Next up in our series of featured med school bloggers is d.o.ctor blog, an anonymous third year osteopathic med student. Enjoy the “d.o.ctor’s” thoughtful answers and use them to help you make your way through the med school admissions process.
Accepted: Is med school anything like you had expected it to be?
d.o.ctor: I knew medical school would be difficult, but I had no idea how challenging it was until I was fully immersed in it. Looking back on it, the first two years of medical school were the roughest because I was so far away from what I wanted to be doing. I was in a dark lecture hall for 9 hours a day, sitting in the same seat and listening to lectures. Then I would go home and try to mentally store the huge amount of information that had been presented to me that day. My focus was on preparing for quizzes, exams, and oral presentations. There was no patient contact; the closest thing to a clinical experience were the fictitious cases used to helped learn the material. We did have OSCE (Objective Structured Clinical Examination) classes during the second semester of second year, and I really enjoyed those. It was the first time I felt like I was learning to be a doctor. But the first two years build your fund of knowledge, they create the foundation so that you can be a good doctor. They are absolutely necessary. Without that firm base, you can’t improve and be a good physician for your patients.
Third year has been the best so far. I love the patient contact, the rapport I establish with the people I meet, and putting the pre-clinical information I learned and correlating it with actual cases. I also enjoy the team-work dynamic of the hospital setting. I’ve had a great time on my rotations, and everyone I’ve met at my clinical sites has been welcoming and eager to teach. The hardest thing these days is trying to decide which field I want to pursue, I’ve had a lot of fun on all of my clerkships!
Accepted: What attracted you to osteopathic medicine?
d.o.ctor: I had never heard of Osteopathic Medicine until my college pre-med advisor told me about it. It got the ball rolling in my head, but it wasn’t until I started reading about it years later that I understood what it was about. It was the philosophy, the holistic approach to the patient, and the Osteopathic techniques that allow the body to heal itself that made me very interested in it. I’ve surprised myself at how involved I’ve been in OMM-related activities. I presented a paper I had written combining my Medical Humanities background and my new studies in Osteopathic Medicine at a literary conference during my first year. It was exciting to introduce a new audience to the idea of Osteopathic Medicine. As a third year, I’ve been active in the OMM clinic at the hospital where I’ve been based. It’s been incredibly rewarding to see how OMT can be utilized for actual clinical cases. I’ve also taught workshops on OMT, and currently working on a research project regarding Osteopathic Manipulative Techniques.
Accepted: Can you tell us a bit about “medical humanities”?
d.o.ctor: The term medical humanities refers to the interdisciplinary fields of humanities, the arts, and social science and their involvement in medicine, both in education and practice. They offer insight into the human condition. I specifically studied Medicine and English Literature, so my background is in applying literary techniques such as observation and analysis, emphasis on language and communication, character study, and historical perspective to the skills of medical practice to develop a more humanistic medical care.
I was a Biology & English Lit double major in college, and I always thought that I had to pick one or the other and pursue a more focused path of academia. But when I learned more about the Medical Humanities, I realized I could embrace both at the same time. It allowed me to find my niche in medicine, and now I feel I can give back something to the medical field.
Accepted: What is your favorite class so far?
d.o.ctor: Pathology was my favorite out of my pre-clinical courses. I had 2 great professors that made learning the material enjoyable and approachable. I’m also a visual learner, so I liked being able to see the images of the diseases.
My favorite rotations during my third year have been Family Medicine and ObGyn. I worked in a fantastic practice for FM, and everyone there made the experience incredibly fulfilling and fascinating. I loved getting to know my patients, and because I was there for 8 weeks straight, I was able to see my patients multiple times. I learned a lot from being a part of their continuous care. I had a great preceptor who I value as a mentor. He taught me about the medicine, but also the art of the practice and what life is like after residency.
ObGyn was my favorite module during second year, and I’m inspired by women’s health, so I knew I would enjoy my ObGyn rotation. I worked with an incredible attending who encouraged me throughout the clerkship. I was able to participate in a number of deliveries and surgeries, and I loved every minute of it. There’s nothing like seeing a baby born and witnessing a new life. I don’t think listening to fetal heart sounds or looking at sonograms could ever get boring for me. Embryology is amazing, to think that we were just a ball of cells once and how we developed into the people we are now. That’s why I love what I get to do. The human body is awe-inspiring.
Accepted: Why did you decide to begin blogging about your med school experience? Do you think you’ll ever go public about your identity?
d.o.ctor: Before starting school I had looked around for Osteopathic medical student blogs, and came up with very little. The medical student blogs I did find were mostly about how to succeed and get the best scores. While there is an audience for that kind of information, I was looking for personal experiences to help me understand what medical school might be like. And when I didn’t find what I was looking for, I decided to start a blog myself. I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember, so blogging has given me the space to work on my craft as well as offer a kind of therapy to make sense of what I’ve encountered. It’s also been a great way to chronicle this very unique experience; not everyone is able to become a doctor and I appreciate the privilege everyday. But what has been the most rewarding from blogging has been the way I’ve been able to connect with people all over the world. I’ve recently received emails from readers sharing their own stories with me, and I’m so grateful for that. I love when people take the time to comment; I write for an audience and it’s great reading their feedback.
I have thought about going public with my identity. I have to admit, when I first read that question, it made me feel a little like Batman or an action hero in disguise! It’s a little exciting to be mysterious. But joking aside, I can understand how being anonymous might take away credibility because I’m not signing my name to it. But I took on “d.o.ctor” as my pen name, and I stand by every word I’ve written on my blog. Part of it is to maintain patient privacy, but a large part is maintaining my privacy. I find that’s hard to do in this day when everyone’s information is accessible with internet searches. I’m not on Facebook or other social media venues because that’s a personal choice, which has made building up an online audience rather challenging. Also, being anonymous gives me a sense of freedom, and I can be as honest and genuine as possible. I share many personal stories, not just the medical. Perhaps one day, maybe after graduating from medical school and I’m an actual doctor, I’ll share my name. But for now, I like having a place where I feel I can write freely and share anecdotes with my readers.
Accepted: Looking back, is there anything you’d do different in the med school application process?
d.o.ctor: I received an acceptance early in the process, so I ended up canceling interviews that had been scheduled later down the road. There were several financial and logistical reasons in place. But, if I could go back in time, I probably would go on those interviews to learn more about other schools’ curriculums, and to get a better sense of my options. But I try not to look back and dwell on the “would-of could=of should-of” I’d like to think that things happen for a reason.
Accepted: Are there any things in particular you did before starting med school that made the transition back to student life easier?
d.o.ctor: I can’t think of anything in particular. It took me a while to learn how to study medicine, so much of it is rote memorization and I’m not good at that. I like understanding concepts and progressive steps, as in Biochemistry. So, I had to teach myself to adjust to new learning styles. I also had to adapt to the fast pace of the courses and consuming large amount of information in a short amount of time. I had worked 9:00-5:00 jobs with free weekends for several years, so I also had to acclimate to the new lifestyle. So, I don’t think I did anything before starting, because I didn’t know what it would be like. It was learning as I went through it. But it sure would have been nice to have known all of that before starting.
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