I don’t know where MedPundit went to medical school, but her experience couldn’t be different from mine. Other med students, are you on my side or MedPundit’s? Comment below.
It shouldn’t be surprising – medical school is a crucible of change.
Students leave their homes, their families, their friends.
It’s definitely a big change, and not without its stressors, but most of us have gone through this before when we went to college. Clerkships are, without a doubt, lonely. It’s nice to be on a service with a classmate, but I barely see anyone these days. Just more encouragement for me to do a better job with time management and setting some time aside for a mild, tempered social life.
They lose the academic standing they had in college and high school, and with it sometimes, self-esteem and respect.
Yet another reason to make things pass/fail like we are here.
They see and learn things they’ve never seen or heard of before. They learn, in fact, a whole new way of being. It is a completely transformative process in a way that few other processes (except perhaps joining the military) are.
Absolutely, but what an amazing transformation it’s been! There’s good parts to it, and bad as well, but I think my mind has been made 100 times sharper.
It is not a pleasant process. I remember one of my medical school classmates describing it as “the shrinking of her soul.” The reasons for this are all those mentioned in the above article, with the exception of one glaring omission – the role of the teaching process. The third year of medical school, when students enter the hospitals and see patients, also marks the moment that their teaching is handed over entirely to practicing physicians – and they are brutal. The brightest and best students are treated as know-nothing scum and burdens to be born by the rest of the medical team. There is never, never, any praise – only denigration. At least, that’s the way I remember it, with few exceptions. It’s like being stuck in a House episode.
This sounds like some other world she’s describing. Are clerkships hard? Yes. Do some of them suck? Yes. Is there some degree of scutwork involved? Sure. Do they turn your view of medicine on its head, and teach you the frustration of paperwork, hierarchy, and difficult patients? Absolutely. There are definitely days where I feel down, feel like I’ve worked hard and haven’t felt appreciated. There are days that I think, “This is medicine? I seriously signed up for this?” But my soul is not shrinking, and the attendings are not brutal. I’m given praise by attendings and residents, my family and boyfriend, and I dole out some healthy self-praise, too. Do I feel stupid for not knowing things? Sometimes. Do I feel loved and needed by the attendings and residents? Not always. But more often than not, I feel like I’m respected as a member of the team, feel like I contribute and can teach residents and attendings things they’ve forgotten, and I get feedback that is constructive about how I can do a better job. It’s natural for me (and probably med students in general) to beat myself up over not knowing an answer to pimping session question, but that’s because we have such high self-expectations. I don’t think the attendings are purposefully trying to shrink our souls or denigrate us.
So, how do we get through it? Our hides grow a little thicker (or is it that our souls shrink?); and if we’re lucky we meet some good roll models along the way. But, at some point, we come to the realization that our teachers are not gods, but frail, flawed men and women with bad management and teaching skills.
My skin is definitely thicker after 2 months of surgery already, and I’m thankful for it; I’ve been through the worst already. I’m less intimidated, and more willing to just do my best, keep up on my reading, and accomplish the goals I have set for myself during the rotation. My attendings are not gods either, but they’re hard-working, incredibly intelligent men and women with somewhat-decent management and pretty good teaching skills.
Let the record show that I’m in between clerkships while writing this, and just finished a relatively low-intensity month on pediatric neurology. This is also not to say that there are no depressed students here; I know of several.