Sunday, August 15, 2010

Brief Thoughts On a Year

I know I should have some massive overarching takeaway from an entire year of medical school. Something about what it means to be a physician or some new insight into the field of medicine. Figuring that heading back to LA for the summer and removing myself a bit from a long and tiring year would allow me to gain some perspective on the whole ordeal. It didn't. Not that I didn't learn anything last year, far from it, but there wasn't much in the way of revelation. Mostly, I learned that M1 year is about survival and finding ways to stay sane. Every student is different. Some people are capable of studying for 8-10 hours at a time without going crazy and some aren't. For me, the blueprint has always been simple: exercise, cook, and take time to be brainless. These provide some short term relief.
There's a larger issue with this sort of experience, however, and it's an issue that has become fairly standard for my generation. Everything we do is to get to the next level, to get the future we want. We spend high school trying to get into college, college trying to get into grad school or snag our first job, and so on. After working to get into med school, we discover that now we have to worry about residencies. At some point, the message was lost that we should enjoy the journey along the way. (I wonder if the next generation of kids will have to list their developmental milestones on their resumes. What's this, you didn't crawl until 13 months? Maybe you aren't the right fit for this company.) Learning is a joy in and of itself, but the rate and intensity gut a lot of that fun.
I'm all for delaying gratification. Self-control is an important part of maturation, right? But I wonder if all that delay of gratification is to our detriment. "Just survive the first two years of medical school." I was told repeatedly before beginning. Survive. That's a word that generally goes along with a negative experience. I can't speak for all of my classmates, but I'm certainly punting higher levels of short-term happiness with the notion that choosing the right career is worth delaying gratification. Whether it be jealousy over friends having nights and weekends free or getting vacations and disposable incomes, I do feel like I'm missing something. Let's hope I'm right about the value of the long-term.
As far as school itself, I'm halfway through with the classroom portion. This year represents a much higher proportion of clinical learning as opposed to basic sciences, along with the run up to Step 1 of the USMLE Boards. Lots of work ahoy. Sure, I was terrible about updating my blog over the last 5 months but this here's a post and I have another one brewing in my head that should be interesting.