We’ve all heard the jokes or warnings to not get sick during July because that is when the new doctors start. The summer months are a time of transition for many in medicine. Graduating fourth years become doctors and start their residency with their intern year. Residents graduate and some start a fellowship, while others join a practice. Fellows also graduate and start their careers as specialists. Perhaps overlooked are the new third year medical students—like me—making the transition from the classroom to the clinical environment. We have spent nearly two decades in school, in front of books and computers, sitting through lectures, and taking multiple choice tests, the most recent of which was an eight-hour doozy, the USMLE Step 1. But now, we move on to the clinical environment where we will learn from patients and preceptors, embrace a lifestyle of life-long learning that is medicine, and for many, start to see daily the reasons we chose to enter medicine in the first place—the patients. The vast majority of us never look forward to countless days in a lecture hall followed by more days in a library. I certainly did not think of my final second year lecture as being momentous, but in retrospect, I guess it was. My medical school cohort, the class of 2016, has moved on to our clinical years. The past week has been a whirlwind. I took the USMLE Step 1, packed up my life, and moved four hours away from our main campus in Tallahassee to my new regional campus in Daytona Beach, Florida. At the FSU College of Medicine, our regional campus design sends our class of 120 to six regional campuses. Here, I will work alongside an attending in various community hospitals and outpatient clinics. Now that the boxes have been unpacked, my second year books have taken their place alongside Netters’ Atlas on my bookshelf, and my white coat has been cleaned, I truly feel that I am standing at the third year starting line—perhaps an appropriate analogy since I drive past the Daytona International Speedway on my way to the hospital. I feel that this year will be a little bit like the Daytona 500—always having the pedal to the metal—with six clerkships: family medicine, psychiatry, surgery, internal medicine, pediatrics, and obstetrics and gynecology. I’ve heard countless times from different faculty members or more advanced medical students, “just to wait until third year.” “You’re going to love it,” they’d all say. It’s crazy to think that I’ve made it to that point in my medical training. It seems like only yesterday I was dissecting in the anatomy lab or learning the cranial nerves. This year will be an incredible journey through the different core specialties of medicine, one that I’m sure will be difficult and trying at times but also rewarding and exciting. All of the advice during undergrad—“find what makes you want to go tap dancing to work”—did not seem to coalesce with the world of medicine I experienced through text books and lectures during my first two years of medical school. I used the clinical learning days and preceptorships as motivation to get through the book work, and the encouragement and stories from those ahead of me helped me make it here. Now, two years away from earning my MD, I want to make my own stories. I want to be able to tell my future students about the night as a third year medical student that I stayed until the early hours of the morning because it might be the last time I ever saw a gallbladder removed. I hope to have some memorable firsts this year; from the first night I spend on call in the hospital to the first baby I help deliver. Based on my experiences thus far, there are many specialties or career trajectories I feel I could live with. In the next year, I hope to find the part of medicine that I absolutely cannot live without. So here I stand at the starting line to my third year of medical school filled with hope, excitement, and anticipation. Through this summer of transition, year of clerkships, and numerous patient encounters, I hope to arrive next summer at the third year finish line with a specialty that speaks to me and a strengthened motivation that will lead me into my future as a physician.
About Lindsey McAlarnen
Lindsey McAlarnen is a third year medical student at the Florida State University College of Medicine. Born and raised in a small town in Florida, Lindsey grew up in a service-oriented family. She attended the University of Notre Dame majoring in Science PreProfessional Studies and Sociology. Lindsey earned her Master’s of Science in Global Health from Notre Dame, studying global infectious disease surveillance and reporting policy. Experiences as a student athletic trainer, research assistant in an aquatic ecology lab, and volunteer at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, along with travel to Kkindu, Uganda, and Port-au-Prince, Haiti, have profoundly impacted Lindsey’s motivation to pursue a vocation in medicine. Lindsey is interested in primary care, sports medicine, medical education, and organized medicine, and hopes to pay forward the mentoring she received during her education to future students pursuing careers in medicine.