“5 life lessons medical school has taught me!”
A guest post by Nesrine Kirat
When I was 18 I had this fire burning inside me. It`s that determination that starts to grow as you`ve made up your mind about what you want to do. I was binge watching series like House MD and Grey`s anatomy, I was buying anatomy books and trying to read X-rays. All the biology, chemistry, physics projects and essays I was assigned in college had a medical twist to it. When I graduated I only had one place in mind that I wanted to go to… Medical School. It seemed like a dream to walk around in a white coat one day and be part of the world`s lifesavers. I shouldn`t tell you guys how excited I was when I finally got accepted into medical school. It was like entering paradise in the afterlife. I was excited and I thought I had finally made it…
But I hadn`t made it yet. Medical school wasn`t the end of a road – it was but the mere beginning. Where I come from med-school consists of 3 years of bachelor studies and 3 years of master studies. I`m half-way through my fifth year and with all the medical courses I`ve learned some hard truths about the #LifeofaMedStudent.
Together we are stronger!
In my first year, I thought all the med-students would help each other from beginning to end. However, medical students always tend to bear in mind that other students can be potentially competition to them. Sadly, the stigma around the grading system and the limited places to certain specializations cause students to distrust one another and in worst case scenarios compete in ways that are purposely harmful to others. I was astonished medical students were scamming other students, or retaking certain subjects when possible competitors had better grades than they did. This feeling or need to be better than others was like a virus that spread through our entire class infecting everyone. I learned to let go of that feeling of trying to be the best or beating friends and colleagues with my grades. I learned that staying true to yourself is one of the most important qualities of succeeding in your job as a doctor and I also believe it will keep you in a healthy state of mind for the rest of your career. Together we are stronger, that counts for everything, especially in medicine.
There is no such thing as failing..
The number one concern of med-students is how they perform and how they score on exams or clinical rotations. That`s why we study so hard. We are perfectionists and there is no room for failing but the bottom line is… we will all fail at something at some point. No one is perfect, no one will finish without ever making a mistake. And that is okay! Having room to make mistakes from time to time gives you room to improve and better yourself. Failing shouldn`t demotivate you or even scare you. It should give you strength and resolve find out why and to do better next time. Bettering yourself doesn`t sound that scary now does it?
Yes, you can achieve everything!
I used to be a very insecure person when I first started out in med-school. Oral exams freaked me out the most because of the idea of being interrogated by an expert at their profession, which you don`t know anything about! It sounds funny but I was sometimes even scared to start studying, because I was afraid to fail to understand certain subjects. Overcoming your fear by proving yourself wrong is one of the keys to success. When I started getting out of my comfort zone, paying more attention in class, helping struggling students improve, and even setting up study schedules my confidence really grew. Even though certain exam schedules seemed impossible to go through, we did it all and we succeeded. Every step we take, every day that passes, every grade you achieved are little reminders that we are capable of things we first deemed impossible. Believe in yourself, because you can do everything you want.
Taking care of others is taking care of you.
People sometimes say “you can`t expect people to love you if you don`t love yourself.” I am a big supporter of that quote and I can also add that you can’t take care of people as a physician (or any other caregiver) if you don`t take care of yourself. It is no secret that medical school is very demanding . If we aren’t in classes we are studying for exams. If we aren’t studying, we`re doing a bunch of extracurricular activities. On top of all that we must find time to write papers, read articles, and hand in assignments. All of these deadlines and expectations people have of us and the high goals we set ourselves can cause a lot of stress. This is also why some students call it quits after a couple of years or during internships. It`s also proven that too much stress can cause burn-out or addiction issues among physicians. This is why I chose to get find hobbies that had nothing to do with medicine. I started drawing and playing video games with my friends in my free time. I even started a twitch channel to stream and meet new people to play video games with. It works as a de-stress mechanism to just empty your mind and put your full focus on something non-medicine related.
Be awesome, be you!
To end this article, I want to stress that you`ve already proven your worth. If you are already a medical student – you are the living proof of determination and dedication! There is no need to be insecure or compare yourself to other students. Remember that no one is the same and every person is unique in their way. We all contribute differently to the medical world and to our patients. It`s important to stay true to yourself, your values, and your motivations to become a physician. When you do that, you will shine, succeed, and everything will be worth it!
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