As of tomorrow, I officially have only 2 weeks of school left!! How did it go so fast and yet soooo slow at the same time? It has been such a tough 4 years- first of all, I suppose I had so much self-doubt, I guess never thought I could make it this far!! I can taste it, I am so close!
The toughest year? It’s a tie between 2nd and 3rd years. The 2nd year was BRUTAL with exams every single Monday for the entire year- I couldn’t enjoy my weekend, because I had to study, but I couldn’t enjoy my week, because I was in class from 8:30-5 every single day. By the end of my 2nd year, I was completely exhausted and on the verge of a mental breakdown from the weight of the Step 1 of the boards looming over me.
Then 3rd year started right away- with a week to pack & move to my new place. I still remember the first day of my first rotation. I was as nervous as the first day of high school- and my first rotation was psychiatry. Woof! That first day was a doozy; 14 year olds with terrible, awful families and orphanages, etc. From that day on, the next 2 years flew by. I have been shocked to discover that even though doctors may have been well respected, revered, and even many times placed on pedastals, it is no longer this way. I have never been so disrespected in my entire life by perfect strangers! For example, many people have this sense of entitlement, that when they come to a dr’s office, they will receive an antibiotic, because that is what they want. In their estimation, that is the “magic bullet” for their probable viral infection, but many time will raise quite a ruckus if you do not oblige in their every whim. Might as well be Burger King- have it your way. And the sexism! I can not count how many times people have insisted that I am a nurse! Nothing against nurses- we need them! But when my male colleagues walk in a room, that mistake is rarely made. Also, yes, I am young, but it is NEVER appropriate to ask a doctor’s age– only to insist that I must be about 17. It’s insulting! Even the nurses and secretaries hated me as a 3rd year, it seemed. There was one nurse in particular who did what she could to make my life difficult and make me look like an idiot in front of my attending, but make her look like this brilliant nurse. It was at the beginning of my 3rd year, on my first inpatient service, and I had no idea where charts were or proper protocols, but also, I was competition for her- about her age, not totally unfortunate looking, and she was used to getting all of this particular attending’s attention. I didn’t want the attending’s attention- I would get so nervous every time I presented a patient, I even dropped charts while talking- but I had his unwanted attention anyway. So of course she hated me. Story of my life. I did not go to medical school and sacrifice years of my life, my time, blood, sweat, tears, time away from my family, and waaaay too much money for all of the disrespect I have suffered. It makes me very callous.
Come to that, why did I go to medical school? I wanted to help people. That altruistic desire is what every single applicant to medical school will tell you- and for the majority of students, it’s true. But the actual profession of medicine is nothing like what I was expecting. To be totally honest, I’m not 100% sure I would have gone into medicine had I known about the terrible hours, poor reimbursement for services, political nightmares, rude coworkers, lack of a life, and the list goes on. None of those, however, are the reason I applied to medical school- it was for the patients. But when even they turned out to be rude, unappreciative, entitled, and hurtful, I really became depressed. I, like a shocking proportion of my classmates, have regretted going to medical school, if only fleetingly. I have to work on focusing on the few wonderful patients I have seen- they do make a huge difference. Not that money was ever a reason that I went to school, I have to address this: doctors are NOT well paid. It is such a common misconception. For all of the sacrifice, the long hours, the mountains of paperwork, nights of call, rising costs of malpractice insurance, it is just not worth the $17.50 medicare will reimburse to see some patients. I love how people who haven’t had to make these sacrifices are the ones determining how much I deserve in the future to be paid. They should go through med school and see how much they feel they deserve- it’s a far greater amount than what they make now. If you ever consider medical school, make absolute certain it is not for the money, first of all, because you won’t have the drive to finish med school if that is your only aim, 2) because you don’t get paid that much in the end, and 3) because you will be overwhelmed with debt at the end of your education.
Having said ALL of that, I am so thankful to be where I am today. There are rough days, yes, but there are some wonderfully rewarding days, too. Plus, I have finally made it to what I went to med school to do: neurology! I am actually finally going to do what I specifically set out to do- and I am so excited/nervous! I must remember to look for the good in every situation.
Handing in my two weeks’ notice as a medical student- I am ready to be done!!!