and found it actually gave him enough strength to reach the lowest branch of the tree. The next day, after eating some more dung, he reached the second branch. Finally after a fourth night, the turkey was proudly perched at the top of the tree. He was promptly spotted by a farmer, who shot him out of the tree. Moral of the story: Bull S*** might get you to the top, but it won't keep you there. Lesson 6

way. On his arrival at the church, the priest rushed to look up Psalm 129. It said, 'Go forth and seek, further up, you will find glory.' Moral of the story: If you are not well informed in your job, you might miss a great opportunity. Lesson 3: A sales rep, an administration clerk, and the manager are walking to lunch when they find an antique oil lamp. They rub it and a Genie comes out. The Genie says, 'I'll give each of you just one wish.' 'Me first! Me first!' says the admin clerk. 'I want to be in the Bahamas driving a speedboat, without a care in the world.' Puff! She's gone. 'Me next! Me next!' says the sales rep. 'I want to be in Hawaii , relaxing on the beach with my personal masseuse, an endless supply of

A little bird was flying south for the winter. It was so cold the bird froze and fell to the ground into a large field. While he was lying there, a cow came by and dropped some dung on him. As the frozen bird lay there in the pile of cow dung, he began to realize how warm he was. The dung was actually thawing him out! He lay there all warm and happy, and soon began to sing for joy. A passing cat heard the bird singing and came to investigate. Following the sound, the cat discovered the bird under the pile of cow dung, and promptly dug him out and ate him. Morals of the story: (1) Not everyone who s***s on you is your enemy. (2) Not everyone who gets you out of s*** is your friend. (3) And when you're in deep s***, it's best to keep your mouth shut!

Pina Coladas and the love of my life.' Puff! He's gone.



Flying to Italy on  a Four Seater  By Mark Cachia Markham “You want to go?”

modern computers airlines use. On reaching Marina di Ragusa (in the south border of Sicily), approximately forty-five minutes after departure, we headed to Catania, our next waypoint – here we needed to descend to 1500 feet due to low clouds in the area and some restrictions due to the close proximity with other aircraft bound to Catania airport. On our way to Catania, we flew over major cities in Sicily such as Modica and Ragusa.

“Where?” “Can I come?” The guy asking these questions was a friend of mine who, like me, has got to a point where the word “adventure” in any form is most precious – even more so since we have both probably spent the previous six or seven years of our lives obsessed with aviation! Flying an aeroplane became a reality for me at the age of 16. I knew at that time one private pilot who was working with a local flying school. He gave me the news that they will be conducting the course leading to the Private Pilot’s Licence for the first time. I managed to convince my parents to give me the go ahead and

Approximately two hours from departure, at around 9.30am we arrived in Reggio di Calabria. The airport is surrounded on one side by small rocky mountains, while on the other side it is just sea. This made the landing quite interesting. Instead of the usual approach to the runway, where we are lined up with runway well in advance, this airport’s approach path is curved, where only at the last minute you line up with the runway! After landing in Reggio, we headed to the airport’s cafeteria and spent around one hour having some coffee and relaxing. We then proceeded to the parking area. The refuelling of the aircraft was completed

there I was, round about two months later, in the student class-

with ease and after a “crack” with the locals it was time for our

room of our newly established flying school! At the age of 17 I got

next leg, Lamezia. We departed Reggio at around 11.00am, and

my Private Pilot Licence, and this entitled me to fly any small

the flight to Lamezia took us around 50 minutes were we flied

propeller plane such as the Cessna 152 and Cessna 172 – the

north via Rosarno and Mileto. This airfield is very easy to locate

same propeller planes we find on Microsoft’s Flight Simulator!

in terms of navigation. And even if you get lost, you just follow the coast till you eventually see the airport below. We landed in

A few months after getting my licence, I decided to plan a trip to

Lamezia, and since the airport’s parking fee was a bit expensive,

South Italy, together with three other friends, on the four-seater

we just went for a quick walk around the area and sooner than

Cessna 172. Our plan was basically to spend a day airport hop-

later we departed off to our next destination, Crotone which was

ping, starting from Reggio Calabria, Lamezia, Crotone, and end-

only half an hour away. We flew eastwards through pleasant

ing back again in Reggio di Calabria. The day of departure was a

wide valley and rolling hills on either side, with a little more

Friday, and we planned to come back to Malta Saturday evening.

than a minor hint of turbulence, even at a lower level. In what

I remember not being able to sleep the night before with all the

seemed to be a relatively short time of leaving Lamezia, we were

excitement! And my friends also spent the night counting sheep

circling over an artificial lake next to Crotone, before landing on

with no avail!

the tiny asphalt strip.

At around 5.00am, I woke up, made myself a cup of coffee and

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started planning the flight, first by checking the weather and then by planning out the exact route. At around 6.00am, my friends came to pick me up and off we went to the airport! We paid a short visit to the Met Office for the weather briefing. We were informed that the weather was fine and very ideal for flying. Approximately an hour later, we were in the plane and soon later we departed Malta to our first waypoint – Portomaso Tower, after that, it is nothing but a (quite boring) half an hour of plain sea! We climbed to around 4500 feet, and approximately half-way between Malta and Sicily, Mount Etna appears in the distance. This is a very good navigation tool for us pilots since in order to navigate, we rely mostly on visual landmarks rather than the


Flying to Italy on a Four Seater cont.. for some rest, a few minutes away from the airport. The area around the hotel was not so fascinating, we were lucky enough to find this restaurant from where we could buy a pizza! We spent the night exploring the area, though I reluctantly had to call it a day earlier than planned, since I was very tired with all the flying! The next morning, it was time to get back to Malta! We took a taxi to the airport, went through the security checks and headed for the airplane. I asked one guy to refuel our plane to full capacity, and asked one of my friends to close the fuel caps of the fuel tanks. A few minutes later, we departed Reggio di Calabria at around two in the afternoon… Destination Malta!

After landing in Crotone we quickly noticed that this airport

The weather was perfect for flying. But, as soon as we reached

was more like an airfield rather than an airport! There was

the cruising altitude of around 4500 feet, we encountered

absolutely no sign of anything moving! The terminal inside

some unexpected bad weather with a lot of clouds having a

was literally a ghost town, and we thought that, for a second,

base of around 2500 feet. We had just passed Taormina, and

we owned the place! This thought ended soon enough when

the terrain below us was quite hilly, with altitudes reaching an

in the distance, we saw this guy holding a radio in his hand,

average of one thousand feet. Heavy turbulence also started to

accompanied by a small child – presumably his son! After a

kick in, which was not surprising really when looking at all the

quick chat, we realized that this was the guy we were talking

wave lenticular we had around. Since we are not allowed to fly

to on the radio in order to get landing permission! He told us

in the clouds, we had to fly between that small gap of one thou-

that they only get one or two aeroplanes a day, mostly private

sand feet between the terrain and the clouds.

aircraft so it would not be feasible for them to turn this airfield into a fully functional airport. Since it was getting a bit dark, we did not have much time to explore the area! However things were not to follow so smoothly! During the preflight checks, I noted that the amount of fuel we had left in the fuel tanks matched exactly with what we needed for our final flight of the day to Reggio. In short, we had just enough fuel for keep us in the air for two hours! I did not feel very comfortable about it and even though I did not see any fuel trucks around, I asked whether it is possible to get some fuel. Unfortunately, we were told that there is no fuel available at

As one can imagine, this is quite dangerous since we could easily hit something on the ground such as the electricity cables, which are only visible when getting too close to them. At that moment, I asked my friend to take the map and help me out in navigating around, while I concentrated on the flying! The turbulence at one point was so bad, that one of the passengers at the back was becoming very much afraid! Eventually, we were faced with a fierce headwind and the clouds base had increased a couple of feet. So, we climbed to an altitude of three thousand feet to avoid the worst of the bumps lower down.

that airfield! This was a bit shocking for me. Despite this, I decided that with two hours fuel, we will have enough to go to

Finally, after a perilous thirty minute flight above Sicily, we

Reggio even though we would be just on the verge of illegality

emerged out of the “danger zone” and what awaited us was a

to fly with that amount of fuel! Still… I decided we go ahead!

much more beloved Mediterranean sea and clear skies! The

We departed Crotone at around 4.30pm. The flight from Cro-

weather was now absolutely perfect with no turbulence at all. A

tone to Reggio takes around 1 hour 35 minutes, and due to

few minutes later into the flight, we were caught with the com-

the high mountains along the course of the flight, we had to

forting sights of the island of Gozo emerging from the horizon,

climb to 6500 feet!

while Malta soon followed. There was very little wind and the sun was low – the light tobacco-coloured. We coasted over

When we landed in Reggio, I checked how much fuel we had

Portomaso tower, and flew the last three miles into the airport.

left, and to my surprise, we had more than I originally ex-

Neither of us wanted the trip to end, so we flitted about the

pected! We tied the plane down and went straight to our hotel

empty runways before landing in the setting sun.


Aunty Elsa I BITCH THEREFORE I AM I never thought I would actually do this, but I’m going to have to apologise for the last rant I typed out for Sphygmo last Christmas. My nephew said I was a big embarrassment to him! I was rude… Insolent… Cheeky… Grouchy… Just like the rest of his surgeon consultants on a regular ward round day.

blood brain barrier! (Although that could also be lacking.) By the 3 Bs I mean the following: people

But then again… Who cares?

Law school has

have no brains, no balls and no backbone!


taught me the hard way that the best way to prove

problem is everywhere, and it’s spreading like the

your existence is by being an annoying old crabby!

wildest of fires!

And going off my HRT most surely helps. You know what happens when you’re off your HRT, right? Most of you intelligent folk, who study all the time,

The examiners, together with the rest of the public

probably know. But for the benefit of the 3rd year

that have their taxes transformed into stipends,

students who spent more time on YouTube and Bit-

complain that students don’t study. On the other

Torrent rather than in the library, I will take the trou-

hand, students rant about how harsh and unre-

ble of telling you what happens myself…

deeming examiners are demotivating everyone to put their noses in their books. That’s why students came up with this strategy to keep librarians occupied for only one month a year. But what really bothers dear, old-fashioned Aunty ELSA is not that. What really worries her is that due to the lack of the 3 Bs mentioned above, students don’t even need to keep librarians occupied anymore…

Ah yes! Nothing instils as much guilt as a little re-

Here come exams, starting with the war cry of the

minder of the big discrepancy present between

loudest secretary at Medical School. On handing

“how much you planned to study in October” and

out the papers, secretaries leave the talkative in-

“how much you actually did so till May!” It’s how I

vigilators alone.

torment my nephew every single Easter when he stays talking about how great the MMSA Ball was the previous month! They say that the balls are get-

Students are left under the vigi-

lance of people whose only qualification is gossiping at the local church’s square and examination

ting bigger… unlike his! The saddest thing is that this

halls. And it’s not just the student’s knowledge that

is everybody’s problem. The reason why there is so

gets tested in these exams… but also their diligence

much unfairness in the world is because our leaders

and integrity!

and the most seemingly respectable of citizens, like doctors, lack the 3 Bs. And by 3 Bs I don’t mean the

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AUNTY ELSA: I BITCH THEREFORE I AM cont. The toilet throughout the whole of June becomes the

But Aunty ELSA knows better… Instead of repeating

haven of tomorrow’s professionals, and going to the

the year, or re-sitting the whole exam, the guilty stu-

loo becomes a commoner occurrence… For some

dent just re-sits solely that paper where s/he got

people more than others.

caught copying.

Everyone would know

who they are, and they wouldn’t be just ladies who are often considered to have the upper hand. (You

Of course, you’ll get one lecturer with a conscience

see, they can tuck in note cards safely where no-

who wastes her time writing to the Editor of the Times

body will find it, a possibly would not even want to

of Malta to complain about the issue. Hell will break

find it… the bra!

Like they need to!)

lose in the department concerned but the rest of the

Though… people who are very blond have tried hid-

nation just couldn’t be bothered. In the meantime,

ing notes in their boots as well, with the sound of their

students pass and become doctors of medicine.

heels annoyingly going clink clank every time they

They may perhaps leave us alone and go to Eng-

got stuck in a True or False question. (You know, with

land. But then they come back home as consultants

–1 negative marking you cannot afford to get it

to lord over their peers who would have painfully

wrong). Though that should not be a problem when

(and stupidly perhaps) done their work properly over

the weather changes in summer, even for people

the years…


with the weirdest of fashion sense! And the invigilators chat on… Until one fine day, ulterior motives for going to the toilet are discovered and students get caught copying red handed. Any naïve person who hungers for justice glees on the inside, hoping that the person will pay for doing wrong.

Personally I rest my case! Best of luck in your exams. And now that you read my entry… Please do us all a favour, go back to your bloody books and study!


Funny Class Server E E--Mail

Note from the Editor:  Here is an email I once sent to my class server last year, at a time when I  was fed up of having my inbox being spammed with chain letters.  So, I thought of writing one of  my own…      WE ALL THINK OUR LIVES  ARE  HARD!!!! READ BELOW  TO  KNOW  HOW  LUCKY  WE REALLY ARE:      Pray that the Lord Jesus delivers her from her situation...    IF YOU DELETE THIS YOU ARE HEARTLESS!!    Dear Reader,    I  am  a third  year  medical  student  with  a  pea  pod  for  a  brain.  God  has blessed me with  decent  enough grades to  get  me  into  medical  school  at  the  UoM.  Until  recently,  things were going great for me even though I stumbled my  way through the preclinical years.    But now, I have come to realise that there is only so much knowledge that a pea pod can  take and I need a brain transplant.  Doctors say that if I don’t do this, I will be in big trou‐ ble.   But  donors  are  very  hard  to  get  by  and  time  is  pressing.   There  is  a  big  possibility  that I’ll sit for exams starting 30th May without having a decent brain to get me through  third year.      I  know  you  are  not  obligated  to  do  anything.  You  are  free  to  delete  this  email  without  giving it a second thought, but please listen to the cry from a future doctor’s heart! (Yes,  some doctors do have a heart that works).  After all, it’s not my fault that I’ve an ancestry  that stemmed out from some unnourished vegetable patch.      Thankfully,  I  worked  out  a  deal  with  On‐Vol  where  for  every  10  forwards  I  will  get  15  brain cells that can potentially get me by. Please donʹt harden your heart. If you can spare  the  time,  then  send  this  email  to  everyone  on  your  list.  Please,  this  is  crucial!  I  need  a  miracle! God bless you all!  Sincerely,  McNerdy 


Accademic Corner


Note from the Editor: This useful article has been taken from the blog Anatomy and More (, which seems to be inactive… This is in fact the most recent blog post. (Please note the date of posting…) Some points have been altered to make them more relevant to us medics.

Friday, May 23, 2008 It's That Time of the Year Again Assumptions: The exam will be a time-pressured knowledge evaluation. The exam will cover a large amount of material and there isn’t much time to study for it. Such a situation will require the level of intensity outlined in this handout. Strategy: Maximize your performance by taking command of all the factors under YOUR control and using them to your advantage. 1. Get a good night’s sleep (at least 6 hours) the evening before the test, even if it means studying a little less material. Pulling an “all-nighter” may sound enthralling and romantic, but that technique is an act of desperation and rarely works the way you want it to. Remember: “Well rested, well tested.” 2. On the day of the test, if there is time, go over the material you didn’t get to the night before, if any. If you covered everything, go over it once more to load it into your “high memory.” This will reduce your recall time and thereby free up more time to work on the questions/problems for which you aren’t as well-prepared. 3. Leave so that you will get to the testing centre early. If you leave so that you’ll get there merely on time, if there is any unforeseen problem (heavy traffic, etc.), you will increase your anxiety and stress level immeasurably and unnecessarily. Incidentally, if you DO find yourself stuck in traffic somewhere, try to sit back and relax – realize that there is absolutely nothing you can do about it and you’ll get there when you get there. 4. Be physically prepared for the exam – food and drink. Don’t starve yourself and don’t overeat – have a light snack before the test and perhaps a caffeinated beverage to “keep you sharp” throughout the exam. Don’t get a super-jumbo size, however, or you’ll be getting up to pee every 15 minutes. 5. Be physically prepared for the exam – sickness. Don’t make your sickness a distraction during the test. So figure out what your symptoms are and use chemicals to combat and neutralize them. You may need the doctor’s advice for that… we haven’t graduated yet! 6. Be physically prepared for the exam – other. Wear comfortable clothing to the test and make sure you evacuate thyself in all ways before the test. The idea is to conserve as much testing time as possible. Note from the Editor: You may even want to bring a battery operated light source with you for when the lights go off during the exam. It sounds far fetched but it happened just before starting our ENT exam last January… 7. Turning off your cell-phone/beeper/watch alarm BEFORE the exam starts. This is an exam regulation, so respect it. If you think ambient noise might be an issue during the test, bring earplugs with you. Remember: YOU are in charge of YOUR OWN examination environment. If it isn’t ideal, take command of the factors you can control and make it as good as it can be.

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EXAM TIPS cont. 8. Be well-supplied – writing materials: several ballpoint pens (in case one runs dry) either black or blue ink; other colours smack of a lack of professionalism. You may need pencils and a decent rubber. 9. Be well-supplied – other materials. Rulers are handy when graphs are called for. Check whether you’ll be needing a calculator for your exam. If so, bring a good one whose batteries are nowhere near dead and be familiar with the operation of said calculator i.e. don’t borrow one the night before the test. Bring a watch with you as well. (see 17 and 18). 10. Page-check your exam when you get it… Most invigilators will instruct you to do so anyway so that you won’t be the first one out of the exam only to discover you had page 4 missing. Also, the page-check is a good time to get a feel for the exam itself. 11. Don’t forget to write your index number (and name) on every exam sheet and/or booklet when provided. 12. Answer every question. For Pete’s sake, write down SOMETHING. You cannot get any credit for a blank space; however, if you wrote down a key word or tricky phrase and a partial-credit point value was associated with that word/phrase in the answer key, then you may just get some points for it, even if you didn’t know what the hell you were talking about. On True/False questions, unless it’s absolutely 100% True, it’s False. On multiple-choice questions, if you can eliminate even one wrong answer selection, you’ve increased your probability of guessing the right answer. Remember to look for the answer selection that BEST answers the question. More than one may be true, but only one is the right answer. Note that you may even be able to use other questions in the exam against answer selections in a particular question to rule them out, if the exam was poorly written. It’s not your fault that question three’s phrasing essentially gave you the answer to question eight - that’s someone else’s problem. Take full advantage of the opportunity; others will. 13. Make sure you answer all parts of the question and answer what the question asks, not what you want to talk about. 14. Don’t forget about UNITS. The GFR is not measured in nothings, it’s measured in mL/min/1.73 m2. It will score you extra brownie points in your physiology and medicine papers. 15. When drawing diagrams, especially for your physiology papers… Label it!!! Remember that a picture is worth a thousand words… And it would be worth much more if properly labelled. 16. Use all of the available time. If you finish early, go back through the test and make sure you’ve answered everything. And for essay-type questions, READ WHAT YOU HAVE WRITTEN BEFORE TURNING IT IN. 17. Manage your time. It makes no sense to spend 20 minutes on a 5 point question during an hour-long, 100 point exam. You can do the division and budgeting up front and write out your plan on a piece of your scratch paper. If you ran out of the allocated time and you still are nowhere with the question, drop it for later. 18. Do the questions with the maximum number of marks FIRST. After all, there’s no law that says you have to work the problems in the order they appear. It’s better to run out of time and tank one of the paddy-little questions than to tank a high-value question. 19. If you find yourself freezing up or panicking because you’ve flipped through the exam and think you don’t know any of it, try to relax. And locate a question you think you have a chance at--read it carefully and start working on it. Focus. Don’t worry about what you don’t know; work on what you do know. Once you’ve regained control of yourself and have calmed down, become mindful once again of the relative point values and the time available – then act accordingly. All-in-all, remember that your goal is to minimize your point loss or, in other words, maximize your points awarded. You have a certain level of knowledge. The exam requires a certain level of knowledge. Many times, the exam’s level will be higher. What you need to do is make sure that what you appear to know is reflective of 100% of what you do know (or maybe a little more, if you can manage it!) You do this by making your work easy to read and follow and by answering every question to the best of your ability.


After all, your apparent knowledge is the product of your actual knowledge and your test-taking skill. Your average idiot’s test taking skill is a number less than 1.0. Make sure that your test taking skill is a number greater than or at least equal to 1.0.


The medical course is known to be a tough one. Not only because there is so much to study, but because we sometimes find it hard to live up to what we study. Marija Agius writes about the possibility of the equation “Medicine + Sports = Possible!” based on an interview

Scene of the first brief stop at daybreak in Marsascala on Dr. Mamo’s

with Dr. Julian Mamo.

first round Malta by kayak experience

“The best sermons are lived not preached.”

Dr. Roger Bannister- London neurologist. He was the first man to run one mile in less than 4 minutes in1954

All doctors say (or at least should say) to their patients that

ner in ice skating in the 1956 Olympics in Italy

sports are good for them. But hearing this phrase from a ‘Hulk- like’ doctor, who perhaps even wears an awful

Tenley Albright- General surgeon. Gold Medal win-

Eric Heiden- Orthopaedic consultant. In 1980 he

stench of tobacco smoke is not really ideal. What if doctors

won all five speed skating events at distances of

really practice what they preach? Even though physical ac-

500, 1000, 1500, 5000 and 10,000 meters

tivity is not practiced by every doctor, some really do what they tell others to do.

Tim Brabants - British doctor working in emergency medicine who arrived 3rd in a 500m kayak race, in Olympics 2008

Sports… Many of us would scoff the idea aside thinking that sports are for those who are not busy as us in the medical

But… Let us now turn the spotlight on some local talent…

course! Despite having too many pages waiting to be read by you from Snell and Kumar at a first glance, taking up a

Dr. Julian Mamo- 21.1km half marathon run in 89 min-

sport is possible after all! Bear in mind that it is not me

utes in 1995, co-organised a football tournament for all

who is saying this, but people who are medical profession-

medical students in 1981, won a 8th September National

als like ourselves and have managed to integrate their busy

Regatta medal in a medics-only gig (boat) as a 4th year

lives with sports.

medical student; conducted a fundraising kayak event for a girl with cerebral palsy by going round Malta in his kayak in record time in 2008 - his third time round Malta since 2000. As a younger doctor, he represented Malta at football Medical World Cups on more than one occasion. Already quite an impressive mouthful is it? And yet, he is a man with very busy life who manages to insert everything into something all of us have – a 7-day week with 24 hours in each day! So he is not a man privileged in having extra time… He just prioritizes and schedules eve-

September 2007: Start of the 27Km Valletta - St.Paul’s bay and back kayak race, Dr. Mamo is the one in the yellow kayak


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Impossible is Nothing cont.

Of course, I was very curious in knowing how it was possi-

In a few lines, this doctor is a Family Doctor working in

ble to do all the things he did, and still have time to study

the community, Head of the University Department of

and also get married. Dr. Mamo is a qualified medic, hav-

Public Health, President of the Malta Association of Pub-

ing done a post-graduate University of London Masters

lic Health Medicine (MAPHM) and President of Malta

degree in Epidemiology and PhD… And doing the PhD

Canoe Federation (he was also a pioneer of Canoe polo in

whilst working as a full time GP!

Malta). A one hour interview with Dr. Julian Mamo was all I required to get an idea of how many things can possi-

I also asked about his family and how much it meant to

bly to be done within an ordinary 7-day week.

him, to which he replied that, of course, his family is his number one priority. However, he said that sport helps

Dr. Mamo started by telling me that if you want to get

him to be a better person for his family – here referring to

things done, you have to appoint a time. That is… You

sports being a stress-blasting activity.

have to schedule it! I quote him in saying, “Jekk ikolli cans [in English ‘If I find a time slot’] never happens.”

I finally concluded the interview by asking him if he had

You have to give sports its importance. Once you schedule

any advice for us medical students who find it really hard

it - keep it there!”

to get on the move. Here is his secret recipe:

Dr. Mamo had this passion for sports since he was very

- Seek out a sport you enjoy

young. As a child, he used to play football with his father

- Sports is a way to meet new people – it is a social event

in the weekends. Apart from football, he tried many other

- Establish medium term sports goals so that you always

sports as a student including fencing, running, tennis, and

have something to give you

of course canoeing. He emphasized in saying that chang-

- Schedule it

ing sports is good so that you get a feel of what you like

- Have fun – It’s also good for you!

that extra push

most, because, as he said more than once, sport is fun. Apart from enjoying sports, Dr. Mamo listed many other beneficial aspects about sports, including that it releases adrenaline, relieving stress and that it is one of the best addictions you could have. Once you get used to it, you will feel that something is missing if you skip a day or session. Dr Mamo also referred to an event way back when he was still a medical student. They had organised a football

The start of the double 3Km race in 2007.Dr. Mamo is top of the photo, in the front seat of the red doubles. The German champions are in front in white

league for the entire class and they also took part twice in


the National 8th September Regatta – once as University

Information sources: - Doctors as Athletes-Review & Commentary- Hershko-

team mixed as 3rd years and then as Medics only in 4th

witz, Melvin (Nov 2005)

year. In the former instance they lost but in the latter they

- Doctor in the medals again as Tim Brabants follows up

beat the Armed Forces, Banks, St. Aloysius and University

with a bronze- By Brough Scott (August 2008)

teams to become National Gig Racing Champions!

- Photos provided by Dr. Julian Mamo


Pearls of Wisdom for exams For your entertainment a WHOLE page of priceless knowledge Dr. Ali on collagen… “THERE ARE ABOUT 20 TYPES OF COLLAGEN.... WHEN I WAS A STUDENT THERE WAS ONLY ONE.... BY THE TIME YOU DO YOUR EXAM THERE WILL BE MORE. SO WRITE WHATEVER NUMBER YOU LIKE!”







Medical Equipment


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