Question on Academics

A question that has been bugging me for the past few weeks…

So I study hard…really hard, sometimes I think to myself that if I have to study this hard to make the grades that I make and others don’t have to study as hard but still perform at the top of their class then do I really have what it takes to become a physician?

Rephrased another way:

Most med students I know are smart…very smart…uber freaking smart but for me it takes time to learn the material well enough to incorporate it in everyday practice. I’m not dumb nor dense in any way but it takes me a considerable amount of time more to assimilate the same material that it may take someone else a little less time. It was like this for medic school and it was like this for nursing school. I guess that’s just the way I learn.

My question is a relatively easy one;

Am I doing a disservice to my patients and the people that I serve [by wanting to be a doctor] because I cannot grasp the information presented to me in an efficient and timely manner? Will I be doing more harm than good by still wanting to be a physician even though I am worlds different then the many braniacs that enter medical school and can crank out top tier grades while doing crossword or Sudoku puzzles during lecture?

Most reading this may not have a clue what I’m getting at but I believe that there are some reading this that know exactly what I’m talking about. To those that do, please share with me your thoughts, insights, and advice because I greatly need it.



I have found that there are two types of med students in my class. Those with a photographic memory and ability to grasp most of the material via lecture and some review. I know of maybe 5 people in my class with that ability. The rest of us are willing to do whatever it takes to learn and understand the material. Hence, hours and hours in the library, coffee shop, office, etc. etc. I put myself in the work my tail off category as I am far from that “crazy smart” type. If you are willing to do whatever it takes to learn the material then you will be an awesome doc. A colleague and I were just discussing today the dramatic difference in volume at medical school vs. undergrad. With that in mind I will advise you to (if you have not already) take a “how do I learn best” test, and apply it. (VARK, etc)my school made us all take this in orientation and I learned a lot about how I learn best and it really does help. If your university has a learning center this is exactly what they are there for. Use them now so you can try different learning styles now, vs. doing a “guess and check” on your style in med school. Best of Luck.



I agree with what Celtic said, and want to add one thing. IMO, it’s really hard to know how much work everyone does. Some people may appear less stressed or frazzled no matter how much work they’ve got. The majority of people that do well have to put in the hours, just like you (and me!).