On Being an Older Student
Being an older student at WUSM is awesome. Sure, I don’t know half of the artists on my classmates’ iPods and my beer pong shot could use a little work. But after college, you’ll find that age begins to matter a lot less. We’re all here because of our desire to learn how to be the best doctor possible. That’s what matters. The material you learn in medical school is so engaging, and there’s so much of it, that you’ll have no issues finding common ground with your fellow students, no matter your background. Plus, if you’re an older student, you’ve left the college bubble and seen some of what the world has to offer. During those long nights studying, you can draw on that experience and ask yourself, “Is there anything else I’d rather be doing with my life?” No, there isn’t.
– Paul M., M1
On Going to Classes
There’s something to be said for watching lectures on 2x speed in your pajamas — but there’s also something to be said for absorbing information in the physical presence of a human being who is at the top of their field, and being able to ask questions in real-time. Waking up for 8:30 a.m. class can be challenging, but everything’s better with some coffee from Room 100 and your best friends on either side of you in Moore. You might also snag some homemade campaign cookies during Medical Student Government elections. Plus, if you don’t go to lecture, you’ll miss Dr. Jane Phillips-Conroy sitting on the floor pretending to be an embryo.
– Maya S., M1
On Skipping Classes
The alarm sounds obnoxiously at 6:30 a.m. I turn it off. The backup alarm squawks at 7:30 a.m. I adeptly silence it without even opening my eyes. As the sun comes flooding in through my bedroom window, heating the skin of my cheek, I finally slump my way from bed to the coffee pot around 10:00 a.m. I briefly consider trying to break my habit of staying up until 3 or 4 a.m., quickly dismiss the thought, and start queueing up lecture recordings from the previous day at double speed while I lift weights in my underwear. I eat some lunch, shower, do some anatomy flashcards, and it’s already time to hurry to school by 1 p.m. for the single required session of the day, a small group session where we practice our physical exam skills.
Our lectures are generally great, and I’m always glad when I do make it. But being a night owl and getting things done on my own at home has gotten me through high school, college, several years of work as a consultant, and it has seemed so far to be a pretty solid medical school strategy. If it ain’t broke … ?
– Weston M., M1
On Being in the Medical Scientist Training Program
Do you love the smell of fresh pipette tips? Do you want to actually see the patients that motivate your benchwork? Are you unintimidated by large time commitments? Do you like free food? Well, the WUSM Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP) just might be the place for you! And it can be yours for zero easy payments of tuition! I think most of my classmates would agree that being in the MSTP here has been an absolute blast. Some of the things in store for you: weekly journal clubs with your classmates, weekly seminars with the entire MSTP student body (yes the PhD-year students are still alive), frequent updates on MSTP executive director Brian Sullivan’s bee farm, the opportunity to see Brian Sullivan as many times as you’d like, and a personal friendship with Brian Sullivan. At WUSM you’ll be guaranteed to have a MudPhud cohort of some of the most interesting, well-rounded and intellectually stimulating people you’ll ever meet, which is a good thing, because they’ll be the most familiar faces to you for the next seven-eight years … So get ready to du du du du dual degree!
– Sam B., M1
On Applying into the MSTP
Every year, a few people apply to be internal transfer applicants for the MSTP program. The application is a breeze compared to the medical school application, and you’ve done the hard part by getting accepted into the MD program. Whatever your reason for wishing to transfer, the MSTP office is filled with good people who will happily meet with you and offer any desired assistance. The acceptance rate for transfer applicants is traditionally quite high (the number I’ve heard is 80 percent, but that isn’t confirmed). Additionally, there are many older MSTP students who successfully transferred, and who all have opinions on what to say or do to be successful. Your MD classmates might bemoan that you are leaving them, abandoning your concomitant four-year journey for the arduous dual-degree ultra-marathon. Assure them you aren’t going anywhere.
– Joshua P., M1
On Being a Gunner
This species of medical student is actually a distant relative of vampires. Textbooks are their only companions, for their glance turns all humans to stone. Contrary to popular belief, they do not live in the library, but rather under bridges, where they eat the brains of unsuspecting classmates who pass by in order to add to their own brain mass and thin out the competition.
Like all other stereotypes, the “gunner” label is nonsense. I can assure you that there are no peer-reviewed studies suggesting that being passionate about pursuing academic excellence is correlated with being an antisocial grouch. Quite the contrary, most people who strive to learn as much as they can are motivated by a sincere desire to use their knowledge to help as many people as possible. If the pursuit of knowledge is one of your top priorities, I would advise you to keep this concern for and devotion to the lives of others as the central driving force of your career. Knowledge is only powerful when coupled with the love and compassion necessary to truly help a person in need. Finally, remember that you also deserve to lead a balanced, multi-dimensional life, filled with friendship, personal self-improvement and fun. How you define and pursue these things are, of course, up to you.
– Gazelle Z., M1
On Being a Slacker
Medical school can be a harsh place for slackers. Everywhere you turn, you will be surrounded by self-motivated and hardworking individuals who are capable of studying more in a day than you’ve ever studied in your life. It can make you wonder if it’s time for your slacker lifestyle to go. But fear not, fellow slackers! It is more than possible to be a student who both works minimal hours AND still manages to honor the responsibility of pursuing an MD. No one ever said that our job was to work our butts off. Our job is to learn everything we need to know to become intelligent, capable physicians. So long as you can manage that on a slacker schedule, then slack away! The keys are high efficiency, a willingness to accept knowing way less (let me repeat this for emphasis: WAY LESS) than everyone else during all time points in the year except for exam week, and a high tolerance for incredulity when your friends find out how little work you actually do. So slack away friends! Just remember: P=MD.
– Jessica H., M1