Hey everyone, it’s been a hell of a few months hasn’t it? The general consensus last semester was, “This is the worst semester I’ve ever had.” In the past four months, I don’t think I’ve heard one good thing about it. The stress is always more than enough and somehow at the end of finals we kiss the ground and wonder how in the world we’re still standing here and why oh why do we even want to come back? But the last semester, for everyone, was insurmountable, completely unbearable, so, what better time than to write a post about slightly falling short of the grades you were hoping for or expecting. There must have been toxins in the air last semester and it would be terrible if people quit their dream because of it.
If becoming a doctor isn’t for you and you really have no desire to do it then go into a field that you’re passionate about. There’s no shame in having a career that you really love and while there is initial disappointment in the beginning, it will fade and you will be a much happier person. Forget about the people who talk nonsense about changing, you know you could have done it if you wanted too, but it’s not something you want to do, so don’t sweat it. They’ll eventually come around and support you if they matter. And if they don’t, then why do they matter?
However, if this is something you really want, if becoming a doctor is a part of your existence and you’re just not feeling confident about it; if you don’t want to go for another semester, if you’re tired of being kicked to the ground, then maybe these few headers will help you come back for another round. And, honestly, if they don’t then please email me or Mohammad or Jon, don’t give in just yet. Seriously, I’ll give you my personal email if I have to and you can contact me when you get a chance.
You’re Still a Great Person
“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” - Eleanor Roosevelt
4.0 is the set point for all of us, with whatever GPA we have, whether it’s throughout our undergraduate career or on a per-semester basis. Anything that deviates from such we tend to look at as failure, or for many of us, it is failure. The only thing worse than our falling grade point is the ugly thoughts we internalize from it. “You didn’t get A’s this semester, you have 2 more years that are going to be a lot harder than this, you’re clearly not cut out for this.” “You got an F which stands for Find a new career ‘cause you’re clearly too stupid for this.” “I have a 2.0 GPA; I clearly won’t make it, so why should I even bother?” Dumb, moronic, utterly useless, incompetent, unqualified, inept, inadequate are a few words that I’m sure we’ve all told ourselves from the indirect result of lab experiments, midterms, final grades, or anything else we hold important to us.
And of course we do, the admissions committees have lots of competition to look at, they are searching for the absolute best, they want perfection, and then they want a little more after that. So, of course we get upset when it deviates from the standards because it’s affecting the very essence of the journey we’re on.
Regardless of the standards set, even if the standards had a 50% margin of error (they wanted half of perfect) it wouldn’t matter. You are still this wonderful person who has dedicated their entire life to helping people in their most vulnerable states. You’ve chosen to listen to people when no one else will listen to them. You have chosen to take care of people when they are no longer capable of taking care of themselves. And that might be one of the noblest causes if not the most noble cause we have and you should be indefinitely proud of yourself for taking on a career with such passion and fury.
At some point in your life you will have helped thousands upon thousands of people, if you haven’t already. You volunteer most of your time to science and discovering the world to make people’s lives changed forever. And that is utterly amazing and beautiful and there is nothing and nobody that can take that away from you. No professor, no midterm, no grade, no individual, nothing.
You’re a wonderful person with all these amazing qualities and you should be indefinitely proud of what you have done, what you’re doing, and what you will be doing in the future.
Remember What Medicine is About
Healthcare is defined as “the preservation of mental and physical health by preventing or treating illness through services offered by the health profession.” – WordNet.
I love my biology and chemistry courses because I love learning, well, as much as you can love chemistry and biology. But these classes are not what medicine is about and they have little to do with what you’re going to be doing in the field. You’re never going to need the area of a curve to check if a tumor is benign or malignant. You’re never going to need the chair confirmation of a cyclohexane molecule to check someone’s blood sugar or treat a diabetic patient. You’re never going to need weather patterns to operate on someone leg.
Yes, you need the science background; you need to understand how the body works and how therapeutics work on the body. But, the science is just there to help. Medicine is more about diagnosis, patient interaction, and treatment plans. It’s about meeting someone whose body or mind is not at equilibrium, figuring out why it’s not, and discovering the best possible way to get it back. And it’s about making someone feel comfortable when they’re completely out of their element.
When you’re frustrated or angry about a concept that you don’t understand, just remember that these courses and the next 1 to 4 years of your journey is merely a stepping stone to the real reason you undertook this challenge to medical school and healing people.
Love the Journey
“Live, Love, Laugh”
Bachelor’s degree is 4-5 years. Medical school is 4 years. Residency is 3-7 years. Possible fellowship and specialty is another few years. Just finishing residency alone would be at least 11 years depending on how many years it took to get your bachelors and what kind of residency you chose. That can be many, many years of built up stress hormones, life events that were never dealt with, things that were pushed and pushed to the side, possible built up resentment for whatever reason.
One semester can turn into another semester that can turn into another semester at the blink of an eye and if you don’t love the journey it’s setting yourself up for all of the above situations. All of the situations lead to a life that no one truly wants to live. Laugh with the concepts that you’re learning and if you can’t do that then laugh at the concepts. Find something that will take your mind off all the nonsense and then follow through by doing it. Take time off for yourself; take a semester off if you really need the time to regroup. We already know you’re working incredibly hard but if you can’t handle it for the time being, then you can’t handle it, take the B or C and move on to the next series of coursework.
But, but, but, I need to get the best grades and be at the best school and graduate best of my class and go to the best teaching hospital I can go to. But why? You’re not going into medicine to get the best title; you’re going into medicine and your gaining knowledge of medical background so you can be the best for your patients and the people you treat. As long you get in and you’re doing the best you possibly can for your patients, all the rest should be an added bonus, not the main goal.
You’ll never have all the time in the world to work on yourself or work through tragedies (or problems) that are going on in your life. So, try your best to work on them now, today, this very second, “Don’t put off tomorrow what you can do today.” Don’t hate the journey for the next 10 years, hate the journey for the next 10 minutes, and love it the rest of the time. Find some type of hope and meaning in what you’re doing because 11 years of misery is not worth it. Sit back, relax, and enjoy the nice view.
Don’t Let Anything Get in Your Way
“Where there’s a will, there’s a way.” - William Hazlitt
Whether you have 5 F’s, 17 W’s, a 1.75 GPA, a 14 on your MCAT, it doesn’t matter. If you really want this and you honestly believe that you can do this, it doesn’t matter if they tell you that you can’t or that you’re not cut out for it. Find a way to live out your dream, go back and get a master’s degree, apply to post-bac programs, try a medical school in a different country, petition the admissions committee, get to know prominent people, and see what they think about it. If you really want this then don’t let anyone get in the way of you and your dream.
Last semester for me was incomprehensible; it’s one of those times in my life that I would rather just set aside as an ulcer when I’m 40. But, in all seriousness, there’s no better time than right now to work on the issues that you’re having in your life whatever they may be so they don’t creep up later as something incredibly worse. Even if you’re dealing with the stress of school, whatever the stress may be to you, it might be so progressed that it shows signs and symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder. For the love of yourself, find some way to feel better, or get better, or get back in the game because this decision is important, your life is important, your sanity is important, don’t let them, grades, or a few months decide your future.
I’m not going to paint a pretty picture and tell you that these will magically make everything better, but these four concepts have helped me these past couple of months and I hope they have helped you or will help you one day in the future. Just remember that you’re this wonderfully amazing person and you deserve to be utterly and entirely proud of what you have done and will do.
If you still need help or you need some advice, just let me know [email protected]. Don’t let the grade or bad thoughts conquer you and change your direction in life. Talk to one of us or talk to someone you know because your stamina on this journey is incredibly important.
On behalf of pre-med hell, we hope everyone is having a great semester and we hope that first or second round of midterms went well. Keep working to your ultimate goal, you're closer than you can imagine. Take care, everyone.