1. Your classmates’ career choices will depress the hell out of you. Back in 1st year, I was constantly just in awe of my classmates – everyone had amazing talents or former careers. It’s depressing to remember how excited we all used to be about our future careers as Real Physicians (!) seeing Real Patients (!!).
It was hard to look around the lecture hall without seeing at least one person and thinking “That person is the most compassionate human on earth. They are going to be the most incredible doctor.“
Then 3rd year rolled around and after a year of being largely treated like dirt on the wards, those exact same people are – almost without exception – going into radiology, anesthesiology, or leaving medicine altogether for entrepreneurial or non-profit ventures.
And that’s depressing because you KNOW they’re making the right decision. No matter how much you want to fool yourself into selfishly dismissing their decisions as cynical or self-serving, you know the truth: leaving medicine is actually just kind of smart.
These are good people that were beaten down, chewed up, and spat out by the wards and have the self-awareness to leave because they realize there are careers out there that AREN’T fiscally and emotionally abusive.
2. Which leaves you and your career decision… where, exactly? I mean, if you’re admitting to yourself that those classmates are making a smart decision, isn’t there an obvious link to be made…? Like, I don’t know, some sort of natural continuation of this train of thought that indicates something about the wisdom of your own career choice?
You are choosing to ignore this. You are ignoring it so hard that simply acknowledging the possibility that you are making a huge mistake doesn’t even seem like an option.
But that’s okay! Because even though NORMALLY the statement “If I ignore the hints that I’m doing the wrong thing, they’ll go away” is stupid – his time it’s totally not! Because of reasons.
… quick, let’s move on.
3. There are a handful of facts you were better off never knowing.
I’m not referring to useless trivia that’s just taking up valuable room in your head without paying rent – that stuff was once worth valuable USMLE points. I’m talking about tried-and-trued protocols that became out-of-date while you were on a different rotation and useless buzzwords (“spiral fracture” = “child abuse” has some damned important caveats – many of which have nothing to do with blue sclerae).
It feels like a miniature betrayal each and every time you are posed a question, answer “correctly”, and then hear, “Well.. actually – no. Absolutely not at all.”
4. Your career choice will depress the hell out of your classmates. “Pediatrics? Wow, I could never do that. It’s so depressing. Just think about it… sick and dying kids, every day for your entire career. God, that’d be terrible. Don’t you think it’s depressing?”
The counterpoint to point #1: Every few weeks or so, it’s important to find yourself on the awkward “… er, what am I supposed to say to that, exactly?” end of this exact conversation – it reminds you that you’re kind of a jerk for having similar opinions about the career choices of others and should probably continue to keep them to yourself.
5. You and your entire class will drop off the face of the earth. Between audition electives on the opposite coast, research, Sub-Is, and vacation months, you won’t be together again until Match Week. And even then, a bunch will have taken a year off for research or a second degree, so there’s a good chance you’ll just never see them again.
Lately I’ve been listening to how the M1s on campus talk about each other and honestly, sometimes it depresses me – they all seems so close. I remember feeling that way about our class.
But as soon as 3rd year starts, it becomes so easy for people to just slip away. 50% of conversations are about how much your current rotation sucks and the other half are people trying to remind each other who is actually still enrolled, who’s taking a year off, and who just left entirely without a word to anyone.
So, you know, it’s hard for me not to overhear happy conversations about impromptu M1 dorm parties without thinking things like “ENJOY IT WHILE YOU CAN. You’ve got like, 6 months, tops.”
Does that sound too ominous? That probably sounds too ominous.
… must be why no one ever warns us.