The hardest part about the first two years of medical school is that sometimes, it’s difficult to see light at the end of the tunnel. What do I mean by that? Well, you’re studying just about all hours of the day, and the “free time” that you do have goes toward your well-being which leaves zero time to have any patient interaction. You also lack applicable clinical knowledge. This is where third-year comes in—the pros and the cons.
Third-year has many pros. For one, you get to be around patients. Second, you get to start learning clinical knowledge. You start seeing people with diagnoses you learned about, and there’s something really exciting about that in terms of that “light bulb” moment and just getting to be more hands-on. Granted, I’ve only just started third-year, and there’s still so much for me to see, do, and learn. It’s also exciting because you decide after third-year what exactly you will do for the rest of your life! That could be a pro or a con, but I find it to be really exciting. You’ll have the opportunity to figure out what part of medicine you’ve fallen in love with, and you also get to make a real impact on patients. You spend the most time with them, and that adds real value. I know there is a misconception that you are not valuable as a third-year student, but I most definitely think so, especially on a service like Internal Medicine. You truly are an important part of the team, and I think it sets you up for a brighter future as a physician.
I do want to share a few cons about third-year that I do find to be very true. Your grades in terms of evaluations are very subjective, and it depends on who you get as your upper-level residents and attendings which is usually at random. Another con is that your schedule is not your own. That is by far the toughest thing to deal with for me personally. I like to have the freedom to coordinate my schedule and make plans; with third-year, there is so much uncertainty in terms of times. Lastly, the early, early mornings that require me to be awake before 4 AM are really tough; I miss the 8 AM classes because those were a lot more manageable (ahem, surgery). Overall, I think every year of medical school has value, and I truly look forward to what each year will teach me. What are your thoughts on third-year?