Orientation week has come and gone at my school, and if I didn’t already appreciate how rigorous medical school was going to be, the various orientation events did a pretty good job of reinforcing the idea. When a panel of second years answered questions from our class, one of them summed up the experience with a rather interesting analogy:

“The best way to describe medical school is through the pancake analogy. Imagine that instead of coming to school to study a lot, you came to school to eat a lot of pancakes. You get 10 pancakes every day that you have to eat. Now, that doesn’t sound too bad, it’s just a few more pancakes then you ate in undergrad, right? Well, after a couple weeks, you start getting really tired of pancakes, so you put off eating a couple of pancakes here and there. Out of nowhere, the pancakes have built up into a huge pile, and now it seems impossible to eat all of them. Whatever you do, do not let your pancakes stack up.”

Edit: Looks like some students at SLU med school made a hilarious video about this very analogy. Thanks to Brian for the heads up!

The sheer volume of information seems to be one of the major reasons why medical school is considered such a difficult task. One of our deans remarked that the course load for the first two years converts to roughly 38 units per semester on the undergraduate scale. To put that in perspective, the maximum number of units that undergrads could take at UC Santa Barbara was 21 at a time. Needless to say, the next couple weeks are going to be a major learning curve in terms of time management, discipline, and learning strategies.

On a slightly cheerier note, orientation week ended with the famous White Coat Ceremony. Putting on the short white coat was a surreal experience and a subtle reminder of the end goal for all the studying. I might have even gotten a little carried away with the school banner.


Clinical exposure just minutes after the White Coat Ceremony.

Such early clinical exposure!


Here’s to a great first year for all the new medical students. I hope you really like pancakes.