Semester Dos: Lessons in Delayed Gratification

We often fall into the “delayed gratification” trap in the medicine journey–convincing ourselves we’ll be less stressed, less busy, more happier at some point in the future. My classmates and I did this right away upon starting med school, just waiting for the mirage of the second semester that would be sooo much easier with just one (ish) class at a time.

Almost in my mid-20s and still make snowmen for fun, it’s cool 😎

I mean, in retrospect, second semester was better than first semester (but there was lots to be happy about/enjoy first semester as well). We had three 6 week classes: a Fundamentals course that covered basics of physiology, pharmacology, and pathology, an Immunology/Microbiology course, and our first systems course: Neuro and Psych. I said one-ish earlier because our “how to be a doctor” course runs longitudinally to all of these, but it generally isn’t too much workload week to week. But in second semester we learned the complete physical exam and really started to get comfortable with how medical school works.

One of the many ~wellness~ activities at school (definitely over-watered this and killed it in a few weeks)

I didn’t exercise as much as first semester (without a good excuse, haha), but continued involvement with various extracurriculars that I mentioned in my last post. I think one of the issues with the whole delayed gratification thing is that 2nd semester was still very difficult. We had exams every 2 weeks, so a lot of material came very fast and there wasn’t a lot of time to explore different study methods. Our classes were still 1-5pm, which really doesn’t work great for my night owl self who found it hard to study in the mornings. So I continued delaying a bit of gratification and telling myself 2nd year, with its 8am-12pm schedule, would be so much better. But I also did catch myself–watching the 2nd years freak out about Step 1, disappear for dedicated, and return into the new world of rotations–I was grateful for the relatively slow, focused time of first year. I tried to make a conscious effort to not keep pushing happiness and gratitude down–regardless of how behind I was on studying, how much there was to do, how crazy a class could be–it is a huge blessing to be a student whose only job is to learn.

Plant that I didn’t kill! Aloe Vera is so much easier to upkeep

One of the additional stressors this semester was figuring out what I was gonna do over the summer. Technically, you don’t have to do anything (it is our LAST summer break), but it’s a good time to do research and/or explore different paths like Global Health. I applied to this Cancer/Disparities research program that I was SUPER excited about, but didn’t think I had a great chance of getting, so I also applied to my school’s summer research program & a shadowing program as a back-up. Surprisingly, I was rejected/waitlisted from my “back-ups” first…and then near the end of March heard that I actually got into the Cancer/disparities program! So that was a bit of a [fun] rollercoaster. In line with this somewhat newfound interest in oncology, I randomly shadowed an oncologist early in the semester which I really enjoyed. I also applied for a new Concentrations program at my school, so I knew I’d be doing some Public Health classes over the summer too.

So many Tim Hortons french vanilla drinks in a week

Talking of last breaks, I keep telling my parents my extended breaks are almost over to motivate them to go on more vacations 😆. Over Spring Break, we drove to Canada to see family! Toronto is about ~10 hours from my house, and then we also have family in Ottawa (which is another ~4ish hours). After driving most of the trip, I’ve decided that driving the car for long distances is sooo much better than sitting in the car for long distances .

It was a great vacation! I hadn’t been to Canada in over 10 years, and we have quite a bit of extended family and friends (second/third cousins, great aunts/uncles) throughout the greater Toronto area and Ottawa. Growing up with essentially only my immediate family in the country, it’s always nice to connect with actual relatives.

I might be the only person who thinks the American side of Niagara Falls is better…but the Canadian side was completely covered in fog when we went 🤷‍♀️

Ramadan started near the end of the semester during the Neuro/Psych course–which was the first time it fell during school since early high school! Fasting and classes weren’t too bad though, and our awesome Diversity department happily sponsored an (early) iftaar discussion event too. I go in waves of wanting to be a representative/educator and wanting to just blend in a bit more–but I thought this was a good time to have a casual conversation about religion and culture with my classmates. We’re in a phase where cultural competence, implicit bias, acceptance/tolerance are heavily covered topics in medical school curriculums. But for our cornfield state, sometimes events like these can help cover gaps and bring perspectives that class cases can’t.

Also we catered the discussion with Indian food 😋 (Med Students love free food)

And then my niece was born the night of my last final–so I started summer off with a last minute flight to Dallas to help my sister adjust to 4 kids + Ramadan. More on the rest of summer to come…

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