The Last Summer of My Life?

My second year of medical school begins on Monday, which means 70+ hours a week of class and studying, little sleep, and quite a bit of stress for the foreseeable future. The summer break after M1 year is the only summer break in medical school–for the final three years school goes straight through June, July, and August. This past summer has been amazing–I went fly-fishing in Montana, visited the Maine coast with my wife, relaxed on weekends and evenings, and spent my days doing research in a lab at school.

Last year, as the M1 class discussed summer, the M2s frequently gave us lots of advice, usually referring to this summer as “the last summer of your life.” The advice was predictable–have fun, travel, see family, don’t do anything stressful–but did they really need to be so ominous about all the other summers we’re going to live through? What exactly am I getting myself into?

For all the complaining we do, medical students are pretty fortunate people–the AAMC says only half of applicants to medical school are admitted. As medical students, we get to sample a number of specialties before choosing our career. In most fields of work, this isn’t an option. Once we finally do start working, our wages are pretty reasonable, even with all the debt from school. I know medicine is going to be difficult and time-consuming, but it’s also going to be interesting. No other field of work has such a blend of cutting edge science, social interaction, and the opportunity to directly make a difference in someone’s life. God has blessed me by allowing me to become a doctor.

So am I really about to end the last summer of my life? I don’t think so–I only took three weeks of real vacation this summer anyway. There will be plenty of other summers, and although I’ll be working hard, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t want to be doing anything else with my life.

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