One of the things you’re not prepared for, heading into med school, is just how boring it can all get.
“I thought I was going to learn about all these fascinating diseases and meet a ton of likeminded people”, you tell yourself.
But it doesn’t really work out like that….
The main reasons med school is so boring:
- Pre-clinical years
- Repetitive questions
- Lack of spontaneity
- Other med students
- Uninspired teaching
- Broke and no time
But if you’re looking for a bit more detail as to why each of these can be particularly horrible, read on.
We’ll get into it more below.
Why Med School Is Boring
The pre-clinical years (the first two years of med school) can be a real dirge.
You have no patient contact, you spend a lot of your time at home (even more if classes aren’t mandatory) and you do little else than pour over books or smash through flashcards.
Talk about grinding.
The worst thing about all this? You have some seriously brutal exams (USMLE etc.) at the end of it. So you can’t kick back at all.
Many med students complain about the preclinical years being hell.
What makes the pre-clinical years even worse is just how heavy it leans on memorization.
Forget actually ever being tasked with applying anything in a real world context. The closest you’ll get is a maddening multiple choice question about something so obscure no real doctor themselves could ever answer it.
That’s why so much of this site is dedicated to flashcard apps like Anki.
You’ll be using tools like this to get the work done as soon as you can.
But you won’t ever any fun doing it.
Being a med student, don’t expect any questions you get (both inside and outside of school) to ever be entertaining.
Your family will be wondering why you’re watching cartoons (thanks Sketchy, Picmonic and Osmosis) to learn things. While also asking you if you can cure them of their mystery 10-year long ailment.
Meanwhile all your classmates will ever talk is about is upcoming exams, potential ways to cheat and who’s kissing the professor’s ass the most.
Related: Med School Stereotypes (The 21 Types Of Medical Students You’ll Meet)
Lack of Spontaneity
The path to becoming a doctor is all too predictable.
You study, you do exams, you move from one year to next…
You pay a fat stack of cash for tuition and eat ramen noodles for the first few years.
Sometimes you crave a curveball. A big shake-up from the AAMC. A mass culling of the med student herd. Anything to make you wake up from your slumber.
But it never comes.
Other Med Students
Something that makes the lack of spontaneity worse? Other med students.
Some of the most boring, unenthusiastic, whining, ungrateful people you’ll ever meet.
Besides your patients!
Let’s face it, how many old school traditionalists are there still teaching in med school thinking their methods work? Too many.
Wake up people. Face-to-face lectures, for the most part, are an insane waste of time.
You need questions, spaced repetition, funny stories and mnemonics if you ever hope to recall or remember anything. Not some 2-hour long snooze fest.
Broke & No Time
And if all the above doesn’t seem too much of an issue, remember you’ll have no money and no time for 95% of med school too.
Holidays? Not many.
There’s research and shadowing to be done. Jobs to finance the next semester.
Is Med School So Bad?
Of course, I’m being hyperbolic. Not all of med school is that boring.
It’s massively circumstancial; dependent on you, where you study and what your institution offers.
The fact it can be so boring makes it easier too.
At least you know exactly what you’re meant to be doing most of the time!
How To Make Med School Fun
There are a bunch of ways to beat the med school grind and make it more fun.
Here are several:
- Study better: Use active recall to cut down your study time and do more of what you love!
- Learn something different: Pick up a hobby outside med
- Run an event or start a club: Provide cool ways for people to meet each and other and have more fun
There are plenty more ideas in this article…
Related: Is Medical School Fun? (8 Ways To Improve Your Med School Experience)
Does Being A Doctor Get Boring?
Like all jobs, being a doctor can get repetitive. Too much repetition leads to boredom.
This depends entirely on your speciality and your day-to-day of course. As well as where and who you work with.
In some ways though, the fact that being a doctor does get boring actually helps.
Seeing repeated cases with similar symptoms etc. helps makes diagnoses more accurate and the treatment more effective. So it’s kind of a blessing in disguise. Especially for patients.
But that’s not the only thing.
The repetition, despite being boring, can be good for doctors too.
The stress that could potentially come from a complex diagnostic puzzle? Suddenly falls away.
There is only so much stress and excitement one person can handle!
Why Can Being A Doctor Get Boring?
Not all doctors jobs are boring. Those with diverse specialisms might have quite exciting jobs for most of the time. The broader the scope of the field, the better.
But, there are a lot of processes in the job (seeing patients, paperwork etc.) that are often the same.
It’s almost impossible for any job to be 100% stimulating all of the time.
How Many Doctors Regret Being Doctors?
It’s inconclusive how many doctors actually regret their jobs. There isn’t any data available from a wide enough to study to give numbers.
According to some surveys however, especially this 2018 U.S. centric study published on the Jama Network, career choice regret among second-year residents was reported to be around 14.1%.
In this prospective cohort study of 3588 second-year resident physicians with follow-up since medical school, reported symptoms of burnout occurred in 45.2% of participants and career choice regret in 14.1%
These results aren’t conclusive enough to suggest fellows, attendings, or depatment heads feel the same however.
Final Thoughts: Why Is Med School So Boring
Med school isn’t boring all the time. Like all things, it has it’s ups and downs.
As this article has helped to show, the fact it can be boring needn’t be a turn off either.
In some ways, it can make things a big easier.
Especially when you accept that getting through it often boils down to knuckling down and pushing through the grind!
When the road map doesn’t change too much, the journey becomes all the more simpler.
If you liked this review, you might find the following articles useful:
- 24 Stethoscope Engraving Ideas (Funny, Ironic, Inspiring And More!)
- 30 Signs You Should Be A Doctor (Read This Before Med School)
Image Credit @Charles Deluvio at Unsplash
Born and raised in the UK, Will went into medicine late (31) after a career in journalism. He’s into football (soccer), learned Spanish after 5 years in Spain, and has had his work published all over the web. Read more.