Dear Me, M3 | Love Me, MD

Dear Me, M3:
As graduation approaches and the days of fourth year freedom quickly fade away, the terrifying reality of being a stupefied intern becomes more and more paralyzing. Self-doubt started as a whisper but is slowly escalating to a deafening scream. I have read and re-read the letter you wrote in attempt to silence the negativity— to remember how I felt as a naive third year student trying to navigate the world of clinical medicine— to remind myself of a time when graduation was an unforeseeable future and matching into residency seemed like an absurd possibility. Undoubtedly, your foresight advice will sharpen my self-awareness and hold me accountable to be kind and compassionate, to stay humble. Yet, in order to reassure myself that I will make it, to bury the self-doubt, it is time for some self-to-self hindsight advice— time to remind myself of lessons learned along the way. So here it goes:

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The Unmatched Student’s Guide to Successfully Dealing with Failure 

unmatched students

I was in the middle of a fairly busy day on the palliative care ward, so I had to slip away to the quiet stairwell in order pull up my Match Day result on my phone. The words “We regret to inform you that you did not match” felt like a punch in the gut. I kept refreshing the page, hoping the words will somehow go away or that someone will email me to inform of the ridiculous error the system just made. But of course that didn’t happen. In that one moment I felt as if all that I had worked for and thought was just in my reach was suddenly pulled away from me into a distant future that I couldn’t access.
People were slowly and painfully dying around me, but I felt like my world was over.

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How To Overcome Adversity in Professional School

overcome adversity in professional school

After coming home from a long day at the library studying for my cardiology exam, I get a phone call from my sister. “Hey,” she said. “Grandmother is in the hospital. Can you come home this weekend?” Great, I thought. Not this again.
I was barely beginning to cope with the loss of my dad over eight years ago, and barely staying afloat in medical school because of it. I had failed my first medical course, anatomy, during my first year and just spent a tough summer trying to remediate it, as my other friends went off traveling or spending time at home with their families. Now, my grandmother was a piece of my childhood that I was about to lose and I had no idea how to prepare for it.

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The F-Word: Your Reaction to Failure in a Lab Matters More Than You Know

There is only one guarantee in research: sometimes things fail. It doesn’t matter what your major is, how much experience you have, or whether your research is basic, applied, clinical, or translational. A research project will test your reliance, discipline, motivation, and, at times, it might make you feel like giving up. However, when your project hits a wall (and most do at some point), how you handle the disappointment is the key to your future success. Your reaction will also influence your labmates and how much help they will offer to get you back on track.
Unfortunately, some undergrads let their frustration get the better of them when faced with failure in the lab. Not only does this make their experience less rewarding, but it’s unpleasant for the other lab members, and that can lead to unintended consequences for the undergrad.

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