Editor’s Note: We frequently invite guest bloggers who are willing to share their expertise with our readers. Mike DeWall offers our readers the unique perspective of a first-year medical student and the challenges they face daily. This is his first post.
The first couple days of medical school were very exciting. It was a brand new experience, and I got to meet an overwhelming number of people from all over the country. Everyone here in South Carolina seemed to be interested that I came from North Dakota, and I soon realized that I had a little bit of the famous northern accent. You learn a lot about yourself when you end up being the “minority” in a situation, and I soon realized that I said “you know” way too much as my classmates kept bringing it up, as well as making fun of the way I said other words.
The first few weeks of medical school went well and I realized it was going to be a lot of work, which I guess I knew in the first place. Undergraduate is a joke compared to medical school. Let me try to explain.
In undergraduate, you typically have a class for one to two hours every other day. Well, for medical school, I have two hours of lecture every day for just about every class. My day starts out in the morning with two hours of biochemistry, followed by two hours of immunology, histology and pathology, followed up after lunch with two more hours of microbiology.
Each lecture comes with an average of 30 to 40 slides. Do the math and you realize that one day of medical school means viewing around 150 to 180 PowerPoint slides (i.e., a lot of information for one day). For those who are thinking about attending medical school, you really need to be sure this is what you want to do because it is not easy. I am a nerd, so I enjoy learning but don’t exactly always enjoy the studying. This is what I signed up for, and I am still glad that I did it.
Now let’s talk about tests. Usually, I have tests every other week that cover lectures from the previous two weeks. I don’t want to do the math, but let’s just say it’s a lot of material! Instead of spending my weekends out with friends or other activities like in undergrad, I sit in a group study room trying to cram hundreds of PowerPoint slides and into my brain.
Last week, I was studying with some classmates for my two tests on Wednesday and trying to write some information on the board. I completely forgot how to spell “promote,” among other words. I think my brain kicked out some information to fit all this immunology, pathology and biochemistry.
The period of time after tests is probably the worst time. I would like to be alone and simply not think about the tests that just occurred, but being around 162 Type-A medical school personalities anxious to know their scores is not a good situation. Everyone is asking each other what they got for question 35, 62…you get the idea.
Everyone is very opinionated and usually thinks their answer is right and yours is wrong. I just try to avoid all communication with others after a test, otherwise I get mad because I begin to think all my answers on the test could be wrong. From now on, I will put on headphones and avoid communication with others directly after a test.
I hope you enjoyed learning a little about me and my first month in medical school. I hope to continue to write more, and you can hear my story, including some of the fun stuff I get to do when I am not studying.
Mike DeWall is a current medical student in South Carolina. Hailing from North Dakota, Mike attended the University of Minnesota in the Twin Cities where he majored in microbiology.
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