Thursday, December 6, 2007

The Myth of Medical School

Have you ever wondered what medical school really is like? I did before I got here. There is this social myth or mystique or urban legend or drunken monologue in our world about the secret society of medical school. While it is hard and challenging, it definitely is not what you think it is... so let me reveal to the world the truth... and it all starts with free lunches!

"Free lunches???" is what you are saying. Yes, free lunches are near and dear to the medical student amongst many other things. You see with our class load and debt load combining with the requirement of extracurricular activities (to get into a good residency), clubs and other organizations wishing to get a portion of our time are limited to the lunch hour. Essentially, Free lunch = attendance. Of course by "free" I mean that my club dues OR my tuition pay for it, but "FREE" sounds so much nicer. That is a nice segway to the fact that aside from our classes and studies we do have to be involved in clubs and community service/outreach both to satisfy the humanitarian values that most of us have and to help us get into that all important but completely and subjectively undefined "good residency" after medical school. In my case I am a member of 4 clubs and am an active 1st year leader for one of them; the Student Osteopathic Medical Association or SOMA.

Another vital aspect of medical school is your ability to acquire the prime study spaces. Many students think this is an acquired or teachable skill, but I happen to think it is a gift bestowed by God upon a select few individuals. Seeing the sad, longing faces of other students wander past the closed door of the room that you just snagged, knowing that they will make 2 or 3 more passes by your door just to be sure it is occupied is both shaming for a few seconds yet mostly exhilirating. Away with you to the glorified cherrywood voting booths we call 'study carrels'!

So let me get to the point. Medical school is hard academically and somebody must have some intellectual and intestinal fortitude to get through. But really it isn't just classes and studying. It is a lifestyle that is unique and there is camraderie that is so enjoyable! You do have to find joy in the little things like free lunches and stumbling upon the one open study room, but is that really different than a co-worker proactively smiling and saying hello, or getting a compliment from your boss, or realizing they're serving your favorite lunch in the cafeteria?

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