Okay, well I've technically only been in med school for like two months. But, I have definitely experienced and learned a LOT in that short amount of time- and I don't mean just academically. Here's a few things I've picked up these past couple months in med school:
1. There IS such a thing as too much of a good thing. There is almost always a lunch lecture to attend, and they almost always serve free food. YAY! FOOD! ...right? However, that free food is almost ALWAYS pizza. This was exciting until I noticed my diet was rapidly becoming pizza, pizza, pizza - which just makes you feel awful! I've learned to pack healthy lunches, and often dinners, too - for a day and night full of studying.
2. Studying is life. Having just graduated this past Spring, I was pretty used to never studying until the night before an exam, or maybe a day or two. Now I'm studying EVERY night for an exam that's not even for another two weeks. Why? Because everything just moves so gosh darn fast. You learn so much in a day, it would be impossible to cram and do well on an exam. I miss the lax days of undergrad, but I've become so used to the studying way of life. It's also a lot less painful knowing that all of your classmates are going through the exact same thing.
3. There are never enough hours in the day. Every day I feel like I have more and more stuff to do. I've had to seriously figure out time management. I thought I thought I had it down before now - but I quickly realized that I did not. Five hours of studying used to seem like such a long time...but it isn't. There's always something to do or study.
4. Take breaks. This is so key. If you can just study nonstop for hours and hours every day then good for you. But I cannot just sit in one place for so long. I go out and exercise every day (mostly to make up for my hours of sitting). But also just sitting and watching an episode on Netflix or doing anything relaxing is so key. It might feel like a waste of valuable study time - but when you go back to studying you feel so much better and your mind and body will thank you! And different people recharge different ways. As an introvert, I've learned that I really just need to relax by myself, whereas others want to go out with a lot of people to relax. And there's nothing wrong with either way. You just really need to do what's best for you.
And last, but not least:
5. I belong here. I've already had a few mini crises relating to my dramatic life changes. I've had loved ones get very sick and die while I'm stuck studying in MMEC studying the immune system. I have gone weeks without talking to friends I used to see every day. I've missed occasions for celebration like birthdays and weddings, as well as tragedy, when I wanted so bad to just be there for someone. It often feels like I'm missing out on the world because I'm preoccupied with medical school. - But what's important is that I like where I am. I'm stressed on the regular and sometimes I just want to throw in the towel. But I really love it here at MCV. Things are SO hard (I cannot stress how hard med school is), but there are 200+ other students here going through the exact same thing. We're all in it together. I really miss everything about my "old" life- my free time, the late nights doing nothing, and especially my friends and family. But I am so happy to be where I am right now because I know that one day, I will be what I've always wanted to be - a doctor. :)
- Anna Green