first semester is OVER!


… and you lived to tell about it! How are you doing, Meg? What was pretty much as you expected? What was a surprise? Anything you’d do differently leading up to med school? Do tell!


If you can, please elaborate on how different med school is vs. Ugrad.


I would definitely love to hear all about it! I’m sure all of us over eager anxious pre-meds would!

Awesome, Meg. 1/4 of the way through our pre-clinical years!

Hm… as for my thoughts on comparing it to undergrad… it’s just… different.

I think the biggest difference is the expectations. In UG, you were awesome for doing well and knowing lots of stuff. Now, it’s just expected of you. To boot, you’re hanging out with 100-200 other kids in the same boat, with the same capabilities.

As you’d expect, the material goes into more depth. It’s rare - but not impossible - to hear “that’s outside the scope of this class,” unless it’s because we’ll be studying it later in the year. I remember that response a lot in UG, and not becuase we were going to be covering stuff later. Of course, that’s also the nature of the dynamic courseloads of UG (different pathways,not everyone taking the same thing) vs the relatively static one of med school.

As I’ve heard here but didn’t really quite get, the material itself isn’t really that hard. It’s the volume that’ll get ya. There’s nothing we’ve covered - 4 months in, mind you - that’s conceptually mind-boggling. Some stuff is less intuitive than others, sure. But most of it is just rote.

But crap, there’s a LOT of it. I remember what we covered in 12 weeks in undergrad biochem. We did the vast majority of that that in about 2 here. At the same time, we were learning histo, pharmacology, some pathology… goodness, I don’t even remember what we learned.

But we probably learned something . That’s the funny thing… I’m 1/4 of the way through my preclinical years, and I don’t feel like I’ve learned much of what I need. In some sense, I haven’t (I know I’ve still got a LOT lot lot of learning to go). On the other, looking back at what seems like an eternity ago - but was really less than a year - there’s just a lot more stuff crammed into my noggin. Words, concepts, infos. So I guess I have been learning.

The professors themselves were different than I expected. Really, there’s only one who strikes me as what I expected a prototypical med school prof to be like - and folks seem to think she’s too hard . We have a wide range, though. Some who are hardasses into minutae, some who are excessively nice, some who still treat us like high schoolers, some who are just hard to understand… some of everything. We have something that’s not quite a parade of experts, as we get the same prof repeatedly in most cases, but it’s not entirely a cozy, personal experience. But one thing they all have in common is they do want us to understand the material and to succeed.

I couldn’t say that’s a glaring difference from UG, but it’s very noticeable here. Everyone - profs, administration, counselors, whatever - really seems interested in helping us out in every way they can. It’s a really supportive environment. I imagine that most schools are like this.

Largely unrelated, people will tell you that you can’t cram and pass in med school. This is almost true. I will say that it’s possible to cram and get by. But it’s highly, highly, HIGHLY not recommended. It will hurt you. Also, do all you can to not fall behind. At the rate you get material thrown at you, it’s also inadvisable.

Um… that’s all I can think of right now. That, and if you have anatomy for the first block (most people seem to), you may end up dreading it. You’ll come to appreciate it, though. So enjoy it, and the closeness with a small group of people leaning over a hopefully-not-dessicated cadaver .

Oh man, sorry you guys! I posted and got so busy 2nd semester it took me til now to get back!

Ok, I’ll start with Mary’s questions:

  1. Yeah, I think it was pretty close to what I expected. I paid attention to posts that were pretty frank about med school and went in expecting the worst.

  2. The only surprises were life throwing me curveballs while in med school. I wrote about them in my diary LOL.

  3. The only thing I’d have done differently (with exception to getting straight A’s and a 45 right out of undergrad to begin with :)) was take biochemistry. It wasn’t required at any schools I applied to, but it would have helped.

    Now for Dave’s questions:

    undergrad for me was soooo long ago, but definitely not as hard. Maybe 1/4th the effort needed in undergrad vs. med school. My grad degree was about 3/4’s the effort but still, that ship sailed in 2000. The long-standing analogy of med school being like drinking from a fire hose is spot on. It’s not about being the smartest. It’s about learning important concepts and being a hard worker. For those about to start med school or planning to - you WILL NOT learn everything. You will probably fail or come darn close to failing an exam or two. You will learn to love the minimum pass grade and learn to deal with being average. You will also probably find a niche in a topic and kick its butt on an exam. Because to be honest, being average in a room full of the brightest grads in the US, is not such a bad thing after all.

    And you will love it all!