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“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.”

You have probably heard that saying (or some version of it…I have a knack for butchering quotations) before. It usually applies to some part of a person’s life, although I’ve always felt that relationships were a particularly ripe arena for such behavior. We all have a friend, or are the sort ourselves, who fall for the same “type” over and over again and are continually bewildered when things don’t work out. Again. For exactly the same reason they didn’t work out the first ten times.

I’m realizing, as I dive into yet another unit of my education, that I have just such an insane relationship with medicine.

It goes like this:

I look ahead at the coming week, and inevitably I find something to get excited about. Perhaps we are going to be learning about cancer, or bacteria, or delve into pharmacology or the ethics of end-of-life care. It is medical school, so there is obviously going to be some medically related theme, and I, it turns out, am a sucker for wanting to know about medicine. (No big surprise there, otherwise there are a lot of questions you might be asking about how I ended up here in the first place.)

I get excited. And I make plans for how amazingly well I am going to study this subject and how intricately I am going to learn all of the details. And then the week begins.

The trouble is, medical school is hard. Just as surely as I will get excited about what we are to be learning, I will also hit a wall where I just don’t know that I can learn it all. Sometimes the concepts are complex. Often it is just the sheer amount of material piling up before me; lists of microbes and drugs and pathways that I swear are more numerous than neurons of the human brain. No matter how much I want to know the information or how interested I was the weekend before, no matter how convinced I was that this week was going to be different, I am overwhelmed and quite sure I will never learn it all.

Eventually the week comes to an end, often bringing with it some sort of assessment, and seemingly by the skin of my teeth and a bit of luck, I manage to do pretty okay. I curse myself because, well I’m perfectionist and even in a pass/fail system doing pretty okay makes me nervous. I tell myself that next time I am going to nail the material into my brain so hard I will carry it to the grave.

I look at the next week’s material. We’re learning about viruses.

I love viruses.

Seriously, how weird is this thing?
Source: Wikipedia