“Any questions?” the admissions panel member asked.
My hand shot up, “How competitive are your students amongst each other?” Other premed applicants nodded their heads in approval; it was floating around their minds too.
If there was ever a question I made sure to ask during interview season, it was that one. Given the swelling number of medical school graduates for an unchanging number of residency slots, the spectre of a premed redux was omnipresent. Why go through that gauntlet again?
In the run up to a recent exam, my class’s Facebook page exploded with activity. Fellow students shared helpful study links, corrected each other’s mistakes, and bridged each other’s knowledge gaps in realtime. We estimated how hard the test was going to be; one student asked, “Describe this test in three words.” To which a half-joking response of “medical school dropout” was posted. We all nervously chuckled at our desks as we furiously crammed those last few structures into our memories.
The next day we took the test, or rather, the test took us. It was hard. Most of us coped. All of us survived. Yet, what was most remarkable was that, after the exam, few left without a partner to decompress with or a group to commiserate in. Later that evening, one student posted on Facebook, “Looking around in the practical test…I can’t help but think about how lucky and fortunate I am to be in this position. See you all tomorrow!” And in that one post, he succinctly demonstrated why I am fortunate to have the classmates I have.
At the end of the day, after all the facts and figures are crammed into our memories, after we’ve surpassed our mental limits, and exhausted our supply of precious coffee beans, we can rest easy knowing that we are in it together. And in an age where your network can make all the difference, that is incredibly important.
Camaraderie; it’s what helps to keep us going.