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!


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!