>May 30 2002

>“What a long, strange trip it’s been.” – The Grateful Dead

It has been a long and strange trip, but also a wonderful and satisfying one. If not officially, I am at least a de facto M2 now. We finished school a week ago and it has taken me the whole seven days to sit back and contemplate on the last year enough to come up with what I want to write about. I still have my psychiatry final exam and NBME scores for neurobiology and physiology unreported, so it will be a few more weeks until I know my final grades and class rank. I finished on a strong note though, and even did well on the last of my practical exams, those horrible trials that proved to be the scourge of my first year experience.

Now the summer stretches out before me like it did when I was a kid, a road that at least from the starting gate, looks like it goes on forever. I know that when its in my rearview mirror however, that it will have been just a mere blip of pavement. I have plans that will more than fill it up. Reading stuff for fun – almost a forgotten pleasure. Coaching my daughters’ softball team – we are off to a 2-0 start and now have a 14 game winning streak dating back to last season. Movies! – I’ve already caught Attack of the Clones and Spider-Man at the big screen plus The Others and K-PAX on video. Theater – front row tickets for a production of Stephen King’s Misery at the local playhouse. Crossword puzzles. Workouts at the gym. A few weeks in New Mexico visiting Mom and Grandma. Besides all of the fun stuff, I guess I need to justify my school-free existence somewhat. Guilt over not earning my keep will force me to look for some computer work. Also I have a day scheduled to tail an ER physician and another to ride along on an ambulance service. And I’m running the outdoor play activities for Vacation Bible School at church next week. The one thing I won’t do this summer is complain about being bored.

Our coursework for the M1 year included the following which I have ranked from my highest to lowest grade:
1. Psychiatry
2. Physiology
3. Neurobiology
4. Histology
5. Gross Anatomy
6. Biochemistry

I think its no coincidence that my grades improved throughout the year. I came into medical school with a poor life science background. I did not have all of the typical pre-med courses. My knowledge of anatomy was so poor that I was not completely sure which side the liver was on. I was in way over my head for the first two months, but as each new course began, my confidence grew and they seemed to build on each other so that by the third or fourth time I was exposed to something it began to stick.

During the last weeks of school I was invited to a luncheon with a bunch of accepted applicants for this fall. The idea was to bring them in and let them ask questions and to avoid the long period of silence from the time they get accepted until school starts. The best advice I had for the incoming students at my table was, “have fun!” There are so many people in my class who are in such a hurry to get this “school stuff” over with so they can go about the business of being doctors. Medical school is seen as something you must suffer through and endure to get in the club. Maybe it is my perspective of having worked in an office for the last 13 years, but this is a pretty good life. I wear shorts and a t-shirt every day. I sit under trees to eat my lunch. I’m surrounded by really smart and motivated people, some of whom I am sure will go on to do great things. Sure there are stressful times and you get sick of cramming facts into your brain only to realize a week after the exam that they are mostly gone. But all in all, the good stuff so far outweighs the bad, I can’t imagine that I won’t someday look back, and consider these to be the best times of my life.

I know I have been slow to post the last month as I spent a lot of time studying for finals and then recovering from them. I am hoping to post pretty regularly over the summer with reflections about the year and thoughts of what’s to come. Thanks for reading!

About Marcus Lee

Child Neurologist
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