Six months ago, I started my first day of medical school. Last Friday marked the end to my first semester, how nuts is that? There is so much to reflect on.
- Over the past 6 months, I have learned an insane amount of information. Anatomy, physiology, biochemistry, microbiology, pathology, pharmacology, … the list goes on and on. I have learned how to take a detailed patient history (don’t forget your LOPQRST, ICEE, and ROS folks!), perform physical exams (anyone need their upper extremity, lower extremity, back or thorax checked?), dissected a human cadaver head to toe (alright more like neck to toe; head/face will be next semester’s hurdle and neuro will be a Year 2 problem). I’VE HELD A HUMAN HEART AND LUNG IN MY HANDS! Each day I’m reminded of and amazed by how complex and incredible the human body is. Mechanisms such as pressure differences drive our hearts to pump blood to where they need to go and allow our lunges to expand and deflate to allow for gas exchange. We have an army inside of us, ready to attack foreign invaders should they enter our body. If there is anything I’ve learned this semester it’s that I have so much more to learn.
- Learn(ing) to study smarter, not harder. In college, flipping through PowerPoints and sitting in lecture was enough to get me through the course. But in med school, I could spend hours reading the textbook, taking notes, making study guides, and memorizing them…and still not retain the information. To some extent it’s worked but it’s incredibly time expensive and the fact of the matter is I don’t have time (if there’s a way to do all of that at the same time, someone please tell me). It’s a lot of trial and error and in the end, and it doesn’t always work out. Block 1, CRUSHED IT. Block 2, GOT CRUSHED. Block 3, it’s been back and forth. What’s frustrating is what works for one block doesn’t always work for the next. My approach to studying pharmacology/microbiology doesn’t work for physiology and immunology which requires an entirely different approach than anatomy. A second year told me early on that you’re constantly fine tuning the way you study. So I guess if there is a lesson to be learned, it’s that you have to constantly adapt yourself to the situation (which I guess will come in handy when it comes to interacting with patients in a clinical setting).
- Burn out is real. After talking to a couple of classmates, I didn’t realize it was such a common occurrence. Since starting med school, it’s been nothing but go go go. Being in class from 8-5:30 daily and then having to put in hours of out of class studying really takes a toll on you. On top of that, I don’t remember the last time we got a break (I guess you could say Thanksgiving but personally, I was busy catching up on work I missed during the block, ooops). When December rolled around, I thought to myself that I don’t have it in me anymore. It could have been because we were winding down on the semester, or because it’s literally dark by 4PM, or the fact that its below 30 degrees pretty much everyday that may have something to do with it. But there is a fine line between burning out and not studying enough and failing, which makes self care that much more important. Being able to recognize when it’s time to take a break and calling it quits is just as important as pushing yourself to study another hour.
The past 6 months is everything I imagined med school to be and more. Excited to see what the spring semester has in store. In the mean time, two weeks off means cramming in as many meet ups, food, and Netflix episodes as I possible can. Happy holidays and see you all in the New Year.
3 blocks down, 2 to go until we’re done with Year 1!