What's med school really like?
It's a tremendous amount of information to pack in. You can almost just barely scratch the surface. It's also very exhilarating. For people who love to learn, there's a lot to learn, and it's not just facts and science but new skills dealing with people and dealing with clinical problem solving.
What's the best way to prepare for med school?
I think it's important to be well grounded in the biologic sciences—biochemistry, physiology, and molecular biology in particular. They're much more part of medicine now than they were 40 years ago.
I think it's also important to be well-grounded in the humanities, philosophy, psychology, and all of the things that make us well-rounded individuals. If you're not going into academic medicine, there's nothing wrong with majoring in a non-science as long as you have the basic tools to be able to absorb and learn what's taught in medical school.
Any advice for students entering med school?
In terms of surviving or getting through, I think people are much better off if they look at what's facing them as an intellectual challenge…something to solve and to figure out as opposed to a bunch of disconnected facts that you're forced to memorize. I think that you should really seek to understand the path of physiology of disease rather than just memorizing a bunch of symptoms. You need to find out why and how those things go on.
How can students score a great residency?
Get the best grades that you can and study as hard as you can. Also, do some research in medical school. It shows a level of intellectual curiosity in medicine as a scientific endeavor rather than just going to trade school.
What's the most important thing medical school teaches?
The most important thing we should teach is how to continue to learn because whatever we're teaching kids in medical school now, much of it is going to be useless by the time they're in practice for ten or fifteen years, so they need to learn how to learn.Christina Couch is a freelance writer based in Richmond, Virginia, and Paris, France. Her writing credentials include MSN/Encarta Online, CollegeBound Teen, and Studentscoop.com.