Hi everyone, it’s MedHopeful. I’m back!

Wow, so this post has been a long time coming. My last post was on January 30, 2012, and well frankly, that wasn’t a real post. And before that, it was a tiny post on August 11, 2011. Probably the last real post I did was on August 6, 2011 which chronicled the life of this blog up until that point.

Well, I guess that post is still pretty accurate, as the life of this blog has been pretty uneventful since then (sad, I know!). Despite the lack of activity of this blog, my life has not slowed down – far from it. In two more months, I will be done my 3rd year of medical school – my first year doing clinical work full time.

In many ways, it was both the best and worst year of medical school – you experience some amazing aspects and joys of clinical medicine, but you also finally understand some of the really crappy aspects of it. I don’t want to be cynical, but I do want to be realistic – in my opinion, medicine is not as glamorous as it sounds and many premeds will have little idea what doctors actually do (myself when I was a premed included). That’s not a knock on premeds – it’s just the reality of a career in medicine. It’s really hard to know what medicine is actually about until you do it. That’s not to say medicine isn’t a rewarding career – for most people, it very much is. You just need to be aware that it has its own problems like any other profession.

So why wasn’t I posting?

That’s a good question, and it’s something I’ve thought about many times. The easy answer is to say I was busy with clerkship – and of course, there’s truth to that. Without a doubt, clerkship is busier and more tiring than preclerkship. But to be honest, that doesn’t really explain not making a real post for almost a year.

Somehow I lost motivation. I didn’t have anything exciting or interesting I wanted to write about. Sure, some crazy stuff happened here and there during clerkship, but due to information privacy reasons I’m not going to write about those. Even non-information privacy things, for example, being crapped on by another health care provider for no good reason (rare, but does happen to medical students), I am reluctant to talk about so as to not burn any bridges – one of the cons of not posting anonymously.

As you know, I’ve written extensively about scholarships, undergrad and applying to medical school – I’m not sure if there’s too much more I can talk about that. There are definitely some topics I have not covered, but now that I’m a bit far removed from the admissions process, it’s not like I’ve spent much time thinking about those topics and realizing something new. But if something comes up, or if I answer a question that I think will be useful to share, you can definitely expect me to post it.

All that said, now that I’m almost done my first year of clerkship, that experience is fresh in my mind. I have some interesting ideas I’ve acquired from clerkship that may be useful for those of you starting your clinical rotations soon. Clerkship is a very different beast from preclerkship and presents its own new challenges, and I hope to have some advice for new clerks written up throughout the following year. Similarly, once I go through the process of applying for residency programs, I’m sure I will have some thoughts about those as well. Ultimately, I think I have realized that as I grow and advance further in my career, my blog posts will evolve accordingly.

So how is clerkship so far?

For those of you new to the concept of clerkship, it basically refers to the 3rd and 4th year of medical school where you start to do clinical work full time. For some medical students, this is what they’ve dreamed of for a long time – finally being able to interview, diagnose, and treat patients. Of course, how involved you are really depends on the service (i.e. field of medicine) you are on and how much independence your supervising physicians/residents are willing to give you.

So far, I have completed my mandatory/core rotations in pediatrics, psychiatry, obstetrics/gynecology, family medicine, anesthesia, emergency medicine and internal medicine. Over the next 8 weeks I will complete my core surgery rotation. After that, I will technically be done my 3rd year of medical school. In the 4th year of medical school, I will spend September-December doing “elective” rotations (i.e. rotations that I have applied to myself, and can occur at any university in Canada). During this time, I will also be submitting my CARMS application – for those of you unaware, that is the application for residency programs (i.e. what type of doctor you want to specialize as).

While I do plan on writing in more detail about clerkship in the future, what I can say right now is that most of your growth in medical school will come in your 3rd year. My first 2 years of medical school were primarily didactic teaching, and I honestly did not learn much. I actually started clerkship not feeling like I knew anything really. I’m the type of learner who learns when I apply something. But when you make me sit through random lectures for 2 years, and expect me to remember details that I study for an exam but never apply, it just does not work for me.

On the other hand, it’s a completely different scenario when you are actually seeing and treating the illnesses you read about. When you encounter an illness for the first time, read up on how to investigate and treat it, and then actually implement that management plan for a real patient, you won’t forget it – you just can’t. In clerkship, it’s now real. Although I still had written exams for all of my rotations so far, I can say quite confidently that the majority of the knowledge I still remember from those rotations pertains to knowledge I actually applied to real patients.

Along those same lines, once I started doing real clinical medicine in clerkship, things like lectures and seminars not only became more understandable, but they became more interesting and important. My participation in small group discussions soared. Knowing that the knowledge I was acquiring held direct, obvious value to me and my patients made a huge difference.

There is a lot more I could write about, but I’m going to leave that for future articles. I already have some topics in mind. I’m excited to share those thoughts with you.

Changes to the blog

While I was admittedly lazy about posting, I’d like to think I’ve done a nice number with this blog over the past week. If you’re still under a rock, you might want to look around – we have a new layout!

It only took 4 years, but we finally got this blog a new look. I think it looks much more clean, and the blog posts are now nicely organized by categories.

In addition, I’ve taken the liberty to write up two brand new sections for the readers:

  • Get Started: This is an introductory guide for students who are interested in applying to medical school someday but have no idea where to start. It walks you through all of the basics, from explaining what GPA and MCAT are, all the way to the essay and interview process. Again, these are just the basics, with my blog articles being a resource for more detailed information and strategy.
  • McMaster Health Sciences: So many high school students are interested in this program, I figured it would be useful to chime in with some basic information and give some advice on the supplementary application.

While those are some nice new additions, I am still not done yet. Although MedHopeful was sort of in hibernation, I still had some projects on the back burner I was working on, and will be unveiling in the next few months. I believe those of you applying to medical school in the future will find them very useful. I can’t wait to share them with you. So keep your eyes peeled for some new cool stuff over the next month or two.

What next?

Like I said, I’m back. I want to and am motivated to start posting seriously again.

My goal is to write at least one new, high-value post (i.e. not a short, useless update) per week, but ideally twice or more.

I would really appreciate your feedback on topics to write about. Please email or post comments here with questions or suggestions for what you would like me to explore. I will do my best to cover them.

Thank you guys for your continued support. I hope you guys have found MedHopeful still useful even in my absence, and I hope it will continue to be a great resources for many years to come.