I remember the first time that I watched a child being born. It was terrifying and yet so beautiful at the same time. I was mesmerized and yet I could not understand why any human being would voluntarily want to participate in such a feat. Do not get me wrong, a baby coming out of a human body is a pretty cool thing to watch but placing yourself in that position is beyond scary. When you see a mother during childbirth yelling, screaming, and in so much pain, you convince yourself that there is no way she will volunteer to bring another child into this world. But this is just not true. After it is all over, mother’s do not remember the pain and agony, they just remember the beautiful child they brought into this world. Maybe they remember small parts of the agony but something somewhere deep in the brain causes mothers to remember not the agony but that wonderful feeling of bringing another human into this world.

I have never given birth to a child so I do not know what that feels like but the closest thing I can relate it to is running a half-marathon. During the race, I was beyond exhausted and frustrated with myself for signing up for such a long race. It just would not end. But as soon as I finished the race and (most likely after a surge of endorphins), I immediately decided I wanted to participate in other race. How is it possible that after such a terrible experience, I was able to forget the agony and only remember the final result – finishing the race. In my mind, childbirth is sort of like that and in a way medical school is also like that.

There were so many times in the past four years that I wanted to give up because I did not think I could do it. Or I thought that I did not want to do it. But now when I look back, I do not remember staying up until 4am studying for an exam at 8am. I do not remember thinking that I definitely failed every exam. I do not remember thinking that I would fail out before making it to graduation. Here are the things that I do remember:

I remember passing Anatomy after an 11 week struggle and feeling like I was on the top of the world even though I was merely 1/16 of the way through medical school.

I still remember the three other people in my anatomy group and will probably never forget them and the little tidbits I learned about them. Someone at the very beginning of med school said, you will never forget who was in your anatomy group and just in these past four years I can see how that would be true. The reason for this is that Anatomy is one of the only courses where you all need to be there physically to dissect the human body and work together. The time you spend with your group is unlike anything else that you do in med school and is memorable beyond words can describe. When I think back to Anatomy, I do not think of almost failing one of my exams during Anatomy but I think of a funny mnemonic that my group came up with for nerves in the arm.

The end of first year and how amazing it felt to finish a whole year of medical school.

1/4 of the way does not seem like a lot in retrospect but at the time it felt like the most amazing accomplishment. I remember the celebrations that ensued after the last exam was finished but I do not remember the struggle that was inherent to the first year of med school. If I really think back I do remember the sleepless nights, endless studying, and feeling like I knew nothing. But those feelings are easily trumped by all the wonderful memories of classmates hanging out after exams, late night eating at McDonald’s, avoiding studying by procrastinating, trips with fellow classmates, and so much more. Someone said to me that the friends you make in medical school you keep forever and I thought well how much different could medical school be from undergrad. It is completely different. You have a class of 100-250 and you know a good chunk of your classmates pretty well. You learn to care about your classmates in a way that is different from undergrad because you all have participated in the same exact struggle. The bonds you form in med school are tighter and stronger because you have spent so much time with each other. It is hard to forget that even as years go by after medical school. The bond in some ways get tighter because the struggle of practicing in Medicine kind of never really goes away.

These four years will probably be the years you will remember as knowing close to nothing.

The beginning of Residency is also like that but medical school is kind of the epitome of not knowing anything. You always feel like the lowest person on the food chain but in an odd way it is a good feeling because you know that no one is really dependent on you because you are “still learning.”

It’s a mutual feeling and you are more than okay with it because you know that soon enough you will be expected to know a whole lot. There is some level of reassurance that you are not the most dependable part of the team but rather you are the most dependent part of the team. When you are dealing with patient’s lives, it is nice to feel like you are not the most important part of the team and can ask for help if you need it.

I will remember all of the amazing trips that my med school friends and I took.

We had a really solid group of friends who enjoyed trips on our weekends after exams. Instead of staying in we would plan a trip every couple of months. This not only helped us stay motivated for school but was also a really great way to get out of the city we are in all the time and get a change in scenery. We took ski trips, went away for a casino weekend, NYC weekends, and even an international trip or two. These fond memories will last forever in my mind because although medical school was quite the struggle, there was a lot of fun and excitement that went along with it.

I will never forget the first time I got to take care of a patient and how amazing it felt.

The relationship between you and a patient is very real and rewarding and warms your heart. It is hard to be upset about medical school when you feel so much love from your patients. And the opposite is also true, you learn a lot from your patients, as much as you learn from them and the way they affect your life is unbelievable. I used to complain when we had to see patients during 1st or 2nd year in the week leading up to an exam because I figured I could use that time to study. That time I would have spent studying could not measure up to what I could learn from patients not only about them but also about myself.

These are only some of the many amazing memories that were a part of my medical school experience.

This is not in any to diminish the difficult times that are inherent to medical school but is just a way of telling you that it is not as bad as everyone says. I remember being completely terrified prior to starting medical school because of how much everyone had scared me. I thought that my life would completely change and in many ways it did change but not to the extent that I thought it would.

No one can guarantee the kind of life you will have in medical school but one thing that is a guarantee is the fact that you will not regret your choice to pursue this field. Maybe Medicine is like childbirth after all and you do not remember all of the hours spent in the library studying. But if it is anything like childbirth then the final outcome is completely worth the struggle.