What was your journey to medicine?
Unlike many of my fellow classmates, I didn’t always want to do medicine. For a while, I was convinced that I wanted to be a biomedical engineer. That path led me to Georgia Tech to study engineering, where I realized very, very quickly that engineering was simply not the field for me. In need of a new plan, I decided to stop trying to force a career path to magically appear from thin air and just let God direct me wherever he wanted me to go.
I’ve always thought that the decision to go into medicine was more of a calling than a choice, and I actually felt that call one day when I was reading a novel about an OB/GYN who helped a struggling teen with an unwanted pregnancy. That scenario really stuck in my mind, and I guess something just clicked while I was reading. It wasn’t one of those classic “Aha!” moments with fireworks, but in that moment I realized that I wanted to be that physician who got to help that girl through what might have been one of the worst moments of her life. I wanted to help all people, and this was how I was truly called to do it. So, I changed my major to Biology and I never looked back! The pieces just fell into place once I finally accepted that medicine was the path that God had for me. I knew that it would be a hard road, but it’s honestly been the best decision I’ve ever made.
What’s the hardest thing to juggle during 1st year?
As many of my friends can attest, I have the distinct pleasure of being both a procrastinator and a perfectionist. That unfortunate combination means that I had a very difficult time adjusting to life as a medical student. So, I guess that I would have to say that the hardest part was managing my time and keeping my life balanced.
The workload in medical school is astronomical, and for the first half of the year my personal life really suffered from my tendency to focus only on school. Juggling a relationship, friends, and school was challenging to say the least, and at the end of the day I really had to re-prioritize my life. I realized that while I tended to spend a lot of time trolling on Buzzfeed, I didn’t spend enough quality time just taking care of myself and my mental well-being. With this new mindset I hit the ground running second semester, and it was a whole new world! I made sure to set aside time for sleep and exercise, and I tried to limit the time I wasted on social media. My grades improved, and I felt a million times better than the zombie I was my first semester of medical school.
So for up-and-coming med students who might be reading this, please don’t make my mistakes! Med school is hard and it will take over your life if you let it. Make sure to take care of yourself, and I promise it’ll make the much more enjoyable.
What method did you use to study?
Our medical school works on a pass-fail basis for the first year, so I was able to really experiment with what study methods worked for me. I tried a lot of different things, but in the end I decided that I learned better using the old-fashioned method of hand-writing my notes. One thing that really helped me to remember concepts was actually just teaching the material to an invisible classroom. I would literally stand in front of a whiteboard and pretend like I was giving a lecture, and that really helps you to see if you truly know the material. Another practice that helped was just reading through my notes every morning as I waited for class to start. Even though I wasn’t really studying per se, just repeatedly seeing those key words made it easier to study later.
You went on your first mission trip this summer. How did that change you?
This summer I went on a 2-week medical mission trip to Cusco, Peru, and it was truly an amazing experience. While we got to go to Machu Pichu (which was seriously amazing and beautiful), my favorite part of the trip was just getting to interact with so many different people. Our team of doctors, med students, and nursing students saw between 500-600 patients, some of whom had never visited a real doctor before. It was definitely an eye-opening experience to see people who were poor and sick and yet still so kind and compassionate. There were a lot of truly broken people who honestly just needed to see that somebody cared for them – they needed hope.
Being a mission trip, we spoke to our patients about Jesus and His great love for them. It was my first time witnessing to people that were complete strangers, and it was truly amazing to see the work that God did in their lives in that short time that I had with them. Besides helping with their physical needs, we saw people getting saved, and we were able to encourage our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ from Peru. More than just seeing God work in their lives, it was amazing how He used my patients to open my eyes to my own sin, and to see the world how He sees it. This trip really helped me to overcome a lot of the fear that has been holding me back for so long. Fear of singing to audiences, fear of talking to people about Jesus, fear that I’ll fail. It’s truly amazing how much change can happen in only 2 weeks, and I can’t wait for the chance to go another mission trip.