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My life as a pre-med (Summer 1994)

Contrary to what you may believe, being a pre-med is not a glorious pastime. It doesn’t provide good conversation at cocktail parties, and I can’t say that I’ve had to fend off hordes of pre-med-inspired suitors. In the Land of Nerds, the pre-med is King, and there aren’t any courtiers in sight.

In freshman year, upon learning that I was a pre-med, the reactions of my classmates ran from anthropological curiosity (“I’ve never seen one of your kind before. You’re allowed to leave the library?”), to utter disdain (“Oh you’re a pre-med? How bourgeois.”). I sniffled through it all, somehow comforted by the thought that someday, after the innumerable hours in introductory lab courses, I would get to spend 36-hour shifts in the hospital.

I spent my sophomore year living with a sort of “control” pre-med. I’m now certain that this helped me to retain a few shards of emotional stability—however stressed out I became, one of my suitemates always seemed to be, to my horror, worse off than I. Every once in a while, he would snap, thus confirming my relative sanity. One night he disassembled a plastic street-hockey goal that had been stored in our common room, and flung the pieces against the wall of my bedroom while I slept. Sure, I spent an obscene amount of time in the Cross Campus Library making flash-cards for my organic chemistry class. But this guy was something else. I’d get into contests with other students about whose roommate was crazier.

“My roommate spends all her waking hours studying,” my challenger bragged.

“So does mine,” I replied. “But he doesn’t sleep.”

By junior year, everyone knew that I was a pre-med, and had somehow gotten over their initial disgust. This produced another problem. “You’re a pre-med,” they would say. “What should I do about this rash on my neck?” Of course, nowhere in the catalogue of pre-med requirements is there anything about actual medical subjects. DNA amplification? Yes. Magnetic fields? Sea slugs? Petroleum cracking? Yes, yes, yes. But nothing about rashes. People are always unimpressed with my stock answer of “See a physician.”

“Some doctor you’ll be,” they invariably reply.

Recently, however, troubles in the national economy have produced a change of heart among many of these skeptics. It seems that it’s tough to get a job out there in the real world. I am constantly meeting reformed anti-pre-meds, who have decided, during their junior or senior year, to attend medical school after all. What they missed out on was three or four years of quality hazing.

Gregory Raskin ’94 will be attending the Yale School of Medicine in the fall.

Filed under 1990s
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