This post is raw and holds nothing back. If you’re uncomfortable with vulgar language, please turn back.
October 26, 2006
Year 1 is simply memorize and regurgitate. Commit random facts to memory and spit them back out on some stupid test. Rinse and repeat. Hanging out and drinking after exams is a frequent occurrence.
Year 2 is more memorization and regurgitation. Commit more random facts to memory and take more silly tests. Drinking at bars after exams is still somewhat common.
Between years 2 and 3, you take the USMLE Step I. This is the ultimate memorize and regurgitate, but somehow the test writers over at the NBME come up with rather clever ways to trick you. There is still very little application, however. While studying for this test, partying is typically not common.
Year 3 is your no-life year. You wake up early and come home late and generally are always suffering from lack of sleep. You put up with asshole residents and cocky attending physicians who have no life. They make you bring in journal articles that you care very little about. As long as you know that disease X presents as Y and is treated with Z and the side effects of treatment Z are A, B, and C then you’ll do fine. To hell with the journal articles and all that bullshit. Memorize and regurgitate instead.
Year 4 is your vacation year. You get to pretty much make your schedule. There are some required rotations, but they aren’t much different than those from your 3rd year. It’s a bit of payback for 3 years of hell.
Sometime either before graduation or before residency, you’ll take Step II. While not as hard as Step I, it’s the same old song and dance. Recognize presenting symptoms and know what to do next. More memorization and regurgitation. If the patient is pregnant, change up the most common drug to one that’s safe during pregnancy.
Honestly, medicine is just treating patients by cookbook. Once you’ve been doing it long enough, you memorize all of that bullshit and can start doing things without looking it up. At this point, you are known as a “good doctor.” Some mature faster than others.
Sure, you need to be smart to be able to memorize all of that crap in the first place but even those with average IQs can do it with enough repetition. In short, medicine is nothing stellar. It sure isn’t rocket science. Space or computer engineers actually have to apply their knowledge to solve a problem. In medicine, those types of illnesses are few and far between.
But, I guess you have to put up with the common shit to find that publication-level workup and diagnosis that just might come around once in your career, huh?
Are you convinced to leave medicine? If so, you may feel like you are alone. You may feel clueless about what to do next. However, quitting medicine could turn out better than you have ever thought possible. And here is why you should get out …
This article is part of Hoover’s Med School Hell series. Med School Hell reveals the crazy truth about the crappiness of the US medical education and healthcare system … while making you laugh so hard, you’ll crap in your pants.