Grey’s Anatomy vs Medical School Reality

Season 1, episode 4 “No Man’s Land”


Shows like Grey’s Anatomy usually never capture the gist of just how much work and work…and work there is to being a doctor in training. For starters, in the last 3 days, I’ve slept maybe a total of 10 hours. It’s the last leg of the preclinical years for me. One more final down today, the biggest one on Wednesday covering 6 months of detailed microbiology. One last one on Friday and the Step I prep will start officially on Sunday. Med school is not sexy, it’s not cool, it’s not a dress up game, it’s hard and stressful. I took 5 finals last quarter with a fever, strep throat, scratched esophagus (what?!), influenza A (who gets strep and flu all at once?!). The hardest part of the first 2 years…seeing the purpose behind the book work. I signed up to be a doctor so I can have a chance to heal people, I didn’t sign up to memorize and regurgitate 65 exams in 700 days. But last night, at the end of my studying, I watched an episode of Grey’s anatomy. In this episode, a nurse says to Christina (a surgical resident) in her dying breath to think of medicine “as a hazing experience.” I paused the video and a weird feeling came over me. For the first time in 2 years, I saw the incomprehensible and inhumane amount and context of work explained in 1 sentence. It’s called “hazing.” The system works you hard, and it strips you of your arrogance, and all the stuff you’re used to because you graduated top of your class up until this point. This hazing builds humility, and a small cover of numbness so you don’t emotionally lose it when it matters. But then, I have an immense sense of peace…because the best thing about hazing? It’s very short compared to the rewards, and once you earn the ability to be a physician, I hear it’s going to be absolutely amazing.


  1. this makes me want to count how many exams I have until Step1 in June. We have 12 more tests in the next 3.5 weeks, but this gives me hope… it is all just hazing.

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