One week down. Arguably, this may have been the easiest week of medical school we will yet experience, but I am starting to get a feel for the routine I will need to establish. I have been waking up a few hours before lecture and having breakfast while reviewing material for lecture that day. I then head to class and attend all of the lecture and small group sessions (this is around 6-8hrs a day). After that I have time to go home and get a quick run in before I grab dinner and spend perhaps another hour reviewing what we went over. That gives me plenty of time in the evening to relax and unwind a bit. This will likely change when exams and quizzes come around, but I seem to be getting through the material with pretty recall so far. In two weeks my wife will finally move in and start her new job, forcing me to do things like “clean” and “shower”. Lame. (just kidding, I actually do most of the cleaning because I have a thing about cleaning)
I went to a panel earlier this week. The AMA sponsored several fourth years with high board scores and strong residency applications to come and give us some advice on Step 1, study habits, and other things that they learned during their four years of medical school. The most common theme in their advice was to enjoy the first few years of medical school, make friends, and study enough to pass. There is no need to study for Step 1, try to shadow, or do anything extra, according to the fourth years. Just pass your classes and set yourself up to do well in the coming years.
That’s kind of hard to hear, especially since we are all eager-beaver first year students. Every single student attended training to volunteer at our campus free clinic that offers healthcare for uninsured in the area. Several people in our class are working on getting research spots in labs. Why? Probably because most people in our class are pretty smart.
That’s a generalization, don’t get me wrong. There are several people I have already noticed seem to be a few fries short of a happy meal, but most of the class seems to be generally intelligent. I can tell this by the attitude in the class. In every class I have ever been in that was considered “hard” (organic chemistry, anatomy, even general chemistry for some people), every lecture was followed with something like “How are we supposed to learn all of this? We covered so much material today! There’s no way I am going to learn this!” Even after flying through a lot of Cell Biology in this first section, I have’t heard a single person mention feeling overwhelmed or even the least bit daunted by the volume yet. There is this feeling of grim optimism/determination to get through the material and do well. I like it. It’s contagious.
So there are lots of people that are really good at a huge variety of things. Last week during venipuncture practice I discovered that a new friend of mine has years and years of phlebotomy experience and could probably draw blood from me blindfolded. I managed to get my sticks done in one shot (beginner’s luck) but I felt like a baby giraffe trying to walk for the first time. I got the job done. I was also told repeatedly that I have great friends, and my partner got envious looks from the girl next to me, who had spend quite a while searching desperately for a vein in her partners arm.
I also went to a lecture given by a neurosurgeon at our associated hospital who is a total stud (I go to these lectures for the free food, by the way. I’m not a gunner or anything). What I thought would be a Q+A session for the gunners looking for neurosurgery residency spots ended up being a video demonstration of this guy doing cranial bypasses, stitching vessels together under a microscope with thread so thin that the naked eye can’t even see it.
The AMA panel featured people who had scored “240+” on their Step 1, and I happen to know of a certain first year who sits behind me that scored north of 42 on his/her MCAT. Yikes.
So all of these smart people are currently studying hard for our first exam type thing this Friday, and I’m writing online while waiting for my car to get a new set of tires (and it’s taking forever). Then I realized that I do have some advantages going for me, if I think very hard. I certainly have an advantage in physical endurance. I’m the only triathlete in the class (unless someone is living at home and watching lectures online), and I have stood out at the first few softball/frisbee/football games, so I’ve got that going for me. I also probably drink the most sweet tea of anyone in the class. That’s about it.
Sweet, my car is ready. Thanks for reading.