Bye Bye Second Semester, Hello Third Semester!

Now that all final exams are finished and I received all my grades back, I can now officially say that I am a third semester student!

Second semester has been a tough one for me, hence I have been blogging much less than before. People say the second semester third block is when “med school truly begins,” and I find it so true. Ever since third block, I felt there was a major jump in the amount of material we have to learn. Third block is when we start learning all the detailed pathways for biochemistry as well as gastrointestinal and cardiovascular systems for physiology. We start interviewing and physical examinations in ICM and the details in immunology build up.  For the first time I’ve started feeling overwhelmed and even burned out at times. For the first time I’ve actually worried about not passing exams, and even classes.

Physiology, in particular, was quite a challenge. It is a fascinating class, with the best professors of all the departments at school in my opinion, but the types of questions on the exams require strong thinking skills in applying concepts to scenarios. Since the questions are not simply memorize-and-regurgitate, they require more time in thinking, and we are given less time per question on the exams. That is the challenge. So for all the incoming second semesters, please put some extra effort into physiology. I feel it is by far the most challenging course in medical school, but nevertheless, you’ll have some really great professors who are always there to help you out.

Despite the new challenges of medical school, this semester has truly been a rich experience. For the first time in my life I am involved in student government as a class rep and being a TA. I enjoy seeing how the student groups and school is run behind closed doors, and I love being  a part of that. I’ve had a lot of great volunteer experiences in the St. Maarten community, with the Diabetes Foundation, AIDS foundation, and Red Cross. This semester I also had the honors of meeting some really talented students and wonderful school administrators through a combination of being class rep, TA, and being “that guy with the blog.”

This semester has been tough and next semester will present quite a few more challenges. I’ve determined that I need to change my study habits drastically to fit better with the new semester. This semester, I’ve experimented with all sorts of new ways of studying, including drawing out pathways, and making study questions. There have been some ways that are better than others. For me, I’ve found that making questions and answers have only been useful for MCB, where memorization dominates the course. It definitely did not help in a thinking-course like Physiology. Since I still have not found my most ideal (and realistic) way of studying yet, I don’t feel I am the best person to ask about tips for studying for med school. I refer these questions to my closest friends Arif and Chris who are among the top of our class (and who I envy of course ;) ).

I’m just so happy now that this semester is finally over and I look forward to the next one to come. As of now, I am enjoying my break in St. Maarten with Irene, who is here to visit for 2 weeks. There is so much to do on this island and it’s going to be fun. We are planning on going zip-lining at Loterie Farm, getting certified in scuba diving, visiting the Butterfly Farm, snorkeling on Pinel Island, and hiking the coastal mountains of the French Cul-de-Sac among many other activities. Four months of not seeing Irene has been tough, especially being stressed with school without her here, but I feel so blessed to have someone as supportive and as patient as her. I am so happy to see her again, and to show her what my life is like here. We’re going to have a great time this break.

One last note, I’m happy to announce that our class exceeded the US national average on the National Biochemistry Shelf Exam this semester (which I took this past Monday). Whereas the US average raw score is 493 this semester, our class achieved an average raw score of 509! I’m so proud of our class right now! Way to go class!

I hope everyone is having a great beginning of summer right now, and I look forward to the days to come!

Bye bye second semester… Hello third semester!!!