How To Explain Your Med School Experiences To Friends And Family

By Francine Fluetsch on October 5, 2016

This article is brought to you by Kaplan, the leader in test prep for over 90 standardized tests, including the GRE, GMAT, LSAT, and MCAT.

Medical school is going to be a super stressful but very informative period of your life. You are one step closer to that dream career, and the further you get on your path, the more knowledge you will acquire about your field.

You will learn the ins and outs, and will want to apply them in your everyday life, as we all do when we learn intriguing things about our field of study that can and will affect our lives. But how should you tell your friends and families about your experiences and new findings? If they themselves aren’t in the medical field, they are bound to find what you have to say fascinating, but it does depend on how you phrase it.

Here are some examples of how you can tell them about your experiences at med school and things to avoid.

Enlighten them:

You are going to be learning about a lot of everyday things that people can do to stay healthy, so if your family asks you, feel free to share. You can give them the inside scoop, some do’s and don’ts that you’ve learned, and small things that they can change in their lives to avoid things like getting the next common cold that is going around.

While this is very helpful and you obviously will know what you are talking about, be mindful that you aren’t pushing things onto your family members or friends, or talking about things in medical terms that will make them feel uneducated. You don’t have to dumb down your diction, but if you are always using doctor-based jargon, chances are it’s going to get old listening to you rather quickly.

Another thing is to be careful about always bringing health things up. If your friends or family ask you for health tips or advice, or you really see an opportunity where what you learned could benefit a loved one, that’s fine, but it’s a whole other ballgame if you keep butting in every five seconds.

During my undergrad, I had a lot of friends who were bio majors geared towards the medial field, and let’s just say that listening to them gave me a germ phobia. One of my roommates even scared me to the point that I thought I had damaged my eyes from not changing my contact case every month.

To you, learning about things like bacteria and what it does to people is interesting, while to people who aren’t into medial stuff, it’s just gross, and sometimes it’s better for us not to know all of the details if you know what I mean.

Traumatic events:

During med school, you are going to be learning about and witnessing some pretty heavy stuff, and while you might be able to build up some immunity towards it over time (which it would seem a necessary step to continue in the line of work), your friends and family might have a hard time hearing about it at first.

This isn’t to say that you can’t share the not-so-pretty experiences with them, just keep in mind that at first you should tread with care. They are your support group, and talking things out with them will help you mentally, but also be mindful of how it is affecting them as well.

Stress of school:

It’s important to share with your friends and family the stress and the lack of sleep that your classes cause you, so they understand why you don’t text back right away or why they sometimes find you passed out on the couch in your scrubs, but don’t talk down to them when you do it. What I mean by that is, don’t phrase it in a way like, “you’ll never understand this level of stress because you’re not in medical school.”

They might not be on the same path as you, but you don’t want to make them feel like their problems don’t matter in comparison to yours. Yes, medical school is very taxing and demanding, and therefore you have the right to talk about it to help relieve some of that stress, but just be mindful of how you say it.

Burning off steam:

Everyone has heard the crazy rumors of what med students do when they aren’t ferociously studying, but don’t let your family and friends make assumptions on how you burn off steam. While you don’t have to share everything with them, since it’s your business about what works best for you, you could share some stories with them of how you have some bursts of fun so they know that you aren’t going completely mad with the mass amounts of studying that you have to do every night, and they won’t be making wild assumptions either.

I’m sure your friends will be wondering which of the other med students you’ve hooked up with, but this one might be fun to keep them guessing on.

Your experience is going to be yours alone, so sharing with friends and family can be a great way to bond and to give them an insight into something they may not know that much about — just be mindful as you do it.

Learn more about Kaplan’s test prep options and start building the confidence you need for Test Day.

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