Debunking Med School Myths


I recently went to my five-year high school reunion. Beyond the awkward small talk with that guy I took to prom and commenting on how much people had changed, the most common topic of conversation was how medical school compared to what my former classmates had seen on T.V.

"Do people hook up as much as they do in Grey’s Anatomy?"

“Do you have any time to shower, eat, or sleep?”

“How many heroic, life-saving acts do you do each day?”

People always wonder if medical school is like TV or the movies. I’m gonna say for the most part, NO.

First of all, there are very few movies or shows that actually depict medical school itself. That’s probably because, at least for the first two years, there isn’t a lot going on. We mainly sit in a lecture hall, take notes and listen, go home and study. Maybe take a nap. At orientation right before we started class first year, a fourth year student described the first two years of med school as “a monotonous hell.”

I would say the T.V. show that most accurately depicts the first two years is “Survivor”. Maybe “Naked and Afraid” if you’re really unlucky.

However, once you get beyond those first two years, your life starts to move a little closer into “Scrubs” territory. You actually get to see patients, although you rarely (if ever) make any life-saving decisions or stick your finger in someone’s aorta to stop the hemorrhaging.

I’m not sure if people actually hook up in the on-call rooms, but most likely if you’re in there you’ve been working for about 20 hours, have coffee breath and Cheetos-fingers, and just want to sleep. But I do have to say that my roommate found her awesome boyfriend in our medical school class of 156, so miracles do happen.

Patients don’t always have some obscure disease that only one doctor has ever heard of or seen before. I’m pretty sure I watched an episode of “House” one time where the patient ended up having the plague. Like the Black Plague- the disease that killed off like half of Europe in the 1300’s. Usually patients have an asthma exacerbation or a broken bone or something else that one of your friends in third grade got to skip school for.

Overall, I would say that medical school, while vital and fascinating for those actually interested in being a doctor, has only 4-5% of the drama and action of medical TV shows or movies. I am still looking out for Dr. McDreamy, though.


Erin is a second year medical school student. 
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