How a Doe-Eyed Pre-Med Student Changes into a Jaded Doctor

Oh my goodness, this is seriously hilarious …

Med School Hell is one of the better-written, honest, and raw website you will find about medical school — written by an anonymous brave soul known as Hoover. It really should be mandatory reading if you’re even thinking about going into medicine.

In many ways, he is like my brother from another mother. We would have been tearing it up (slacking-wise) if we had rotations together.

So because I have no life and because I want to know more about my brother, I browsed through his old posts on Student Doctor Network. His username is Hoo\/er. (Notice how he cleverly used the backward slash and the forward slash to form a “v.”)

The Innocence (Before Medical School)

We both started out as wide-eyed, naive medical students — so full of energy, life, and hope. We cheered on as other people got in to the narrow road of medicine.

Note Hoover’s gentle soul and up-beat attitude in 2002 (before medical school):

  • When I took TPR last year, my score went down on 482. Don’t sweat it guys, you still have a lot of practice tests to get under your belt before the big day!
  • Hey Scoob! Congrats on your acceptance!!!!
  • Congrats Foxy!!! (when she got into medical school)

    Spongebob Rules!

  • Hey Bounty, welcome to SDN!

    As far as your questions are concerned, apply to as many schools as you can. Just like moo says, the more the better.

    I did take a year off after undergrad and I think it was the best decision for me. I have done some traveling and have been working a little to save some money for when I start med school this fall.

    Hope this helps and good luck!

  • Hello Dana,

    I’ll be starting MCG with ya this fall! Congrats on your acceptance!

  • fluffyj and misskitty, don’t give up hope. I had a friend who got off of the waitlist three days before orientation! I’m pulling for you guys!
  • 1. Come up with a regular study plan and STICK TO IT! Pre-plan your hours of study and treat it like a full-time job.

    2. Make time for a social life. Sure, most people can do well in school if all they do is sit home and study. However, this is probably the easiest way to get burned out and completely give up. Don’t take away time from studying (see number 1 above), rather make time to go out with your friends.

    3. Stay focused on your dream. Do whatever it takes to do this. This may sound cheesy, but it might help to put up subtle reminders of your desire to enter medicine — whatever they may be.

    4. Remember that 18 months is not that much time. Stay focused on the “big picture” and you’ll be starting medical school before you know it!


  • I’m sure they can easily C’s but who wants a doctor like that. Well, not exactly. Although I am not one of these peeps (Alex’s note: har, har … that’s what he thinks now …) that I’m referring to, I know several people first-hand that are pulling mostly A’s and some B’s in med school while studying far less than “12 hours per day.” IMO, it’s about quality vs. quantity. Just because someone can reproduce the same quality of work with 50% less studying than the average classmate doesn’t make them an inferior student and certainly will not make them a substandard doc.

The Transformation (During Medical School)

At the end of the second year of medical school, Hoover emerges with a change of heart:

I frequented this site during the application and acceptance process. I am now a second-year medical student. I have debated for some time on whether or not to post my feelings on this site. Flame away if you must, I really don’t give a $hit. This is an honest depiction of my feelings and describes well what I have gone through during the last 1.5 years of my life. Well, here goes…

First of all, let me say that regret doesn’t even begin to describe my feelings about medicine. I did all the standard application crap, including research and volunteering. I didn’t particularly care for my volunteer experiences in medicine, but simply brushed it off as “I just don’t like x specialty, I’ll find something else.” I studied hard, did well on the MCAT, and sent my application through cyberspace to my top-choice schools.

The day I received my acceptance letter to my first-choice school was, what I thought at the time, the best day of my life. I geared up for medical school, found housing, bought books and enjoyed the summer prior to starting.

Fast-forward to mid first-year. The initial feelings that have revealed themselves fully within the last few months started creeping in like a fox in the shadows. I knew something wasn’t right, but I couldn’t put my finger on it. I had done well on some tests, and not so well on others. I stopped going to class. I didn’t study. The fox reared it’s head more and more with each passing day. I was miserable. I hated gross anatomy with a passion that I have never experienced. Everything about it began to piss me off. Medial to this, lateral to that. Who gives a $hit? It certainly wasn’t me. This hate eventually spread over into biochemistry, neuroscience, and histology. Histology – all of it looked the same to me. Pink and purple. What was once a love for the sciences had turned into a force-feeding to the point of emesis.

I was clinically depressed and I didn’t seek treatment. I continued with my daily routine of not studying except at the last minute for exams. At this point, all I cared about was passing. Just get me through the semester. After this semester surely things will get better. I’m just going through an adjustment period. I told myself all that bull$hit day after day. Well, the semester ended and I passed all of my classes.

After the holiday break I was refreshed, no longer depressed and ready to start again. I knew I had to do some things differently because I wasn’t about to go through that $hit a second time. I went to every class. I studied harder and longer. I studied every day with a few off days now and then. My grades improved. I knew they should be higher, but I was happier now than I was last semester and I wasn’t about to get greedy. But, something was missing. I wasn’t interested in my classes. This was a first – throughout my four years of college I devoured every piece of information like a starving child. Physiology, psych, embryology, it didn’t matter I didn’t like any of it. My classmates would talk about , for example, how much they liked cardiac phys and that they were now thinking of cardiology. $hit, nothing was clicking for me. When asked what field I was considering, I would reply “family medicine” or “internal medicine.” (Alex’s note: Yup, me too!)

This was when I seriously began to ponder my decision to enter medicine. Again though, I brushed it off as boredom with the basic science years. Surely I would enjoy my classes and have genuine interest next year when it really counted. The semester ended, my grades were marginally better, and all I wanted to do was to get the hell away from medical school and enjoy the summer.

I partied hard for the first half of my summer break and then it was time to start my summer family medicine clinical experience. I was really excited – after all, I was going to get to see what it’s really like to be a doctor on a daily basis for a month. I saw patients, looked at charts, and went through the motions. I really didn’t know what I was doing. I wore my stethoscope and carried my instruments but we hadn’t had physical diagnosis or instrument training yet. I got to suture, I did pelvic exams, I did prostate exams. The first week was OK. By Monday morning of the second week I was already tired of rounding on patients at 0700, seeing patients in the clinic all day, rounding again at 1700 and finally getting home by 1900. Twas a twelve hour day for me, but the doc didn’t go home when I did. They were his patients, and he had to shore stuff up. On multiple occasions I would arrive at the hospital a little early to meet up with the doc only to find him looking like a truck had hit him. “What time did you get here” I would ask. “I was called in at 0400 with patient X”. I always hated those days because I knew he was going to be a grouch for the next 12 hours of my life.

After the second week of my clinical experience, I began to look forward to the very last day. I couldn’t wait for it to end. I didn’t like sticking my fingers into patients. I didn’t like doing an abdominal exam. I didn’t like checking reflexes. The really, really sick patients depressed me.

At this point, I was getting really concerned that I had made the wrong decision to go to medical school. I learned that I didn’t really like to see patients. I started to think about specialties that had minimum patient contact.

Second year started and I thought I’d give it one more shot. I started studying at the library. I set a very rigid schedule and stuck to it. My grades were higher than they ever had been. I got all A’s and one B first semester. We started to see patients here on campus which only solidified my feelings that patients were not for me. That’s some $hit, huh? Here I am in medical school and I don’t like seeing patients. What the hell have I gotten myself into? Setting out on my quest to find a specialty that had minumum patient contact I began to talk to physicians in various fields.

Fast-forward to the present. I haven’t started my clinical years but while all of my classmates can’t wait to get started, I am dreading it like never before. I honestly don’t know how I’m going to get through them. Long hours of bull$hit that I care nothing about. Let’s face it, there is no specialty for me. More in the next paragraph.

I have decided that medicine is not for me and that sly ole fox that reared it’s head during my first year was giving me a message. I hate everything about it. Most of all I hate the long hours, long hours that are going to be with me the rest of my life. I hate reading about drugs, compliance studies, and new treatment options. I hate the thought of carrying a pager and being tied down. I hate the thought of being uber-responsible for the outcome of a patient.

I am ready to quit. However, I am going to take Step I since it is only a few months away. Pass or fail that’s it. One shot. I’m going to study but not like my other classmates. If I can get that passing score I am going to try to endure the 3rd year. I won’t be directly responsible for the patient care as a JSM. If I fail I’m done. No skin off my back as I am not going to enter a residency anyway. That is a guarantee. I hear that 4th year is a vacation. Let’s hope so because I really do need one. If I do end up finishing I’m sure I will be able to use an MD degree to some advantage possibly as a back-up plan. What that advantage may be doesn’t concern me right now.

What I have learned during my medical school experience (mostly for pre-meds):

1. If you are considering this as a career, please be relatively certain that this is want you really want to do. If there is something else you would rather do with your life then DO IT. This is both for your benefit and the benefit of your patients. I am not worried about messing up with patients because I am not going to enter residency.

2. Life is too short to do something every day that you are not happy with.

3. Medicine is not the way to make the most money efficiently. If you want money, consider something business related.

4. Medicine requires working long hours. Look up the average number of hours worked per specialty in a well-respected medical journal for proof.

5. Medicine is not like TV. It’s not like ER. It’s not like Scrubs.

6. If I had it to do over again…well, I bet you can answer this one yourself.

I’m out.

Things didn’t get any better in the third year:

  • This is coming from a third year medical student: Medicine involves long $hitty hours. I wish I would’ve taken this to heart when entering medical school, but for some reason I chose not to believe those that had worked in medicine for many years. Docs that work minimum hours for nice coin with no call and no weekends are the exception and not the rule from my experiences. Sure, there are those specialties mentioned with nice hours and big pay but you can bet your ass you’re going to work it off trying to pull the grades and step scores needed to score a competitive residency such as derm or rads. Even if you do go into derm or rads, there is still no guarantee of a normal 9-5 M-F because it’s very individually based on the practice group, hospital system and/or physician. Just like someone said earlier, you better damn well love medicine and everything about it if you’re going to do this. I don’t love it and I’m miserable. If you want lifestyle with nice clean offices, driving nice cars before you’re 60 and no work after hours, you’re better off to get a finance or econ degree and try and score an investment banking position somewhere. Again, this is just my opinion based on experiences that I’ve had. If I sound like a cynic it’s because I am – If I had it to do over again I wouldn’t have entered medical school.

  • I saw this post by doc05 and I totally agree. I had similar thoughts during the first and second years but, holy $hit, when I got to my 3rd year I KNEW I had made a big mistake. If you’re not sure about medicine, try this:

    1. Go to the L&D ward at some inner city hospital that takes care of the indigent population (most medical schools qualify for this).

    2. Explain that you’re a medical student and want to “get a feel for the wards.” Also, tell them that you wish to assist and/or scrub in if possible.

    3. Do a 12-14 hour shift of taking care of dirty, smelly, drunk, high, HIV+, Hep C+, IV drug users that like to spit out babies at an average of one per year and always refuse to sign the BTL consent. Keep in mind that most of these patients do not have a job and cannot pay for medical care — most have no desire to pay for medical care. Also, keep in mind that most of these new “moms” have no desire to support their new children (that is, if DEFACS doesn’t take them away) and won’t even think of getting a job to do this.

    4. Based on these experiences, you’ll know more about yourself in general and you’ll know a lot more about whether or not medicine is for you.

    I had always questioned whether or not medicine was for me. I slowly began to realize that I didn’t like to see patients. I stuck it out to the 3rd year where I completed my peds rotation and some of my OB/GYN rotation. After just a week on the L&D floor I witnessed two residents who were sprayed while delivering a baby to an HIV+ mom. They are now on anti-retroviral prophylaxis. Also, while in the clinic I saw numerous patients who were cocaine+, amphetamine+, THC+, heroin+, and alcohol+ on the same urine drug screen on their very first prenatal visit at an EGA of 36 weeks. After some questioning and looking up previous labs, many of these patients were HIV+ and/or Hep C+ and I was supposed to do the pelvic exam on these women. I completely understand the risk of transmission, but I personally didn’t feel comfortable sticking my hands inside any of these patients. In fact, I didn’t really want to touch them at all.

    After A LOT of thinking and soul-searching I decided to take a year off yesterday. It felt really good to walk out in the middle of a 36 hour call shift. I still have the option of coming back next year, so nothing lost and nothing gained. I just need a break. I’ve heard all about those specialties where no patient contact is required — I’m not interested as it’s not where my heart is. My heart is in the business world, particularly finance and the equity markets and I hope to pursue that in the coming year. Yeah, I made a mistake by coming to medical school, but I have a lot more information to make a decision than I did two years ago. Live and learn.

    Good luck in whatever you decide to do.

  • Chill. Just remember the most important equation, C=MD, and you’ll be fine. (Alex’s note: There is an equivalent saying in osteopathic medical schools: pass = DO.)
  • I plan on taking a year off after 3rd year so that I can play World of Warcraft and go clubbing more often. I wonder if that will strengthen my application…
  • This really is excellent advice. If you’re disinterested now and you were not interested in the clinics in the past, it’s going to be pure hell. I was in the exact same boat as you before starting medical school. I wasn’t interested at all while doing the volunteer thing.

    When I got to medical school during the first and second years I was miserable. Sure enough, people kept telling me “oh, it gets better during the third year.” Better my ass. Third year sucks if you hate the clinic and was just a confirmation message that medicine is definitely not for me. With the exception of a few uber-competitive specialties, the lifestyle of a doc is $hit in my opinion, especially if you don’t like what you are doing. So, I walked out in the middle of my OB/GYN rotation. Man, it felt good to walk over to my over-worked, obviously miserable attending and tell her that I wouldn’t be back…ever.

  • Yay! Babies!

    I was always the last one to get my protective gear on while on my OB/GYN rotation so I wouldn’t have to deliver $hit. I couldn’t get far enough away from that crap spurting all over the place. Same deal for the OR – I let the more “enthusiastic” students take all of the cases. **** it, gimme my C. (Alex’s note: Ha, ha … Same here.)

  • I lost all my empathy during junior year. This is coming from a medschool hater though, so I might be a bit biased. But seriously, I did lose all empathy that I had in my body during 3rd year.

    You know, evaluations are a subjective piece of $hit anyway. You’ll get one thing from attending A and something completely different from attending B. Don’t let it bother you. Your evals are simply opinions.

    Opinions are like *******s – everybody’s got one.

    Let it run off like water off a ducks back and move on. Phuck em.

The Rebirth (After Medical School)

So where is Hoover now?

Yeah, and you won’t find this in medicine. Look elsewhere, OP. This is a dead-end street. Open your own business and work for you.

I’m a medical graduate turned business owner. I couldn’t stomach the thought of continuing medicine for the rest of my life. I’m extremely happy now, making incredible money, and have more free time than I know what to do with.

Oh, and check this out: I don’t have to ask permission to go take a piss or ask for time off. I call the shots, and there’s nothing better.

Brother, I totally understand.

If you’re a medical student and you think you’re the black swan for hating medical school, realize that you are not alone. Some of the brightest and most ambitious people hate the rigidity, absurdity, and sheer stupidity they must endure to become a doctor.

If medicine is not your calling and you will never practice medicine — not even for a million dollars — quit. If you’re scared, just ask Hoover how he’s doing now.

Hoo\/er’s Best Quotes from SDN:

To pay homage to my awesome brother, I combed through his old posts and pulled out his best nuggets … of wisdom:

  • i never use books, not even during my rotation. C=MD for teh win!
  • Yeah, I had an issue when I was found sleeping during third year and got that behavior documented.
  • Only in medicine do the “new guys” get hassled. Oh, wait. I think that happens on construction crews filled with high-school dropouts, too. Wow, docs really are “professional” huh?
  • What’s the molecular weight of beta-HCG?

    I didn’t even listen to the answer. Man I hated ObGyn.

    Perfect answer: Who gives a flying ****?

  • Slack more in the future if possible. You will feel better.
  • You also need to keep in mind the fact that medicine may not be for you. Too many students are scared into thinking they have to find a specialty that they like. I completely understand where you’re coming from, too. With the amount of time and effort you have invested thus far, not to mention the loans that are now looming over your head, it can get pretty scary.

    I took the road less traveled, and decided to get out of medicine. I did finish school, though. I see myself much like you when I was in your place.

    I can see why you may be drawn to Anesthesia. Everybody says how great the lifestyle is, and they do make good coin. If you look at the statistics, however, Anesthesiologists actually are on the high end of average hours worked. Take what you hear with a grain of salt.

    The sad fact is that most students like myself aren’t truly exposed to the nuts and bolts of the medical lifestyle until approximately halfway through their medical education. In other words, you are expected to “fall in love” with some random specialty at some point during your junior year. It sucks, but unfortunately there isn’t much that can be done about it.

    I guess the point that I’m trying to make is to not “force” yourself into a specialty. Sure, the debt and time wasted sucks. But believe me when I say those are minor points that can be overcome. Ultimately, your happiness 20 or 30 years down the road is where it’s really going to matter. Do you want to wake up on your 50th birthday and realize you’ve been doing something that makes you miserable for the last 25 years because of a couple hundred thousand in debt? I didn’t, and that’s what brought me to the realization that I needed to get out when I did.

    You know deep down whether or not you like something. If that something is totally unrelated to medicine, don’t let people tell you that it’s wrong. It is completely normal, and medicine isn’t for everyone.

10 Ways to Become the Most Hated Person in Medical School (Without Being a Gunner)

I came across a funny post when I was digging for Hoover’s nuggets … of wisdom. This was not written by Hoover, but it is still good. I thought you will get a kick out of it. Enjoy!

1. Tell as many people as possible that you don’t know why you went to med school, since you hate people or at least don’t care about them at all. Complain that you should have been an investment banker/lawyer/veterinarian/anything else.

2. Tell everyone that you only got in because of your numbers. Emphasize how incredibly easy it is to get a 4.0 in undergrad and a 35 on the MCAT.

3. Loudly and persistently state your desire to become a pharma company ‘consultant’ after medical school, and how you don’t want to do a residency at all.

4. Better yet, say that after medical school, you want to go to law school so that you will have more expertise in suing doctors.

5. Barring options 3 and 4, pick something esoteric (my current favorites are forensic psychiatry and clinical pathology) to express your interest in and complain incessantly about how most things that you are learning will be useless to you in the future.

6. You will probably be forced to see standardized patients. Be sure to tell them that since you want to be a psychiatrist/be a pathologist/be a pharm company consultant/go to law school, you really don’t care about the exam you’re doing on them. Let them know that it’s a big waste of time for you, for them, for everyone really. Make sure you loudly voice this complaint to the course director as well.

7. You will probably also be forced to do a clinic preceptorship at some point in the first 2 years. Make sure to always complain about being forced to see patients when you should be studying for path or pharm (or anatomy or phys if you’re a 1st-year).

8. Whenever you do well on a test, be sure to express your complete amazement, since you of course didn’t study at all! The test must have just been easy…

9. Whenever you do poorly on a test, be sure to make everyone aware of how incredibly useless you think the material covered is.

10. If anyone says they really want to do well in a course, be sure to always berate the person and talk about how useless that course is and how he/she’s a fool for wasting so much time on it. Bonus points if you throw out there that you got a 95 in it even though you never studied, went to class, or had the slightest interest in the course.

ABOVE ALL: Never stop talking about how much you HATE people, DO NOT want to help them, and are ONLY in this for the money to finance your lavish lifestyle.

This article is part of the How to Survive Medical School series. Click on the link if you want more tips and hints about surviving academic hell.


  1. My boyfriend is set on medicine. He is in the early stages of pre-med and has recently started to realize how much harder it’s going to be than he anticipated. He is starting to doubt his abilities. I decided to do some research so I can know how best to support him through the hardships he will face over these next few years. Thank you for your blog. It has really helped me to understand different challenges that med students endure, and what to expect and prepare for in the years ahead. Congrats on all of your success and good luck in the years ahead.

  2. GREAT POST!!! Currently changing my career as a financial analyst to get into med school. I’ll keep an eye on my little voice 🙂 or I might become a consultant for private equity investing in healthcare.

  3. So where is Hoover now? What kind of business did he open up?

  4. Great post…Im a 4th yr Med student in Nigeria.. and believe me the situation here is identical.. Our program here runs for 6yrs instead of 4.. minus the incessant strike action…im gonna finish med sch and then consider the best path for ME..

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