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What should I expect going into medical school?

I would like to know what i can expect so that way i can properly learn how to handle it before i go. #pediatrician #neurosurgeon #plastic-surgeon #cardiologist #medicine #hospital-and-health-care #college

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James’s Answer

hi alyssa,

i graduated medical school in 1993 and have been a family physician for 20+ years.

unfortunately, your question isn't very specific. so i may not provide you the answer you were looking for. if that is indeed the case, perhaps you can be clearer in a new question.

first, you will need to prioritize. your first challenge will be being overwhelmed with reading assignments. there is no humanly possible way to read everything they assign you. so you will need to decide what you want to focus on. that focus will likely change on a weekly basis depending on the test schedule.

generally, you will have at least one test per week. perhaps physiology one week then anatomy the next then cell biology the next, etc. so most people will adjust their studying schedules, i.e.-cram for a different subject each week.

however, if you already know you want to be a neurologist, for example, then you will likely want to read as much as you can in that particular class.

second, you will find a study group. it's next to impossible to go it alone. so most everyone will find a few classmates to sit with in class and study with outside of class. these will probably end up being your friends for life.

third, you will find a way to relieve tension. the pressure is unbearable, unrelenting, and ongoing. every week you'll see one of your classmates openly crying or otherwise showing signs of breaking. many students turn to exercise. some to music. others to other methods of temporarily easing the pressure.

fourth, you'll ignore previous relationships. you'll stop calling your parents and other friends. you'll pass on invitations to weddings, funerals, parties, and such. if you're not careful you may end up divorced. i'm not kidding - this happens.

fifth, you'll pay less attention to the world in general. you'll stop reading the newspaper, watching TV, surfing the internet, etc. one of my favorite memories was a day during my fourth year when i was able to read a Sunday newspaper. it was the guiltiest pleasure i could have had at that time. turns out i had missed the entire Gulf War!

sixth, you'll pay less attention to other parts of your life. you'll cook less, clean less, do laundry less. if you have a spouse you'll put a lot of pressure on that person to pick up those tasks and others. you'll wear scrubs almost every day so you won't have to buy any new clothes. you'll put off visits to the doctor, dentist, optometrist, etc.

seventh, you'll learn how to dull your senses. death, trauma, and other tragedy will be encountered so frequently that it could easily overwhelm you. so you learn to focus on the disease, not the person. and move on.

eight, you'll live day to day. you'll never get around to any advanced planning. so you may end up paying bills late, not getting your taxes done on time, not buying an anniversary gift, etc. people will get upset with you for this - often.

bottom line: it's tough.

hope that helps.

good luck!

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Richard’s Answer

Time management is key. Between lecture, lab and studying, the first 2 years will be grueling. Make sure to leave time for yourself to exercise, eat right and even some socializing.
There will be times during 3rd and 4th year when you will be frustrated by your continued lack of skills and knowledge but just remember that there will be plenty of time to master your specialty during residency.