Frequently Asked Questions
- Is caffeine a smart way to ensure I can stay up to study? There just aren’t enough hours in the day to finish all this reading!
While caffeine can give you a quick boost at the time, it can “boomerang” on you later. A small amount of caffeine has been shown to help increase short term memory, however, a large amount of caffeine has diminishing returns, not to mention the jittery feelings that can result. So when you feel sleepy or unable to study, try taking a brief walk, or exercising a bit. Sometimes eating a healthy snack that includes protein, such as cheese or nuts can re-energize you. Stay away from sugar as a substitute for caffeine – it will give you a boost immediately, but will result in a drop in blood sugar later. Overall, try to plan enough hours of sleep so that you can be effective in your studies. One hour of studying when you are awake and alert is likely worth several studying when you are completely exhausted.
- What exactly does a panic attack look like? How can I tell if I’m having one and what should I do if I am in the middle of one?
Panic attacks can be different for each person. However, a panic attack is considered a “discrete period of intense fear or discomfort” that has developed suddenly, and escalates rapidly. Common symptoms are: palpitations, pounding heart, accelerated heart rate, sweating, trembling or shaking, shortness of breath; feeling of being smothered, choking, chest pain or discomfort, nausea, feeling lightheaded, dizzy or faint, feeling detached from oneself, fear of losing control, going crazy or dying; numbness or tingling sensations, and chills or hot flashes. To be classified as a panic attack, only four of the above symptoms need be present. Panic attacks are frightening to the person having them, and to the people around them. To further complicate matters, many of the above symptoms can also indicate a heart attack. The best thing to do is to call your doctor, or go to an emergency room to be assessed at the time. Later, if you are diagnosed as having had a panic attack, consult a trusted therapist in order to receive appropriate treatment and to work through the issues that prompt the attacks.
- Medical school is stressful. That’s a given. But, what suggestions do you have to relieve some of that stress (without spending money)?
Common and very useful ways to release stress include exercise, stress management techniques such as deep breathing, muscle relaxation, biofeedback and visual imagery. Many people find talking with a loved one helpful in reducing stress. Getting a hug from someone you love, or playing with the dog can be a great way to reduce stress as well. Also, reducing caffeine and alcohol use can help your body (and you!) feel less stressed overall.
- What resources does KUMC have if I’m feeling excessively stressed?
If your stress has reached a level you find worrisome, you can always talk with someone at Counseling and Educational Support Services. The staff there can work directly with your stress to teach you helpful techniques you can use at home. They can also help you address any problems or concerns that may be adding to your stress.
- I’m new to the Kansas City area and I’m having trouble meeting anyone who is single. Any advice?
Student groups often include many single people. If you are a person of faith, research singles activities at your church. Get to know people that have been in Kansas City for awhile, and ask them to introduce you to friends. Do something you love, and perhaps you’ll meet “like-minded” others while doing it.
- Is it appropriate to ask someone their sexuality? Or is that being too intrusive?
That can be a tricky thing. If your intent is to ascertain whether or not it is appropriate to ask someone out, consider getting to know them. Likely it will become clear. If it’s only out of curiosity, consider the effect you might have on the person. Many people are uncomfortable with speaking openly of their sexuality with someone, whether they are gay or straight.
- What advice do you have to keep the “spark” in a long-distance relationship?
Sometimes it’s easier to keep the spark in a long-distance relationship – you don’t have to address the daily issues like who does the laundry, or walks the dog. Longing for each other can make those times when you are together even more special. If it is hard to re-adjust when you see each other, spend some time just quietly talking and getting “reacquainted”. People seem to need some time to re-adjust after time apart, so be patient with each other. Also, find ways to stay in close contact in between visits. With email and cell phone free long distance, it is easier than ever before to stay in touch. And just surprise your partner sometimes with something special to them – just because.
- My husband and I just don’t communicate anymore. I feel like the stresses of school are to blame. I don’t want to get a divorce, but I’m just not happy with our current situation. What can I do? I’ve tried to force him to tell me what’s wrong, but he seems to be avoiding my questions.
Many couples struggle with communication. One partner often feels a strong need to talk, and the other may be more private. Forcing people to talk rarely works. It might be helpful to express your own concerns in a clear, calm manner when neither of you are upset. For example, saying to your husband “I’m worried that something is wrong between us. I’d really like for us to talk about it. When do you think we could do that? I’m hoping that if something is wrong we can address it together. ” One of the most common reasons cited for couples counseling is lack of communication. If it has gotten to the point where you don’t feel the two of you can work through things on your own, consider contacting Counseling and Educational Support Services for an appointment with a trained therapist.
- My sweety says I study too much. Do you think it’s okay to look at Anatomy flashcards during our Friday night dinner together? She says it’s wrong, but I told her this is who I am now and she needs to work on being more accepting. What’s your perspective?
Couples often have conflict over commitments than one or both people have. Perhaps your sweety is feeling like the two of you don’t have enough time together, and that she looks forward to the Friday night dinner as one time you can be together. If that dinner time is not a good one for you, why not sit down with her, and try to negotiate enough time for you both – together time and study time. Learning how to compromise so both partners are mostly ok is a useful process in helping relationships flourish.
- Is couple’s counseling is available for couples with problems? How do I sign us up?
Couples counseling is available to you at the Counseling and Educational Support Services. You are always welcome to call and schedule an initial appointment with one of the qualified therapists at SCESS. Darcie Bubolz, the administrative specialist, can be reached at 913 588 6580. She will schedule a time that is convenient for you and your partner or spouse, and let you know how to proceed.
- What are some cheap, fun date ideas?
Kansas City is rife with entertainment options. If you like art, you have many choices. The first Friday of each month, year round, the Crossroads District in downtown Kansas City sponsors an art crawl. Many galleries are open, and often original art is debuted during that time. Trolleys run to the different galleries, and people watching is at least as fun as the art! Any gallery will have a map of the district, and the art openings are often listed in the Kansas City Star Preview section. The Kemper Museum of Modern Art is always free, and often has interesting and provocative art. The Henry Moore Sculpture Garden at the Nelson Atkins Museum is a great, fun outdoor activity on a nice day. Certain bars in Kansas City feature great local musicians, either free, or very reasonably. The Kansas City Zoo, or the American Royal can also be fun and different.
- How exactly do people find time to cook a healthy meal when fast food or take out is so much quicker?
The trick is to prepare ahead. Some people find it really helpful, cheaper, and more appetizing to cook ahead than to eat fast food all the time. For example, try grilling 4 or 5 chicken breasts (or enough for you and your family to have leftovers) Sunday night with some vegetables. On Monday you can use some of the chicken in a colorful and healthy salad. On Tuesday you could make chicken tortillas, since the chicken is already cooked it is simply an assembly job. The final leftovers on Wednesday could go in a chicken stew. Or cook ahead and freeze individual portions. Vegetarian lasagna or chili make great “frozen entrees” that beat tv dinners! You can also utilize “convenience food” from the grocery store. Many salads, and other meal ingredients now come “pre-cut” and ready for use.
- Any advice on how to retain all this information we are suppose to memorize would be greatly appreciated!
Retention of information: What we know from educational research is that information will be remembered longer if the brain is in a state of arousal when the information is introduced. Thus, it needs to be inputted with active learning. This means by discussion, teaching, hands-on experiences, drawing out of processes. Reading notes, highlighting books, cramming for exams is passive and will not promote retention. Get a white board and begin drawing as you talk about the information. Try flashcards which you can use at the gym. The only drug which enhances retention is glucose. So load with glucose before an exam.
- I know that we have an education center on campus that helps with study aids. But, I feel like I’m admitting failure if I go there. Will anyone know if I’m being seen by the education center?
The education support services, like the counseling services at KU, are confidential. No one will know you have sought help unless you tell them. Typically students seek educational help to enhance their performance in the various programs offered at KUMed. It is not because they are failing. Conversely, it is because they want to do their study better and be more effective in their course work.
- Realistically, how long should I be able to study and actually retain what I’m reading? How early should I start studying for a test?
Realistically, you should not study or read longer than an hour without taking a break. Ideally, you should do review each day so you don’t have to cram for tests during the last week or days.
- Do you have any tips on how to study in the shower?
Study in the shower can be a slick deal. I would try to recall information you reviewed the night before and give an animated lecture as the water flows over you. It is a great opportunity to recall processes and content without having the books there to check. If you are unsure of a piece, it will fester and then when you are out of the shower, you can check to see if you were right.
- What should I do if I can’t focus but need to keep studying?
You need to change your tactic. If you cannot focus, the way you are studying is too passive!
- How often should I take study breaks?
You cannot sustain study longer than one hour. The ideal time will differ among students. Many students study for 50 minutes and take a 10 minute break. If your mind begins to wander at 30 or 40 minutes, take a break then. Then try to add a few minutes to that the next day and gradually you can build up your attention span. But no one can study for 3 hours straight and say they were “on” for the entire time. It is more effective to take scheduled breaks.
- Do you have any last minute study tips?
There are no last minute study tips. If you wait for the last minute, you missed the boat!
- Are there specific foods that increase your memory?
The only food which aids in putting content into long term memory and likewise aids in retrieval is GLUCOSE! Be sure you have some on board before a test!
Maintaining a Healthy Weight
- How do I know when I’m no longer hungry?
Satiety is the term used to describe the condition of being full or satisfied. When possible the best solution is to never “feel” hungry. This can be achieved by eating several small healthy snacks and meals throughout the day. Another helpful hint is to eat slowly so your stomach has time to digest and send precise signals to the brain that you have reached satiety.
- Should I eat something before I hit the gym for a workout? What is the best thing to eat?
Scheduling exercise into a busy lifestyle is one challenge, and planning meals and snacks around the exercise is a second one. Eating too much food or the wrong food before exercise can impair your performance or cause indigestion, sluggishness, and vomiting. On the other hand, if you haven't eaten in six hours and try to work out, you may feel weak and unmotivated. Timing is important!! Keep these tips in mind:
- A high carbohydrate, low fat snack is easily digested
- Avoid fatty meals or snacks, they delay stomach emptying
- Meal should be moderate in protein, just enough to satisfy hunger
- Drink lots of fluids
- Milk and12 crackers, 2 tbsp. peanut butter (54 grams carb)
- Banana and yogurt (56 grams)
- Bagel with jelly and juice (83 grams)
- Cereal (1 oz.) and milk (34 grams)
- Juice and pretzels (50 grams)
- Sports drink, 16 oz (30 grams)
- Power bar and water (20-50 grams)
- Fresh fruits such as oranges or bananas (15-25 grams per)
- Vegetable, chicken noodle or tomato soup and crackers (40-50 grams)
- Blueberry muffin or fig bars and milk (45 grams)
- I’m never hungry in the morning, but I’ve read that people who eat breakfast are more successful at maintaining a healthy weight. How long can I wait after waking up to eat, and still have it be considered “breakfast”? For example- if I get up at 7am and eat at 10am, am I getting the benefits of “breakfast” still?
Eating breakfast is a key component to eating healthy. Typically people consume about the same caloric intake day in and day out. With that in mind, it is best to eat a good healthy breakfast so your body can jump start it’s metabolism and start using those calories earlier in the day. For instance, if you are going to consume 2000 calories today, it would be best to start consuming some of those calories in the morning so they are being used throughout the day as opposed to consuming the bulk of the calories in the evening before going to bed. The sooner you start consuming calories the sooner you start using them and the sooner your body becomes alert and responsive.
- Is it true that I’ll burn more calories by eating RIGHT after a workout?
There is no research available that suggest that one would burn more calories by eating right after a workout.
- What do you think about all this Low Carb stuff now available at the grocery store? Is it worth my time to investigate? Some of it seems pricey but I want to be healthy.
I have two main concerns with the Low Carb stuff in the grocery stores. The first is that the food industry has jumped on this band wagon with questionable tactics. Labeling of these new lines of products is inconsistent and confusing. The FDA has not determined how many "carbs" a food can have and be labeled low-carb. The practice of listing "net" carbs on the label uses shaky science. Some labels omit sugar alcohols and fiber from the total carb count while others omit fiber alone. In other cases, the food isn't significantly lower in carbs than the original version. Salad Dressing is an example. A national brand of salad dressing has a "Carb Smart" version that has zero grams of carbs while the original version has one gram of carbs. For that minuscule difference, the consumer is charged 70% more for a bottle of the "Carb Smart" version. The second concern is the idea that you can have your cake and eat it too. Have people been successful on the low carbs diets because they ate fewer calories partly as a result of cutting back on snack foods like cookies and cake? If low-carb versions of those foods are included in one's diet, it would be expected that the caloric deficit would be smaller, leading to less weight lost. You can have very healthy eating habits without having to buy the re-engineered foods. I recommend that you look for whole grains as much as possible in breads, cereals, and pastas. Cook with brown rice and whole wheat flour as much as possible. Avoid foods with a lot of added sugar. Eat at least five servings of fruits and vegetables and three servings of skim-milk based dairy foods daily. Some of these strategies may cost a bit more, but nowhere near what you might pay for the speciality foods, like $5.50 for a package of six low-carb bagels.
- Is it true that late night eating means weight gain? I’ve always heard that if you eat after a certain time at night- say 8pm- it just sits in your stomach all night and turns to fat.
Yes and no. The time isn't as important as the distribution of calories throughout the day. A trap that many people fall into either because of busy schedules or wanting to lose weight is to eat very little throughout the day and then pig out in the evening. The next morning, that person may find it easy to skip breakfast due to not being hungry and possibly feeling guilty due to the amount eaten the previous night. Every time you eat, your metabolic rate increases as your body processes the food. If you eat 5-6 small meals throughout the day, this happens more often than if you eat 2-3 times per day. This is metabolic increase is especially important in the morning, making breakfast a very important meal. That's not to say that if you get home at 9:00 pm, to just skip dinner and go to bed hungry. If you have eaten an adequate amount of food during the day, a light meal or snack should be enough. People who eat while studying or to get through an overnight shift often gain weight because they are consuming more calories over a 24 hour period.
- Which do you think is less fattening, Burger King or Wendy’s?
Let’s compare a traditional combo from each restaurant. The Whopper Combo (Burger King) has 1240 calories and 49 grams of fat compared to the Classic Combo (Wendy’s) which has 940 calories and 34 grams of fat. Both sandwiches include only the beef patty and bun (no extras). Now let’s compare a salad from both places. A Burger King side garden salad has 140 calories and 10 fat grams. A Wendy’s side salad has 260 calories and 23 fat grams. As you can see, the calorie and fat intake differs from place to place and is based on menu selection. For more information, check out the homepage of each restaurant: http://www.bk.com/index.aspx and http://www.wendys.com
- How do I maintain a healthy weight with so many free lunches available?!
One recommendation is to eat in moderation. Typically the portions that are served do not accurately represent a single serving size (they are typically 2-3 serving sizes). Try eating half of the meal for lunch and the other half for dinner. Another idea is to eat a healthy snack beforehand. By doing this you will not be as hungry and won’t over indulge.
- What are good foods to eat while studying?
Fresh fruits and vegetables are great snacks for studying. Spice them up by adding a small amount of peanut butter or ranch dressing. Dry cereal, crackers and pretzels are other healthy snack ideas.
- How do you maintain a healthy weight with such a busy schedule?
The key is finding time to schedule in regular physical activity. This doesn’t necessarily mean spending 1 ½ hours in the gym. If you have 10 minutes during the day, go for a walk. Do this three times throughout the day and you’ll have 30 minutes of cardiovascular activity. You can also fit in activity during study breaks. Find a partner (maybe a classmate or coworker) to hit the gym or go for a walk with you. Another idea is to combine your physical activity with studying and/or recreation. You can study or watch T.V while you’re exercising.
- I’ve heard that your body will adjust to exercise so you need to vary it up every few weeks. But, it seems like it’s just getting harder and harder and there comes a point where I just can’t lift any more weight or run another mile. Do I really need to keep pushing myself constantly to reap any benefit?
It is true that you should mix things up or “cross train” to prevent both boredom and injury. However, this can be done in multiple ways (not just heavier weight and or running 1 more mile). Interval training is a great way to mix up your current routine. This can be accomplished by adding high and low intensities throughout your workout (example sprint a lap then walk/jog a lap or increase the treadmill incline for 1 minute then decrease the incline for 1 minute). Not only will this provide a new and creative spark to your program but it’s an effective workout. Another suggestion is to combine your strength training and cardio. Perform 2-3 sets on any given exercise and jog/run a lap. Repeat until you have finished all of your sets. The key to any exercise program is to be creative and find activities that you enjoy.
- My feet sometimes fall asleep when I’m doing aerobic activity- especially on the treadmill and the stair climber. What’s going on?
This is a common complaint when performing any type of repetitive motion (often seen on the elliptical as well). As blood is being pumped by the heart it starts to pool around the working muscle groups and is not effectively being returned to the rest of the body. By merely stepping off of the piece of equipment for 10-15 seconds and shaking out your legs you should then be ready to resume activity, symptom free. This is not an uncommon complaint but should be more thoroughly examined if it becomes a consistent reoccurrence.
- What’s better? The indoor track or the treadmill? I’ve only got 30 minutes to exercise. Should I concentrate on aerobics? Stretching? Weight lifting? I want to lose weight!
The key is a combination of cardiovascular exercise and strength training. If you are merely looking to lose weight, there is a direct correlation with cardiovascular activity. However, if you’ve hit a plateau in your workout, incorporating strength training might be the key. Strength training will speed up the weight loss process by increasing your metabolism. Individuals that have more lean muscle mass (developed through strength training) will burn more calories at rest (and any other time throughout the day) than someone that has less lean muscle mass.
- How important is regular exercise? It seems like there is no time now that school is in full swing!
We could go on and on about the short and long-term benefits of exercise (reduces resting and exercise heart rate, increases strength of the heart, reduces resting blood pressure, reduces risk of premature hardening of arteries, reduces serum cholesterol and triglyceride levels, important for long term weight management, increases self confidence, decreases risk of CVD & other major illnesses, improves sleep, increases endurance, increases flexibility and strength, decreases stress, etc.). With all of these benefits the best reason of all to exercise is that it makes you feel better (internally and externally).
- Is there a charge to use Kirmayer? Can my spouse/significant other come with me to work the fat off my butt and thighs?
Kirmayer is available to any affiliate of KUMC. There is a charge based on the length of the membership you choose. All KUMC students are assessed a fee through their tuition for the use of Kirmayer. Therefore, all students are automatically members. All members can sponsor a spouse or significant other. Prices and other information are available at the Kirmayer Administrative Office.
- Where are good places to run/bike/play tennis/swim near KUMC? I want outside places.
Running: There are some nice routes if you go south and west of the Medical Center. At one time we had maps of a 4 mile, 5.5 mile and 7 mile run from the Kirmayer Fitness Center. If you want a softer surface, Mill Creek Park at 47 & Wornall and Loose Park at 51st and Wornall have running paths with a rubberized surface.
Biking: If you ride early on a Saturday or Sunday, you can ride to downtown KC MO and even to the River Market area. Another nice destination is the Prairie Village shops via Mission Hills. You can also ride through the Nelson Art/UMKC/Brookside corridors. There are a lot of side streets that parallel the main thoroughfares for several miles.
Tennis: There are tennis courts at the Plaza, just south of 47th & Main. I believe that there are also courts at Rosedale Park.
Swimming: The closest outdoor pool to KUMC is the Roeland Park Pool. They take the dome off in the summer. Another nearby pool is the Prairie Village pool near 77th and Mission. The daily rate for both of these pools is $5. Both pools offer season passes as well.
Kansas City has several good trails, with more under construction as part of the Metro Green initiative. Check the website below for maps of these trails: www.marc.org/metrogreen
- How much does the average student exercise each week?
Due to the limitations of our software and other tracking sources, we are unable to accurately answer this question.
Questions to the Student Wellness Committee
- Would the student wellness program consider no longer offering brochures on Emergency Contraception? The information in the brochures is debatable.
The Student Wellness Program offers a variety of brochures, including information on Emergency Contraception. The committee appreciates the debate around this brochure- specifically, the question of whether or not Emergency Contraception can be considered an abortion. While the Emergency Contraception brochure may challenge an individual's personal belief, the information in the brochure is consistent with the medical standard of practice and does not provide false information. While the Student Wellness Committee wants to validate students’ feelings and value system, we also find it necessary to provide information so students can make an informed decision. All students are encouraged to explore their own personal values regarding contraception and the pro-life vs pro-choice debate. As healthcare professionals, you should know your comfort level and own sexual values when working with patients. If you seek additional information about exploring your personal values, be sure to contact the Counseling Center at 588-6580.