I had spent almost 10 years dreaming about how wonderful medical school would be when I finally got there. I would (and I swear this is true) lie in bed at night and fondly think about the hours I would spend in the cadaver lab, or sitting in front of cartoonishly huge textbooks, or scrubbing in for surgery for the first time. What I’m trying to say is I was one super cool high schooler. If you were to ask anyone I knew during that time, they would tell you that I tried to flirt with girls by naming the bones in their hand. I thank God that Lizzy married me.
Anyway, after all that time of setting unrealistically high expectations, medical school met every one of them. It felt like I was coming home. It was a wonderful time. Boy, did I love medical school.
The first two years were spent entirely in a classroom for about 40 hours a week. In that amount of time, you get to know the people sitting around you pretty well. After my time at Taylor, it was a revelation to see how much better life is when you are slogging through challenges with good friends. My closest friends during those long years are now an ophthalmologist, orthopedic surgeon, pediatrician, and neuro-radiologist. But at that time, they were guys that wrote fake notes on your notes if you fell asleep in class. More than once, when studying I would find a sentence in my notes that read something like, “...spirochete destruction can result in Jarisch-Herxheimer reaction typified by a Joel is ugly.”
By the end of those two years, we knew a lot about anatomy, disease, and medicine; and nothing about how to apply it to people. Year 3 and year 4 are spent in the hospital learning to take the role of physician and helper. During those first several months of third year, patients, thankfully, usually aren’t aware that the nascent doctor standing in the room is more nervous than they are. This was true in all cases except for several inpatients on the psychiatry ward. More on the last years of medical school next time...