Being in dedicated right now and procrastinating out of my mind, I’m sitting in the corner of my room with a fluffy blanket over my head thinking ‘why didn’t anyone tell me these tips before starting dedicated?’. Well, obviously I have to bestow my hacks and resources that I wish I knew sooner to my fellow colleagues taking this exam too. (This uworld block can wait for another hour.)
Okay let’s be honest, medical school doesn’t provide one with the most stress-free environment. The constant pressure is bound to take its toll, and it can end up giving students some really nasty habits and coping mechanisms. I remember the grind in med school all too well and what it ended up doing to me. Prior to joining medical school, I used to be involved with athletics; playing football and working out at the gym were two of my favorite pastimes. Two that I didn’t think that I could live without, or so I thought. Until med school happened.
It’s been over a year since the Covid-19 pandemic rattled the fragile framework of the world, and shook it to its very core. It has been a year which forced even the greatest healthcare systems of the world to its knees, leaving humanity helpless in the wake of its destruction. In an age where the advent of antibiotics and other advanced medical interventions have reduced mortality greatly, this pandemic has forced us to face the reality of our own mortality, and the terror which ensues should modern medicine fail to work. Due to this realization, death anxiety is now more prevalent than ever before.
I began medical school knowing one thing: I wasn’t a genius.
For four years of high school, I worked my butt off in honors and AP classes and fleshing out my resume with extracurricular activities and leadership positions to try and “make up” for what was lacking. In college, I toiled in my undergraduate courses, taking electives and finding opportunities to continue to help myself “look good on paper.”
I briefly toyed with the idea of making this a gag blog, and just saying “Haha, what free time?” and ending it there. But for those of you who actually do have a few free minutes every day, you might actually find some of the things on this list helpful. So out of the kindness of my heart, I’ll give you a proper list of helpful and fun things to do/Netflix alternatives with the little spare time you have in your busy schedules.
Before I entered medical school, I was very naive and my extent of knowledge was, of course, more limited. I didn’t look at the world in the scrutinizingly clinical manner that I do now. I used to ignorantly enjoy many activities while blissfully ignoring the consequences of my actions because they were unknown to me. They say knowledge is power, and with all the knowledge medical school brings you, it definitely increases your awareness of things more than the average person, and sometimes, in a way, that ruins things that you previously enjoyed doing.
In so many ways, 2020 has been a really challenging year. Rather than thinking of specific ways that COVID-19 has affected us all, it’s almost harder to think of areas that this pandemic HASN’T touched. Concepts that would have seemed so strange in 2019 are now part of our new normal: social distancing, Zoom school, not spending time with our friends and family like we’re used to. And all of this is taking a toll–according to a recent WHO survey, almost every country in the world has experienced some interruption in the delivery of mental health services, along with a vastly increased demand. “Bereavement, isolation, loss of income and fear are triggering mental health conditions or exacerbating existing ones. Many people may be facing increased levels of alcohol and drug use, insomnia, and anxiety.”
A doctor that does not dream of seeing patients: It is a secret I have held close for many years. While friends and colleagues dreamt of scrubbing into surgery or walking into a clinic, I dreamt of silence. They saw themselves under the bright white lights of the operating room and I saw myself standing in a lecture hall. Instead of a stethoscope, I wanted a microscope; instead of scalpel, I’d take a dotting pen instead.
Growing up, I heard the question so many times that I started to hum it to the tune of that song from Frozen that Elsa and Anna sing
Do you want to be a doctor?
Come on, Let’s go and play!
I never see you anymore, come out the door, it’s like you’ve gone away!
I’m no Idina Menzel, but I found myself very much the Elsa, hearing this question over and over again. More often than not, I would even be asked if I was sure. I remember even at fourteen how offended I was that adults dared question my dreams. As I grew older, I began to understand that it was just a way for them to gauge my commitment to what I believed would be (and is now) my life’s work.