The Greatest Challenges of Med School

The Greatest Challenges of Med School

Medical professionals are responsible for communicating with patients, relieving pain, and often saving lives. It follows that their training and education process is a rigorous and challenging experience. The steps it takes to become a medical professional are by no means easy, and each student will inevitably experience their own difficulties on an individual basis. Third year medical student and pharmacist manager — Lindsay Richels, names a few of the challenges medical students face throughout their educational career.

Information Retention

Medical students consistently list the same challenge as the most demanding aspect of their education: memorization. Being a medical professional requires the synthesis and application of vast amounts of knowledge. The sheer amount of information that students must understand and commit to memory is staggering. Because the human body is a composite of many detailed processes that rely on and interact with one another, understanding how they function together requires an in-depth understanding of each individual element.

Maintaining Balance and Self Care

The volume of material that medical students are required to understand require consistent, diligent studying. Normally, students find it mandatory to study on a daily basis in addition to attending all necessary classes, coursework, and clinical experiences. These academic habits are necessary for success in school, but often mean students have to sacrifice their social life and free time entirely.

In a med student’s schedule, there is rarely time for unstructured free time. Any spare moments away from textbooks and lectures are often used for other mandatory tasks, such as gym workouts or administrative tasks. This makes maintaining a balance between academic work and life one of the most prominent strains on a medical student. If balanced improperly, it will have negative consequences on the student’s mental well being and physical health alike.

Starting Clinical

During the third year of med school, students are expected to take on clinical work. This not only requires routine adjustments; it also necessitates putting theory into practice and beginning to interact with patients in a high-stakes, real-world setting. Although a lot of training does go into communication, breaking bad news, or perhaps managing an angry patient nothing can 100% prepare you for the real thing.

For med students who may have grown accustomed to their coursework and study habits, this change presents a whole new set of challenges. Dealing with patients means being able to recall and apply their recently-developed knowledge, but it also requires the honing of interpersonal communication, flexibility, and problem-solving skills.

Matching to Residency

Lindsay Richels indicates that in order to become a licensed medical doctor students must also complete a residency and pass their licensing exams. After completing medical school students go through a residency application process via CaRMS (Canadian Resident Matching Service) for residency positions across Canada in an area of their choice. After the students apply the program committees select applicants who they wish to interview and then they rank those applicants. The medical student applicants also rank the programs and then the CaRMS algorithm releases the “match”. For those students who do not rank during the first match they have the opportunity to apply during the second iteration to the remaining open programs. Unfortunately even after the second iteration some students still remain unmatched leaving them without a residency. The notion that entering and completing medical school may still leave you unable to practice medicine is extremely distressing to students considering all the hard work and sacrifice that has been done to make it up to this point.


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