Nov 10

10 Things Medical Students Want You To Know

This is a kindasorta “behind-the-scenes” post inspired by a couple conversations I had with friends in med school!

10 Things Medical Students Want You To Know


Medical school can be extremely alienating.

It takes sacrifice. For me, that was mostly just sleepless nights, shutting out the rest of the world to go into hibernation to study, and not seeing my family/friends for months (or at present, over a year). If you have a spouse, significant other, and/or kids…it can be pretty rough, although if they’re very understanding, they can be an amazing support system.

We have no threshold for “acceptable dinner conversation topics.”

I think this was best exemplified when my friends and I went to Pittsburgh and were talking about life back in first year, when we were in the anatomy lab. Our server came by to hear us talking about cadavers whilst finishing off our sushi and promptly backed away, unsure that we’d still want dessert after such a topic.

(We did in fact still want dessert, and lots of it.)

We always feel like we should be studying.

Have the weekend off? Yay! Time to catch up on reading/studying and all other aspects of life (e.g. cleaning the apartment, doing laundry, returning phone calls + messages, sleeping)!

Please don’t be offended if we pass up spending time with you in favor of studying. Please know that it (usually) is notΒ personal. :[

We’ve wondered at least once why we decided to do this to ourselves (or perhaps that the admissions committee made a mistake and let us slip through the cracks).

Medical students can be frighteningly self-critical. In a way, we’re pretty much trained to nitpick our each and every flaw as part of our training–partly so we’ll always be working on self-improvement, but also because in the future, one mistake can mean the difference between whether or not a patient lives.

Although I think of myself as above average in intelligence, I haven’t actually considered myself to be smart in over a decade.

Feedback makes our worlds go round.

To expand on that last one, feedback helps us to know what’s expected of us, areas whereΒ we can improve, what we’re already doing correctly, and what we need to do more of. <3 …and it never hurts to hear a preceptor tell you that he thinks you’re hardworking, brilliant, and will go far in life!


Doing something right/answering a preceptor correctly can exponentially improve our days.

Especially if it’s a preceptor that:

  • You really respect and want to impress
  • Works in the field you want to go into
  • Always pimps you and makes you feel like a brainless speck of a human being

We do not get paid.

No one ever pays medical students (exception = you’re under work study in your first two years), unless you’re lucky enough to score a scholarship of some kind (yay!). We are paying to learn on those 8-16-hour shifts. In my school’s case, that’s $50k/year for tuition alone. I no longer open my “Quarterly Loan” emails, because they just make me [really, really] sad. Medical school is not cheap.

Seeing all our friends/family having fun, living their lives, having actual jobs, and getting married makes us really happy for them…

But it can also be somewhat depressing when we stop to think about our piling student loans and/or lack of job, a love life, nearby family… I’ve more or less accepted the fact that I’m gonna be a spinster. (At least I’ve gotten the cat lady part down pat!)

For instance, my family is currently on a cruise that’ll be going toΒ Dubai, India, Malaysia, Singapore, Philippines, and Indonesia right now. I’ve never been to any of these places. Not bitter. Not at all. ;_;

Sometimes, we just really want to hear that everything’s gonna be okay.

Some days can be really rough–breaking terrible news to a patient and his family, getting verbally slaughtered by an attending, seeing a patient pass away, wondering if there’s anything else you could have done to help. Sometimes, I just really want to know that I’m going to have a future that I can look forward to.

We’re basically juggling multiple lives at once, so I apologize on behalf of all of us if we always seem stressed and/or high-strung.

It’s because we are. :[ Our rotations are pretty much a full time “job,” and when we get home from that, we still have to study a full-time [medical] student’s course load’s worth of material, which has often been compared to “trying to drink water from a fire hydrant.” Cleaning my apartment just really doesn’t fall very high on my list of priorities when I’m barely in it other than to sleep!

Permanent link to this article: http://www.fairyburger.com/10-things-medical-students-want-you-to-know/



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  1. Rachel G

    I’m still trying to train Angel on the topic of normal dinner conversations, and obviously he isn’t even a med student. I can’t imagine doing what you do, or even studying it in books. Keep up the good work, they say it’ll all be worth it someday! My surgeon uncle just retired (in his mid-40s) because he decided the work wasn’t worth never seeing his family–not an easy field to be in, but it’s work that needs doing.
    Rachel G recently posted…How to Cope with HomesicknessMy Profile

    1. Farrah

      hahaha, I think anything in the medical field can probably result in the terrible dinner conversation topics thing! πŸ˜› Thank you though! <3 I like to think it'll be worth it too! Surgery definitely isn't an easy field to go into, but I'm really glad there are people that can do it!

  2. Rachel @ RachelMcMichael.com

    The dinner conversations… I almost spit out my water reading this… your poor unsuspecting waiter! πŸ™‚ This was a great post and so enlightening!! I am so impressed by each and every person in the medical field – you are literally saving lives!! Thank you!
    Rachel @ RachelMcMichael.com recently posted…15+ Healthy Thanksgiving RecipesMy Profile

    1. Farrah

      hahaha, we didn’t even realize that it was probably not a good dinner topic! x_x But that did kinda teach me to try to be more aware of what we were saying, haha.

      Thank you! <3!

  3. dixya @ food, pleasure, and health

    you go girl! it is not an easy journey but it will be worth it at the end πŸ™‚
    dixya @ food, pleasure, and health recently posted…Why I Ran a Half-Marathon?My Profile

    1. Farrah

      Thank you! πŸ˜€ I keep telling myself that too! Getting closer every day! :]

  4. Jenn - a traveling Wife

    Thank you for sharing this. There’s always a part if me that wanted to go to med school, I guess it’s never too late, but the tuition – that terrifies me!! Congrats on all your hard work. It will not go unnoticed and everything WILL be okay.
    Jenn – a traveling Wife recently posted…What You Need To Know About Sponsored Content As A ReaderMy Profile

    1. Farrah

      Thanks so much, Jenn! The tuition part definitely isn’t fun! If I were in-state, it actually would only (“only”–haha, I say that just in comparison to out-of-state tuition) be $20k/year, but alas!

  5. Vicky

    Thanks for sharing a peek behind the scenes…I can’t imagine being a med student (or a doctor) so I love these posts! Hang in there….one day you’ll finish med school! I can’t imagine the loans though…the sacrifices doctors make to get where they are is no joke. But we thank you for all that you do since we all need doctors and you literally do save our lives!! πŸ™‚
    Vicky recently posted…Exploring Szentendre, HungaryMy Profile

    1. Farrah

      I’m glad you find em’ interesting! πŸ˜€ I’m trying not to think about the student loans part (hopefully, I’ll be able to pay em’ off someday!!)

      Thank you! <3

  6. Susie @ SuzLyfe

    Just wait until next year when everyone thinks that you are still in school. Nope, you’re a doctor πŸ˜€
    Susie @ SuzLyfe recently posted…Ignite Apple Beet Preworkout Smoothie (Skoop Giveaway)My Profile

    1. Farrah

      haha, I imagine I’ll get a lot of that + being mistaken for a nurse!

  7. Autumn

    Hmmm Imagine all the free time you will have as a busy doctor….What will you do with it all? lol Youre going to have a lifetime full of busy! Never stop learning love it!
    Autumn recently posted…3 Cheers For You and #VitaminWeMy Profile

    1. Farrah

      Ahaha, so very true, but at least it’ll be something that I’ll enjoy doing! :]! I love learning though, so at least that’ll be a constant in my life!

  8. Sam @ See Sam Run

    I can’t even imagine the life of a med student, so thanks for sharing! I feel many similar feelings being in my graduate program, but probably not to the same level. I’m glad that my program is only two years, because I definitely couldn’t endure it as long as you all do!
    Sam @ See Sam Run recently posted…Getting Reacquainted in the Kitchen (WIAW)My Profile

    1. Farrah

      Graduate programs are really difficult too! I did an accelerated program before going to med school, and the fact that it was shorter made life easier on me, because research was definitely not my thing! Best of luck to you! <3

  9. Laura

    Everything is going to be OK πŸ™‚

    The fact that you juggle so much is absolutely incredible. And talking about dead bodies over sushi sounds normal to me, so I don’t know what that server’s deal was

    Laura recently posted…Holiday Pin-spiration: Christmas Craft Round Up!My Profile

    1. Farrah

      Thanks so much, Laura! <3

      hahaha, I'm glad you agree! ;P That poor server though. Oops!

  10. Rebecca @ Strength and Sunshine

    Something so few will ever know how it really feels! You guys are all one amazing special bunch! xoxo
    Rebecca @ Strength and Sunshine recently posted…Seedy Chocolate Pumpkin Oatmeal ParfaitMy Profile

    1. Farrah

      Thanks so much, Rebecca! <3!

  11. Jess @hellotofit

    Haha I am so used to med school talk when hanging out with Ray’s friends!
    Jess @hellotofit recently posted…Workout: 15 minute full body HIITMy Profile

    1. Farrah

      hahaha, you’ve been conditioned! πŸ˜›

  12. Sonali- The Foodie Physician

    This list is so spot-on! Before reading it, I tried coming up with my own list from when I was a student and you hit them all!
    Sonali- The Foodie Physician recently posted…Dining with the Doc: Spiced Apple Skyr Quinoa Cookies with Vanilla Maple DrizzleMy Profile

    1. Farrah

      Yay! I’m glad it was an accurate representation! πŸ˜› I kept thinking there was something I probably forgot to touch on somewhere!

  13. Joy

    What medical professionals go through is so impressive to me. It sounds terrible at times, but sooo impressive. Haha. Thank you for your hard work and dedication – so many people need you!
    Joy recently posted…San Antonio ItineraryMy Profile

    1. Farrah

      Thanks so much! <3 It does get really difficult sometimes, but I like to think it'll be worth it! :]

  14. Shashi at RunninSrilankan

    As this seems to be the path my daughter is one, Farrah, I loved reading this! You ARE going to have a future that YOU can look forward to! You will be going on those cruises and having a job that will make your friends and family so proud! Hang in there and it will all work out!
    Shashi at RunninSrilankan recently posted…Cinnamon Vanilla Apple CookiesMy Profile

    1. Farrah

      Aww, thank you so much, Shashi! :]! I like to think that’ll be the case too! At least I’m getting closer to finallyy being done with the school part! <3

  15. Julie @ Running in a Skirt

    So much in here that I did not know! It will all be worth it in the long run!! Sorry about the cruise– what a bummer πŸ™
    Julie @ Running in a Skirt recently posted…Fashion Friday- Teal Formal DressMy Profile

    1. Farrah

      I like to think so too! :] It’s okay, haha. I’ve grown kinda used to it! They went to South America + Antarctica the previous year. ;_;

  16. Tamara

    Thank you for this post! High School friends of mine went to med school, and I’ve met them at reunions, but I never wasted any thoughts on what they were going through. However, I am the world’s hugest ER fan, so Dr. John Carter is like a personal friend to me πŸ˜‰

    Anyway, Farrah, I do think that everything is going to be OK for you!


    You seem to care.

    Please never lose that. Patients are human beings that need your professional help, but they also need another human being noticing them. Oftentimes I feel doctors see you as a case and don’t even bother to say hello, using your name, know what I mean?

    1. Farrah

      Aww, thank you for reading this and for your kind words! :]! I really hope everything will be okay too! <3 I'm starting my orientation for residency tomorrow morning and I'm super excited/terrified!

      I've definitely met doctors like that and it is rather depressing--I will definitely try my best not to ever lose that! It's why I went into medicine, so fingers crossed! I like to think that as long as I treat my patients the way I would want my family members to be treated, it should be a-okay! <3

      1. Tamara

        Absolutely, Farrah! πŸ™‚
        Good luck for your orientation (no need to be terrified – they need you!), and more importantly your residence program!
        I know you don’t have a lot of time, but if you can spare some, please blog more about your life as a future doc!
        Tamara recently posted…BaseballMy Profile

        1. Farrah

          Thank you! <3 I went to the residency graduation earlier this evening and it was a lot of fun! Gives me a little glimpse of what's in store! πŸ˜€

          I've been on break between med school and residency, but I'm definitely hoping/planning to write more about my residency adventures once they start!

  17. ShootingStarsMag

    Gosh, I can’t imagine being in medical school. It’s so crazy! It sounds like you are doing a great job though, and that’s wonderful! I’m sorry you are missing the family cruise. πŸ™ One day!

    And remember…it will all be okay.

    ShootingStarsMag recently posted…Movie Review: Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find ThemMy Profile

    1. Farrah

      Aww, thank you so much! :]! I graduated early this year and am now in residency, which feels much the same as med school but with way more responsibilities, haha. I appreciate it! <3!

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