Reflections on Four Years in Medical School

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the last four years. Two days ago marked the last day of my last rotation in medical school. I’m done. I have been officially informed by the registrar that I have been approved to graduate, so at this point, I’m just getting ready to move and transition to life as a resident in general surgery. Just waiting to put on that cap and gown and to begin changing all my website registrations from “Mr.” to “Dr.” And with that come many thoughts about these years and how they have changed me from the person who arrived at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine just about four years ago.

The timing has been right for just this kind of thing, especially this last week: I was on my last rotation in medical school, and also continue to be involved in teaching medical students in other years. Over the past two weeks, I have had the fortune of being involved as an instructor or facilitator for students in their first, second, and third years of medical school. In a very short period of time, I’ve gotten to see a cross-section of students in all four of those transformative years and it’s been the impetus for my own reflections. And quite frankly, it’s been pretty awesome. Seeing students from all four years in short succession, in academic settings, has really given me an invaluable perspective on medical education.

At age 29, I moved to Cleveland and left everybody behind: family, friends, and a significant other I’d been living with. I left behind a career in information security and software engineering, with a resume of clients that many would be happy to have at any age. I left behind a salary that I won’t even come close to again for at least nine or ten more years after graduation. I left behind the energy, passion, and creativity of the city I was born in, the city that I knew and loved so much. I left behind a community of people who felt a passion for the same kind of music that I do, something which is most definitely not present in a midwestern city known as the “Home of Rock and Roll.” I left behind physicians and therapists who’d been instrumental in my rehab success. I left behind everything that the movers couldn’t load onto the back of the truck.

I left behind my entire life, to start anew from scratch, to transform into reality the dream I’d had of being a physician since I was a child. But at the point of moving from New York to Cleveland, the thought of me as a physician was so far off in the future, it wasn’t even close to being real. I may have been ready to start medical school, but I had plenty of time before I’d be a doctor.

Boy, was I wrong.

People always say that four years in medical school goes by quickly. “Sure, I bet it does.” And while I believed it, the experience is something that one can’t fully comprehend until you’ve been through it. It’s impossible that it’s already been four years.

To be continued! I’m going to keep reflecting over the next several posts, with each successive post being focused on each individual year in medical school. So check back in a day or two for the next post on the first year of medical school!

 
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