Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Accepted! :)

Congratulations!  You’ve been accepted.  Now that you’ve had time to spread the word (your mom, dad, grandma, grandma’s neighbour, grandma’s dog all know and have appropriately rejoiced), it’s time to prepare for the big day, the first day of your medical career.  I’m here to reflect upon my first year and give you a few random thoughts on your new beginning. 
  1. The first week of school was pretty nuts.  There was loads of activities, parties and free food.  I somehow convinced myself that I had to attend every single event or I would not only fail med school but would become a social pariah and outcast whom other medical students would make fun of and throw their dirty latex post-anatomy gloves at.  Being an introvert, I became exhausted by the constant partying and stayed home a lot towards the end of the week, my poor psyche aching for a little peace and quiet.  As it turns out, I am still in medical school and no one has thrown a glove yet.  So if you love to party, this is your time to shine, folks.  But if you are an ancient twenty seven year old loves-to-knit-by-the-fireplace type like me, don’t be afraid to go easy on yourself.  It is a big transition, after all. 
  2. Towards the beginning, I asked or was asked, ‘where are you from?’ or ‘what did you do your undergrad in?’ an astronomical amount of times so much so that I bored myself to tears and finally took to saying strange things to new people just to break up the monotony.  My advice is not to freak other students out (unless you dig that) but don’t feel obligated to have the same old small talk that you’ll forget the second the person you’re talking to leaves your sight. 
  3. Everybody in medical school thinks that they are the dumbest person in medical school.  If you meet someone who does not think they are the dumbest, you have probably just met the dumbest person. 
  4. But seriously, if you are anything like me (that is, a normal human being), you will feel insecure about yourself, convince yourself that you are in the presence of the demi gods of science, that these seats you fill are occupied by the upper echelons of intelligence and that you, a mere mortal, are unworthy to study amongst them. 
  5. Okay I’m being hyperbolic here.  But the truth is, I do feel like the dumbest person in med school most of the time anyway.  The solution to this is to (cliché alert) believe in yourself.  Keep up a steady stream of positive self reinforcement at all times.  A kickass dress and mighty pair of heels helps too.  Or dudes, you should get yourself some awesome socks.  Awesome socks hold the power of all self-confidence.
  6. Lastly, in the words of my own family doctor, medical school is a lot of fun and it goes by fast. 
  7. So soak up all the moments – the good and the bad – that you can get your hands on because your first naked patient, your first DRE and even your first failed exam might be a chapter in your future tell-all autobiography.


...or Rejected :(

Applying to medicine is like sleeping around: an acceptance letter feels like you just had the lay of your life; rejection is more like contracting herpes – type 1 and type 2 – and not just any minor outbreak, I’m talking about the type of oral and genital pustulating lesions that just won’t quit.

What I’m saying is that you’re not alone, rejection is the pits, period.  The bottom line is that no one enjoys receiving bad news: the cup isn’t half empty and it isn’t half full; the cup is shattered on the floor.  For any serious applicant the only positive experience is the sense of relief and closure gained from having a few friends to help clean up the broken pieces.  This means it is perfectly acceptable to feel angry, annoyed, defeated, deprived, discouraged, empty, frustrated, heartbroken, helpless, irritated, resentment, sad, trapped, upset, worn out, and/or anything else in between!

Face reality as it comes, and plan for tomorrow the best you can.  If you’re smart you will already have a contingency plan, and over the past year you would have already been beefing up that resume for this fall’s application cycle. (A good physician is proactive, not reactive.)

Is your backup plan to pursue grad studies? Better dust off that sweater-vest grandma knitted you. Unless you find research simply titillating, you could make more money as a Wal-Mart greeter, and still have various med admissions committees equally rate both positions.  …But I digress.

In the meantime, do anything you can to ease the pain from your recent heartbreak (or herpes outbreak).  Here is a list of suggested things to subdue the initial blow:
  • Beer with your closest friends is a must.
  • Buy something awesome, and don’t be frugal!!!  …Fiscal limits are for Greeks. (Seriously, my stocks are swirling the drain.)
  • Put in extra hours at work and/or extracurriculars – keep doing what you enjoy.
  • Go on a trip – but you can’t with your closest friends or girl/boyfriend, because they’ve likely dumped you for med school. …Or they’re just avoiding you because you’re highly infectious.
  • Maybe look into filling that prescription for acyclovir?

By the time you are back from your trip, some schools will have released personal application scores and reference statistics. This is the easy bit: single out the area(s) where you have the potential to most improve (i.e. make the biggest impact on your application) and get crackin’!  Even if you won’t be able to complete these goals before the approaching application cycle, you’ll be ready for future applications.  Remember, medicine is a dynamic, life-long practice; thus, anyone who is unmotivated to follow through with medium- to long-term goals, even if perceived to be external towards a desired career path, is likely not a good fit for medicine.

If medicine is what you truly want, you’ll get there eventually; it just won’t be this year.  Hang in there.