The long anticipated day has finally arrived: the “Match Day” that could have been. Once medical students choose their specialty at the beginning of their fourth year, they apply to residency programs in that specialty. The application process is relatively similar to the typical medical/graduate school application processes
“Publish or perish” is the old axiom that is heard in the research realm. As a graduate student, the emphasis on publications as a metric of success is often difficult to come to terms with (particularly when you have hit a roadblock in your project, with no foreseeable hope for forward progress). Further, the strong emphasis of “first-author” publications makes this metric even more unappealing
Like many undergraduate students, my plans and ideas for my career trajectory evolved over time. As I have written about before, I went back and forth during college about whether to pursue an M.D.-only or M.D./Ph.D. degree. No matter where I fell on that spectrum during that time, I talked to a variety of graduate students in the lab I worked in about their experiences as Ph.D. students. One of the major lessons that I learned from this was to hedge my bets to graduate in a reasonable amount of time by working on multiple projects at once, particularly during the first two years of graduate school.
The start of my second year of graduate school has brought some refreshing changes. I no longer walk into lab any more with the paralyzing fear that I do not know anything or know how to do anything. Now, I at least vaguely know some of the lab’s techniques, I know where to find most supplies, and I can usually follow along for a good portion of my colleague’s presentations at lab meeting. All of these things are great accomplishments in hindsight after thinking about where I was a year ago.