So it finally hit me. It took 4 years of college, 2 years of a master’s program and 3 years of medical school for me to finally not feel dumb anymore. Up until last week if you asked me if I felt smart I would have answered absolutely not. Now though, depending on the mood/day/hanger status, I might actually answer “maybe”. You would think anyone in medical school feels confident of themselves and their knowledge from literal decades of education, but unfortunately that’s frequently not the case. We quickly realize that each step up the educational ladder only brings another, more rigorous step provided appropriately by better professors. TA’s freshman year became Ph.D’s senior, then MD/Ph.D’s holding million dollar grants in graduate school to now nationally recognized instructors with more years in practice than I’ve been alive with so many initials (accreditations) behind their name they could win any game of scrabble, twice.
It’s been a daunting road to say the least and studying for Step 1 last year made this blatantly obvious. Step is an 8-hour comprehensive exam every medical students takes after year 2 on everything they’ve learned so far. Pass this and congratulations! You can pass go, collect your white coat and start your clinical rotations. Problem is you have to review 2 years of material WHILE still taking classes with your resulting score only determining your future. Score well enough and you can theoretically apply to any residency program, score poorly and you’ve limited yourself to just a few. Studying for Step reinforced how little I knew. How grandiose medicine was. Why you’re taught biology in medicine school by a Ph.D in that field and why only they would score a perfect on the biology section on Step and not you. There was just so much to know!
While I was technically getting smarter every day, it sure didn’t feel like it. I was do 150+ questions in a day while watching tutorials and drafting copious notes only to redo several of those questions the following week and still get 1/2 of them wrong! That was a dark, dark time and my heart goes out to anyone currently going through that (MDL) or in the future. But that made me slowly realize something. The more you see, the more effort you put into your studies, the more those dark corners of the map (insert Age of Empires reference) slowly disappears, and as of lately, it’s been showing. Recently when my preceptor has us practicing cases, I can form nearly complete differentials, predict more accurately the appropriate next course of action, and most importantly (jokingly) kill less theoretical patients. Yay for improvement, right? But what makes me the happiest is what this does for me internally. Instead of making me complacent with what I’ve learned it’s made me hungry for more. In the last month alone I’ve purchased 3 medical text books with >1,500 combined pages and I can’t wait to finish them! I hate making mistakes and thrive off seeing the green check when submitting multiple choice questions online. I simply want to get smarter every day. And this (finally) brings me to Destin Sandlin since he does too.
Destin runs a YouTube channel appropriately titled “Smarter Every Day”. He’s an engineer who got hooked, like me, on making every day meaningful. He quickly realized that while he’s a smart guy there’s still a lot he didn’t know. And he did exactly what any person in those shoes should do, dive in 100% and talk to the experts. Because of this and his addictive personality, artsy animated computer graphics and interesting topics, he’s gathered >4.6 millions followers on YouTube. I’ve followed him for +2 years now from when he interviewed Barack Obama, walked through the NASA mockup of the international space station to when he explained why (with the help of Neil Tyson Degrasse of course) if a helicopter’s blades stopped rotating it won’t fall from the sky like a rock. He’s an awesome YouTuber I think everyone should at least know of and if you’re interested in the sciences and want to spend ~10-minutes actually learning something, rather than listening to Lonely Island & Michael Bolton rap for the 57th time, he’s your guy. Hope everyone enjoyed their weekend see you all tomorrow!