It doesn’t seem like much time has passed since interviewing at medical schools and now, yet I’m already done with my first trimester of medical school. You will be there soon enough. I’ve learned, and learned largely from studying for the MCAT, that hard work and persistence does pay off. It took hard work to get a good score on the MCAT, and it has been taking continuous labor to push through with good grades in medical school.
As you may already be aware of, medical school is broken into trimesters instead of semesters, so we have three terms per year. For most schools, there are a couple courses per trimester and some that overlap trimesters. The classes that change each trimester are the “crunch classes” – they are packed full of information and thrown at you a thousand miles per hour (or 1,609 kilometers/hour). Each exam is so intense, some classmates leave the exam crying; yet most of us seem to love it..
In my first trimester, my main class included pretty much everything a greenhorn doctor-to-be needs to know about anatomy, histology, and development. Next summer I will have to take the first step of the boards and will need to remember all of that information that was packed into just a little more than 2 months.
Beginning my medical training also entails becoming professional. As we received our white coats, we made a statement to our surrounding community saying we will have integrity, humility, and a continuous pursuit of knowledge. This can be hard, especially when your class is still partying like in college or blatantly cursing about how hard the exam was. Would you want to see your family physician stumbling off the sidewalk drunk some Friday night?
Part of professionalism in the medical field is being confident as a physician or as a future physician. Personally, I find this the most difficult aspect thus far. We get graded on our performance with standardized patients, and we are expected to have an air of confidence. In my life experience, I’ve interacted with far too many over-confident individuals, that it has deterred me from acting anything like that. I am not overly-extroverted, and I believe it is good to be aware of my faults regularly. However, in a field where confidence is expected and even humility is expressed with confidence, I draw short. It’s a working effort, the primary aspect of professionalism that I’ve come to realize I need to give attention to.
Most medical students will agree with me in saying that one of the biggest challenges in medical school is simply that life goes on outside of school. People have children, need car repairs, get sick, or break up with their significant others. These things are hard when every hour is a potential hour of studying.
In all these things, perhaps a hand full of classmates decide this is not what they want to do with their lives, but the majority of us savor the rewards of getting that grade we were aiming for, learning where and why referred pain presents where as does, dissecting cadavers, etc. We embrace the challenges before us with courage, knowing this is what we chose and this is what we love. I am excited for the next trimester, and I am excited for you. You’ll be here before you know it.