Different. And yet hasn’t this happened before? We’ve all had that feeling. You walk into a room and suddenly you’re hit with the overwhelming sensation that you’ve been in that exact place in that exact situation once before. Some neurologists might write the feeling off as a simple limbic seizure while others, science fiction fans in particular, would tell you there’s a “glitch in the matrix.” Or maybe the déjà vu comes when you really are experiencing a second occurrence of history. That seemed to be the case a few weeks ago when I once again found myself entering Alumni Hall on a Monday morning. It felt eerily familiar… and yet completely different.
Don’t Worry… I Still Got The “First Day of School Door Shot” Before I Left! (à la My First day of School… Again)
Looking around, time seemed to freeze for an instant. I could once again feel the energy of a class fresh off summer break. Familiar faces greeted each other as they swapped stories about their research projects, weddings, vacations, and other summer adventures. Amongst the hubbub, an unmistakable nervousness flitted about the room… what would classes be like this year? Is pathophysiology really THAT hard? When do I start studying for Step I? Even though I had had lots of time to think about it, it just then hit me… I had done this before. The scene was the same even though the faces were quite different.
As I was caught up in the moment, I abruptly heard a familiar voice come up from behind: “Well Ryan, you ready for this?” A fellow repeater pulled up beside me, looking the same way I felt, caught between a sense of familiarity and yet not knowing at all what to expect. I slapped him on the back, smiled and said, “Of course, I mean, obviously I liked it so much I came back to do it again!” He laughed with me as we headed to our seats, snapping out of my temporary pause. The professors went through their respective syllabi, and just like that, we were off!
If I thought second year went by quickly the first time, it was definitely RACING by now that it had begun anew! The nice thing was, though I had started in a completely different class of students, all the pharmacology, all those bugs to memorize, the cardiac cycle… it was all the same. I didn’t have to start completely over. Instead, I found myself building upon what I had previously learned so that I could gain a firmer understanding of the concepts. Not to mention learning how to draw blood (or in this case to have drawn from) for the “1st” time again:
Blog administrator’s note: Please watch with care. Portions of this video could be disturbing to sensitive or non-medical viewers.
Most of the doubts I was feeling going into my “super-second year” started to vanish. Though I missed my old class, my new one accepted me as one of their own, and I had a good time meeting a lot of new people. There’s a certain camaraderie that exists between medical students, and I’m so grateful for the friendship that’s been extended to me though I’m a newbie to the class of 2015. I was also a little embarrassed to face some of my professors as I felt my failure wouldn’t be looked upon kindly. But I found that that too was all in my head. Though Dr. Cao is probably still a little jealous he has to share the title of “tallest man in the room” with me. 🙂
However, there was still one doubt that was lingering in my head as the weeks zoomed by, our first round of exams quickly approaching. Could I do it the second time around? I set in motion new strategies I had put into place to lead me to success: I got sleep, I took care of my body, I spent time with my new bride, I study walked my material, and I tried my hardest not to get behind. But there was still a nagging feeling that I couldn’t shake, one doubt telling me that since I hadn’t exceeded expectations before, what’s to say I could do it now?
Exams came, and exams went, just like that. I anxiously waited the entire weekend after to discover my results, to see if I had finally done what was expected of me. Monday morning arrived and after waking up and rolling over to check my phone, I saw a short post on our class’s Facebook: grades were up. I said a quick prayer, asking for resolve that no matter what my grades turned out to be, I would continue to work hard and not let anything get in the way of my goals. I loaded the exam website and logged in, my heart beginning to race. Next thing I knew, I was looking at my exam scores. Intense emotion hit me and I found myself weeping. My wife Brianna, who had comforted me countless times when I didn’t get the grades I expected, started awake and asked me what was the matter. “I got my grades back.” I whispered. As sadness began to set in on her face, I quickly understood her confusion. “No Brianna, it’s not bad… they’re good!” I had passed. I PASSED!! And not only did I pass, I passed quite comfortably! For the first time since beginning my medical education, I felt like my goals were once again within reach. It is possible. And I wouldn’t trade that kind of joy, that relief, for the world. See? Déjà vu. It was all the same… and yet completely different.
So looking forward, I know it isn’t going to be all daisies and roses. Med school is tough, and though I’ve seen 2nd year once before, it’s still going to take a lot of hard work and determination. But I guess it’s nice to know that despite my previous shortcomings, it is possible. I am going to do this, and I’m going to do it well. If that’s not inspirational, I don’t know what is! Haha. Onward and forward!