I am a miracle made up of particles and in this existence I'll stay persistent and I'll make a difference and I will have lived it - Medicine for the People

Med School Discussion Forums are a Black Hole, Terror Level: Expert

Monday, July 29, 2013

Yesterday on the bus home from a wonderfully relaxing weekend at the beach I made the mistake of Googling “which year of medical school is the hardest” on my phone. About three minutes into reading a thread on the topic posted on a medical student forum my feelings had turned from restfulness to woe. I have a general rule about doing this (it’s to NOT) but I broke it and I regretted it immediately.

Although I only browsed through about fifteen messages written by students at various points of their medical education, most of them were very disheartening. According to what I read, every year of medical school (except maybe the second half of M4) is not only difficult but unbearable and that misery, depression, and maybe even a complete mental break should be expected.

So clearly at this point I am feeling pretty nervous and unsettled. But then I started thinking about the actual people I know who are currently in medical school. They are all hardworking, dedicated students, a few of which had to apply more than once to get in. None of them fit a “traditional” applicant profile 100% (going straight from college to med school with a perfect GPA and outstanding MCAT and a list of extracurricular activities 25 feet long) and I know it hasn’t been easy but everything I’ve heard from them has been the complete opposite of what I was reading on the internet.

Yes, they tell me it is hard, it is emotionally challenging and physically draining. But no, they never tell me they hate it or that it’s unmanageable. Instead they talk about how it’s worth it. They get the opportunity to learn amazing things everyday and they wouldn’t trade that for anything. I have an acquaintance who is an M4 at a school in Boston currently and I ran into him randomly a little while ago and we chatted about how his year was going. He told me quite frankly that rotations were rough- you work with difficult patients, don’t have a lot of time off for a social life and never get enough sleep but that he was learning so much and was loving it. It was so encouraging to hear. I see his status updates on Facebook all the time and for the most part, they’re always so upbeat they put a little sunshine into my day.

After I got home last night I was on the phone with a very close friend of mine who just finished his first year and has a similar attitude about school and he made me feel so much better after my foray into studentdoctor.net. He loves being in medical school all the time, even when it’s so difficult and stressful it’s hard to handle, and that gave me hope. Every conversation I have with him, even when he’s studying for an exam or waiting to get test grades back, he’s still so happy to be where he is. Obviously it’s not easy, telling anyone that would just be a lie, but he told me something really important that I think we all need to remember and that is: most of the opinion on the internet is from students who are unhappy or dissatisfied. You don’t usually hear from the ones who work hard and do well because they have nothing to complain about so it is essential to take what you hear with a grain of salt and not let it get you down. Because if you’re willing to work hard, if you’re in it for the right reasons, you will do well and that is all that matters.


Medical School Stress

As an aside I should mention that there is a higher prevalence of anxiety & depression among medical students (actually students in general) but that there are always resources to help cope and NO ONE should feel stigmatized or afraid to use them! We all need a hand (or a hug) sometimes :)

3 comments:

Daniel and Katherine said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dr D said...

As a 3rd year medical student, I can say for sure that SDN blew things way out of proportion. Before med school I was an avid SDN reader, but after I started med school I realized that talking about med school with a bunch of strangers online was the last thing I wanted to do with my free time. As they say, misery loves company, and SDN is full of miserable people who want to bring everyone down.

I can honestly say I've loved med school so far, and it is only getting better now that I'm out of the classroom. I'm finishing up the dreaded OB/GYN clerkship, and while the residents are a little bitchy at times, it's been pretty awesome. Sure, there were times where school has sucked (studying for step 1), but all in all it's been great, and most of my friends agree! Forget the haters!

Chantal Mendes said...

Thank you for your comment! So great to hear that you are enjoying your time at school. It's always nice to get the perspective of someone right in the thick of things and of course so reassuring to hear that it isn't all as dismal as everyone on SDN would have you believe. It makes me much more excited to begin. Good luck with 4th year!

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