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chateau22

Feeling alone in med school

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OP what you feel is completely normal. I grew up in a lower-middle class family and most of my friends are not in medicine. Over my 4 years in school, I didn't meet many people I liked—I had no desire to have any interaction beyond work with 90%+ of the class.

Most are not bad people, but as you mentioned, fundamentally their social interactions are different because of their socioeconomic background. Typically, you will not enjoy their company much, and they will not enjoy yours.

My personal recommendation is to avoid them altogether and find friends outside of medicine (see suggestions made by other posters).

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4 hours 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. 

Wow I can't believe the others laughed - really makes me wonder how that person's going to treat the majority of patients - many of whom are low SES

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1 hour ago, 1D7 said:

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).

Thanks for this perspective.

I'm not sure how much I agree with the statement that GPA and MCAT are least affected by SES. I had to work two part-time jobs throughout my UG to pay for school, which obviously took a lot of time away from studying. I wasn't able to attend office hours as much as I wanted and couldn't afford tutors, which I know some of my peers had. I also had to work to pay for the MCAT and prep books and couldn't afford a prep course as many students take. But perhaps that was just my experience.

I do agree that this is ultimately just how things are, not just in medicine but in society. The rich are favored for the reasons you highlighted which is partially why so many of us work for years to obtain the American/Canadian dream.

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3 minutes ago, ChickenDinner said:

Thanks for this perspective.

I'm not sure how much I agree with the statement that GPA and MCAT are least affected by SES. I had to work two part-time jobs throughout my UG to pay for school, which obviously took a lot of time away from studying. I wasn't able to attend office hours as much as I wanted and couldn't afford tutors, which I know some of my peers had. I also had to work to pay for the MCAT and prep books and couldn't afford a prep course as many students take. But perhaps that was just my experience.

I do agree that this is ultimately just how things are, not just in medicine but in society. The rich are favored for the reasons you highlighted which is partially why so many of us work for years to obtain the American/Canadian dream.

Do you feel that extracurriculars/networking/connections are less affected by SES than GPA and MCAT? I would argue that having to work part time jobs or not having money would make it much harder to do volunteer lab work/build houses in Africa/do observerships with doctors. GPA and MCAT on the other hand are more objective measures of intelligence and hard work. Now I 100% agree that being well off gives you more time and money to optimize for a higher GPA and MCAT score but I think the magnitude of advantage you get is less compared to your parents getting you plum positions through their connections. 

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11 minutes ago, blah1234 said:

Do you feel that extracurriculars/networking/connections are less affected by SES than GPA and MCAT? I would argue that having to work part time jobs or not having money would make it much harder to do volunteer lab work/build houses in Africa/do observerships with doctors. GPA and MCAT on the other hand are more objective measures of intelligence and hard work. Now I 100% agree that being well off gives you more time and money to optimize for a higher GPA and MCAT score but I think the magnitude of advantage you get is less compared to your parents getting you plum positions through their connections. 

In my experience, the reason my GPA and MCAT were less affected than my ECs was because of time investment. I worked at least 25 hours per week. When I wasn't working, I was in class or studying. This meant I did okay in classes but ECs were hard for me to pursue, especially during the school year. I wouldn't say my income level had nothing to do with my GPA -- that just wasn't my experience. Its very stressful to worry about paying for food, rent, books, and tuition and still get great grades. Also, GPA and MCAT may be more objective than ECs but there's still a lot of variability seeing as schools don't consider rigor of program and grade inflation reputation of certain degrees/schools.  

I agree that ECs are definitely affected by SES. The point I was trying to make is that, for me, being lower income affected all aspects of my application -- not primarily ECs. I feel my GPA and MCAT would have been higher if I was able to afford more resources but I might be alone in that feeling. 

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3 minutes ago, ChickenDinner said:

In my experience, the reason my GPA and MCAT were less affected than my ECs was because of time investment. I worked at least 25 hours per week. When I wasn't working, I was in class or studying. This meant I did okay in classes but ECs were hard for me to pursue, especially during the school year. I wouldn't say my income level had nothing to do with my GPA -- that just wasn't my experience. Its very stressful to worry about paying for food, rent, books, and tuition and still get great grades. Also, GPA and MCAT may be more objective than ECs but there's still a lot of variability seeing as schools don't consider rigor of program and grade inflation reputation of certain degrees/schools.  

I agree that ECs are definitely affected by SES. The point I was trying to make is that, for me, being lower income affected all aspects of my application -- not primarily ECs. I feel my GPA and MCAT would have been higher if I was able to afford more resources but I might be alone in that feeling. 

I 100% +1 this experience. I think my GPA was more impeded by my SES than my extra-curriculars, and I strongly disagree that GPA and MCAT are objective measures of intelligence. If they were, then you wouldn't see people with high GPAs and low MCATs or vice versa. Not having money affects everything, especially stress levels. Looking back I was decently resourceful at doing the extracurriculars I wanted to and developed my social skills, although that is also impacted by finances. That being said, GPA is forever, extracurriculars and MCAT can be fixed with relative ease after undergrad. 

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Don't overthink this, the first two years of med school are a lot like high school. They are also like the calm before the shit storm.

You will see a massive shift once you hit 3rd year and above. Travels? Life experiences? Politics? Literature? Forget about it, everyone is just working their ass off. 

If you ever catch attending and staff outside in the real world hanging out with each other, what are they talking about? They are almost always talking about only two things: medicine and money. Well, maybe three, third being kids - if they have any. Physicians live remarkably unbalanced lives, and I'm sorry to say, they are some of the least worldly circle of people I have come across (and I include myself in this group). By the time we are in residency, and ever after that, our whole world view revolves around medicine. If we have political views, it is only because it somehow relates to how the political landscape will affect our profession, and our profession only.

You can really see the contrast if you ever hang out with businessmen, lawyers, scientists, engineers, etc. It is common for other professionals to read outside of medicine, make effort to deeply understand historical and political phenomena, and are comfortable engaging in debate and discussion about things that are completely unrelated to their work. Doctors? With attending and residents alike, trying to talk about anything outside of medicine is like pulling teeth.

Case in point, it is remarkable how many people entering med school could play 1-3 instruments at concert performance levels. You ask them what was the last time they played anything when they are 1st year residents, and they will tell you maybe sometime two years ago. Their hobbies and outside interests are long long dead like their soul (too dark?, JK :P).

Sure attendings and residents still travel and try to have fun, but next time watch for yourself: they typically schedule red eye flights because they work late that same day, and come back to get up at 6am the morning after their flight lands. Results is that if you ask them a week later how was their vacation, it is a distant memory, like a dream that might have never happened. Just something they went through the motions. Most likely they were still checking labs and making work related calls on vacation.

TLDR: by the time you are in 4th year, forever after that, you will have a lot more in common with everyone else, and will spend most of your social time talking about medicine and not much else.

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On 4/4/2019 at 8:09 PM, 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?

OP, recognize that your perceived introversion is not a hindrance. I know that you are referring to not fitting in and feeling alone as a pre clerk - the day to day "which group do I sit with" or "what social event is coming up next".  Find 1 or 2 people whom you can gel with a bit more and start there.  You are already doing what you are supposed to do by being cordial and friendly and open.  Keep that up.  There is nothing wrong with you. 

I've felt the same way -- clerkship is such a breath of fresh air. It is your ability to connect with patients and the people you work with in a professional setting that matters.  In life, you aren't going to form tight bonds with everyone, and that's ok.  Do find supports in or out of the faculty.  Reach out to your family and friends back home.  Seek out interests outside of medicine.  You are going to be a great doctor. 

 

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On 4/10/2019 at 12:09 AM, humhum said:

Don't overthink this, the first two years of med school are a lot like high school. They are also like the calm before the shit storm.

You will see a massive shift once you hit 3rd year and above. Travels? Life experiences? Politics? Literature? Forget about it, everyone is just working their ass off. 

If you ever catch attending and staff outside in the real world hanging out with each other, what are they talking about? They are almost always talking about only two things: medicine and money. Well, maybe three, third being kids - if they have any. Physicians live remarkably unbalanced lives, and I'm sorry to say, they are some of the least worldly circle of people I have come across (and I include myself in this group). By the time we are in residency, and ever after that, our whole world view revolves around medicine. If we have political views, it is only because it somehow relates to how the political landscape will affect our profession, and our profession only.

You can really see the contrast if you ever hang out with businessmen, lawyers, scientists, engineers, etc. It is common for other professionals to read outside of medicine, make effort to deeply understand historical and political phenomena, and are comfortable engaging in debate and discussion about things that are completely unrelated to their work. Doctors? With attending and residents alike, trying to talk about anything outside of medicine is like pulling teeth.

Case in point, it is remarkable how many people entering med school could play 1-3 instruments at concert performance levels. You ask them what was the last time they played anything when they are 1st year residents, and they will tell you maybe sometime two years ago. Their hobbies and outside interests are long long dead like their soul (too dark?, JK :P).

Sure attendings and residents still travel and try to have fun, but next time watch for yourself: they typically schedule red eye flights because they work late that same day, and come back to get up at 6am the morning after their flight lands. Results is that if you ask them a week later how was their vacation, it is a distant memory, like a dream that might have never happened. Just something they went through the motions. Most likely they were still checking labs and making work related calls on vacation.

TLDR: by the time you are in 4th year, forever after that, you will have a lot more in common with everyone else, and will spend most of your social time talking about medicine and not much else.

I didn't have that many friends in medicine either as I'm introverted, but I made friends outside of medicine in the above fields as well as in teaching and arts. I do agree a lot of med school conversations can be narrow in scope due to how much doctors work. Don't worry too much about not making a lot of friends in med school, there's a benefit to not being in the 'med school bubble'...in a way you'd be less likely to turn into the case described above 

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Hey! I felt this way for my entire undergraduate degree. It got to the point where I thought I just was incapable of making new close friends post highschool. I always had people I would interact with, but I SO missed and craved for being able to just text someone to see if they wanted to get together, or to hang out one on one and have it not be awkward. Entering medical school was different though becuase i moved in with a whole bunch of people!! As a result I felt like i had community, family, close friends right off the bat. I know it's too late for what might have been the optimal time (as you enter med school and everyone is still super vulnerable and looking to make new friends), but maybe next year if you find new incoming students, or even students within your own class who you have at least some little thing in common with, living together might force a community. Typing that makes me think man, I sound desperate.. why can't I just make friends like normal people? Who knows. You're not alone in this lol! But it worked for me, so maybe it will for you too :) 

 

 

 

 

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