If someone was to ask me what I thought about medical school so far, my one-word answer would be interesting. The material we cover each day is fascinating both in basic sciences and its clinical applications. The teaching style is also diverse ranging from lectures, small group work, anatomy labs and clinical shadowing where we are currently doing some role-playing (playing doctor all over again). I am only beginning to realize the limitless of medicine. If you’re afraid of being bored in a career of medicine, I guarantee there is no way to sail and master all of it.
After a month of school, I’ve gotten to know a bit more about my classmates. They are an interesting bunch. Some go out to bars and parties 3-4 days a week. Others, I only see in the classroom. During small group learning sessions, it’s not too uncommon to find a peer has a master’s degree on the subject of the day. A few have just defended their thesis and some are partway through their MPH (Master of Public Health). Some play football, hockey and soccer and some have no athletic background. Several students can play songs by Liszt and Chopin on the piano beautifully and another student plays online-poker to pay for his tuition. It’s an interesting mix. You can sense the talent in the class. You can smell the ambition.
I have found again and again that becoming a doctor isn’t all about being smart. Granted you have to be at a certain level of intelligence to get into medical school and pass the premedical curriculum, a bigger factor is dedication and drive. It is only with great inner motivation will someone choose to spend their twenties and possibly thirties in a library studying. Only true dedication will push a person to complete 30-hour shifts and go on call 1 in 3. To anyone else finishing your ER shift at 5am, runing home to drive the kids to school and teaching class at 8am, while pregnant, would be considered insanity. To my preceptor: I am amazed at your abilities.
To anyone thinking of becoming a doctor, carefully consider your commitment. The road is long (10 years+ of minimum education) and an average of $150,000 dollars of debt after graduating. Rising overhead costs and chances of malpractice lawsuits and the risk of patients dieing is all part of medicine. It’s not all about saving patients and curing diseases, there are a lot of disadvantages to a career in medicine. Even as a first year student, I realize that entering medicine is not like a small dip in the swimming pool. It’s much closer to jumping off a cliff into the unknown waters below, both frightening and exhilarating .