How Hard Is Medical School?

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How Hard Is Medical School?

Do you want to study medicine and wonder if you can make it? No doubt its a lengthy and grueling process to become a doctor but rewards are also waiting! I feel fortunate to have seen the life of a doctor in action and I encourage everyone to see if they can make it. It’s truly an unforgettable experience to serve people who need you.

Having put in the required years of study it is expected you would pass a rigorous selection process and be accepted by a training college. After this you’ll have to do the same rigorous. Every step of the way is designed to weed out students and reduce the crowd by half; your SATs for undergrad, your MCAT for medical school, and your USMLE for residency.

There is no easy way to prepare yourself for the tough road ahead.

Many people enter medical school thinking they can do it, or that they don’t really have to work that hard because they grew up in a good family and they had some financial support.

First Year of Medical School

Students say that one of the toughest challenges of med school is getting through the first year. This is because many students are overwhelmed by the workload and think that they can’t possibly handle this.

You learn to speak language of medicine ! I learned a lot of vocabulary to work with people from all around the world, making their health management, treatment, diagnosis, and interventions for them easy for me to understand. If you are coming from a non science background then it might be tricky for you at first. But most of the students get through this pretty easily.

You’ll be spending a lot of time learning about human anatomy. In the first year you learn all the body systems and structures by either participating in classroom lectures, or watching videos or reading, and by actively practicing your hands on skills in anatomy labs.

You’ll make new friends who have similar research interest in medicine and there is a lot of camaraderie in the class, however there are also some close friendships with the few girls who will be in the class, in order to stay more focused on studying but also stay healthy!

You’ll learn that studying medicine is never done, the skill of problem solving is paramount. In medicine, you’ll always be finding ways to improve your health management and diagnosis, or to identify a health problem and be able to come up with a treatment for it. All the while, you’re constantly writing reports, attending lectures and have to attend the board exams at the end of the year.

That is what the first year consists of.

Second Year of Medical School

Second year starts with a whopping increase in the work load mainly due to pathology. Now, you’re expected to get a firm grip of medicine and you’re a regular patient in the pathology labs. The workload is hard but very exciting.

On the off chance that you’re considering entering a particular specialty such as surgical or internal medicine, this is when you realize that medicine is extremely demanding and you realize it’s not for everyone.

You’ll have to memorise a lot of facts which aren’t relevant to the patient and you can be labeled as a know-it-all. The teachers are not impressed at this point. Many a times you’ll be told to keep it to yourself because not everyone in class knows the same things.

However, they also encourage you to speak up and contribute.

At this stage, you might start building some close friendships because you are in each other’s company at least for 8 hours every day. But remember that you may not have a lot of time to spend since you’ll be drowning in the work load.

You’ll have to continuously think of learning about diagnosis of various diseases which has to be done in the next few weeks before you can write the board exam.

By this time you’ll become expert at taking notes and listening to lectures. At this point you’ll have to develop a solid understanding of basic biological science.

Third Year of Medical School

In third year, your brain will be overloaded with so much information. You’ll learn everything there is to know about medicine and pathology. You’ll have to set the bar very high since most of peers will be getting ready for USMLE.

During third year you’ll have to meet a lot of other doctors from across the departments and overseas to study with them. You’ll rotate through internal medicine, surgery , pediatrics, neurology and psychiatry in the one day rotations.

You’ll be asked questions on anything and everything that you may have come across in your learning journey. You’ll get exposed to entire gamut of diseases.

Its pretty humiliating because they will make sure to make you feel that you’re at the bottom of the totem pole. You’ll think that you know the answer but you’ll be asked questions which you don’t know. You’ll go back to the drawing board.

You’ll find out that there’s a lot more to learning and working in a hospital than just formal learning, you have to constantly improve yourself and adapt in a competitive and demanding environment.

You’ll learn how the hospital operates and what’s required for certain tasks. You’ll also learn the specialties that you can opt for.

You’ll have a lot of late nights, early mornings and cafe food dinners.

You’ll feel like that you are living in the hospital. It becomes so close and immersive that you can’t keep away from it. The hospital is your second home.

By the end of third year, you’ll know everything and anything there is to know about medicine.

Read More: Best Medical Schools

Fourth Year of Medical School

Fourth year is the end of course for which you’ll have to sit for board exams. The pressure is higher than ever now.

You’ll realise which herd you belong to. You’ll study with a bunch of people who are a lot better than you. They’ll always leave you alone and give you a very important thing, encouragement. You’ll learn a lot from their mistakes and you’ll learn from them as well.

Most important thing is that you will improve a lot. You’ll be studying an average of 9 hours a day. You’ll spend nights sleepless, yet you’ll never be too tired to study. You’ll be feeling like there’s no time in the world.

You will feel like you are going to fail. But you will get a lot of support from parents and family.
In your head, you might think that you have so much to cover but in reality you’ll only be able to cover 20% of it. You can’t imagine the chaos in your head. The list of topics is endless. You’ll spend hours on mapping out an answer and spending time in reading reviews to understand the pattern of an answer. You will get everything out in a day.

Later in the year you’ll have a lot of free time to prepare for board exam. This will be the period where you will seriously improve yourself. You will spend time thinking what you want to do and where you want to go.

You’ll set milestones for yourself and achieve them.

You need to chose your speciality at this stage for residency application. There are always limited number of residency positions open for every specialty. This generally stress many students because the interviews usually take place in the end of fourth year.

You’ll have to be at your best if you want to get in to a speciality program of your choice. Some programs are more competitive than others.

Anyways you’ll have a program to join at the end. Then only you’ll have time to relax. Then there will be final graduation and you’ll become a doctor finally.

Read More: Medical School Scholarships

About the author

Indu has been educator since last 10 years. She can find all kind of scholarship opportunities in the USA and beyond. She also teach college courses online to help students become better. She is one of the very rare scholarship administrator and her work is amazing.