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.
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.]
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?
TELL ME: WHAT ARE THE PHYSICAL AND EMOTIONAL STRESSORS IN YOUR WORK PLACE? WHAT SORT OF CAREER DECISIONS HAVE YOU HAD TO MAKE OR TURNS IN YOUR CAREER YOU HAVE TAKEN?
Until next time…