Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Kevin debunks 2 myths about medical school

1. Medical students are really smart

There seems to be some kind of general assumption that you have to be really smart to do medicine. Not true. Medical schools come in all shapes and sizes and with that, different entrance requirements. While the kids over at WashU are probably phenomenal test-takers and would be considered “smart”, the average med school is quite different. People come from all walks of life and while we’re certainly not dumb, most of us really aren’t that smart. The majority of medical students would not hack it in physics, mathematics, even engineering. Hell, looking at averaged VR MCAT scores, most of us are bad at reading as well. Unlike some other fields, medicine doesn’t require its applicants to be the sharpest knife the drawer, only the eagerest. Those who have academic deficits can more than make up for in volunteer work, perhaps save a few African babies. So what people lack in intelligence, they make up for in good ol’ fashion gumption. This isn’t really a bad thing. Medicine is ultimately a service industry and intelligence alone isn’t always enough (unless you’re a neurosurgeon, then it’s probably good enough). But regular people out there: your doctor may be smarter than the average Joe, but that doesn’t mean he’s a genius.

2. Medical school is difficult

The materials covered in medical school are not difficult. Everything is mostly memorization and regurgitation. Rarely do you have to take what you know and apply it to a truly novel situation. Perhaps this will change in second year but so far, it’s been pretty mundane. That’s not to say classes are not time consuming. Memorizing a lot of random facts takes a decent amount of work, but then again so is laying bricks and neither is really that challenging. A lot of my non-medicine friends really believe medical school is the pinnacle of academic rigor and honestly I don’t have the heart to tell them otherwise. Instead, I play into their assumption and pretend I’m just busy all the time with work. Sometimes I’ll tussle my hair up a little bit before approaching some non-medical friends so I look a bit more frazzled (ok not really but I’m willing to go this far if they catch wind of my ruse).


Anonymous said...

Ha ha. Americans stupid and lazy! Just look, they elect President George Bush!!! (Sorry this bad writing, but english is my 2nd language.)

jadamsuw said...

I think you make some interesting points, but I'd argue that the 'myth' about medical school being 'hard' is really just a matter of misinterpretation. Like you say, the material is not conceptually difficult to understand, but the actual process of getting through medical school and studying everything -can- be difficult.

It's time-consuming, it's a lot of work, it sucks up a lot of energy. In the end, you don't have to be brilliant to comprehend it or succeed, but you have to put in a lot of work, and that can be exhausting and damaging to social interaction.

On the other one, you're pretty much right on. Med students are intelligent, but we're not the super-brains of society. There are definitely more intellectually taxing topics than medicine. Being a doctor is about more than just extremely high IQs, it's about an attitude and a desire and, yes, even gumption. The researchers are the brainy ones.

K said...

I think that's a legitimate point. I was thinking of "difficult" as in conceptually difficult rather than amount of time necessary for studying.

Anonymous said...

I wonder if this would have still been posted if Kevin had been studying for the immuno final at the time... ;)

Anonymous said...

Hey all! I heard about this comic through SDN and I have to say it's so funny! I won't be apply to med school until next year, but I will definitely keep reading! (Always love having stuff to do when I'm procrastinating...) ^_^