I was asked to write on the topic of being a pre-medical student and being discouraged throughout one’s time as an undergraduate student. I was asked how I remain motivated and keep my mind in the game despite trials associated with being a student in a intense program of study – that won’t be getting any easier throughout this journey. 😀
That’s just it.
Every career path experiences trials throughout, but what is the difference between the people that succeed and those that feel defeated?
The secret is that there isn’t one. I personally am not consistently ready to conquer the world; it’s not humanly possible. There are days where I want to take week off from school and “catch up” on sleep. There are times where I wish I was out with my friends instead of studying, and even days where I wonder how people can spend their entire summer days in a hospital from sun up to sun down. But why do I keep going? Why do WE keep going? Ask yourselves that!
I believe it is NORMAL to feel this way. My experience being a student is that overall, I am always motivated, but I take each day at a time regardless of how I feel. My end goal is in sight.
Here are a few things I do that keep my head in the game.
Working in the hospital.
I will dedicate an entire post on how the emergency department as affected me as a person overall (for the better), but working in the hospital, let alone, an acute care setting, has given me a drive to push through whatever I am doing.
I have worked a while in the ED, and because of the experience I have already gained, I’ve questioned working in a different, non-health-related setting as an undergrad. Why continue working in healthcare if that’s what we’re going to do our entire lives? I have friends work in settings such as barista-ing, nannying, and other related positions which has worked out nicely for them. These experiences have given them the opportunity to work in a different setting, something they may not have as they are developing their professional careers. But for me, I thoroughly enjoy working in the hospital as an undergrad.
Each shift I work, I find myself learning new diseases, treatments, care processes, and I am surrounded by a network of physicians, nurses (bless nurses, seriously), and other trained healthcare professionals. Learning new things about healthcare and treatment catches me thinking and learning every time, regardless of how demanding that shift was.
Not only does the science behind medicine motivate me, but the patients do just as equally. As a tech, I am able to do things throughout my shift that can make time spent in the emergency department even a little better. As many patients have negative experiences with the emergency room, I feel grateful to be able to enhance someone’s life with even the simplest of gestures while they are in our department. I am able to hear stories from all different walks of life as well as have the privilege of getting to know these people on what may be some of the most unfortunate days of their lives. I am reminded that it is a privilege to work with human life each time I work.
Getting the most out of courses.
I have shadowed plenty, and almost every physician I have gotten to know have informed me they don’t use an ounce of organic chemistry or physics in their every day practices. This doesn’t sound motivating, does it? “Get through it, pass, learn it for the MCAT, and you’ll never use it again.” OK! What about courses like histology, cell biology, anatomy, and physiology?
The courses I just mentioned have been my favorite courses in undergrad thus-far, and it’s because they are directly related to medical school coursework. These courses are challenging, but there is nothing better than understanding a concept. What I have learned has provoked my interest and studying for those courses motivates me to succeed, learn more about medicine, and prepare myself better to becoming a physician. There is a reason why these courses are recommended prior to going to medical school. AND, you’re paying for your education, so you might as well get the most out of it and take electives you enjoy!
Read books & watch shows!
I wrote a post on my favorite medical shows and I also have a tab on my blog that reviews books I’ve read that are worth your time. Doing these types of things *that will simultaneously benefit you* in your free time will help remind you of why you are sticking with those long nights and early mornings. Not only that, but these providers will help you learn what kind of a provider you want to become.
Reminding yourself why.
If I find myself discouraged by a poor test score, stressed out by too many things to do, or feel so tired I don’t feel like I cannot function, I remind myself: “YOU ARE DOING THIS TO YOURSELF. You want to become a doctor. You want to enhance your patients’ lives. You want to pursue science, despite it being extremely challenging. You cannot feel bad for yourself.”We are privileged with the ability to study what we wish to study – remember that!
Here are some small things that may help you keep your head in the game as well!
- take a step back. why are you doing what you’re doing? why is this your goal?
- “if not you, who is going to do it?”
- write down your goals so you can see them. keep a tangible object around you that will remind you of your end goals. *I keep my recycled Littmann & and ob/gyn pocket book in my bedroom right where I can see them. It’s amazing what a visual does 😀
- do one thing each day that will motivate yourself. read medical literature. do something fun once a day. dress for the part you want. practice the “power pose,” remind yourself how awesome & capable you are.
- reduce your stress – stay active! go for a walk if you get stuck on a problem. coming back to that problem might come right to you after you clear your head.
- celebrate mini-milestones. you studied your butt off and killed that exam? you finished another semester strong? you got the internship you’ve been wanting since you were a freshman? go get a drink with your friends or reward yourself with a new pair of shoes!
- shadow the career you are pursuing. Seeing what your future line of work looks like may bring you back to your goals.
- make a list of your goals and how you are going to accomplish them. you could do this every day, one a week, once a month, once a semester, once a year, etc.
Keep each other motivated. Tell you friends how awesome they are. Enjoy the small things along the way. Keep reassuring yourself!
Thanks for reading! Always remember your goals!