If people say that medical school is easy, or not that bad, they have lied to you. Of course, this is my opinion, based on my experience. However, I felt that my first year tried to kill me.
I thought that I was prepared as much as possible for medical school. I received a B.S. in Neuroscience and a M.S. in Biology. I had studied hard all my life. Of course, I knew that medical school was going to be difficult, but there had been only 1 medical student that I ever spoke with, out of dozens of medical students, that gave me any glimpse into the real level of difficulty. When people describe that the amount of information that you receive in medical school as trying to drink from a fire hydrant, believe them. …and just when you think that maybe you have figured out a way to get some water from that fire hydrant, the water pressure gets turned up, and out comes more.
I will say, my adjustment to my first year was difficult. I was sick frequently, I had my first allergic reaction with full blown hives to something that I still don’t know. If that wasn’t enough, school was still waiting there for me, when all of those issues subsided. I would frequently study 12+ hours a day, which I never felt was enough, especially to master any material. Sometimes, just 2 days before exams, we would get hit with 4 lectures in one day. I would just laugh and swore that somebody, somewhere was playing a joke. I just knew that someone was going to jump out and say “Gotcha sucka! Just kidding! We REALLY don’t expect you to know all of this!”, lol. That day NEVER came. However, my frequency of pulling all-nighters increased to a record high out of all my schooling. Now granted, all of my peers did not have the same experiences as I did. For one, I am at a pass-fail school which definitely takes some pressure off. Secondly, if you have a photographic memory (which is debatable if this really exists), or you can study things once or twice, and never have to look at them again to remember, then your experience was very different than mine. Im sure those students enjoyed their lives, slept in, partied with friends and said first year “was not that bad”, lol. However, if you are anything like me, the truth of the matter is, it was probably one of the hardest things I ever had to do.
I don’t say this to discourage any potential medical school applicants from applying. However, there should be some education to what you are getting ready to endure: probably the most studying out of any other field, 3 board exams, plus additional national exams for specialities, one summer off in your entire 4 years, and the list goes on and on…and on. If you love sleep… stop loving it, because you will never get as much as you once had, lol. #Fact.
I will say, if you want to be a physician or you are currently applying to medical school, make absolutely sure that this is what you want to do. This is not a profession to be entered into lightly. It is not about money or prestige. You will have many sleepless nights (clearly I am bitter about sleep since I keep mentioning it, lol), a possible lack of social relationships and many things you will have to endure in this field. I personally don’t think any amount of money or prestige is worth this amount of work, if your heart is not in it, and you are doing it for the wrong reasons. There are really sick people in the world who need physicians who are really caring, supportive and want the best for them. I feel, unless you are truly ready to dedicate your life to serving them, this may not be a field for you. However, if you are, I think that it will be a very rewarding field.
Despite my difficulties of first year, when I reflect on why I came to medical school or I have days that I have some patient interaction, I am rejuvenated and encouraged. We just started second year this past week and even though second year seems like its going to be worse regarding workload (yes, that’s possible…I’m still figuring out how…), I am looking forward to it, and already enjoying our first class in Neuroscience. Although I am not looking forward to studying for step 1 and all of the pressure that will bring, I am looking forward to my third and fourth years, with patient interaction, and finally one day, living out my career of doing something that I have wanted to do and worked for my entire life. 1st year tried to kill me, but I survived and made it to second year. How cool is that…