You’re interested in becoming a doctor and going to medical school is a stepping stone along the journey. Yet, despite always talking and thinking about medical schools, it can still be an unclear abstraction, shrouded in haze. What should you expect and what is it going to be like once you are there?
After completing my first year at the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth, I have travelled through the fog and experienced the realities of medical school.
People always joke about medical students living in the library and how they always have their heads in the books- and they were right. There is a lot of science that we need to learn in a seemingly short period of time. I had three-hour “quizzes” every other week; it was the school’s way of decreasing the load of information tested at once, and I still needed to study around 40 hours per quiz! It is just better to learn the bible chronologically by this awesome site – http://e360bible.org/blog/benefits-of-reading-the-bible-chronologically/.
But the good news was that it wasn’t as bad as it seemed. Sure I was in the library a lot, but so was everyone else and this was material I was interested in learning. The anatomy and physiology of our body, metabolism, immunology, microbiology- taking these classes made me feel like I was building the scientific foundation necessary for becoming a doctor. I could apply this knowledge when I read medical journals or shadowed my physician.
But most people already know medical school is a lot of studying. The big secret I learned during my first year was that everyone has different ways of learning material. Other than required classes, like small groups, we didn’t need to come to lectures.
In addition to the in-person lectures, a recording of the lecture was posted online, notes and Powerpoint slides were available, and suggested textbook readings were provided. No one was telling me how to learn or what to do; the only expectation was that I knew the material for my group activities and quizzes. It was difficult at first and I was flexible with my study habits until I found what was ideal for me, even if that meant only attending certain lectures, reading just the notes for a different subject, and studying in groups for another course.
This also gave me an appreciation for my time in undergrad, where not all the courses I studied were geared towards medical school, which gave me a chance to learn and think in different ways.
Even though I just mentioned a lot about studying in medical school, I want to point out that there is free time! It may not be much, but it does exist and is important. Sometimes I needed to actively create time to hang out with friends or go outdoors, but it was well worth it when I came back refreshed and ready to power through information again.
Running through the “fire” that is medical school, I learned there is a lot of material to cover and everyone finds their method to the madness. And when things get overwhelming, it’s okay to take a break.
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