Quatro. Quatre. Quattro. Four.

Thank you all for the nice feedback and comments on this “series.” My favorite part about having a blog is hearing what people have to say in the comments. I’ve never cared about having a “big blog” or whatever you want to call it, but I do like to try to write something that spurs people to comment.

I would say the second year of medical school is exhausting primarily for two reasons. First, there is so much material presented that year that you sometimes want to pull your hair out. Second, there is a low level of anxiety present as you know Step 1 looms at the end of the year.

Third year is exhausting physically and emotionally. The third year is comprised of one full year of clinical rotations. You spend 6-8 weeks in each of the major specialities. At my school (and prior to the curriculum change for anyone familiar with my particular school), these are: Internal Medicine (8 weeks), Surgery (8 weeks), OB/GYN (6 weeks), Psychiatry (6 weeks), Pediatrics (8 weeks), Neurology (4 weeks), Ambulatory Care (4 weeks). There is also some elective time.

The year is physically exhausting because, as opposed to sitting and studying all day, a vast majority of time is spent on your feet. Whether its standing in the OR or on 3 hour medicine rounds, you can be pretty tired by the end of the day! However, I do like this aspect of medicine – I would hate to sit at a desk all day or in a cube (I admire you people who can do it!). For residency, I have thought about getting a pedometer or fitbot just to see how much you do walk around.

Not just for running, also for the OR!

Not just for running, also for the OR!

There are two emotional drains in the third year, in my opinion. First, you have to decide what you want to do for the rest of your life…which specialty appeals to you and fits in with your lifestyle or what you would want your lifestyle to be. There are many considerations when choosing a speciality – academic interest, patient population you will be working with, lifestyle considerations, and so on and so forth. Sometimes that’s hard to know when your 25 years old. As a personal example, I know I would like to get married and have a family. I’ve dreamed about being a mom since before I had a period (and, therefore, technically able to have a child). But, I was, and still am, single and unwed. Do I make a choice based on a fake life I don’t have, but want to have?

[Was mentioning periods too much for people? My TMI filter is very skewed from med school.]

Here is the menstrual cycle in its full glory. Sorry if this freaks anyone out.

Here is the menstrual cycle in its full glory. Sorry if this freaks anyone out.

The second emotional drain comes from having to be on your “A” game all the time and figuring out what your residents and attendings want you to do. Residents are busy people. They are tired. They need to get things done efficiently and don’t need a med student slowing them down. So, you have to figure out how to be useful and not get in the way. They also grade you so you have to please them so you get good comments and, in turn, a good grade. You feel like you are constantly being graded…and you are. Rounds, cases in the OR, small group sessions are all potential places for you to get “pimped,” meaning asked a litany of questions on a topic to see what you know.

In all fairness, I’d say my institution is fairly calm and the “pimping” isn’t always scary and intimidating. This often depends, however, on the particular service you are on (ie surgery vs medicine — a surgery presentation needs to be short and to the point whereas a medicine presentation is usually length and extremely detailed).

At the end of each rotation looms an exam, the shelf exam. I can’t believe that I don’t remember this, but I think its 100 questions that you have 2.5 hrs to complete. Questions are clinical vignettes that usually ask you “what is the next step?” – ie what test, fluid, medication, diagnosis, etc. The shelf exams usually take up a large part of your grade and, therefore, much of your third year is spent trying to find time to study for the shelf.

I think the next post will either be spent on a) why I chose OB/GYN, b) the residency application and interview process, or c) both. I’ll also answer questions other people have asked. Anybody have a preference?


Until next time…


11 thoughts on “Quatro. Quatre. Quattro. Four.

  1. The biggest choice I’ve had to make in my career was whether to change directions and go to grad school. I actually applied twice — once for film schools (decided not to go), once for the COMPLETELY DIFFERENT program where I actually got my master’s. I like the field I’m working in now (user experience), but long-term, I’d like to find a way to combine it more directly with my first career love (journalism).

  2. Sitting in a cube all day is a challenge. I wouldn’t call it stressful but definitely a challenge. I also don’t like all the facetime associated with office jobs. I’d rather just do my work as efficiently as possible and then not need to be there. College was much better. Perhaps it means I need a new field. I’d like to hear about both of your topics and since you only need to be excitingly busy for one more day maybe you should combine them??

  3. Favorite line: “since before I had a period (and, therefore, technically able to have a child)”. Haha.

    Also, can you please explain that menstrual cycle chart to me??

  4. Current stressor – getting a paper submitted before April and still needing data… near future stressor – how to even begin to decide what type of industry job to apply for and then applying for jobs… although at least i’ve officially decided not to be a professor – cannot wait to be out of academia

  5. What’s sad is I’ve had 3 children, and really don’t understand that chart!!! I left the corporate world 5 years ago to become a stay at home mom, so my current stressor is trying to keep a sick 4 year old resting so he’ll stop coughing.

  6. Such a cool post Meggie! I am super excited to hear about why you became an OBGYN. Too bad you aren’t coming out to Seattle for residency 🙂

  7. I love this “series”- so interesting to me! I changed careers- from a special education teacher to a clinical social worker/psychotherapist- the major challenge in both these jobs is making sure to do enough self care that you don’t suffer compassion fatigue or burnout. The decision to go back to grad school at age 30 was a hard one- especially for a field that wasn’t likely to be super lucrative.

  8. Physical and emotional stressors as a nurse?? I don’t want to talk about it, haha. Currently debating FNP vs CRNA (vs MBA vs standing down on Wall St trying to find a rich husband…) and I have no idea which direction to take!

    I’ve pondered a Fitbit so I can be like, “See?!?! I walked twenty miles last night!”

  9. i’m so behind on blog reading! but curious what electives you chose. (i dated a med student once and he was a total ass-wanted to be a surgeon-that should explain a lot). i’m in sales-so each day,week, month is stressful. You can only control so much but it is incredibly thrilling to do well, make your month, get a big sale. I was in pharm sales (derm) up until a few months ago and now sell cosmeceuticals (so still derm) and i LOVE it.

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