Med School Orientation and my First Week of Class

Before I start, I want to say that I’m hesitant to share this. It would be much easier to write a generic, “I’m having so much fun in med school and this is how amazing my first week was.” At the same time, it’s important for me to practice vulnerability and honesty in my writing. That being said, I wonder about what the professor who gave us the professionalism lecture during orientation would say about this post. Is my writing inappropriate? Is this considered oversharing?

Orientation

Orientation was exciting, fun, anxiety-provoking, and overwhelming, all at once. Being an introvert, I was exhausted every afternoon from all the extroverting I engaged in each day.

I also realized how hard it is to meet “my people” during orientation.

During orientation, everyone was extra friendly, kind, and goes out of their way to make small-talk, including myself. The professors, while at times, are anxiety-provoking (they began talking about board-prep during orientation), are all nice and seem to care about supporting each med student so we all thrive in their courses. It was nice to have opportunities to interact with them during lunch and get to know them before classes start.

The 2nd years I met have all been really nice and friendly as well. One of the 2nd years I met yesterday during the Activities Fair waved and said hi to me when I was walking around campus today. Little thing, I know, but it still brightened my day.

Med School
Classes started yesterday and I already feel overwhelmed. While I’m far from being the only one in my class from feeling like this, I’m upset that two days in, I’m wondering how I’m going to survive the rest of the semester. In other words, I expected to feel overwhelmed at one point during this semester; I wasn’t expecting to feel like this right away.

At my med school, we start off with a scientific foundations course as well as anatomy. Our first block in foundations is biochemistry, a subject that I don’t have a strong foundation of. I also didn’t take anatomy in undergrad, so I feel unprepared and my anxiety level has been pretty high. Thankfully, there’s peer tutoring (and individual tutoring) offered, so I will definitely be using those resources starting next week.  

Figuring out how to study, establishing a study routine, and making time to enjoy guilt-free self-care/free-time is going to be tough. I worked out this morning and (almost) the entire time I was running, all I could think was, “I could be using this time to study.”

It’s always been hard for me to completely focus on the one task at hand, but I know this is something I have to practice. If I don’t, I’ll never feel fully rested and refreshed.

I know that I don’t have to be studying 24/7 to pass my courses (or so, I hope). If I want to remain somewhat human for the next four years, it’s important to take care of myself and engage in activities that bring me joy.

Someone I was talking to today made me promise that I will take at least half an hour every day to do something fun. I almost laughed since I was planning on taking more than half an hour, but it’s a nice reminder that on some very busy days, my self-care will be a total of half an hour and that’s okay.

I’m also not used to not having complete control over my schedule. For instance, this morning (Friday), one of my friends discovered that administration added a lab into our schedule for next Monday.

This wouldn’t be a big deal, except I had an appointment scheduled that day, at that time because when I checked my schedule earlier in the week, that time period was open. I remember a second year advising me to check our calendar the night before and the day of to check our schedule and I can now see why.

I hope administration does not make too much of a habit of changing our schedules last minute, but the silver lining is that I can practice being flexible and adaptable. I’m sure most people have little control of their schedule during residency, so maybe it’s a good thing I’m getting practice early on?

I also woke up feeling congested this morning. I didn’t think too much of it until my nose began running non-stop during lecture. It probably took two hours for me to realize that I was sick. While I made it through lecture, my mind was elsewhere 87% of the time. It’s frustrating to be sick so early on, but it was also a nice excuse to rest and take a complete break from studying (and life) today.  

I didn’t attend the social events my school hosted this evening and while I feel (kind of) guilty for not going, I know my body needed a rest and an introvert evening was exactly what my heart needed. I just finished The Book of Essie yesterday, which I highly recommend (it’s a fiction novel written by a physician!!). I’m currently halfway through Little Panic by Amanda Stern. I’m grateful that my university’s library has a small “Leisure Reading Collection,” but I hope they work on getting more titles, since I’ve already read about half of their collection.

It’s also nice that they don’t have a limit on how many books I can borrow at once. When I told my friends from home this beautiful discovery, they all joked that my school’s going to implement a limit eventually because of me.   

I feel well enough to review anatomy now (after a two hour nap and dinner). I’m hoping I feel 100% by tomorrow and that I’ll feel less overwhelmed next week. We have our first anatomy lab next Monday, so I’m looking forward to that!

Last thing: although I did feel overwhelmed this week, I’m still really grateful to be here.

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