August 21, 2011

Sunday – the night before the first exam (and the official end of the 1st week of (real) med school)

It is currently 8pm on a Sunday right before our first ever (real) med school exam.  I am on facebook.  But not for the reason you think.

See, starting about 2 hours ago, people who apparently got together to study in a room at school began posting “trivia questions” (aka questions people made up from the lectures to test each other on) on our facebook group page.  Since then, others have discussed answers to the questions, added their own questions, or found questions from prep books that relate to the material taught this last week. Crazy? Yes.  Helpful? Very.

It’s nice to be in a school/class where everyone supports each other so much.  Med school, or at least this one, is not competitive like in high school or college where everyone is trying to outdo everyone and study to beat the curve.  Possibly that is due to the fact that there IS no curve in med school – only pass/fail.  It is semi-competitive in the sense that there are 4 quartiles for passing:

  • P1, the top 25% and those who are eligible for AOA, the medical honors society
  • P2 and P3 that make up the middle 50%
  • P4, the bottom 25% (that still pass).
However, I don’t think the quartile ranking will affect how much students help each other.  It just means some people will spend all of med school studying, while others will be able to do other things during their stay here.  I will (hopefully) fall somewhere in P2-P3.  I’d be happy enough with that.
I’m curious to see how well I’m going to do with the ~6-7 hours of studying/looking at stuff total that I will have going into this test, including what I’ll get done tonight after this post.  Probably a fail, but at least I’ll get to see what the questions are like.  It seems that is what many of the other MSTP’s will be doing as well.
Today also marks the end of the first real week of med school.  I say today and not Monday, because last Sunday, we had our White Coat Ceremony.  This is traditionally a ceremony that marks the beginning of one’s med school career.   Family and friend are often invited to celebrate, and this is where our class recited the Class Mission Statement we drafted up in PDS earlier.  The white coats are supposed to symbolize many things – purity, professionalism, high standards of excellence, etc – all the things people associate with good doctors.  I don’t know really how many of us thought of it that way, but it was neat getting our white coats with our names embroidered on them, and to have our families there cheering us on this new stage in life (before we all get crushed by the amount of work med school throws at us haha).  And it was cool seeing the whole class looking so professional.  (The class pictures we took right before it were brutal though – we literally were pressed chest-to-back because there were too many of us for the stage).
We’re required to wear the white coats when we go to the hospital or see patients, so it was always kind of a jolt to see my classmates with them on last week on the days they have ICM.  It’s a good reminder of what we’re actually here for.  And it makes me think twice about things I do or say, because I realize that I’m representing not just myself, but my institution and future profession.  I’ve caught myself doing things that are perhaps not the wisest (jaywalking, saying something that could be interpreted negatively by outsiders, etc) while having the coat, and immediately felt embarrassed at the looks people gave me.  I imagine them thinking “This girl is going to be my doctor later? I wouldn’t want to go to someone like that.”  While I’m sure that’s not the case most of the time, it’s definitely a good reminder to watch what one says and does.
And to sum up the last week, we have started a course in the med school that covers the “fundamental” information we need to know: biochemistry, cell biology, histology, anatomy, etc.  So far, it’s pretty much been a review of undergrad, although like I mentioned in the last post, there seems to be a lot more stuff for memorization (at a much faster pace) in the med school.  We also have a nutrition assignment this week which is pretty fun – we have to record down all the food/drink we intake throughout the week, and bring in the report next Thursday.  Should be interesting.
Alright, time to check facebook again!  (Well well, what do you know.  More Q&A’s have gone up. Awesome!)

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