(You’re going to have to put up with these countdown posts for a few more months. Sorry!)
It’s one hundred days till my graduation! What amazes me is not that it’s so close, but rather, how normal it seems that I’m going to be a doctor in three months. Four years ago, I still wasn’t even sure I was going to get into medical school; I hadn’t yet received my first of three acceptances. Once I did get in, I suffered from a touch of “Impostor’s Syndrome,” and was worried that I’d gotten in by accident, that I was going to struggle through medical school, and maybe not fail out, but that I would have taken up a spot that should have gone to some more deserving person.
The year during my application cycle, I read several medical student and resident blogs, and I strongly suspected that I was going to struggle with the first two years (I was a psychology major and only took a few biology class in college), but that I was going to thrive in my clinical years. At the same time, I worried that maybe I was going to start my third year clerkships and realize that actually, I hate this, and I’ve just wasted two years of studying and ~$120K to realize that.
The real attitude change happened after my pre-clinical years. Passing Step 1 (and not just passing, but actually doing okay), and then finishing third year, finally resulted in my feeling like Yes, I deserve to be here, and more importantly, Yes, I can build a satisfying career in medicine.
Third year was hard. I worked long hours, always felt like I needed to be studying more (and was usually right about that), and even though I was in the hospital all day, I often felt useless and confused about my role on the team. And every time I finally figured things out and bonded with my team, it was time to move on to a new rotation. And yet it was amazing in its own way. I got to help deliver babies, and sew and staple and glue people’s skin (and muscle, and connective tissue) back together. I got to drain fluid out of someone’s knee, and stick foley cathers up several urethras. I got to do a lot of things that I will either never do again, or will only do during my intern year. I’ve built the extensively broad foundation of medical knowledge that all doctors start off with, and soon I’m about to begin specializing in the field that I’ll be practicing in for many, many years to come.
I remember meeting fourth year medical students when I was a first year and being in awe. Even as a third year, fourth years seemed amazing. How did they know the answer to that question?! They’re only a year ahead of me; how is the knowledge gap so vast? Fourth years seemed so wise, knowing everything from the common causes of fever after surgery, to where to get the better free coffee in the hospital (like the 7th floor patient family lounge and the neurosurgery ICU).
And I have to admit, I do feel a lot more confident these days. I figure out my place on my teams much faster, and I know how I can help. I worked hard throughout third year, and that hard work culminated in an excellent, not just okay, Step 2 CK score, and good letters of recommendation that landed me interviews at several schools I would be very happy to match at.
I remember starting medical school and thinking about how proud of myself I’m going to feel on my graduation day, and yeah, I already do feel proud. Pride is often regarded as a bad thing, and it certainly can be, but right now I’m going to bask in this sense of accomplishment. My education has only just begun, but it has begun, and I’m glad it’s going to continue. Residency is going to be its own challenge, and it’s not going to be the happiest, most relaxed days of my life, but it’s going to be meaningful, and I feel like overall I like my life best when I’m really working toward something.