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Sometimes I Wish…

Sometimes I wish that my childhood was filled with more academic failures. I’m not trying to sound arrogant or anything. Medical school, I have found, is one of the most humbling experiences one can go through. At this point, I don’t think I’m a genius at all. But, I suppose one could say that life is one long, humbling experience as well.

Occasionally I’ve been asked, “Are you smart?” The question doesn’t really make any sense to me, and I don’t know why people ask it. It’s probably a question better suited to sort out the arrogant from the humble. But what has become my customary reply to this question is, “I used to believe I was smart. And then I started Kindergarten.”

It is no secret that the majority of medical students performed very well during elementary and/or high school. (For traditional students, college is pretty much a given because college performance plays a large role in medical school acceptance.) And this is a very good thing. But because of past performance, there is an added pressure to continue to do well.

The bright students in elementary school are expected to do well in high school. Brilliant high schoolers are expected to make it into good colleges/universities where they will choose from among the toughest fields of study so that they can accomplish great things.

What kind of great things? How about significantly contributing to society? Or changing the world?

Talk about pressure…

And so, sometimes I wish…

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Conversations: Feeling Unprepared

I recently had a conversation with my cousin (who also happens to be my classmate). The conversation was sandwiched between a couple hours of studying about ischemic heart disease, vascular disease, valvular disease, and congenital heart diseases. We were preparing for a Pathology lab where we were scheduled to do some “team-based learning.” (These team-based sessions involve working in groups of five to figure out a diagnosis based on a small clinical vignettes. Once the diagnosis is obtained we usually have to figure out the mechanisms leading to the condition.)

The conversation took place right after I showed her a sample test that applicants to the San Francisco Police Department can download at the department website. The first few sections were really simple and we skimmed through right through it. It felt easy. (At least the first sections felt easy. There was at least one section towards the end that looked pretty tricky.)

I’m not sure who first verbalized it, but we noted how it had been a long time since we had walked into an exam feeling fully confident in what we knew and of what the outcome would be. So far in medical school it hasn’t mattered how much I have spent preparing for an exam. I have never walked into a test site feeling like I know everything as well as I should. Maybe that one student that keeps scoring between 98-100% knows how that feels, but I sure don’t. And that is a very frustrating thing.

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Postings on The Differential

As I have written before, I blog weekly at Medscape’s The Differential. Originally I thought I would put up a notification post whenever one of my submissions was uploaded. But I decided to just make one page to keep track of it all. For the past couple days I have been putting together a page that will index all of my Differential posts.

Clicking The Differential on the tab above (between Privacy Policy and Contact Me) will take you to this new page. Newest posts are listed at the top. I have the date, title, and short description of the post.