Non-traditional medical student at the beach

On being a very non-traditional medical student.

I stopped writing about health research some time last summer and started medical school.  I am on the fence about starting a new blog devoted solely to providing insights and information for people considering medical school late in their careers.  I hope to continue writing about science and health.  I also hope to continue research too, but in a more limited way.  For now, in term 1, 98% of my time is being spent memorizing and making limited connections among factoids. Here are a few things to know in advance if you are considering medical school late in your career.

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Here are few basic things to be aware of that I haven’t heard discussed elsewhere.  This is going to sound choppy.  Apologies:

Working Memory: You will have to work harder than your classmates.

There are certainly things I wished I’d known that would have made it easier to transition, including the stark reality that these little shits (your classmates, most of whom will be incredibly kind supportive and helpful, especially if you remind them of their favorite aunt or uncle) will be able to learn things faster than you can.  I probably should have known this after six years as a masters crossfit athlete.  Younger people are faster, damn them.   You will have to work harder to go the same distance.  That means more repetitions.  Review material many many times.  You will need that term . . . otherwise known as “the thingy that connects to the whatnot . . . you know what I mean.”  Knowing the answer while being unable to pull it out of your mouth or into your pencil can be very frustrating.  You may look and feel stupid.  People may think you are stupid.  Screw them.  You are not.  Don’t let it mess with your confidence.  Just keep going.  Low confidence destroys test performance.  I have nothing to back that up so no citations, but I’m sure it’s true.

Hearing Loss: You may not have realized it until now, but there’s a problem.

I was stunned by how hard it was to figure out what the hell the professors were saying.  Our classes are held in a large auditorium.  Speakers use microphones that distort sound, and the acoustics in general were difficult.  Still, I felt like everyone could hear except for me.  Actually that was probably the case, but better to blame an external factor like auditorium design.   The same holds for the “small group discussions.”   If you are considering applying to medical schools check the classroom conditions.  I am using the workaround of watching the recorded videos with earphone.  Helps a lot.  For small group discussions I try to sit near the facilitator and will usually try to let them know I have a hearing deficit so they don’t just assume I’m an idiot.  There’s nothing like having a new MD-facilitator in their 20s treat you with contempt because they think you’re stupid.  Don’t let it bother you.  They are just kids.  They’ve had very little training, and they don’t really know what they are doing in terms of facilitating discussions/meetings etc.  They also don’t know that they don’t know what they are doing.  Feel for them.

 

Aches and Pains

Last year, I had a very bad accident with a bowling ball and a skateboard.  I tore something in my hip and its been very slow to heal.  It didn’t bother me that much at home, but here at school we are required to sit for 4 hours of lecture a day.  It hurt like hell, I think from the pressure of sitting on the damaged tendon.  My workaround for the hearing problem: watch lectures online, also worked for the sitting problem.  Advice: if you’ve got an injury/back pain/tendonitis try to get it taken care of before you start medical school, because you will have very little time for it once things get started.

That’s it for now.  I’ll share my study systems in the near future.

Keep it up.  You can do it.

Check this article on another Master in med school.