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MD & DO What's your life like outside of medicine?

CaffineDoc24

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Hi guys, incoming first year here. For the past few months, I have been having cold feet about medicine. So, I wanted to ask, what is your life outside of school like? I know this can change from year to year. Can you have dinners with friends most weeks? Find a SO (I'm gay if it makes a difference)? Go on dates consistently (see each other like twice a week)? Maybe take a half-day off to go to the beach on a Saturday? My concerns lie in the work-life balance area. What do you do to make sure you're still doing normal things young people do? I'm scared of missing out. I'm an emotional person, and this kinda stuff bothers me. I do not want to hold my breath for years and put my life on hold. I refuse.

My school has multiple weekly exams the first two years, if that makes a difference. As of now, I'm into radiology, so I know I have to do pretty well in school as well, which I know makes a difference.
 

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Once you catch your footing with what to study and how you study, there's more time than you can imagine honestly. I remember thinking on multiple interview days at schools "how are these M1s so calm about talking to us and giving a tour when they apparently have an exam tomorrow?"

Turns out, you learn how to manage time better than you thought and the vast array of info you are required to learn is more than manageable
 
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slowthai

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Medicine is my life


But seriously, it'll depend on multiple things:

1. The competitiveness of your desired field/program/location

DR's not very competitive, but you want good step scores to give yourself options. For reference, the average step is ~240, but plenty get in with significantly lower. I think 90% of US MDs matched with a 220 or something according to Charting the Outcomesᶜᶦᵗᵃᵗᶦᵒⁿ ⁿᵉᵉᵈᵉᵈ

2. The amount of mandatory BS your school requires

Self-explanatory.

3. Your time management skills

If your time management skills suck, you're gonna have a heckuva time. A little planning goes a long way for sure.
 
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deleted1005514

Once you catch your footing with what to study and how you study, there's more time than you can imagine honestly. I remember thinking on multiple interview days at schools "how are these M1s so calm about talking to us and giving a tour when they apparently have an exam tomorrow?"

Turns out, you learn how to manage time better than you thought and the vast array of info you are required to learn is more than manageable

I remember thinking that too, then as an OMS-1 I was relieved when there were interviewees to talk to because I didn’t have to talk about the exam tomorrow. They were more interested in vague questions about the school and how many hours a week we had lectures. It was nice to sit down and talk to someone trying to get to where I was.

But to answer OP’s question, you should expect it to feel really hard and unbalanced the first month or so, then you’ll find your footing and start managing things better.
 
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EmilKraepelin55

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I will echo the other posters here and say that you basically just need to start school, and gauge your performance. That will therefore dictate the amount of time you have to do things that are non-medical.

Me though? I am a husband to the most amazing and supportive wife, and we had time to go on dates every week (sometimes multiple!). I am a musician, and have enjoyed some time to continue that endeavour throughout medical school primarily performing at school events and retirement communities. I still have time to hang out with my some of my best friends from high school just shooting the crap, drinking beer, and talking philosophy.

One thing you have to remember is that you are not merely a medical student, but are defined in so many diverse ways to make you who you are. Medical school will mold you into just one more thing: a physician. But you don’t have to stop being a friend, an SO, a son/daughter, musician or whatever it is that identifies you. And you don’t want to do that, because life is so much sweeter when you can allow those things to take their natural course.
 
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Dr. Rafiki

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The person who ended up #1 in our class rank with a Step 1 >260 as well had enough time to regularly play rock shows (guitarist) on top of the standard extracurriculars you'd expect from a top student.

If you have passions outside of medicine, you make time for them.
 
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EmilKraepelin55

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The person who ended up #1 in our class rank with a Step 1 >260 as well had enough time to regularly play rock shows (guitarist) on top of the standard extracurriculars you'd expect from a top student.

If you have passions outside of medicine, you make time for them.
Now that’s one thing I wish I could be doing! Sang/played bass in a metal band for close to 10 years before medical school, but the new town I am in doesn’t have much in the way of a metal or rock scene. Hah!
 
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Blazers_33

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I feel I have much more free time than in undergrad. Don't have to work , not as* much stupid extracurricular activities, etc. Plenty of time for my family, sports, and other stuff I want to do.

What helped me most was quickly finding my best study strategy, within the first month of school.--> mostly just ANKI and practice questions along with outside resources. Along with good time management
 
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Matthew9Thirtyfive

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I have a wife and two kids, and we have plenty of time together. We go for walks every day. I work out 5-6 days a week. I play my guitar almost every day. My wife and I go out on a date once or twice a month.

Now that I’ve found my groove in school, I would still occasionally be building furniture if it weren’t for covid.

You make time for what you prioritize.
 
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PrideOrPanthers

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I had date night with my fiancé once a week, time to relax and watch tv each night, went to a ton of football/baseball/hockey games. Scored very high on my school exams and did well on step 1. Key was increasing my efficiency by focusing more on high yield step 1 stuff(Zanki) and spend less time on school lectures which took up way too much time
 
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Hi guys, incoming first year here. For the past few months, I have been having cold feet about medicine. So, I wanted to ask, what is your life outside of school like? I know this can change from year to year. Can you have dinners with friends most weeks? Find a SO (I'm gay if it makes a difference)? Go on dates consistently (see each other like twice a week)? Maybe take a half-day off to go to the beach on a Saturday? My concerns lie in the work-life balance area. What do you do to make sure you're still doing normal things young people do? I'm scared of missing out. I'm an emotional person, and this kinda stuff bothers me. I do not want to hold my breath for years and put my life on hold. I refuse.

My school has multiple weekly exams the first two years, if that makes a difference. As of now, I'm into radiology, so I know I have to do pretty well in school as well, which I know makes a difference.
As one of my own students has said, there are things that you will have to give us, but you CAN have a life.
 
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CaffineDoc24

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Thank you guys, I feel a bit better! So, the people who post on here and reddit about how they don’t have a life, I guess they are just bad at time management? Or they expect to have an unrealistic amount of time maybe? Also, does your guys’ comments still hold true for residency?
 

slowthai

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Thank you guys, I feel a bit better! So, the people who post on here and reddit about how they don’t have a life, I guess they are just bad at time management? Or they expect to have an unrealistic amount of time maybe? Also, does your guys’ comments still hold true for residency?

As far as med school goes, it really varies person to person. One person could be gunning for plastics, studying for step 1 and balancing multiple research projects non-stop. Another person could be a serial procrastinator. And still another could be using ineffective and inefficient study methods, requiring them to put in double the time for half the results.

Residency varies based on the field, the program, and the rotation schedule. DR is typically one of the chiller ones, working about 50 hours/week on average. They read a lot though.
 
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catnip12

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It’s what you make it! I had a blast but still performed pretty well!! You have to identify your nonnegotiables and prioritize them! For me it’s getting massively swole and fit, and the arts, plus other things, etc.

The importance of efficiency in your studies cannot be overstated!

I’m going into my second year of Med school so cannot speak to residency yet, but a quick peak into the physician and resident forums shows that they have a larger time commitment to medicine. But even then the understanding is that *you* can find time to tend to the important parts of your life!

You Get One Life!
 
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Neopolymath

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Thank you guys, I feel a bit better! So, the people who post on here and reddit about how they don’t have a life, I guess they are just bad at time management? Or they expect to have an unrealistic amount of time maybe? Also, does your guys’ comments still hold true for residency?
I'm going to say something that will probably offend some people but whatever. The fact is that a lot of people in medicine aren't very smart. You have people completing zanki and scoring 220s. Step 1 is largely a knowledge based test unlike the SAT for example. I'm sorry but after 30,000+ flash cards that's only explained by a relative decreased ability to use old info to process novel problems (aka intelligence.) Doctors get put on an intelligence pedestal by society but come 3rd and 4th year (if not apparent from past work or life experiences in healthcare) you realize a lot of these people are kind of dumb but hardcore strivers. They can hardly function in their regular adult lives. They lack common sense. The list could go on and on.

The process selects for grinders. It probably should mostly select for this type of person given the training and job requirements. Smart but legit lazy isn't going to work and shouldn't. There are also real concrete merits to going hard so that you are the best physician you can be. Lives are in your hand and I personally feel it's an ethical decision (for me.)

There will always be people who get consumed by medicine and some of them will be because they really do need to study that hard to even pass. We just don't like to talk about it because it's definitely rude to do so aside from an anonymous internet chat and frankly it doesn't really matter. If they have to study that hard but are competent at the end of training then it's really none of our business.

The above said, it's about perspective and what your goals are. It's about your previous work ethic. It's about a lot of things that can't be examined in a vacuum. Some people self-select into the group of "medicine is the only existence" but unfortunately some do it out of necessity. Some are also just liars about how much they study.

Also a note about the internet: the most hardcore people in medicine are going to get on SDN and reddit and talk about medicine in their spare time so obviously it's going to portray physicians in a more hardcore light. I know for a fact that a lot of attendings out there aren't doing any new reading besides some required CME.
 
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Scrubs101

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Thank you guys, I feel a bit better! So, the people who post on here and reddit about how they don’t have a life, I guess they are just bad at time management? Or they expect to have an unrealistic amount of time maybe? Also, does your guys’ comments still hold true for residency?
Kinda depends what your premed school life was like.

before med school i almost never had to say no to hanging out unless i was working, i could go out >2nights a week, could get away with binging my hobbies day after day, and workout/ chill at the gym for 2-3hrs

Now i say no to hanging out more often than not, dont have the energy to go out all the time (think this is just a getting older thing but many of my friends my same age manage just fine), participate in my hobbies 1-2/week for a few hrs, and try to fit gym time in under an hour.

But i still have a life and have fun. Just not as often, but I feel that I value that time more now. It also depends on the yr, 1st year my class had tons of fun (class parties, bar crawls, several intramural sports teams), that died down quite a bit in 2nd year due to boards, and depending on your hospital 3rd year chilled out a lot (and ive been told post audition 4th year is the best).
Edit: my experience with a “chiller” 3rd year isnt the norm so YMMV
Also depends on your efficiency and priorities, we had bar star geniuses and people who studied 24/7 and still had a rough time. I dedicated the first two years entirely to studying with a few ecs on the side and left no time for anybody or anything else, which IMO is something I definitely regret. But you live and learn what is important to you.
 
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CaffineDoc24

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Great insight guys, I really appreciate it. I did one of those really established SMPs at a med school last year and did pretty well, so I hope I learned what works best for me more or less (except I didn’t take anatomy, so still gotta figure that one out!) maybe I’ll have an easier time as a result.

Edit: However, I feel like this mostly applies to pre-clinical years, when you are on your own schedule.
 

Matthew9Thirtyfive

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As far as med school goes, it really varies person to person. One person could be gunning for plastics, studying for step 1 and balancing multiple research projects non-stop. Another person could be a serial procrastinator. And still another could be using ineffective and inefficient study methods, requiring them to put in double the time for half the results.

Residency varies based on the field, the program, and the rotation schedule. DR is typically one of the chiller ones, working about 50 hours/week on average. They read a lot though.

I’m not so sure that DR is a chill residency. My friend is a new PGY-5 and he said other than R1 (pgy-2) it has been pretty crazy.
 

Matthew9Thirtyfive

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Great insight guys, I really appreciate it. I did one of those really established SMPs at a med school last year and did pretty well, so I hope I learned what works best for me more or less (except I didn’t take anatomy, so still gotta figure that one out!) maybe I’ll have an easier time as a result.

Edit: However, I feel like this mostly applies to pre-clinical years, when you are on your own schedule.

Find a cadaver deck and anki the **** out of anatomy. We got pulled out of anatomy lab for covid except for the practical exams. We were allowed to sign up to view prosections. I literally did not go one time for neuro and went once for GI, and those two blocks were my best anatomy grades. All I did was blast a good cadaver deck.
 
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efle

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Preclinical was an absurd amount of free time, like even more than college if you're efficient. If your school is P/F with reasonable exams you can legit do 20-30 hrs/week and be fine. You can do all your hobbies, drink every weekend, and be fully caught up on Netflix.

Clinical years they tend to keep you in the hospital all day even if there's nothing valuable for you going on, just have to accept that getting an MD means a couple years of your 20s get consumed. Same probably applies for residency (though DR is def way on the chiller side of the training spectrum). Your social circle kinda shrinks to just your closest friends and it's hard to see each other a lot, and def less free time for yourself/hobbies
 
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Matthew9Thirtyfive

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Preclinical was an absurd amount of free time, like even more than college if you're efficient. If your school is P/F with reasonable exams you can legit do 20-30 hrs/week and be fine.

Clinical years they tend to keep you in the hospital all day even if there's nothing valuable for you going on, just have to accept that getting an MD means a couple years of your 20s get consumed. Same probably applies for residency (though DR is def way on the chiller side of the training spectrum)

20-30 hours? Are you including the time you spend watching either lectures or BnB/etc? We’re systems based and if I only spent 20 hours per week, I’d basically only be spending enough time to watch all the lecture material and not do any anki or reviewing.
 
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efle

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I’d basically only be spending enough time to watch all the lecture material and not do any anki
yes, B&B + Pathoma, no anki and no school lecture slide decks

20-30hrs per week and usually there's only 20-30 hours of content for an entire unit. I could comfortably watch the vids 3-4x each and still had more time than I knew what to do with.
 

Matthew9Thirtyfive

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yes, B&B + Pathoma, no anki and no school lecture slide decks

20-30hrs per week and usually there's only 20-30 hours of content for an entire unit. I could comfortably watch the vids 3-4x each and still had more time than I knew what to do with.

Are you on a 1.5 year systems curriculum? We are, and in the module we just finished, we had about 20 hours per week of content, including lectures, small groups, path labs, etc. I don’t watch school lectures, but I still had to go through the powerpoints and watch the BnB and pathoma videos for those topics.

We probably had at least 100 hours of content this past module.
 

slowthai

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you realize a lot of these people are kind of dumb but hardcore strivers. They can hardly function in their regular adult lives. They lack common sense. The list could go on and on.

Neo, you kill me sometimes LOOOOOL. Waiting for the blowback and ensuing debate on IQ. Where's @TheIllusionist when you need him?
 
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CaffineDoc24

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Preclinical was an absurd amount of free time, like even more than college if you're efficient. If your school is P/F with reasonable exams you can legit do 20-30 hrs/week and be fine. You can do all your hobbies, drink every weekend, and be fully caught up on Netflix.

Clinical years they tend to keep you in the hospital all day even if there's nothing valuable for you going on, just have to accept that getting an MD means a couple years of your 20s get consumed. Same probably applies for residency (though DR is def way on the chiller side of the training spectrum). Your social circle kinda shrinks to just your closest friends and it's hard to see each other a lot, and def less free time for yourself/hobbies
Unfortunately my school has letter grades and weekly exams hahah... any advice?
 

efle

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Are you on a 1.5 year systems curriculum? We are, and in the module we just finished, we had about 20 hours per week of content, including lectures, small groups, path labs, etc. I don’t watch school lectures, but I still had to go through the powerpoints and watch the BnB and pathoma videos for those topics.

We probably had at least 100 hours of content this past module.
Yep, 1.5 year. I usually had a few hours of small group ~3-4 times per week.

I'd watch a few hours of lecture whenever I felt like it, except for the week leading up to the test where I'd do a proper complete pass through and then reviewing of anything I needed to write down.

It worked great, passed all tests on the first attempt (most people here retake at least a couple unit exams). And also let me comfortably pass Step 1 without any prep according to my CBSE! All the peeps out there grinding Anki for a 250 could probably cut their effort level in half and still very comfortably Pass.

Unfortunately my school has letter grades and weekly exams hahah... any advice?
Honestly, not sure. The old advice would be to ignore your school curriculum as much as you safely can to prioritize Step 1 material. But with Step becoming Pass, you're probably better off memorizing their slide decks, unfortunately.
 
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Matthew9Thirtyfive

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Yep, 1.5 year. I usually had a few hours of small group ~3-4 times per week.

I'd watch a few hours of lecture whenever I felt like it, except for the week leading up to the test where I'd do a proper complete pass through and then reviewing of anything I needed to write down.

How do we have the same style of curriculum and my school has 3-5 times the amount of content hours per block?

Also, we have H/P/F, and I wanted to get honors. If I just wanted to pass I probably could have done a lot less.
 

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Neo, you kill me sometimes LOOOOOL. Waiting for the blowback and ensuing debate on IQ. Where's @TheIllusionist when you need him?
Glad to be of service haha. I believe that him and I agree about the lack of G-loaded content in medicine. I spend my free time with a diverse set of people as I think it's important to gain insight, perspective and hone intrinsic motivation and ambition. I never meet people in other fields saying the dumb things I heard in the work rooms.

The intimidation of premeds and underclassmen is silly to me and this type of thread is a direct result. I don't think we should be afraid to admit that very average people can become doctors through hard work. It's how we fix some of the social determinants of health. It should reassure driven AND smart people so they chill out a bit and enjoy their lives without suffering from mega neuroticism.
 
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ciestar

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To answer another question..
Im a pgy-1 on my second week of intern year... my day was 830-4 today so it wasn’t bad. 24 hour call every week.

I have some much busier rotations though.

edit:FM
 
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Glad to be of service haha. I believe that him and I agree about the lack of G-loaded content in medicine. I spend my free time with a diverse set of people as I think it's important to gain insight, perspective and hone intrinsic motivation and ambition.

The intimidation of premeds and underclassmen is silly to me and this type of thread is a direct result. I don't think we should be afraid to admit that very average people can become doctors through hard work. It's how we fix some of the social determinants of health. It should assure reassure driven AND smart people so they chill out a bit and enjoy their lives without suffering from mega neuroticism.

Lol I have had this same argument on here. There are some people who have their whole identity wrapped up in being smarter than others for being able to finish med school.
 
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Matthew9Thirtyfive

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To answer another question..
Im a pgy-1 on my second week of intern year... my day was 830-4 today so it wasn’t bad. 24 hour call every week.

I have some much busier rotations though.

What specialty you’re in might be useful, if you care to share.
 

slowthai

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Lol I have had this same argument on here. There are some people who have their whole identity wrapped up in being smarter than others for being able to finish med school.

Yeah, it's kinda funny... There's a sort of duality at play here. On the surface, people naturally think that doctors have a high IQ, and it's easy to think so for multiple reasons, with one of the main ones being the overt display of medical knowledge. At the same time, people don't understand how much effort is put in to be able to obtain that knowledge. I too agree that anyone of average intelligence is able to be a doc if they're willing to put in the work.
 
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jurassicpark

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Hi guys, incoming first year here. For the past few months, I have been having cold feet about medicine. So, I wanted to ask, what is your life outside of school like? I know this can change from year to year. Can you have dinners with friends most weeks? Find a SO (I'm gay if it makes a difference)? Go on dates consistently (see each other like twice a week)? Maybe take a half-day off to go to the beach on a Saturday? My concerns lie in the work-life balance area. What do you do to make sure you're still doing normal things young people do? I'm scared of missing out. I'm an emotional person, and this kinda stuff bothers me. I do not want to hold my breath for years and put my life on hold. I refuse.

My school has multiple weekly exams the first two years, if that makes a difference. As of now, I'm into radiology, so I know I have to do pretty well in school as well, which I know makes a difference.

Yikes, don't know where you've been getting most of your information from, it makes it seem like we're monks!

No, during medical school went to the beach a lot (at least during the first two years, the clinical years depends on your rotation/schedule). We made sure to go out every so often or have a BBQ. Played BBall, Halo tournaments, Vegas trips, etc. Several of my friends met their spouses in medical school.

You will work like you've never worked before, and the first few weeks/months will be hard. But if you work hard you should have plenty of time to do other things as well.
 
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Ho0v-man

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Preclinical was an absurd amount of free time, like even more than college if you're efficient. If your school is P/F with reasonable exams you can legit do 20-30 hrs/week and be fine. You can do all your hobbies, drink every weekend, and be fully caught up on Netflix.

Clinical years they tend to keep you in the hospital all day even if there's nothing valuable for you going on, just have to accept that getting an MD means a couple years of your 20s get consumed. Same probably applies for residency (though DR is def way on the chiller side of the training spectrum). Your social circle kinda shrinks to just your closest friends and it's hard to see each other a lot, and def less free time for yourself/hobbies
Lol legit would’ve failed if I put in less than 40 hrs/week. We had more hours of lecture than that every week. Never mind labs, etc. I pushed close to 50-60 hrs/week through almost all of preclinical. Your school sounds awesome.
 
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Lol legit would’ve failed if I put in less than 40 hrs/week. We had more hours of lecture than that every week. Never mind labs, etc. I pushed close to 50-60 hrs/week through almost all of preclinical. Your school sounds awesome.
I def did and struggled a lot first and second year. I had a lot going on which didnt help
 
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efle

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Lol legit would’ve failed if I put in less than 40 hrs/week. We had more hours of lecture than that every week. Never mind labs, etc. I pushed close to 50-60 hrs/week through almost all of preclinical. Your school sounds awesome.
Having more than 40 hours/week of mandatory old school slide decks at 1x would probably have made me drop out of med school, lol
 
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Matthew9Thirtyfive

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Lol legit would’ve failed if I put in less than 40 hrs/week. We had more hours of lecture than that every week. Never mind labs, etc. I pushed close to 50-60 hrs/week through almost all of preclinical. Your school sounds awesome.

For real. We had 20+ hours of content every single week, not including prepping for labs and the small group stuff we had to do in advance for our clinical reasoning and skills sessions. I put in 50-60 hours per week through all of first year.
 
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CaffineDoc24

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Yikes, don't know where you've been getting most of your information from, it makes it seem like we're monks!

No, during medical school went to the beach a lot (at least during the first two years, the clinical years depends on your rotation/schedule). We made sure to go out every so often or have a BBQ. Played BBall, Halo tournaments, Vegas trips, etc. Several of my friends met their spouses in medical school.

You will work like you've never worked before, and the first few weeks/months will be hard. But if you work hard you should have plenty of time to do other things as well.
Mostly through here and reddit :laugh: I have friends in pre-clinicals and they say it's not so bad. Most of my concerns were for the years after.
 

jurassicpark

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Mostly through here and reddit :laugh: I have friends in pre-clinicals and they say it's not so bad. Most of my concerns were for the years after.

3rd and 4th year are heavily rotation and location dependent Some rotations I was in the hospital 4am or earlier leaving 7pm-9pm or next day depending on call. Other rotations you meander in and 9am and leave by 3pm with weekends off. Overall, yes you will definitely be working very hard but you will still find a way to have a life. Even during clinicals we organized trips, dinners, etc.
 
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ciestar

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3rd and 4th year are heavily rotation and location dependent Some rotations I was in the hospital 4am or earlier leaving 7pm-9pm or next day depending on call. Other rotations you meander in and 9am and leave by 3pm with weekends off. Overall, yes you will definitely be working very hard but you will still find a way to have a life. Even during clinicals we organized trips, dinners, etc.
Reading this makes me so grateful for my 3rd and 4th year rotations lol
I only came in a total of 3 weekend days over the course of both years.
 
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