After a long break due to final exams and rugged mountain vacations, I am proud to announce that we have successfully completed the first year of medical school. I apologize for the intolerable aching that has surely penetrated your soul, loyal reader, as you have struggled to maintain the will to live during this blog’s extended hiatus.
To celebrate our triumphant return to the golden pedestal in your online lives, I present yet another random musing of arguable worth.
Recently, during some downtime on a post-finals trip, Kevin and I played a popular game with a few med school buddies, Robby and John, that I will call How Bad Can You Be At Knowing Who People Are™. Kevin, Robby, and I are really, really good at this game. John is really, really old, so he gets to play the host to save his heart from the inevitable overexcitement that accompanies HBCYBAKWPA™. As host, John presented a picture of a classmate and asked if the three of us could pool our collective brainpower to identify him or her by name. Going through the class, the three of us, combined, could only pick out a first or last name for about two-thirds of the subjects. Keep in mind, this is after a year’s worth of classes.
I’m bad with names in general, and Kevin doesn’t speak the good English, so perhaps we lack the requisite skills to know who people are. However, a freak prosopagnosia outbreak notwithstanding, some responsibility belongs to the unique med school social dynamic. The shift from college to medical school is one of those lifestyle transitions that one is vaguely aware of during the admissions process, yet cannot truly be appreciate until being in the thick of the med school action. In many ways, at least for people coming straight from undergrad life, medical school is like College 2.0; we take more classes, sit for more exams, and waste a lot of time discussing what we’re going to be doing in a few years. We still have no money, and most of us are going further into the red. Yet people have far more independent lives and bring much more diverse backgrounds to each incoming class.
Beyond varied expertise in both baby-saving and non-baby-saving endeavors, students come from a broader spectrum of ages and life experiences than those one meets at earlier rungs of the academic ladder. During undergrad, if you live in a dorm, you see the same people daily; you share meals, do fun stuff together, and see the same friends before you go to sleep and as soon as you get up in the morning. In med school, many classmates have spouses and children and live far away. Classes last most of the day and studying demands much of the evening, so there’s a significant reduction in leisure time. Thus, despite having a class size of only 100-200 students, it’s often difficult to get to know each one of the people you see every day. Or, apparently, to even remember their names…
On the plus side, we now have our first elderly friend (Hi John!) and know what prosopagnosia means. On the down side, I have to live in fear of the moment when I ask a fellow classmate what year he or she is during a med school mixer next fall…