Saturday, September 16, 2006

Top 10 list: Things I love about med school so far (or, Med school is so...slack?!)

First an apology: I haven't posted in over a week because my computer died and I've been wrestling with the big box store for repairs. They gave me a replacement system...but they also 'accidentally' wiped out my hard drive too. Back up your stuff, people. Do it.

Okay, I know the title for this post is pretty much the exact opposite of everything that you have ever heard in your life about med school, even if you have never been a science student. And I know by reading that there are medical students and professionals who, upon reading that, will a) question the legitimacy of my medical education; b) rain down words of warning about how the first bit is no indication whatsoever of what is to come. To the medically unfamiliar, I will explain that the first term is designed to catch up people who didn't come from a science background and get everyone on an even playing field. And to the medically experienced, I will say I know very well what I'm in for as soon as first term is over, and that I am quite clear on the fact that it only gets worse from there (I need not even mention third year). No need to warn me.

That being said, I will now provide you with a list of things I love about med school so far:

1. It's so slack. So far. Yeah we're in class 8-5, so I'm pretty busy, but as far as work or memorization goes it's not bad at all and it's pretty interesting stuff. And yeah we have 20-60 mins of homework twice a week, but it involves looking up stuff I'm curious about anyways. I am enjoying this breeze of a workload while it lasts (because it will not be for long).

2. Pass/fail. No pressure. No competition. P=M.D. All I gotta do is pass. Trust me, I'll aim higher, but it takes a lot of stress away from having to freak out about doing really well and learning the extra, useless details.

3. My M.D.ID card. All of us got an ID card from our regional medical association today, which is affiliated with the national medical association. Best of all: instead of "Mr. Vitum Medicinus," my name is clearly indicated as "Dr. Vitum Medicinus." I'm going to let that 'accidentally' fall out of my wallet many a time when I'm around attractive women!!! My hospital id is pretty rad, too.

4 Free stuff. Free backpack embroidered with the logos of the above associations (a nice one, too!); free rubber tomahawk reflex hammer (awesome!), and lots of free food every so often.

5. Toys. Even though I'm paying a pretty penny for them, in about a month I'll get my brand new stethoscope and diagnostic set in the mail. My friend told me that she expects me to sleep with the stethoscope around my neck. She's right; I likely will.

6. The people. I did NOT think that a group of a couple hundred former pre-med students would be so fun! Everyone has such amazing, diverse backgrounds, stories, and they ALL love to partay. Thank God for the interview process. The geeks are weeded out! Well, 99.5% of them...which leads me to the next point:

7. Making fun of "that guy." As we expected there's a "that guy" who chooses to raise his hand every class and ask stupid questions, using the class as a forum for personal debate with the professor at the expense of class time. The entire class lets out a sigh when the hand goes up... I honestly wonder what his patients will think of him. Oh well, there's a reason he's here too.

8. The relevance of everything. Like I mentioned before, almost everything I'm learning I no longer have to ask, "when will I ever have to use this?" It's all applicable. It's awesome. It's nice being able to enjoy my classes.

9. Learning from cadavers. This week we turned our cadavers over onto their backs for the first time to dissect the chest and see the muscles. Some of them had pacemakers which was really cool to see. Our anatomy prof is amazing, and by only focusing on such a tiny part each lab, we're learning so much.

10. Working with professionals. They do a great job of making sure we have a few different ways to learn the information: lectures, organized workshops (go through questions in a small group with a tutor), courses structured entirely as small group learning, etc. Whenever we're in a small group, they pair us up with a professional. It is so much better discussing how to interview patients in a small group with your tutor who is a doctor who has experience, or working through genetics problems with a person who is not a genetics masters student but a clinical genetic counsellor with >25 yrs of experience. They just add so much more to the discussion and experience.

I'm having the time of my life so far. And again, for those of you veterans disgusted with my euphoric honeymoon stage, no need to warn me, I know this is NO indication what the rest of it will be like. Until that kicks in, though, I'll keep jumping out of bed in the mornings.


Kim said...


Did you say 20-60 MINUTES of homework twice a WEEK?????

That's not medical school, that's PRE-school!

Just kidding, but I was wondering if that was a typo.

I hope you keep up your enthusiasm - I remember how good it felt to wear my stethoscope for the first time.

Once I put it on at home after listening to my kid's wheezing, for got to take it off and wore it to the store!

A bit embarrassing.....

Alice said...

I remember how thrilled I was with my stethoscope. I chased my siblings around trying to make them lie down flat so I could do a complete cardiac exam on every one, and maybe find that elusive S3 which is "common in healthy children and adolescents." Now, I can't wait till I'm enough of a surgeon that I don't have to lug it around everywhere with me. That thing gets heavy on your shoulders.

For the rest, as you predicted: I don't know what on earth kind of medical school that is. I'm glad you're enjoying it, and I guess it wouldn't be certified if it isn't teaching the necessary things. My school took the approach of making the first weeks as hard as anything would ever be, so we knew what we were in for.

And a warning about pass/fail: my school does pass/fail, as in, you have to get >60% on the tests to pass. But, the actual percentage grade is recorded, and shows up later on as your class rank. Which my school encourages us not to pay any attention to - but residencies will care, if you're looking for something competitive, like the ROAD to happiness (radiology, ophthalmology, A??, dermatology), also emergency medicine and surgery - if Canada's residencies compare in competitiveness to the US, or if you want to move south for residency.

Vitum Medicinus said...

Kim - Yep that wasn't a typo!! That's why I'm incredulous so far as well. And that's why I'm getting really nervous about when the homework storm DOES hit.

Alice - ROAD...I'm guessing the A = Anaesthesiology?