How Medical School Has Changed Me

As I am nearing the half-way point of my medical school career, I thought it would be interesting to reflect on how I have changed since I started this journey.  I am definitely a very different person than when I first began, and I can see that I have changed in many, many ways – some good, some not-so-good.

1.  I know waaaay more.

This seems fairly obvious, and one would hope that two years of medical school would cause someone to know more, but it really is amazing how much I have learned in two years.  I probably haven’t learned so much since I was a baby, first discovering the world.  However, the interesting thing about medical school is that it also opens yours eyes to how little you know in the grand scheme of things.  Sort of like I took two giant steps and then looked up to realize that I am only two steps into a marathon.

2.  I worry less.

I used to be such a worrier.  I would lay up at night worrying about getting straight A’s and getting into medical school.  But medical school has taught me that I can survive just about anything.  Weeks that seemed so busy and so tough just flew by, and everything turned out OK.  So why worry?

3.  I drink coffee.

I used to hate coffee, and before med school people would always say, “Oh, you will like it when you get to med school.”  Yep.

4.  I am more easily annoyed with people.

I have a lot on my plate right now (and it just keeps piling on!), and sometimes when I hear my non-med school friends or family talking about their busy schedules, I can get pretty annoyed.  I try to remind myself that it isn’t a competition – other people are busy too, and I chose everything on my plate right now.  Hopefully, I can continue to remind myself to take other peoples’ problems seriously, especially since my career is going to consist of listening to peoples’ complaints.

5.  I know how to study.

I always thought I knew how to study, but really, I was just kidding myself.  I didn’t know how to study until med school.  It makes me a little sad.  I can’t help but think if I had studied like this is in college, that I would have done better.  I guess I am glad I figured it out eventually, but as I only have one month of classes left, it kind of feels like a waste.

6.  I don’t go to class.

Okay, okay.  I know what you are going to say.  Me?  The girl who criticized non-class-goers only a year ago on this very blog?  The truth hurts.  I started going to less classes when I first got pregnant because I felt terrible, and since then it seems like the chairs have gotten less comfortable and the room has gotten warmer…  Okay, I won’t use pregnancy to justify it.  The fact is, I study better when I don’t go class.  I have learned that I can’t sit still and pay attention for six hours a day.  I do better listening to lectures on double speed when I am ready to focus.

7.  I have a lot more illnesses.

Not a week goes by in med school where I don’t diagnose myself with a serious or fatal illness.  One of the unfortunate parts of learning about diseases all day, is that all of the symptoms start to sound like problems you have.  The best part is when you tell your friends about it, they actually agree.  Future doctors…

8.  I take better care of myself.

Probably because I think I’m sick all the time, right?  Well, whatever the reason, I do take more of an interest in my own health.  After all, I am my own first patient.  I am still a work in progress, but I try to be a good example of healthy living, and hopefully I can walk the walk when I recommend healthy living to my patients.

9.  I am more thankful.

Everyday is a challenge in med school.  I say a prayer before every quiz, every exam, and every practical.  And I have learned over and over again that I can’t take credit for my own success.  I have a lot of people out there cheering me on and praying for me, and I try to never forget how much help I have had in getting to where I am.  I am so thankful for all the people who have influenced my life, for every word of encouragement, and for every answered prayer.

10.  I love my life.

I don’t want you to think that I didn’t love my life before, but I really love my life now that I am in med school.  Medical school has been one of the most frustrating, challenging, rewarding experiences of my life.  Coupled with marriage and pregnancy, I mean, can life get better!?  I submit that it cannot!


About emilyehoward

My name is Emily, and I am a Hospitalist in Nebraska. I live with my husband and three beautiful daughters. I hope you enjoy my blog!
This entry was posted in Doctor, Health Care, Medical Student, Medicine, Osteopathy, Physician and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to How Medical School Has Changed Me

  1. Thanks for sharing this. I’m possibly a pre-med student who is looking for a career that will allow me to help people. My number 1 fear is your #4. I want to be a psychiatrist (or doctor) and I don’t want to find myself becoming less empathetic towards patients.

    Also, could you please explain more about #5. How did you used to study vs how you study now?

    Thanks! 🙂

    • emilyehoward says:

      Thanks for commenting! I wouldn’t say I am less empathetic…I think I would say I just get caught up in my own little world. Medical school can be a really selfish time. All you do is study and worry about classes and boards. It is really easy to forget about the rest of the world. I think this will probably change with rotations and seeing patients. Less time studying, more time focusing on others.

      Your fears are justified however. I often worry that by the time I am actually a doctor, I won’t have any empathy at all. But I think it is all up to you. Keep focused on your goal. Being a doctor is a great way to help people. I think that doctors who lack empathy probably never had it in the first place. Good people make good doctors.

      As for how I used to study, well…as a first year, I used to go to every class. I used to try to write out all of my notes in my own handwriting, trying to summarize the main points. And it worked fairly well for me. I got good grades. BUT…it took forever. I studied nonstop…I had so little time to spend with my husband, and it was really exhausting. But as a second year, I decided which classes I benefit from going to, and which ones I enjoy to listen to on my own time. I don’t rewrite the notes for every class – only ones where I feel I would benefit from a different format than the one provided by the professor (such as pharmacology).

      The trick isn’t learning how another person studies well, it is figuring out what is best for you. It took me a while to realize that going to class was a big waste of time for me – not because they weren’t good lectures, but because I didn’t listen. I just couldn’t focus for six hours of sitting through lectures. So now I listen to one lecture at a time, on double speed, and then I can go back if I missed something or pause if I need a break. It works so much better for me. I have gotten even better grades this year, and I have to study much less – which allows me to work in plenty of boards studying.

      But everybody is different. I can’t study the way others do, just like they probably can’t study like I do. But somehow, we manage to learn the same information.

      Good luck with premed! Let me know if you have any other questions! I am always happy to help!

      • Thank you so much! That was incredibly helpful! Are your classes online or something? Is that typical?

      • emilyehoward says:

        We have normal lectures, but at my school every lecture is recorded, along with a video of the powerpoint so you can follow along when you listen. In addition, all of the powerpoints are uploaded online so we can access them. Our school switched from printed notes to iPads starting with my class, so all students can download the powerpoints onto their iPad. The majority of students choose to listen to lectures at home, while about a fourth of students attend every lecture – just personal preference. We still have mandatory lectures, such as our osteopathic manipulation labs, but it is really nice to have lectures recorded. Even if you go to class, sometimes you miss something or you are sick.

      • Wow that’s actually a really great idea. I like that your school does that.

        Very interesting. You’ve given me a lot of things to think about tonight – thank you for that! 🙂

  2. Niq says:

    #2 is really interesting. I would think that medical school would make you worry MORE. I’m naturally a very anxious person. I hope that I worry less in med school too! Also worried about #4- I was definitely feeling that in college already by my non pre-med friends who weren’t as busy and complained about their lives. Insightful post btw! I am hoping for some personal development in medical school.

    -Niq (20somethingmedlife)

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