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All the bad things about going to med school

AgrophobicAgrophobic Registered User Posts: 845 Member
edited September 2007 in Careers in Medicine

I've got two major concerns regarding this matter. One, I'm good at analytical subjects but hate memorizing large amounts of information--will that be a disadvantage? And two, people keep on talking about the whole schooling and residence process and "putting life on hold". Is it really that bad? Right now I am at JHU as a BME major and most of my activities were on the side of business or biomed device competitions. Compared to the other options(grad school, business world), is it really that bad?
Post edited by Agrophobic on

Replies to: All the bad things about going to med school

  • bluedevilmikebluedevilmike Registered User Posts: 11,964 Senior Member
    1.) Yes, a severe one.
    2.) Yes.
    3.) Yes. Apparently law school and the associated track is also pretty tough; the business track entails hard work, but the MBA itself is a couple of pretty light years.

    But -- it's all worth it if you know that this is what you want to do. Just don't make the mistake of underestimating its tradeoffs.
  • my$0.02my$0.02 Registered User Posts: 902 Member
    You didn't say whether your hating of memorization is due to disdain or to lack of effectiveness.

    1. Natural aptitude for physical science and strong analytical skills will help in learning basic science and clinical materials, perhaps even more than strong memorizing skills. Some large collections of "facts" can be reduced to a few principles. (If differentiating the conservation of momentum seems like a handy way to capture Newton's laws, you're on your way.)

    2. No, yes or maybe. If you are efficient, medical school and residency permit quite a bit of free time. If your learning style depends on mastering concepts rather hours of memorizing facts, you will have an advantage in efficiency. People in medical school and residency date, get married, have children, surf, windsurf, train for marathons and study. Your residency choice will matter a great deal.
  • afanafan Registered User Posts: 1,686 Senior Member
    Well, analytic skills take one only so far, particularly in med school and residency. There is a LOT of rote memorization. Much of medicine is more empirical and there are lots of things that are true, but no one knows why.

    Time for one's life really depends on the field, and within that on the specific residency program. Remember, that surgeons managed to exclude their training programs from the average 80 per week duty hour limitation applied to most residencies. Add the need to study on top of the work hours, and there is not much left for life. Many residencies in other fields are much more reasonable, but it is still very hard work.
  • bluedevilmikebluedevilmike Registered User Posts: 11,964 Senior Member
    the average 80 per week duty hour limitation
    And among those specialties, surgical and medical, who are not exempt, I believe JAMA writes that only 5% of them comply anyway.
  • afanafan Registered User Posts: 1,686 Senior Member
    Which provides a perspective on what is considered a reasonable work load in medical training. The 80 hour week limit is widely ignored as absurdly coddling.
  • rds248rds248 Registered User Posts: 956 Member
    Well 80 hours is a world of difference from what it used to be. I'm not making judgements, just saying it's light compared to the old days.
    I was an intern in 1982 in Internal Medicine in a prestigious program in NYC.
    It was considered an "easy" schedule because the call was every third night (rather than every other), and when you were on call Friday night admitting every third week, you could actually go home on Saturday at noon or 1 PM and have all day Sunday off. This was unheard of at the time. When you were on at night, there was no night float or any such thing... you admitted all night, and if you got 1 hour of sleep that was a miracle. When you were on the city hospital rotation there was no chance of ever sleeping. The actual hours worked ranged from 100-120/ week. It was pretty brutal. But it transformed you from a green Med school graduate into a pretty good doc in a short time.
    Life outside of that world during that year? pretty much nonexistent except during vacations and a few days off.

    I vividly remember finishing my internship and walking out of the hospital that day after a 36 hour shift thinking that I will never do anything that hard again for the rest of my life. And that was true. There were plenty of other challenges during residency and after, but that year was really the toughest. In residency there were electives and some down time. I did a Derm clinic rotation first thing during residency and the hours were 8-3... I really thought I went to heaven. I hated derm, but did it just for the schedule!

    Well so much for the old "war" stories. That should put the 80 hours in perspective though. I think you can still get great training with fewer hours. But it is a different experience.
  • BigredmedBigredmed Registered User Posts: 3,752 Senior Member
    I certainly hope you can get great training with fewer hours...1) because that's all I'm going to get. 2) because that's all any current/future med student is goign to get. If it doesn't work then we're all screwed.
  • bluedevilmikebluedevilmike Registered User Posts: 11,964 Senior Member
    What my father tells me he hears from current residents is that the eighty hour work week makes your internship year better but your subsequent residency years worse. One of our deans here has suggested that this rule is part of why residencies may be getting longer, as well.
  • afanafan Registered User Posts: 1,686 Senior Member
    Although I came up before the training hour limitations, I think they are all to the best. The tradition of absurdly long hours was shown to be bad for education (you don't learn when you are asleep, and you learn less when you are awake if you are sleep deprived) and dangerous for patient care. Good riddance.

    The hour limitations have caused lots of problems with getting the work done, but those are growing pains on the way to a safer and more educationally valid approach.
This discussion has been closed.