I was wondering if any of you who are further along than I am can discuss differences, if any, between the quality of “colleague” type contacts in an undergraduate setting, vs. at medical school/graduate school. The reason I ask is because what is life but a series of personal, professional, and academic-type contacts, built on trust? People need to work together, to be together, to sustain each other, to advise each other, to recommend for each other, and to send referrals to each other :-). However, I am somewhat disappointed with how transient and unreliable the other students are as people. I wonder if I am being too exacting, too demanding in my expectations? I don’t think so. If someone is the type of person who is going to eventually be called upon to make decisions about life and death, about telling a patient that they have cancer, then how can you go from flakey to that, in 6 or 7 years (and of course longer with a subspecialization)? Are future doctors expected to be flakey for a while, before they get a license to practice? In your medical education, where do you make the friends that you will have for a lifetime?
I’m not sure what your situation is regarding location of coursework, etc. It helps to be affiliated (even informally) with some sort of post-bacc program designed for professional school preparation in the health sciences. I am attending a program at the University of Maryland called Science in the Evening, and there are a number of working professionals in other fields taking classes and moving toward application to medical, dental, or vet school.
My experience so far has been excellent in terms of relationships with my classmates. Many of their stories have inspired me at moments when I feel like I am the only one in the world sacrificing so much of my free time for something that has virtually no certainty regarding the ultimate payoff.
Also, those relationships have also helped in getting through the coursework and the long nights in Organic lab while you’re waiting for a “20 minute” reflux to finish and wondering why you are staring into a fume hood through sweaty goggles at 10pm after having worked all day.
Since we’re all taking many of the same classes, I’ve developed friendships with some of the people in the program.
Having said that, however, I also have to say that there really is very little time for intense bonding or a lot of outside camraderie and help. For many of us, the time committments of family and full-time jobs and in-class time leave little room for much else.
And, depending on where you are in your coursework, you are bound to encounter a few flaky people in the process. As the coursework progresses, however, you see less and less of these types.
Good luck, and keep the faith!
You may be too exacting, or you may not have had enough exposure to enough of your colleagues. I’ve had varying success over the last two years of pre-reqs forming study groups, for example. People will get religion just before the exam instead of working with me right along. But there have been notable exceptions. My biology study group was great, and so is my physics study group now. And in the latter group, I’m the only non-trad.
Just stay in there and talk with people and try to work things out. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. But they’re not all flakes.
If you are talking about traditional-aged college students, then yes, there is a huge difference and a striking maturity curve that they undergo while traversing undergrad… med school… medical practice. Every one of my intern colleagues is serious-minded when s/he needs to be and I think patients can rely on them absolutely. Not all of them have the social skills I value in patient interactions, but their medical judgment is sound. Remember back to your maturation between ages 19 and 25, and you’ll hopefully cut these folks some slack.
Meanwhile be sure to look elsewhere for social-type stuff!
I’m almost done with my second semester in GMU. I’m not a typical non-trad (before I statted in the fall I had been out of school for only 4 years), but at the beginning I was definitelly disturbed by the level of maturity of my colleagues. It really seemed to seemed to me that I never was that ‘childlish’ at the age of 19.
Then I realized that I generalized too much. I found people at my age. It just happened that we were taking the same classes so we could stay at the same study group for every class. It’s the second semestr we’ve been studing together, and we’ve already signed up for the Summer session. They are not only study buddies. We have a great time doing anything.
Just look around and you’ll find someone to hang out with
I found few “flaky” types of medical school classmates in my class of 2002. In fact, I really did not find any. There are a few colleagues that I keep in touch with, generally because of proximity, but I can drop an e-mail to anyone on my class list for almost anything. These relationships last a life-time for the most part.
Getting through four years of medical school is a life-changing process for anyone regardless of age. My traditional classmates were no less mature at the end of the process than my non-traditional classmates. Everyone was able to get into residency and many (the non-surgical specialties) will finish this year.
As a medical student and into residency as a resident physician, you are going to fine that your colleagual relationships have more to do with proximity than anything else. You will probably stay in contact more with your residency colleagues than your medical school classmates. You are probably going to do more “self-sustaining” than relying on your colleagues for this function.