Monthly Archive for April, 2006

medical student class attendance during the first two years of medical school

In this second study in our series of rather un-scientific studies on medical student habits, we examine medical student class attendance during the first two years of medical school. There has been anecdotal evidence of medical student attendance in class declining as medical schools adopted an attendance-not-required-except-at-certain-special-classes policy. To obtain actual data on this phenomenon, we conducted a longitudinal study of medical student class attendance habits during the first two years of medical school. Results were collected by the same carefully-placed-disguised-as-medical-students scientists as in the medical student hydration habits study. These scientists simply recorded the number of medical students attending class everyday in addition to their recordings of medical student beverage choice. These scientists followed the entering classes of 2005, 2006, and 2007 for two years to obtain the following results.

Medical student attendance at class starts high at the beginning of every quarter but drops off as the quarter progresses, with the end of each quarter seeing the lowest student attendance. Fewer medical students attended class by the end of quarter six when compared to the end of quarter one. This drop-off in attendance may be explained by the fact that most medical students were freaking out and cramming for the USMLE Step 1 by the end of quarter six.

Special notes:
1. There was not 100% attendance in orientation activities, showing that even at this early point, it seems that some medical students already think they are above attending hokey group activities.
2. Surprisingly, attendance was not 100% for ethics, a required attendance class. This result may be due to failure of these students to realize that attendance at this class was required, but is unlikely as the trend continues throughout the second year of medical school. The more likely explanation is that a small minority of first- and second- year medical students do not believe ethics is an integral part of their education because they need that time to study to score >260 on the USMLE Step 1 to be competitive for the ROAD specialties and/or think they already know everything there is to know about medical ethics. This group likely includes the same group of students that were above attending orientation activities. We are currently in the process of determining how they got away with not attending this and other required classes.

med school = high school?

Do you think that you’ve put those awkward high school days behind you now that you’ve graduated from college and you’re starting med school, making high school but a distant unpleasant memory? WRONG! For some reason, when you put 100 or so people together all day everyday for four years (well, not exactly four years since we end up scattered during our third and fourth years, but that doesn’t stop the gossip from flying), they end up regressing back to high school mentality. This phenomenon knows no boundaries as it affects even the oldest and married-with-kids med students. All of a sudden, it’s all about who’s hooking up with who, who’s breaking up with who, who drank too much last night, who’s a gunner, who’s cool, who’s smart, who’s not all over again. Just like high school, the cliques form pretty much on day one when we choose anatomy lab groups based on nothing but the cursory information we’ve gathered about our classmates through a few awkward conversations. And just like high school, it’s next to impossible to change cliques once you’ve been placed voluntarily or not into one. There are even med school proms!!! So if you’re just a little awkward and think that you can start over in med school where you think no one can smell the dork on you, you’re in for a surprise. But this regression may not necessarily be a bad thing (well, unless you were really dying to finally be part of the cool clique) as it helps a group of previously complete strangers come together and support each other through an extremely difficult part of their lives. Just as in high school, when we took our first awkward and often embarrassing steps into adulthood, med school serves as a transition where we take our first awkward and embarrassing (to put it mildly) steps into physician-hood. And as in high school, this transition from crazy premed to med student and eventually physician is full of stress, pressures, and challenges that test our limits, all of which is eased somewhat by having each other to lean on (even if we end up in the geek clique).