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Ask a nontraditional medical student anything...

Discussion in 'Nontraditional Students' started by Helen Wheels, 06.15.12.

  1. Helen Wheels

    Helen Wheels

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    SDN Members don't see this ad. (About Ads)
    I am a medical student on my summer break before starting second year. Since I have some time, I thought I would offer to answer any questions those of you might have about medical school. I was going to post this in pre-osteo since I am an osteopathic student but then I thought that I might not be representative of a typical medical student since I am a bit older. I am 40 years old though I will state that I am single and have no children which is probably not typical of most nontrads my age. Hmmnn... I don't really fit in anywhere! Oh, well, here is the place to ask an over the hill medical student anything! :p
  2. aburnet2

    aburnet2

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    beef or chicken fajitas?











    and no research this summer?
  3. Helen Wheels

    Helen Wheels

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    Could go either way, depending on my mood, but probably beef. :)



    No, no research this summer.

    I kind of regret this, but it didn't work out. :( My school has zero research opportunities. It's a DO school (there usually aren't lots of research opportunities compared to MD schools, esp MD schools affiliated with a large university). Plus, my school is a relatively new satellite campus so that doesn't help. I looked at some summer research opportunities that were not affiliated with my school but all of those started in May right after the semester ended. Unfortunately, I had to remediate a couple courses and I wasn't done with that until last week. Also, if i hadn't passed the first round of exams, remediation could have taken me several more weeks into July.

    It's probably not a huge deal for me, though. I worked in clinical research for over a decade before med school. I wasn't listed as an author but it's not likely I would have been from one summer of research, either. It would have been interesting to get some bench (basic science) research experience, though. I'm hoping to get some more research experience as part of a 3rd or 4th year elective rotation.

    But, for the time being, I am just enjoying my only summer off. :banana:
  4. wholeheartedly

    wholeheartedly Moderator

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    Now that you have all the remediation drama behind you, how do you feel about first year?


    (and congrats on getting to enjoy the rest of your summer off :)


    As for the not married, no kids status..... do you find yourself ok with that and your career track. I'm thinking that'll probably be me in a few years, so just curious.
  5. Chemistry Cat 3.0

    Chemistry Cat 3.0 Cylon Model 21 Bronze Donor

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    Have you thought about volunteering abroad over the summer? Some where in Asia to gain more exposure in alternative medicine therapies.
  6. Law2Doc

    Law2Doc 5K+ Member Moderator Emeritus

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    I guess I missed where in the thread it suggested OP was interested in this. This would be a big waste of OPs time considering they are on a relatively non-alternative path, and volunteering is no longer particularly valuable once you are already in med school.
  7. LMac

    LMac

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    Thank you for doing this. It is greatly appreciated.

    How did the first year of med school compare to your expectations of it?

    If you did a post-bac or any pre-reqs recently, did your study habits prepare you for the transition to studying in medical school?
  8. Helen Wheels

    Helen Wheels

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    It was truly a difficult ten months, both personally and academically. I hadn't been a full time student in many, many years and my pre-reqs were even pretty old. I started med school being really rusty on study skills and absorbing/retaining material - this was not good! On top of all the academic adjustment there was a death in my family and my pet died. I am proud of myself for working hard and getting through and eventually passing everything, in spite of all the obstacles.

    I'm not particularly maternal and have never really wanted to be a parent so that part is no problem for me. I wouldn't mind being married, though, but the right person hasn't come along. One thing I will say is that I feel it is an advantage to not have obligations to a spouse or children - this gives me the freedom to focus on med school and studying without guilt.
  9. MedPR

    MedPR

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    Congrats on finishing M1!

    What are you doing this summer?
  10. Helen Wheels

    Helen Wheels

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    I'm not really interested in global medicine or CAM so, no, no thoughts of this.
    Last edited: 06.16.12
  11. Helen Wheels

    Helen Wheels

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    You're welcome! I'm glad to be able to give something back to SDN.

    It was harder than I expected! I knew I wouldn't be at the top of the class but I'm not doing as well as I expected. It's something you just can't understand until you experience it but it is a huge volume of material coming constantly at you. Since I wasn't a science major everything was new to me and I felt woefully underprepared for it.

    I did an informal post bac at a CC. However, I had those classes from 1999-2003 and then had to put things on hold. I've mentioned in other posts about being a caregiver for my mother. Having to work, take care of my mom, and do pre-reqs I got through them slowly and then things came to a halt for awhile. I did take a biochem class in the Fall of 2009. So, essentially, I'd only had one class in the 8 years before I started school! I don't recommend this! Truthfully, I had forgotten how to study and had to relearn how, as silly as that sounds. Plus, I think my brain needed to get back into a mode to absorb and retain material. That's something you don't use in the working world which I had been in for over a decade.
  12. Helen Wheels

    Helen Wheels

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    Thank you! I was a little worried there until I passed the remediation exams. If you can't pass them over the summer you have to repeat the entire year! :eek:

    My younger classmates wasted no time going on trips all over the country as soon as the semester ended. Well, here is where I differ as an older student. I am going to be generous about reading novels and playing games on my iPad and taking some one day trips. But I also need to catch up on yard and housework. I own a house and I have found it darn near impossible to properly take care of a house by myself while in school - the inside of my house is a disaster right now! Also, I am hoping to do some kitchen remodeling. :)
  13. Helen Wheels

    Helen Wheels

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    The Global and Underserved Medicine Club at my school is doing a mission trip to Colombia this summer. So, that would be volunteering for the students who went. I don't think they were doing anything with CAM, though.
  14. Helen Wheels

    Helen Wheels

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  15. MedPR

    MedPR

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    Do you have any income/savings/money from anywhere besides loans? I'm probably going to end up funding every single thing with loans and I'm a little worried that it's going to result in way too much debt.
  16. Helen Wheels

    Helen Wheels

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    No, no income or significant savings to speak of. I didn't make much money in my prior career so wasn't really able to save much before school. I've been able to live just fine taking out the max loans this past year. I was a little worried it wouldn't be enough but it has been fine. For the most part, anything you want to do that costs money you don't have time for so you end up spending less as a med student.

    I worry about the debt, too, though. DO schools typically don't offer much money to students and I had 100% loans for first year and will for second year, as well. I'll owe $250,000 when I graduate which scares me, as I come from a modest background. :eek:
  17. notbobtrustme

    notbobtrustme Crux Terminatus

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    About how much do you study per day?
  18. MedPR

    MedPR

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    Yea, I imagine I'll be right around $250k in debt too. The money I've been able to save over the last year is all going to secondaries/interviews.

    Do you have classmates around your age? If not, what kinds of interaction do you have with classmates outside of class?
  19. SLC

    SLC Lock, Step, & Gone

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    This is a fantastic idea. Thanks for doing it.

    As an OMS1 who's about to wrap up first year (final exam on Friday) I'd like to contribute. Mainly if anyone has questions about going through med-school with kids and/or significant other. I am married with 3 kids.
  20. MedPR

    MedPR

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    Did you and your family have to relocate very far? Also, is your wife in school? Work?
  21. Helen Wheels

    Helen Wheels

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    I should have regular hours of studying every day. I find that most of the time, after attending classes and my one hour drive each way that I'm often too tired to be very productive on weekday evenings. I compensate for this by studying a lot on the weekend.

    Now, before a big exam, I would say I study about 6 hours a day starting two weeks before. I am in a PBL curriculum so three times a semester we have exams covering about 600 pages of text. I personally find that I seem to get diminishing returns beyond six hours a day but YMMV.
  22. Helen Wheels

    Helen Wheels

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    There are about 3 others in my class who are 35 years old or older. I know two of them pretty well but have never had a chance to talk to the third. There's not a lot of us. However, I find that millennials are very friendly and have a great sense of humor. I was worried about being accepted by my younger classmates but it's been a non-issue. I think most of them appreciate the life experiences that I bring to the small group discussions we have in our school which is a PBL curriculum. That being said, I am told I look a lot younger than my actual age and I haven't really told my classmates my age, so maybe they aren't completely aware of what an old fogie I am! :laugh:

    I occasionally go to social activities with classmates but not the "big party with lots of alcohol" ones which are popular. I would like to do more socializing but living an hour away from campus is a bit of an impediment. If classes end at 3 PM I am really not going to hang around until 8 PM to go out. If I have one regret it's that living far from campus limits you socially and you just aren't around in the evenings for impromptu social activities. Live close to campus if you can. I already owned a home and just didn't feel it was worth the expense and hassle of selling and moving.
  23. Helen Wheels

    Helen Wheels

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    Welcome to the thread, SLC! :welcome: Feel free to join in and let me extend that invitation to any other nontrads out there in med school who would like to contribute.

    Though this was directed at SLC I would like to say that I was accepted to a med school only an hour away from my house! I was really happy not to have to move but it has come with some drawbacks, mostly social (see prior post above).
  24. wholeheartedly

    wholeheartedly Moderator

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    On that note, how many mandatory hours do you spend on campus each day/week?

    I'm currently commuting quite a ways for graduate school and I hear you on the social and extra-curriculars. I'm just wondering, in case I can't sell my house right away to relocate, what others experiences are with the balance of req'd hours vs commute time? Also, the price of gas sucks, but you've been ok financially with commuter costs?
  25. NightGod

    NightGod

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    Not a med student yet, obviously, but I've had great experiences with younger students since I returned to school. They all know exactly how old I am (through Facebook, if nothing else) and it likely helps a lot that I tend to act much younger than I am. I also have two children very close to their ages (15 and 17) and we've always been extremely close, so I am able to relate to them through that experience (it's always fun when they mention a mutual friend they have with one of my kids). They do think it's funny when I talk about going out to the club on the weekends (and I get to mock them for not being able to go) and the fact that I have party/club songs for my ring tones, but I've had my fair share of "oh yeah, you don't know about that because you were THREE when it happened" moments when I reference events and such that were a large part of growing up and that I can talk about with friends my age that they truly have NO clue about. Overall, if anything, I feel like I've gotten more respect for my age and the path I'm following than any sort of derision (I can't think of any negative examples, honestly). That old cliche of "you're only as old as you feel" gets more and more accurate every year.
  26. FiremedicMike

    FiremedicMike

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    Im assuming by your posts that your loans are paying your mortgage, car payment, bills, et al.. Is there any special documentation that needs to be provided to ensure this is all covered? I would estimate my current bills (excluding groceries) at around $3000/month. My goal is to kill as much of that as possible before matriculation, but is it unreasonable to expect to be able to cover these expenses with loans?
  27. mommy2three

    mommy2three PGY-1

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    Third year med student, with kids, mortgage, dog and guinea pigs...lol
    Also happy to answer any questions about the first two years or rotations so far.
  28. Helen Wheels

    Helen Wheels

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    My school has required attendance for everything. If you are planning a long commute it would be better if your school did not require lecture attendance and had lecture podcasts. Since my school has a PBL curriculum I'm not on campus all that much, though. The first semester with anatomy had a packed schedule and I had to go in every weekday and most days were fairly long, about 6-7 hours. The second semester was better in that I only had to be on campus 2-3 hours a day, though it was 5 days a week - we had PBL group on Mon, Wed, and Fri and Tues was OMM lecture and lab and Thurs was H&P lecture/lab.

    If you were in a more traditional curriculum with lectures all day every day and you had a long commute I could see it possibly interfering with your grades (i.e., if you spent 10 hours a day in class and commuting). I do not feel the long commute has impacted on my grades at all. The problems I had at the start of the year were related to being out of practice as a student and not my commute time. A student in my class told some other students her academic problems were stemming from her one hour commute but IMO that is not a valid excuse at our school.

    I not only pay for gas but the only sensible way for me to commute to and from school is on a toll road. I estimate that I pay about $12 in gas and tolls for every day I commute to school. Thinking about this is painful but I haven't had trouble financially, probably because like I said before, you don't have time to do much that costs money during school. :p
  29. MedPR

    MedPR

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    Well that's great to hear about your classmates. My girlfriend will be an M3 at about 430pm on Saturday and a few of her friends/classmates are 32 years old. Nobody seems to care about anyone's age so long as you're friendly and nice to be around.

    Thanks for the advice about living close to campus. I lived across the street from my undergrad and it definitely made things much easier. Have you considered moving for OM3/OM4? I can't imagine having to make a 1 hour commute twice a day while you're on a surgery rotation :scared:




    What school do you go to? If I have the choice, I would like to avoid having mandatory lectures. I'm not really a morning person and I would probably do better listening/watching lecture at home or in the library when I'm awake.
  30. Helen Wheels

    Helen Wheels

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    You're limited in student loans by what the school says is the cost of attendance (COA). I took out the maximum in loans and I had ~$24 K to live on for the year. I didn't find this to be too much of a strain. I live in an area with a relatively low cost of living and this is something taken into account by the school in determining the COA. If you go to school in Boston or NYC they are going to have to give you more to live on. I was used to a fairly frugal lifestyle before school. The only thing I cut was getting rid of cable TV - I don't have time for much TV, anyway during school, so I haven't missed it much.

    I didn't have to provide anything but the FAFSA. My understanding is the school sets the COA and the FAFSA (fed gov't) determines how much up to the COA you can borrow and the federal gov't doesn't care much about your specifics beyond the FAFSA. I go to a DO school, though, and these schools typically don't give out much in the way of institutional aid. If you go to a big MD school I could see the school asking for additional info for aid coming directly from the school.

    Since I live alone and have no dependents I will add that I have no idea how having a working spouse or children plays into financial aid.
  31. Helen Wheels

    Helen Wheels

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    Agreed. :)

    That's a good point and one of the reasons I decided to stay in my house. DO schools typically don't have a big academic hospital affiliated with them where all the students can rotate. We kind of end up getting "flung to the breeze" for rotations and end up landing here and there at various sites (Note: inside joke for osteopathic students intended here, ;)). For me, after the first two years I won't be going to campus, except maybe for shelf exams.

    I am a LECOM student. LECOM is infamous on SDN for its strict rules including mandatory attendance at everything.
  32. MedPR

    MedPR

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    Ah yes, LECOM sure is known for that. I was interested in all the LECOMs until I heard about the rules.

    As for rotations, do you have any idea if you'll be doing most/all of your rotations at the same site? Do you know if there will be students from other DO schools rotating with you?
  33. Helen Wheels

    Helen Wheels

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    Some students get what LECOM calls a "13." If you get one of those, you get all 13 core rotations at that hospital. Others end up moving around to various sites throughout the clinical years. There aren't any 13s near my house, unfortunately, so I'll probably be bouncing around.

    I don't know. Though this is an interesting question!
  34. SLC

    SLC Lock, Step, & Gone

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    Sorry for the delayed response, I've been studying for my GI block final (which I have to go take in about 2 hours).

    We relocated 1 state south (Utah to Arizona) all in all about a 12 hour drive or 1.5 hour flight. Now that 1st year is over, we're relocating again for the remaining 3 years, this time to the Pacific Northwest, again about 12 hours from our hometown just in the other direction.

    My wife is completing a bachelors degree (which she took a hiatus from when we started having kids) online. We're lucky that one of the state schools in Utah which she was working on her degree with doesn't charge out of state tuition for classes online. We're technically AZ residents now so that's been a nice help. She also works as a freelance photographer, she'll offer photo-sessions whenever we feel like we'd like a little extra cash. She's extremely talented and charges a few hundred per session but she's had no trouble getting work when she wants it, even here where we didn't initially know anyone. That's also a huge help.

    Mostly she stays home with the kids, which IMO is like having two full time jobs. Especially when her husband (me) is busy with school most of the time.
  35. MedPR

    MedPR

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    I think it would be cool to meet students from other schools on rotations!

    Yea, I can't imagine staying home with kids. More work than anything I've ever done. Has the moving around been hard on your family? On you? Assuming I get accepted this cycle my girlfriend and I will be doing long distance for the first time. She says she'll try and follow me, but if I end up at a school that relocates students for M3/M4, we'll obviously be splitting up again.
  36. Helen Wheels

    Helen Wheels

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    mommy2three,

    Welcome to the thread. I followed your application posts when I was prepping for the MCAT. You have one of the SDN stories that kept me going! :)
  37. mommy2three

    mommy2three PGY-1

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    thank you

    i can not tell you how many people i have met on this journey that immediately know who i am....kind of weird to know you have a "following" :scared: ;)

    thanks for the love :love:
  38. mommy2three

    mommy2three PGY-1

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    i am at CCOM and the only mandatory lectures here are OMM workshops, anatomy labs and ICM labs. they strongly recommend attendance at the others and i would say first year we had about 75% class attendance on most days. by the end of second year we were lucky if there was 40% attendance - especially as we creeped closer to boards ;)
  39. mommy2three

    mommy2three PGY-1

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    CCOM does rotations through the Chicago area. While we are not doing any rotations with other DO schools, we are on rotations with the allopathic schools in the area.
  40. ejw5075

    ejw5075 Smile.

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    21yo MS2 w/a 5yo daughter. I am married but attending school 1,000+ miles from my husband, so I can give some insight into the life of a single parent in med school if anyone is interested.
  41. Tribeca

    Tribeca Senior Member

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    I wanna know how/when you spend time with your daughter, help w/ HW, and the logistics of picking up/dropping off school. We have a 3 year old son and he will be 4.5 when I start med school (hopefully!). How do you do it without your hubby? Do you have family to help out? Who watches her when she's sick? These are all the scenarios that are running in my head!
  42. ejw5075

    ejw5075 Smile.

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    During first year, I spent lots of time with her because I did my studying/lecture watching during her school hours (8am-4pm) and after she went to sleep (8pm). I did not go to class because it almost guaranteed I’d spend twice as long away. I did not study more than 1-2 hours on Saturday or Sunday unless there was an exam Monday and then I would just cut into my sleep. That was the biggest change from being a traditional student the first half of the year (daughter was in PA w hubby) and my current situation.

    Second year will be very different because of increasing responsibilities and step 1 studying but my daughter is also starting school so I won’t feel guilty dropping her off at 7:30am because she HAS to go then. I will pick her up from her after-school care at 5:30pm and won’t do anything school related until she’s asleep at 8:30pm. Then there’s the weekends where I’ll take half the day for studying/half for fun.


    It’s really hard. I don’t really have an answer as to how I do it without him. Unfortunately (or fortunately in this economy) his job is too great to give up and move with us for such a short period of time.

    No, I don’t have any family to help out but I have classmates who are as good as it gets. My community clinical experience this year had me 50miles from my school until 5pm and I often would not get back until well after day care closed so my classmate’s husband picked her up. I had enrolled her in the same school incase something like this happened.

    She hasn’t gotten sick yet! Knock on wood. I go to a school that does not have required attendance for lectures so I would not have an issue staying home with her if she was sick. If it were one of the half PBL days a week, she would stay with a classmate. All throughout undergrad I was the one responsible for her care when she got sick or daycare closed because my husband could not miss work and it was tough but I was always honest with my professors about the situation and I did not have any issues (most are parents and get it).
  43. MedPR

    MedPR

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    I've been asking every CCOM student the following question. Including tuition, what's your estimated cost of living (if you don't mind sharing)? I've read that CCOM estimates upwards of $80k/year and though it's one of my top choices, I don't know if I can justify that kind of debt.

    So you had a child at 16, yet are somehow 1 year ahead of the "traditional" med students? That's amazing.
  44. Chilaquiles

    Chilaquiles

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    to Helen:

    Do you what type of residency you plan on pursuing yet?

    and what were your stats to get into lecom?
  45. Helen Wheels

    Helen Wheels

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    Here is a link to my MDapps:
    http://mdapplicants.com/profile.php?id=20614

    I'm not completely decided yet on specialty. I have Anes and GI in the back of my mind but I'm not sure I'll be competitive enough. I also am keeping psych and rheumatology in mind but leaning the most toward Infectious Disease currently.
  46. startoverat40

    startoverat40 MS2

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    i'm curious how older students interact in the clinical years/residency with attendings who are 10+ years younger.
  47. Abider

    Abider

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    The same way I did squiring for them. I do what they tell me. Whether I like them or not. Because that's what the patient needs. The case where I knew an order would hurt a patient unnecessarily never came up. Although it could, and would account for the only case where disobedience would be called for.

    This is hierarchy. Think otherwise to your own disadvantage. "They can always hurt you more." I've never seen where that wasn't true in medicine.
  48. startoverat40

    startoverat40 MS2

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    maybe I should have asked my question the other way around, cause that's how I meant it. How do attendings treat med students who are 10+ years older than them?
  49. Abider

    Abider

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    Oh I see. Good question. Here's my limited take. If they're secure in themselves, then it's usually an advantage. More in common together.

    The only trouble I've had with some male doctors is the ones I could hold in my lap like they were children, sizewise. It can make some of them uncomfortable, especially since they're accustomed to being worshipped by underlings.

    Agewise the relationship can usually be made smoother my your expressed responsiveness to learning from them and doing what they say.

    Never had a problem with female doc's young or old.
  50. startoverat40

    startoverat40 MS2

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    cool. that I can certainly do. thanks :)

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