Friday, June 12, 2009

Ass-vice: The Med School Years

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/ 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! :)


Marie said...

Wow, what a great, encouraging post! I had a double major in college, English and Biology, and planned on being a doctor. But I got lazy and was insecure and finally just finished with the English degree. Although I eventually became a nurse and got my Master's a few years ago, I have always regretted not pursuing it. :(

Now that my kids are grown and I have the confidence and drive and the conviction I would be a good doctor, it is out of the picture because I have MS.

So anyone reading this, DO IT, DO IT, JUST DO IT! You never know what life will bring.

And P.S.: Who wouldn't fail endocrinology?!? Bor-ing! And have you ever met an endocrinologist who didn't have a personality disorder?! lol

Joy@WDDCH said...

Nursing is more my aim but if I went to into it I know L&D would be it for me, hands down. I've read the ER blogs and the my mom was an RN in neurology. It's all about babies for me!

Anonymous said...

Loved the OB part. Even did an extra rotation as a senior student. Wasn't that thrilled with the GYN surgeries, BTL, D&C abd hyst, c-sections OK, just couldn't get my head around vag hysts and in those days laparascopy was almost unknown. Did FP instead, which in those days included OB, D&C with options for BTL and c-section if you wanted to do the extra training. The FP I worked for in my second job actually had c-section privileges in our community hospital, having done a bunch in residency and the Army. Course, don't do OB any more and D&C in my state increases malpractice rates (nobody does many any more anyway).

Bev Sykes said...

"knowing that you want to specialize in Ob/ have a leg up." How apt!

Alpine, R.N. said...

We did our first Endocrine disorders test this past semester in nursing and...strangely, I thought it was awesome. It's like a see-saw. You memorize ONE set of symptoms of dysfunction (hyper) and then mentally reverse it for hypo...for most things. I thought it was spiffy. The problem is I've not much experience with endo problems, as they tend not to be obviously emergent in an EMT sense...except diabetes.

Taking Heart said...

I'll stick with what I know... which is not much compared to you MDs.... But enough to help keep us all in check from time to time!

I love working with people who are not selfish with their knowledge... I love to learn and I love to know WHY I am doing something to my patient.

I'd like to think that another life ago I would've made a great OBGYN... but, now, three kids later with a doting husband and working in L&D/NICU/PP... I am content.

MommyNoir said...

love it:-
>thanks for such a detailed post! i'm hooked to your blog! it's incredibly witty and addictive! :)can't wait to hear about your next blog. i'm a current student finishing up undergrad going towards med school... i need all the info i can get:)

Anonymous said...

Ya know, now that I think of it Marie is right. I have NEVER met an endocrinologist who was normal.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the advice! You are so inspiring. I'm still getting my bachelor's in pre-med. It took me a while to decide that I want to be an ob/gyn, but now that I know, I'm really excited for the future. I also think it's so cool that you can take care of your family and be a doctor.

Princess _______________ said...

I am very happy that you have listed advice.I am about to start college and need all of the advice I can get. I really enjoy your blog because it is very witty, but very educational for someone wanting to go into medicine and possibly be an ob/gyn.Geting to know the lifestyle is interesting to me.

thepinksteth said...

thank you thank you thank you! :)

Anonymous said...

OMG. Your post about the first 2 years of medical school is totally relatable. It feels like shit. It's totally hell. Everything you said is so right. It's frustrating and crazy and I've never been like this before I entered med school. God I don't want to repeat this year *sniff*.