A Different Kind of Busy

Not too long ago I was down at a local bar relieving some stress.  The second year of medical school is “nothing to shake a stick at” as one professor would say.  So, I need to be with some friends and have a few drinks once in a while to help me get my head back in the game – so to speak.  

At the bar, I ran into some Pre-Med friends of mine.  Both of them were doing great, and wanted to know how I was doing and how medical school was going.  It was only a couple years ago I was in their shoes.  Wondering if I would get into medical school, and what medical school is really like.  Sure you read all of these stories that say it’s so busy, and it’s harder than undergrad.  But you constantly feel the need to see if you can get a clearer answer from a med student.  When I ran into medical students when I was a pre-med, and I wanted to be in their shoes.  To do what they were doing, to feel the stress they were feeling, to be learning what they were learning, and to be happy about it.  I could tell these guys had those feelings too.  

I told them it was busy.  The second year was beating me down, and sometimes it was a little hard to put my head back into the books.  After I got done with my “feel sorry for me, I’m so busy story” both looked at me a little disgusted and said, “we don’t feel sorry for you at all.”  

After two short years I had forgotten what it was like to be in their shoes.  Knowing what you want to do for the rest of your life, but still one HUGE hurdle away.  Not knowing if you’d be getting into medical school, or have to re-apply the next year, or find a new career – one you’re do not have the same passion for as medicine.  Dying to be in a medical student’s shoes, to be as busy as they are, and learning medicine instead of taking classes you could not care less about.  I was a little ashamed to be on my whiny busy soap box, when these guys clearly had bigger worries than I.  I had forgotten.

I told them they were completely right, and that was silly of me to be whining to them.  So we moved on and they asked, “How can med school be so ridiculously busy?  As seniors in undergrad we feel like we can juggle a billion things, we’re busier than anyone on campus, yet medical students always seem so run down from being busy. How can this be?”

It’s a different kind of busy.  Most medical students are Type-A people.  We get things done, we are efficient, and we can juggle a busy schedule.  That’s what helped get us here in the first place.  By the time you become a senior undergrad you’ve mastered the schedule juggling business.  I could juggle volunteering, class, homework, a part-time job, a girlfriend, hang out with a lot of friends, extra-curricular activities – more than two organizations at a time usually, research projects, and have time to still do some hobbies.  Yet, I am run down in medical school.  

The classes below me, and the classes that came before are probably full of students who did exactly those things in their final year of undergrad.  When we get to medical school it’s a different feeling all together.  When I juggled all of those things in undergrad, it made me feel energized and I was pumped that I could do so much things in one day.  I was a moving task-completing machine.  In medical school you do not get that same feeling.  And I compared it to this scenario for them: you know when you have a long finals week with a lot of exans?  When you start preparing for that final test and you feel like you cannot sit in one place any longer or look at a book any longer.  You start to feel trapped and you just can’t wait to be done with finals week so you can move on.  That’s how all of medical school feels – so far.  

We’re busy, but not in a good way.