Congratulations to those of you beginning medical school this week or in the weeks to come. You made it through what I think was the worst part – Organic Chemistry. Now comes the fun part – learning to play doctor!
Many of you are already posting pictures on social media during your orientation. Dressed to the nines. Some of the photos I’ve seen have shown students grinning ear to ear, while in the background of these pics your classmates look like they need that bag usually tucked in behind SkyMall Magazine on an airplane. Others look way too serious.
I’m here to be that guy who wants to be candid and offer my 2 cents. I want to be like that fraternity guy ( I was a proud SAE in college) that is trying to invite you to a fun party. I started med school in September 2004 and have been a physician for 9 years now. Here’s how I see it:
1. Make friends – Look around the lecture hall and get to know these people well. Some of them will become life long friends. One of them may become your spouse. Some may be referring patients to you one day when you are attendings practicing in the same town. You will bond in a way that others just will never understand.
2. Don’t be a recluse or a jack@$$ !
You will get by with a little help from your friends. I made some of my best friends in med school and I still love them dearly. There will always be that classmate with their nose up in the air (and a stick up between their… gluteus Maximus). Don’t be that guy or girl. Be fun.
3. Take a moment to reflect and Respect. In Gross Anatomy take a moment before you begin to dissect your cadaver to remember that this was a real life person, who gave his or her body to science so that you might learn. They were someone’s parent, child, grandparent, friend. Their gift is going to help you to become a knowledgeable physician. Remember that from time to time. Be humbled by it.
4. Practice small acts of kindness and humanity daily. Gross Anatomy and pathophysiology help you to earn your MD or DO, but humility helps you learn to become a caring doctor. Strive to become doctors of people. It’s much harder to become a doctor of people than a doctor of medicine.
5. Talk to strangers (but you dont have to take candy from them). Yes I said that. Some of my friends and I studied at a coffee shop in Sarasota and would drum up conversation with random patrons. Doctors have to be able to interact with patients – most of them start off as strangers to you. It’s through conversation with your patients that you can unlock the key to what ails them in many cases. (Some of the staff of that coffee shop actually came to our graduation in 2008!) Aim to forge similar bonds now.
6. Laugh. You will be reading, re-reading, reading review texts, obsessing over test answers and taking elaborate notes and consuming mass quantities of caffeine to stay awake. If you don’t stop to laugh and enjoy the ride, you will be missing out on so much. To this day I can still remember certain classmates and fun memories we shared. That’s how you get through Med school.
7. Don’t be too proud to ask for help.
If you are having a difficult time with your transition into medical school, if you are feeling depressed or down, you are not alone. Take care of yourself – mentally, physically, and spiritually. Seek our medical attention if you must. Also be your brother and sisters keeper. If you see a classmate that you believe to be depressed, burned out or despondent then reach out to them. After all, you are becoming a doctor to help others. Mental health is very very important for all of us.
If you can make time to laugh and love while you learn to learn in a way that may be foreign to you; if you can be attentive, affable, academic, but not arrogant; if you can make memories and forge great friendships; if you can see the larger picture and can still keep your faith; if you can make it your mission to take it one day at a time as you keep your eyes on the prize; if you can learn to pay it forward… then student doctors.. you are on the right path.
If what I just said above doesn’t make sense, I just don’t have enough time or crayons to explain it to you. 🙂
It’s your show now so go out there and break a … femur!
Class of 2008, LECOM Bradenton
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