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The Struggle Continues

December 11th, 2013  |  Published in Life  |  1 Comment

Rock Climbing

Source: Flickr/LastBeats

Just when I thought I got into the groove of studying and doing amazingly well in my postbac I got hit by a double whammy of extreme fatigue from the third trimester and moving during exam week. I suppose that of the 12 types of procrastinators you could say that I am “the napper.” Also challenging is when your husband is unemployed and is always luring you back to the TV with fascinating-looking French films on Netflix; that would make me “the watcher” according the cartoonish chart. I’m really motivated to do well in this postbac because as I’ve reiterated many times this is my last chance at getting into medical school. I feel like I’ve been doing everything else right so far (trying to shadow and volunteer when I can) but I just get overwhelmed with the coursework. Doing badly on my last round of tests basically undid all of the hard work that I tried to do. I was really aiming to get all As in my 3 classes this semester which didn’t sound too impossible when the semester began but is now sounding like a far away dream. Not good. But packing up your apartment, arranging the movers, and trying to get things together the same week you have three exams is a massive challenge. This was made more difficult because my husband was out of town the entire week we moved. I’m just grateful we were able to get movers to move the boxes because I cannot imagine how much less I would have been able to study if I actually had to move the boxes on  my own!

One thing I’ve really enjoyed about grad school (even though it doesn’t feel like “real” grad school since I’m just doing a certificate) is the depth to which we study the material and the passion our professors have for teaching it. All of my professors have been incredibly knowledgable and most of them perform research related to the topics which they teach us. Sometimes I really enjoy what I am learning, especially when things “click” and some things I’ve learned about as a scribe start making sense. For  me, having seen (to an extremely limited extent) the medical connection to these physiologic responses we are learning about is motivating and satisfying. At other times, the material just causes me stress. As my horrible test grades came back, I realized I would have to work twice as hard for the remainder of the semester in order to hopefully get a B and 2 As this semester. I tried, but this is not going to happen.

Now that it’s the end of the semester and I have one final exam left, I felt like I could have been a better student. A large percentage of students in my class (25%) have routinely gotten As on all of our physiology exams and I’ve felt left behind in the dust. My worst subject, however, has been histology, which was supposed to be a challenging, but fun class. Mostly the class has been a source of minor anxiety. I routinely changed how I studied for each exam after being disappointed with a previous histology exam, and was horrified to see my exam averages steadily decrease. I felt at a loss and went to consult the course director who recommended that I spend more time reading the course packs and know them inside out. So I did. I went crazy with them and made review sheets, memorized everything I could, and left the exam room feeling they asked us a lot of easy questions. A week I found out I earned a B on that exam…just one question away from an A! I was sad to have been so close to an A, but grateful I didn’t get a C. Unfortunately that exam had the highest class average overall, meaning that the test was likely easier than previous ones, thus diminishing my achievement. But if I did any worse on the exam I could have sealed my fate; a C in that course would be the kiss of death. Bye bye med school.

While I thought I could get 2 As this semester, now I’m looking at being a straight-B student. I’m not exactly pleased about that, but the semester is over and there isn’t very much I can do. 20% of my physiology grade and 30% of my histology grade was wiped out by that horrible week with the movers, but the rest of my disappointing test grades are nothing more than lack of preparation or underestimation of how long it would take me to study the material. Not smart.

To compensate, I’m looking at overloading next semester. My planned class schedule:

  • Human Embrology (wintermester)
  • Biochemistry 2 (required by the program)
  • Psychoneuroimmunology (online–yay!)
  • Human Genetics
  • Cardiac Function in Health

All together they are a glorious 15 hours which is equal to what I did this semester. If I do well enough in these classes I can outweigh my Bs and possibly get a 3.5 average. I’m a little nervous about handling a newborn and 15 hours of coursework, but luckily the wintermester class is worth 2 hours; getting that out of the way in January will reduce a lot of my stress later on. However, the most frightening part of this plan is that the only way I can get a 3.5 is if I can get straight As next semester. You’ve seen how I did this semester, so I’m not feeling very optimistic.

One advantage of the CERT Program is I can get a guaranteed interview at VCU’s medical school if I get a 3.5 GPA in the program I”m fairly certain that if a guaranteed interview at VCU will be out of the question, getting an interview anywhere in the US will be basically impossible. No one wants to take on a medical student that can’t handle grad school!

I’ve really enjoyed the program and so far I have no regrets about choosing to do it. The only thing I regret is not figuring out how to study for histology and underestimating how long I should have studied for some of these exams. All that is left to do now is hope that the classes are curved beautifully so I can at least ride into the Spring semester with 3 Bs in my pocket. One more final to go and then I’m free! The best part about the end of this week is we are going on a weekend trip for our anniversary. Although we can’t bring my cat with us because we are staying in a bed and breakfast, I’m definitely looking forward to some time away.


Perseverance is failing 19 times and succeeding the 20th. –Julie Andrews




  1. Rose says:

    August 22nd, 2014at 8:26 am(#)

    Don’t feel that way. Im glad i found your blog!!!

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