Hello everyone! I have finally emerged from my cocoon of studying for my last few exams and practicals of the year. So I thought it would be the best time to share with you a few more things I’ve learned this past year (Go here for some more things I learned in med school). Soooooo without further ado, let’s get this party started!
1. You’re white coat isn’t so white anymore.
This has two parts to it. Metaphorically, wearing a white coat isn’t as big of a deal as when you first put it on during your white coat ceremony. I don’t mean to sound jaded or pretentious, but it becomes very routine to throw on your jacket when you are interacting with patients or in the clinic. No matter what, however, when you put that coat on, you will still get that sense of excitement and privilege that comes with being a medical student. And second, you coat is going to get dirty, literally. You should probably go clean out your pockets from all your pens, paper and note cards then drop it off at the dry cleaners.
2. Failure is mandatory.
During orientation week, our dean of student affairs told us that they have designed our curriculum and overall medical school experience so that we will inevitably fail. Of course the room full of over-achievers looked around obviously thinking that this was a lie trying to scare us into doing better. Honestly, he was telling the absolute truth.I don’t know a single person in my class that has not failed at something this year, myself included. But it happens and it only makes you a stronger, more dedicated student.
3. You never know as much as you want or need to.
There will assuredly be times where you studied for an exam more than you ever have the entire year. Going to bed the night before the test, you think to yourself, “Man, I really might get a perfect score on this!” Then you start your test the next morning and BAM a random question so obscure that you are positive the professor barely mentioned it (if at all) in 5 seconds of a 2 hour lecture. But this is not a bad thing in the least! It just pushes you to keep studying harder for each exam and continue trying for that perfect score!
4. You’ll know yourself better than you ever did before.
Med school changes your life– plain and simple. You are in a new environment with new people with a million and five tons of stress dumped on top. This forces you to really find out who you are so that you can prioritize who and what are most important to you in your life.
5. You gain a new found appreciation for free time.
Every weekend that you don’t have to study for an exam feels like a mini-vacation. If you can spare a couple of hours during the week to go to a bar with some friends, you feel accomplished. God bless you if you could binge watch a show in a week.
6. You long for more clinical/patient experiences.
First and second year are all about the book learning. This can get very boring (obviously) and you just wish you could start seeing some patients already or help out with some cool medical procedures. Actual doctoring just seems so far away at this point in medical school that the few shadowing experiences you get seem magical and you just want to absorb as much as you can. Just keep reminding yourself that in just a year’s time, you’ll be a third year with nothing else but clinical stuff to do, so don’t jump the gun too quick!
7. You and your fellow classmates will unite through the trials and tribulations.
Your class will become your family, plain and simple. It’s hard not to grow close to people who go through the same stress, anxiety and general insanity that is medical school. You can’t make it through medical school alone.
8. Friends and family will ask you for medical advice ALL THE TIME.
This actually isn’t entirely terrible, especially as a first year med student when normally no one at school would fathom asking you for medical advice. It gives you a safe environment to practice you clinical reasoning without feeling the pressure of diagnosing someone incorrectly. The bad part (which happens A LOT since you are a first year med student) is that you have absolutely no idea what is wrong with your friend/family member so you just give the go-to answer of, “Yeah, I’d probably go get that checked out by a real doctor.”
9. Step 1 anxiety is real– even when it’s a year away.
Please don’t remind me of the 10 months and 10 days I have left until I have to take Step 1. I’m trying to have a good last summer here.
10. You will look back on how far you’ve come in such a short period of time and be incredibly proud.
When you finish your last exam of the year and walk outside of the classroom, it just all feels so… surreal and intangible. It feels like you just started med school and yet a year has flown by so quickly. You know that you’re a second year now, but it’s just hard to believe. But you know that what you have accomplished this year was incredible and rewarding and you cannot wait to get back to school in a few months to keep learning more (for the most part).
Honorable mention: you get used to the smell of formaldehyde-laden cadavers (well, sort of).
This past year has been a true whirlwind for me. I don’t think I’ve ever had to deal with so many ups and downs, both school and personal than I have this past year. It’s made me a better person and, hopefully, a better physician in the future. Med school was just what I anticipated but also completely different than I could have ever imagined. It for sure was not as difficult as others may say, but that does not mean in any way that it was easy. And even through everything, I can honestly say without a doubt that had one of the absolute best years of my life.
I’ll write a post in a few days or so about the research I’m doing for my last summer, so keep an eye out for that!
Until then, ❤ Theresa