So in my last post I mentioned that the knee-jerk upperclassman reaction to any M1 question is “Pssh, don’t worry about it, not important” – and I feel like I should emphasize that that totally includes me. I’m the worst.
The upcoming M1s have a Facebook page where they’re asking exactly the same questions we were asking just a year ago. Things like, “How strict is housing about the rules?” (answer: “… there are rules?”) and “What textbooks should I buy?” (answer: “Get the hell off of Amazon and go play.”) and “Should I sign my student loans in arterial blood, or is venous okay?”
And while I think we all know their questions are reasonable, it’s still really funny how every response from my class – myself included – is a variation on, “Hey, calm down – stop thinking about med school! Don’t buy things or study! 1st year’s tough, but super fun!”
Except, then I think about how the 1.3% of our class that dropped out of med school during anatomy might have answered differently. Or how the people who failed – or had mini-nervous breakdowns – aren’t exactly lining up to talk about it on facebook.
… Which is not to say that that’s AT ALL an appropriate thing to tell an M1, or that it’s even all that relevant – but there’s a certain amount of response bias here, right? Is wanting to get a head start on anatomy memorization really that bad?
Take the MCAT, for example: Whenever I think about the months I spent studying, it’s 100% colored by the end-result, which was a score I was extremely happy with. “Studying for the MCAT? Eh, not that bad. Totally worth it. Just put in the hours, and you’ll be fine!”
But if you really pressed me for specifics, I’d eventually remember that – in a lot of ways – it flat out sucked. I’d remember how awful it was to spend an entire Saturday on one stupid subject. Or that night when, after studying so hard for months, I took a practice test to confirm my awesomeness, scored 7 points below what I had months ago, cried, and then drank half a bottle of wine.
You know – the real classy moments. They’re always colored by how things turn out, and at a certain point in life, when you look back – well, heck, everything turned out great! It was all worth it! And not so hard, when you think about how it technically didn’t kill you.
But that bias doesn’t lead to giving the best advice. And I think the same thing happens with med school: When I look back on first year, it seems like no big deal – fun, even. So not only do we discourage the M1s from buying books ahead of time – we won’t even tell them which books are worthwhile until they get here, at which point they’ll barely have time to order them before the 1st lecture.
Isn’t there a line between “relieving their anxiety” and “pestering them to not think about med school at all”?