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Medical School Parties and Medical Student Partyers

Along with the first few classes of medical school are the medical school parties. These social events mainly for classmates to know each other also act as a way to relieve some stress and have some fun before the serious business begins.

Over the past weeks, I’ve observed that medical students throw crazy parties. I went to a relatively relaxed undergrad where things got pretty loud from Thursday night to Saturday night. But medical school seems to be a whole other animal.

Perhaps med students are just having their last ounce of fun before the workload hits, but I think it’s because the students are older, have gotten over that awkward stand-at-a-party stage and know how to have a good time. They have studied more, drank more, smoked more, talked more and are at different stage in their lives. They stand at the end of their old undergrad days and can see the long road in medical education ahead. Perhaps, that is a reason to cherish every moment. To live life as if you’re invincible and that everyday could be your last.

Now granted this isn’t our entire medical class and only a fraction, having medical students that know how to party is not a bad thing. You might say it is irresponsible to have our future doctors abuse alcohol, smoke and yell obscenely. Instead they should be in a library studying their sciences and thinking of ways to fix our health care system. Or they could better spend that time volunteering at a hospital or teaching inner-city kids or “insert cliche pre-med extracurricular activity.”

But the bottomline is: Medical students are regular people too. They watch TV, surf the internet, travel. Some are health freaks, some are fat. They want to make friends, succeed in their work, have a good time. Hosting and going to parties are no different. If anything, medical students that know how to party and have a good time may end up as better doctors.

This point didn’t hit me until one of our classmates at a party was puking from too much alcohol. Surprisingly, the first people to check up on him and to help him out weren’t the people you would have considered to be good doctors. You know who I am talking about, the ones that spend most of their time studying, they have a flawless record of good behavior. They don’t cuss, drink, smoke, gamble. No, it was the people who would be labeled as “party-ers” and “bad students” that were the most responsible. The loudest and most outrageous students were the ones who took action first.

These were the students that acted like real doctors in the situation. They got their hands dirty. They were the ones talking to the half-passed out person, asking them if they were ok and how they were feeling. They were the ones who wiped the mess up and helped the person vomit even if it meant getting some on their nice clothes. They took charge of the situation, asked people to back up and give some space, fetched the water and blankets and helped find a place for the sick to rest. These are the people I would want to take care of me.

As for the people that you would typically think would make good doctors, they stood back and just watched. Some commented, “I’m glad I’m not that person” and others said “I would be ashamed if I drank that much and made such a fool out of myself.”

Medicine is half science, half art. For the first two years, medical students will learn the inner workings of our bodies and how our cells, tissues and organs interact. They will be required to know how the pH of the body fluctuates and the effects of chemicals and drugs on our bodies. But throughout this time, they will also be learn how to communicate clearly, how to listen and how to interact with a patient. The art and skills of “doctors.”

Partying medical students may seem reckless spending their time at social events and their money on booze. But they have a perspective that most others lack. They know how to socialize with others and make connections in a short time. They know how to make people feel comfortable and welcome. They have first-hand experience of what it’s like to have your face in the gutters (toilet bowl) and I am sure this experience will be with them when they become real doctors. They will have empathy (an understanding) for their patients and will have compassion (action) to help them.

A medical class is diverse as pointed out in my last post. Every class will have its share of bookworms and party animals. Each one was admitted because the admissions committee saw potential in them to become great physicians and surgeons. Each person has something different to bring into the medical community.

To summarize my main point: There’s more to each person than meets the eye.

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  1. anony mouse
    anony mouse September 29, 2008

    If you’ve only been in medical school for a short while – give it some time. You’re probably right about this trend being a “last hurrah” before the harder workload sets in. In general after those parties end there seems to be a trend of parties that sets in – after a huge test, final, practical exam, etc – someone will most always throw a big party. They’re almost always a lot of fun if you have time to go, in my experience. I’m not an over-imbiber, I’ll have a drink or two but not end up with glazed eyes and a headache the next day. My advice is to enjoy the parties, unwind, relax, enjoy the comraderie of your friends and watch out for the people (like you mentioned) that take it a bit too far.

    But after a few ridiculous exams you’ll be thanking your stars for Mr. Party McPartyPants and his wild blowouts.

  2. premed
    premed January 17, 2010

    I’m glad that big parties happen at med school, and that even there it’s still possible to balance work and play. As an undergrad, partying is an extra incentive to finish my homework and keeps me from getting bored once the work is done. While I suppose it could be seen as reckless to indulge in smoking, drinking, and socializing while there is work to be done, in my experience it’s far more harmful to attempt to lead a joyless life.

  3. resident
    resident June 9, 2011

    i don’t think drinking in excess=communicating well…

    • medaholic
      medaholic June 9, 2011

      haha I agree with you @resident.
      Excess alcohol usually correlates with low level of function

  4. akgdh
    akgdh July 9, 2011

    Interesting post. I disagree with your examples, namely the one about how the crazy party people in the class are likely to become the better doctors. I do agree that the class is diverse and for the better, and that it is totally necessary to relax, unwind and have some fun. Proper rest and knowing when to have fun is just as important as working hard. But I find what often happens is that some people who party a little too hard just don’t have the energy to care about doing well in school, aiming to simply pass, rather than challenging themselves to perform well and to master the material. Sure they may be the first to help a fellow classmate who’s puking their face off, but that’s only because they’ve been there, done that and are likely a close friend. The people standing to the side aren’t rushing in to help because they don’t need to. I really don’t think that their lack of action suggests that they will be less competent as doctors, or lack communication skills.

    Obviously I’m not much of a party person myself ( :] ), but I personally would like to think that most people in my class (whether they party hard or do other things with their spare time) would make good doctors.

    • medaholic
      medaholic July 10, 2011

      Actually, it’s been almost two years since we’ve thrown big medical school parties. Looking around at my classmates, it’s actually quite hard to pin down what exactly makes a good doctor. For one, head knowledge only makes up a small part of being a good physician.

  5. Andrew Wiley
    Andrew Wiley September 10, 2011

    Though medical students are busy always with their study but they have life. They are like normal people.They can enjoy party with their friends. As I am medical student I believe it.

    Andrew Wiley

  6. Isaac Evans
    Isaac Evans October 11, 2011

    Everybody is allowed to party and no one is exempted not even the med students or doctors.

    Isaac Evans

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