A Day in Medical School (Second Year): Wish You Were Here

The following is my day in medical school as a second year medical school student. Second year is supposedly the worst of the four years, so I guess it can’t get any worse than this:

Darn Alarm Goes Off

Today is Friday. I woke up at 7:00 AM and I leave for class at 7:30 AM. Class begins at 8:00 AM. I am lucky enough to live close to school so I could sleep in a bit later and make it on time for class.

First Class – Clinical Medicine (8:00 AM – 10:00 AM)

My first class is clinical medicine. I am going to learn about Alzheimer’s disease and dementia for two hours. I really do not want to go to class because I just had a pathology exam the previous day. When I arrive, I see that many of my fellow classmates decided to skip class. I guess they had too much fun after the exam.

I sit in my usual spot — back of the room in the right corner. I pull out my laptop and download the PowerPoint slides for class. I convert them into PDF format so I can take notes on the slides. My friend walks in and sits right next to me. The teacher walks in and tries to start the presentation. He cannot work the computer and needs some assistance. The IT representative from my class opens the presentation for him.

dozing off in medical school

It is easier to doze off in class when sitting in the back.

After the presentation is opened and projected onto the big screen, the professor begins class. For my clinical medicine class, I get different professors for every lecture. If I find the professor boring, I would zone out and do something else, such as reading non-medical books, studying for an exam, or even working on my website. But in this case, he was ok. This one is actually interesting and I pay attention and take notes.

Second Class – Pathology (10:00 AM – 12:00 PM)

After the two hours are up, pathology class begins. The class will cover CNS (central nervous system) neoplasms and hydrocephalus and will take two hours as well. For this class, I actually study better on my own rather than attending lecture. However, since my friend likes to attend lectures, I stay. I do my own thing while sporadically take notes if something the professor says sticks out to me.

My Favorite Part of Medical School – Lunch (12:00 PM – 1:00 PM)

Afterward, it is 12:00 PM and lunch begins. I generally do not eat lunch. Instead, I would either work out or hang out with my friends. Today, I opt to chill with my friends.

Third Class – Physical Diagnosis (1:00 PM – 2:00 PM)

Lunch lasts for one hour. Next, physical diagnosis class begins. This is a required class unlike my previous two classes. Therefore, the room gets quite packed with people. The professor pulls up a PowerPoint title “The Neurological Examination.” As you probably have noticed by now, I am currently in the neurological block so everything is brain-based.

Since this class has a pre-class quiz, I am forced to study the material before class begins. My day in medical school actually begins the previous night which consists of my preparations for the pre-class quiz. And since I know the subject well enough, I do not pay attention and continue to read about my non-medical-related interests.

Physical diagnosis class comes with a mandatory lab. Class takes one hour and lab takes another hour. Since my lab schedule is from 4:00 PM to 5:00 PM, I have 2 hours of free-time after class. I decide to work on my website.

Fourth Class – Physical Diagnosis Lab (4:00 PM – 5:00 PM)

At 4:00 PM, I head to lab. It was actually fun. I am learning things which will be useful when I practice medicine. Since this is the last class before the long labor-day weekend, the professors decided to speed up the class slightly so everyone can enjoy their freedom.

After Class Plans

When this day in medical school is finally over, it is 5:00 PM. I am not going to study today because I have all labor-day weekend to catch up. So this day in medical school was actually quite light. However, I know that I have lots of review work ahead for me. I expect to spend at least one full day on the weekend to catch up on all the materials covered throughout the week.

It is very common for me to study until midnight, even on non-exam days just so I can catch up with my daily work. I work hard for most of my days in medical school. But other days, I am having the time of my life. The hard work makes my fun days all the sweeter.

Hope you enjoyed this day in medical school.

This article is part of the Get into Medical School series. Click on the link if you want more tips and hints about getting accepted into medical school.


  1. Dang.

  2. Oh my. Oh my god I do not want to be a damn doctor!!!!!!!! I cant do it! I know, you probably enjoy it but i.dont even like biology that much…. I hate this.

    but Thanks ALOT for the insight

  3. Is this an atypical day? What would a bad day look like? Very curious!

    • Hey Luke,

      It is a typical day. A bad day is when I get stuck in school from 8:00 AM to midnight (because I have study in the anatomy lab for the test the next day.)

  4. Hi, Alex
    What motivated you to continue?
    How did you study all those long hours and never give up or feel overwhelmed?

    • Hey Dina,

      I don’t know what motivated me to study. Maybe I got used to it. There were days when I felt overwhelmed, but all my classmates were in the same boat as me. If I had to do it all over again, I don’t think I can do it (especially when I now view schools negatively).

      • I’m a 1st year dentistry student. And you must be aware of the frustrations of a dentistry student.Why did u say you view schools negatively?

        • Alex Ding says:

          You get too much bs, at the expense of too much time and too much money. This applies to all schools: colleges, graduate schools, etc.

  5. I’m really glad you put up this website, it’s very helpful.
    I’m only a freshman in College but I was thinking about going into medical school after I got my degree.
    I was wondering what job you were looking forward to after medical school?

    • Hey Dina,

      I’m glad it helped you. After medical school, I will work in the hospital (for residency, which is paid training). Then after that, I plan to have my own clinic, treating everyone.

  6. Journee Gaines says:

    I’m in 10th grade and I’m considering going to medical school in the future. What I really want to do is work in pediatrics maybe the PICU and what I really what to know if you want to work in anything medical do you go through the same things as you are doing in medical school?
    (I like to think ahead so I’ve picked all the careers I want to do and research each one until I find the right one.)

    • Alex Ding says:

      Pretty much. Medical school and first year of residency is pretty much similar for all future doctors.

  7. Hello, trying to find the ambition to do what I’ve always wanted to do..go to med school! I’ve been a firefighter/paramedic for 10 years and recently graduated Nursing school..I’m 32 and have a wife, kids, and a life lol…I think I would do generally well being I have a background in medicine. Guess we will see, very good website though, look forward to reading more

  8. heyy, thank you for giving an insight..i am completely in love with all things that have to do with biology…Im in my last year of high school and i am going to a two year community college,so im confused,after this two-year college, do i also go to a pre med school before writing the the MCAT or i can just do all my required med school courses in the two year college and take the MCAT…im saying this because i dont know if the two-year college is sufficient to teach me all i need to know and cover all my med school required courses so that i can do really well in my MCAT…Advise please.!

    • Hey Summer,

      Most people take their MCAT in the junior year of college, assuming they were a science major. This is because they just finished organic chemistry so the information would still be fresh in their heads.

      But it is really up to the individual and when you feel you’re ready. I took mine after 1 year of community college.

      • I want to make sure I understand you correctly, you went from high school to community college and took the MCAT after one year at community college straight to med school? You didn’t transfer to a 4 year college first? I didn’t think you could do that, or that it was even possible to get all the prerequisites done in that short of a time period.

        • Hey Annie,

          I graduated from a 4-year university. I worked a little and then went back to community college to take my prerequisites. You are right that I took the MCAT after 1 year of community college.

  9. I don’t know why but that day seems very appealing to me.

  10. It actually exites me!! I read a lot of your articles on the cons for becoming a doctor, and I can say that I am okay with all of it. I also read your article on the sacrafices on becoming a female doctor, and I’m okay with that too. I don’t plan to get married.
    Having kids would only hold me back, but all of your information was really useful. I would study medicine for fun, which from time to time, I do.

    Also, I’m 17 and a Junior in High School. I think I have most of my future planned, and I gave becoming a doctor a really good, long thought.

  11. Alex, I know I sound like a complete nerd when I say this, but that sounds like loads of fun to me. I would enjoy that a lot. This is the plan for myself as well, but college hasn’t been an easy road for myself. I’m not the smartest guy in my class, but I do consider myself to be an average student. I work extremely hard for my grades, even though they may not be the best, due to the fact that I am in 3 core sciences and their 3 labs. But, to no avail, I will make it to medical school, I am just rather afraid of not being adequate enough to get accepted.

  12. any advise for me? i have failed the first semester exam. obviously i am med student. think i gonna have to cahnge the letter e in the middle to an a. ‘mad’ student. T_T

  13. I look forward to getting accepted to medical school so I can completely focus academically on becoming a physician. I currently work as a public health technician in the Air Force and study at Rutgers during the night. Anything worth doing isn’t easy, and once you adjust to a different lifestyle, it becomes the new norm and everything is fine. Sometimes I am nervous about getting accepted, but as long as I keep my eye on the prize and work towards this goal, I can do it.

  14. Hey Alex,

    I came across your interview on youtube. Right now, I recently graduated from college and am looking into what field I should go into whether it is biomedical engineering or to pursue my original interest of becoming a sports medicine physician. The ongoing mental debate that I am having is whether or not I am fit to become a medical student. I think I could withstand studying and the time in school/residency, but I dont know if I could do without my non school related hobbies (Working out, Eating healthy, meeting new people aka hanging out with friends and meeting girls, Playing Sports, Reading, learning new skills, Traveling, etc.). After speaking to some physicians they have been sure to note that in medical school or residency they really only had 10 mins to workout during a day. Eating was like throwing some pizza bagels in a microwave. You dont get much sleep etc. I could do with only getting 5 and a half to 6 hours of sleep in order to fit in the extra things that I want, but Im worried that im not 100% fit because of the crunch for time. Do you have any time off in Med school or any breaks in order to reorganize yourself? Can you fit in some of these hobbies into your life as a med student regularly? Thanks let me know

    Kind regards, Maxwell

    • Alex Ding says:

      Hey Max,

      You will get a summer off after the first year of medical school. Afterwards, do not expect many days off. From then on until finishing residency, your time is no longer your own.

      You will sacrifice your social life. You will have less time to work out. You will get less sleep.

      Basically, this is the formula …

      Pick 2 of the following:

      – doing well in school
      – getting sleep
      – working on hobbies / working out
      – socializing

  15. I am a 22 yr.old business ad graduate (undergrad), currently working for 1yr & 3mos in an insurance company. I feel so lost that i dont know why i’m here, there’s no fulfillment. it is not until recently that i’m actually considering med school. I am actually afraid because it’s jumping into something that’s completely diff. from what I studied but I think it’ll be worth it. My question really is what made you switch your career? At what point in your life did you decide to pursue medicine?

  16. Mike Tausig says:

    Hello Alex,
    First, I must commend and thank you for the time you’ve devoted on your site; it has such a wealth of (very pragmatic) information that is not easily attained. Second, I wondered your opinion about whether it is ever “too late” to return to an idea of attending medical school with the hopes of being a physician. The obvious answer of “it’s never too late as long as one sets his/her mind to it” could be duelly noted, but I’m hoping for a more subjective opinion.

    I am a permanently disabled 43 year old man (I’ve had 5 spinal reconstructions and suffer from numerous resultant issues) and have not been able to work since 2008. My last employer was a Fortune 100 company, where I was the Financial Controller & Operations Manager (approx 2 years exp, until my 5th major spine operation rendered me unable to work). Prior to that, I was the Director of Retail Operations for a chain of music stores – Tower Records – and was with them for nearly 15 years – I began working with Tower while in college to help pay the bills.

    As a child and on in to high school, I wanted to be a doctor. I even participated in a mentor program with an Orthopaedic Surgeon during the summer between 9th/10th grade. After high school, I still wanted to become a physician, so I went to a community college for 2 years and received my AS. The college I went to didn’t offer O-Chem, so I needed (or thought I needed) to find another community college where I could get it out of the way before transferring to a 4-yr school. After a tremendously frustrating experience, not finding a school that I could in to immediately, I decided to switch my major to mathematics. To make this story short…I ended up deciding that math was a hobby, so did it as a minor, and switched gears altogether and graduated university with a BA in music theory, w/ a minor in mathematics. I was accepted to the MA/PhD program for Systematic Musicology, but never entered due to the birth of my first child. I stayed with Tower until they closed and then moved to the finance side of life until my final surgery took me out of the fold altogether.

    My question – after that EXTREMELY long-winded intro – is:

    Do you think that 43 years of age is too old to re-initiate my collegiate studies in order to attend medical school and become a doctor? My overall college GPA was average (3.3-3.4ish), and while I took a full barrage of science classes during my undergrad studies, I honestly don’t feel I have a good enough command of the scientific subjects anymore, beyond the
    basics, even though I loved them (I still never took O-Chem). Do you think, or would you recommend that I return to a CC and retake Chem, physics, bio, A&P, an O-Chem class, and brush up on my math?

    Is 43 (pragmatically) too old to start this process, considering I would likely need one full year at a CC before even thinking of applying to a med school? More specifically, even if I followed the “standard structure” of 4 years of med school, then the post MD items (internship, residency etc) I’m looking at a minimum of 5-6 years from the start…so, I would be 50-52 upon completion if there were no setbacks. Is that too old to start a career in medicine? Is it too old to start a new career which is accompanied by $200k of debt? Is the medical world as cutthroat as it is purveyed, and would an “old geezer” I’m his early 50’s stand a chance of success while rubbing elbows with the younger folks…especially as it pertains to residency and internships?

    I have loads of questions in my mind and certainly don’t expect you to suffer them all, but your pre-med school experience (somewhat) parallels my path and hope you might share your opinion.

    Thank you again for your insight and willingness to share your experiences with the masses.

    • Hey Mike,

      If you are too old pursue medicine is a question you have to answer for yourself. If it is something you have to do, you have to do it.

      From a financial point of view, starting your career in your early 50’s could be financially feasible, if you choose a field that you can practice until you die. It would not be wise to choose emergency medicine or surgery which will require more physical effort. But if you pursue medicine and then drop out somewhere in the middle, you will be left with a substantial amount of debt that could ruin the rest of your life.

      Another option for you is to consider becoming a physician assistant. Your GPA is quite low for medical school and you will need to refresh your science courses as they “expired.”

      I’m not sure what your physical status is, but I would assume being a director or controller to be a butt-in-the-seat type of job. Medicine will require a lot more physical effort as your run up and down the stairs, save patients during emergencies, and more. Is this something you can handle physically?

  17. I feel that the only true reason i want to become a doctor is because of the money. I am interested in biology but only to an extent. My question is were there any times that you felt that you were in medical school for the wrong reasons? and what did you do to clear those doubts and how were you 100% you wanted to get into the family doctor field?

  18. Hello,

    I’m going to college in September for Medical Lab Assistant. I’m extremely excited and I find myself exploring my curiosities on the internet. I’ve always said I wanted to be a doctor because I love to understand things. It comforts me when I understand how our bodies work, and I’ve had a dream of helping our research. Finding a cure, or making a break. But I’m scared I won’t make it, I’m not sure if I can do what I need to do. I know I won’t be getting into a easy specialty… but it’s always been a dream. How can I get over that fear and push myself to go above and beyond?
    Thank you,

    20 yrs.

  19. Abdul Rahman says:

    I am a medical student in moscow and frankly medicine isnt easy so far the first year is a direct revision of my pre-med and i was struggling to keep up with the pace it was too fast for me and frankly my mind still thinks im a genius and now i have lost my confidence and i cant even quit because of the scholarship contract that i signed
    I just hope so that i can survive medical school and not repeat not even a single year things change fast and i am still adapting btw im from Malaysia and lots of love for this blog
    Thanks a lot for the motivation.

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