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Going through medical school is definitely harder than getting into medical school

Doggeronie

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I keep hearing people say that the hardest part about medical school is getting in. I don't think this could be further from the truth.

As an MS4 at a US MD school, 20 students of the 100 person class we started with are gone. At least 14 of those were due to academic reasons, and they either left or repeated years. The remaining 6 are taking research or MPH years, since they're gunning for competitive specialties.

Even failing one exam pushes you to a very dangerous place, because the retake is the only thing standing between you and repeating a year. And my school's academic policies are honestly not even strict, they're actually quite lenient.

I very much enjoyed med school, but it is a dangerous beast. If you don't take it seriously, it will chew you up and spit you out and you'll only have a mountain of debt to show for it.
 
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slowthai

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Dang your school is harsh. What's the graduation rate?

I think it depends on where you started from and what you're aiming for. If you were a borderline or below average candidate and you made it in by the skin of your teeth, getting in was probably the hardest part. 75-80% only get into one med school if I recall correctly. Now if you're also aiming for a hyper-competitive specialty, it could end up being even harder (or not, depending on the level of passion you have for the specialty and your ability to just relentlessly put your nose to the grindstone). I think it just really depends.

Edit: I think more than anything, the uncertainty of the process makes the premed life "harder". Once you get in, it's a fairly straightforward path to success. The odds are, you'll match somewhere, in some specialty.
 
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COMMANDER CLOWN

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Failing an EXAM requires a retake? I thought most schools usually had 2-4 exams per block, and as long as you pass the block overall, it doesn't matter if you fail one exam in that block. I don't think that your school is as lenient as you think.
 
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libertyyne

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95% of US MD students graduate. vs ~40% of applicants to US medical school get into MD school.
Yes medical school is can be time consuming and difficult at times, but it is way more linear with fairly clear expectations of what is necessary to complete the school.

IMO, Getting into med school is definitely harder and it frankly seems very easy after the fact.
 
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M&L

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obviously, i am only an M2 (rising), so i do not have the insight that you have, but i really think it depends on the school. My school has incredible remediation policy, and a lot of free resources, like free tutoring, for example, etc. Office of academic development is amazing too. I was struggling the first month of medical school, barely passed my first exams, so i HAD to use all those resources, and they quickly got me on track. They actually sat me down and talked me through my study strategy, digging into MY style, and the way MY mind works. Since then i felt fine. Is it stressful? yeah. But for me, - and honestly all the friends that i talked to about it, getting into medical school was much more stressful (because of uncertainty of your life if you dont get in).
 
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M&L

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I keep hearing people say that the hardest part about medical school is getting in. I don't think this could be further from the truth.

As an MS4 at a US MD school, 20 students of the 100 person class we started with are gone. At least 14 of those were due to academic reasons, and they either left or repeated years.

Even failing one exam pushes you to a very dangerous place, because the retake is the only thing standing between you and repeating a year. And my school's academic policies are honestly not even strict, they're actually quite lenient.

I very much enjoyed med school, but it is a dangerous beast. If you don't take it seriously, it will chew you up and spit you out and you'll only have a mountain of debt to show for it.
would you be comfortable sharing what school you are at?
 

Doggeronie

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Failing an EXAM requires a retake? I thought most schools usually had 2-4 exams per block, and as long as you pass the block overall, it doesn't matter if you fail one exam in that block. I don't think that your school is as lenient as you think.

I personally think it was a fair system.
We had only one exam per block, so one every 4 weeks. Each course had 2-4 blocks. If you got below a 65 on any exam you had to take a remediation exam. If you got below a 70 average in a course (failing), you had to take a comprehensive remediation exam for the entire course.
If you failed two courses, you had to repeat the year.

If you failed remediation (whether for a block or for a course) you had to repeat the year.

Dang your school is harsh. What's the graduation rate?

I'm sure the 6 year graduation rate is still above 90%. The 4 year graduation rate is closer to 80%.
 
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M&L

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I personally think it was a fair system.
We had only one exam per block, so one every 4 weeks. Each course had 2-4 blocks. If you got below a 65 on any exam you had to take a remediation exam. If you got below a 70 average in a course (failing), you had to take a comprehensive remediation exam for the entire course.
If you failed two courses, you had to repeat the year.

If you failed remediation (whether for a block or for a course) you had to repeat the year.



I'm sure the 6 year graduation rate is still above 90%. The 4 year graduation rate is closer to 80%.
this is insane..... honestly....
 
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Doggeronie

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what is the grade comprised of? like, how many points of the final grade for each course is allocated to actual exams?
The vast majority, I assume. The grading breakdown doesn't matter since you have to go through remediation if you fail the exams regardless. So really, only the exams matter.
also, do you HAVE to pass every exam for a given course?
Yep.
 
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Getting into Med school is definitely harder. Two of my best friends in Med school were reapplicants and/or got off the waitlist.... 260+ and AOA for both of them.
 
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M&L

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The vast majority, I assume. The grading breakdown doesn't matter since you have to go through remediation if you fail the exams regardless. So really, only the exams matter.

Yep.
damn... yeah, maybe this is not the worst set up, but it is definitely not great.

In my school you dont have to pass every exam, as long as the cumulative exam points are over 70. for example, on one exam you might get 55, on another 85 - cumulative 70, you are good. They do give you a chance to retake, but you dont have to.

Points differ in different courses but usually it goes like this: for a given course approximately 70% is allocated to exams, and 30% to quizzes, group assignments, cases etc. To pass the course you have to get 70% of the exam points (70% of the 70%, if it makes any sense), and 80% of the 30%. It is virtually impossible to fail the non-exam part, because there are a lot of activities to get the points from. So you only have to worry about exams. Usually it is 2 exams, - midterm and final (exams are every 3-4 weeks, so an average block is about 2 months).
 
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ciestar

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My school grades went like this: get above a 70% in the course, you pass.

i got a 45% on an anatomy exam but still have an 80% in the class. It meant nothing and I passed lol
 
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7331poas

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Getting in is definitely the hardest part. You have unclear requirements to get in, and you have to pass an interview. In medical school you basically are pushed along in training. Anyone can match a residency in the United states if you are an MD without obvious problems.
 
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Med school is way harder than undergrad (aka getting into med school). At almost any U.S. M.D. med school, just about everyone is smart and reasonably hard-working and you're competing against them. That cannot be said about most undergrad students, even those are reputable undergrad institutions. So the comparison of a 95% med school graduation rate vs 40% acceptance rate into a U.S. M.D. med school isn't an apples-to-apples comparison.

Graduating from med school does not equal residency spot, and more importantly does not equal residency spot in desired specialty. The high 90%s match rates that med schools advertise on the match list website is inflated as includes those who only partially matched (eg only to a prelim spot) and those who SOAPED or matched into a backup specialty. There's a very high rate of cross-specialty applications since matching into a competitive specialty can be very uncertain (https://www.aamc.org/system/files/reports/1/residency.pdf). For example of the 1201 derm applicants, 264 also applied to anesthesia, 391 applied to Categorical IM, 223 applied to FM, 170 applied to peds, 139 applied to neuro, 129 applied to RO, and 204 applied radiology.

Also, OP it sounds like your med school overall has lenient grading system that's P/F for pre-clinical and H/HP/P for clinical and most importantly no ranking or quartiles. This takes A LOT of stress off (at my med school that had a numerical grading system used to rank students, students were fighting over a 98 vs 96 vs 94 on almost every single exam) but on the flip side doesn't differentiate your school's students and applicants nearly as well, as such as system only identifies those at the bottom (ie those with at least one fail) and those at the top (ie those with multiple Honors), but not as much in between if they don't report the distribution of grades. In such a case, Step 1 and 2 becomes more important (especially if you go to a lower tier school that is not otherwise reputable among residency programs).
 
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mehc012

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Failing an EXAM requires a retake? I thought most schools usually had 2-4 exams per block, and as long as you pass the block overall, it doesn't matter if you fail one exam in that block. I don't think that your school is as lenient as you think.
Meh, my school only had one exam per block. I'd rather have that than take additional exams.
 
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bananafish94

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I found both to be very difficult in different ways. Getting in involves dealing with all of the nebulous requirements and uncertainty and is tilted much in favor of the wealthy and well-connected. Medical school is probably technically "harder" just based on the volume of information you need to know and the time you have to do it but is pretty straightforward in terms of what you actually need to do.
 
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7331poas

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Med school is way harder than undergrad (aka getting into med school). At almost any U.S. M.D. med school, just about everyone is smart and reasonably hard-working and you're competing against them. That cannot be said about most undergrad students, even those are reputable undergrad institutions. So the comparison of a 95% med school graduation rate vs 40% acceptance rate into a U.S. M.D. med school isn't an apples-to-apples comparison.

Graduating from med school does not equal residency spot, and more importantly does not equal residency spot in desired specialty. The high 90%s match rates that med schools advertise on the match list website is inflated as includes those who only partially matched (eg only to a prelim spot) and those who SOAPED or matched into a backup specialty. There's a very high rate of cross-specialty applications since matching into a competitive specialty can be very uncertain (https://www.aamc.org/system/files/reports/1/residency.pdf). For example of the 1201 derm applicants, 264 also applied to anesthesia, 391 applied to Categorical IM, 223 applied to FM, 170 applied to peds, 139 applied to neuro, 129 applied to RO, and 204 applied radiology.

Also, OP it sounds like your med school overall has lenient grading system that's P/F for pre-clinical and H/HP/P for clinical and most importantly no ranking or quartiles. This takes A LOT of stress off (at my med school that had a numerical grading system used to rank students, students were fighting over a 98 vs 96 vs 94 on almost every single exam) but on the flip side doesn't differentiate your school's students and applicants nearly as well, as such as system only identifies those at the bottom (ie those with at least one fail) and those at the top (ie those with multiple Honors), but not as much in between if they don't report the distribution of grades. In such a case, Step 1 and 2 becomes more important (especially if you go to a lower tier school that is not otherwise reputable among residency programs).

You are only competing if you want to. There are plenty of people in my class who just want a nice community program and then go out into practice.
 
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I think it’s very different for different circumstances. That kid who’s got two doctor parents and has been served up a perfect premed app on a silver platter, didn’t have to work, and took multiple MCAT prep courses basically was able to fall backwards into their state MD school. That non trad who’s switching from engineering (read: has a low gpa) to medicine might have a much tougher time.
 
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ACSurgeon

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95% of US MD students graduate. vs ~40% of applicants to US medical school get into MD school.
Yes medical school is can be time consuming and difficult at times, but it is way more linear with fairly clear expectations of what is necessary to complete the school.

IMO, Getting into med school is definitely harder and it frankly seems very easy after the fact.

not to mention all the premed students who don’t even make it to the application process. Almost everyone in bio 1 or chem 1 is premed. At best only a handful get in to med school.

now, getting through med school is no walk in the park, and might require more effort and come with more stress but that doesn’t change the statistics.
 
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I found medical school MUCH easier than college, once I got used to the fact that exams were multiple-choice and short answer, rather than the "develop a hypothesis to fit these data/design an experiment to prove your hypothesis" exams in college.

Oh yeah, and I got a "D" in organic chemistry and graduated at the top of my medical school class, with board scores in the top 5%.
 
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libertyyne

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I found medical school MUCH easier than college, once I got used to the fact that exams were multiple-choice and short answer, rather than the "develop a hypothesis to fit these data/design an experiment to prove your hypothesis" exams in college.

Oh yeah, and I got a "D" in organic chemistry and graduated at the top of my medical school class, with board scores in the top 5%.
Whats odd is medical school has turned out to be more organic chemesque then i would like to admit, I have just learned to live with it. F o chem , that C still stings.
 
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M&L

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I found medical school MUCH easier than college, once I got used to the fact that exams were multiple-choice and short answer, rather than the "develop a hypothesis to fit these data/design an experiment to prove your hypothesis" exams in college.

Oh yeah, and I got a "D" in organic chemistry and graduated at the top of my medical school class, with board scores in the top 5%.
yeah, the other aspect is that in college i worked 50 hours a week, 10 of which we as a teaching assistant, which was painful at times (chemistry department, huge classes, and i am the only person to do the exam reviews ,etc). Now i just have to do medical school, and thats it. Dont take me wrong, the material is not easy, and the volume is rough, but for me personally it is easier because i can focus on just this one thing, vs spreading myself thin between 3 jobs and full time biochemistry degree, and admissions cycle...
 
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M&L

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I did poorly in o-chem because of my aversion to memorizing stuff particularly if i dont understand it well. Medical school is mostly memorizing minutiae that may or may not make any real sense.
oh, i see. yeah, honestly that was rough for me too. what year are you in medical school if you dont mind me asking? i am a bit scared of the second year. the beginning of the first year was rough... I was biochem major/math minor in undergrad, and i was used to subjects that are hard to understand (deep stuff, like higher math, etc), but that do not have a lot of volume to them ... and then i got to medical school and SURPRISE..... there is a huge volume to memorize..... i had to change my study strategy completely, now i think i am ok... well, i THINK i am ok, but they say that heart/lung/kidney is the hardest module, and it will start in 4 weeks. So, we will see.
 

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oh, i see. yeah, honestly that was rough for me too. what year are you in medical school if you dont mind me asking? i am a bit scared of the second year. the beginning of the first year was rough... I was biochem major/math minor in undergrad, and i was used to subjects that are hard to understand (deep stuff, like higher math, etc), but that do not have a lot of volume to them ... and then i got to medical school and SURPRISE..... there is a huge volume to memorize..... i had to change my study strategy completely, now i think i am ok... well, i THINK i am ok, but they say that heart/lung/kidney is the hardest module, and it will start in 4 weeks. So, we will see.
its all the same, memorize, regurgitate, forget, memorize again.
Im a 4th year.
 
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You may find second year easier than first year, because the subjects are more clinically relevant. First year can be a bit too much basic science. Med school does involve a lot of memorization, but if you focus on what is most important, you'll pass without any trouble. Those who can't figure out what's important to know don't do so well....
 
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Neopolymath

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Getting in is far harder. I'm actually surprised a number of people think the opposite. The amount of circumstance and luck involved is magnitudes higher to get into school than exerting bare minimal effort coasting through to a community residency anywhere in any specialty. The only stress is putting in the work to be a good doctor and face your conscience if you mess up because you are incompetent or to get a specific specialty at a good program (which wasn't the argued point by OP).

Think about what is required to get into med school now and how little of it is based on the merits of basic equal opportunity academics. Let's not even get started on LORs to get into medical school. Not everyone goes to some tiny school with faculty falling over themselves to help you out. Not everyone can volunteer (throws up in mouth) because they need a real job because they are actual adults. I mean it's just tone deaf. One could likely write a book about the chance things happening that allowed them to get in that had nothing to do with grades or the MCAT.
 
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deleted889094

It's a difficult question because it's not very specific. Do we mean for like an average premed? Or the average college student? Or what?

Most med students were good at balancing life and school so they could do all the stuff they needed. Either that or they were good at knowing people who could help. Or they were good at being lucky or being born into a rich family. Med school selects for all these people so if people think either was easy - go figure!
 

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Getting in is far harder. I'm actually surprised a number of people think the opposite. The amount of circumstance and luck involved is magnitudes higher to get into school than exerting bare minimal effort coasting through to a community residency anywhere in any specialty. The only stress is putting in the work to be a good doctor and face your conscience if you mess up because you are incompetent or to get a specific specialty at a good program (which wasn't the argued point by OP).

Think about what is required to get into med school now and how little of it is based on the merits of basic equal opportunity academics. Let's not even get started on LORs to get into medical school. Not everyone goes to some tiny school with faculty falling over themselves to help you out. Not everyone can volunteer (throws up in mouth) because they need a real job because they are actual adults. I mean it's just tone deaf. One could likely write a book about the chance things happening that allowed them to get in that had nothing to do with grades or the MCAT.
yeah... so true... I still think it is a freaking miracle that i got into medical school... honestly, as unprofessional as it will sound, i got drunk the night before MCAT and was still drunk when i got to the testing center..... (my brother just died, i was depressed, nervous, etc). I sobered up by the end of the first section (dont remember anything from the first part of MCAT)..... somehow this was the highest score ive ever gotten (including all practice exams)..... weird.....
 
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Medical school is much easier than undergrad, but I did engineering. Honestly preclinical has been a grind, but nothing too "difficult". Just a lot of time. I've had more about as much fun in med school as I did in undergrad. Less worrying about "getting in" and having that as a visceral stressor is nice. I also have always had the mindset of P=MD as I found out early that I just didn't care about memorizing random minutae for the chance of matching a super competitive specialty. I want to be a doctor but a lot of the other BS that comes with being a top performer is just not worth it for me.
 
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I keep hearing people say that the hardest part about medical school is getting in. I don't think this could be further from the truth.

As an MS4 at a US MD school, 20 students of the 100 person class we started with are gone. At least 14 of those were due to academic reasons, and they either left or repeated years. The remaining 6 are taking research or MPH years, since they're gunning for competitive specialties.

Even failing one exam pushes you to a very dangerous place, because the retake is the only thing standing between you and repeating a year. And my school's academic policies are honestly not even strict, they're actually quite lenient.

I very much enjoyed med school, but it is a dangerous beast. If you don't take it seriously, it will chew you up and spit you out and you'll only have a mountain of debt to show for it.
These are stats of of some of the newer or weaker DO schools. Are you at MD? If so what penal colony is this???
 
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deleted889094

Sometimes I wonder if people just want to be able to complain about med school being hard. Like they think it's impressive to suffer.

N=1 but I really enjoy it so far. Undergrad was harder because it wasn't nearly as interesting.
 
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Neopolymath

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Sometimes I wonder if people just want to be able to complain about med school being hard. Like they think it's impressive to suffer.

N=1 but I really enjoy it so far. Undergrad was harder because it wasn't nearly as interesting.
Some people need to complain and build it up to motivate themselves. An us versus the world mentality worked for many successful campaigns in politics, religion, sports etc. I can't really argue against its effectiveness.

Some people legit have a hard time because they aren't built for the way medical training works.

Some people just have terrible perspective on the ease of grinding Anki all day for 2 years versus digging literal ditches or proverbial ones instead. So they think sitting in A/C without real stress is hard.

But yeah, med school and medicine are so awesome and it is inspiring to see people working hard around you. Try not to be annoyed by most of them and try to harness it in a positive way. It's like when I used to get a pump the university gym with my bros. It definitely made me go harder to see my friends go ham(also rip zyzz).

Edit: and yeah, undergrad is harder for a lot of people. Pretty much nothing in medicine is conceptually challenging compared to learning upper level finance/accounting, in depth hard sciences and whatnot. My undergrad ochem average grade for all exams in a cohort of 1200+ students each semester was around a 40 with no curved grading scale. Same for upper level math and physics. Undergrad is an arms race far worse than med school board exams.
 
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mehc012

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I did poorly in o-chem because of my aversion to memorizing stuff particularly if i dont understand it well. Medical school is mostly memorizing minutiae that may or may not make any real sense.
It's funny, because I was an organic chemistry major (not premed at the time, lol) and liked it because it was all conceptual and intuitive and not memorization to me. Medical school felt pretty similar, and other than some of the less-relevant portions of anatomy and histology, I never felt as if I was forced into straight regurgitation.

I recognize that I'm an outlier on this front, but it has always made me wonder whether the understanding came before or after the memorization (aka did memorization make the understanding easier, or did the understanding make the memorization easier and therefore less in-your-face).

Just night shift thoughts, sorry.
 
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M&L

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It's funny, because I was an organic chemistry major (not premed at the time, lol) and liked it because it was all conceptual and intuitive and not memorization to me. Medical school felt pretty similar, and other than some of the less-relevant portions of anatomy and histology, I never felt as if I was forced into straight regurgitation.

I recognize that I'm an outlier on this front, but it has always made me wonder whether the understanding came before or after the memorization (aka did memorization make the understanding easier, or did the understanding make the memorization easier and therefore less in-your-face).

Just night shift thoughts, sorry.
where is the nightshift? starting second year, so cannot relate to medical night shifts, but from my night shifts in addiction treatment facility i remember that the hours between 2 am and 4 am were the worst for me..... So so so tired.
 

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It all depends on what you think is difficult! Just finished preclinicals, and med school has been the hardest thing I’ve ever done for me.

I was working two jobs for a good bit of the prereqs - anywhere between 48-72 hours a week (worked 12s, so this was 4-6 days per week), plus I was taking a full time course load every semester so I could finish everything quickly. I didn’t sleep much!

That was much easier than this because I actually got a good bit of fulfillment out of my jobs, not to mention I wore myself out because I averaged 10 miles of walking a shift some nights. I did most of my studying by grazing - two minutes here, five minutes there, and getting worthwhile stuff done in between so I never got bored.

Just sitting around and studying, without even getting to go to work and be productive, is my own personal definition of hell. I’m lucky if I study for 30 straight minutes without wanting to rip my hair out... can manage that right before tests, and managed it for dedicated, but that’s about it. I have to use interval timers and do something else like play video games, watch TV, or read books if I want the chance to stay on task. At least when I was running around at work I’d only have to sit and study for a few minutes at a time.

First day of rotations can’t come soon enough!
 

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It's funny, because I was an organic chemistry major (not premed at the time, lol) and liked it because it was all conceptual and intuitive and not memorization to me. Medical school felt pretty similar, and other than some of the less-relevant portions of anatomy and histology, I never felt as if I was forced into straight regurgitation.

I recognize that I'm an outlier on this front, but it has always made me wonder whether the understanding came before or after the memorization (aka did memorization make the understanding easier, or did the understanding make the memorization easier and therefore less in-your-face).

Just night shift thoughts, sorry.
Well iirc you took all of the medical school classes in UG.
you might be much more smarter than I am as well .
Edit:
the understanding requires the memorization first. It’s like a language you can’t understand context if you don’t have the words memorized. But the understanding is not complex once you have memorized the lexicon .
 
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LunaOri

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Some people need to complain and build it up to motivate themselves. An us versus the world mentality worked for many successful campaigns in politics, religion, sports etc. I can't really argue against its effectiveness.

Some people legit have a hard time because they aren't built for the way medical training works.

Some people just have terrible perspective on the ease of grinding Anki all day for 2 years versus digging literal ditches or proverbial ones instead. So they think sitting in A/C without real stress is hard.

But yeah, med school and medicine are so awesome and it is inspiring to see people working hard around you. Try not to be annoyed by most of them and try to harness it in a positive way. It's like when I used to get a pump the university gym with my bros. It definitely made me go harder to see my friends go ham(also rip zyzz).

Edit: and yeah, undergrad is harder for a lot of people. Pretty much nothing in medicine is conceptually challenging compared to learning upper level finance/accounting, in depth hard sciences and whatnot. My undergrad ochem average grade for all exams in a cohort of 1200+ students each semester was around a 40 with no curved grading scale. Same for upper level math and physics. Undergrad is an arms race far worse than med school board exams.
Your undergrad sounds like mine! MIT or Caltech?
 

ciestar

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where is the nightshift? starting second year, so cannot relate to medical night shifts, but from my night shifts in addiction treatment facility i remember that the hours between 2 am and 4 am were the worst for me..... So so so tired.
My nights now are 5p-830a (i end up doing a 24 hour shift though)

nights were similar places I rotated at. My peds sub-i was about 5p-830a. Other places were 5p-7a.
 
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the negative 1

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You may find second year easier than first year, because the subjects are more clinically relevant. First year can be a bit too much basic science. Med school does involve a lot of memorization, but if you focus on what is most important, you'll pass without any trouble. Those who can't figure out what's important to know don't do so well....
Once I realized I needed to adjust my studying strategy to digest and memorize a lot more information in much tighter time frames than I had done in either undergrad or grad school, I didn't find med school incredibly difficult either. I just treated studying in med school like it was my full-time job and got through without too much hassle.

The attrition rate in my class was about 10%. There were a variety of reasons for people leaving. Mostly they just never got with the program and struggled to pass exams in the first two years. One or two had substance abuse problems (though the amount of drinking folks did in med school sometimes rivaled anything I saw in undergrad). Another decided she wasn't cut out for medicine after clinicals and started a family back home. Why she didn't stick it out to at least graduate is beyond me.
 
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