Independence vs Dependence: The Balancing Act of a Medical School Student

What’s in store for you as a medical student? I think it’s a question many of our readers ask as students interested in a future at USC School of Medicine Greenville. I’m sure you all are, as I was, excited to learn all those cool science things, receive your first stethoscope (mine is raspberry pink!), get into scrubs for anatomy lab, and even climb into the back of an ambulance truck for the first time.

My family at Christmas this year.

My family at Christmas this year.

While an overwhelming amount of knowledge is thrown at you (there’s truth in the analogy that medical school is like trying to drink from a fire hose), there are also many life lessons learned here.  And yes, life does go on during medical school, in case any of you wondered. It just takes time, a difficult adjustment through your first semester and beyond, and some great juggling skills. I’d like to share with you one important life lesson I learned my first semester.

I think most students who graduate high school and proceed to college or a career get excited about the opportunity for independence — a home away from parents, the freedom to eat Easy Mac whenever they want, no more curfews. I went through college with similar thinking; I didn’t need much assistance from my parents (except help paying the bills). I had the support of my friends and teammates if I needed it, and I was usually content. I looked forward to medical school, thinking my life would continue this way, just in a new location. I looked forward to being a medical student, independent, starting a new chapter in my adult life.

Now as a 23 year old, I’d like to say that I’m an independent lady, but it’s just not so. Maybe some of my fellow students are stronger; maybe some of you are, too. But dependence is not a bad thing. When I struggle and lose myself in a panic of self-doubt, I have awesome friends at school who reassure me that I’m not going to fail. I have amazing professors and staff who tell me that I’m “golden” and will make it through the next exam alive. And, in addition to Greenville being beautiful, I am home. My parents have helped me balance my life through this semester — free meals, oven repair, car maintenance, a Saturday evening dinner and a reassuring hug. I rely on many to help me, and I’m not just getting by, I’m succeeding! Where would I be without all of these people?

Maybe you’re rolling your eyes thinking, “Well, of course, I know I need friends and family, I’m not a loner.”  But even I struggled with this my first semester. I thought I had everything figured out and could accomplish it all on my own. It shocked and upset me that I needed so much help. I’d like to help prevent this feeling in you, future students. Type A personality students, hard workers and achievers, you will need some help to get through real life not just medical school. With that support, you will do amazing things! So, get ready, but be excited, for the changes that medical school brings!



Laura Simon

Laura Simon

I was born in Erie, Pennsylvania, but have lived in Greenville for the past 13 years. I graduated with a degree in Biochemistry in May 2013 at Virginia Tech, where I swam for the varsity team. My pursuit of a career in medicine began with my interest in biochemistry and physiology. I really enjoy reaching out to my community and interacting with people. I am excited to begin my medical career and make an impact at USC School of Medicine Greenville, where I can become a well-rounded, compassionate and successful physician, improving the lives of my patients.


Join the conversation

  • Robert L. Smith - 5 years ago

    HI Laura, Really nice article. It was like you were standing right here next to me reading that script. You really organized it for easy reading FOR ME MAYBE ?????HAHA
    Keep up the good work..


  • Bob Simon - 5 years ago

    Excellent article Laura. I can first hand testify to the accuracy of what you have written. I am sure you have helped people with your insight. We are very proud of you !!