10 Things I Learned in Med School That I Didn’t Know Until I Got There

Happy New Years 2016!

As a second year medical student I will say that I am very qualified to share my wisdom, considering I still barely know anything at all. It’s time to share some things I learned before 2016 takes my soul!

Every time I talk to a pre-med; “I would love to be where you are.” And while I love where I am, it’s not all rainbow and people showering your with “yay you made it” flowers. There’s a lot I feel like even among the medblr community we don’t touch on too often because it can take a while to see them in all the action. I think they’re important though.

Remember, these are from personal experience! I learned a lot in the the last year and half but you might have different experiences and that’s just fine! Just take it so you know!

1. It’s a small world 

When was the last time you got the spend all your time among 150 people, give or take a few? And you cannot escape them. You’re stuck. That’s what you have to survive in med school. You know that. But the world of medicine is so much smaller than that. Hospitals are even smaller than that. Rotations are usually in a small region. People know people. People love to talk. We live in an itty bitty medical world. Things will always follow you, good or bad. So make your big mark on this bitty world a good one.

2. All class environments are different

Many schools do have an expected class style, and there’s a good chance your will follow suit. I personally think it’s an important thing to look into. But your class style depends on your classmates. It doesn’t matter if you’re in the land of southern hospitality, hardcore city life or rustic heart and soul. Your class could be anything. They could be your new family or they could be blood and guts cut throat. You won’t know until you show up. But there’s still a good chance no matter what you get, you’ll still find kin.

3. Have expectations for yourself but not others 

Expecting good things from yourself, whether it be academically, morally, ethically, whatever I don’t run your life. But don’t project those same things onto other people. Most of them you haven’t known very long. It takes a while to really build strong, trust worthy relationships. One day you might get to the point where you expect things from your classmates, your friends. Just keep yourself at high standards and hopefully, others will too.

4. Let people be there for you 

There’s a lot of pride that goes along with wanting to fix your problems yourself. You’re going to be facing very new, very real challenges. It can be hard because as a future medical-whatever, you think you should be able to solve all the problems. And you should, but it never has to be alone. So why should your issues be any different? So if you have friends, family, whoever wants to help you when you need it, don’t feel like you can’t accept. It’s not weakness to accept kindness. It’s strength to know when you need it. Life is already hard enough, let’s let others be kind so we can be kind in return.

5. Grades are not a coping mechanism 

We say it all the time, grades do not define you. This tends to be in reference to not as good grades. But what about people with good grades? I’ve noticed that people who do well tend to use their grades to deal with the constant feeling of inadequacy that many medical students suffer from, but I think everyone needs to realize grades are not your numerical worth. Grades don’t last forever. Those numbers can’t save you when things go wrong. You have to trust in what you know, beyond multiple choice and scores.

6. The realist and the pessimist

“I’m just saying what’s true.” You hear it all the time. And yes, you can’t expect everything to always go your way. But you also can’t constantly think everything is working against you and be resentful. Even if it sometimes seems that way. There is just as much positive thinking in realism as their is negative. The worst thing that happens in that you drown in the negative and trust me, you can’t afford that. Learn to distinguish between the two. It can cause you a lot anxiety to have someone say negative things aloud. It’s okay to be naturally pessimistic, but you can’t let it get in the way of yours or others mental well-being. Even if it’s hard, try to see the sun on a dark day.

7. Don’t expect things to happen

For most of us, no one is offered anything in med school. Why? Because everything needs to be earned and everyone wants everything. While a resident may say “come do research with me” or a doctor says “of course you can shadow me” no way in hell are they going to come after you. If you want it, you have to go get it. Medical school is just one big race so even if you walk you’ll make it to the end. But if you run and get make opportunities happen chances are you’ll be a lot happier with your finishing place.

8. Disappointment is just another word for opportunity 

I joke all the time with my friend that if you keep your expectations low, you’re never disappointed. I don’t actually do that, but that’s how often it happens. Most of us come from a place of success, but failure is what builds you. And to be honest, failure, no matter what it means to you, is disappointing no matter how you dress it. But that doesn’t mean its an end all. It just means you have to find a new way to achieve what you want, forcing you to take a new spin on the unexpected, and giving you a chance you would have never thought of.

9. Don’t box yourself in, but don’t leave the building 

I think there is an equal amount of pressure to know what you want to do as a doctor and not to choose before you do rotations. Which makes no sense, but that’s how it goes. It is very important to keep an open mind, but you know yourself better than anyone. Why submit yourself to the torture of a specialty you know you’ll hate (if you don’t have to) because you have to be open minded? But you also don’t have to shut yourself out from things you aren’t sure about. Trust yourself on this stuff.

10. You are special, but no one knows it yet 

Just like you can’t expect to be handed anything, you can’t expect people will know how fantastic you are right off the bat. You have to show them how much you shine. It’s so easy to forget how great you are when it you’re too busy to remember all those great things about yourself. It will take time, but people will start to see your good qualities and skills as long as you continue to believe in those skills and yourself. You got this.

I hope you guys liked it and that you reach all your goals this next year!

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