I am currently three months into my third year and all I can think about is how different this year is compared to last year. Whenever I have these introspective moments, of course I want to share them with you (This way, I get to look incredibly deep and pensive.). Trouble is, I updated you very little on MS2, so let's get that established first: studystudysleepeatstudystudyspringbreakstudystudystudySTEPONE. Aaaand that about sums it up!
Ok but seriously, I tried very hard to write a post about second year once I had finished my classes but struggled with reflecting on such a big year so close to its fall-out. MS2 was the most challenging year of my life. Wow, it’s crazy to read that so definitively, but it is absolutely true: the course load and pressure of the year prevented me from really feeling very human; I spent at least 15 hours a day studying for my classes, mostly studying alone (with the exception of my faithful cat Scarlet, of course); I had a quiz nearly weekly and a test every 1-4 weeks. If that doesn’t seem overwhelming enough, on top of studying for regular classes, I had to cram in as much Step 1 studying throughout the year as I could*. Turns out sedentary, near-solitary confinement coupled with lots of stress can wear you down, and all that alone time and anxiety is something I’m still recovering from. However, all this in mind, I feel incredibly blessed that no major crises (other than school-related ones) occurred last year. I say no major crises occurred for a reason: I know many of my classmates struggled with family issues, health issues, and financial issues on top of the overwhelming work load, and I feel incredibly lucky that school was my major focus and that the real world provided few distractors otherwise. I have such immense respect for my peers knowing we all got through that challenging year together in spite of all the obstacles we encountered.
*Did reading the words “Step 1” strike you to the core with terror, anxiety, and weird excitement? No? Well then, let me explain (insert evil laughter here). At the end of MS2, all medical students take Step 1, which is an eight-hour (yup, you read that right) exam that serves as a final for the first two years of medical school. Passing the exam is required to continue your medical education, and the score you get on that exam correlates to the type and quality of residency for which each student is competitive. In summary: it's a super important final over the foundation of medicine. NOW do you feel a bit more terrified? Good, then I’ve explained it adequately.
I will remember a lot of stress, anxiety, and sleepless nights from MS2. But with bad usually comes good, and what I will also remember with pride is how much I learned every single day. To go from basically no knowledge regarding an organ system to understanding its physiology and pathologies in a matter of weeks is truly impressive. I also hope I'll never forget how much I surprised myself last year: when the going got tough, I got going. And in spite of all the times I wanted to give up, I never, ever did. That is something I'll always be proud of.
So, enough about the past. Let’s discuss the now, aka life as an upperclassmen: it's awesome. I mean, I hoped it would be considering that I finally get work with patients and physicians and see all the things I've been studying for 2 years, but LAWD is it amazing. My first rotation was in pediatrics, and now I'm in surgery. I'm loving the constant stimulation, the hands-on learning, and the interactions with other humans (no offense, Scarlet). Every single day I’m reminded how the hard work from the last two years was definitely, definitely worth it, and every single day all I want to do is keep learning. As of right now, I’m not 100% certain which part of medicine I like best-for now, I’m relaxing and enjoying the ride. I can't wait until the day that I decide what I want to be when I grow up. Let's both just keep our fingers crossed that that day comes sooner rather than later!