I’ve been meaning to do a post on this for a while now. Here comes a long one.
On my first day of medical school, I dressed up a bit—compared to my undergrad wardrobe of t-shirt and jeans.
I think I’ll go with khakis today. And a nice top. No t-shirt. What do med students wear? I’m a med student, and I wear t-shirts. No no, that can’t be right. They’ll think I’m a slacker. Yes, I should dress up. For sure. But not too much. I can’t keep that up all year.
Apparently everyone else had the same dilemma getting dressed that morning, and had come to conclusions similar to mine.
I drove my roommate M and myself to school that day because I knew the town/campus (as I went there for undergrad too) and she was bad with directions. We got there—15 minutes early, of course—and found that we had been assigned to the same PBL group.
We got settled in our seats around the long conference table in our tutorial room and sat there mostly silently. I made my judgments about everyone around me.
Oh no, I think this is going to be a quiet group. There’s only one guy in the bunch. I haven’t heard that weird blonde guy say a word in all of orientation. That tall girl is nice. She talks a lot I think. Maybe she’ll lead group. I don’t wanna do it. Brunette chick in the corner looks angry. Maybe she’s depressed. She’s not going to last. I like this girl with the thick southern accent. She could be my best good friend.
Our tutor came in right at 9:00 with a big stack of papers in his arms. On top was a sheet of paper with our pictures and names on it. We had left the chair at the head of the table open for him.
"Someone needs to trade seats with me. I don’t sit at the head of the table. You’ll learn very quickly that I am not the leader of the discussions that go on in this room. I am here to keep you on track and help you if you need it, but you will be the ones leading discussion."
Someone switched chairs with him and the tutor sat down Indian-style in his chair. He pulled out a piece of paper and started folding it. Origami.
I thought, this cat is odd. He’s supposed to teach us and he’s straight up making paper cranes up in here. I’ve got 6 weeks with him. I hope it’s not terrible. It’s probably going to be terrible. He’s not going to teach us anything at all. This is hard. I don’t like med school. I wanna go home.
He looked at the paper with our faces on it and made mental notes of all our names. We went around the table and introduced ourselves and told the obligatory 4 facts about ourselves: where we were from, what undergrad we went to, what we majored in,and what specialty we were interested in. When it got back to our tutor, he said, “don’t get used to the seat you’re in today. I get sick of looking across the table at the same ugly mug for 6 weeks, so I’m requiring you to switch up your seats every day when you come in.”
I thought, what is this, third grade? We have to trade seats? Is there a nap time? I’m going to suggest a nap time. Doesn’t he know we’re all type A people who like to keep our space *just so* and we all believe that if we change anything we’ll fail?
He explained to us how group would work, what his role would be, and what he expected of us. He warned us about the huge volumes of material that would soon be thrown our way, and added “I hope you’ve already bought all the books on your list, because if you get 2 days behind, you’ll never catch up.” Enter panic mode for me. My cell bio book had not come in yet. I figured I’d just borrow my roommate’s book if I had to. Finally my tutor said “we always take a 15 minute snack and bathroom break at about 10:30.”
Again I let my mind wander.
Yay! Snack Time! Potty Break! Is there a recess? When’s lunch? Do I get lunch, or are med students expected to never eat? There really should be a nap time here.
And then, after all the orientation crap, the discussions about how group would work, the introductions, the half-hearted “make sure you take care of yourself and don’t get too stressed out” spiel, and the break, it was time to get a syllabus. My school called it a study guide, but make no mistake, it was a syllabus. The tutor plopped down a chunk of paper in front of me. I flipped through. The pages were numbered. Flip to the last page. Flip. Flip. Flip. EIGHTY-THREE PAGES?! That’s just the syllabus?! I’m going to die in medical school. I can’t handle this. Put me out of my misery now.
On went my tutor, totally ignoring the looks of panic in our eyes. “I’m going to help you guys out today and tell you what reading you should start with for our next discussion on Wednesday. After that, y’all set all the issues to discuss, and you decide on the reading.” We set reading at a solid 3 or 400 pages by Wednesday—an impossible task—and went home, likely looking quite despondent.
When I got home, I was too overwhelmed to start reading, so I went through the “study guide” and made a list of all the pages that needed to be read for each of my text books (because I’m a cross-things-off-the-list-to-feel-accomplished type gal). I ate a sad little lunch, grabbed a book, sat down on the couch, and commenced reading.
And I still haven’t stopped reading…