A Day in the Life of a Second Year Med Student

A Day in the Life of a Second Year Med Student
By: Andrew Smith

 
     It is 6:30 a.m. Time to wake up. Every morning is a battle with the alarm clock-it tries to wake me up, I try not to smach it. I fix my coffee, eat a little breakfast, and then head to class. For four hours we talk about how the body works, how it can break down, and how we can find out what is breaking. Most importantly, we find out how to fix it. Not everything is interesting and life or death. In fact, most of what we talk about is boring-this annoying rash, that minor condition, etc....Sometimes we do learn life or death decisions-like how to tell if a person pulled a muscle in their chest or if they are having a massive heart attack. Take today for example: in 4 hours we have covered everything about skin from acne to skin cancers. 
 


    We do not have "class" anymore. We are in modules. Instead of learning biochemistry, pharmocology, physiology, and pathology as separate classes, we have an entire organ system (such as cardiovascular, lungs, muscle/skin, etc..) Take for example cardiovascular-we learn everything about the heart all at once. For 5 weeks we are taught the biochemistry, pharmocology, physiology, and pathology of just the heart, then, when that is done we move on to anothher topic. This system means that every day is different. It also means that if you get behind in studying, even a day, you are in a world of trouble. 

    Finally it is noon-lunch time! If we are lucky, our day is done, and we can go home! However for the most part we will have something to do in the afternoon. It could be an anatomy lab where we dissect a cadaver; it could be a small group where we discuss cases/treatments; it could be our special class where we learn to conduct a thorough patient history and physical exam. Some of these can be tiedious, but some are exciting and informative. 

    The avaerage day runs to approximately 5:00 p.m. When I get home, I will usually cook dinner then study. Each night is 3-4 hours of studying. Some students can study less and some need to study more. How much time you put in the class/studying is a completely personal decision. When this is done, I will relax and maybe watch a little TV or play a video game before hitting the hay between midnight and 1:00 a.m.

    Sounds pretty boring right? Well, it is not all bad. The first 2 years are rough. This is when we get the fundamentals basis of knowledge that we will use throughout our careers. It is a lot of lecture and a LOT of powerpoints. Years 3 and 4 of medical school will be different-that is when we get to go into the hospital to practice what we learn.
 


    Life is not all studying. There are times when we even have weekends off (usually you will have 1-2 free weekends a month when you have no new material to study.) The best students with the highest grades are those that are happy. The happiest students get creative with schoolwork and studying: they play audio lectures while running or study flashcards by the pool. You must also make time for yourself. If you do nothing but focus on school, you will lose touch with your friends, your family, and yourself. I personally take one night a week to go out with friends either to a resturant or to grill at one of our homes. Medical school is a balancing act between academics and your personal life. 

    So, why go through this constant cycle of class and studying while having to make personal sacrafices. I know that one day I will use my knowledge to help those in my community as well as my friends and my family. While the sacrafices are great, I know that the rewards will be greater.