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chateau22

Feeling alone in med school

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I'm currently a 1st year med student and I've just been feeling so down lately. I feel so alone and like I don't fit in with my classmates. I had to move out of province for med school, and I thought it'd be an adventure but it's been so hard.  

They're all perfectly nice and I can be cordial with them, we just don't click and it really feels like high school to me. The only social activities are parties, bars or club events, which I'm not interested in.

My classmates are more privileged than me, so I don't know if this contributes to my feeling of isolation. This is just a small example, but if they're talking about exotic destinations they've traveled to, I can't relate at all and can only smile and make small comments like "Wow that sounds like a cool place". In one on one settings I'm fine, but I kind of struggle with group settings because I just don't fit in.  

My friends from college and family are good supports, but I'm out of province so obviously I can't see them that much. I still keep in touch with my friends back home, but it's hard because we can't see each other as often. It hurts because I made a close knit group of friends in college, but I couldn't do the same in medical school.

I'm introverted and rather shy, my interactions feel superficial and I don't have a connection to 99% of my class, and the 1% I do, I can't see that often because everyone is busy. But I can't help but feel some sadness that at the end of these 4 years, I haven't made any tight bonds with my classmates and I just don't fit in.

I've seen a few counselors but they haven't been that helpful for me. 

Does anyone have any advice or just been through something similar?

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Sorry to hear. Do you have any interests you can explore outside of medical school in your new city? That being said, it's only 1st year, and maybe you can deepen your bond with the 1% over the 2nd year. Like high school, medical school will also end, and it gets better afterwards. Here's to finding your tribe in residency.

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6 minutes ago, Lactic Folly said:

Sorry to hear. Do you have any interests you can explore outside of medical school in your new city? That being said, it's only 1st year, and maybe you can deepen your bond with the 1% over the 2nd year. Like high school, medical school will also end, and it gets better afterwards. Here's to finding your tribe in residency.

Yes I've done some exploring in my city, and even made some friends because of this (not from my class). But I'm still sad that I haven't made any tight friendships with my classmates, and I just feel bad that I have this vibe of "Just here to get my degree" but in reality, I'd probably feel more lonely trying to fit in with these groups of students in my class 

Thank you for your words, I do hope residency gets better :)

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11 minutes ago, chateau22 said:

I'm currently a 1st year med student and I've just been feeling so down lately. I feel so alone and like I don't fit in with my classmates. I had to move out of province for med school, and I thought it'd be an adventure but it's been so hard.  

They're all perfectly nice and I can be cordial with them, we just don't click and it really feels like high school to me. The only social activities are parties, bars or club events, which I'm not interested in.

My classmates are more privileged than me, so I don't know if this contributes to my feeling of isolation. This is just a small example, but if they're talking about exotic destinations they've traveled to, I can't relate at all and can only smile and make small comments like "Wow that sounds like a cool place". In one on one settings I'm fine, but I kind of struggle with group settings because I just don't fit in.  

My friends from college and family are good supports, but I'm out of province so obviously I can't see them that much. I still keep in touch with my friends back home, but it's hard because we can't see each other as often. It hurts because I made a close knit group of friends in college, but I couldn't do the same in medical school.

I'm introverted and rather shy, my interactions feel superficial and I don't have a connection to 99% of my class, and the 1% I do, I can't see that often because everyone is busy. But I can't help but feel some sadness that at the end of these 4 years, I haven't made any tight bonds with my classmates and I just don't fit in.

I've seen a few counselors but they haven't been that helpful for me. 

Does anyone have any advice or just been through something similar?

First off, I’m so sorry to hear that you’re going through this, especially being so far from home. It definitely is not easy, and I agree it can be a little like high school. I too felt pretty much the exact same as you for quite awhile, and it only really started to get better this semester. 

It’s okay to feel this way, many people as you said come from very privileged backgrounds, and that’s sadly just the nature of medical admissions. I too am not one of those, but,  don’t let that deter you, just need to relate on other things. Have you tried to join interest groups, intramurals, any of the artsy things like a capella, etc as Lactic has said. Feel free to message me back. Take care of yourself, first and foremost.

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8 minutes ago, IMislove said:

First off, I’m so sorry to hear that you’re going through this, especially being so far from home. It definitely is not easy, and I agree it can be a little like high school. I too felt pretty much the exact same as you for quite awhile, and it only really started to get better this semester. 

It’s okay to feel this way, many people as you said come from very privileged backgrounds, and that’s sadly just the nature of medical admissions. I too am not one of those, but,  don’t let that deter you, just need to relate on other things. Have you tried to join interest groups, intramurals, any of the artsy things like a capella, etc as Lactic has said. Feel free to message me back. Take care of yourself, first and foremost.

Thank you so much. I have tried that stuff, I don't have a problem having surface level relationships with my classmates, it's just the deeper connections that I don't have, like someone you'd call randomly after class to chill with

I know this is temporary, but I just feel like an outsider in my class

C'est la vie I guess.

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It might be a bit awkward, but maybe try joining some undergrad clubs? I regularly frequented a couple of sports club throughout med school. It definitely allows you to maintain a life outside of medical school a lot better than if you just hung out with your classmates.

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There are so many people in med school just like you (I'm one of them). While I've made friends with some of my classmates, I can't say that I relate to most of them, frankly. I guess it's just a function of different life experiences, how you were raised, values, interests, etc. But don't feel the need to be buddy buddy with all the people in your class. Be polite, be cordial, but dont be desperate. Don't be afraid to join activities (that you feel comfortable doing) or to ask people to hang out or study together. If they don't want to join you, it's their loss and they can go eat fudge. If you don't like hard partying, find other people (even outside your program...actually it's refreshing being around non-med students). Just know you're not alone, and that not everyone in med school likes to "play hard"....there are a lot of people who play soft and prefer it that way. There's also lots of kids who aren't rich, well traveled and who don't look like models (though it's sometimes hard to believe lol). Occasional solitude can be a great thing too....spend some time in nature, find some hobbies, explore your new city on your own terms and not just to drink and sleep around. Try to call your family every now and then and keep in touch with your undergrad friends over FB. Summer is around the corner, too. By clerkship, none of this will matter and everyone will be doing 26 hours at the hospital anyways. In any case, take care friend. I send you electronic hugs! 

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Very relatable experience. You may find that you connect more with some of your older classmates. 

Reconnect with your own interests if med school has caused you to stray from them, and definitely stay in touch with family and friends outside of medicine.

If your med school is near/connected to the main campus of your university, check out what events or clubs are going on there and see if something sticks.

Feel free to PM me if you'd like.

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I too studied away from home and was too busy studying, which was my focus. During undergrad, I have up all my friends as they were party animals and I had to work exceedingly hard for those grades that led to acceptance into medical school. In the process, I became a loner. This continued in Med school. I am not concerned with making friendships, I am goal orientated, back in my home town, but far too busy to seek out friends. I have a s.o., Family, work hard and live s fulfilled life. 

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You are not alone in this feeling. For many people, their closest relationships have already formed after high school and undergrad. Having those great experiences often sets people up with high hopes and expectations in medical school so it's not uncommon for people to feel the relationships they form later are significantly more superficial in comparison. Combine that with the fact that many med students come from similar relatively well-off backgrounds, it's completely understandable how you might have difficulty building close relationships with these colleagues.

My practical advice is try to start/find events that are cheap/free if you're finding it awkward interacting with "privileged" colleagues. E.g. cooking/dinner clubs instead of going out for dinners, board games/athletic activities instead of partying/drinking. Might be worth it to explore outside of the med bubble too. Honestly, some of my closest friends I met during medical school aren't even in my class and it's really refreshing being able to get away from the bubble.

But in my personal opinion, there is absolutely nothing wrong with finishing 4 years of medical school and having only 2 close friends you made. You know your close friends and family back home value you and the number of friendships you form in medical school isn't a measure of your value/worth. Eventually the FOMO goes away and you develop the self-confidence to say "I am not close to 99% of these people and that's completely fine". It's not because there's anything wrong with you.

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19 hours ago, RichardHammond said:

But in my personal opinion, there is absolutely nothing wrong with finishing 4 years of medical school and having only 2 close friends you made.

Yup. I have one close friend from medical school days. Which is one more than I would have had otherwise, so, win.

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I've moved around a lot which makes it difficult to stay close to people.  Med school fits in the pattern, and where I am now for sure hasn't been the best place for me socially or on other levels.  

I too get along with people and enjoy transient friendships while they're there - I have fewer expectations from people as I get older, which makes things easier - i.e. I get bothered less.  My friends from my youth are established and many have families, which is when people become more home-life focused anyways.  

It's always great to stay open minded, and people can be surprising.  I have activity friends (i.e. shared sport interest, etc..), maybe more of a male-bonding type of friendship.  I also have some friends from med school, at different levels of closeness, but usually based on shared interests or experiences.  Clichéd, but a little goes a long way - I'm not sure I'll be where I am in the future, but that's the part of being where I am that I'll miss the most.

 I don't really think I have any kind of home town at the moment and not sure I would have one in the future either.  For me that represents opportunity on some level, but it's true that being in a place for a longer period of time does give a lot more chances to build social circles,... supposing it's a place where one actually would like to be.  

In the OP's situation, pre-clinical will be over next year and then clerkship.  Like others have stated, clerkship is a whole new game and with away electives, there won't be much of the pre-clinical atmosphere left.  I would have enjoyed having more close friendships from med school, but at the end of the day, the whole situation is transient.

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Really sorry you're feeling like this OP.

Med school can sometimes be a very isolating environment, and it can definitely be hard to connect with your classmates especially if their upbringing and personalities are different than yours. But just realize this is temporary what you are feeling and keep focusing on you. 

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one way to mingle and see if you click with someone on more than superficial level is to sit in different places in class. 

I had a class of 170ish people and I am only in close contact with one now.  I probably had 4 closeish friends and the rest were more superficial contacts. 

Having done multiple degrees in different places far from family I know how you feel. I probably have one good friend from each degree and we rarely see each other due to geography. Thank goodness for technology :)

My advice is to not get too hung up on this, do your “job” which is to study and pass, and finally keep an open mind. You really never know who you’ll click with. 

 

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OP I come from a low SES background and this is something that I've been going thorough in medical school. Realistically I've found that it's impossible for me to form a meaningful connection with most of my fellow classmates that come from higher economic classes. This is because they have such drastically different life experiences and outlooks on issues that matter to me due to their privileged backgrounds. For this reason, after a certain point I stopped trying to form deep bonds with people that came from these backgrounds, and satisfied myself with having a cordial relationship with them. 

 

In terms of finding these deeper relationships, what worked for me was finding people in the class that came from a similar background. My closest friends are amongst this group in medical school. But I didn't exclude non-medical students. For example I play a lot of basketball and I managed to form strong friendships through that shared activity as well. It helps that the demographic that plays basketball tends to come from a similar background as myself, so it's much easier for me to find people I can bond with when I'm mingling with a demographic that's similar to me from a socioeconomic standpoint. 

 

Basically, my advice for you is prepared to look outside of the medical school class to find your closest friends. Unfortunately, because of demographic differences, I will never be able to form many close relationships with people in the medical school class, and if that's something that's important to you, then I think you need to shift your attitude and prepare for the possibility that it's something that's not going to happen. 

 

 

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1 hour ago, LostLamb said:

one way to mingle and see if you click with someone on more than superficial level is to sit in different places in class. 

I had a class of 170ish people and I am only in close contact with one now.  I probably had 4 closeish friends and the rest were more superficial contacts. 

Having done multiple degrees in different places far from family I know how you feel. I probably have one good friend from each degree and we rarely see each other due to geography. Thank goodness for technology :)

My advice is to not get too hung up on this, do your “job” which is to study and pass, and finally keep an open mind. You really never know who you’ll click with. 

 

Lost Lamb.. this is 2/2 posts of yours that I resonated so much with.  Great insight. 

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50 minutes ago, tavenan said:

OP I come from a low SES background and this is something that I've been going thorough in medical school. Realistically I've found that it's impossible for me to form a deep connection with most of my fellow classmates that come from higher economic classes. This is because they have such drastically different life experiences and outlooks on issues that matter to me due to their privileged backgrounds. For this reason, after a certain point I stopped trying to form deep bonds with people that came from these backgrounds, and satisfied myself with having a cordial relationship with them. 

 

In terms of finding deeper relationships, what worked for me was finding people in the class that came from a similar background. My closest friends are amongst this group in medical school. But I didn't exclude non-medical students. For example I play a lot of basketball and I managed to form strong friendships through that shared activity as well. It helps that the demographic that plays basketball tends to come from a similar background as myself, so it's much easier for me to find people I can bond with when I'm mingling with a demographic that's similar to me from a socioeconomic standpoint. 

 

Basically, my advice for you is prepared to look outside of the medical school class to find your closest friends. Unfortunately, because of demographic differences, I will never be able to form many close relationships with people in the medical school class, and if that's something that's important to you, then I think you need to shift your attitude and prepare for the possibility that it's something that's not going to happen. 

 

 

Wow, I didn't know that this was actually a thing in medical school... Interesting

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38 minutes ago, Coldery said:

Wow, I didn't know that this was actually a thing in medical school... Interesting

 

Well, I became "friends", more like acquaintances with a group of people from my class until one day one of them kicked a homeless guy's cup walking on a street in downtown Toronto while the rest of them laughed... only time in my life I wanted to get into a physical confrontation with a group of people at the same time. Needless to say, no longer friends.

 

A lot of kids in the class are not quite as morally bankrupt as this, but show a dangerous lack of understanding about the unique issues facing working class Canadians because of their backgrounds and their pampered upbringings, which makes it really hard to form meaningful relationships with them. 

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53 minutes ago, tavenan said:

 

Well, I became "friends", more like acquaintances with a group of people from my class until one day one of them kicked a homeless guy's cup walking on a street in downtown Toronto while the rest of them laughed... only time in my life I wanted to get into a physical confrontation with a group of people at the same time. Needless to say, no longer friends.

 

A lot of kids in the class are not quite as morally bankrupt as this, but show a dangerous lack of understanding about the unique issues facing working class Canadians because of their backgrounds and their pampered upbringings, which makes it really hard to form meaningful relationships with them. 

These were medical students? I mean, I don't feel I put med students on a pedestal/consider them to be perfect but this is just a basic disregard for human life...It wouldn't even cross my mind to do something like that (not saying I'm perfect but this is just meanness for the sake of being mean). Sometimes, I feel the admissions process is pretty seriously flawed.

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1 minute ago, ChickenDinner said:

These were medical students? I mean, I don't feel I put med students on a pedestal/consider them to be perfect but this is just a basic disregard for human life...It wouldn't even cross my mind to do something like that (not saying I'm perfect but this is just meanness for the sake of being mean). Sometimes, I feel the admissions process is pretty seriously flawed.

I have heard from UGME administrators that I'm still close with that the new classes are markedly less professional than my graduating cohort. Now that observation could be completely biased and subject to stereotypical "spoiled younger generations". I personally have seen more lazy and unprofessional clerks and junior residents but perhaps my peers and I were similarly "lazy" and we just didn't know.

I'm not sure if the admissions process can ever be a perfect filter. All you have to do is portray yourself well in a 1-hour interview situation. At least we interview students unlike law schools. 

Hopefully, this isn't indicative of the broader class and hopefully, these students are able to mature and be more professional over time. 

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22 minutes ago, blah1234 said:

I have heard from UGME administrators that I'm still close with that the new classes are markedly less professional than my graduating cohort. Now that observation could be completely biased and subject to stereotypical "spoiled younger generations". I personally have seen more lazy and unprofessional clerks and junior residents but perhaps my peers and I were similarly "lazy" and we just didn't know.

I'm not sure if the admissions process can ever be a perfect filter. All you have to do is portray yourself well in a 1-hour interview situation. At least we interview students unlike law schools. 

Hopefully, this isn't indicative of the broader class and hopefully, these students are able to mature and be more professional over time. 

Really? I haven't heard that before. In your opinion, what makes current clerks and residents unprofessional and "lazy" -- as in, what kind of behaviors do you see them doing/not doing? 

You're right -- I know medical schools do the best they can but I personally still feel medicine is quite an elitist profession and favors those who come from privilege. It's a tough dilemma because I also recognize that just because someone comes from privilege doesn't make them a bad person -- but I do wish medical schools placed more emphasis on life experiences and candidate background than they presently do.

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15 minutes ago, ChickenDinner said:

Really? I haven't heard that before. In your opinion, what makes current clerks and residents unprofessional and "lazy" -- as in, what kind of behaviors do you see them doing/not doing? 

You're right -- I know medical schools do the best they can but I personally still feel medicine is quite an elitist profession and favors those who come from privilege. It's a tough dilemma because I also recognize that just because someone comes from privilege doesn't make them a bad person -- but I do wish medical schools placed more emphasis on life experiences and candidate background than they presently do.

Honestly, I don't know how much weight to put into those comments by UGME. I honestly think it's just looking at past classes with rose tinted glasses. I'm sure there is a huge recency bias in remembering stupid stuff that classes have done. 

My colleagues and I just see learners not taking initiative with cases, showing up late without a good excuse, not interested in "learning". I don't have contact with all clerks and all residents and I definitely never saw all my colleagues in training so I want to err on the side of caution and assume this is the normal amount for every class of learners. I wasn't a perfect student but at least I showed up on time haha.

I'm a big proponent of making medicine and higher education in general be more accessible. We need diversity in medicine to treat the diversity we see in patients. I hope we are able to do things like reduce tuition to help defray the perceived burden of student debt and get more applicants. Unfortunately, I think students from privilege will always have an edge as they have the luxury of time and money to help optimize their outcomes. 

I was another professional before medicine and I will have to say while some physicians can be stuffy academics the overall elitism in the profession isn't that bad in the spectrum of "prestige" professions. People are pretty normal and even crass in medicine. I will say that our career path is surprisingly meritocratic compared to other lines of work I am familiar with. 

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1 hour ago, ChickenDinner said:

You're right -- I know medical schools do the best they can but I personally still feel medicine is quite an elitist profession and favors those who come from privilege. It's a tough dilemma because I also recognize that just because someone comes from privilege doesn't make them a bad person -- but I do wish medical schools placed more emphasis on life experiences and candidate background than they presently do.

In my experience, the variables least affected by socioeconomic factors are GPA and MCAT. ECs heavily favour those who come from well-connected backgrounds—this is self-explanatory.

Interviews also favour those from well-connected backgrounds. Aside from the fact that they have more impressive ECs, those who are well-connected have often already internalized language that conveys professionalism and maturity. Overall while I think ECs and interviews correlate with socioeconomic factors, I still think they are good discriminators for dedication and communication.

This isn't just medicine. Back in the day, my friends who were applying to careers in finance and law had the very same issues, though much worse due to an increased emphasis on resumes, interviews, and connections. It's just a fact that life favours the well-to-do both in unfair ways (e.g. nepotism) and fairer ways (e.g. knowledge of important skills and traits conducive to making them a better physician).

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Sorry to hear you've been having a rough time, OP. As you can see from others' replies, your situation is not unique. I can definitely see where you're coming from, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with having no one that you feel close to in med school. Our ability to form deep connections with people is based on our social environment, the people who create that environment, and the effort we put in (could there be a another person in the class who feels the same way you do and who in fact could get along great with you? Maybe. But it's quite hard for two very introverted people who are both not into the usual socialization settings to spend an amount of time significant enough to facilitate a deep connection).

I'm afraid I have nothing new to offer, except to echo others' advice of remaining connected the friends you already have/who are not in medicine. I honestly think the idea that you're supposed to form deep long-lasting connections with people in med school is over-rated-- so perhaps a bit of expectation management is needed here.  As someone who never hang out with premeds (pretty sure I wasn't perceived as smart or hard working enough even if I wanted to LOL, then did school with people who just wanted to be RDs, then went out to the real world, where surprise- most of my colleagues are decades older and have vastly different life experiences and priorities), I think it's actually really really really beneficial to hang out with people outside of medicine. As you mentioned, coming from priviledged backgrounds is a factor (as someone who paid my way through school, I too have had some off-putting experiences). There can also be quite a bit of external validation seeking, insecurity, and er, not chill behaviours in general. I dunno about you but the less of those things I surround myself with the better. Not trying to stereotype or bash anyone, just saying there are definitely positives to not having close friends in medicine and you're not missing out on much.

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