How many parts is this thing going to have? I don’t know. I’m writing it to take up time. Operation “Excitingly Busy.”
I might be doing too good at this operation because I woke up feeling like a cold was coming on.
Anyways, where we left off, I was a Bobst library shut-in for most of college.
As I said, my sophomore year my main focus was school, school, and school. Getting an A was my drug. And I needed more.
I quit tennis for the semester because I felt I couldn’t do it all and that it was “getting in the way” of me being a library loser.
Somehow, by the time I got to my junior year, I grew up a little bit and realized that my priorities, while somewhat in order, needed a bit of flexibility. I bit off probably more than I should have been able to chew, but did even better than before. I was playing tennis, in school (full disclosure, as a junior I did reduce hours to 15 or 16 hrs), studying for the MCAT, TA’ing organic chemistry, and babysitting here or there. To be honest, I did carry some sort of study materials with me everywhere (even lectures on my iPod) so even “down time” or “walking places” could be useful.
The biggest thing I probably realized that year was that my academic and athletic pursuits went hand in hand. If I excelled in one, I excelled in the other. I needed both – they were like my yin and my yang or maybe we could say that had a sort of symbiotic relationship like the mitochondria and eukaryotic cell.
I applied to NYU School of Medicine as a junior for their early decision program and found out I got in the July before my senior year of college. So, I did a lot of leisure reading and crossword puzzles as a senior. 🙂
The first and second years of medical school are sort of anti-climatic. You are basically a glorified graduate student as most of your time is spent going to lectures and studying and not doing much that resembles “a doctor.”
Those years are somewhat like drinking from a fire hydrant. You are inundated with material. Tests could cover as much as 40 lectures at a time. You retain as much as you can and hope for the best. Or, at least that’s how I felt about it.
Med school is sort of humbling. In college, as long as I studied enough, I could do just fine. In med school, everyone is smart and studying a lot may mean you get an 80 and not a 100. That becomes sort of a hard pill to swallow for people who are told they are “exceptional,” “bright,” etc in college. And, then you take so many tests that you just get over it and want to graduate.
I would say 2nd year is when I started to realize that I wanted to stop putting my life on hold for school. I was very used to saying “no, I can’t do that, I have to study.” And, at some point, I realized I was always going to have to study and a few times here or there it was probably worth losing a few points on an exam to do something cool. For example, I ran my first marathon three days before the 2nd year Renal/GI exam, which covered 40 lectures. Not my best score, but I think well worth it.
The worst part of the first two years of medical school is the USMLE Step 1.
This was the ultimate peak of my studying stamina, which was driven by a heavy dose of fear of failure.
Your Step 1 score is important for residency. It serves as that benchmark that everyone is compared by.
I studied at home for 6 weeks for Step 1. I had my mom change my twitter and FB passwords so I couldn’t access them (and I didn’t, for 6 weeks). I turned my cell phone off turning the day. I got up at 7 am. I started studying at 7:30 or 8 am. I took lunch for 15 min around 11:30. I took another break for 15 min around 3 pm. I stopped at 6. I would go run, eat dinner, check email, and usually pass out by 10 pm. My goal was to study 10 hours a day. I was a med student monk, but, it paid off.
Third year of medical school is much more fun, but exhausting. You spend the year in the hospital doing clinical rotations in the major specialities. A lot of time is spent figuring out what to do to be useful (and then figuring out med students aren’t that useful) and who to please to get a good grade. You have to be on your A game all the time, studying outside of the hospital for the shelf exams given at the end of each rotation, and making sure you’re not screwing up anything.
People typically like hearing about 3rd year so I’ll do dedicated a post to that. Anything in particular you want to hear about it?
TELL ME: WHAT DID YOU DO AFTER YOU FIRST GRADUATED COLLEGE? FIRST JOB? GRAD SCHOOL?
TELL ME AGAIN: ANYTHING IN PARTICULAR YOU WANT TO HEAR ABOUT MED SCHOOL OR RESIDENCY APPLICATION PROCESS?
I’ll answer all your burning questions (including people who have already asked on why I chose ob/gyn and if I ever questioned going into medicine). And, nope, it is, unfortunately, not like Grey’s Anatomy. And, yes, I have dissected a cadaver. [Common questions!]