I Think I’m in Love: First 3 Weeks of Med School

First day of anatomy class is tomorrow. First cadaver lab is this week. Everyone says once anatomy starts, every M1 wants to die. Apparently that’s when all the stress kicks in, so I thought maybe it’s better I take the time to blog now before I’m completely overwhelmed as everyone claims will happen. I don’t feel scared though because…

I think I’m in love!!

I don’t know what falling in love actually feels like but every single day of med school has me feeling like a lovestruck protagonist in a film. You would think by the second or third week, waking up in the morning would feel annoying, but how can it when my classes have been Clinical Interviewing, Molecular Foundations in Medicine, and Epidemiology.

Clinical Interviewing — Imagine a class dedicated to helping you talk to patients more effectively… so fun!!! We watch videos of doctors taking a patient’s history, and are asked to discuss what they did well and what could be improved. Second day of class, we split into groups of three and had to practice interviewing for the first time. One girl took the patient role and my other classmate asked me, “Do you want to be the doctor first?”

As the lovestruck protagonist of this film… of course I said yes 🙂 I interviewed my classmate about a fake headache while my other classmate observed me with an interview checklist. It felt so awkward at first, because I  was trying to remember all the questions that the lecture went over. By the end, I gave up trying to remember the script and just said whatever I felt.  The classmate I interviewed said, “I really liked the end of your interview. I felt heard, and confident you were really going to take care of me!” My heart was swelling… don’t they say true love is when you can truly be yourself 😉

Last week I had to dress up in business casual with my white coat to interview a patient actor and receive feedback from two classmates and a physician. Afterwards, I went to the library to write up the patient’s history and submit it for a grade. I’ll have to do this another five times this semester. The best part is realizing right now is only half the fun; we’re asking all about the patient’s problem but not having to solve it since we don’t have the intuition yet. On the first day of school, I can’t remember which class I was in, but they said:

the character of Sherlock Holmes was based on a real physician. Therefore, the ultimate detective is in fact a physician.

I didn’t realize… it’s true. At the end of the day, I want to be Sherlock Holmes in the clinic, solving every case that’s thrown at me. So ever since hearing that fun fact, studying became even more fun.

Molecular Foundations in Medicine — Honestly, this was a great course to start school with, because half of it was review, focusing on DNA replication, proteins, metabolic pathways, etc. and then new things to study like all the different vitamins our body needs, and what symptoms occur if we are deficient of any of them. Studying for our final exam meant studying questions like “Your patient has xyz levels, this and that symptom, what else do you expect to see?”

To paint a better scene, I was sitting outside a coffee shop with two adorable dogs laying beside me, going through 50 questions phrased like this, happily willing to go through more if they were available! I knew I wanted to go into medicine for a while, but this was a different new puzzle-pieces-fitting-feeling I was experiencing. It’s like this:

Before med school, you shadow physicians and realize your interest. You want to be a physician. Then it’s four years of required courses, resume building, and basically trying to prove to faculty that your dream of becoming a physician is worth pursuing. Then you enter med school, and it’s just a bunch of welcome signs everywhere. For four years, you’re just chasing. You’re not chasing anymore. It’s more like “I agree. You’re going to be a physician. So let’s get to work.” And that kind of ambience is just something so new and different. For someone as competitive as myself, I was hesitant about my school’s pass/fail system with no student ranking in the first two years. However, it’s really just the perfect environment to focus on the big picture or main focus, which is becoming the best possible doctor I can be. You’re not learning for the grade, you’re learning for your future patients, and that is a much more powerful mindset to study with.

Epidemiology — Considering we’re in a pandemic right now, this course feels very relevant. Every lecture, our teacher goes off track the curriculum for a little bit to discuss COVID-19 issues. She’s a family medicine physician with a Masters of Science in Public Health, so it’s really interesting hearing her perspective.

 

Aside from the content of these courses, I have to share that the whole style of learning is different too. They want to train us to not be scared to be put on the spot because throughout our medical career we’ll constantly be asked to share our opinion on things. So they accomplish this by creating weekly lectures dedicated to going through practice questions. Except after polling in for every question, they pull up a giant rainbow wheel on the projector and spin it. The wheel stops on a student’s name, and you have to raise your hand in a lecture hall of 180 students, and the professor walks over to you with a microphone to share with the class what answer you picked and why you picked it. I admit this experience feels normal now, but you can imagine how cinematic it felt the very first time the wheel spun. For the record, three weeks in, the wheel still hasn’t stopped on my name, but I’ll keep you posted.

There has been the struggle of socializing and making new friends because of the social distancing culture, but honestly life throws in random opportunities when you least expect it. For example, one of the exams was harder than anticipated, and I ended up taking longer than I expected. It was all God’s master plan though, because had I aced that test, I would have left early and not talked to anyone. Instead, I ended up discussing the test with some people and realized they had similar mindsets as me, and got ice cream with them later that night. Another time, I forgot my ID so I couldn’t park in the garage before class. I was so annoyed with myself, but that afternoon a girl I met in class offered to drive me to where I parked and we ended up bonding a little, exchanging numbers with hopes of hanging out later.

Don’t get me wrong: The past three weeks wasn’t just nonstop highs. There were  definitely some lows. For example, I didn’t get a free clinic volunteering position I applied for, but the thing is, while I did feel really sad, at the same time I’d start to feel silly for being sad, because the truth is everything happens for a reason.

And these days,  it just feels a lot easier to trust that God makes every single moment happen for a reason. Maybe it’s because God’s master plan led me to med school and truly I’ve never felt more in the right place. God knew before I knew. It’s these reflections, honestly, that have made med school feel like a movie. It leaves me feeling extremely grateful, and motivated to become the type of doctor God would be proud of.

Nadia

P.S. I tried vlogging week 1, but I think vlogging is just not my thing haha.

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