A med & grad student who used to work the line in LA, NYC, SF and Napa talking about the science of cooking and cooking with science. Harold McGee's On Food And Cooking - The Science and Lore of the Kitchen never satisfied my kitchen curiosity and more than one Chef grew exasperated with my asking "Why?" I'll try to stay on topic, but you may see a kvetch or two about the school & hospital.
My posts are presented as opinion and commentary and do not represent the views of LabSpaces Productions, LLC, my employer, or my educational institution.
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First year will be over in a few short months. Giving us the last "summer vacation" any of us will ever have. We've sat through countless hours of Fundamentals in Patient Care; Nutrition & Metabolism; Cardiovascular; Pulmonology & Renal. Those of us who did volunteer duty have rotated through a number of departments acting as glorified gophers, learning to take patient histories and basic vitals, and learning to stand quietly in the background as Residents and Senior Staff worked. Those of us who were insane enough to want a PhD sat through insane 2-4 week "electives," that made us wonder why we were taking Cell Phys and Physical Chemistry all over. In a much, much shorter time frame. Tears were to be had. Honest.
That said, for next year's first years I have a few words of advice:
1. You are not alone - Really. If you think you can isolate yourself and just study on your own, you will fail. That prologue that seemed pointless and just a lot of meaningless white coat ceremonies (I'll admit that whole thing is over the top), mixers and the like were meant to get you into the mindset of working with a team. Because you will need to work with a team to pass. There are no lone wolves here. Drs. House and Cox prototypes won't make it. You will need the annoying know it all from Ann Arbor, because he may have the mnemonic that sticks with you for memorizing anti-arrhythmia drugs. He'll need you to keep him grounded when everyone else wants to stuff him in a body locker.
2. Study - Seriously. Some of these sections are 4 weeks or less. And there is a lot of stuff to cover. Some days will be 8 straight hours of looking at networks of arteries in a major organ. You will need to study and keep studying.
3. Stuff happens - If you get a bad grade, they happen. It's not the end of the world. Maybe you were crazy enough to do an elective on HIV & The Family while in the middle of Pulmonolgy and a volunteer rotation in OB/GYN. You're human. And more importantly, you're a student. Failure happens. Not learning from that failure is the real problem, not the D- on the Pulmonology exam.
4. Be nice - This ties #1 & 2 together, because if you're a nice guy, you're gonna have an easier time finding or putting together a study group. This also helps you with the older students, who may be a little more willing to help out the lost first year. And even better, it may get some of the nurses on your side early on.
5. Study in groups - As much as you may want to, you are not a machine that can know everything. You will need help. It's easier if you start working in groups early on than trying to find one half way through the section. This may seem redundant to #1, but it cannot be stressed enough.
6. Respect - This may seem redundant after #4, but you don't need to be nice to everyone. You do need to be respectful to everyone. There's a way to be respectful without being nice. Because some people just aren't worth being nice to at some point. And just as important as respecting everyone around you, you need to respect yourself. Your self respect is worth a lot more than you may think it is. If one of the instructors is poking and needling past your point, speak up. Don't just take it. You'll go home feeling miserable, and you'll keep feeling miserable. You don't have to be rude about setting boundaries, but if they need to be defined - do so. It may get you on the crap list of some of the older and more crotchety staffers, but they were going to be old and crotchety anyway.
7. It didn't matter where you came from - We all got into Med School. We all worked our asses off to get here. If you want us to help you, please stop reminding us that you graduated top of your class at Vanderbilt/Baylor/Columbia. The guy to your left came from MIT. The guy to my right is from Stanford. The guy behind you, whose seat you just took, is from Ann Arbor. The three asian kids at the far end of the table were from Cal. As you can see, yours is not the only pedigree here. Be proud of your Alma mater. Be proud of your home town. Just don't keep reminding us every 10 minutes. And no, I don't care that you got a 37 on the MCAT. I still scored higher than you...
8. Your skill set goes beyond what your degree(s) is(are) - You know how in undergrad you relied on that one friend who knew a lot about computers? The one who would roll his eyes as he fixed your computer, because of something you picked up on one of your late night StumbleUpon sessions? There's a lot of those guys in Med School, too. They may be going for an MD, but that doesn't mean they are letting their techie skills atrophy. There's also probably a guy or girl who worked on muscle cars with their dad, someone who busted ass on a kitchen line, etc. The point of this reminder is that your fellow students have other facets to their life. Learn them. Don't abuse them. Someone around can probably help you out of a pickle or teach you something new.
9. Relax - There's a lot of work involved in getting to where we are. There's a lot more work to get where we want to go. If you can't find time to put the books down and hang out with some of us, you'll burn out. Burn out sucks, and I've seen some really great people disappear because of it.
10. DO NOT DATE PEOPLE IN YOUR COHORT!!!!! - Seriously. Never. Ever. Do. This. This is a small group you will be working with, identifying parts on your cadaver. This will most likely be your study group, too. And if you two have different views on what this relationship is about, the rest of us will also be dealing with the fallout. And if I have one more study group interrupted by a couples fight, I will dangle the both of them from the top of Medical Bioscences Building.
11. Don't go the MD/PhD route - If you want a PhD as well, that's fine. Do it before or after Med School. Not during. I have snippets of an insane dream involving a proof of Euler's formula and porphyria. I don't know what that means. And I don't want to know what it means.
Maybe another would be Med Student will stumble upon this and take this advice to heart. And if any other med students (or former) would like to add to this, please feel free.
And now I should probably go back to studying.
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What she says.
Your post makes me want to go to medical school. Sounds like fun subjects!
Med school sounds a lot like grad school. Great advice!
What Brian says. It sounds a lot like grad school. Different content, same rules :-)
Another tip, mostly for the future.
You don't really know medicine. Not yet. Not even in your internship year.
Yes, you may know all the mnemonics, and you may be great at anatomy, physiology, etc.
You don't really know medicine.
But you will learn. Not by studying. By practicing. By (sadly) screwing up with real people.
You will have cold sweats when you realize that your differential diagnosis missed the most dangerous diagnosis. As all of us have done.
You then will forget 90% of what you learned in Med School. But you will have learned Medicine.
And I agree with you
Have fun. If not, you are in the wrong line of work.