operationMD

Hello, Summer!

In medical school on June 6, 2011 at 9:12 pm

Once again, it’s been a while since I last blogged. While I’ve been done with first year for nearly 6 weeks now, and done with the school year ~1.5 weeks, I have yet to take a moment to reflect on the craziness that was first year! Literally, after finishing my last exam of the year and celebrating, I collapsed into a 4-day coma (which, in retrospect, was probably induced by the sudden withdrawal of caffeine that I had continually transfused into my bloodstream for the entire month of May). Anywho, I am back home after finishing the year strong (What a stark contrast to ugrad! Is that motivation I smell?) and am thoroughly enjoying my deserved summer break. Granted, I know that once I touchdown back South, I’m going to hit the ground running…

But, back to the topic on-hand: reflection. It’s mind-boggling to think that just 12 months ago, I packed up all of my belongings and made the long 24 hour drive down to my new “home”. Sooooo much has happened in those months, with too many memories to name without cues.  That being said, there were some big take-homes and tips I’d like to share… (mentioned in order they came to mind, not order of importance)

1) Work in study groups. Yeah, yeah, yeah – we’ve all heard this numerous times, but in med school, I found itparticularly difficult to find others I studied well with.  Many friends/peers can be distracting (i.e. socialize instead of memorize) or agitating (i.e. overcaffeinated, twitching, unstable studiers on the verge of collapse).  Personally, I “test studied” with people to see if we were compatible and went from there.  Keep the group simple 2-4 max., and make sure it’s with people 1) you trust to have the facts straight 2) don’t belittle others for not knowing something (surprisingly common, even if only done via inflection) 3) go at your pace and 4) that push you to excellence. [5) Bonus if they readily provide caffeine or treats!]

2) Keep it friendly.  Clearly, you’re not going to like everyone and some people won’t like you for whatever reason.  Clear up any miscommunications and keep it moving.  Be cordial, but don’t be fake.  Somehow, it always seems that those that annoy you most or that you dislike most will wind up in 90% of your “randomly assigned” small groups (not sure if I buy into this “random” biz).  Work well with all – even those you detest.

3) Leadership is good.  Imo, it doesn’t matter what area it’s in, but take on a little extra responsibility in something you feel passionate about.  While some mistakenly think it’ll be a great resume/CV booster for residency (FALSE: Step 1! Step 1! Step 1! then it’s like Dean’s Letter, LORs, Step 2, and research in some order), I think it’s 1) just nice to get involved with something tangentially related to what you’re memorizing in the books and 2) you get to meet some great people in that area that can give you tips and serve as mentors or liaisons.  That being said, don’t pull a me and find yourself in a position where you might just be overstretched come second year – oops.

4) Sleep is also good.  Took me a while to realize this one (ask about my patented Nap Schedule), but recall and focus is so much sharper with a solid night’s sleep under the belt.  Same goes for exercise and eating right, but you already knew that, right?  Oh, good tip for eating well during exams:  Cook 2x as much of everything the 1st week or so of a block and freeze half.  Pop that baby out of the freezer come exams week and you have quick, easy meals.  And yes, med students frequently “sleep” (re: pass-out) under desks…publicly…without shame.

5) Avoid drama and neuroticism like the plague – both are contagious and deadly! Simply put, med school is full of Type As (surprise, surprise).  Type As are notoriously neurotic.  Per Wiki – “ambitious, aggressive, business-like, controlling, highly competitive, impatient, preoccupied with his or her status, time-conscious, and tightly-wound.”  Um, Wiki…were you snooping on med students as your source of this definition??? But seriously, not everyone is like this all the time (well, some are – sprint the opposite direction), but even with half of a class in this state half of the time, the likelihood of interacting with one is pretty significant…especially when exams near.  Likewise, med school has often been described as High School, pt. II.  Well, I’d say Middle School, pt. II, but you get the deal.  Hang around the neurotics too long and next thing you know, you’ll be twitching and having heart palpitations.  And even being peripherally involved in the drama will lead to your name coming out of people’s mouths you don’t even know.  Solution? Smile and keep it moving!

6) Take as much personal time as you need, without apology.  And I emphasize the “without apology.”  I’m not recommending disappearing for extended amounts of time without so much as a peep, but if #5 starts to get to you and/or you feel that you need an extended break from the insular medical school community – take it!  It’s your time and your life.  It’s much better to take that step back, regroup, refocus, and come back clear-headed than to get bogged down, unfocused, and irritated.  And if people give you slack about it, brush it off and do what you need to do to get where you need to be. Period.  Also, hold onto at least one thing non-medical that makes you smile and cherish the time you spend with it, without apology.

7) Keep it moving!  Successes, failures – I don’t care.  Either way, keep going!  Learn from both, but don’t stop for too long.  As I said, these next 4 years are pretty insular, and in that type of environment, it’s easy to turn minor events into major ones.  But in reality, all these happenings are just small snippets in a series of events that will compromise this “Med School Experience.”  Get caught up too long on one and you’re likely to miss the next.

8 ) Nepotism is real and isn’t going anywhere, so get used to it.  Personally, I thought I had left nepotism behind in ugrad.  Truth of the matter is, we live in America, so nepotism is here to stay.  What’s important is how you let it affect you.  You can get all worked up because so-and-so doesn’t have to work as hard because daddy will make sure they’re fine OR you can use it to fuel your drive to perform even better.  I chose the latter.

9) Be happy where you are, but never content. Be happy that you are blessed to be in this position at this point in time, regardless of where you are.  For me this means to be happy I’m fortunate enough to be at ___SOM, as a member of the great class of 2014 (yes, my class is GREAT – I love them because of and in spite of their foolishness!), in the great city of ___.  Am I content?  I personally believe that no matter where I am, I’ll never be content.  Does this mean I’m disgruntled?  No, I just believe that there is always room for improvement and ways to better and expand any institution, and that the best way for any of us to do that is to use our previous experiences to inform future growth – and that’s why we’re here. Keep pushing!

10) Never ever calculate the minimum you need to pass a class!  I swear, this leads to the death of all ambition.

11) Find yourself a mentor.  They really do provide priceless information and tips, and if nothing else, they’re a tangible role model that can increase your desire to study.  I know I’d often hit the wall studying and then go shadow my mentor, only to return to my desk ready-to-go!

12) It doesn’t matter at all that you can’t spell and only minimally matters that you can’t pronounce anything.  I’ll file this under my list of “Things that are True.”  Coming in, my spelling was poor (thank you, SpellCheck!) and now, I can legit only spell medical terms – all else has fallen to the wayside.  I’m impressed I am even able to type this blog.  When talking to many of my friends about various essays we had to turn in during the school year, most felt that their writing level had fallen to the level of a 4th grader.  Pronunciation comes with time…or never.  Luckily, exams are written multiple choice, ftw!

13) If for any reason you are debating whether or not to get a smart phone for med school, go ahead and invest.  So many things are a first come-first serve basis, and smart phone users have a leg-up.  I got a Droid X for Christmas and life hasn’t been the same since! (so, apparently my phone’s been “eclipsed” by the Droid X2 already -whomp whomp)

14) Don’t apologize for or explain the fact that you’re studying – you’re in med school! (I’m going to throw this on the list of “Things I Thought Died in Ugrad”)  Being in med school, it seems ridiculous that you’d ever feel compelled to apologize for studying, especially to classmates, however, I often found myself hesistant to say “No, I can’t go PlaceX because I need to study.” Doing so usually brought on heaps of verbal harassment by peers (nonsensical!) who emphatically stated that since they’re not studying, I don’t need to study.  Do not fall into this trap.   Why don’t they need to study?  Were they a Bio major who’s taken a bajillion bio courses (and you’re a non-science major)?  Is this nepotism or sheer laziness (re: “I just have to pass”)?  Are these people quiet gunners who’ve already secretly been studying? Do they have less extracurricular commitments than you? Are they just lonely and want company?  The world may never know the answer as to why some people continually try to stop others from studying.  All I’m saying is if you feel you need to study, do it and kiss those sorry haters good-bye!  Plus, true friends want your success and understand the sacrifice that sometimes needs to be made to achieve it.

Staying true to my Keep it Moving! theme, I’m going to enjoy the rest of my time here at home, but when I get back down South, I have some things to layout and some plans to execute.  Yes, summer is a time of R&R, but it’s also a time to prep for a busy upcoming year.

Hope life’s treating everyone well!  I will actually blog rather consistently this summer – I promise!

Summer Freedom

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  1. Excellent Post! I am gearing up to to go to medical school and this was definitely helpful! Congratulations and have a great summer!

  2. YAY!!

    Hi there!!

    I’m so glad you updated your blog-your post was highly anticipted! I have been following you for quite some time. I’m glad you first year went great-you are going to be an excellent physician.

    Please continue to keep us posted-I’m sure I speak for many others when I say, we are hungry for more! You are such a great writer!

    Anywho, enjoy your summer!!

    • Thanks! It’s nice to know some people actually find this blog interesting. I swear, I will do my best to post more regularly…1x per week should be feasible :: fingers crossed ::

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