MAKE IT STOP. MAKE IT STOP!
As an update, I am about a month into medical school. The two sentences above about summarize my thoughts recently, however, only in the best way possible. They warned us in the beginning that we were going to be receiving more information than we could ever handle. They equated it to “drinking out of a fire hydrant”. You remember the viral quote going around on various sites about undergraduate college? You know, “Good grades, 2. social life, 3. adequate sleep: Pick two and welcome to college.” The medical school version is, “Choose only three things in your life you need to survive school. Welcome to medical school.” Well that is easy. 1. I have to eat, and 2. I have to sleep at least some. 3. Hmmmm, well since I am in school I should probably study…
Our class quickly found out what they meant after the first two days of lecture. In eight hours of lecture, I had completely covered my entire undergraduate biochemistry and genetics courses, and learned a good portion of a nutrition course I was not fortunate enough to have taken. “Yeah, but at least it is stuff that you already learned, more or less.”
At the two week point, I was at the school every weekday from 7:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. to study for our 20 point quizzes that covered approximately 16 hours of lecture. Mind you, this was just to get through the information once, and the stuff that I struggled with more than others, twice. I have even been found in the library frequently! Also, I study on weekends for at least six hours per day. This is saying a lot since I rarely studied as an undergraduate, never once studied in the library, never read a textbook, put a weak 20 hours into studying for the MCAT, and generally didn’t spend more time than I had to doing anything school related.
Now, at the one month mark, I am preparing for my first test. I have to review 92 hours of lecture from seven different professors, including well over 1,000 power point slides, just for around 100 test questions. I won’t be tested on overall concepts (since it is the details that kill people), and if any student didn’t have test anxiety before, I’m thinking they at least have a little now. You want to know how I know this aside from the panic in everyone’s eyes and the mini-freak out sessions that everyone is having? It is 11:00 p.m. on a Saturday night and all of the study rooms here at the school are taken.
The point is this: I am actually enjoying my life, as are most of my classmates. It is definitely not the same kind of happiness I found before, but I can’t picture myself doing anything different. To all of you applying out there, you have to know that medical school is undoubtedly what you want because once you get in, you will be miserable if you can’t tolerate schedules similar to mine. I was recently asked by a friend if I regret my decision to enroll in medical school, and I could honestly answer I do not. I find joy in the little things in life now more than ever. I giggle every single time one of my professors says “vurrrry” instead of very, and when he calls various tissues “beautiful” or “gorgeous.” I love the mnemonics my classmates come up with to remember random information! I like that ordering a pizza or getting a cup of coffee is the highlight of my day. It is my favorite when a classmate brings in his two month old son to gawk at. It’s the little things that make my hours of studying fly by. Okay, that is a lie because it is the vast amount of information in a small amount of time that makes the time disappear magically. Either way…
I realize this is an amazingly boring post, but I am hoping that it will help all of you future medical students realize what a commitment you are taking, and what you have to do to prepare yourself for it. I highly recommend learning to study earlier in life compared to once you are already in medical school. It would be smart to over schedule yourself just enough so your free time is limited to a few hours on weekdays so you get used to not having any free time. (Plus this gives you an opportunity to volunteer, job shadow, pick up a part time job to pay for the extensive loans you will inevitably end up with, or conduct research.) The last thing I would recommend for undergraduates hoping to get into medical school as well as other med students: don’t give up. I’ve been told it will be worth it, and I have no reason not to believe that it won’t!
P.S. If you have any questions about the process of applying, interviews, or school, do not hesitate to ask! I am by far not an expert, but I may be able to help you out!