Every year, I love thinking about the past year and thinking about everything I have in store for the year to come. The past year was especially tough as I finished up my required activities in medical school and started looking ahead towards residency and everything that comes with it. This year is going to be full of changes for me. As my medical school journey comes to an end, I like to look back on my experience as a whole and recognize that it has changed me as a person.
As I’ve written about before, I was very apprehensive about beginning medical school. That very first day I approached the anatomy lab with a mind full of thoughts based on what my peers had told me about medical school. Some had even cautioned me to run while I still could. I tried to shrug that off, as becoming a doctor was something I had dreamt about since I was a kid. Now that I was finally beginning such a long- awaited journey, there’s no way I could think about not following through! As the years went on, I learned a lot about myself: how to study, the things that were important to me, and what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.
Learning how to study was definitely a learning curve. I experimented with what worked for my classmates and though it took a few tries to figure out what worked for me, I finally got there. I became confident that I could tackle any amount of material thrown at me. I then tackled the monsters that were the dreaded board exams. I was required to learn a different way to study for those as well, but I pushed through it. Medical school forced me to be perseverant and constantly challenged me to change. I learned quite a bit during my rotations in the hospital, and it was then that I decided I would want to be an OB-GYN for the variety that it offered as a specialty.
That brings me to today, where I reflect on a lot of things I haven’t had time to think about as I was actually going through the process. One of my friends very candidly asked me if I felt that I had put my life on hold for medicine. I answered with a resounding yes. I really thought about what she said and the sacrifices I’ve had to make to get here. It was not only an intellectually challenging journey but challenged my personal life as well. Before I knew it, all of my friends were settled in their jobs, earning respectable salaries, coupling up and getting married. Is this what the rest of the world had been up to while I was so swamped? I really do wish that I had taken the time to consider how much of my life I had to give up for medicine before actually beginning the process. Maybe I would’ve like to have started a family before beginning medical school. Maybe I would’ve done something else altogether. It really can feel like a lonely place, but I remind myself of why I did it: I love it. Sure, my life may have been put on hold, but I still have so much ahead!
The next year will bring plenty of change. I’ve finished interviewing for residency programs and now I’ve got the daunting task of ranking them all according to which ones I liked the most. This is a huge decision and even though it’s only for four years, a lot can happen in those four years both in my professional and personal life. It’s not a decision I can make lightly. I’ve tried looking to peers in my class and those above me for advice on what to consider and how to rank, but there’s a common theme in what they all say: go with your gut. This is a difficult task for someone in medical school, someone whose brain rules every decision. I’m learning to trust my inner voice (or “gut feeling”) as most tend to describe it. The Match results are out on March 15th–the day when everyone finds out where they’re headed for the next 3-5 years and a day that I’m so anxiously awaiting. So many long years of hard work come down to one day. I’ve been told to trust the process so that’s what I’ll do. In the meantime, I take it day by day and look forward to the next phase of my career!