Thursday, 31 January 2008

Kidneys - What Do They Do?

As finals are approaching fast, we're having a series of revision sessions from consultants. Yesterday's we had 2 hours on kidneys. This seems to be a notriously neglected topic by medical students, at least at my medical school. I remember back in 1st year we had a PBL case on the kidney and we were supposed to learn EVERYTHING about the kidney in a week or so with no support lectures whatsoever. I gave up before i'd even began and along with many of my collegues ended up neglecting the kidneys entirely. Fast forward 4 years to last night and this revision session was more like a first-vision.

The session itself was very useful and I feel that I learnt quite a lot. If only we'd had lectures on the kidney 4 years ago... perhaps PBL wasn't the best choice for me. I have an amazing ability to remember stupid facts that i'll probably never need to know, this is at the expense of remembering useful concepts. I haven't got the foggiest idea about renal physiology, I just about know my proximal from my distal tubule but other than that its just a load of wee.

I can tell you how many people are waiting for a kidney transplant and how long transplants last
(god knows why I remember that!) - but I can't tell you anything about ADH.

I've decided to pretend that kidneys don't exist - its much easier that way. I guess a career in renal is out then.

14 comments:

Michael said...

*desperately resisting urge to make jokes involving urine*

The Shrink said...

What? We have to learn about all these squidgy inside bits? That is so unfair ;-)

dr_dyb said...

I can't resist: "What do kidneys do?"

"They take the P*** out of you"

Literally and when studying them. as soon as you think you have the concept sorted you mess it up.

I only vaguely got a handle on it when we had a scary scenario involving renal, cardio and respiratory....when a fault in one caused knock on in the other 2. IIRC a renal disease made the Px present with Hx of breathlessness.

ditzydoctor said...

i HATE renal physiology - makes ABSOLUTELY no sense to me. eurgh.

better hope a renal case won't come out for your exams then! ;)

Ms-Ellisa said...

I hate kidneys too... I've been avoiding them successfully until last May. I studied them, sat the exam, and then kept on avoiding them.

Hopefully till next March.

Beach Bum said...

As much as a despise some of our lectures/lecturers, I think that we're getting a much more comprehensive education than leaving it up to the PBL gods.

I guess there are pros and cons. Good luck.

studentdoctoruk said...

Renal is definately a universally neglected topic. The only thing I can really remember is a pneumonic I used at GCSE!

My Auntie Mrs Rogers
(More ADH More Reabsorption)

I think I need to 2 hour renal session too!

Good luck with the exams!

PhD scientist said...

Yes, acid-base balance is a salutory less in how "all them bits" interact, DrDyb (and LM)!!

IMHO, one of the problems occurred when the renal physiologists really started to get a handle on the molecular basis of renal function (in any nephron segment you care to name), and then insisted students couldn't just approach the kidney as a "black box" any more. The Black Box approach had a certain amount going for it, and enabled people to graps the basic principles... with later addition of molecular "as necessary"... although some molecular-level understanding was always needed for appreciating how the drugs acted.

But I think we can all agree that lots of information in one week combined with no explanation at all is not a desperately helpful way to approach it.

I always found reckoned the kidney is one of those subjects where you almost don't want a renal person to teach it to you - at least in yr 1 or 2, because they often cannot bring themselves to simplify it enough to make it comprehensible.

missbliss said...

"I only vaguely got a handle on it when we had a scary scenario involving renal, cardio and respiratory....when a fault in one caused knock on in the other 2. IIRC a renal disease made the Px present with Hx of breathlessness."

This has made me have a sudden sadness, as I realise House has not been on for. far. too. long.

Harry said...

Q: What's grey, sits at the end of the bed and takes the piss?

A: A dialysis machine.

I absouletly, completely and utterly do not understand renal physiology. I did do a bit in my old Biomed degree but it all seemed to be concentration gradients and membranes and yaaaaaaaaaawn.

In short, I can see myself in your shoes 4 years from now!

Jen said...

Christopher Lote, Renal Physiology - my dad's a professor of nephrology so however PBL'd I was, I wasn't going to get away without knowing the kidney. Actually a very nice, slim little read, and I fell in love with kidneys and now can't stop recommending it ;)

jessica said...

"I have an amazing ability to remember stupid facts that i'll probably never need to know, this is at the expense of remembering useful concepts."

SIGH. Same here. I could totally win a game of Jeopardy with all the useless, random facts I know.

PhD scientist said...

Oops - I'm pretty sure I've met Chris Lote but have to admit I've never read the book.

Will have to go and check it out in the bookshop now someone's actually recommended it...

Tayaki said...

i like renal physiology...i can't believe i put that in writing. the counter-current system and ADH, renin, etc. were the only things i understood in our Introduction to Fluids and Pharmacology module last semester.

endocrinology on the other hand, blows.