Wayfaring MD

I am a family medicine resident who likes to highlight the hilarious in medicine as I write about patients, medical school, residency, medical missions, and whatever else strikes my fancy.

HIPAA is for reals, folks. All of my "patient stories" have been changed to protect patient privacy. I will change any or all identifiers, including age, location, race/ethnicity, sex, medical history, and quotes. Also, I am an anonymous internet person. Why should you trust an anonymous internet person to give you medical advice? Don't ask me, ask your doctor!
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Posts tagged "med school"
Asker Anonymous Asks:
so how long would it take to pay off all the crippling debt on average
wayfaringmd wayfaringmd Said:

Depends on what payment plan you pick. Most of us go with the income-based plan now, which requires you to make 120 payments (yup, 10 years) and the amount is based on how much money you make. The new deal is that after those 120 payments, you’re done, even if there’s a balance left on the principal payment.

Then you’ve got the Standard plan, where your payments are based on how much money you owe. They are often structured over 10, 20, or even 30 years. But people who are really motivated or who have great jobs sometimes pay them off in as little as 5 years.

Right now I’m doing the income based plan because my debt is so high it’s the only way I can afford to pay anything. I haven’t paid anything on my principal yet. Not even covering my interest actually. It’s still compounding.

Asker breakempire Asks:
What was your fav part of the first year of medical school? (I just started!)
wayfaringmd wayfaringmd Said:

My favorite day was probably the afternoon that I found out I passed my first test—when I realized, hey, maybe I can do this. 

Overall though, my favorite things in first year were the times that I was allowed to work with real people instead of books. I loved anatomy lab and I loved my community medicine placement in a family practice office. I didn’t love the massive paper I had to write on community med, but I did appreciate the break from the books and the fact that my preceptor let me see patients on my own even as a first year. 


Today I was studying in Panera, facing the wall, and a friend of mine from school who was studying at a table about 5 feet from me sent me the following IM:

there is the cutest little doctoring family behind you (im assuming)

and the guy looked a little older than the girl so i had the following daydream…that i would marry my handsome attending and we would have beautiful babies and i would work parttime at some clinic that needed me and we would meet up for lunch at panera. the end.

I cracked up, and she looked up and said, “I can’t believe I followed that daydream all the way through back to panera.” 

Cardio is making us all loopy.

Update: she did not marry an attending. She committed the ultimate act of medcest and married a fellow med student and currently have a litter of furbabies. I’m sure they occasionally meet up for lunch at Panera. 

Asker Anonymous Asks:
Any tips on how to deal with "you're too young to be a doctor" / insidious ageism ? I'm 23 (and 10 months! ha) and in my second year out of medical school...
wayfaringmd wayfaringmd Said:

You must be from somewhere where people go into medical school straight from high school to have finished so quickly. Or maybe you skipped some grades in school. Either way, go you! I was 25 when I graduated med school, and I was the youngest in my class, as I have always been. 

So when people give you flack for being young, remember that you’re one of the lucky ones. 

You’re one of the ones who didn’t have to apply over and over again to get in.

You didn’t have to repeat a year or take time off.

Your patients should be proud of you for making it through and being so young. 



The following conversation took place tonight at dinner:

Me: Mo, you’re such a slacker. You’re going to fail the test. (Just my way of encouraging her to study. It works, I promise)

Roomie: yeah, I know. But I’m going to get up really early tomorrow and get some good hours in.


Me: Ooh, I’m not. I’m sleeping in till 8 or 8:30. (I get up at 6:45ish normally on class days)

*Roomie gives me a sad, embarrassed look*

Me: What?

Roomie: I was planning to get up at 9:30.

Asker Anonymous Asks:
I read your answer about a user asking about Aderrall (hope I spelled it right) and it got me thinking: How is it possible to survive med school with little or no caffeine? Especially among med students who cannot take caffeine. :)
wayfaringmd wayfaringmd Said:

Um, prioritize sleep? 


I’ve never been a huge caffeine drinker (and really not a coffee fan), but I pretty much gave up all but the occasional diet coke or caffeinated tea (most of my tea is decaf) in med school because caffeine made my heart palpitations worse. 

I had to prioritize sleep. Sometimes that meant giving up fun things or going to bed right after I got home from a late shift so I could get a solid 8 hours and wake up early again in the morning. But it made it so that I could function. I had to use my awake time wisely and study when I was supposed to. 

You don’t have to have caffeine. It’s not an essential vitamin or anything. You have to learn how to wake up without it and how to stop pushing yourself to the limits and get the rest you need. If it’s 3 in the afternoon and you’re feeling a little sleepy, take a 20 minute nap. Or if you’re like me and naps make you sleepier, get up and go for a 10 minute walk or take a dance break. That will wake you up for sure. 

Sure, you’ll be sleepy sometimes. Guess what? That’s your body telling you you need to sleep! It’s amazing how we fight our body’s needs sometimes. Now of course, you won’t always be able to go to sleep, like at 5am when you’re on surgery, so during those times you’ll just have to be tired. But you can make it through. It can be done!

Asker Anonymous Asks:
Hello...I've got a few questions I was hoping you could give me some advice on....I'm working on completing my undergrad education right now...I've struggled with a learning disability since I was a child and continue to this day. Did any of your classmates have learning disabilities and if so, were they accommodated within reason? Also I'm a transgender male, is the LGBT community frowned upon in medicine and med school?
wayfaringmd wayfaringmd Said:

I think the answer from Md-A was excellent, and to it I will add:

Yes, people with learning disabilities and other conditions that make learning difficult get into med school, and yes, med schools are required to accommodate them. I remember one student in my class with ADHD who was allowed to take their tests in a small private room to minimize their distractions. 

No, the LGBT community is not frowned upon in medical school. But depending on where you apply, some interviewers may not be as accepting of your lifestyle as others. Legally, they can’t deny you admission on the basis of your gender identity, but it does still happen, I’m sure. Look for schools in more liberal states and cities, where you will have a better chance of being accepted. And if you get the vibe during an interview that your interviewer does not seem very accepting of you, remember that at most schools you can request one “redo” interview with a different interviewer. But I’d agree with MD-A: if the school doesn’t want you because of who you are, then you don’t want them either. 

Asker ramacero Asks:
In my health care ethics class I am currently taking, we are discussing medical enhancements and our book mentions the use of Adderall in medical students just to keep up. How many students would you think use Adderall in medical school, and would me not using it hurt my performance in my future career? It makes me nervous to think that I could be shoved out of competition because I refuse to use a medication for ADHD, which I don't suffer from, to make myself better in the medical school.
wayfaringmd wayfaringmd Said:

I’m not sure what percentage of people use Adderall (prescribed or not) in med school. In my class I knew of a few, but I expect the numbers have increased.

Let me rephrase your question a bit to this: will using a medication illegally or obtaining it under false pretenses for a condition I do not have possibly negatively affect my career?

The answer to that is a definite yes. I’m a big proponent for using the brains God gave you without using drugs you don’t need. Now if you truly do have ADHD, then by all means, take your medicine. But abusing a medication (and the system) is not a great way to start out a medical career. What will you do when you start residency or go out in practice and the stress and pressure increases? Keep searching for more and more substances to give you a boost? Sounds like a dangerous path to start down if you ask me.

Using meds that aren’t prescribed to you is not only dangerous to your health and illegal, it’s also cheating. And you certainly don’t want cheating on your transcript. That don’t look so pretty to residency programs. 

Thousands— millions—of doctors made it through without using stimulant meds. Heck, Cranquis made it through without caffeine, and I made it through with very little caffeine as well (and no coffee what?!). It absolutely can be done, and you don’t have to be a super genius or a 24/7 studying gunner to make it happen. 

Asker Anonymous Asks:
I'm an incoming ms2 and I was wondering how you learned to accept things as they come and not fret about it. There's not a day/moment that passes by over the past year that I haven't incessantly thought about my residency prospects, and the thing is, I'm doing pretty well in school---I just feel burdened by this pressure that I feel my peers don't have as bad. I think the prospect of not meeting my expectations/becoming the doctor I envisioned myself as worries me most. Does it ever get better?
wayfaringmd wayfaringmd Said:

Hmm, that’s tough. 

I’m generally a very laid back, go with the flow kinda gal. I never had much confidence in myself, but I always believed that if God got me in medical school / residency, He would also get me through. It’s a lot easier to not stress when you’re trusting in someone else’s capabilities and not your own. My abilities are pretty mediocre, but I believe that if I’m doing what God wants for my life, He’s going to provide what I need to get through (here I am preaching this to myself on a daily basis as I start to look for post-residency jobs now). 

Sure, I still worry. Ask cranquis. He has had to talk me down quite a few times as I was blubbering on about trying to figure out what my next step after residency is. I still stress over these things occasionally. We all have days when we think we’re not smart enough or confident enough or compassionate enough or whatever, but you’ll have good days too. Your peers probably feel the pressure just as heavily as you do, and they’re bottling it up just like you are. 

My mantra has always been “do my best, do what God wants, and what happens happens.” If I truly do the best I’m capable of and am in God’s will for me, then I can’t really worry about the outcome. If the outcome sucks, it’s out of my hands. There must have been a plan besides mine in the works. If the outcome is awesome, well hey, yay me. 

It is completely okay to have these worries. Use them to motivate you to learn more and be the best student or doctor you can possibly be. You should always be striving to be better at what you do. But if your worries are consuming you or interfering with your work or are your main focus, you gotta do something to release them. You need an outlet. Blogging is great. Quiet nights in with a friend are great. I’m a big fan of coloring books and tea myself. Heeding the counsel of someone who has been through it or is wiser than you is always a good plan too. 

Asker Anonymous Asks:
Hi- the anon with BPD and depression here Our medschool makes us show all medical health records every year, and makes our GP sign off to say we haven't had any mental health issues - Is there anywhere to get anonymous mental health help without having to go private... Also (sorry so many questions) do you think BPD will have any impact on my medical career? The associated symptoms etc? Thankyou!!
wayfaringmd wayfaringmd Said:

Um, I’m not sure about anonymous mental health care. Normally, all of your medical records would be private, but if your medical school requires them, then it would be pretty shady to go behind their backs to get care. That sounds like that would be against their policy. And think about this: hiding a medical condition, mental or physical, could potentially put your future patients at risk. Right now, the docs at your school know more than you do. You sort of have to trust them that they know which conditions are worth knowing about. 

I’m not sure if “BPD” here refers to Borderline Personality Disorder or BiPolar Disorder. Either way, yes, they could have an impact on your medical career if you go without treatment.  Personality disorders are not really treatable by meds (though some docs try and also wrongly  label them as other disorders so they can use different meds), but tend to improve with intense cognitive behavioral therapy. BiPolar disorder, on the other hand, generally requires medication. People with bipolar disorder can become extremely unpredictable, take big risks, and exhibit very damaging behavior during mania episodes. Clearly, this isn’t a good state to take care of patients in. But with good treatment and good insight into the condition (and caution around your patients), you could still practice medicine. 

In your last question you said you finished all your homework 3 years ago... does that mean... THERES NO HOMEWORK IN MED SCHOOL?????
wayfaringmd wayfaringmd Said:

Umm… your homework in med school is all the reading / studying you have to do to stay alive. Plus there are occasional papers and projects and such. Thus, when I finished med school (and really after the end of 3rd year), I finished all my homework. I’m a resident now. 

Asker Anonymous Asks:
Will my medical school know if I have a medical marijuana card?
wayfaringmd wayfaringmd Said:

Hmm, I really don’t know. Marijuana isn’t legal in my state. But I would think that your medicine would be your business. But you need to look into your school’s and your clinical rotation site’s drug testing policies too.

Asker Anonymous Asks:
Can you be a doctor still if you developed depression and BPD in med school? I'm scared to get help in case I'm kicked out...
wayfaringmd wayfaringmd Said:


Your diagnosis is technically your business alone. But if your school notices that your work is being affected by your illness, they may ask you to take some time off to get better before you start back. 

Please get help. NOT getting help will do much more damage to your schoolwork and career than actually getting help. 

Asker Anonymous Asks:
How hard do you think it would be to take care of a 50lb dog during med school?
wayfaringmd wayfaringmd Said:

I am all for having a furry companion during med school. I’m pretty sure my cat is what kept me sane sometimes during test weeks. Dog ownership in med school could be pretty tough, but it could also be very manageable. Depends on a lot of factors:

Things that would make dog parenthood manageable:

  • having a significant other or roommate to share doggy duties 
  • fenced in yard where the doggy can run and play with a doghouse or some shady/cozy area the dog can rest in if left outside during the day
  • doggy door
  • non-mandatory lectures that can be skipped or watched from home
  • housing location close enough to school / hospital that you could slip home during the day to let the dog out
  • certain dog breeds (some can’t hold their pee for anything. I’m looking at you, weiner dogs)
  • a well trained dog (invest in obedience school)
  • nearby dog park or regular park where you can walk / play with the dog

Things that would make dog parenthood harder:

  • all the furs everywhere
  • apartment life (I don’t like the idea of doggies cooped up all day)
  • 3rd and 4th year erratic schedules and long shifts
  • arranging for doggy care during away rotations and vacations
  • 3rd and 4th year rotations at multiple sites
  • sick puppies at the most inopportune times (like right before tests)
  • RESIDENCY and busy life after med school

I love dogs, but the reasons above are why I have a cat instead.

I got no one to help me out with a dog, I travel, I lived in an apartment with nowhere nearby to walk a dog. But my cat is happy to chill by herself in the house all day and can even manage without me for a weekend if I need to go somewhere. And alls I gotta do is feed her, supply her with toys and catgrass, and clean a litterbox a few times a week. 


Asker Anonymous Asks:
Help! I know you only applied to one medical school, but I'm in the midst of my app cycle and swimming in secondaries. What are some rules of thumb for secondaries? What sort of turnaround time should I shoot for? Thank you so much; you are an incredible resource to all us lost premeds.
wayfaringmd wayfaringmd Said:

Er uh, someone else wanna take a stab at this question? Like you said, I only applied to one school, and therefore only did one secondary app, so I really don’t know what’s the standard here. I would think you should try to get it back in ASAP, as the general rule of thumb is the earlier you apply, the greater your chances of getting accepted. 

Also, don’t write all the same stuff you wrote in your primary app. They sent you a secondary to learn more. Be creative. Write something totally different.