My First Week of Medical School: A Recap

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Hi everyone! Thanks for being patient as I get used to this being a student thing again - this has been the LONGEST week of my life. My brain has been in sleep mode for the last 15 months so the adjustment has been...well...interesting. I find myself coming home from class ready to fall asleep at 6pm. Sadly, that's just not an option! 

Our College of Osteopathic Medicine - Inaugural Class!
Medical school feels like finals week every single day. I feel like I've been here for a month already - it's nuts! 

I'd like to give a little recap of what classes have been like and my expectations of what a typical week will be like for the rest of the semester.

First of all, I have 4 "classes" going on at one time for the next several months: a Scientific Foundations, Introduction to Clinical Medicine, Osteopathic Principles & Practice, and Gross Anatomy & Development.

Scientific Foundations: For the first few months of class, SF will be a review of all my basic sciences from college - basically 4 years of material compressed into 12 weeks or so. After that, I'll start my systems-based course. The good news about medical school is that you aren't expected to know the basic sciences at a detailed level like a biologist or biochemist would. The bad news is the AMOUNT of material is immense. Conceptually the material in medical school isn't any harder than college but putting all your knowledge together and being able to apply it in different situations is the tough part.

This class might be my saving grace since I've already learned this information multiple times in undergrad. That said, I never learned or relearned this much material in such a short period of time. And there is no white space on my lecture notes - where am I supposed to write?

Introduction to Clinical Medicine: This is our "learning to be a doctor" course which seems like it will be a lot of fun! ICM is where I will learn how to take a history, do a physical, and explore topics like professionalism, ethics, and diversity. Once we have some basic skills we will have the opportunity to work with standardized patients, simulations, and early clinical exposure.

Osteopathic Principles & Practice: OPP is what marks the difference between the medical education of my MD and DO colleagues (I'm doing DO). The most identifiable thing we learn in OPP is OMM or osteopathic manipulative medicine. OMM/OMT focuses on the palpation and manipulation of bones, joints, fascia, and muscles to diagnose and treat dysfunctions and disease. This class goes hand in hand with anatomy. In order to succeed in OPP, you have to know your anatomy. Period. 

( Not my class but this is what it looks like)

We are already practicing our palpatory skills which means we were all walking about shirtless (girls in sports bras) feeling each others ribs and vertebrae from day one. Talk about getting comfortable with people quickly (and having tremendous motivation to go to the gym). 

Gross Anatomy & Development: Anatomy is going to be rough. It's largely about memorization and it's the foundation for EVERYTHING I'm going to be learning in the future. Anatomy runs almost until the end of the first semester - I think it's 16 weeks long which is not much time to learn every nook and cranny of the body - you and I are made of a lot of STUFF! 

I first want to start off by saying how grateful I am that so many people out there are willing to donate their bodies to science to further my education. I believe we will be having a memorial/thank you service for these individuals and their families once our lab is complete. We started our first cadaver dissection last Wednesday and will be in the lab three times a week until Thanksgiving. So basically I will have a permanent anatomy student smell until Christmas. The embalming smells awful but you get used to it until you're eating lunch and still smell it on your hands. 

As for the actual dissection, I was pretty nervous when I first walked into the lab. I've been in anatomy labs before when I interviewed at various schools but I wasn't sure how I would respond once we actually "met" our cadaver and started our dissection. I was a little tentative at first but quickly got my hands dirty (literally) and grew more comfortable with the process in a short period of time. It's so interesting to see how much human variation there is - nothing looks like the textbooks!  If you have any questions about anatomy lab or this process, please email me! 

Let's just say these are my new best friends!
Wrap Up: 
So week one is over! I survived but I was pretty lax on myself and didn't try to over do it the first week with anything. I met some of my college friends for dinner one night, I went out with my new med school friends this weekend, and I spent a lot of time just getting organized and figuring out how to attack the material properly. 
Medical Student or just Jaundiced?
Now I know what to expect, I'm going hard this week with my workouts and my studying. Nick is coming to visit and I want to make sure I can devote as much of my weekend as possible to hanging out with him.

That's all folks! Here goes Week 2!


  1. You will get right back in the groove, and it sounds like you ready pretty much have. You will most likely drop weight just from the change in routine and demand on you body, so try not to be too hard on yourself with workouts. Workout to help with stress, etc. but don't push yourself too far. :)

  2. I know it's totally lame, but I kinda love med school. Don't stress too much, it took most students 4-5 weeks to really get into the groove of studying in medical school, it's a totally different ballgame. Give yourself some time to adjust, and don't be too hard on yourself!

  3. This is taking me back, haha. First year is definitely a big adjustment, but it sounds like you're really excited to be there, and you'll do fine!! I start my clerkship in exactly ONE week. Ahh!!

  4. I remember my husband telling me that they had certain clothes that they only wore during anatomy lab and kept them in lockers. Yuck! What an amazing experience though. Great job on your first week!

  5. My brain hurts just reading all of this! New follower here! :)

  6. We alternate weeks in Anatomy here (Group A and Group B), so I was in the lab every day last week and I swear I permanently smell like the lab! For me, the embalming fluid isn't as bad as the moistening fluid. It smells weirdly minty but it burns my eyes when I'm staring too closely to the body, like when we were trying to isolate the suboccipital and greater occipital nerves and the vertebral artery. But it's absolutely insane how much I've learned in just one week! Glad your first week went well too!

  7. congrats on your first week!! and good luck on week 2!

  8. This is my 3rd year of pharmacy school, and it was definitely the roughest first week I've had... probably ever. Glad your week went well!

  9. I feel you. I remember when I was a med student, everyday was always a long day in school.
    Goodluck! :)

  10. I am LOOOOOOOOVING your blog! And this was soooo interesting to read through! :) I'm glad your first week was successful and so good, but it sounds like a whole lot of information to process, too! I'm looking forward to more med school updates! :)

  11. Woohoo yay for a great first week! That's so cool that you dissected a cadaver- I love dissections :) Your ICM course sounds really fun too!

    Do you by any chance go to UCSF? The building looks oddly familiar haha. LOVING these posts!

    xo, Hima
    Hima Hearts

  12. This is so cool! Congratualtions to you! I was exciting to here that you are going to become a DO. I much perfer them to an MD. Best wishes!

    ~Ashley @ A Cute Angle

  13. Ahhhh medical school and cadaver smells! Good times! Congrats and I am def your newest follower! I just started grad school in the pathologist assistant field so I feel some of your pain!