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MS2 Tips (thus far)

Varying levels of excitement before the suture lab (last day of Emergency Med)

Sorry for the delay…the past few weeks have been a bit intense! As I mentioned before, we’re no longer on block schedule (that was sooo MS1). So we’re taking multiple classes at once. I assumed that meant we would have more time to learn material, which is technically true (because we have more time in between tests for a subject…i.e. a pathology test every 2-3 weeks vs. a path test every week like it would be on block). But we also have multiple subjects and the tests overlap.

To give you an idea of what that looks like…here’s the past few weeks…We had an Endocrinology test on a Friday, then Path test Wed, Pharm test Friday, Genetics final (which you had to pass…stressful, since we’d never had a test with that stipulation…it all worked out well though) the following Wed, Path test the following Monday (aka this past Monday), and Pulm test Thursday (yesterday). Hopefully you decided to just skim over that because it gives me a headache just typing it. Oh, and our ICM lectures (which make up the vast majority of lectures) now has required attendance. So we’re also spending a LOT more time in class than expected.

Brilliant quote by Mindy Kaling

All that to say: put all those factors together and you’ve got a pretty intense schedule! At the end of the semester, I’ll update the blog with specifics regarding each class (like I did last year for MS1 in this post and this one). But for now, here are 3 tips I would give based on my (limited) experience thus far as an MS2:

1) Have a life outside of med school. For real. This is SO important for your health and happiness.
2) Don’t find your identity in school…or you will likely have an identity crisis fairly often. Refer to Rule 1 for a good solution.
3) Remember why you got on the roller coaster.

Incorporating food and Starbucks into a study session is always a good idea.

A little more on #3. Like anything in life, med school has its ups and downs. And like most things in life, you often “feel” the downs more acutely than the ups. The bad test scores make you feel more dumb than the good test scores made you feel smart. Just like an insult usually penetrates deeper and has a longer-lasting effect than a compliment. It’s not really a balanced equation.

But remember, med school doesn’t define you. An insult doesn’t define you. There’s a lot in this world that’s out of our control, but you’re in control of your attitude. You can let the bad grade/comment/day define your attitude…or you can let your attitude define the bad grade/comment/day.

Something that’s been really helpful for me is taking the time to assess whether my feelings reflect reality. Example: Let’s say I’m walking down the street and a stranger decides to tell me that I’m a moron (FYI this has never happened and hopefully never will…). I can instantly feel horrible that this street stranger thinks I’m a moron. I can feel defeated and worthless and so on. Or I can take a step back and consider if my feelings reflect reality. The stranger said I’m a moron, so I feel like a moron. But is that reality? No. I may do moronic things once in a while, but I’m not a moron. Also, full disclosure: I feel the need to share with you guys that now I feel like “moron” isn’t a word because I used it so many times in this paragraph. Moving on.

The point is, just remember that sometimes med school will throw things at you that suck a little or a lot. Sometimes life does that too. As this article (which you should totally read right now) succinctly puts it: Everything sucks some of the time. You’ll feel your stomach drop as the roller coaster of life/med school carries you down. In that moment, remember two things:

1) Why you got on the roller coaster (i.e. why you applied to med school…you may have to dig deep into the recesses of yourmind…)

MAJOR perk to MS2…you will understand this uber-important message from Ry-guy

2) The downs tend to be followed by ups. Life will get better.

And as a side note, people keep telling us: “Don’t worry, it gets better.” Which is nice to hear, but I also don’t want to live

assuming that things will only get better later. Your life is happening now. Don’t wait for it to get better. Make it better now. Again, refer to rule #1.

As always, remember that med school is an opportunity, not an obligation…and even in the midst of all the studying and lectures, there is purpose. You may learn something now that will later help you care for a patient. Or you may not remember anything and have to re-learn everything during clinical years, but at least you get to be around some pretty awesome classmates now that will later be your colleagues…There’s always a choice to be optimistic or pessimistic…I gotta say, I think the optimists are happier ;)

The views expressed in this content represent the perspective and opinions of the author and may or may not represent the position of Indiana University School of Medicine.

Roshini Selladurai

I’m an MS4 based at the Indy campus, though I spent MS1/2 at the Muncie campus. I started med school with a strong interest in international missions, pediatrics, education, and whole person care. I’m still interested in all those things, except I re...