50 Things I Learned Before Med School and then Compared to the Real Thing.

A little more than 4 years ago I wrote a 50 things-thing before I started medical school based solely off the things I was told by other people which was a lot of fun considering I wasn’t actually doing it yet. Now having basically completed my own whirlwind adventure I can go back and see if what I wrote on nothing but hearsay actually ended up being the truth.

I’ve literally waited so long to do this. Hope you enjoy.

First year

  • This is hardest you will have ever done. So far. – At this point in my life, yes, the first year of medical school tore me apart. But it put me back together, in way.
  • Even though it seems like you have no time, you really do. Now is the time to go to social events and make friends. – Part of the whole process is finding companionship in commiseration.
  • Take pictures with everyone at your white coat ceremony. – So I ended up not being able to do this the way I wanted to back then, but you can bet your asses I’ve got this down for graduation.
  • Anatomy has three types of people on the first day; the people who are way too fascinated, the ones who cry because they are cutting open a person, and the people who throw up into the slop bucket. – No one threw up or passed out but it was A Thing no doubt about it.
  • Always flip the body slowly and with precision. Unless you want a formaldehyde and fat shower. – It was me. I got the shower. I had to throw away my shoes.
  • You might fail your first test. Cry a lot then get over it. – I didn’t, but that doesn’t mean I never did.
  • Even though you know everyone has to be smart on some level, all the drama and nonsense you still see is a little disappointing. – It made things more interesting. Kinda like reality TV.
  • You will spend your loan money on non-school items. Because you have no money. – Thank you, Amazon.
  • Invest in focus factor. – Never did, never needed it. Anxiety is a strong motivator y’all.
  • Sleep is for the weak. Caffeine is for the strong. – Wrong, I need sleep so badly all the time. Please sleep.
  • You’ll get really good at scheduling. MAKE yourself good at it. – I got really good the first few years. Like creepy good. But that only lasts so long.
  • Studying is completely different. If you undergrad it, you’re in trouble. – Too many of my classmates learned that IMMEDIATELY. I, on the other hand, always struggled so it was just the same but A LOT MORE.
  • You will completely lose track of time, days and pretty much the outside world. – I still don’t know what day it is.
  • You will horribly mess up at least once during standardized patient care practice. It will be hilarious for everyone except you. – More than once even.
  • This year will mark your very last real summer vacation. Use wisely. – Kind of, but not really. It’s the last significant one (if your school is kind) but there are plenty of other opportunities to live life.

Second year

  • Tears will be shed because you didn’t realize how good you had it in first year. – Not until January. That’s when you start missing first year. At least I did.
  • Every first year will somehow look like babies, no matter their age. – Very much yes. All so young, and full of hope.
  • At this point they want you to do other things. Like volunteering, research and be involved on campus. Do them and know that you can sleep when you’re dead. – They as in residencies. They do want fluff, good, passionate fluff. But please sleep.
  • If you chose to be a TA for a first year class be ready to have to restudy the subject so you can actually be helpful. – Um, yes?
  • You should know your perfect study nirvana by this point. – Sorry, that answer is incorrect. Thanks for playing.
  • You will have multiple complete mental breakdowns ranging between “why did I do this to myself?” and realizing you know how to kill yourself far too many ways. – Oh second year. Never again.
  • Never make definitive plans. Non-meds just don’t seem to understand why you can’t just study later. – Or just don’t make plans at all. Show up when you want. Live on the edge of acceptability.
  • Try your best to keep contact with a few people from the outside world. Try. – There will be a lot of contact with the boards crazy. You need the support.
  • Most schools end their MS2 years early to allow time to study for the boards. – Mine kinda did? I was going to fight my faculty about it, no joke.
  • Say good riddance to lectures! – In class lectures, anyways.
  • Studying for boards is your new job. – Is it even a job? It’s more like being in hell, but hey your friends are there.
  • After you get through boards you will sleep, party, then sleep some more.– I literally have no recollection of the week after step 1. None. I repressed it.

Third year

  • Being yelled at will be normal. – Most of the time it’s a stern tone with impending disappointment.
  • Being told you’re an idiot is also normal. – While it did happen, much less than anticipated which was nice.
  • Find a place to cry where no one can see you. – Bathrooms, cars, student areas, public areas. Whatever.
  • You will do a comprehensive session with a patient only to find out they lied to you for 30 minutes when the doctor asks them the same questions.– Stare at patient while doctor speaks to them. Assert dominance. You know. They know.
  • Be nice to the nurses. They know all secrets. – Absolutely true.
  • You will put on the spot all the time. Don’t worry; you’ll stop flinching every time anyone asks you a question. Eventually. – It’s more just acceptance that this is how it is. You won’t flinch because the apathy to being pimped is so strong.
  • How long can you go without sleep? Find out in third year! – 29 hours is my current record.
  • Learn to impress. You need LORs for residency programs. Asking a lot of questions helps you do this. – Honestly, being the best version of you helps you with this. The people who get you will be the people who stand for you.
  • Something at some point will make you pass out/throw up/cringe so hard you reconsider your entire life. – Wound care.
  • At some point, a patient will throw up/excrete something/have an mass explode all over you. And your reaction will be the essence of perfection.– This was literally just live birth for me. A human exploding into existence covered in every juice. That’s why I will never do OB.
  • The end of written exams! (Besides the boards, obviously). – Nope. Somehow they manage to sneak in just a few more here and there.
  • You will figure out what kind of physician YOU NEVER WANT TO BE. – Yes.
  • And you’ll figure what you actually like and what you could see yourself doing as a doctor. – You get there. There is still some wiggle room but there usually is direction you can feel.

Fourth year

  • Boards AGAIN. – Back again, but with less gusto.
  • This will be your most relaxed, easy year of medical school. Comparatively. – In terms of studying yes, in terms of anxiety not so much.
  • You get to pick rotation sites! Do your best to get them to match up to the places you interview at because you’re already strapped for cash. – Only if you’re lucky really. It’s so much more random and complicated than people made it seem.
  • There are dinners the night before interviews.  GO TO THESE. – Yes! Go if can! Very important to see how the residents coexist!
  • Make ALL the connections! And not just with the doctors! Get in with the residents. – Residents have the secret power. They may not get you in but oh boy can they get you out.
  • Match is confusing and stressful, but it’s actually applicant oriented. So that’s nice. – I mean. That’s what we’re told. We’re told a lot of things.
  • The only people who say match day isn’t bad are the people who matched. – It was still pretty awful waiting around until 12 PM. It just ended well for me, somehow.
  • Now is your chance to reconnect with people. A lot goes by in 4 years. – Well considering I’m having a huge wedding, yeah. But that’s just me.
  • If you make it through the most amazing hell journey, you are award with your degree and become a real to life Doctor. – I’m just a dork with a doctoral degree.
  • Getting out of medical school doesn’t mean you actually know anything though. You got years to go kid. – Amen.

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