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My Premed Experience

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical Allopathic [ MD ]' started by solitarius, Apr 7, 2012.

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  1. solitarius

    solitarius MS-0

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    I'm near the end of the pre-med rat race, and I can say that I'm just glad it's over - just two more painful physics lab write-ups and the final exams for o-chem II and physics II. I think pre-med is the worst part of the journey simply because while you invest a lot into medicine, it has invested nothing in you.

    I learned some good stuff on SDN, and I've contributed very little. So here's what I liked and hated, and how I survived and approached it. My biggest survival tool was to avoid burnout at all costs, and this required me to manage my time and keep my expectations for myself reasonable.

    Overall
    I still remain committed to becoming a physician because it's a great profession that offers the chance to exert leadership in a positive way. I didn't approach pre-med as a burdensome cutthroat rat race. I didn't feel the need to outdo everyone in a neurotic manner or to make myself the super-applicant.

    I just approached it like a series of hoop-jumping hurdles that I would clear in a manageable way for me. I see pre-med as a grinding experience in all facets from academic to EC's. That said, I ignored some of the extreme advice on SDN (ahem, Catalystik).

    Academic
    When it's all said and done, this is/will be the record:

    Biology I w/ lab: A
    Biology II w/ lab: A
    Gen Chem I w/ lab: A
    Gen Chem II w/ lab: A
    Physics I w/ lab: A
    Physics II w/ lab: A
    O-chem I w/ lab: A
    O-chem II (no lab): A
    Genetics: A-

    I only took two science lab courses each semester. One semester, I took three but made sure that the third had no lab. The courses were challenging, but not intellectually hard. IMO, the difficulty was the grind inherent in these courses - i.e., juggling an unreasonable number of assignments at key stress points in the semester, the low error margin before you drop out of A territory, and lab. At our school, lab itself wasn't a pain, but writing the lab report was.

    I was planning on doing the MCAT this month, but I just lost the motivation to push myself this hard to do it by April. Last semester was a grind, and so I set the test date to August to make it more easier on myself. Summer may be ruined though.

    Extracurriculars
    I used the EC's to explore which sub-sectors of medicine would interest me. Overall, I found these experiences to be absolutely critical in affirming whether I'd be genuinely interested in this type of career.

    That said, the biggest beef I have with the EC requirement is that it exploits your aspirations for free volunteer time that the medical service industry needs. And it rubs your face in the dirt about it too. It's pretty clear a lot of hospitals and clinics would lose out on menial labor and have to pay for this. When you consider that the majority of aspiring pre-medders drop out, that's a lot of free labor that will never be paid my medicine or recouped by the students.

    I didn't follow the neurotic SDN template for categories of ECs to cover. I did the meaningful stuff I liked. Because if I don't get into medical school, I won't regret doing these ECs. I enjoyed them, and I enjoyed not compelling myself to do stuff I didn't want to do even if SDN felt otherwise.

    Shadowing
    I used shadowing to explore areas of medicine with the intent of screening out those areas I didn't like. For instance, I shadowed a surgeon precisely because I felt I wouldn't like surgery. Sure enough, I'd rather be a physician. I felt I would hate outpatient primary care, so I shadowed them too. Yep, I hate that too.

    Shadowing seems to be one of the more unreasonable hoop-jumping requirements of pre-med. With the exception of the surgeon, all the shadowing gigs were extremely difficult to obtain. In one case, I felt pretty bad because the doctor who agreed to let me shadow her had to endure three months of paperwork just for a three day visit. For another gig, the doctor's place of employment was extremely hostile to shadowing. The days of the independent practitioner is dying, and you have these behemoth bureaucracies that are tough to navigate. Given that a lot of places don't like shadowing or actively discourage it, I'm not sure why this should be a requirement for medical school.

    Social Life
    This is where pre-med has taken the biggest toll on my life. If the grind of the academic coursework isn't enough, then the added grind of the ECs is. Lots of weekends, I didn't go out to party because EITHER I had assignments/exams due the next week OR I was just burned out after the academic and extracurricular demands of a typical week. For example last semester, the perfect time to ask out this girl at my school fell into the late November-early December timeframe. Unfortunately, my three science courses decided to dump 16 collective assignments, lab write ups, quizzes and 3 final exams to get ready for.

    On the other hand, I'm not sure how much pre-med really hurt my social life either. My school isn't really a party school, and a lot of the students live off-campus and work a lot to support themselves. With no drunken hook-up scene here, it seems like the major option is to get a serious LTR. And when girls know you're a pre-med, they treat you like a potential husband as opposed to a casual boyfriend. That's not my cup of tea, frankly.

    What's clear is that a lot of college girls are really high school girls in a barely evolved form. They're immature. They attention whore. They like to mess with your heads. What they seem incapable of doing is just chilling out, having a good time, and seeing where things go. It's either attention whoring that is useless to a man or needy girlfriend behavior that is draining to a busy pre-med. At the minimum, I can say that being pre-med reduces the time you have to go out to the bars and clubs off campus.

    That's not to say the girls don't find flaws with college guys either. But since I'm a guy, I can't comment.

    Moving forward
    I found pre-med to be so grinding and annoying that it's almost impossible for me to want to put in superlative effort to go into a super-competitive specialty like dermatology, plastics, or oncology. Frankly, I'd be content doing a less competitive part of medicine. I'm pretty sure the biggest pitfall with this career is that you continue the pre-med mentality and crap lifestyle well into medical school, residency, and your career.
    Last edited: Jun 5, 2012
  2. Morsetlis

    Morsetlis SGU MS-3

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    10/10 will read again.
  3. Lysinee

    Lysinee

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  4. Praefectus

    Praefectus MS-0

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    You hit the nail right on the head, brother. Thankfully, I've noticed that they start getting better with age. However, I doubt that some will alter this paradigm and will try to rustle up a husband making 6 figures that goes golfing on weekends to avoid his wife's incessant whining.
  5. circulus vitios

    circulus vitios Cпутник-1

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    The classes aren't difficult. It's everything else that sucks: obsessing over beating the curve; studying 100+ hours for the MCAT; kissing ass for letters of recommendation; dumping thousands of dollars in MCAT preparation, applications, and interview fees. And on top of that, satisfying the idiotic requirements like clinical volunteering/non-clinical volunteering/research, which "aren't required" but will blacklist your application if you lack them.

    It's an intensely stupid and wasteful process. After four years of hard work, I'm halfway tempted to just give up.
  6. kexy

    kexy

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    Are you applying this cycle? If so, August might be a little late.

    :eyebrow: You're going after the wrong kind of girl.
  7. serenade

    serenade Medical Alchemist

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    I agree, the reality is that it isn't about learning the material or even practically applying it. It's about learning the minutea that your teacher barely covers and that you will likely forget in a week that you spend a lot of time on for the sake of beating the curve.
    Personally speaking after finally completing all of my prereqs, albeit with just a 3.5 average I can say that it has been a tiring process. And combine with a growing realization that your pay after this all will be taxed half way out of existence, the 300k debt just from education, the heavy work and potential life scaring events and a generally apathetic population you're treating. Well it really gets to the point that you wish you go an alternative pathway.
  8. circulus vitios

    circulus vitios Cпутник-1

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    The potential suckiness of practicing medicine doesn't bother me as much as the suckiness of even getting to the point of even applying. It's ridiculous. In what other line of work are you expected to volunteer for hundreds of hours in hospital/non-hospital/research settings, score in the 80th percentile on a $250 admissions exam just to be a 50th percentile matriculant, spend literally thousands of dollars to get one acceptance out of 15+ schools, etc.
  9. serenade

    serenade Medical Alchemist

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    Yup and what sucks is that the entire process selects for the socially inept and students ill equipped for medicine. But alas, that's our curse, we choose an over complicated and difficult path.
  10. mipp0

    mipp0

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    Hey bro, it wouldn't kill you to enjoy life a little. I loved all the ECs I was involved in, and hospital volunteering was freakin' awesome. A change of attitude can go a long way.

    BUUUUUUUUUUUUUUT...no positive attitude can help you smile over the curve issue, so that's where we agree. When your peers study 30 - 50 hours a week, and only a quarter of us get As...no fun is to be had. I also agree with LORs. If you go to a big public school, getting high quality LORs can be more painful than eating poop hotdogs on a stick...
  11. circulus vitios

    circulus vitios Cпутник-1

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    That might be possible in the 'big city.' I live in the middle of nowhere. My volunteering options suck. Unless I want to drive multiple hours round trip to volunteer (work for free), my only choice is to grind through one hundred hours of folding blankets and delivering food. I've looked into other options like earning an EMT-B or phlebotomist certificate and getting a medical job, but I can't find any phlebotomist or EMT training programs within 100 miles of where I live...not that I expect there to be any such jobs.
  12. SunsFun

    SunsFun VICE president

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    You're making excuses. Girls are awesome, its your fault that you are a neurotic premed.
  13. serenade

    serenade Medical Alchemist

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    Alright so you call girls barely evolved, and yet your goals are hooking up and having casual relationships that lack commitment. I think that's just cute honestly...
  14. mipp0

    mipp0

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    Good gravy, I'm sorry man : ( It's true though, living in a big city offers all kinds of clinical opportunities, especially in California. Where do you live?
  15. circulus vitios

    circulus vitios Cпутник-1

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    Northeastern Pennsylvania.
  16. StoicJosher

    StoicJosher Reality?? Check. Lifetime Donor

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    Is this supposed to be the pre-med House of God? Or the Confessions of a pre-med drama queen?

    tl;dr version:

    Pre-med was a cutthroat rat race but since I am a unique snowflake I wasn't neurotic like everyone on SDN. .....grinding academics, grinding ECs, grind, grind... I can't manage time well so I was a loner. Pre-med sucks.
  17. Lysinee

    Lysinee

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    Isn't the OP still considered a pre-med? OP is taking the MCAT this month. I thought that you are considered a pre-med then entire time in college. Or, is pre med the first 2 years of college (60 credits)?
  18. sliceofbread136

    sliceofbread136

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    Premed is just a big hoop to jump through and a huge waste of time. Will I ever use ANYTHING I am learning right now in college? Not likely. Are all these ECs actually doing anything for me? NO. About the only I've done as I premed that I see the least bit useful is shadowing. Everything else has just been a waste of 4 years.
  19. coyotelime

    coyotelime

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    I partially agree with you, but understand that as a premed your role will be severely menial in of itself. They're not going to let an undergraduate perform tasks that a trained professional does, but we need the clinical experience. I would rather sit at a reception desk, work the call-lite, greet patients, bring them drinks while figuring out if I can see myself working in a hospital environment for the rest of my life than find out during my 3rd year of med school that the smell of alcohol wipes makes me want to hurl.
  20. kpcrew

    kpcrew Gold Donor

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    I find it hard to believe that despite the limited space that they're working with, they cannot even provide free parking for volunteers.
  21. KnuxNole

    KnuxNole Sweets Addict

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    I can see that happening tbh

    Volunteers aren't paid employees, so aren't really looked as favorable compared to people that "matter".

    Also, about volunteering, it's the same as people in internships who are only allowed to get coffee for people or fax papers/answer phone calls. Both people are there to get exposure to the field, but don't get to do "glamorous" stuff because of their current status.
  22. TheMightySmiter

    TheMightySmiter

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    Here's what I read: "Gripe gripe gripe. Girls suck because they won't sleep with me. Gripe gripe."

    Did I cover everything?
  23. music2doc

    music2doc Student of Mad Doctoring

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    What "rat race"? You make it sound oh-so-awful.... somebody get the...


    [​IMG]


    Good for you... 'though I'm not really sure what this actually means. I wouldn't say I "tried to make myself a super-applicant" but I did put forth the effort to get experiences, improve on my hobbies, make friends, go out on the town at least a 2-3 times each week.... Is that making myself a "super-applicant" b/c I always called it working hard and playing harder....
    So... you're a box-checker? Let me know how that turns out for you next spring.
    Cool.... Mine was the same, except Genetics was an A and so were biochem, ochem 2 lab, physio, etc. In other words...

    [​IMG]

    ...[Possibly] along with your chances of being in the Class of 2017... (Sept/Oct applications don't tend to turn out well... even with a great MCAT/GPA, although there are always exceptions)
    You think the healthcare industry actually needs premed volunteers? Honestly, in most settings you are, at best, tolerated unless you have actual skills (most premeds don't). Sure, there are exceptions, but for the most part, you are not being "exploited" by the hospitals. You are more likely being tolerated. The best, however, are appreciated -- I simply don't expect you were one of the best with the attitude of your post.
    Once again... what makes you think you deserve any of this? You may believe you're really offering something but, honestly, you're probably not. Most of the menial tasks you are given would take the staff less time to do themselves (than to show you how) but since you're there, they demonstrate and try to bring you onto their team.
    ok.... good, except you basically said you DID box-check earlier.
    OK.... Did you find anything you actually DID want to do? You're going to have to do these things in med school. ;)
    If you really can't understand the value in shadowing after the comments you made a few mere sentences ago, you have other things to take care of.
    So you had trouble getting a girl.... sorry to hear that. Try harder next time. Step up your game.
    Umm... so what was the point in this post? So, you're almost done putting together a fairly mediocre medical school application, think pre-med was so hard/the worst part (of what? medical education? you've gotta be f***ing me), and have put off the MCAT 'til summer? Is there anything you want us to get out of this post? You're not even really that close to being done and you lack some of the pre-reqs (e.g., ochem 2 lab, which is expected at a number of schools and some won't consider you without).

    And Cat's advice being "extreme"? That's like calling LizzyM's advice extreme.... both are experienced adcom members. I probably wouldn't discard what either say to you....


    Regardless...

    [​IMG]
    Last edited: Apr 7, 2012
  24. jevo

    jevo

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    You sound just as bad as him. And judging from your previous thread about "advice" for premed volunteers in the ER, I'd say you're exactly like him.
  25. music2doc

    music2doc Student of Mad Doctoring

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    OK. Do you think I really care what you think? (I don't, so don't bother answering. :laugh:)
  26. MeatTornado

    MeatTornado

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    :roflcopter:

    this is a heaping pile of immature drivel. way to justify your virginity. it seems like you think college girls should throw themselves on your d*ck because you're a premed with zero effort on your part. and since they're not doing that they're immature ...though at the same time they're looking for a husband. your logic is illogical.

    way to dampen expectations even before you take the mcat or are accepted to med school! newsflash: "less competitive" specialties are no less grueling and in many cases are more competitive at the top than an average program in a "super-competitive" specialty. you can't just decide you've done enough and coast from here on out. it sucks that you went balls to the wall during premed and burned out even before taking the mcat ....sorry to tell you that all your effort was basically a waste because looking back i'm glad i didn't sacrifice my social life for a few extra points on an exam. thinking back to college i can barely remember what i got in one class or another and my gpa is basically meaningless at this point however the life experiences are what shape you and what stick in your mind.
  27. gstudent26

    gstudent26

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  28. RogueUnicorn

    RogueUnicorn rawr.

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    no it doesn't but you believe what you want
  29. VisionaryTics

    VisionaryTics Señor Member

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  30. sliceofbread136

    sliceofbread136

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    Does no one else see premed as a giant boring hoop?!?
  31. music2doc

    music2doc Student of Mad Doctoring

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    Well executed, the premed can be a time of learning and preparation, although I am not really convinced 4 years is necessary...
  32. sliceofbread136

    sliceofbread136

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    Just curious, what learning? Like I said the only thing I think has been really useful to me has been shadowing.
  33. music2doc

    music2doc Student of Mad Doctoring

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    Personal and professional development outside of medicine -- developing your leadership skills and other soft skills as well as interests and hobbies that will keep you sane through medical school. In addition, learning research and other disciplines (e.g., humanities and social sciences) is a positive thing. Of course, learning the basic sciences is also important and I am sure there are other things we learn that I didn't think of at this moment as well.
  34. sliceofbread136

    sliceofbread136

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    I learned all my basic sciences in highschool, did not take any classes in the humanities and scoical sciences, and don't really have any leadership skills. Let's hope adcoms don't catch on to this :scared:
  35. Omppu27

    Omppu27 PreMed Mogul

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    ahhhh i was just ranting to myself about this earlier today... Good to know i'm not the only one that feels this way
  36. Ashley1989

    Ashley1989

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    From what you've posted it seems like your experience has been kind of dark and unhappy although I may be totally wrong. I really hope you can renew some of your energy and passion because it's a long road ahead and from what everyone says it only gets harder. Maybe some time off would help you so you can recharge? Maybe go on a mission trip and get out of the area for a few months? I hope all goes well for you and I'm sure you will get it all figured out :) good job on your grades!
  37. IRASNA

    IRASNA

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    My barber was telling me about all the horrible experiences she has had with docs regarding some surgery her daughter needs to get done. According to her, and others unfortunately, many doctors are arrogant and belittle patients. When you make students jump through all sorts of crazy hoops for the better part of a decade, then expect them to act like almighty gods of medicine when they start practicing. But I guess the new MCAT is supposed to change this.....
  38. KnuxNole

    KnuxNole Sweets Addict

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    I don't have very many leaderships either. But fear not, many doctors do NOT have leadership skills to speak of :p
  39. TheMightySmiter

    TheMightySmiter

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    Dr. Winn, the Dean of Admissions at University of Colorado SOM, gave a great quip about this at their pre-med day. "Your volunteer work isn't boring, YOU'RE boring!" If you don't have the imagination to find a volunteer or research gig you like, or figure out how to make the most of the ones you can find, the problem is YOU, not the activity. I had to try a couple of different volunteering gigs til I found one I liked. I also did bench research for a semester, didn't like any part of it, and stopped. I've been honest about this in all my applications. You can find enjoyable ECs, they just might not be the ones you first think of or the one you first try. I think it's important to be open-minded and flexible, then the pre-med process wouldn't seem like such a chore.
  40. music2doc

    music2doc Student of Mad Doctoring

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    Dr. Winn is amazing. His insights on this kind of thing are always great to hear.
  41. vayntraubinator

    vayntraubinator

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  42. qw098

    qw098

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    Really?! Sept/Oct applications don't turn out well!? Why is that? When is best time to apply then...
  43. music2doc

    music2doc Student of Mad Doctoring

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    Because you're in the middle or end of the pack and they run out of interview spots and/or if you do interview, you are interviewing for fewer seats in the class.

    Using U-Mich data....

    [​IMG]


    So, in other words, August or earlier is best. Sept is mediocre but still reasonable. Oct/Nov is basically futile. Of course, UMich tends to have verya aggressive rolling admissions and so for some schools on the FAR other side of the spectrum (e.g., CU and OHSU), you could probably move the dates forward about 2 months....

    Another thing to keep in mind, though, is that you should estimate a 4-12 week gap between when you submit your primary and secondary applications, which means you are best off submitting your primary in by mid-July and doing so any later than the end of August greatly hurts your chances.
    [​IMG]
  44. qw098

    qw098

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    Great stuff! Thanks for the heads up!

    I am writing my MCAT in late July; does that prohibit me from submitting my primary applications if I choose to do so mid-June?
  45. music2doc

    music2doc Student of Mad Doctoring

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    No... but many schools won't send their secondaries until they receive your MCAT score (in late August). You'll be better off than the Aug/Sept examinees but you will likely be at a disadvantage.
  46. littlealex

    littlealex little tiny alex

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    This story needs more dragons.
  47. music2doc

    music2doc Student of Mad Doctoring

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    I agree.

    Here's a mug of our dragon...

    [​IMG]

    Here's OP:

    [​IMG]


    Here's what OP saw in the sky 30 seconds ago:

    [​IMG]



    This is OP now (under the giant fireball on the ground)....


    [​IMG]



    And this is OP now that you're done reading this post:


    [​IMG]


    Feel better?




    As an Addendum... today IS Easter Sunday... things still could turn out well for the OP....
    Last edited: Apr 8, 2012
  48. Slowpoke

    Slowpoke I haz cheezburger

    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2008
    Messages:
    1,691
    Location:
    Maximum Security Anti-Zombie Fortress
    Status:
    Medical Student
    SDN 5+ Year Member
    I actually read OP's post and aside from some parts, its not that bad of a post to warrant this much hate. Just another pre-med's perspective on undergrad.

    So much hate, very little love.

    [​IMG]
  49. solitarius

    solitarius MS-0

    Joined:
    May 20, 2010
    Messages:
    871
    Status:
    Pre-Medical
    SDN 2+ Year Member
    My post was written to share my take with those who are dealing with or struggling with the premed ritual. If people found my post helpful partly or entirely, I'm glad b/c that was my intent.

    Having visited SDN a bit over the last couple of years, I fully expected the haters to come out. And frankly, I just don't care about them. To those who enjoy ridiculing others, you make yourself like the stupid insecure asses that you are.

    I haven't been unhappy with my pre-med experience, nor am I dark about it. It is what it is. I'm just exhausted with what's been a 2 year grind organized around my premed classes and ECs. With the light at the end of the tunnel, I can come up for air and actually contribute here. But my stress drops a ton when the pre-reqs are over... only three weeks left. No more science labs.

    As for girls, I make no apologies for what I've stated. Dealing with a lot of your insecurity, bull****, testing, and games is annoying. Knowing how high-drama and high-maintenance many of you are in relationships is depressing. For the record, I've had girlfriends and I have had sex; thus, I know how difficult dealing with girls can be. For you guys who flex your e-peen about game or mock my "virginity," it's pretty clear you LACK real experience with them. Like I said, I'm sure the girls have their complaints about us too. And I'm not necessarily looking for casual sex; I'm just looking for someone reasonable who respects my time constraints and the fact that I'm not ready to commit to the marriage track. But that's neither here nor there.

    Finally, I still think pre-med is the worst part of the journey. Having observed academic medicine through one of my ECs, I'm fully aware how difficult the life of a resident and attending is. It's hard? No ****. But at least in medical school, I can still make it by being average even if the bar is higher. That is all.

    Thanks to everyone who've contributed stuff that I learned from. And to those that didn't, lighten up. Life is too hard as it is. Peace out.
  50. sliceofbread136

    sliceofbread136

    Joined:
    Nov 5, 2011
    Messages:
    2,846
    Status:
    Medical Student
    SDN 2+ Year Member
    I somewhat agree with your view on premeds.

    As for your view on women (which I'm not even sure why you're talking about this here, which is probably why you sound so bitter), you can't expect people to be exactly how you want them to be. Stop trying so hard for awhile, and focus on improving yourself (selfimprovement is very cathartic). You'll find the right girl eventually, just stop worrying about it so much.

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