Take a hike, Copernicus. You had it all wrong. You see, the sun is not at the center of this solar system. Rather, it’s around MY medical education that the planets revolve. Didn’t you get the memo?
Med school can be a black hole. Its gravity is so immense that it sucks everything into it. Eventually, you begin to realize that you get together with friends and all you do is talk about that test, that rotation, or that medschoolthingamajig. You realize you spend wayyy too much time thinking about that next big thing. You name it: board exams, residency applications, interviews, etc. In fact, at its worst, you’ll realize it can take on a form of arrogance, where all of a sudden your schedule, your work, and your grades take precedence over every other thing in your life without question.
Can you make this family gathering? Only if it fits my med school schedule. That’s #1, obviously.
Read that recent event in the news? Too busy learning what’s really important.
When’s that person’s birthday? No idea, because I’m busy memorizing things that matter.
You don’t realize it at first, but if you let it, medicine can have this insidious effect on students. And it makes sense as to why that happens.
We as students must study an exorbitant amount of material. We must get the right grades and the right numbers. We must think about our schedules months (and sometimes years) in advance. We must constantly be filling out applications, personal statements, meaningful experiences, etc. that force us to self-evaluate and constantly think about “me, Me, ME.” And so quickly, there goes the heliocentric model for the solar system—happy to introduce you to the Jeremiah’s-medical-training-centric model instead.
That’s not a healthy perspective. And it’s not right. Even though it is sometimes necessary to preoccupy ourselves with all the baggage that comes with being a medical student, it is equally necessary to take a few hours each day to remove yourself from the med school bubble. Even if it’s just a short time thinking about non-medical things, we need something every day to remind us that life isn’t always about med school.
So to all my fellow and future med students:
Follow a sports team. Read a news article. Go see that popular film that just came out. Who knows, maybe even engage in a conversation with a non-med student friend about one of those things (you’d be amazed at how little they care about what the answer was on question 45!). Keep in touch with family and try to make those family events. Talk about their career instead of your own. Believe it or not, your family members have busy schedules too, and they just might be busier than yours! [At this point, I’m certain I can hear hordes of med students marching toward my door shouting, “That’s not possible!” as tiny planets orbit their heads].
I am only sarcastic, because that was me. Who am I kidding, often that is me. I’m lucky to have people I love in my life that bring me out of my own universe where medical education reigns supreme and back into the one we all live in. And we all need that grounding from time to time, especially medical students.
Let me encourage you, as I encourage myself every day, that yes, our education is arduous, important, and seemingly all-encompassing. But that doesn’t mean that it’s alllll about our training. The planets do not revolve around medical school.
Alright, Copernicus, you can come back. I guess you were kinda right…
Formerly from the Baltimore area, I graduated from Bob Jones University with a degree in pre-med. Having interacted through MedEx with the faculty and students, I knew the doctor USCSOMG will graduate was the doctor I wanted to become. If I’m not hitting the books, you can probably find me spending time with my better half or on the basketball court. It is an honor and a privilege to be a member of the class of 2018, and I’m excited to share my passion for emergency medicine and health education with my peers. “To whom much is given, much more shall be required.”
Copyright 2014 USC School of Medicine Greenville