So much for making time to blog during me school. Turns out, time is never on my side. In a previous post, I compared med school to a never ending buffet, but lately I have been calling it a marathon on a treadmill. You can never get off. Today was the first anatomy exam, but no time to rest. Next week brings another exam, and then another. No rest until December, when I will collapse in a heap.
I have now been is school for a little over a month and have had an exam in each class. I feel like my studying habits have been good, and I have been prepared. The reality is there is a ton of material, and no amount of preparation before you start school can really make you appreciate that. That being said, if I was just trying to pass it would not be so bad. I don’t like the term “gunner” because it seems to be applied too easily. I am simply trying to do my best, and that brings some pressure, but ultimately I want to be able to say I gave my best effort and be proud of that. There are definitely those who want to do their best, but also want you do do worse to lower the average. I think those are the real “gunners”. Truth is almost everyone is studying harder and longer than they ever had to in med school, but everyone acts like they aren’t.
This brings me to something I have been meaning to post on, but haven’t had time. I have decided med school is more like high school than college. It’s smaller, everyone is taking the same classes, there are little clicks and everyone is riding the fine line between looking dumb and looking too smart. Perhaps because I am older, more settled and comfortable with myself (or at least like to think so), I find it all amusing. Our class average GPA was a 3.7, we were all nerds. Yet, you can still run the risk of being a nerd amongst nerds. Some things never change.
I would like to comment on is stress in med school. It’s important to remember everyone is stressed and for the same reasons. We all show it differently and have different coping mechanisms. I tend to joke a lot to loosen things up and my lab table is always having a good time, so people think I am not stressed out as much as them. I think I might be more. I just do my best not to let it get me down and use it as motivation. We all want to do well, but the reality is some of us might have to redefine well. Most of my classmates never saw a C in undergad, and if they did it was a rare event. Accepting that you might now be a C/B student in med school can be a huge jolt. I have seen people in tears, I have seen a lot of frowns. The reality is we will all most likely make it through, and get some extra letters after our names, but that can be little consolation at this early stage. I suspect that next semester things will settle down when everyone realizes they might not need to finish first in class to follow their dream.
Finally, how was the first gross exam? I have heard all kinds of horror stories. During a recent visit to my son’s pediatrician he confided in me that he failed is first anatomy exam. I don’t know what I made yet, but I am sure I passed. Not to brag, because I am sure I missed my share, but I was one of the few smiling at the end. It was long (2 hour written exam followed by 2 hour practical), but it went fast. And it was fair. Not to say that I didn’t get tricked (probably did) or that I didn’t out think myself at times (I know I did at least once and it kills me), but it was a good representation of what we had to learn, which was a lot. I wanted an A, and might have got one if I got a little lucky. I feel like I prepared myself well. So, how did I walk out of the exam without tears in my eyes?
For me, I learned best in the lab, and I think that is true for most people. The difference is I spent a lot of time in the lab because I realized this early on. We have two groups for each body, so I don’t have to be in the lab on my non-disecting weeks, but I found that I didn’t learn as well. So when I am not dissecting, I give the others about an hour head start, and then I am in the lab going around form table to table, which is actually better than dissecting. This way I can follow the various instructors and hear all their input, and, equally important, I get familiar with all the bodies. It’s easy to focus only on your body or your dissections. I found going in my non-dissecting days was huge. I could study the book in the library for that first hour, and really learn it in the lab. I think I was the only one who did that. There may have been a few, but I didn’t seem. Some would argue you could use your non-dissecting time to study other material. For me, anatomy is by far and away the hardest class first semester. You can never spend too much time in the lab. There were many times when I was teaching stuff to people during their dissections. When it came time to prepare for the exam, I had my ID’s solid and could focus on secondary questions. But I also did that in the lab and spent 4-5 nights in the lab for about 5 hours leading up to the exam. Sometimes there were only a few others in lab with me. There are a 100 in my class. More came in as the exam got closer. The most I saw was the day before the lab closed to prep the exam. Study in the lab early and often.