It’s been a long year.
Trying to summarize the entirety of the third year of medical school in one essay is a difficult task. To encapsulate all the whirlwind of emotions – from unbridled joy, to bewilderment, to outright boredom, is difficult. However, looking back to myself just a summer ago, it’s undeniable that I have learned a lot, both in medicine and life in general.
Third year is the year that I was told I would finally gain “clinical wisdom.” All that book knowledge I had acquired, finally put to use in the context of the hospital. And it’s true – I learned an incredible amount about patient care during the third year. Presenting patients, learning about disease processes, determining the next step in management – you name it. But I also learned about all the intricacies of patient care that I didn’t know – finer aspects of knowledge that will take many more years of experience to grasp. Lifelong learning defines medicine, and my drive to become a better clinician motivates me to keep acquiring knowledge.
Third year is also one of the loneliest years. After being in a cozy classroom with your peers for such a long time, being thrown out into the real world is jarring. Most of your time is spent with residents and attendings, a working relationship made awkward due to the fact that they are responsible for evaluating you. I would only run into classmates in the context of quick exchanges in the hospital corridors. We would talk briefly about the usual things: what service we’re on, how we are doing, and what injustices we have already faced today. Afterwards, we’d rush on to attend to our clinical duties. The lack of meaningful relationships can take a toll, and that’s why my classmates and I leaned so heavily on our respective support networks for strength.
In the end, as much as everyone complains about the third year of medical school, I don’t see another way of doing it. It’s a rite of passage – at the end, you come out a smarter, more confident clinician, but thank the higher powers you never have to do it again. Therefore, I wanted to thank the people that made the year a little more manageable. The residents who took the time to show me the ropes, help me learn from my mistakes, and let me escape when work was done. The patients, who greeted me every morning with a smile, and helped me become a better physician. And of course, the family and friends who supported me and kept me sane during crazier times.
Now, on to 4th year and residency.