Wow! I cannot believe all that has happened in the last 6 weeks. When I think about all I have gotten to do and experience, I am overwhelmed, and this is only the beginning. I wanted to share my thoughts about the experiences I have had so far so that you can get a better idea of what medical school will really be like. As a pre-med, many people told me that you will never know what med school is like until you actually experience it. This is totally true! However, I want to share my thoughts so far so that you might have a slightly better understanding from someone who is currently going through it.
Curriculum: This year, my med school started a new curriculum where we only study one subject at a time but for a condensed period. Thus, the first 8 weeks are solely focused on Anatomy. Only having one subject means that everything moves so quickly. I cannot believe that after two more weeks we will be completely done with Anatomy. Due to this fast pace, we have had so many terms thrown at us that I have them coming out of my external acoustic meatuses. Moving quickly also meant that we found ourselves changing into lab coats and meeting our cadavers for gross lab within the second hour of being in medical school. That was unexpected! However, I have loved this first module, especially the time spent in lab. Just remember, everyone is in the same boat together, so if you are feeling nervous or overwhelmed, odds are someone else is too. Try and focus on what needs to get done and soon you’ll find it’s not as bad as you thought.
Study Time: If anyone were to tell you that medical school is easy, I bet you wouldn’t believe them. Med school is supposed to be difficult, however, this doesn’t mean that it isn’t manageable. Just take the material in small sections, making sure to take breaks often. I’m not saying to take more time breaking than studying, but about 10-15 minutes every couple of hours and your brain will thank you. With the fast pace and mountains worth of material, it is easy to get burned out, even in the first few weeks. You will find your life filled with class, studying, eating, and sleeping (most of the time in that order). Just always keep in mind the big picture of why you are there and that it will all be worth it in the end.
Patients: Yes, we have had several patient encounters in the first few weeks, even though most of the time interviews feel like this. Granted, our patients so far have all been standardized, actors trained to act like patients. However, each week we do meet with a standardized patient and practice a portion of the medical interview. As with the advice for lab, remember you are not alone (we meet in groups of three students), so if you are nervous, odds are everyone else is too. I have really enjoyed these interviews because they remind me why I am even in med school in the first place, for the patients. It is refreshing to get a break from reading the anatomy textbook and really get to practice being a “real doctor”, professional attire and white coat included.
Classmates: I have been pleasantly surprised by how much our class has grown together in only 6 weeks. While every class will have some hard-core gunners, the majority of people really want to help each other and see everyone succeed. Few people get to have these unique experiences and so you really bond with the people you are on this journey with. While most won’t understand why you have to study so much or that cool thing you saw in gross lab, your classmates will. Therefore, even though it’s true that the majority of your time will be spent studying, try to make some time to get to know each other better. A group of us started going out to eat one night every week and it is a break I look forward to each week. Attend interest groups and other meetings too. You will not only meet other classmates who are interested in the same fields as you, but most of the time the groups also serve free lunch!
Although there is still a long journey ahead, these first six weeks will never be forgotten. If you ever have any questions about what medical school is really like, be sure to ask by leaving a comment below.
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