The Final Countdown

If you can read the board in this picture, you will see what has been striking fear into my heart for days now.

Not “Pig meeting — Dr. Morgan will be talking about painful sex taco bar.” As strange and sinister as that sounds (who wants a painful sex-taco?) such bizarre messages are common ads for med student lunch topics. I recently promoted a talk on physician-assisted suicide with the promise of homemade cookies.

No, what really scares me is the small line at the top of the white board, “The Final Countdown: 46.” That’s 46 days left until the end of my medical school basic science classes.

The seond year of medical school has, for me, been a kind of golden time. Compared to the overwhelming novelty of starting medical school, this year I feel far more in command, both of the material we are learning and of the rhythm and nuances of medical school life. It’s easier to be a medical student, I’m doing better, and having more fun. And it’s all about to end.

That’s sad. What’s scary is what comes when it ends. First, my classmates and I have five weeks in which to study for, take and pass Step 1 of our medical boards, an eight-hour test that condenses the first two years’ of medical education into 322 multiple-choice questions. You have to pass to become a doctor, even to continue in medical school. No pressure there.

Like many of my classmates, I have been doing some desultory studying for boards for weeks, intended to get more earnest during Spring Break last week, and played around instead. No regrets, but it was a shock to return to school and find my mock board results in my mailbox, a number that would be impressive for a European shoe size but was underwhelming as a glimpse at my future. I have lots of work to do.

And each day, as I walk into the classroom, I see I have less time to get that work done. I have watched The Final Countdown dwindle from 99 to 70 to 46, counting off the end of my golden year and the approach of a month of academic purgatory. Frankly, the only thing more disquieting than that Final Countdown in our classroom is this one:YouTube Preview Image

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Ever wondered what life is like as a student at OHSU? What does it take to become a researcher? Just how gross is gross anatomy? Welcome to the blog that answers these – and many other – questions. It’s students writing first-hand about their commitment to careers in science and health care. It’s honest about the challenges as well as the joys. It’s not always pretty. But it is our story. Thank you for sharing it with us. And please, let us know what you think.

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