The Start of Orientation Week (Semester One)

I’m two days into orientation week and reality has yet to hit me. We’re constantly referred to as student doctors instead of medical students because it more accurately speaks to the intensity of what we are learning. Either that, or we’re referred to as junior doctors. Any time I’m referred to as a partial doctor, I have to stop myself from rejecting the notion. I’m here. I’m in medical school. Why does this still feel so surreal to say?

If you’re anything like me, you were stressed out in undergrad as you attempted a hard science major to fulfill pre-requisites for medical school. My major was a Bachelor of Science in Biology with a minor in Neuroscience. There was not a single science course I took that I felt I could do well in without putting in as much effort as humanly possible. Today, during orientation, one of the presenters said undergrad was the easiest schooling in our careers. I still cannot wrap my head around that statement. Also, I’m scared of that presenter. At the end of the day, I know she did not mean that as in the content is in another language and extremely difficult to comprehend. Instead, she meant the volume of material we are expected to know like the back of our hand is A LOT. A lot more than undergrad but that’s understandable.

From the advice I’ve been given and my personal understanding of being a medical student what I know is this: if it were easy, everyone would do it. There is no reason becoming a doctor should be a manageable or simple task. You are expected to be responsible for the lives of other human beings. You are expected to be the liaison between their health and quality of life. This is not a career meant for everyone. Despite having the characteristics, ethics and drive to become a doctor you may not accomplish your goal. Being a doctor is taxing on one’s physical and mental health. Medical school is just the first step to that journey.

My biggest aspiration is to become a prominent and strong doctor. I’m confident in that decision and have stood by it for a very long time. Now that I’m in the process of doing so, I’ve had moments where I need to pinch myself as a reminder that this is real life. I’m fully aware that my hesitation and self-doubt in declaring I am a doctor in training comes from the fears I had during undergrad. I questioned myself every single day, whether I got good grades or bad grades- if I would ever get into medical school. I portrayed confidence and did relatively well in class but I still felt that becoming an actual practicing physician was out of reach. The pedestal that doctors are placed upon often makes people forget that they are just human. They are some of the hardest workers society has and they dedicate so much of their life to training for the one morning they walk into a room and say, “I’m going to be your doctor today,” to a patient. They are not born knowing everything about the human body. No one is born destined to be a doctor if they did not work for it.

My reminder to myself during this orientation week is that I earned this. It was in no means perfect, and I struggled immensely but I came out on top. I revisited my mistakes, retook classes and most importantly- LEARNED. I feel so prepared for my classes to start because I know exactly how to study so that I retain and understand the most amount of information. I don’t think I would have known how to study so productively if I had not tried the several ways I did in undergrad and saw what failed me versus what worked for me. When things feel extremely overwhelming whether you are a medical student or pre-med in undergrad, apply what my Dad taught me. There are three steps to learning any new information, no matter the amount of it.

1. Read
2. Memorize
3. Apply

Read the relevant information, memorize the concepts you read and then combine the two skills to be able to apply it to any and every scenario you are given. Do not go through these steps only once. Go through them several times, as many times as you need to before you can teach the information on your own. But follow them in this order.