Secrets to Preserving One’s Sanity in Med School

Victoria-headerWow! It’s been a LONG time since I last posted anything. My excuse? Medical school got in the way!

I feel as though I need to recap everything that has happened since, but I’ll try to be somewhat concise. Two of the most important were my first two exam sets of medical school. Now, for all you out there who have not yet had the distinct pleasure of enduring a LLUSM exam, let me set the scene.

You have been taught a plethora of information from your different classes over the course of about six weeks.

Below are the core classes you are currently taking:

  • Gross Anatomy
  • Embryology
  • Medical Physiology
  • Cell Structure & Function
  • Physical Diagnosis
  • Evidence-Based Medicine
  • Medical Biochemistry
  • Genetics

The various questions, from each lecture (of each subject), are mixed up and compiled into a single test. This test is then broken up into three separate exams to be administered over a course of three consecutive days. This format forces each student to really integrate the information from each class. In addition, one must be able to quickly switch his/her mindset from one subject (or class) to another. To top it off, the last day of the week is dedicated to lab practicums, usually anatomy and cell.

Needless to say, test week causes some anxiety! By the end of the week, students are relieved to be finished. In fact, the weekend following a test week has been dubbed, and will forever be called, a “golden weekend”! Golden weekends are the few times during the school year where LLU medical students can relax without worrying about studying or falling behind. That being said, one has to make the most out of them! My favorite golden weekend activities include sleeping, hanging out with friends, shopping, watching movies – basically, doing whatever makes me happy! After all, when Monday rolls back around, it is time to get serious again!

Anyway, now that you have some background, let’s get back to my actual experience. I was very nervous when the first test week arrived because I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. To my surprise, I survived and actually did just fine! It was hard (especially due to the volume of information), but definitely doable. That golden weekend was our School of Medicine retreat at Pine Springs Ranch. Overall, it was a fun experience getting to know fellow classmates (and faculty) outside of lectures and labs. My favorite part was probably Saturday night’s talent show. It was a blast and everyone who participated was so talented!

Six weeks later, we had our second test week. I was anxious all over again, but in the end I didn’t do too bad!

Lessons I have learned while in medical school:

  • Cling to God because He is the only One who can get you through this!
  • Relearn how to study and then study hard!
  • Previewing lectures before class is incredibly helpful.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions.
  • Learn from your mistakes, and don’t repeat them.
  • Take breaks as necessary, but not too many!
  • Collaborate and share with your classmates. (Besides, they’re the only ones who know your struggle!)
  • Preserve your sanity!

That last nugget of wisdom is essential to EVERY medical student! Medical school can be very stressful, but each person must find a way to stay sane. This may involve taking a day of rest, listening to music, exercising, finding a hobby, or even going home for Thanksgiving. Sometimes, you just need to escape for a little while. For me, I knew I had to take a break and get away. When I found out that two of my friends from college were getting married, I decided that I had to go! About a month in advance, I bought my plane ticket so that I could attend their wedding in Alabama. It was one of the best decisions that I could have made!

I flew to Alabama that Friday and attended church on Saturday. Since my family only lived a few hours away, they were able to drive down and visit me. It was such a blessing to spend quality time with my family, and it didn’t hurt that they had cooked! The following day, I attended the wedding with my three best friends (who had also flown down). We were able to witness two of our friends committing themselves to each other for life. It was such a beautiful ceremony and reception. Needless to say, it was a rejuvenating experience to take a weekend off from school and go out of town. When I got back to LLU, I went right back to studying with a renewed mindset and refreshed spirit.

Bottom line: Take care of yourself!

Anyway, here a few pictures from my weekend off!

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My family!!! Aren’t they just gorgeous! :)

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Sabbath – REUNITED with my best friends!

Post-wedding shenanigans!

Post-wedding shenanigans!

Picture with the bride!

Picture with the bride!

Thanks for reading!

Until next time…

VM

A Special Friday Night Vespers with the LLU Overseas Heart Surgery Team

James-header2This post was originally written on October 16, 2014.

“I can finally wear this new suit I got this summer!”, I thought to myself excitedly. I hurriedly got on my bike and headed for the Friday Night Vespers at the LLU Church. The vespers tonight is going to be a special program acknowledging the work done by the Loma Linda University Overseas Heart Surgery Team and also to celebrate Dr. Ellsworth E. Wareham’s 100th Birthday. I was to be the usher for the evening, so I was wore my new suit, put on my shiny but uncomfortable shoes, and even styled my hair (‘Ain’t no body’s got time for that’ when you’re in med school). So here I was, excited and pedaling my way up the hill on Anderson Street over the train tracks, and then suddenly I heard and felt a rip. My heart sank. My pants got caught on the cogwheel and ripped! I looked down and saw a fabric fuzz-ball. “Noooooo! Why, God? Why my new pants? It’s the first time I’m wearing it!” As I pedaled, I felt a pull, so I looked down and realized a thread from the torn edge is beginning to spin around the crank of the pedal and was being pulled with each rotation of pedal. My heart sunk even more and started to think “Why, Lord? Why is this happening?”…


      Just moments before the program began, guests started trickling in and I was blessed with their warm greetings, firm hand shakes, and heart-warming smiles. Soon, the music began, followed by prayer, and a video recording of Dr. Wareham and Dr. C. Joan Coggin, co-founders of the Overseas Heart Surgery Team, describing their work. The team was founded in 1963 and its specialists have performed hundreds of life-changing open-heart surgeries in numerous countries, such as Pakistan, China, Greece, Kenya, Nepal, Burma, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, South Vietnam, and Zimbabwe. They had even visited my home country, Taiwan! What touched me the most was watching the interview of one of the patients and hearing her story 30 years after her surgery. She was only 14 when she had the heart surgery. After her surgery, life became difficult in Vietnam because of the war and after 3 failed attempts of escaping and 7 months in jail, she finally made it to Thailand. Eventually she arrived at Canada where she met her husband and started a family.

      Although many years passed, she never stopped thinking about the physicians who saved her life. She says that everyone should always remember those who have helped them in their lives. So while she worked at her hair salon, she would keep telling her clients about the American surgeons who operated on her in Vietnam. She did not know their names but she remembered the date of the surgery. Eventually, one of her clients went online to do some research using the date she had given him. He decided the physicians must be from Loma Linda Medical Center. The patient’s son then wrote an e-mail to Loma Linda Medical Center and Dr. Roger Hadley responded to her e-mail. He was a medical student who went to Vietnam with the team. In fact, the patient told us that she remembered Dr. Hadley as the “handsome doctor” in the eyes of a 14-year-old. Thirty or so years after the surgery, she was finally able to meet her doctors again when they visited her in Canada. They even accepted her offer of a haircut! As I looked at her cut the physicians’ hair, I wrapped my mind around the idea of a patient who was then a teenager is now an adult, and she is using her specialty to take care of her doctors. Wow. What a blessing that they were reunited and for this story to be told. And to think of the hundreds or thousands of lives changed by the team over the decades is just beyond comprehension.

     Dr. Hadley also described the joy of seeing a patient do well after all these years, have a wonderful family with two children, and be married to a kind, supportive husband. It must be extremely rewarding to see the impact physicians have on their patients. Most importantly, every physician humbly gave thanks to God and gave all the glory to Him. The speakers shared the power of prayer, the incredible success that was made possible because of God, and the importance of Christ-like compassion and care that touched their patients. At the end of the video interview, we were all surprised as the patient in the video appeared on stage. Her presence touched the audience and inspired a standing ovation. Towards the end of the program, I realized that she was the only one who received a standing ovation that evening and it started because the physicians at the front of the chapel stood up. I saw that as another indication of how patient-centered the physicians and health care team at Loma Linda are. In the end, it was all about the patient.

     This was a truly wonderful evening filled with praises for the Lord as His great works are evident. It was inspiring to see the many things being done by physicians of Loma Linda. Our mission to continue Jesus’ healing and teaching ministry is seen with the Overseas Heart Surgery Team, and as well as the new health center that will be opening up in San Bernardino providing professional training for high school students. I have been blessed by the example set forth by many role models and like Dr. Hart mentioned tonight, it is great to be on the shoulders of such remarkable individuals. I am so proud to be at Loma Linda and I thank God for bringing me and all of my amazing friends here as well. I look forward to all the incredible things Loma Linda health care professional graduates will be able to accomplish through God.

And happy 100th birthday to Dr. Ellsworth E. Wareham!!!

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     Oh and about my pants…right. So as I kept asking God why, it then occurred to me that perhaps something worse could have happened. I was thinking of this picture:

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Perhaps, it’s just one of those moments when God protected me from other dreadful things and this was something minor compared to what might have happened. Or perhaps, my pants will be restored miraculously! Maybe that’s a little too optimistic, I thought. Well…it turned out that God did perform a little miracle for me. Thank you Lord! You are a miracle worker!!!

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Here’s the rip with the pants rolled up while I’m biking. Now it doesn’t look too bad to me up close but it looked big and sounded really bad when it first ripped.

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Here’s the thread that got caught after the rip.

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Here’s the pants when it’s unrolled. It’s barely noticeable! I was so relieved and thankful! Hopefully I won’t need to ride my bike wearing my suit again!

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Look at that mountain of cupcakes at the reception! Beats a birthday cake, yea?

Happy Sabbath, everyone!

Babies everywhere!

Kristina, Third Year Medical Student

This post was originally written on October 16, 2014.

5:00 am – snooze

5:10 am – snooze

5:20 am — …. Fine. I grab my new change of scrubs and hit the shower. As much as I hate getting up, the warm shower is something I really look forward to in the morning. I go through the motions of washing and think about my day and the things I get to do while I am in the hospital until 8 am tomorrow morning.

6:30 am – I sit at the Maternity unit with the other medical students waiting for residents to tell me to see the new mom’s about their poop, pee, pass gas, pain, walking, bleeding, vomiting, headaches, dizziness etc.

7:30 am – We run downstairs to grab breakfast. Lauren and I have really hit it off with some of the interns, and we joke about random stuff as we eat in a rush before sign-out at 7:45.

7:45 am — Sign out from the night team, triage is full! There are ladies who are in labor and need to be admitted onto the unit from triage.

8:00 am — I talk to a patient, she says she’s here for delivery, regular contractions, no gush of fluid, some spotting, positive fetal movement, some high glucose control issues during this pregnancy but controlled with diet, no insulin, records are in the chart. I run off and present to an intern.

9:00 am — I jump into a C-section. A little intimidated by the attending but the resident with me is sweet so I have a good buffer. C-section goes well. Basically, I am in charge of suction, suture scissors, holding blades, and of course not getting in the way. There’s a delivery after the incision is made, so surgery is put on hold while the attending rushes out. The resident and I chat until the attending returns and then the surgery continues. The baby is breech, and with some maneuvering it comes out – Baby girl! Sutures here, cauterizing there, I put the staples in and help clean her up in the end.

10:00 am — Our ultrasound machine is broken. That is absolutely terrible. Triage is bursting! Alyssa, a 4th year medical student and really good friend of mine, manages to find an extra ultrasound from the ED, and we use it for a bit. I take the ultrasound to whoever needs it. Someone needs a sterile speculum exam in triage 4, I get a bed pan, sterile gloves, speculum, flash light, and a sterile swab for an FFN. After that I walk over to triage 3 to record an AFI on a lady going home (thank goodness).

11:00 am — They call for scrub! Off to another C-section. I scrub in. I was really nice to the scrub nurses last time so now they like me a bit better than last time. This is a repeat C-section and there are a lot of adhesions so it takes a little bit longer to get to the uterus this time. Soon we see the head and soon the baby is out! Another baby girl squirming on the field. I suction the baby’s mouth. They tell me to give the baby to the nurses. This is stupidly a big deal for me. Never have I ever been the first person to hold a baby in a baby’s life. I am so excited and petrified at the same time as I pick up the little, warm, slimy, screaming bundle and place it safely in the hands of the nurse. Pretty much the highlight of my day so far. We proceed to close up, I do my whole staple thing, and we are done.

12:00 pm — Random errands. Get ultrasound here. Put it in that room. Bring it back to triage. Ultrasound that patient and see if it’s vertex. Do and AFI, print it out, ETC.

1:00 pm — LUNCH. I’m all by myself. And it’s kind of amazing. As much of an extrovert as I am, this is one of the rare lunches that I have alone, and it’s so so peaceful and wonderful. I catch up on the news, reply to texts, study a bit, and of course just sit in a daze and look at the view of the city.

1:30 pm — Back upstairs! Aaaaand back to scrub into a C-section. With a different attending this time. I have the same jobs as always. Got to transfer the baby to the nurse again, which yet again made me feel excited and petrified at the same time. Seriously, after the fact, I always imagine all the ways that transfer can go wrong and I get reallllly freaked out. Didn’t have much time for those thoughts in this surgery though because for some reason I got suddenly got quite bad at cutting sutures which I have been doing fine with ALL DAY. Oh well. I will move on. I did discover that the new attending I worked with went to the same medical school as my dad!

2:40 pm — Out of C-section and back to triage work. Lauren is back from morning clinic so we divide all the med student work. More ultrasounds. Make sure a baby is vertex. One of the interns has us med students round on all the ladies in labor, see how they’re doing, check how their pain is controlled, how frequent are the contractions, and look at the fetal heart strip. He writes all the notes on what we report.

4:20 pm — The afternoon is starting to drag. This is really not a good thing because I still have 16 more hours here. Everyone is pretty stressed today, a bit snappy really, and I am doing my very best to both be helpful and also not be a tripping hazard *sigh* I’m getting hungry again.

5:30 pm — Did an ultrasound on a patient to confirm that she is breech. I love how excited parents get every time they see their baby on the monitor. This patient pulls out her phone and takes a video of her baby. She is so excited about each body part I show her! She almost is crying and talks to her baby in Spanish as I check the amount of amniotic fluid the little girl is swimming in. Given English is my first language, I’ve grown up hearing Spanish from my mom and all her side of the family. Listening to a mom babble to her baby in Spanish is just so endearing to me! I felt super lame, but I did get a bit choked up.

6:45 pm — Sign out time. All my day friends leave, and the night team joins in. I really hope to catch a baby tonight, we’ll see

7:15 pm — Dinner again. I must be REALLY hungry because I eat this salad and chicken pesto pita every night, and it tastes amazing tonight.

7:40 pm — Back to triage. We admit a lady for induction of labor and another is sent home. Our usual ultrasound is still broken so I am stuck with the old scanner. I take forever with am AFI on the first patient figuring everything out. I think my intern thinks I’m a moron. Oh welllll. The second patient goes a lot faster.

8:30 pm — I go to pediatrics with the other residents for a consult on a 14 year old with dysmenorrhea progressing to chronic abdominal pain in the past 4 months. She has been taking Norco for the past 9 months, so the decision is made to wait until she gets a clean out tomorrow to rule out constipation.

9:30 pm — One of the nurses in triage is graciously going to let me put in an IV on one of the patients, one of my requirements for this rotation. Thankfully I have a verrry nice nurse who directs me subtly every step of the way, and it all goes smoothly. There’s a lady in a lot of pain in triage. Hm. Not my patient and the intern is with her, so I continue on.

10:30 pm — another nice nurse and another check off my list, I placed a Foley catheter in a different patient. That lady in triage is louder now. She really seems like she’s in a lot of pain…and now she’s saying she’s ready to push. Hmm. Again not my patient, plus I’ve been keeping my eye on the girl in room 9 who’s 9 cm and 100% effaced, plus they’ve told me to go interview the lady in holding room 3.

11:00 pm — I’m interviewing a new patient in triage. Suddenly, the nurse runs into my room and tells me the senior resident wants me in labor and delivery room 4. I run over there, and discover the patient is the lady in so much pain in triage! No epidural. Ready to PUSH. I quickly scrub in and join my senior resident. As I watch the mom in sooo much pain, I’m reminded of all the stories of my own birth! Apparently my mom didn’t tell my dad, a radiology resident at the time, that she was having contractions because he was asleep. In the shower her water broke and then she was ready to push! 20 minutes after getting to the hospital I was out. My dad even had to deliver me because no OB doc was there yet! ANYWAY – all this was ironically running through my head as the residents push me to the front. I’m catching this little boy. Mom is screaming. Dad is trying to be brave. Baby is coming pretty fast (which I think it’s cause mom wants him OUT)! I put my hand on the babies head with firm pressure…it slides out…face is down and slides to my right…oh no! Opposite of what I practiced! I improvise which ends up with me hugging the baby to my chest and then laying him out on my right arm, suctioning his mouth and nose, clamping and cutting the cord, and collecting cord blood. Baby goes to mom who is absolutely in love once again with her third son. The pain is almost all forgotten. I turn my attention to the placenta. I look for the three main signs that the placenta is about to come out: cord lengthening, gush of blood, and balling of the uterus…aaand the placenta easily slides out within a minute. There is a second degree tear which my resident sews up. I clean mom up with betadine and cool water.

12:00 am — Another delivery in room 2! I scrub in and assist the intern. As soon as the baby slides out the nurse calls for delivery in room 7. I scrub out, leaving on my booties, mask, and hair net and scrub into the next delivery. Poor girl has chorioamnionitis and it’s her first baby. After a lot of her pushing and us counting to 10, baby slides out. He opens his eyes but doesn’t cry. He’s covered in meconium, poor guy, so he is immediately passed off to the NICU nurses who clean him up.

1:15 am — It finally calms down a bit. I’m sent to triage to do a couple ultrasounds and interviews. I go to another room to see if a baby is vertex on a mom who is doing a trial of labor after a C-section. I find the baby is breech! Sorry, mom. Probably another C-section for you.

2:00 am — More triage interviews. More ultrasounds. More sterile speculum exams. More looking at slides from for ferning. More ultrasounds.

2:45 am — I see no residents around. The intern tells me I can go to bed now and get up in time for rounds at 6:15. I climb into bed in the call room feeling every single spring in that mattress. No complaining though. It’s been a solid day. My eyelids…are…so heavy.

Of Marathons and Water Faucets

Michelle, First Year Medical Student

Being in med school isn’t a sprint. It’s a marathon, and those who succeed are those who can endure.

This shouldn’t have been a surprise for me, but it was. I’d heard medical school compared to “drinking out of a fire hydrant.” The comparison assumes that the sheer volume of information, thrown at us all at once, was what made it so hard.

Spoiler alert: that’s not what makes medical school hard.

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Me at the Holiday Classic Loma Linda Loper’s 5K — their 25th anniversary!

Well, at least not directly. That factor alone isn’t what makes medical school hard (make sure to do your multivariate analysis! Thumbs up for EBM!*). I like the analogy I heard from a fellow medical student: medical school isn’t so much like a fire hydrant as it is a water faucet turned on full-flow. . . that never stops. What makes it hard isn’t just the amount of information, it’s the amount of time we have to sustain such a high level of performance.

But I didn’t realize that at the beginning of school. I still thought the hardest thing about medical school was the large amount of material we had to learn in a short amount of time. So I was pleasantly surprised when I found that the demands of med school were very doable. Yes, we had to learn a lot, and there wasn’t much time to do it, but learning it all was far from impossible. It would just require a not-insurmountable step up from my studying habits in undergrad.

And that’s what I did. It started out well enough. I scouted around campus to find quiet study spots, fine-tuned my study methods and chose what resources to focus on for each class, and soon my days fell into a rhythm. Go to class, study. Go to class, study. Go to class, study. . . It sounds heart-rendingly dreary, but it didn’t seem so at the time. It felt good to stretch and exercise my academic capabilities, the way the endless activity of putting one foot in front of the other can be invigorating to runners.

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How studious! Just like a good little medical student.

(And I admit, I exaggerate — I took plenty of time out to have fun — watercoloring, baking, playing music, going on walks with my eight-year-old cousin, taking weekends off to go on church camping trips, visiting Disneyland. . .)

At any rate, I felt prepared when the first week of exams** rolled around. And it was nice to change things up from the grind of morning lectures-afternoon labs-evening studying. During exam week, there were no lectures to go to, no labs to do, no new material to study.

But then the second test cycle began. After a week of relative relaxation, I felt like I couldn’t go back to the reality of med school. Go to class, study, go to class, study, go to class. . . let me do something with my day that’s not studying.

There’s a word in Tagalog, sawá, that describes the feeling you get when you’ve been doing the same thing for a while and you’re tired of it, like when you eat a lot of something and you get tired of the taste. If you’re not careful, that can happen in medical school. The material every day is new, but the monotony of

wake up

go to class

go to lab

study

go to sleep

. . . and doing it all over again can get, well, boring. It doesn’t help that I tend to fall into routines — studying in the same place, in the same way, at the same time.

Then before I knew it, our second set of exams was before me. And like magic, new motivation to study suddenly appeared! The week before exams I studied harder than I had since before our first test week. But there’s only so much you can stuff into your brain in even a week, before everything starts to merge together into a muddled mess.

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The Yerkes-Dodson law states that that level of performance — whether school-related, work-related, or whatever — increases with increasing stress up to a point, at which increasing stress will decrease performance. This is part of the basis for procrastination. There’s always a willpower-barrier to getting any task done, and sometimes it takes the stress of an approaching deadline to get over that barrier.

The Yerkes-Dodson law: increasing stress increases performance up to a point, after which performance falls

The Yerkes-Dodson law: increasing stress increases performance up to a point, after which performance falls

Liken it to a reaction’s activation energy: stress is the catalyst that shrinks the mountain in the middle, allowing the reaction to proceed to completion. Unfortunately, the longer I’m in school, the bigger that hump seems to be.

Activation energy is the energy barrier to completing a reaction. A catalyst reduces the activation energy and allows a reaction to proceed more easily.

Activation energy is the energy barrier to completing a reaction. A catalyst reduces the activation energy and allows a reaction to proceed more easily.

So, what’s the end of this story? The hump will get bigger and bigger, and the stress will have to be higher and higher for me to get over it, leading to greater and greater procrastination? (Insert hyperventilation here)

I don’t think so. I’m going to be optimistic and say this is just a temporary setback. I may have “hit the wall” now, but that’s nothing a little rest, some stretching, maybe a massage, and — most importantly — not giving up can conquer (marathoners will relate to this!). In the words of Dory from Finding Nemo, “Just keep swimming, just keep swimming, just keep swimming, swimming, swimming. What do we do? We swim, swim, swim.”

I’ll give you one more analogy, but the Bible says it better than I would. Galatians 6:9 says, “Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary.” We just have to keep doing it, and God will reward us. Even if we start to grow weary, never fear! Isaiah 40:29-31 tells us,

“He gives strength to the weary,

And to him who lacks might He increases power.

Though youths grow weary and tired,

And vigorous young men stumble badly,

Yet those who wait for the Lord

Will gain new strength;

They will mount up with wings like eagles,

They will run and not get tired,

They will walk and not become weary.”

 

*EBM stands for Evidence-Based Medicine, which is like a research class for continued medical education. Even after we’ve finished medical school, we won’t know everything (hard to believe, I know!), but we should have the skills we need to find the correct answers to questions we and our patients will have.

**For those of you who may not know how our schedule works, we take our classes in blocks of four to five weeks, after which follows a week of exams. Each day’s exam is an amalgamation of questions from all our subjects; this helps simulate the experience of the national boards exams.

This Brave New World and the Meaning of Life

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It took about a week of classes before I came to an inconvenient realization: I actually have no idea how to study. I feel like the big-shot college quarterback that finally makes it to the NFL, only to get completely pummeled and humiliated in his first game against a professional defense. We all might have had great grades in college, but med school is on a completely different level. I think the intensive time commitment required for these classes is the most difficult thing for me.

Back in college, I lived the eclectic life of a typical small-liberal-arts-college hipster. Sure I would study, but that happened sporadically between tutoring, jazz piano, RAing, teaching labs, listening to music that nobody’s heard of, and sipping fair-trade coffee while debating english majors over the lingering effects of Portuguese colonialism on the migratory patterns of the European Gold Finch. Med school is different. In med school, you don’t do anything except med school. When med students encounter free time, we don’t know what to do with our lives. My classmates and I collectively had an existential crisis after we finished our first set of exams because we forgot that there was life beyond the books.

Christian wishes he had gone to dent school instead.

Christian wishes he had gone to dent school instead.

This lifestyle has taken a toll on my emotions as well. A few weeks ago I accidentally deleted two days worth of electronic flash cards and found myself crying harder than when I read “The Fault in Our Stars” this summer.

Fortunately, the medical school administration understands this syndrome well and plans an annual weekend retreat for students and professors following the first set of exams. I think they started doing this when the city of Loma Linda began to receive complaints of half-conscious first-years wondering aimlessly around the streets because they didn’t have the brain function left to find their way home.

Jonathan utilizes the sacred art of the 10 minute power nap during Cell lab.

Jonathan utilizes the sacred art of the 10 minute power nap during cell lab.

The retreat was wonderful. We drove several hours to the east, up into the hills and away from the Inland Empire’s smog. No cell service. No wi-fi. Just human fellowship, and it was beautiful. The most meaningful experience I had happened on Saturday afternoon when I joined about 10 of my friends around a piano and we just starting singing. Soon we had a cello and a guitar and we just sang random hymns for close to an hour. I’ve honestly never even liked hymns that much, but in that window of time, all my concerns about worship style melted away, right along with the stress of the previous weeks. When everything else is pushed aside and relationships become the focus of our lives- I think that is happiness.

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Later that evening was the legendary medical school talent show. I discovered a thriving subculture of musical talent in the form of medical school-themed parodies of popular songs (the genre is a cult favorite on YouTube). Indeed, at least half of the performances that night were popular songs with their lyrics adapted to fit the struggles of med school life. I realized that one of the best parts about being in med school is being able to complain about being in med school. I had the privilege to beat-box with an acapela group that sang a med-school adapted version of Pentatonix’s “Daft Punk Medly.”

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