I wanted to share with you, my patients, some of my impressions about medical school especially from the perspective of a forty year old man with a family and small kids, a running physical therapy practice, and quite frankly…. a life. I wondered before starting school how I would handle the pace, the pressure, the change in lifestyle. I also wondered whether my experience as a PT would be of any use and how PT school would compare in intensity to medical school.

Here are some quick impressions. Overall I think it has been easier on me than I anticipated but not from every perspective. I have been able to this day to maintain my practice by hiring help and keeping an eye on things. The experience of still seeing patients is actually refreshing and needed. It helps move my focus from school alone (which is needed if you want to make it to the other side and still have your sanity somewhat intact).

Having a family has also been more a help than a hindrance. Even though I only study when my kids are at school or asleep, I find that I have enough time to have an excellent family life and be a good student at the same time (I am in the top 50% of my class, at least). Family has actually been a blessing because of the high pressure of med school and the need to have something else going besides school in order to maintain sanity (see previous paragraph).

This brings me to the other point about the pressure in medical school especially when compared to PT school. PRESSURE is the operating word here. There’s immense pressure every day without exception. While I found the material in PT school just as challenging as medical school (with some exceptions, of course), it is the intensity that makes the difference. In PT school you could go a week and not study and would still be fine. In medical school that would be fatal. I need to study at least something every day otherwise I fall behind. Now it is true that sometimes I make the decision not to study but I invariably pay with my grade when I do.

Overall, my experience as a PT clinician has been very useful. Not only am I having an easier time in classes like Anatomy, Neuro, Musculoskeletal, Cardiology, but I have a distinct advantage in Clinical Medicine courses in which we learn the practical aspects of being a doctor, interacting with patients, etc.

I am extremely happy with my choice and I look forward to my third year so I can get back to the clinic full time.