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Washoe County Medical Society

One Student’s Journey

The first months of medical school have been a learning process. Week 1, I was prepared to do whatever it took to get through the mountains of material, no matter the time required. Week 2, I learned that I need to sleep enough if I want to function. Week 3, I found a tentative sleep/study balance. Week 4, as I prepared for my first exam, I began to see that my studying efforts were fruitful—I remembered far more than I expected to!

Many describe the medical school workload as “drinking from a fire hose”, but as a first-year medical student, I find that the pancake metaphor is much more encompassing. For those of you that are not familiar with it, the metaphor goes a little like this.

Every day in medical school, students are served four to five pancakes (four to five lectures). It’s manageable. But the trick is that if one does not eat all her pancakes for any given day, they get added to the next day’s stack. If a student is not diligent about eating her pancakes, she may find herself 60 pancakes deep with only three days before an exam.

I have found that these pancakes come in many flavors. Some lectures are exciting and enticing, while others are more difficult to swallow. Telling friends, the day’s pancake flavors has actually become a pretty effective way to communicate a day’s difficulty. Telling a friend that medical school is hard will typically elicit responses along the lines of, “You are a great student! It cannot be too bad” or “you are the best student I know!”. However, when I tell my friends or family that I just ate three mushroom and liver pancakes, they immediately understand my plight and are more able to empathize with the unique struggles of medical school.

With the first block of medical school behind me, I have settled into what is at present a doable rhythm of learning—that is still supremely challenging.