Friday, October 24, 2008

Things I wish I knew before getting to Medical School.

1. What books to buy:
When you get to med school, they will likely give you a list of "required texts." This will be a substantial list and likely include an even larger list of recommended texts. Thousands of dollars worth of texts.

Do NOT buy your books before the first day of class, with one exception: coursepacks.
This will seem painfully counter-intuitive, especially to the typical, obsessive, type-A, overachieving med school-bound student.

Not all med schools do this, but mine puts together professor-crafted notebooks that covers everything that we could possibly be tested on. These are important to purchase because you need to follow along in lectures.

However, you do not need to buy 3 anatomy coloring books. Really, you won't. Settle for a good gross anatomy text showing cadaveric specimens like Rohen
and... of course, the Bible of anatomy known simply by the legend who painted it: Netter

You will also have a basic biochemistry, physiology/histology text, and maybe some non-science text (we had a book exploring methods of how to take patient histories).

If, after the fact, you find you might need supplemental help, then (and only then) should you spring the benjis on more textbooks.

2. If you get little sheets from student organizations
So I'm sitting at home this past summer, getting amped for the medschool experience and I get this letter from the AMWA, the American Medical Women's Association (I think), about how we are Required to have nametags, probes, gloves, and white coats for our anatomy lab! Guess what! They are selling them for the low, low price of... three times the price they are selling at the medical bookstore on campus! Obviously, I had no way of knowing that these items would be for sale at the bookstore and thought I had to jump on the opportunity (with the exception of the white coat and gloves, which I decided to get on my own).

These are rackets. Don't fall for them. This sort of falls under the first thing I wish I knew about med school.

3. Pass/Fail
This, I understand, is a standard at most medical schools. Gone are the final grades (at least for the first 2 years). Instead, your percentage is Pass or Fail (or Conditional Pass if you are in the hazy area that's remediable without extending your program).

I have friends in other programs who are experiencing some competition.
Let me repeat... competition, in a pass/fail course.... no grade curving.

When you get to Medical School, you can take a deep breath and get rid of the cut-throat mentality. I think this is a great habit to build, because as medical professionals we must be willing to set aside hubris and consult/trust other people's expertise. The greater medical community benefits when its members work together to improve learning. I think about this every time someone helps me study biochemical pathways and every time I help a peer through the osteology of the hand. Neither of us suffer from this cooperation. More importantly, our future patients benefit from it.

More to come...

1 comment:

abbs said...

you are ridiculous! stop poisoning people!

ps - amy rots.

goodbye biochem... helllllloooo genetics!