13.1 miles in, warmed up and steady

I’ve reached a symbolic midway point in the basic sciences portion of my medical education; three of five blocks in this semester are done, with this being the third of five semesters.

The work of men who died generations ago. From here, it looks like an achievement.

I have developed reservations about the whole process of school, but nevertheless, the fact remains that time has passed and I have learned. Is it an achievement? That’s a very subjective question. In old posts I spoke of what I considered two different types of achievement: personal and existential. In fact, I explicitly said that education was always a personal achievement rather than an existential one, and my opinion on the matter remains so. Over the last ten months, I have understood the machinations and theories of other men, not created my own. This is the key flaw to such an education; however, there is nothing worth doing to change it. Shortly, I will be gone from this place, and the island will be another memory of my past.

That said, the material we’re covering is the most clinically relevant stuff we’ve learned so far. Various pathogens, the complex function of the immune system, and very circuitous (but applicable) neuroscience. The current block for microbiology is a survey of virology, which is a very interesting subject despite the droning lectures we receive.

I am looking forward to starting rotations in a little more over a year, finally seeing things in full color and form. It’s a strange question to ask myself – now that I’m here, halfway, would I start over and do it all again? This question doesn’t really represent the process that will be the other half of my education. In the first half, I developed the capacity to handle large swathes of material and study habits that will assist me for the rest of my life.

Someone wise once asked me:

How do you make a test for someone smarter than yourself?

At the time, I didn’t fully appreciate the answer to the question. I was in high school, and academic achievement tests were a joke. They were timed, difficult, and represented the perfect opportunity to prove my intelligence to others without; the tests were a pure ego-flexing opportunity to have a numerical value to rank me against my peers. The point the question made, nonetheless, was that to make any test harder, you shorten the amount of time allotted to take the test.

Take this notion and supersize it from a test to an entire curriculum, and you have medical school. The material is not hard, the volume is just incredible. It is manageable, though, and begets a transformative experience. While I initially disliked the lack of creativity, the courses I am taking have become more and more detailed, which is to my liking; the purpose is to serve as a survey rather than canvas.


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