Medical Students on the Good, the Bad, and the Unexpected of School
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be in medical school? In this edition of Student Insights, we asked current students to share their medical school journey thus far.
The Good: I’m in an encouraging atmosphere in which I can continue my journey to becoming a compassionate and insightful physician. It’s an honor to explore every facet of medicine from dedicated doctors and professors. These experiences have allowed me to learn a lot about myself and the needs of underserved community
The Bad: The hardest part I’ve found is how time consuming classes, clinicals, and overall studying has become. Time management has become such an important skill!
The Unexpected: I was surprised by how many long-lasting friendships I have formed while in school. I have an amazing support system!
The Good: All of us have a fascination with the human body. Medical school provides the otherwise inaccessible resources to explore the physiology behind our own anatomy.
The Bad: The commitment to medicine demands sacrifice not normally seen in other careers. The field requires you to balance your personal life with your occupational goals.
The Unexpected: It is humbling to be a colleague of such an extraordinarily diverse group of individuals, all of whom contain the intelligence, dedication, and passion necessary for the field of medicine. Also, be prepared to learn to enjoy the smell of formaldehyde in the anatomy lab!
The Good: You can still have a life! Learning your work-life balance is the most important skill of M1 year. Once you gain your footing, you can still see your friends, watch TV before bed, cook dinner every night, and do all the other things you used to do before school started!
The Bad: You will always smell like the cadaver lab…. even when you don’t think you do. I recommend a travel size perfume bottle.
The Unexpected: As scary as the cadavers are at first, they ultimately become your best learning tool for gross anatomy. After a few dissections you become extraordinarily comfortable in the cadaver lab. By the time you get to brain or genital dissections, the cadaver is your best friend.
The Good: Even the title of medical student makes other human beings more comfortable sharing with you sensitive information about their health, bodies, and innermost personal lives. Countless conversations later, I continue to be mystified by the mantle health professionals bear – the charge and privilege to do right by others in their most vulnerable capacity.
The Bad: Medical training is rigorous and demanding in a multi-dimensional way – there is the grind of the classroom setting, long clinical hours, and pressure to perform. This scientific, perfectionist culture leaves little room for the arts, reflection and the acceptance of error. As stress levels elevate, this “lacking” can weigh on your resolve and endurance.
The Unexpected: As a poet, introspective character, and spiritual individual, I had challenging moments during cadaver lab and while interviewing patients. Either you dissociate yourself from these visceral experiences, or you associate. I associate as much as possible in a professional context because the “human element” makes me a better healthcare professional, and because I never want to lose touch with that aspect of myself.
The Good: Considering the racial health disparities that plague this country, it is imperative that schools train more physicians of color. As a young black woman, it’s an honor for me to learn how to care and advocate for the people in our communities.
The Bad: There is a lot of medical knowledge that we need to digest in a short amount of time. It’s very easy to fall victim to “imposter syndrome” when you are in medical school.
The Unexpected: Although I’m a busy student, there is still time for me to live a life independent from medicine. There is still time to enjoy your favorites activities, discover new hobbies, and spend time with family/friends. It’s all about balance!
The Good: The amazing connections you make with patients. Even as a student, you have the privilege of helping others through their most difficult endeavors, physically and emotionally.
The Bad: You can always study more. There is really no end to the amount of information to know, so you need to take it upon yourself to make time for family and friends.
The Unexpected: There isn’t an ounce of competition in my medical school class. On the contrary, everyone is extremely kind and wanting to help one another succeed.
The Good: The best part would definitely be the constant intellectual stimula