What a difference a year makes. First quarter wrapped up a month ago, and I think all my classmates would agree that first quarter of second year is a walk in the park compared to first quarter of first year. Last quarter, as I walked through the library, I noticed first year students hunched over those dreaded Human Anatomy notes, 20 different colors highlighting the hundreds of tiny anatomical parts we needed to memorize. It was a bittersweet moment: I felt the pain of those first years trying to remember which nerves at the upper thyroid cartilage would be affected by damage to the right side of the throat. But I also rejoiced in the knowledge that I’d never have to relive the rude awakening most of them were experiencing. Spare time was a luxury rarely afforded last year. This year, believe it or not, I’ve actually been able to work out regularly and get more than five hours of sleep a night.
That being said, with second year’s lighter workload comes higher expectations and more responsibility in clinic. Not sure which problem-related tests to do with a young patient who complains of diplopia and headaches when reading? In first year, you get the question wrong on the exam, look up the answer later and hope to remember it for the final. Second year, you sheepishly hang your head as you report back to your attending clinician. Having trouble grading anterior chamber angles in first year lab? Ask your TA for clarification and that’s that. Not sure about it while looking through the teaching tube as your attending asks you in second year clinic? Just plain embarrassing!
First year was a grind, no doubt, but second year provides a bit of relief. The added pressures of clinic during second year are offset by the satisfaction of working with patients and applying everything you’ve learned up to this point. Also a great feeling: getting a glimpse into your own future in this fantastic profession.