Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Don't Scare the M1s = Lie to the M1s?

I signed up for the M1-M2 buddy system at my school, although I later pulled out because I exceeded my personal limit of (5) extracurricular activities. (I'm still trying to push that number down, btw.)

This program is new, but surprisingly developed. Two M2s become 'parents' (a very loosely applied term, since it doesn't matter what gender they are) to a 'family' of two to five M1s. Requests are allowed, there are mandatory hang-out days, and M2s get trainings and a booklet to face common situations/crises. This didn't exist for my class, but I'm glad it does now.

The other day I was talking with the M2 friend with who would have been my fellow 'parent' had I not bowed out. (I know because they didn't take me off the email list until...last week.) We were talking frankly about the health problems that arise because of the stress of med school. Insomnia, GERD, IBS, Crohn's exacerbations, idiopathic rashes and infections, migraines, panic attacks, and injuries due to excessive-coping exercise are things that a sample of four students experience(d). Yikes.

And my friend said that she wished the M1s knew. "They told us, 'don't scare the M1's,' a.k.a. 'Lie to the M1's,'" she sighed. I was sad to hear that.

I find myself guilty of something like it: I always encourage. Whenever I meet an M1, I tell them that the first year is awesome and not bad, to counter everything that everyone said to me and still says. "Oh," people say sarcastically when they hear you're starting med school, "have fun with that." The assumption beneath everyone's words is always that it's awful! Reactively, I take up the contrary assumption.

But maybe I shouldn't. Maybe I should stop automatically proffering an opinion about how med school is, and start asking "how are you?" and "how is it going?" If asked, I can tell people the honest truth:

Med school isn't as bad as everyone said it would be, after I adjusted from moving. I had enough time to do the things I wanted and study hard. Even so, I think the stress is undeniable and I started to feel it in ways I hadn't before.... So enjoy doing what you've wanted to do for many years, work hard, take care of your health, and don't lose your soul's peace.

Pray for us! Med students, for good or ill, expect a lot of themselves and can drive themselves to destruction. Only with Christ is the proper balance of work and rest, so pray we look to His example!


  1. Great insights, especially re asking M1s in a genuine way how they are doing. That has to mean so much to them coming from an M2. And who knew that medical students suffer from so many stress-related conditions? Will keep you in my prayers, Miss Matins!

    1. Thank you. I never imagined that med school would put me through bodily stress, either. I always brushed off people saying "it's so hard," thinking cancer is hard, war is hard, abuse is hard; med school? Please! They want to do this, and it's only school. I see better now; med students want to be doctors and this is education, but there is much more going on.

      There are elements of our character (like perfectionism, audacity, desires for affection and excellence) that are against us; there are elements of the profession (which rightly dispose it to hierarchy, lingo, and expectations exceeding capacities) that end up against us; and there are elements of the current system (like fewer residency spots than med students, low pay, paperwork, red tape, and debt) that are against us. And none of us are in a vaccuum--we still have families (nuclear, of origin, or both) that need more or less attention. It's rather a lot for a young person, especially if they're also want to lead a spiritual life and fight the culture wars.

      Sorry for rambling on, but I think you'll understand.