I don't know how to start this conversation, but I've always tried to be honest on my blog--both because this is really a record for me as much as it's entertainment for others. Also, though, most of my readers are my main source of advice and guidance about my medical school education.
After studying very hard, doing average on my practice tests, and sitting for my Boards, I found out last week that I failed.
That's the first time that I've written that. I haven't even told my mother. It's hard to write that, because it feels like it's not real. It's hard for me to understand or to comprehend what I could have done differently, but I failed.
The Lawyer was in Texas when I found out and other friends were having a happy hour I promised to show my face at. I took a cab there, in case inebriation got the better of me, but it didn't. At that point, it felt dissociative. Like, a psychiatrist trying to understand a schizophrenic's hallucinations. It was trying to understand something that was there that didn't feel real.
It felt real today when I had to have an infamous dean's meeting again.
Usually, I'm a ball of nerves and stress, as I will myself to say the words they want to hear: That I haven't tried as hard as my classmates, That I don't study well, That my previous career ill-prepared me for a career in medicine.
Today, I was beyond that.
Never in my life have I felt so low and debased that I am beyond tears. I want to cry and I try to cry, but aside from the five minute episode yesterday, there is nothing but emptiness.
For three years, I've studied with friends who honor exams and got 240s on their Boards, helping them learn mneumonics and stories. Then, I fail. I get a private tutor who I harass so much for review that he finally refuses, telling me that in his opinion, I know it cold. Then, I fail. Or, I study all summer, keep up with my UWorld schedule, pass the NMBE practice exams that I take at home, and have my friends tell me that they got 20 points higher on the real exam. And, I fail.
Given my past academic performance and the exorbitant cost of the particular medical school that I'm attending, I spoke with the deans about the chances of getting a residency when this is all over. The words "challenging," "really tough," and "not good on paper" were used.
That's what I've heard ever since starting medical school. "You're so great in person," they tell me. "You're not good on paper."
For the first time that I've dealt with these awful meetings and academic challenges since starting medical school, I was completely calm. When the options were laid about how to "squish" everything into my fourth year to make it to graduation on time AND take yet more time off to take a $4000 course of Board review since they say they have no reason to believe that I'm capable of studying on my own, I said I didn't want that.
The reality is that I'm not sure that I am able to or that I even want to graduate from medical school. I can't pass exams in medical school and this is a pattern I can't break. I know partially why this is--because the stakes get higher with every exam, and so does my anxiety--but overall, being forced to constantly say that I'm not good enough and don't deserve to be a doctor has broken me. I've already totally lost my self-confidence and I fear that if I stay on this path any longer, I'm going to lose myself entirely.
I told them I wanted to take a year off.
But, to be honest, I only said this, because I'm too afraid to say what I mean: I'm done. I'm over this. I'm ready to drop out of medical school.
Saturday was my last day on my Internal Medicine rotation. Starting today, I'm on an official leave of absence. I also owe just under $300,000 in debt, which is accruing interest at a rate of 8.5%, without a job.
I don't know how this happened and I don't know what to do.