Oh yes, so where were we? Medical School. Everyone finds their path to medical school a bit differently, but once you are there? It is a completely new "ball game." Once upon a time, you were the best of the best. You worked the hardest. You got the best grades. You were the smartest person that your friends knew. Guess what? Once you get to medical school...everyone is the same as you. You are all the smartest, the most rigorous, the most dedicated, and, no, you cannot all be the best in the class. Perhaps, for the first time in your young life, you will be an "average student." Please don't let that kill your self esteem. You know what they call the person to graduate last in his/her medical school class? That's right...Doctor.
For me, I felt like once I got to medical school I could actually *breathe.* I had, for all intents and purposes, made it to the "end game." I did not go into med school with a super clear idea of the field in which I wanted to specialize. (Aside: I thought Dermatology would be way cool with awesome hours/lifestyle, but, much to my dismay, I came home disgusted every day from Derm clinic (and also with a case of ringworm before the rotation was over).
However, first things first. The first two years of medical school? They suck. Hardcore suck. It is massive amounts of information, crammed into your brain in ways you never thought possible. You thought you studied hard in undergrad? Freaking forget it. I remember that I would sit....cross legged on my futon in my apartment, hunched over my books and notes for 8-10 hours (after going to class all day), pausing only for bathroom breaks and meals. I would do this, and then I would make a B or a C, because I was in the middle of the (incredibly intelligent) class. So. Frustrating. Studying in medical school surpassed anything that I ever dreamed of in undergrad, but so did the parties after the tests. Crayzee. I made my first D in medical school. I failed my first class (Endocrinology) in med school. I felt lower than I ever had felt....until 3rd year. Once we got into the wards, it all changed. I was taking care of patients. I liked it!!! All of the angst of the first 2 years felt redeemed.
For those of you going into medical school knowing that you want to specialize in Ob/Gyn...you have a leg up. I had no idea who I wanted to be when I "grew up." I blindly stumbled through the blocks until I found something that I really loved to do. For me, it was Women's Health. I loved reading about it. I enjoyed the clinics. I was intrigued with the GYN surgeries, and, of course, delivering babies was the biggest rush in the world. I remember vehemently wishing that I didn't love it. I looked at the lifestyle and was scared to death. But, I knew, just knew, that being an Ob/Gyn was what I was meant to do. I wished it was different, but I couldn't fight how I felt.
If you do know that you are passionate about Ob/Gyn in medical school, get involved early. Look for research (ugh) projects with residents. Bust your butt on your rotations, make yourself invaluable to your team, and impress your attendings. You will need good letters of recommendation from at least a couple attending physicians, so do as many rotations and electives as you can do. Be highly visible. Scrub every surgery that you can manage to do, get your hands in on as many deliveries as you can, and offer (often) to run scut for your interns. Learn the lifestyle before you take the final plunge.
The good news for you is that Ob/Gyn, because of the lifestyle, isn't super-competitive like Radiology or Dermatology. You don't need AOA to get into a good program. If you are a good student, with good references, you will likely go where you want to go. I graduated in the top 25% of my class, and I got my first pick from the Match. So, again with the bullet points:
~ If you know what you want to do, get involved early.
~ Don't despair, the first two years suck for everyone.
~ Go above and beyond on your Ob/Gyn (and, really, every) rotation. Make yourself invaluable to your team (without being a PITA).
~ Find research opportunities through the residents and interns. Everyone needs someone who can research charts and compile data.
~ Be thinking about your letters of recommendation early.
~ Work hard, and the rest will follow.
~ DO NOT be a know-it-all, or do anything listed here.
Up next, how to survive your residency...with your sanity somewhat intact! :)