Confessions of a Med School Drama Queen

“Confessions of a Medical School Drama Queen”

  – A Guest Post by Leah Croll.

In theory, medical students are amongst the brightest and hardest working young professionals. Our maturity and commitment to master the craft of healing help us to rise above the petty drama our peers outside of medicine may experience. We’re so busy studying and slaving away at the hospital, we barely have time for that kind of thing.


Or, are medical students more like less attractive actors in a real-life medical drama show? Let’s be honest: We may be smart and driven, but we are only human and that means that we don’t always model perfect student doctor behavior. Medical schools take a relatively small group of people (some of us more socially repressed than others) and make them live, study, work, and play together. It’s only natural for some high school clique-inspired drama to unfold. Gossip and jealousy are organic extensions of the competition, both frivolous and legitimate, that medical school breeds. Who hooked up with who, who may have failed that test, who got chewed out by their attending, who broke up? We just can’t help ourselves.

In fact, I got so swept up in writing this piece that I ended up mapping out the cliques in my class à la Mean Girls:

  • Med Studs: Bros who go to the gym together everyday. They were voted most likely to be spotted wearing a tank top.

  • Student Doctor Plastics: Pretty girls who somehow always look put together, which makes me jealous. #YouCantSitWithUs


  • Dorky docs: Honestly not any nerdier than the rest of the class, but somehow still have that reputation?

  • Drake Ramorays: So dreamy, such big heads. 


  • Ethnically homogenous cliques:…’nuff said


  • Overachievers: These people are on student council, run all the clubs, and have logged more volunteer hours than the rest of their classmates combined. How?! 


  • Physician-partiers: Magically mange to party hard on the reg, but still pull off all school requirements without breaking a sweat.


  • That one guy: who literally ONLY studies and that’s it.


  • Grown-up isolationists: (usually older) People who spend very little time with their classmates because they are married and/or living real adult lives.


  • The couples: They met during orientation week and have been inseparable and adorable ever since.

To be clear, this is not meant to be my weird version of a burn book. It was written in good fun, because I have serious respect for my classmates (and future colleagues!). There’s not a single person in my class who I wouldn’t trust to be my doctor. However, it’s healthy to have a sense of humor about all the times heads butted, rumors spread, and plenty of us got carried away in the drama. Coming to the end of these four years, looking back on it all, I wouldn’t have it any other way. I embrace the distraction from my stress and the constant reminders that we are not just memorization machines, but humans with full lives, feelings, and relationships as well.

At times the high school politics can feel juvenile and unnecessary. Navigating this strange social scene seems like something we shouldn’t have to make time for. But I would argue that these social dynamics are more important than most of us realize. They help us to stay in touch with our humanity, which is surprisingly difficult when you’re sleep deprived, bored in endless lectures, and holding a retractor for 6 straight hours.

In a sense, medical school is really about coming-of-age as physicians. We grapple with the huge pressures associated with medical training and the lofty expectations we have of ourselves. Post-exam parties become a much-needed outlet for all of that stress and so the drama unfolds. Nearing the finish line, I’m beginning to realize that my classmates and the social groups they formed are more similar than they are different. We went through these trying four years together and had no choice but to befriend, compete with, lean on, and fight with each other. I, for one, look back on our immature antics fondly and with great appreciation. My future as a new doctor is a little less scary knowing that I have these friendships and professional relationships that will stay with me forever. #AndNoneForGretchenWeiners

Leah Croll is a 4th year medical student. She can be reached on twitter:

What were your experiences in medical school like? Were they as clique filled as this example? Was there as much drama as you expected? Share your story in the comments section! 

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