Saturday, September 13, 2014

Time, Med School, and Life

Yesterday as I walked through the hallways of the hospital, I had a few moments of profound contemplation. Specifically, I pondered the volume of time my classmates and I are devoting to future careers as doctors.

Most of the time these past couple of years of med school, I have just ridden the waves of exams, studying, simulated patient encounters, exams, and real clinical experiences. I don't often think about how much time this is taking. Our lives are finite, but it's easy to stop paying attention to that fact, getting distracted by everything that's going on. When that happens, it's easy for the significance of each day to slip by unnoticed. I don't like that so much.

I'm now 29 years old. I started this blog when I was 25, a year after I got married, then went back to school to become a doctor. People mention all the time how long it takes to become a doctor, but most people don't really know what that means. It's a statement of commiseration, but it usually stops there. It's okay, because it's really hard to truly get it without living it.

For me, the time involved will be a little longer than most because I had to go back part-time after graduating college to get the credits needed for med school. So for me it's been:

- 4 years of undergrad the first time around (2003 - 2007)
- 3 years of school part-time, then the application year (2009 - 2012)
- 2.3 years of med school so far (2012 - 2014)

So, I'm 9.3 years in at the moment, with about 1.7 years left or so before the total of 11 years of post-high school education before I get my MD and start residency. With my most recent specialty choices in mind (more on that at another time - I'm loving Peds right now, even more than ObGyn, so everything's still way up in the air), I'll have another 3 or 4 years in residency.

That will make a total of 14 or 15 years of undergrad+graduate education by the time I can start working autonomously as a doctor. If you think that the average male my age these days will live to about 90 years, that's about 1/6th of my lifetime spent in school after high school.

That seems like a lot. Maybe it's not. But sometimes it really feels like a ton - especially when I'm surrounded by family and friends who are busy doing so much more with their lives during their 20s. Having or adopting kids, building careers, establishing themselves in communities, settling into houses, planning for their futures - all things we continue to put off until "after med school." Sigh.

All right, enough self reflection. I've been feeling behind in my book-learning for Peds recently, so today will largely be spent doing practice questions, reading, and maybe reviewing some drugs.

Enjoy your day today! If you're in Grand Rapids, enjoy the street fair in Eastown for me. It looked pretty cool as I drove past it to buy Hobbes more dog food this morning.


Rodney said...

From where I sit in life - and reflect - and watch you live your life (and all the wonderful things and people and animals that entails), there is no doubt in my mind that you will experience countless events during the rest of your life "after med school" (and even during the years until then) that will force you to acknowledge that even one of those events will make it all "worth it". No doubt. The same goes for Wife, too. Hobbes is just along for the ride with two amazing owners/dogparents.

Susan said...

Honestly, I personally don't know this level of sacrifice and stick-to-it-ness. I've watched you move through "mountains" and it's the absolute truth that no one truly knows the sacrifice that's given unless they've traveled that path. But I DO know it'll be worth you and to all those people you treat and care for now and in the future. You've already laid a rock solid foundation and now are building the building; God has mighty fine plans in mind for what you're building! Thanks for what you're doing!

Erika said...

"so much more with their lives" <--- What??? Please! Give yourself some credit, you're in med school for goodness sake, you're doing A LOT with your life.

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