How hard is the first year of medical school?
As hard as 15kilograms of books… but you don’t need to trust my approximation
It is not easy. It is also not impossible. The English or Romanian language don’t have enough words to describe the happiness and enthusiasm that I had experienced when I found out I was admitted to med school. It was a dream that came true ,I was bursting with excitement. After a week of holiday I started counting the days till the 1st of October (the day in which the medical school had started that year). There is no use in describing more what I have felt because you will also feel it on your own.
The medical school started and everything was perfect with one exception…It was not what I had dreamt of. The first year of medical school was completely different from the image I used to build in my mind. I was shocked by this difference starting from my first day of med school, but only after I stopped the confusing rush of the med school freshman and I got myself apart from the battlefield(metaphorically speaking), I finally got to realize the complexity of these first steps on the long, challenging road ,which we call Medicine.
I do not remember the exact moment I realized it, but I remember that I had some attempts during the first semester but in the second semester I could finally see the bigger picture, and I could honestly say from the bottom of my heart that I love medicine. During the first semester I said it from pride! I did not want the world to say that I am some kind of masochist that is torturing his body and soul in the University’s halls and labs. I complained more than I studied and I focused on the negative aspects of the student life. I did not understand why should I learn so much and to be honest I did not know how to learn. I think “confusion” would be the most appropriate word to describe my first semester constant feeling.
Also, I have failed my anatomy exam, the first and most important exam of the first year of medical school . I felt I was the dumbest person in my group. I couldn’t see the good part out of this whole business. Now I can say that failing the anatomy exam was one of the most necessary things that happened to me in the first year of med school. It was like a cold shower that woke me up from my numbness! It was like an alarm shouting : “Hey, stop it! You are doing it wrong!” So I started asking myself some questions to which I gradually found out the answers, I started to figure out the purpose of so much study , and I genuinely got to love what I was doing.
The subjects from the first year are, with some exceptions, (I will not mention the exceptions) the foundation on which you will build in the years to come. I know ,I know , it sounds like a cliché but this is the truth. How can you learn pathologic anatomy if you do not know anatomy?How could you understand the physiopathology if you can’t understand physiology ? Even the subjects that seem to be less important (like bioethics, psychology , behavior science) have their purpose. At the stages of beahavior science I had my first interaction with a patient (which was fantastic 😀 ) . Some might ask „How does passing through the experience of failing an exam feels like?”. I will tell you, so that you can’t say you weren’t warned. Failing an exam doesn’t mean you are stupid or you won’t able to be a good, competent doctor. Instead ,it is a good occasion to train your patience , to leave behind your pride, and to motivate yourself to learn more than the others. My actual purpose isn’t pleading for failling the exams (I sincerely do not want any of you to experience this. It is horrible after one month of exams, when all your classmates are on holiday, to stay in your room and struggle to learn for the re-examination). I just want you to see that it can be a useful experience that can teach you things you would never learn otherwise.So dear future freshmen, eager to read and find out anything related to medicine, to see yourself in the white coat,with the heavy weight of medical books in your backpack, DO NOT GIVE UP.DO NOT LOSE YOUR SELF-ESTEEM, no matter what. Prepare yourself for the great adventure that awaits you and that starts at the beginning of October.