First Year Medicine: Beyond The Specter

Training to be a doctor is very hard. The pressure is relentless, the competition is real and the books are heavy. But here’s the good news, (and this might seem hard to believe when you’re a few months into osteology), it is not impossible. Navigating a path can be easier when you know a little bit of what to expect, since we always fear that which is unknown.

Here are a few essential notions that make the first year all that much easier.

  • Formalin smells bad

It will make your eyes water, it will make your nose burn and it will make you question your will to live. But don’t worry, you’ll get used to it sooner than you’d think.

  • There is only one god and his name is attendance

It is very tempting to sleep in and also very easy to rationalize the bogus math that allows you to miss every morning lecture and still stay afloat above 75% attendance in the sleep deprived fugue of the wee hours. Do not fall for it. Alarms are great but early bird roommates are a rare gift. If you have one, treasure them.

  • Dissection Hall is the skeleton key to anatomy

Anatomy has a reputation of inspiring unprecedented levels of frustration among previously well-adjusted, non-raccoon-eyed individuals. Dissection classes and seeing the specimens first hand can really help mitigate the damage. Although, much like with Frodo, the scars of the journey may occasionally twinge. Many people also find it helpful to teach their friends and learn in the process.

  • Mnemonics are underrated

They’re the biggest medical school cliché but they have survived the test of time, and with good reason. Throw in your filthiest, dumbest, most fatuous thoughts into a ridiculous sentence and you’ll have a memorable mnemonic. It is very difficult to forget medical facts that made you laugh, mainly because they’re so uncommon, but also because mnemonics are awesome.

  • Important topics are a real thing

Studying the first year subjects can often feel like trying to drain a bottomless well. All three subjects are tremendously vast and at face value, can be overwhelming. But there are topics and concepts that are more important than others, both for the exams and for making you a better doctor.

To figure out which topics are important, follow these simple steps.

  1. Note the time at which a teacher says, “This topic is important.”
  2. Note the topic they are teaching at that time.
  3. This topic is probably important. Probably.

It is impossible to tell exactly what effect first year will have on a person or to prepare someone for the tsunami of people, foreign ideas and sheer information that is about to hit them. Each of us has to work through this on our own and build a customized yellow brick road from scratch. And by the end of it you’ll learn as much about yourself as you do about the human body. Welcome to med school!

Written by Annapoorna Chakrabarty

Photo courtesy, Sanket Mohanty for MTTN

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