Less than a week remains before my husband graduates from medical school, and here are some thoughts on what each year entails before we leave this stage forever. (Yippee!!)
MS1 (that’s medical school year 1 yo) – Classroom learning enlightened with the occasional moment of shadowing, aka – gasp – patient interaction. Basic sciences with a strong dose of humanities. At the beginning, the group travels in an amorphous pack; as the year goes on, tribes break off (the partying crowd, the married crowd, etc). Some students begin never ending “research” projects. Spouse perspective: except for anatomy, you get to see your loved one, but s/he may be busy and stressed with studying. Tips: Do some anatomy flashcards together and try to settle in.
MS2 – The classroom learning intensifies. The first major hurdle appears on the horizon: USMLE Step 1, a test that all medical students have to take. For a few months preceding this exam, many students become crazy study-a-holics who barricade themselves in the library to review books with *clever* titles like “First Aid.” Spouse perspective: Worse then first year because your spouse may become a libs zombie and, if not, many of his/her friends will, thus limiting your social circle. Tips: Help your spouse find balance while studying and make yourself some friends outside the medical school.
MS3: The most difficult and interesting year of medical school, the year that suppposedly separates medical students from their emotions and helps them find their calling. During this year students do rotations aka clerkships in neuro, ob/gyn, peds, family medicine, internal medicine medicine, and surgery. There will be sleep deprivation and “pimping” and working on weekends and gentle hazing from the residents and “shelf” exams. So not only do they work their behinds off, they get tested on information they are somehow supposed to make time to learn. This year many med students leave temporarily to get addition degrees like MFAs, MPHs, social work degrees, PhDs, etc etc. Spouse perspective: Supportive care!! Just get your spouse through the rotations and relish the weekends in between rotations. Pay attention to what s/he likes and dislikes as that will determine their residency and your fate. Tips: Stay in touch with the friends doing other programs but also cultivate those outside friendships because things are only going to get more fragmented.
MS4: Much better than 3rd year, in my experience, but it depends on what residency your spouse preferred in MS3. Med students do various required and elective rotations and may travel about the country. The most important part of the year is applying to, interviewing at, ranking, and matching into residency programs. Therefore there is a lot of “vacation” time built in. Of course if you have 3 interviews in 3 different cities in one week, it ain’t no vacation. Spouse perspective: You may love it or hate it. It depends on what program your spouse is doing. Many people think this is the best MS year to have babies, but that’s a big decision. Tips: If you can tag along do – meet all the nice residents and fams, eat good food, get a feel for the town. If your spouse prefers a cutthroat, I mean, competitive residency, where students have to interview at 50 places just to get a spot (and probably not the one s/he wanted)… all I can say is, keep your spouse sane.
So there you have it, 4 years of medical school in one succinct blog post! Team effort, y’all, team effort.