As usual, I find myself in the mood to write on Sunday afternoon. I suspect that my weekly doughnut at church on Sunday morning has something to do with my inspiration to publish posts on WordPress. Maybe my muse is a maple doughnut. Anyways, this week I was asked the following question: “When was the last time you felt mediocre?” Since I’m in medical school, the answer is “every single day”. I’ve written before about how much stress is caused by combining a bunch of smart people into one class and suddenly having smart become “average”, and it’s something our deans have mentioned about twice a month since August.
Our tests reinforce this every week. Consider our last pathology quiz/exam. Fifty multiple choice questions taken using secure software installed on our laptops. It covered hundreds of pages from Robbins (the holy grail of pathology, it’s a huge book the size of a watermelon) and was a fairly difficult exam. When we got our results, the median came out to be 80%, which is actually pretty good. Some inconsiderate soul actually got a 98%, and one person barely passed with a 50% (because of the way our quizzes are graded, you can still pass with a 50%, even though it’s normally an F). The median was 80%, and by definition half of our class has to fall underneath that score. That’s just the way math works. For those that are under it, there is a perception of inadequacy. For those above it, life must be awesome. I hop frequently between being just above and just below the median score, so I’m doing okay.
So obviously our 98% guy was an outlier, because the next best score was a 90. So the 98% guy needs to let himself out of the library. The 50% guy was also an outlier, and he needs to find the library. A full 55% of our class got between a 76%-84% on the exam. I know what that means in real life….we all did just fine. Yet I am annoyed when I score a few points below the average on a particular exam, even though I know that means I’m tracking just fine along with everyone else. I’m sure the guy that got a 98% is upset as well (not 100%? No sleep for me next week!!).
On to my next subject…summer time. I need it to be summer ASAP. I grew up in California, enjoying nearly endless summer weather, and after I moved to the Midwest I discovered that I am solar powered. When we have cloudy, gloomy, grey weather for weeks on end I lose any motivation to keep up with life (exercise, study hard, clean the house, wear pants, etc). This summer has a special feature…it will be my LAST SUMMER EVER. Yes indeed. After (hopefully) passing Hematology on June 6th, I get 8 full weeks off of school. Next summer I will have time off. Instead, I will start my third year (clinical rotations), which is simultaneously exciting and terrifying.
So what do MS1’s tend to do with their LAST SUMMER EVER? Some people do career enhancing activities like research fellowships, internships, volunteer activities, etc. Other people travel for fun. Some people get part time jobs, others do nothing for the summer. Because I felt the pressure to do important things, I currently have applied for a number of summer fellowships that would be good for my CV and pay me a small amount of money for six weeks. Then I talked with a professor who changed my mind a little. He said that if I only wanted to do research to have it on my CV, then I shouldn’t do it. Instead, I should do whatever sounded enjoyable to me. As the director of a residency program at our hospital, he said it really doesn’t matter what they did over their M1 summer (unless they singlehandedly saved an African village from an exotic virus). He’s far more interested in their board scores and letters of recommendation from rotations. So while I have hopes for landing a fellowship this summer, much of the stress in the competition of getting that spot is reduced, if not gone. I can’t do nothing all summer, because historically I get cabin fever after 4 days of break from school. If nothing works out, I will probably get involved with ministries at my church, study for boards, and run a lot. We’ll see how it works out. What are your summer plans?
Thanks for reading!