Confessions of a Med Student- Part I

I always meant to write a little summary/reflection for each term but never got around to it. This is my stab at it before I leave Grenada. I will try to write about a term a week over the next month.

Term 1 Rehash
(Biochemistry, Anatomy & Embryology, Histology, Bioethics)  

Okay, I'll admit it. I hated biochemistry- yep, hate! I know that is awfully strong but it is true. I was scared I was going to fail. I didn't enjoy the class. The department obviously was having some type of family feud and despite going to special group review sessions given by upper termers I just didn't feel like I got it. Theoretically I was interested in the material, but when it came down to it, I really had a hard time counting ATP and remembering enzyme names. Biochem haunts me to this day which is too bad since Pharmacology is like applied biochem. The upside is I understand the importance of pharm in my clinical years so I'm tolerating it. Biochem is #1 on my list to focus on for USMLE Step 1 starting now,  but I feel like I retained nothing...  so of course I'm not happy about having to study it. Again.

I didn't like anatomy either... I know, I know, what kind of a medical student am I? (Now you are probably waiting for my future confessions that I don't like patients or blood makes me faint...) I wanted to like anatomy. I tried. But it was so much to memorize and no matter how much I studied, I would always feel like I knew nothing when I stepped into the wet lab. The smell didn't bother me, and I liked the idea of finding vessels and nerves and muscles. But who knew that bones had so many parts? Not I.  During the term, I felt rushed and unsure of everything.  Every week I dreaded anatomy small group. I was scared to be asked a question I couldn't answer. I tried to prepare and study but there just wasn't enough time. I remember being tired and stung out on caffeine. The physician tutors would inevitably ask us something we didn't know and I'd always feel bad, like it it was my fault I hadn't read and memorized that exact page of Gray's. Maybe it was all part of the process, you have to be humbled and you have to realize that medicine is so much larger and more complex than you will ever master, but still you have to try. (I would love to go back to anatomy now, just for a week or two, into the wet lab and see if having the foundation makes it more palatable. I'm guessing it would. (I could probably arrange this if I was super motivated but honestly I didn't like it enough the first time around and I have NO plans to go into surgery so I'll stick to Netters and BRS Anatomy for the Boards.)

Histology was tolerable. I enjoyed it more than biochem or anatomy, although I didn't feel like I had the time to truly master it... It was like everything else, a bit overwhelming in depth but necessary foundation.

Bioethics on the other hand was my favorite class of the term, of course it was only worth a minor 3 credits and only lasted half of the term, but I actually enjoyed it (although I was definitely in the minority). I found it interesting and manageable, unlike the rest of the term. Or course the realization of this during Term 1 also made me question exactly what I was doing in medical school... I just hoped and trusted it was going to get better.... and kept going.

Medical school was/is hard. During first year I truly doubted myself for the first time (maybe ever). I wondered if I was smart enough. I was lonely, I missed my husband. I didn't feel academically satisfied no matter how hard or much I studied. However, now that I'm approaching the end of my 2nd year I can appreciate that it wasn't so much WHAT I learned during first term but that I learned HOW to learn and HOW to study. But at the time, it was painful and not my favorite part of medical school. So there you have it. (And it did get better. So if you are an MS 1 and reading this, hang in there. You can do it!)

Stay tuned for Part II (and Term II).


  1. Having just completed term 1 myself, I can't tell you how meaningful it was to read this encouraging blog post. In fact, I even came back to it a few times during the term too (especially before final exams earlier this month).

    Do you have any advice on how you made term 2 and the semesters following more bearable than term 1? I've heard from so many students and former SGU students that term 1 was truly one of their worst, both academically and personally. Good luck studying and sitting for Step 2!

  2. Anon- Congrats on making it past the worst. :) I don't know if I actively did any anything different, term 2 just was better. And by then I had a few good friends and kind of knew what I needed to do as far as go to class, study, etc. It was still difficult of course, but it was better. I'll search my archived brain and let you know if I think of anything specific. But for now, enjoy your summer off and get ready for round 2! And thank you for the well wishes.