My Very First Day In Med School!

Today we had our first day of class. After four years of preparing and waiting, this day has finally come. The work has begun and I am at a new beginning.

I am amazed by the diverse backgrounds for my professors. In Molecular Cell Bio I, which is actually an eclectic course of Cell Bio+Genetics+Biochem, we will have four professors, each teaching a section. We’re starting off with Genetics, and the professor teaching it is from Scotland. He received his education in Edinburgh, then researched at Johns Hopkins for many many years before coming to AUC. I’m not sure where the other professors are from but my guess would be Germany, America, and Netherlands, as evidenced by their names. In Anatomy/Embryology, we also have several professors, and the professor teaching today is from New Zealand, or a kiwi, as he calls himself. His accent sounds like something from Lord of the Rings and despite his laid-back appearance, I can tell he is definitely going to be a challenging, yet inspiring professor. He does not just teach the facts, but also ties the material meaningfully into the experience of being a doctor. My histology professor is Canadian. He received his doctorate in Toronto before completing his post-doc at Harvard. I believe he is a visiting professor as he is also an associate dean at University of Western Ontario. From his lecture I sense that he is a researcher. He covers the material at a very fast pace, but explains things very well. Now all I have to do is keep up!

We met our first patients today, our cadavers. For the next few months, 199 students will share 20 cadavers (21 including the professor’s), which means there will be about 10 students/cadaver. However, each group of ten will further be divided into three sub-groups of 3 or 4 students. On each day, two subgroups (about 6 people) will work on the cadaver in the wet lab while one subgroup will work in the dry lab, where we look at bones, microscopes, VH Dissector Pro, etc. So this means, about 6 or 7 students/cadaver/day. We will work on the same cadaver throughout the semester, and will rotate our studies between the wet and dry labs everyday.

Looking at the body bags, I can only imagine who these individuals were. What were their happiest moments in their lives? Did they suffer any hardships? What nicknames did their friends use to call them? I realized they were just like me. They’ve gone through their lives as I am going through mine now. It will be intimate, working on a human being for the next few months, giving me the knowledge and experience I need for the rest of my life. The cadavers are men and women from the Netherlands (the motherland), and they range from age 60 to 100. I can imagine most of them lived full lives, and are altruists to donate their own bodies to the advancement of science. We had a moment of silence in class today to pay respect to these individuals. Because of them, we will learn to do no harm.

This will be my schedule from Monday to Friday for the next four months:

7:00am Wake Up, Eat Breakfast

8:00am Molecular and Cell Biology I

9:30am Anatomy/Embryology

10:30am Histology

11:30am Go Home/Eat Lunch

2:00pm Anatomy Laboratory

4:00pm Go Home/Study

5:00pm Tutoring Session

7:00pm Go Home/Eat Dinner/Study

10:00pm Talk to Irene

12:00pm Study/Sleep (Optional)

Now, back to studying!

** QUESTIONS FROM READERS July 29, 2010**

Hi Benji,

I am sure you hear this a lot, but I just wanted to tell you that your blog significantly reduced my fear/anxiety about starting AUC this Fall. I am just worried that I will not be able to keep up with the work load, I don’t mind study for hours (I am also not the “party” type). I am scared because I have been hearing that there is quite the drop out rate at AUC, like around 40%. If I am an average B student when it comes to sciences, do you think I will struggle a lot with the work load? I haven’t taken anatomy or histology as an undergrad, but I am a Biology Major.

Thanks 🙂

Hi Britney,
Thanks for the message, and congratulations on your acceptance to AUC! I was an average B student too in the sciences, and I also had never taken anatomy or histology before beginning med school (I was actually an architecture major, linguistics minor), and I also don’t mind studying for hours. I think in terms of struggling, I think everyone struggles in some way, shape, or form. Med school is not easy. But the knowledge is straightforward and the exams are straightforward, and I feel if you are serious in your goals and actively find the help you need (which there is more than enough resources to seek help here), then there should be no problem passing and doing well.

As for the drop out rate, it’s definitely not 40%. In the past few years, it has always been a little over 10%, and rarely, if ever, over 15%. For my class (September 2009 class), we started out with 199 students first semester, and now at the end of our third semester, we have 183 (so that’s 8% drop out so far). For the January 2009 class, they started out with 91 students and now at the end of their second semester, have 85 students (6.6% drop out so far). Since I am in third semester, I don’t expect that much more people to drop out from my class in the next few semesters since those who have already made it this far, most likely are good enough to make it through the rest of med school.

Let me know if there’s anything else, and see you in September!
Benji

8 comments to My Very First Day In Med School!

  • Hey Dr. Benji,

    I found your blog through medschoolcarribestyle a few monthts ago and I have been following you since. I am currently an undergraduate biology major at Binghamton University in New York, and after doing extensive research (2 years of research), I have decided if I didnt get into a US med school I would go carribean. My cousin actually went to SGU and is now finishing up her studies for her board exams in emergency medicine and she inspired me to look at other options. I am sorry for bothering you but I was just wondering if carribean schools place an emphasis on research. This previos summer I did translational clinical research at the National Institute of Health where we dealt with patients with a rare condition known as Bechet’s Disease. I was just wondering if Carribean schools look at experiences like that or is it pure numbers. Thank you very much!

    Nafiz

    • Benji

      Hi Nafiz,
      Thanks for writing and it seems like you have quite some research experience! I also did research for a few years back when I was a premed and it was a great experience and something you can definitely mention when it comes time for residency applications and interviews. I think research will definitely boost an application, for both US and Caribbean schools. However, like US schools, in general MCAT and GPA will definitely matter more in Caribbean school applications. Research may help a low score, but it certainly cannot replace a low score. I think research will only really help you if you have mediocre scores on MCAT and GPA, to distinguish you from other people with similar mediocre scores who may not have research experience.

      If you do eventually come to the Caribbean and are interested in research during medical school, several schools do offer research opportunities for students. I know for sure AUC and SGU both do, maybe not at the same level of NIH, but great experience nevertheless. Check out my post about research at AUC here: http://www.caribbeanmedstudent.com/2011/08/research-at-auc/

      Best of luck Nafiz!
      Benji

  • Tariq

    Dear Benji:

    Apologies for flooding your websites with questions in light of our busy schedule and competing tasks. My question regarding this blog is: How often did you attend the tutoring sessions?

    Kind regards,

    Tariq

    • Benji

      Hi Tariq,
      For some classes, I attended all the tutoring sessions. For others I didn’t because I didn’t find them that useful. It all depends on who the tutor is. Some tutors can teach very well while others I didn’t benefit a whole lot from.
      Benji

  • Crystal Illescas

    Hi, I’m Crystal. I’m currently a first year nursing student at the University of Calgary. I currently have a 4.0 GPA, and I could probably get strong recommendations from my 3rd or 4th year professors. I could probably ace the MCATs as well. I have always been a straight A student in high school. However, my extra-curriculars, and interviewing skills are weak. Do you think that AUC, can overlook weak extra-curriculars and interviewing skills, just like they over look bad GPAs and bad MCATs?

    • Benji

      Hi Crystal,
      MCAT and GPA are probably the strongest factors and they can make up for lack of extracurriculars. However, AUC now interviews all prospective students who they are interested in, so it’s important to have good interview skills. Not to mention, you’ll need good interview skills during residency interview season during your fourth year of medical school. Best of luck!
      Benji

  • Morenike

    Hello Benji,

    Thank you for a wonderful compilation! This is simply awesome. Very informational, well written (I am a writer by trade), and to the point. I hope to join AUC in January 2015 and your blog will have brought excellent answers to my many questions.

    Good luck to you, and thanks again for putting it together!

    Morenike

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