Our second year of medical school started last month, and so far it has been a big change from the first. Perhaps it is because I am more used to medical school, but everything seems more manageable the second time around. Already we’ve had two Pathology exams, and our class has taken them in stride. The passing time has shaped us well and given us tools that are now second nature to us. On second thought, our professors may have had something to do with that as well. Nevertheless, the daily ritual of learning, integrating and experiencing the art of medicine has become a habit for us second years; one that we gladly and gratefully participate in. All of this makes me wonder how the new first years are doing.
In the beginning of August, the class of 2016 took our place as the incoming first years. My classmates and I see something of ourselves in them, in how they struggle and challenge themselves to learn all of the things we learned last year. They are very much like my classmates in how diverse and talented they are, but the interesting thing is that they are the first class to be learning under the guidance of a new curriculum. It makes me curious as to how they will compare to us when they become second years. Placing two classes side by side, who have learned and grown in different environments; how will they be different, and how will they be the same? It may be like watching tigers living on Earth, and tigers living on the moon.
I had never thought about it before, but the first and second year classes seem to occupy similar, yet distinct niches in the medical school world. The both of us are students still beginning our careers, knowing only a small fraction of what there is to know about medicine, and yet what a difference a year can make! From the anatomy and histology of last year, I now find myself better prepared in studying inflammatory diseases and their causes. My years’ worth of experiences with standardized patients gives me a strong foundation when I find myself now interacting with real ones.
As I write this, I can plainly see now how everything is starting to come together. I used to imagine that time was discrete. I used to think that one year “ended” and another “began,” and I often tried to think back and pinpoint a certain day where I could say, “That was the day I realized I could do well in medical school,” or, “This was the day I became comfortable with talking to patients.” My classmates and I have often asked ourselves if that time will ever come in the future where we will simply know that we are skilled and competent doctors; as if to say that one day we will not know, yet the next day we shall. But I know now that the path to becoming a doctor is an ever-increasing and ever-intertwining process. It won’t happen in a day, but neither will it take forever. Perhaps it may be marked, not by the sudden and swift change, but by the small moments of time when knowledge from the past meets the experiences in the present.
“Planet Earth – The Future: Saving Species.” Planet Earth: The Complete Series. Prod. Fergus Beeley. BBC Video, 2007. DVD.