Last weekend our medical school hosted Second Look Weekend for all the incoming M0s… (or M-naughts, as I geekily prefer to call them.) I think I’m still recovering, but what a fun, packed few days. Of course, I was reminiscing about my own SLW the whole time (trying to ignore the fact that I went out so much and got so little sleep that I ended up bedridden with bronchitis for days). The M0s asked so many great questions and you could just tell how excited they all were to get into this new environment and start school. Which brings me to my list of the day… Five illusions that I had about medical school before starting that have been completely shattered. I won’t say that this shattering is necessarily a bad thing, it’s just always amusing to reflect on things you were once so sure of and then consider how they actually turned out:
1. I’m going to treat med school like a job and just do it from 9-5 each day.
Cute thinking. As someone who was in the working world for 5 years (and simultaneously in evening grad/post-bacc programs) before med school, I think I developed this illusion through very logical thought processes. Unfortunately, it just really doesn’t work for medical school. There’s too much to learn and too many activities to participate in during the day that cut into study-time… And our schedules are constantly changing. I admire my classmates who can actually get into a solid and consistent rhythm and pull off the “9-5”, but it’s just not happening over here. (Perfect example… today I’ll be pulling a 8a-9p just with school, rehearsals, and meetings, and then the studying will start after that…)
2. I’m going to be studying ALL THE TIME.
This might sound like I’m contradicting #1 here, but another reason that a 9-5 isn’t realistic is that med school is actually so much more than just studying. Yes, I study a lot, but I also “study” a lot… you know, those all-too-frequent occasions where you and your close friends get together to study and then just play the whole time? Also, other med students may not have this particular problem, but sometimes I feel like I’ve spent the past year preparing more for a future in musical theater than medicine. I always seem to be rehearsing for some singing, dancing, and/or acting performance… but it’s the best outlet ever, so I gladly let it cut into my study time and destroy my 9-5 dreams.
3. I will find a really great study strategy and be able to focus wonderfully when using it.
No… I’m all over the damn place. I think I have changed my study method every single week of med school. I barely ever do that same thing twice. I know that would drive a lot of my classmates insane… maybe in the end, variation is my study strategy. I get so bored doing the same things over and over again and intrigued by any and every new method that presents itself. Also, turns out I’m super distractable (real word? Count it…). Like way more than I ever realized… So focusing while using any study method is a much larger challenge than I originally anticipated.
4. I’m not going to take on too much outside of school.
Fine, family, you were right. You win. I was stupid to ever have the illusion that I could idly sit in the background and just study and shadow and not get involved in every single opportunity out there. That being said… no regrets! I work best at my busiest.
5. I’m too dumb to ever be able to learn all of this stuff.
A sentiment I heard echoed over and over again by current M1s last weekend is that med school actually isn’t hard… it’s just a lot. (Insert generic drinking-out-of-a-firehose reference here…) I really doubted my (or any human’s) abilities to be able to ingest so much complex material before starting school. Turns out, the stuff isn’t actually difficult to understand, you just have to find unique and creative ways to remember it. People come up with the craziest mnemonics for this stuff, but they really do work and after awhile it’s not that bad.
K, this ended up being way longer than I expected. Perfect example of why I fail at the 9-5. Welcome to the family, M0s! Peace.