How to Deal With Unpleasant Colleagues: Over Competetive Pre-Med Students

Well, long time no see my little Snarklings!

Ugh. The first month of the semester is coming to a close and here’s what I’ve been up to.

  1.  2 APA styled lab reports for physiological psychology (neurobiology) based on documentaries (there’s about a dozen of them, oh dear I know)
  2. A lab report for my organic chemistry lab and another one for my microbiology lab
  3. A for my perception and sensation class next week (yup, a lot of review and practice tests)
  4. over 200 practice problems for organic chemistry (because in order to succeed you do need to suffer)

and between all this chaos, volunteering at my local hospital, helping out at a science camp for kids, and many hours spent stu(dying) and doing the advance reading to stay ahead of my classes. I can do this! I say that with pride because there is no other option out there. On the other hand, one thing I need to work on is not letting people beat me down, or people who make me feel less of a human being. If you have followed my journey then you would have known my struggle with mental health, my past suicide attempts, and my struggling identity and purpose to continue living my second chance at life.

Inner me: Wait. Woah when did this turn so serious there?

Me: Yeah, we both know why we’re here. It’s a part of us.

Inner me: Dang. You’re making me feel so uninformed…

Me: Well yeah. It’s called suppressed memories.

Inner me: Oh, right.

Me: Dude, You’re a neuroscience/biopsychology major…

Back to the topic on hand

Being in classes filled with pre-meds, pre-pharmacy, pre-dental, pre-optometry, and pre-nursing students (yeah I know that’s a lot of pre’s) is really tough. Most of our classes are graded on a curve so not a lot of camaraderie exists. No one is willing to help you unless if 1. They pity you or 2. They’re your friends (ps I don’t have a lot of friends at uni since many people are so judgemental and rude). So everything is pretty cut-throat and not a lot of students do not know the definition of human decency or kindness.

Now today, (the 26th of September, 2018) started like any other day. I got up went to class, drank a latte, read over some notes and prepared for my dreaded microbiology lab. Before I entered my lab one of my close friends from last year came up to me and asked how I was doing and why he hasn’t seen me at all this semester (well duh, reasons above in my checklist haha). It felt great to see someone actually remembers me (I’ve been feeling really invisible).

Hold on to your chairs this is where things go downhill

While in lab another student was watching me like a hawk (which most definitely disturbed me). Turns out I was using the wrong technique in culturing a bacterial agar plate. It’s okay! As a student, you’re supposed to make mistakes so that you can learn how to do it better next time. This is one of my mantras: Always seek improvement, before or after a mistake does not matter, just improve since it’s never too late and never too crowded! This student comes around and starts belittling me and snickering with her pals at their workbench. I will admit I try to not give a care about other people since all they want is my reaction, but it did sting a lot (think a bunch of wasps, hornets and bumble bees impaling you at once. Ouch). What is more shocking is that these people are our future’s physicians, surgeons, nurses, caretakers, etc. One of them is apparently a first responder which made me even more disappointed with how they treated me and other students. How can the people put their trust in a first responder when the way that they treat someone is horrendous? I do not understand that mentality. Although that the other student has taken this class before, that did not give her the right to belittle people when she knows darn well that it’s their first time.

I felt so exhausted after. After cleaning up my station and washing my hands (twice because it’s microbiology ew.), I left the lab and she already had one more thing to say to me in the most condescending tone ever (think Paris Hilton and Donald Trump were trapped in the same body):

Student: “Soooooooo how did the lab gooooooo?” *side stare*

Me: It went fine thank you.

At that point, I ran down to the staircase where no one could see me and started crying. It was already raining outside so I was just going to make up a story that I was outside and it was raining so that’s why my face got wet. But in reality, I cry too much. I was thinking is this how my future colleagues, attendings, instructors, interns, residents will treat me? How can I survive both academically and emotionally?

While I was wiping away my tears and thinking to myself, “Maybe I should have gone with my suicide attempt, maybe I am wrong to be here. I don’t deserve to be treated as a human being with rights. Maybe I’m not normal.” Then someone (let’s name her Jupiter), came up to me and said “Hey long time no see, you were one of my students last year for freshman biology! How’s second year going? Probably pretty good, I always graded you with high marks!” Jupiter could tell that I was in pain when I answered with “yeah… things look good right now.” I told her what was up and she said to me that “people who act like that probably have it worse than you. Don’t pay attention to them, focus on your own needs and use your negative experiences as motivation. And of course, learn from their mistakes so that you can be a better person.” Then something clicked. I started to realize how my years of studying psychology came to reflect on how these people act

  1. In physio psychology, the evolution of the human mind only increases rates of survival, but perfection is not one of them. Thus, mistakes such as the cognitive processes of feeling more powerful than somebody or knowing how to exploit somebody for personal gain is present in primates.
  2. There is no such thing as a “normal brain”. Clinically speaking there is a standard to compare on what is physiologically and psychologically normal but all brains are different. That is why we have people who fall on either side of the extreme such as Donald Trump on one end and Hillary Clinton on the other. And then there are people like me in the middle.
  3. Encephalization gave way for modern humans to grow our brain in terms of mass thus, more neurons meant more ways to think and that included ways that are not so kind but malicious (such as what happened to me). Yet, while neurons gave humans the ability to think and learn, it is the individual who chooses what to learn and what to unlearn (negative behaviors). That is what many pre (whatever goes here) need to work on at this moment. My mom told me to give a janitor the same amount of respect that I would give to a lawyer, a CEO, or doctor because, in the end, we all die the same way, we all have the same fate, there is no comparison

These people are struggling thus so their only output (emotional boxing bag) is to look down on someone. I call this passive psychotherapy (You’re venting in a way that does not need a direct confrontation with a professional).

Self-reflection

Instead of feeling bad for myself, I started to feel pity for those people who belittled me. I started to have empathy and sympathy since they did not learn the fundamental basis of mutual respect for another human being. Although that what they did was their way of release or purging, they need to learn from their mistakes because one day they will have a patient’s life in their hands. Thus, the way that you treat someone (or lack thereof) may correlate with how you may react or interact with patients that come from different backgrounds.

What I learned today:

  1. In the future, I will have a voice and I will stand up for myself since this will prepare me to become a better doctor when there is a need to stand up for a patient. If I cannot stand up for myself how can I stand up for let’s say a patient who is in the ICU and my future attending says, “let him go, he’s not worth it.”
  2. according to neuropsychology, evolution does not make human brain perfect and can actually result in negative effects such as narcissism or sadistic tendencies (sadism is when you start to get pleasure from people’s suffering).
  3. Pre-meds or pre-(anything else haha), need to learn that although that it’s super competitive, do not lose your humanity, you’re going to need it in the future
  4. There will be people who will try to tear you down. That is life. You cannot choose who hurts you but you can choose how you react to them. And by writing you this post, I’m choosing to react to it in a positive matter instead of developing suicidal thoughts or feelings
  5. Competition makes everyone better, but remember that there is a difference between healthy competition (building up) and negative competition (tearing down). I suggest, do not compare yourself to somebody’s accolade since they are different, but try to compete with yourself. Again going back to my mantra: Improve yourself; strive for constant self-improvement and make yourself a better person than you were yesterday. 
  6. If you make a mistake (like I did in the lab) it is nothing to be ashamed of. In fact, one of the lines of the Hippocratic Oath (old version) states “I will not be ashamed to say I know not.” You will not know everything, but that is why you are in school; to learn!
  7. Some people’s minds cannot be changed and that their words can cause harm to another person’s well being, but the words of the people who are genuine, and sincere, and kind (like Jupiter), are truly the ones that matter. So focus on the positive people they are worth more than those snooty people.
  8. Treat those people how you like to be treated. Bible version: whatsoever ye would that men should do to you: do ye even so to them (Matthew 7:12). This will outline how you will see and treat other people both professionally and personally. Make sure you make responsible decisions.

 

After talking with Jupiter, I also learned another humanistic thing: There are people who will try to break you down (so for me that would be other Pre-meds) and then there are those who will cheer you on (so like Jupiter). I need to remind myself that it is way better to have a few loyal, kind, and genuine friends/cheerleaders than a bunch of snooty, toxic, venomous, fake friends who just want to suck the life out of you. So guys please choose wisely on who you consider a friend/cheerleader because, in the world of a competitive race to medical school you’re going to be facing a lot of difficult people and how you deal with them can be your practice on future difficult patients, attendings, chiefs, coworkers, teachers, etc.

Without further rambling, I want to say that I appreciate all of you and that anything that seems hard right now is probably temporary. Thank you all!

Remember to leave a comment, share, and follow me for more posts like these. Ciao, for now, Snarklings and stay flossy.

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How to Make a Study Schedule Based on the 168 Hours Method

Hello Snarklings,

Ok so my sophomore year of university is well underway (I start on the 5th of September!) and I was hoping to give you an idea on how I plan out my study schedule for college. This is based on my personal experience so it may or may not work for you but planning ahead is one key factor that ties in success for anyone who wants to do well in school.

Okay, so this is going to require some basic math. Don’t worry it’s not that scary and pretty straightforward. So in one week, we have 168 hours and we do a lot of stuff like eating, sleeping, doing chores, working out, going to classes, and of course studying. So the question is how many hours do I have left after doing these things? The saying is that for every hour of class we need to commit 2 to 3 hours of study. In most universities (but not all so check with your school’s system) in North America, a “half course” is usually 3 units while a “full course” is 6 units which you can use to log in your hours needed to study.

They say that if you’re taking a full load (usually 5 courses for one semester) you should hit a minimum of 35 hours of study per week. You can find out this number by using this formula: Hours in a Week (168 Hours) — Used Hours = Time Remaining to Study 

  • If you have more than 35 hours of study than you have extra time (which you can either use for free time or use them to get ahead and study some more).
  • If you have less than 45 hours of study per week then you need to manipulate the other activities in your life to make room for that minimum of 35 hours of study

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Here’s my hand written version of the above and I get a total of 115 hours used out of the 168 hours per week which gives me 53 hours of study which is good enough for me to keep up and manage (I break up the 53 hours into manageable chunks and log them on my timetable):

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Just an extra tip, if you were to theoretically study every day (even on a Saturday and a Sunday), you can divide the remaining hours by 7 to see the approximate hours you should study each day to hit that. So the minimum is 35 hours to study so if you divide that by 7 you get 5 hours to study each day of the week to do revision and complete assignments. Since I have 53 hours, 53 hours divided by 7 gives 7.5 hours each day which is of course if I want to use those hours. Obviously, I want a life and need balance so I’ll just stick to 5-6 hours a day and use the rest for spending time with my friends. Like I said, it’s all up to you. Some days I will study 7.5 hours to get ahead since I have 53 hours. At other times I just want to hit the minimum 35 by increasing any of the other activities listed on that time activity sheet (I usually increase sleeping and/or exercising haha.)

Like I said, it’s all up to you. Some days I will study 7.5 hours to get ahead since I have 53 hours. At other times I just want to hit the minimum 35 by increasing any of the other activities listed on that time activity sheet. I usually increase sleeping and/or exercising to give me 35 hours. I can even get a part time job however, I don’t like unexpected shifts that can meddle in my study time.

In the end, you get a basic study schedule that you can use to keep yourself on track like this, which I made for my first semester of 2nd year: I LOVE COLOUR CODING!Weekly Study Schedule PDF_0

Just for review

  1. Approximate a number of hours that you do a certain activity for the whole week
  2. Add them up then subtract 168 hours from that number to give a number of hours remaining to study
  3. Adjust the hours of certain activities to hit the minimum 35 hours of study per week or use those extra hours to either study more or have fun (it’s your decision since you’re an adult right?)
  4. Log those activities on a designated time table and you’re good to go.
  5. Try to stick to this plan as much as possible. If not then looks like you have to face the consequences or compromise (another part of being an adult).

 

If you have any questions please email me or leave a comment below and remember to follow my blog for more updates! Ciao for now and stay flossy guys!