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:
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. 

Asker Anonymous Asks:
hey wayfaringmd! love your tumblr! I was wondering, how did you study for your third year of medical school on clinical rotations? Was there a syllabus that you had to follow? Are there any books you would recommend? Thanks!
wayfaringmd wayfaringmd Said:

No, we didn’t have a syllabus for our third year rotations. We usually asked 4th years which books helped them prepare the best for rotations. 

If I encountered a diagnosis or drug or treatment that I was unfamiliar with or didn’t understand, I usually looked it up on UpToDate or ePocrates. Those can be extremely helpful.  It’s a good idea to go home and read about your patients’ conditions every night in addition to your book reading to prepare for your test. That way you’re prepared for your test and your patient presentations and pimp questions and, well…life as a doctor.

I also stuck with 1 or 2 books per rotation so that I could actually get through them and absorb them. It’s been a while so I don’t remember all of them, but I remember I used Blueprints for OB/GYN, Step up to Medicine for IM, and Case Files for Surgery. I liked Case Files a lot as my back-up book for studying. And I usually had some sort of QBank that I would review during the rotation too, like MKSAP or USMLE or something like that. 

Asker Anonymous Asks:
Hey! You rock! I know you just answered a question about taking a long time before med school, but what if you take 1 year less? I have a lot of AP classes (10) so I'm good to finish undergrad in 3 years.... Accounting for proper amount of time volunteering and such. :) & notagunnerpleasedontkillme <3 <3
wayfaringmd wayfaringmd Said:

Your timeline really isn’t a big deal. We had one person in my class who graduated a year early. My only concern would be maturity if you start med school super young. But if you finish early, good for you! Less debt for you!

My advice to you: 

  • get a comfortable couch or desk chair. You will spend a lot of time sitting down and reading.
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  • get a copy of First Aid now and review it as you go along. 
  • come up with a standard snappy comeback for the aunts and uncles who will insist on asking you “so are you still single?” at EVERY FREAKING family gathering
  • get ALL the Goljan bootlegs (ask a second year. They’ll hook you up) 
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  • get some butcher paper and draw out the giant biochemical pathway chart with everything all interconnected. Hang it on your wall and stare at it for 15 minutes every day until you can see it behind closed eyes. 
  • dedicate a few t-shirts that you are “so over” to cadaver lab. Your good clothes will appreciate it. Goodwill scrubs are also excellent for this. 
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Asker Anonymous Asks:
Hello! I really enjoy your blog! I feel like you give a fairly accurate picture/ the truths of going through med school and being a doctor. Anyway, I was wondering what are the rotations available to you during medical school. Does it vary depending on the school? If so, could you tell me some of the basic ones that most schools would have? Thanks in advance!
wayfaringmd wayfaringmd Said:

All medical schools will offer the 3rd year required core rotations, though they may require you to travel to a different facility for some of them. These would include:

  • Family Medicine
  • Internal Medicine
  • Pediatrics
  • OB/GYN
  • General Surgery
  • Psychiatry

Some schools also require a neurology rotation during 3rd year. Mine didn’t, thank goodness. 

Electives vary widely and most people will travel for an elective or two during 4th year. Common electives would include (stars by things most schools will offer):

  • Internal Medicine sub-specialties: *Cardiology, *Nephrology, *Pulmonology/Critical Care, Endocrinology, *Infectious Disease, *Neurology, *Heme/Onc, *GI, Rheumatology, Allergy & Immunology
  • Peds subspecialties (these will likely only be at large academic centers or, of course, childrens’ hospitals): Cardiology, Behavioral Medicine, Nephrology, Endocrinology, Neurology, GI, Heme/Onc
  • Surgery Subspecialties: *Orthopedics, *ENT, Trauma, Vascular, Pediatric, Transplant
  • OB/GYN Subspecialties: Reproductive Endocrinology, *Maternal-Fetal Medicine, Urogynecology, GYN Oncology
  • Psych subspecialties: Child & Adolescent, Geri Psych, Neuropsych, Addiction Medicine
  • Dermatology
  • *Radiology
  • *Emergency Medicine
  • *Geriatrics/Hospice/Palliative Care
  • *Community Medicine/ Rural option
  • *Ethics
  • *EKGs
  • *Anesthesiology
  • *ICU/ Critical Care
  • *Pathology or forensic pathology
  • Ophthalmology
  • *Pharmacology
  • Pain Management
  • *Sports Medicine
  • Global Health
  • Physical Medicine & Rehab
  • Adolescent Medicine
  • Research

Any advice for an incoming med student? Like what was first year like & any tips/hints to help survive??  — lifeofastudentdoc

Part I: What will it be like?!

There will be lots of smart people there. Most of them will be smarter than you, or at least they’ll think they are. Being around smart people all the time will send you into a constant fluctuating state of confidence and crushing self-doubt. image

On the first day you will go home and crack open a book, read for 8 hours, and remark to yourself, “this ain’t so bad.” On the 4th day of such reading, you will start calculating how much debt you will be in if you quit on day 5. 


You will learn an entire new language made mostly of gibberish, Latin, and acronyms. Get to know your -ologies, your hypers- and hypos-, and always pronounce the word the way your professor does, even if there’s a perfectly acceptable alternative pronunciation.



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Asker efxaristo Asks:
I just finished my first year of med school a few weeks ago and am not sure what to do with this last summer break! There have been multiple mixed suggestions from professors, older colleagues, and the like, but I don't know whether to strive to get some more shadowing in for the sake of my CV or just take it easy. I made it a point to shadow several physicians before applying to med school and have been on a couple medical mission trips, so it's not entirely blank. What would you recommend?
wayfaringmd wayfaringmd Said:


Why would you shadow now? You’re already in medical school! That’s what all of 3rd and 4th year is for anyway. I mean, unless you’re planning on going into a super competitive specialty and need to do research or get some extra exposure to the specialty (and opportunities to get letters of rec), there’s really no need. Even if you are planning on something like that, you will have time in the next 3 years to snuggle up with attendings for letters of rec. And you’re already a few weeks into the break, so the likelihood of setting that stuff up now is slimmer. 

This is your last summer break ever, friend. Enjoy it. 

What's one thing you'll tell yourself (if you can go back in time) before you even tried applying for med school? Any advice?
wayfaringmd wayfaringmd Said:

One thing? Hmmm…

I might have told myself to take a few years off and be a missionary first to see if I really needed to go to medical school after all. I probably could have used a few years of maturation before jumping into med school. 

I think that advice can apply to a lot of folks - don’t be afraid to take a gap year (or two or five or ten). Use that time to grow in maturity and to broaden your interests, and at the end reassess and see if you still want to go to medical school. You may potentially save yourself a lot of heartache (not to mention money).

if given the chance of re-doing undergrad and grad years, would you still pursue medicine?
wayfaringmd wayfaringmd Said:

Definitely so if I started over with none of the knowledge I have now. But if I had to do it all over again but had the experience I have now, I’d have to really think about it. I love medicine, but I think there are other things I could have done and been just as happy (and relatively debt free). 

Actually, that’s something Cranquis and I had in common on our personal statements — we both basically said we could take or leave medical school, and could find other ways to follow our passions without medical school. Maybe that’s the secret to getting in ;) 

A good patient presentation should be like a woman’s skirt. Long enough to cover the good stuff, but short enough to create interest.

Highly inappropriate OB attending.

Asker vinkavinxs Asks:
Sorry if this question has been asked before, but do only the smartest people at med school get to become surgeons? Or can toy become a surgeon, should you have reasonable marks and a suitable personality? Thanks heaps!
wayfaringmd wayfaringmd Said:

General surgery is fairly competitive and requires above average test scores, but it’s not the most difficult specialty to get into by far. And of course, high scores don’t necessarily mean they’re better (or even smarter) doctors. I think the average Step 1 score for surgery is in the 230 range. 

Personality does have a lot to do with it as well. You have to be pretty tough to go into surgery and last through 5 years of torment and long hours. Plus residency programs tend to pick applicants that fit the “culture” of the program. 

I’ve been seeing a lot of Step-1 induced panic in my inbox and on my dash over the past few weeks.


I know some of you are super confident in your own abilities and never express the tiniest bit of doubt and are sure that you’re going to blow Step 1 out of the water. Those of you that fit that description should probably check the Step 1 discussion boards on SDN, start pimping your fellow students, and go ahead and start studying for Step 2.


The rest of you have some doubts about your abilities to make it through the last week or so of Step 1 studying. Others of you are starting your second year and panicking at the very thought of Step 1 coming soon. So here comes a little advice/encouragement/empathy from someone who’s been there just 4 short years ago (WHAT WAS IT REALLY THAT LONG AGO? HOW OLD AM I?!).

 beyondtheoath:      Mister Rogers says goodbye. x    I needed that.    4894489548964897

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