Most of the time, when a new acquaintance or old friend learns that I’m a med student, his or her initial reaction is two-fold – “Wait, you’re going to be a doctor? Weren’t you always a bit…slow? (Note: they say more, but it just gets meaner from here)” and “Wow, I’ve heard that’s really stressful. Are you just working non-stop, 24/7?”
The answer, at least to the latter question, is thankfully, “No.”
Kevin has discussed this issue, at least tangentially, in previous posts about how smart and/or dedicated one needs to be to cut it on the other side of the pre-med tracks. Depending on one’s educational background, med school is likely to involve significantly more work and a far larger volume of material to toss in the ole’ rote memorization machine. Still, any additional stress stems mostly from the fact that students are one step closer to their ultimate professional path, and thus each accomplishment and setback resonates more permanently in one’s future career, rather than from anything inherently stressful about the content of the basic science curriculum. Sure, there are new and quite-significant responsibilities in the clinical arena – patient interviews, preceptorships that may involve a wide variety of “doin’ stuff,” etc. – that can be a big jump from many students’ pre-med activities. Yet for the most part, med school isn’t nearly as taxing, time-consuming, or “bad” as it is often cracked up to be.
The other day, I came across the story (read: stalked via his blog) of an old college classmate that shed further, wonderful light on how not-bad med school actually is. He graduated in 2006 and blazed a previously-unheard-of trail from my undergrad into the world of high finance (fuh-nance, not figh-nance), landing at a top bulge bracket bank in the city. There, he filled the high-paying, high-prestige, high-stress position of an investment banking analyst, a job almost universally associated with lots of work and never-ending hours. What makes his example more interesting than any other banker’s is that he managed to track his working hours rather meticulously throughout his two-year stint in IBD. So, rather than vague notions of “Duuude, I worked 120 hours last week,” he has hard data to back up his 671 day journey.
Well, that data shows that he worked over 11 hours everysinglefreakin’ day averaged across that two-year span. Not 11 hours per work day, mind you, with some weekends/holidays off, but 11+ hours every day including his much-needed time off for Christmas, vacationing, etc. (which, incidentally, ended up being less than one day off every two weeks). Including time for lunch/talking oneself out of quitting, that averages to a 9am-to-9pm gig every day, without fail, for two straight years. And this doesn’t account for the fact that this guy is one of the smartest people I know, and thus probably far more efficient at banking in an investment-y manner than the average analyst. So, whenever pre-med/med school life gets you down, dear reader, remember this anecdote for some wonderful perspective.
Damn, it feels good to (not) be a banker…