Second Year

There have been a lot of posts about starting first year, which is really very exciting, scary, and wonderful, and about starting third year, which is… well, exciting, scary and wonderful.
But… second year? It seems a little …anti-climatic. I mean, last year at this time I was so excited I couldn’t sit still. As hard as last year was, it was an amazing experience- turning into a doctor-in-training, developing the study skills and some basic clinical skills. It was an incredible year.
Reading the posts, and listening to the new third years… well, WOW! To actually be seeing patients, getting that first real experience with sick (not simulated or healthy) patients. I can’t wait.
But first… there is this thing called second year. I just can’t seem to get terribly excited. Learning advanced clinical skill/physical exam stuff will be great and all, and at least we move into Problem-Based Learning, which will be challenging, and I hope fun… but still, I can’t seem to generate the same enthusiasm. Maybe it’s the fact that I’m entrenched in the first real, extended, nothing to do, no responsibilites, vacation that I’ve had in my entire life (and I’ll probably never have one this long again until I retire), and I am enjoying having a real life… but, does/did have similiar feelings? Is this part of why there don’t seem to be a lot of second year regular posters here?
Anything special to look forward to in second year? I’m trying to rebuild some enthusiasm before school resumes in three weeks.

Well, for me there’s the exciting prospect of a test every four days for the first month. After that it stretches out to a comfortable 9 day interval for the rest of the year. Yikes. ohmy.gif

I agree…the start of second year seems so anti-climatic. Maybe it’s the dread of returning to drinking from the proverbial firehose for the next 10 months that is giving me that knot in the pit of my stomach blink.gif

Yikes, Bill, that first month sounds like first year all over again! At least it smooths out a little after that. We will only have one exam every three or four weeks-- but the entire domain score is based on that single exam.
Tara, I think you hit the nail on the head-- I’m dreading the firehouse effect again, and I’m a little nervous about the PBL aspect-- I had just figured out how to do med school the way it was and have a life, and I’m out of practice and spoiled by vacation.
I’m sure it will be okay though. rolleyes.gif

Hi there,
I totally loved second year for a couple of reasons: First, I began to think like a physician and less like a college/graduate student. I began to see the reasoning behind some of the minutiae of first year as I was going through second year. Second, my physical diagnosis class started and I began to see the real importance of good listening and good patient communication. I could see the trust behind my patient’s eyes as I stood next to them wearing my sparkling clean white coat and squinting as I got used to my brand new ophthalmascope. I knew that was going to be vitally important that I not miss any clues as to my patient’s diagnosis.
I loved assisting on autopsies in Pathology and I was a tutor for the first-year dental students in Gross Anatomy, Biochemistry and Physiology. I learned that I loved to teach and I loved to put the student’s minds as ease as I explained things in more simple terms. To educate comes from a Latin word that means “to lead out” and this became my motto as a tutor. It was great to see some students who would have failed turn their grades around and move forward. Sometimes a couple of tutorial sessions were enough to get them on their way.
Second year is a great transition year from classroom to bedside. You also start to become a total self-learner, your style of learning for the rest of your career. I also did a Pathology fellowship the summer between my second and third year that propelled me into the clinical year with added confidence. I knew my lab values and investigations pretty cold. I was a master at looking at pathology slides too.
Finally, I started to see the kinds of colleagues that my fellow medical students would become. Some were better than others but all were starting to make the same transitions that I would be making. Second year has more responsibility but everything is more interesting.
Good luck!
Natalie tongue.gif

Like Natalie, I absolutely LOVED second year. For me, it was much, much more gratifying and intellectually fufilling than first year. We use an system approach in second year. That's when we first started discussing diseases, diagnostics and treatments. Granted, it was all within the context of basic sciences but it was SO much more clincially relevant than first year that I (at least up until the last month or so) could overlook that part enjoy it.
As for PBL, we use it in a big way throughout our first two years (and, apparently, during our third year on our surgery clerkship). Don't sweat it. This is traditionally where non-traditional students shine (I'm just so proud of that sentence). PBL evaluates for several skills, all of which take time and life experience to develop. If focuses on problem solving and interpersonal communications. The point really isn't to spout off the 'right' answer before anyone else. In fact, doing so repeatedly typically lowers your grade because, well, let's just say this is the hallmark of the affectively challenged gunner.
Finally, congratulations on finishing first year and moving into the start of the real doctor stuff!!!
Take care,
Jeff Jarvis

Epidoc said:

I had just figured out how to do med school the way it was and have a life

Ah, this is a theme that will haunt you for the remainder of your medical school experience. At some point you will get used to it… but third year (much more so than your pre-clinical years) is all about getting into a situation, figuring it out, and about the time you actually feel like you know what you’re doing, you have to switch clinical sites and start all over again. It is hard and uncomfortable and it can wear on your psyche if you let it.
I think the anxiety with which you’re anticipating second year is understandable. I don’t know if you all experienced what I did, but part of my angst as I nervously anticipated 2d year was that people in the class ahead of us never missed an opportunity to tell us how awful it was. As we would stagger through the halls during first year, eyes glazed over from, say, immunology or biochem, they’d stop to say, “You better enjoy this, because SECOND YEAR SUCKS!” Since we weren’t enjoying first year at all, this was a sobering message to say the least.
Fortunately, near the end of first year I encountered a positive-minded second year student who told me that she had enjoyed it WAY more than first year because it seemed so much more relevant. And I found that to be the case - yes, the pace did pick up even more in both our lectures and PBL cases, but it was stuff I could really sink my teeth into. I loooooved pathology, I thought it was so cool - to give just one example.
As far as squeezing your life into these ever-more-demanding routines, fortunately your learning curve for spotting and grabbing free time becomes better with each experience. By the end of third year, I was plotting gym time or date time as soon as I had my call schedule - so you see, you really do adapt to it and you WILL rise to the challenge. Good luck!

I am also on the cusp of second year and feel the same ambivalence about it. Actually, I feel some anxiety about it. First, I suspect that it will be a lot more work than first year. I was married earlier this summer, have enjoyed my life with my spouse during vacation, and am not happy about the departure of my free time.
Second, I am feeling squeamish about accumulating debt. Anyone read the article Drowning in Debt in the latest New Physician?
I am still glad to be in medical school. I suppose that this is just one of those crises of confidence we sometimes face. Thanks for some space to vent

What a difference a year makes. You guys were right.
While I wasn't looking forward to this year (and I agree with ejericson that New Physician article was sobering), it hasn't been bad.
Okay, admittedly, only one week is past, but so far it has been much more interesting, and more fun. Still a lot of work indeed, but it is interesting work. I love the PBL so much more than lectures, and find the learning style more suited to the way I learn anyway, that I actually now look forward to studying, and finding stuff out. And I have a wonderful PBL group-- we spent a good portion of this morning laughing at ourselves. I AM still struggling with the best way to organize all the information I find in my readings, but I'll figure that out. The best part, though, is the Clinical Skills stuff is finally starting to come together.
The one thing I did have going for me, compared to Mary's experience, was that our second years DID keep reassuring us that second year was better–I just wasn't sure I believed them.
I'm so relieved. I hope my fellow second years are feeling the same way.
It would be interesting to hear how the new third years are doing.