No med school blog would be complete without a requisite end-of-first-year sappy reflective post. Since I know my friends love reading my entries where I get all gushy and sentimental (Hi Kate!) I figured it would be a disservice to not add my 2 cents to the plethora of bad advice on the internet. With my final exam lurking in 5 days, I figured now would be a great opportunity to procrastinate, put on some Coldplay, mix up a cosmo, and look back at myself 10 months ago (and laugh).
So, without further ago, I now present my 5 pearls of wisdom garnered along the way of the past 290 day endeavor in masochism known endearingly as MS1 (© 2008 for a future book deal, of course):
1. You will fail.
Maybe not literally, if you successfully claw above that 70% line every test, but you will fail. You will study your ass off for an exam and do significantly worse then you expected. You will make an idiot of yourself in front of a patient. You will inevitably do something that makes you turn a color of red so bright it has not existed in the world outside of a Crayola crayon box (see Torch Red).
But there is hope. Luckily, the admissions departments at medical schools do a superb job of selecting perfectionists with abnormally tight external rectal spincters and the moments of failure will become your moments of greatest insight and learning as you sadistically mull over your mess ups. Some of things that I will never forget from MS1 due to my own incompetence include how to feel for the PMI on a well endowed woman (BACK of the hand, do not cup the breast!), the many ways that steroids will destroy your body (that you don't hear about on ESPN), and the fact that the femoral nerve is lateral to the artery (stuttering is not a recommended method of answering a question when pimped). Love the failure, it's good for you.
2. You will have doubts.
Everybody is a happy, fluffy cloud of optimism when they start medical school. Unfortunately, fluffy clouds can quickly become rain clouds (wow, did I really just type that?) There are times when medical school sucks. But it's important to realize that everything in life sucks sometimes and you are not experiencing a phenomenon unique to medical school. Everyone does it differently, but one of the most important things you can do in your medical career has absolutely nothing to do with studying tip & tricks or learning to differentiate rales and ronchi or buying out the pigs feet at Fred Meyer to practice your running line stitch. The most important thing you can do to get ahead is to find something that keeps you happy. Join a pottery group. Train for a half marathon. Go to a strip club. It is those things that will make you a better medical student, since no one likes interacting with a thorny burnt out wad of pessimism all the time.
Best advice I got from a physician this year: "Make sure at least one good thing happens to you every day."
3. You will complain.
Unfortunately, medical students come off as very negative people at times to our friends and loved ones, since one of the most effective and easy ways to let out your stresses involving school is to bitch and complain. I was catching up with a friend the other day and explaining my 10 year roadmap, stating quite truthfully and rather sarcastically that I have 3 more years of medical school where I'm "everyone's bitch," following by 1 year of internship where I am "everyone's bitch... but the medical student," following by x years of residency where I am "everyone's bitch... but the medical student and intern." After finishing all he says to me is "so you wish you didn't go to medical school?" I've loved medical school so far, and don't regret my decision for a second, but can see how that can be lost on others behind the Wall of Bitch.
So, learn the art of complaining. Embrace it as a part of you. But remember when you're done complaining that you are going into a career thats pretty sweet too.
4. Make friends not enemies.
Your classmates are pretty cool people. And thankfully we are kind of self-selecting to be generous and helpful. Same goes for most people you interact with in health care. Your life can either be miserable or awesome depending on how you choose to interact with others. Sure there are bitter and evil classmates, nurses, attendings, information desk receptionists, and patients lurking out there in the shadows, but if you let them make you miserable, they win. [Insert corny Star Wars analogy about the dark side here]. Be nice, it pays off way better then being an asshole.
5. You will love it.
Medical school is really cool. You get to see and do things 95% of the population would never dream of. You get to visualize the human body in ways you never would think possible (tangent: people watching becomes really fascinating when you play the What Disease Do I Have? game). You will be continually challenged and rewarded for your efforts. Yup, most of that crap you rambled on about in your AMCAS personal statement is true.