It hadn’t been more than a month into medical school when I started saying “I’m over this, I’m just ready to graduate!” Or I would see the 3rd and 4th years and think of how I couldn’t wait to be in their shoes. Sometimes I was just joking, but there were some rougher times when I really meant it because I was just so tired. But then I’ll go shadow and realize that I don’t know anything or interview a standardized patient in class and forget to ask about their drug allergies. I was definitely not ready for the real world.
As professional students in any field, we get so caught up in being ready to graduate and be done that we forget to take the time to appreciate what we’re going through. The times of struggle–pushing ourselves further than we thought possible. We overcome weaknesses on a weekly basis and overlook that because we’re so focused on the end. The knowledge we gain is so powerful, each day you become more powerful. And you never notice it until you look back after a block/module and say “wow I can’t believe I learned all of this.” The people we interact with: faculty, patients, even anatomy cadavers–they shape us. Through them we make discoveries about ourself and our craft.
For those in a gap period who feel like your journey hasn’t actually started yet, it has. Everything you’re doing now is preparing you for the end goal. So make the most of your time and grow as much as you can through networking, volunteering, shadowing, working, etc. The journey isn’t going to be easy all the time, but it’s what has got us to this point, so embrace that! One way to actively do that is through weekly or monthly written reflections. Ask yourself these questions:
- What did I learn about myself this week? (physically, spiritually, morally…)
- Where are my weaknesses and how can I improve?
Over time you’ll see how your answers change. If you find that your growth is static, you may be spending too much time in your comfort zone. You can only learn/improve so much if you are doing the same thing every week.
If you don’t stretch, you don’t grow.
So I’m encouraging myself and you to be thankful for the journey we’ve embarked on. See the (many) challenges as growth opportunities and welcome them. Because every day, we’re one step closer to our dreams. And once we get there, there’s no turning back.