Slow and steady

Marly, Second Year Medical Student

Second year… I can think of many words to describe the past few months.  Relaxing is not one of them.

I knew that second year would be more work than the first year.  Every one who talks about surviving year two had a clear message:  second year is not a joke.

I started the year off very optimistic.  I made it through first year, though there were plenty of times that I wasn’t sure that I would, so I can make it through the second year.  That optimism lasted about .02 seconds.  What have I gotten myself into??

The first set of exams came around and I quickly learned that I needed to change my study habits ASAP.  What worked for me first year was not working now.  I failed two exams and marginally passed another two.  I was confused, shocked, and honestly scared.  What if second year proved to be my downfall?  What if I wasn’t cut out for medical school?

I sought out a faculty advisor, and would occasionally meet with him for some pep talk and a little advice.  For example, following his recommendation, I learned that I study much better at home or a study room than I do at Starbucks.  I used to think studying in a quiet environment didn’t work for me, but it turns out I liked studying at Starbucks because I like to people watch (and therefore, be distracted).  I also started planning my week in advance.  By the time fall midterms came around, I was pretty confident.  I even left the exams Friday morning feeling confident.  I felt like I did well in all of my classes.

Then I got my scores.  I was in shock.  I did amazing on three of the exams, but failed the other three.  At that moment, I was failing two classes.  Needless to say, I didn’t have any more confidence.  What am I doing wrong?  It definitely wasn’t a lack of studying, I was studying more than I ever have.  Am I really not smart enough?

One thing though, I may doubt myself at times, but I am not a quitter.  I got tutors for the classes I was failing.  I revamped my studying even more and kept pushing through, even when I felt like I could not push anymore.

Then came fall finals.  Saying that I was terrified is a gross understatement.  I really doubted myself going in.  After each day, that doubt just grew.  By the third and last day of in-house exams, I had a horrible feeling in my gut.  When the scores were posted, I prepared myself mentally for what I expected to be the proof that even with help, second year would get the best of me.

I must have checked my scores at least 10 times.  There just had to be a mistake, these could not possibly be mine, especially not with the way I felt I performed.  After preparing myself for the worst and getting completely opposite results, I broke down and started crying.  I can actually do this, I can get through second year.

As I write this now, my scores are still the same (trust me, I just checked).  I passed every exam for each class, some to the point where I felt like there is a technical error (or a cruel joke).  I am currently passing all of my classes and I am able to go into winter break with a calm mind.

My experience so far has taught me a few lessons.  The biggest lesson:  it’s okay to ask for help.  I doubt I would have done well if I did not seek help when I needed it.

I also learned that it’s okay to have some fun and take a break!  After fall midterms, I actually took weekends completely off until Sunday evening.  I even got the most adorable puppy on the face of the planet.  By taking the time off to give myself a chance to regenerate and have fun, I was able to approach the week refreshed and ready to give 200% again.

Yes, second year is a lot of work, but it can be done.  I can do it.  Slow and steady wins the race, right?

Now for some adorable puppy pictures: this is Casper (previously named Zoe… that’s another story)

First day home:


The dog really did eat my homework:


He likes to study with me:


His favorite place to sleep:


4 thoughts on “Slow and steady

  1. Adorable puppy! Great job on overcoming those obstacles. You are definitely an inspiration for an aspiring doc like me.

  2. Wow, thanks for sharing, Marly! Definitely not easy to be vulnerable like that… yeah, 2nd year is testing not just my intelligence for sure, but we’re gonna make it!!!!

  3. Pingback: What keeps YOU going? « Pr4bh4s Says…

  4. Thank you so much for sharing! It was such a blessing! I”m looking to become a doctor as well and sometimes I get so overwhelm with the thought of going to med school because of the intensity of work. Sometimes I doubt myself and think that I cannot make it, but your story gives me hope. I’m so happy for you for passing all your classes! Just continue to trust Him and God will take you many places. I will be praying for you! I look forward to your other post.

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