How Medical School Looks Like From Graduate Perspective

Almost four years ago I step my feet for the first time in medical school, which turn to be the place I spent the next three and a half years at. When I was entering medical school I’ve been hearing rumours about the difficulty and tiring life of medical students, we were told that we would spend most of our time studying and doing our research. But of course we still have summer and Christmas holiday, the only time we could lay on the beach for one month straight.

The first semester was the hardest for me simply because I hadn’t adapt to the schedule, the material was few steps harder than science in high school. I thought I was failing and medical school felt wrong to me, I thought I would be studying diseases and it’s cure but there I was studying biochemistry and physics. For the first exam I did I got 58, the lowest score I ever had in my life. In high school I was pretty good with the materials and I usually got 80 in average, even in junior high I was in acceleration class. Getting a low (although still passing, the passing grade is 56) score was a big hit for me, I thought that I was unable to study further and my intelligence capacity was not enough.

But then, I had paid $16.000 in the entrance fee plus few more for the books, so I decided to continue my study and see if I could cope better. And it turn to be right, I never again got score below 60 and I have never had to repeat exam until I graduated. Things got better when I realised it does take a strategy in the study, repeating the materials daily instead of studying one or two weeks before exam. Then me and my friends made a study group, helping each other in the materials we don’t understand.

Reflecting back to the last three and a half years, medical school doesn’t look so bad. I watch movies two to three times a week, I read 140 books non-related to my school in the second year and another 130 books in the third year. I had quite a good life as a medical student, never failing in exam and still maintain my entertainment schedule.

There are many handouts and textbooks to be read for sure, but for students who really want to understand how the human body works, it is quite fascinating. The thing that made medical school unbearable to me was the shift of feeling during exam week, medical students have a mid-term exam on the third week of a cycle, then another exam at the fifth week. Then we proceed to the next cycle, this pattern of cycle repeated again and again for 24 times, separated by 6 major holiday. On the first and third week students usually relaxed and take a break of their study, resting after the exam we did on the last week.

Me and one hundred and ninety five other did this and finally finished all of our cycle last December, there were about 30% who had to repeat an exam or had their research unfinished so they had to complete it all to graduate. Research paper is a must for medical student and doing it is a pain for most students. Each of us have to do a research relating to medicine starting at semester 3 and hopefully finish it at semester 7, but many of us were lagging with the research due to many factors.

Yesterday we have a ceremony for our graduation and reflecting to our experiences, we think we did it just right. Now we have been entering the clinical phase in hospital since February, which is harder and takes more physical abuse than pre-clinical years, at least that’s how it looks like to me. But perhaps, it would turn out the same with how I see pre-clinical years after I graduated as a doctor in the next two years, it wasn’t so bad.


About Journeyman

A global macro analyst with over four years experience in the financial market, the author began his career as an equity analyst before transitioning to macro research focusing on Emerging Markets at a well-known independent research firm. He read voraciously, spending most of his free time following The Economist magazine and reading topics on finance and self-improvement. When off duty, he works part-time for Getty Images, taking pictures from all over the globe. To date, he has over 1200 pictures over 35 countries being sold through the company.
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