Medical School Update #4: First Month of Second Year in the Books!!!

Featured photo courtesy of Wright State BSOM 2012 White Coat Ceremony

Hello everyone, I hope you are all doing well and staying safe! It’s been a minute since I posted on here well because so much has been going on. I am definitely excited to update you on how second year has been going and my thoughts and feelings about it! As I say in all my other posts, it has definitely been a roller coaster ride and this is just the first month, smh. But anyways, keep reading down below and lemme know if you want me to blog about something else that you are interested in!

Courtesy of Reddit u/ElSchnozGrande

So let’s start off from where I last left from the Medical School Update #3. I was really enjoying my summer break by meeting up with old friends, watching a lot of movies and shows, and attending a lot of events like BBQs, baby showers and weddings. I was also studying for my CBSE retake by doing Anki everyday and doing the four week summer course that Amboss, a medical school test prep company, was giving students for free. However, I was still dealing with feelings of anxiety and imposter syndrome from the year prior. I barely made it out, I kept thinking. I should not have finished M1 year, I only finished because of people’s help, not because of my own abilities. Those negative thoughts swarmed me, to the point that I felt guilty for moving on. I did not think I deserved it.

Whenever I would meet someone and they would ask me how medical school was going, I would give them the blunt truth. It was traumatic, I would say. “What, really?” Yes, really. And to be completely honest, I did not want to go back at all. I was so scared for what second year would bring and I did not think I was going to be ready to face what was going to come.

Also during my summer break, I was applying for scholarships. If you read my last post, you should know that a closed mouth does not get fed. Even though I was getting rejections from most of the scholarships I applied for, I had a sliver of hope that maybe, just maybe, I would get one someday.

Slowly but surely, the school year was creeping up. Because classes were going to be in person, that also meant I had to commute an hour to school each day. What? You may be thinking. Why? Well, that is because I did not want to make a drastic decision and just move during the toughest years of my life. Eventually, I might move, but I did not think it was worth the money or my mental health to do that to myself now. The pandemic was rough but the highlight of it was being surrounded by my family. And that was something I was not willing to give up, even with the risk of a very long commute.

A week before school started, I was scheduled to go to court. If you read my last blog post, you should know that I got pulled over before taking one of my last exams of M1 year. My lawyer scheduled a court date just before classes resumed so I would not have to worry about leaving Anatomy to come to the courthouse.

My dad decided to take me to the courthouse and I walked in, very anxious of what my fate would be. I would probably have to pay a hefty fine, and worse, get points on my license. My lawyer showed up late so I was pacing up and down, wondering what to do until I waited for her. She finally showed up and had a long conversation with the prosecutor. When she came back, I just knew that this case was something I would not win. “They said they need to check the cop’s cameras to see whether you sped past him. Do you think the cameras will show that?” Of course they will. “Well, if that’s the case they will most likely add points to your license and you will have to pay a fine.” Well…at least I tried. I left the court feeling pretty defeated and sad that I was being punished for something I did not even know was the law. Later on, I would get two points on my licenses and $100 fee. After this situation, I made a vow to myself that I would not let myself get into this again.

The next day was Eid and I was so happy to dress up and attend the mosque with my family. My last Eid before school started. I hugged many family members and ate lots of food that day. I kept trying to forget that in less than 3 days I would be taking my CBSE retake and in less than 4 days I would be starting school again.

After days of sporadic studying and apprehension, the day of my CBSE retake exam arrived. I was ready to get it over with and try to enjoy the last weekend of medical school summer break. When I arrived, I was surprised to see everyone else who was retaking it also. I guess I was not the only one who did not care about this exam the first time 😂. The exam started around 8 am and we had five hours to complete it. Some people just clicked in random answers and left the room because this exam was not one that would hold us back from starting second year. I decided to stay the whole five hours because I actually studied for it and I wanted to see if I had improved from the first time I took it. I struggled to stay awake and I was the last person in the exam room when time was called. But thank God, it was finally over.

I went to go get lunch with my mentee afterwards and then I went home to sleep for hours. When I woke up, I decided to plan out what I needed to do for when school started Monday. I was about to start the beast, Anatomy. If you have not read my first semester medical school update, then I would tell you that Anatomy, especially at my school, is one of the hardest courses they have to offer. It requires gallons of information to be memorized and regurgitated. It is really hard to stay on top of this course. I had to retake the final exam last year, but I wanted this year to be different. For the first day’s work, there was a lot we already had to do. We would be looking at the skull and identifying different landmarks on them, therefore I had to look at all the slides and hopefully have them memorized before school started.

On Sunday night, I had a slight panic attack. I cannot believe I am going back to this again, I just cannot. And we are starting off with Anatomy?! Nah, how will I be able to survive? I made myself breakfast for the next day, packed my lunch, and ironed my scrubs. I tried to be in bed by 11 p.m. because I wanted to wake up around 6 a.m. and leave the house around 7 a.m. I twisted and turned in bed, scared for what awaited me.

It was finally the first day of school. I woke up, got ready, and drove all the way to campus. I was so nervous to finally be in person with all of my classmates. I was dreading to hear them ask me, “So did you decide to move or are you still commuting an hour?”. I was also not looking forward to this course. Well, time to head to Anatomy orientation.

When I got into the classroom, it was so weird. Weird being in a class again. Weird seeing faces again even though we were all wearing masks. Weird hearing actual voices instead of hearing them from a computer screen. I felt like I was in a different universe.

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Our professors came out and explained what we should expect for the following weeks. The anatomy course was 4 weeks long, half of it dedicated to the head and neck and the other half for the abdomen and reproductive system. For each cadaver, there would be 4 groups of two people, with every group dissecting every other day at different times. In regards to exams, we were only going to have one MCQ the following Thursday and our final exam three weeks after. Unlike last year, our practical this year would be in person, with pins attached to different body parts of the cadavers with questions related to that area. Man, are you kidding me? I cannot do that 😢.

After orientation, everyone dispersed to look for skulls to study. I looked around, but I could not find anyone to work with. Then I saw one of my friends from last year, Ashley, who asked me if I wanted to study with her. I was so relieved, I needed someone to be with in order to get through this course. We went to the lab and grabbed skulls to look at. Some of the skulls were fake but I am pretty sure the skull we were holding was real. We went through the dissector slides, pointed at the different foramina that each of the cranial nerves passed through. Our class the next day was dedicated specifically to the skull, so I was grateful that I had someone else to quiz me on what we needed to know. After doing that, I realized that some of my classmates were actually going to dissect today. What? That was not on our school’s calendar? It turned out that if you were not dissecting on a specific day, you would not get a notification on what was being dissected. However, you would still have to know it for the exam. So frustrating!!! I went to the library and went over the requirements we needed for the next day and the dissector modules for the dissections I was not participating in. When I finally got into my car around 7 pm, I burst into tears. How am I supposed to do this everyday? I have been here for almost 12 hours and I still feel behind. And it’s only the first day!

The next day was the first day of class and the first day of dissection for me. My class operates on flipped classroom; students prepare for class the day before and spend 3 hours in class answering questions that are apart of their overall grades. Surprisingly, the first of day was not too bad. All those hours of studying the skull with Ashley really helped. I am definitely coming to her for help all the time. After the session ended, I had a break to eat and then I headed towards the cadaver lab to review with my larger group over the dissection that was done yesterday. I studied for a little bit and walked back into the lab an hour later to start my own dissection. When I saw myself being surrounded by the cadavers, I could feel my heart sinking. I did not want to be here at all. I got my equipment and started doing the dissection, identifying the different nerves and arteries that were in the neck. Thank God we were just doing the neck. I was not looking forward to doing the face later on.

After dissection, I went to the library to start preparing for lecture the next day. It was going to be over the neck and because I had already done that dissection, the lecture portion of class should not be too bad. But I was exhausted and the material was piling up 😫.

The next day after class, I went to a session the school advisors were holding called “How to M2.” In the session, my advisor was talking about Step One, preparing for it, and all the costs associated with it. What??? But…we literally just got back here, how are we already talking about this dreaded exam? I only came to the session to see if there was any strategies to passing Anatomy, but instead it only added fuel to my anxiety. I was not the only one who felt that way, other students started checking out. This was way too much to handle.

Anatomy just kept getting worse. There were so many lecture slides to go over and the cadaver dissections were pretty traumatic. At one point, I had to dissect the muscles and nerves around the eye! Every hour felt like a day and everyday felt like a month. I truly felt at my lowest with this course.

Finally, it was the weekend and one of my college friends was getting married! I was excited to dress up and forget that I was a struggling medical student for once. I saw many of my old college friends and had a great time catching up with them. A 3rd year medical student at the wedding gave me great advice and told me told me to change my way of thinking. She said to stop thinking like, if I get to this point, then I will be happy, for example: when I pass Step 1, then life will be great etc, because there is always another obstacle to overcome. She told me that I do not have to be the most involved student because over 90% of medical students still match. It was definitely eye-opening because I was still feeling insecure about how my previous year went and how it would translate into the current year. I definitely needed to give myself some slack because medical school is hard.

On Sunday, I decided to go to the cadaver lab with Ashley and our TA to go over different structures. I then went had to leave for a funeral because one of my uncles had passed away the night before. When I went to the mosque to perform the funeral prayer, it was emotional seeing my relatives sobbing over the life lost. I made me realize that life is really short. We all tend to worry over the smallest things but at the end of the day, it does not matter. It really doesn’t.

For Monday’s class, we had to prepare by watching 6 videos, each around an hour long, and go through the PowerPoints associated with it. When I came to class, I was so tired. How do they expect us to know all of this? The first exam was going to be that Thursday and I was not prepared at all. Ugggggh!!!! I stayed after class to talk to my professor over some slides that confused me and ate my lunch afterwards. Later on, I went into a room in the medical school to fall asleep and then suddenly, I received an email:

WAAAITTT, WHATTT???? I GOT A SCHOLARSHIP?!!!!! I was in complete shock. Oh. My. God.

I have been applying for scholarships for the past year and I have been receiving rejections left, right and center. How was I getting one now?

I immediately texted my family and my friend the good news. It felt surreal to finally get one, I just never thought it would happen, never in a million years!

However, I had to tone down my excitement down a bit. My MCQ was on Thursday and I wanted to do really well on it. The way my school operates is that you need a 70% in the class before you sit for the final. Because there was only one MCQ, I pretty much needed a 70% or better on the exam to comfortably sit for the final.

The next day, we had our last lecture and then did a practice practical. The practice practical was extremely difficult. I only knew 10 out of the 50 questions that was on there. Oh man, I really hope I do not fail this exam.

On Wednesday, there was no class so that students could have a chance to study for the MCQ and practical. I decided to come to the cadaver lab and look over the structures once more. The heads were split in half to look over the oropharynx, nasopharynx and laryngopharynx and I wanted to pass out looking at it. If I cannot even look at the structures properly, how will I even pass? After that, I went home and did almost 300 questions to prepare for the multiple choice portion of the exam. Finally, it was time for me to go to bed. God, I begged, please let me do well on this.

The next day, I tried to get up with some positive energy. You got this, I kept telling myself. You will do great, you have put in all the work! I placed all my belongings in my locker and sat in front of my laptop, tuning out all of the voices around me. I am going to do great, this year is my year!

Well…I spoke too soon. The multiple choice portion of the exam was way harder than I thought. I did not know which ganglion was associated with what nerve, what drained into each sinus, and what would occur if an eye nerve was messed up. I did not do well, I just knew it. After time was called, I heard our classmates talking amongst each other. “Oh, it wasn’t that bad, it was pretty straight forward.” What??? Did we take the same exam or?

We began to form into our TBL groups to go over the exam questions. In the beginning, I actually had a lot of them right. But soon I missed 5, then 10, then 15, then however many questions on that dumb exam. The rest of my team gave me looks of pity as I was trying to grapple with the fact that I did not do as well as I wanted to. How is this possible? I literally put in hours upon hours of my time for this exam! 😖

After the group portion ended, I left the room, fighting the urge to cry. I then saw another one of my classmates in a corner. “Hey, how was the exam?”, I asked her. “Not great.” At last, finally someone who can understand me. We talked about how difficult the exam was and how some of our classmates had an advantage when it came to this course. Some of them had masters in Anatomy so of course they thought it was fair. However, the multiple choice exam was only half of our exam. We still had the practical to take.

The school split our class up to take the practical, 60 of us took it around 1 pm and the other 60 took it around 2:30 p.m. Fortunately, I was in the second group, so I tried my best to do a lot of practice questions before we got into the lab. The school sequestered the 60 of us in a large room so that we did not talk about the exam with the first 60 people who took it, and then they led us into the lab. There would be 50 questions that would be pinned on the cadavers and we had an hour and some change and answer all of them. “You may begin.”

The doors opened and all 60 of us tried to scramble and get to each question. I looked at the first question I came to. Yup, I don’t know that. The second one, nope. The third one…lemme just guess. Some of the questions I was familiar with because of the practice practical but others, uh uh. I carried my iPad with me and typed whatever answers came to me. I squeezed through people for certain questions because I needed every point I could get. The time went by from 1 hour to 30 minutes to 15 minutes to 3 minutes to 30 seconds, then TIME. It was over.

“Oumou, do you want to get boba with us?”, one of my classmates asked. “Nope, I am going home”. I picked up my stuff from my locker and I immediately drove home. I hate this class. I hate it soo much. Why do they have to make it so hard? I definitely failed that exam.

The next morning, we had class from 8-9 a.m. to go over physical exam skills. After the class, I wanted to go to the lab and flip over the cards on the cadavers over to see the correct answers. I just wanted to know how I did on the practical. I went with my friend Needa and she helped me open up the body bags and read off the answers. In the beginning, I was getting some answers right and then I saw I missed 5, then 10, then 20, then 30, then….

I went into the bench area with Needa to calculate my exam score and to see whether I had a 70% in the class. I failed the practical, even worse that the multiple choice exam, but maybe I still had a chance to sit for the final since I was doing well in class. But when I calculated my score, I realized that I needed 100% in class to be near a 70. That’s it, I thought. I failed. Right then and there, I burst into tears and just starting sobbing. Needa rubbed my back, which made me cry even harder. I worked so hard to not be in this position. I thought this year was going to be better. I thought this was the year where I was not going to fail. Should I have asked the school to hold me back? I do not deserve to be a second year.

Needa kept reminding me that it was because of God I was here and that He tests those He loves. I knew she was right, but it was sooo hard to be going through this again. The tears just kept flowing and I could not leave the bench area because I did not want other people to see me. Some of my classmates saw me and gave me words of encouragement which also made me cry harder. One of them even prayed for me. I was honestly a hot mess but I had to pull myself together for the next class, which was about racism. So I finally got up and attended class like nothing happened.

The racism class was pretty eye-opening and I learned a lot about my classmates’ experiences with it and how it related to medicine. I was slowly starting to feel better and after class, I changed to head over to the ice cream social the Muslim Students’ Association at my school was holding. It was nice being surrounded by upperclassmen who experienced what I was going through. “When I went to take an exam, I thought it was going to be my last exam,”, one of the M3s told me. Ok, if they went through that, then maybe I can get through Anatomy too. Just keep your head up.

The next day was my undergraduate graduation. What? You may be thinking. Aren’t you in your second year of medical school? Well, because of the pandemic, I did not get the graduation that I wanted and deserved therefore my old institution was having one just for the class of 2020. Even though I was still feeling terrible about my exam results, I tried to forget about it and focus on the amazing day ahead of me. I got ready, somehow found my regalia and diploma and drove to the stadium with my family. It was honestly a surreal experience. As I walking into the stadium, I saw all of the other graduates, people whom I have not seen in over a year. I even saw my old classmates and it was weird seeing them with their new hairstyles and finding out what they were doing such as getting their PhDs or getting their MDs like myself. It felt more like a reunion than a graduation. When I walked out into the field, I was met with the bright blue sky and green grass. Family members cheered us on as we walked to our seats with the pomp graduation music playing in the background. It was an emotional moment because I truly felt like I was leaving my undergraduate life for good. I could finally move on. The ceremony was filled with amazing speeches and ended with dazzling fireworks that filled the sky. When I found my family after the ceremony, they all embraced me with their hugs. We are soo proud of you, you did that! It was then that I realized all those nights of studying, breakdowns, and failed exams in undergrad was worth it. It helped propel me to where I am now. And as I continue on my path to education, I should always remind myself of my goals and the joy I will feel when I reach it.

The following days consisted of class and dissections that was related to the abdomen. I actually really enjoyed it, the structures were bigger and easily identifiable. I also did not have to look at my cadaver’s face anymore, which was something that I just could not get over. In the meantime, I got my overall exam score back: 61%. They gave me some points back! However, if I got 100% in class for the next couple of days (which I probably would not), I would have around a 69% in the class. Man, I was so close to taking the final, so I still had to try. I was not the only one who was struggling to pass the class though. A couple of students decided to complain to the institution about how unfair it was that one exam determined our fate in this short class. I sent a message in my TBL groupchat, begging my classmates to send in a complaint. I studied for the class as if I were going to sit for the final, but only God knew if I was going to.

On Thursday while reviewing structures in the lab, one of my classmates ran over to me. “Oumou, everyone can sit for the final!” Omggggg what?!!!!! I quickly looked at my email and saw the amazing words:

Alhamdudillah, I get to sit for the final! All that worrying and fussing for nothing! Although an extremely joyous moment, I still knew I had to do the impossible, actually pass the final exam. But now that I knew I had a chance to actually pass this course, I was going to do everything I possibly could to do it!

On Friday, I had a female exam workshop which is done to prepare students before we headed out to rotations the following year. I was soo nervous. I have never seen or done the cervical exam, pap smear and breast exam. This was a different level of patient provider relationship, and I was wondering how I would be able to perform that. However, the experience was truly amazing and impactful. The instructors guided us on what needed to be done and made it as comfortable as possible. I was just in awe of how mind-blowing the female anatomy was! Women can carry tiny humans, give birth, and nurture all of humanity because of their bodies. I definitely felt like a doctor that day and it almost made me forget about anatomy and its shenanigans.

Well, I said almost because after I left the workshop, the anatomy final hung over me like dark cloud ready to burst of sorrow and misery. Our exam was the following Thursday, so I had to really try my best to study extremely hard for it. I went to the anatomy lab on Saturday and my classmate helped me go through all the structures on the different cadavers and asked me questions related to it. When I got home, I was so exhausted, but I tried to do an in-depth review of the hundreds of anatomy slides I had the week prior. Two thirds of the final was going to be abdomen and pelvis and one third was going to be head and neck, so I thought it would be better if I put on my energy on the prior. I had lab on Monday and then class on Tuesday, so really tried to learn the new material the best that I could. I did not have to attend lab everyday because I was not dissecting, but I still came in and reviewed because I just wanted to pass this final and move on with my life. On Wednesday, we had a practice practical to see how prepared we were for the final. Unfortunately, I did not do as well as I wanted to and I was a little downtrodden throughout the rest of the day because of it. But after talking with my classmates who encouraged me to push on, I went to the library and did questions to prepare. Dear God, I tried my best, it’s now up to you if I pass.

“Dear God, I tried my best, it’s now up to you if I pass”

Finally, it was the day. I am going to pass, I told myself. I am going to pass. I drove up to the school, filled with anxiety and dread. This would be the determiner of if I could kiss goodbye to Anatomy or have to deal with it for a couple more weeks. This was it. I walked into the exam room and tried to tune out my classmates voices. This would be a solo effort so I do not need their thoughts to poison mine. I sat in my seat, turned on my laptop and waited for the time to start. “You may begin”. I scan through the questions and immediately started flagging some. Oh no, I do not know some of these. I tried to calm down and write down all the information I remembered on a sheet of paper. As I went through the exam, I realized I knew more than I thought. Some of the questions were easy. But others required tertiary knowledge. And all the head and neck questions? Forget about it. I barely studied those and now it was gonna bite me. I clicked in my answers until it was 5 minutes, 1 minute, 30 seconds..time.

After the first exam, the student council provided us with Panera Bread bagels as a way of saying congratulations to making it to the finish line. I grabbed my bagel and then ran up to the second floor to start studying for the practical. I was pretty sure the MCQ portion did not go as well as I wanted it to, so my best bet was getting the most points on the practical to balance out my final grade and get a 70. Suddenly, I heard students coming upstairs and talking about the exam. “I put this for that answer.” “Well, that’s not the correct answer, “another would say. Welp… I got those wrong. I decided to leave to head for the library when I bumped into a friend who was distraught because her computer shut down during the exam. “I do not want to have to re-click my answers.”, she said. “Don’t worry, it will be okay.”, I reassured her. We walked to the library together and went to the help desk where they restored her computer and assured that her exam was uploaded. “Thank you for coming me with., she told me. Of course I had to be there for her because if I were in that situation, I would want someone to be with me too.

We went up to the second floor of the library and started studying for the practical. We had one hour left and I went through as many questions as I could. Then it was time to head into one of the rooms to sequester. I dropped off my stuff and just prayed. I really wanted this exam to go well. I was again distracted by my classmates going over the answers of the MCQ. Can y’all be quiet? I am trying to focus! I thought to myself. Finally, they had the students go outside of the lab and explained the exam protocol. This was it, time to take this practical.

To be completely honest, this practical was a blur. I just remember heading in and having a game face, trying to write down what I thought the answer was and move on. There were many questions I did not know and I marked them to come back. It is also overwhelming having many students crowd over one question on a specific body and having to wait for them to finish. Time was running out. A couple of confident students left the room, content that they have done enough to pass this final and to enjoy their weekends ahead. I stayed until time was called and typed out my answers in the sequester room. Finally, it was over. It was above me now, at least I hoped so. I got ice cream with my classmate to celebrate, but deep down I had a feeling that it was not over for me.

That weekend was the first weekend that I did not have to study for anatomy and it was a different feeling for me. I got dressed up and went to a wedding with my family and enjoyed some time cleaning the house with my mom. My mom and I were having a deep conversation about marriage and when the best time would be for it when one of my classmates texted me. Hey girl, how are you? Why would she text me that? And then I read the email “Anatomy scores should be posted at 9 pm.” It was 10 pm right now. Oh boy…let’s see if I passed. I immediately logged on to check my grade and it read:

MCQ: 68%

Practical: 62%

I did not pass. I DID NOT PASS. Ugggggggh.

I did not cry because I was sort of proud that I came so close. I pretty much failed the anatomy final last year and I did amazing on the retake so I knew I could do great on this retake too. But I was bummed. I did not want to look at the cadavers anymore. I did not want to see my anatomy professors again. I did not want to look at those stupid slides.

I told my family and then texted my friends and mentors that I failed. It’s ok, Oumou you will pass this retake, just like last year. Yes, inshallah I will.

I was not the only one who did not pass. There were good number of us who did not so I went into our school groupchat and asked if anyone wanted to be in a separate groupchat to kill the retake. Surprisingly, there were many people who reached out. There were some people who had to retake that I would never in a million years suspect. It goes to show that medical school is tough for everyone and there is that one class or couple of classes that just take you out. I reached out to my old Anatomy T.A. to set up review sessions for all of us. We were going to go to the lab everyday and have study/review sessions related to different portions of the class. The school decided to divide up the MCQ and practical portion of the retake into two days, the MCQ being the next Monday morning, and the practical being on Tuesday after class. I was determined that every single one of us would prepare and pass. Anatomy was a beast but we could all slay it!

While studying for the anatomy retake, I was also starting the new class called Beginning to End which covers the GI tract, Endocrinology, Red Blood Cell disorders etc. Doing both of those at the same time was draining. I would have to study for class like the rest of my classmates and then instead of chilling or reviewing the content after class, I would head to the anatomy lab and review. Some days I would be pumped up and motivated. Other days, like when I went into the cadaver lab by myself, I would cry. It was different being there all alone with all the bodies and I had to fight through my anxiety to identify structures and vessels on the cadavers. When was this ever going to end?

On Friday, we had a clinical medicine class and I was just out of it. I wanted to care about the class but I cared more about passing the anatomy final. I just had this weekend to fully prepare for it and every time outside of anatomy felt wasted. One of my classmates was talking about the female exam and asked about it. “It was amazing, just a great experience.” I said. “Wait, do you want to be an OB/GYN?”, One of them asked. “Yes, or anything primary care related.” One of my classmates leaned towards me and told me that because I lived in Ohio and I want to go to primary care, I could get my education payed for. That’s true. I had applied for the National Health Service Corps scholarship the year prior and I did not receive it. This year, I was a finalist, but I told him I did not know if I would receive it because it was so competitive. I was honestly elated that I had gotten the Johnson and Johnson scholarship and I thought that would be the only major scholarship I would receive from here on out.

After class, I had a virtual kick-off meeting with Johnson and Johnson and then I was going to head into the lab to review. During the meeting I received an email:


I immediately started bursting into tears and texted my family, and then called my mom. I never in a million years thought I would get this scholarship. Never. I kept thinking about how incredible and driven and amazing my classmates were but somehow I was the one who got two major scholarships within the same month. Nah, this is crazzzzyyy. God is great!

I collected myself and went to meet my classmates to review for the final. We got through the cranial nerves, actions of certain muscles, and went over the reproductive system. In the lab, we taught and quizzed each other. On Saturday, one of my classmates held a review session for us retakers and we went over different concepts with him. I went into the cadaver lab by myself and did a lengthy review of everything we learned. I got this, I told myself. I spent the next couple hours going over all the slides, doing as many practice questions as I possibly could, and reviewing important things that the slides and questions did not cover. I just had to pass this.

Finally, it was the day of the retake MCQ. It was raining heavily and I barely made it in time to the exam room. I was so nervous. Good luck, everyone said to each other. “You may begin”.

I breezed through the questions, seeing the key word and clicking on the answer immediately. There was still fortyish minutes left to the exam, and I was already done. No, I must be doing something wrong. I thought. I am not someone who likes to leave with time to spare, I needed to use up every minute. So I went through again, checking each question and reselecting my answers. The time was slow, like molasses. First it was 10 minutes, 5 minutes, 3 minutes, 2 minutes, 30 seconds Time.

Whooosh, I was done with the first one. There were a couple of questions that I was unsure about, but I had a feeling I passed. When I came out of the exam room, some of the retakers were talking about what they chose and that gave me some anxiety but then I thought about how easily I went through most of the questions to calm me down. We had class right after, so I had to prepare and head on over.

During class, I was drained. I kept on getting the questions wrong and I was just over it. “How was the exam?”, some of my classmates asked. “I think I passed but I am so tired and I am behind in our current class.”, I would reply. “You will be ok, you can do it!”

One of my classmates had brownies and offered some to all of us at the table. How sweet! They were delicious and just what I needed after this unpredictable day.

After class, I received this email:

Oh my gosh oh my gosh. My anxiety levels were through the roof. If I did well on the MCQ and passed then I could relax a little for the practical tomorrow. My hands shook as I clicked on BAMS to check my grade. I refreshed it and saw my score…

I PASSED!!! Oh my God, thank you, thank you!!!! I starting crying tears of joy and relief. I did not even have to pass the practical because of how well I did on the MCQ! Thank you God, thank you!

I did a little celebratory dance and later on headed to the lab to review for the practical. Most of the retakers were joyous because they passed the exam. I tried not to ask if some did not pass because that would have made me sad. I knew however, that those who did not do well still had a shot at the retake practical.

Things were slowly starting to brighten up for me. Because I received national scholarships, my school wanted to broadcast me on their social medias and newsroom. I passed my MCQ portion with flying colors and I also knew I was going to do well on the practical tomorrow. I could almost see the finish line, and beyond it was filled with happiness and joy after almost a month of sorrow and pain.

The next day, I decided that I was going to skip because the practical was going to be after class. I really wanted to focus on passing it and then go from there. Suddenly, I received a text from my classmate. “Has the school asked you to stay home, sorry, I tested positive for Covid.” HOLD UP, WHAT?! Oh no.

No…., I responded back. Why would they reach out, we all had our masks on? Well, because I sat next to her in class and interacted with her, they were making everyone around that classmate go home. But…I have my practical today. No one reached out to me so I still went to school like nothing happened. Time went by. It was 10 am, then 11 am, then 12 pm so I thought shoot, I can still take this practical. Suddenly around 12:40 pm, I received an email:

And then…..

No, no, no, no, no. I just had to take this exam! I had to! Please nooooo!!!!!

I had no choice but to go home. I packed up my stuff and headed to get myself ice cream before I went home. This sucks. This really sucks. I was so close to being done and something blocked me. Now I would have to retake it at a later time, maybe when the M1s were done with Anatomy in October. Like whyyyy?

As I was ordering my ice cream, I got a text from one of my classmates who was retaking. She also sat next to my classmate who tested positive for COVID and the school was letting her stay. WHAT? Then why am I going home?!!!! She said that if I could prove I was vaccinated and asymptomatic, then the school would let me stay and take the practical. SAY LESS!!!!!

I immediately emailed my school and headed back to campus. Ohmygosh, treating myself with ice cream saved me to take this exam! I was still nervous though, what if the school does not let me take it? Finally at 3:17 p.m. I got approval. They said I could participate in class and exams, but I would need to get tested three days from now. Alhamdudillah! I can take this practical!!!!

I walked into the lab ready to get the practical over with. I did not even need to pass, I just needed to do my best and get out of there. Many of the retakers were not there, either because they were sick, asked to stay home or waiting for test results. Some of them did not know that if you responded to the email saying that you were vaccinated and asymptomatic, then you could stay. I told the other retakers to stay a good distance from me because if I potentially got covid and was just a carrier, I did not want them to have to stay home. Finally our instructors came out, “Same thing as before, everything in there you have already seen. Good luck.”

The doors opened and we all rushed into the cadaver lab. As I was answering questions, I realized that this practical was HARD. Harder that the original one. What in the world, how you gonna make this retake even more difficult that the first one? I struggled my way through half the questions, hoping that the answers I had put in were right. The environment, however, was way better than the first time I took the final practical. There were less people meaning the one person could hover over one cadaver as opposed to five people at one during the first exam. Time seemed to fly by and there were many questions I did not know. I just need to get some of them right, I told myself. I do not even need to pass this practical.

Finally, it was time. Afterwards, some of the retakers sat and talked about how hard the practical was. We talked about some of the answers and then I headed home. I was done. I was finally done.

Even though I was relieved, I was scared that I had COVID. My head was suddenly throbbing, my nose was stuffy and my throat was closing in. I was getting sick. Oh no, I remembered that I ate some of the girl’s brownies. Did I get COVID from the brownies? I emailed my school and asked them if I could stay home until I get my test results back. I did not get a response from them and I was freaking out on what to do. Do I stay home or do I head out? Finally, I received permission from them to stay home and do virtual school with other students who had COVID or were quarantining. Yay! Online school here we come!

Because I was exposed on Monday, I had to wait until Thursday to take my COVID test. I signed up to get one from CVS and thankfully, there was a slot for me, right before class. I wore a mask around the house and disinfected wherever I studied at. I was soo scared that I had COVID. On Wednesday, I could barely breathe, my body was sore and I had the worst headache ever. “Mommy, what if I test positive?” “Don’t say that!” my mom exclaimed. Some of my family members were unvaccinated and I did not want to expose them. Labor Day weekend was approaching and I wanted to attend an outdoor celebration in Cleveland for my sister’s friend’s engagement party. I was so scared that I would not be able to come and jeopardize my sister’s attendance.

Online school was nice and I just missed being virtual. I like seeing my classmates and all but man sitting down and tuning out the irrelevant information some of the professors talk about it so nice. I connected with the other classmates who was virtual and it felt like the good, old times.

Around 12:30 p.m. Wednesday, I received an email:

Notice how she said strong work on the email with the MCQ grades and good work with this email. Ohmygosh, what if I did terrible on this exam?

At 4:30 p.m., I decided to join an in-person/virtual SNMA meeting to calm my nerves while waiting for my practical grade. I was so nervous. Oh God, I might just throw up. This is it. If I pass, that means no more cadavers and no more Anatomy (well, until Step One). I came on the BAMS page at 4:55 pm and the minutes passed by slowing. My heart started palpating as time went on. It was finally 5 pm and I refreshed the page. Did I pass???!


I passed both my MCQ and practical!!!!! Ohmygosh I am gonna cry. Ohmygosh I am done with Anatomy! I am done with Anatomy forever!!! No more Anatomy!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Of course, I texted all of my friends and mentors the good news. I was so elated! My nightmare was over, it was finally over!

The next day, I went to the CVS to take my Covid test. I was still feeling congested and tired but I still had my smell and taste. Maybe I don’t have Covid?! Maybe…

After that, I went back home to log into virtual school. One of the downfalls of being virtual was how lazy I have become. I was watching a lot of YouTube and even started watching this Netflix series called Alrawabi School for Girls (check out a review for that series in the future). I was still anxious because I was roaming the house as if I had Covid. I kept praying that I did not have it.

On Friday, we had a nutrition course which was really interesting and I wish I was in person just for that class. The nutritionist went into so much detail about the labels on food packaging and the different types of USDA approval. But after that class, we were done. Labor day weekend is almost here! However, the weekend would be fruitful if I tested negative. I took a long nap and woke up. Oh God, please let me test negative. CVS would have results in 1-2 days and I really hoped it would come on Friday so I could go to the engagement party. After some time, I received a text from CVS. “Your test result is ready.”

Oh my gosh, oh my gosh, oh my gosh. What if I tested positive and have Covid? I mean, I feel better now, but what if I do have it? I felt myself getting nauseous as I logged onto the patient portal. My hand were shaking as I clicked on results. Finally the screen popped up with:


I threw off my mask and iPad and immediately jumped up and down. I was free, I was finally free!

If you made it to the end of this blog, then thank you. It was extremely difficult writing this because I went through many highs and many lows. Actually, it is hard to write any of my other blog updates. Putting my struggles and sometimes accomplishments out here feels like someone shone a bright light on me, exposing me to people’s thoughts and input. However, I still do this because I knew that if I was interested in going to medical school, I would want to know the true experience of it. Some social media influencers do that but some hide behind filtered images of what medical school is like. I mean, I do not blame them, but when you actually get into medical school, you may find that you will compare yourself to said influencer. But they do not truly show how difficult, scary, and anxiety-inducing medical school is. I truly hope this post inspired you all to never give up, even when life throws curve balls at you, and to always keep an image of your future goal in front of your mind. I will definitely keep updating you all as the years progress and I cannot wait for the day when I have my last medical school update post, inshallah! Take care and be well, future physicians 😊

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