Friday, December 14, 2012

1/8th of an MD

I have officially completed 1/8th of an MD degree! WHOOP WHOOP! 

As my sister-in-law put it, I am now an M1.5, hahaha. I must say, it feels GOOD. I am writing this post at noon-thirty on 12/13/12, just after grading my last Genetics exam (they post the key within hours and let you write your answers down so you can grade yourself later). However, I will be post-dating this entry so that it doesn't appear until 11am tomorrow, Friday, December 14th. Why, you ask?

Out of respect for Wife. You see, she won't be free (and therefore able to share in the joy that it is to be truly free for Christmas break) until after she takes her Topics in Nursing exam on Friday morning. Which, you guessed it, gets out at 11am.

Anyway, the Genetics exam went well, though I was more nervous about this exam than any I'd had so far. I foolishly calculated the lowest grade I could get on it and still pass the class. This "low-end" margin for success turned out to be about 28% lower than my lowest exam score of the semester. For most people, this would provide a sense of security going into the final. That's what I thought it would do for me. And then I got sick and ended up studying a whole lot less for the final than I would have done normally.

Enter truckloads of foreboding and boatloads of angst, and you get where I was at 9am this morning during the five minutes of hushed silence as we waited for our exam to start.

(Quick aside here - we are allowed in the room up to fifteen minutes early, after picking up our numbered card that shows where our assigned seat is for that exam. After sitting down, we can fill out our Scantron sheet with our name, student ID number, and the info for the specific test (Genetics Exam 3, etc.). And then we sit there. And wait. And wait wait wait. They have a huge clock blown up on the projector screen at the front of the room showing the seconds ticking down. We're supposed to be silent this entire time, but it's not really enforced until the last five minutes when they start reading the same instructions that they read at the beginning of every test. I swear, most of the class has probably memorized that spiel by now. Only after that last second ticks off the clock at the front of the room are we allowed to flip the exams and get to work.)

But now that's all over for this semester, and I couldn't be happier!

For you newbies to the blog, I am somewhat of a numbers / statistics / time lapse nerd. Not in the research / statistics class classroom sense, but in the I-like-to-observe-long-term-change-and-trends-in-stuff-that-doesn't-really-matter sense. For example, I get a huge kick out of a time lapse that shows someone every day for eight years. In college, I tracked my frisbee golf scores over the entire four years, and at the end plotted it out and saw how much I had improved - which, luckily, was a lot, otherwise it would've been incredibly depressing.

Almost as depressing as this next bit will probably seem to most of you, actually. This semester, I got a free program on my computer called Stone Hill Time Card. Sorry PC users, it's only for Macs. Throughout the semester, every time I sat down at my computer to do something (attend/watch lecture, study in the Medbunker, etc.) I entered in what I was doing. I did this consistently, and I don't think I ever missed anything. With the program, it was easy to do, so wasn't much of a hassle.
And now, I have a semester's data on how much time I spent doing different things. I only really tracked the time I spent studying / in lecture. So you won't see the time I spent in committee meetings, hanging out with Wife, walking, or sleeping/eating. Yes, I eat in bed before falling asleep. Sue me.

So here you have it: From August 27th to December 13th, a total of 109 days, here's how my study time played out:

In column form (yes, I know this is absurd / ridiculous / insane):

Keep in mind, this doesn't include just time spent in each of these locations, but time spent actively studying in each of these locations. In other words, if I had to get up to use the bathroom or move to another room or answer a phone call from Wife, I stopped the timer on my computer, then restarted it when I got back to work.

That's a grand total of 1,022.55 hours spent studying or in lecture during my first semester of med school at MSU CHM. This equals 42 days and 36 minutes, or roughly 40% of my total time this semester. That averages to about 9.4 hours/day, seven days a week, not counting breaks or meals. And honestly, I'd say this sounds about right for the average medical student. So, if you're a premed wondering how you're going to spend your time once you get to med school, this is pretty much the reality of it. It's totally doable, but definitely takes some adjustment.

My first month was by far the worst / hardest period of adjustment. It was filled with the constant wondering of, "Is this going to be too hard / stressful / demanding for me to complete?" Having finished the first semester though, I now know that I will be able to handle this. There will be no sitting back and coasting - at least not until 4th year, if this awesome video can be believed:

Of all the things I've learned this semester, I'd say the most important is that I really can do this. It's not just a "think" or "probably can" or "hope I can" anymore; it's now a know. Which is cool.

Special thanks to all those who have been sending me messages along the way this semester by using the Contact Me at the top of the page. It has been really cool to hear people that don't even know me having positive experiences while following along with the blog. It's fun to hear that people like reading.

In that light, I welcome input and questions. If you're a premed or a medrent (med student parent) or another med student and you've got a question, just let me know and I'll give you my take on things. If you're an MD or DO and you've got some fly wisdom to share with me, that's always welcome too.

And now, I am going to eat some chili made and frozen lovingly moths ago by Wife, kick back, and watch some television.


Anonymous said...

Huge congrats on finishing your first semester! I've been reading your blog for awhile, and it's motivating to see. Best of luck with the rest of your schooling.

Jill said...

Congratulations! Yes, you are really doing it.

Susan said...

Way to go and a huge congratulations on this first semester now officially being behind you!! ENJOY and revel in that deserve it!

Anonymous said...

Have you seen the Study Rock Anthem video? Very amusing worth checking out! Congrats on this enormous accomplishment, keep truckin through it!

Shirley said...

Way to go, Justin! So proud of you!

Anonymous said...

Whoop Whoop! I can almost hear the sigh of relief from NZ :D

I have a few study questions if you don't mind. Particularly the processing of information after you receive it in the lecture.

I take pretty good notes (I think ;) ) but I never know how soon I should review those notes, whether I should reformat them and further cull them down, whether to make flash cards on the day/that week or save that for exam time.

I would love to know your system for studying!


Anonymous said...

Averaging only 9.2 hours per day? C'mon. You can do better than that. That's almost like a real job. (A 7-day-a-week job, that is.) Sort of like the convenience store near me. The same 3 men are there every day, all day, until closing. Well, if you don't cut it in med school, which I am sure you will, you can always be a conveniene store clerk. Keep on truckin'. When/ where is the vaca?

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