Expectations Entering Medical School

Neil Bhavsar


August 30, 2017

What Everyone Else Says

I've reached out to my school's admission staff, my mentors, current students, r/medicalschool on Reddit, StudentDoctorNetwork, and Medscape Medical Students. All I can say is that it is a lot to take in at once. With all the different perspectives, it is hard to identify the philosophies that will resonate with me; what is worse is that I consider myself to be someone who would rather be overprepared than underprepared. With that, I have half-heartedly made my peace (read: accepted defeat) with the idea that I will have to wait and see for myself. Although, that's not to say that I couldn't find anything directly relevant to me in this period of limbo.

An extremely common motif buried in the thick haystack of information that is often explicitly stated—sometimes urgently, in all caps, on most resources—is that matriculating students should not do any "medical school studying or related activities" before medical school begins. This seems like a simple enough request. Other than you mistakenly stumbling into a library and accidentally taking notes on the most recent edition of the Gray's Anatomy textbook that just happened to surreptitiously find its way to you, the prescription for leisure sounds impossible to disobey. In fact, my most recent "clinical experience" has been marathoning season 10 of Grey's Anatomy.

OK, fine—I did rebel a little.

Full disclosure: I looked up my course syllabus, information on studying for board exams, required textbooks, and research opportunities and have even made an optimistic attempt at a daily schedule. But at the end of the day, this was all in the hopes of mental preparation more than anything else.

Expectation: The Root of All Sorrow

More than just looking through Ikea for apartment furniture, scavenging Amazon for the most affordable textbooks, and scouring Costco for the best laptop for note-taking, I want to make sure I am mentally prepared for what might be ahead. "Hope for the best, prepare for the worst." It seems like I might have a new, slightly melodramatic mantra. Although optimism is definitely in my corner, I want to be as honest as I can with myself, and in turn, with the people whom I care about.

Although I like to think that I may have some downtime, I don't want to make any promises to anyone that I can't keep. Moreover, I don't want to set my expectations so that I'll be let down myself. Med school is tough; I wouldn't want to make it any tougher by disappointing myself and those that I care about. But at the same time, I do aim to hold myself to a set of expectations that focus on organization, discipline, and endurance. Everything I learn after a week from now is imperative for my medical education; it is something that I expect myself to understand and internalize if I ever hope to be the best physician I can be.


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