Congratulations on matriculating into your first year of medical school. You have worked hard to reach this accomplishment, which is indeed a privilege, and you are one of the chosen 3%. I have written you a letter to help guide you through your first year as a student doctor and will hopefully provide insight for the year to come.
First of all, breathe. You made it! And you know what? You deserve it. Start believing this now, right from the start. “Imposter syndrome” is defined as feeling like a fraud, and it is not at all uncommon in medical school. In a competitive environment filled with many great minds, it is easy to doubt your own brilliance. However, remember this: you worked a lifetime to achieve this goal, and you are not here by accident. When you forget this, remind yourself that you are also not an island. There have been multitudes of people who supported you as a premed student, and there are multitudes of people at this very school that have decided having you here would make this institution a better place. You are a part of the USCSOMG family, and we are glad you are here!
Second of all, remember. There will be times throughout the year that you will feel unmotivated. You will be burned out, exhausted, and unable to see the light at the end of the tunnel. This is when you have to turn and look back to remind yourself what inspired you to become a physician. Remember each clinical experience that changed you. Remember the day you received that acceptance call. Remember the reactions of your loved ones when you told them you were a student doctor. Simply put, always remember. Then, look forward. Imagine your first patient. Imagine their loved ones, placing the lives of their family members in your hands. Imagine the physician that you would want treating you and your loved ones. Find what best motivates you and reconnect. This is your dream, and repeat after me: the didactic period only lasts two years, the didactic period only lasts two years. Start and finish strong!
Last of all, take a step back. The ultimate goal is not just to become a doctor, but to be well-rounded. To be healthy, both mentally and physically. To serve others as well as yourself. To find a career that you love and are passionate about. To be confident and competent. If you are ever faced with a decision between your well-being and medical school, I challenge you to choose your well-being. You are worth more than a degree or test score. Student Services, EAP, and your favorite professors are all ways that you can seek help if needed… and everyone needs a little help sometimes.
As for the rest, you’ll figure it out. You’ll fall in love with a woman named Linda Costanzo, you’ll study too much and too little, you’ll hold your first human heart, you’ll find your medical school “person,” and you’ll have one of the most incredible and adventurous years of your life. Welcome Class of 2021! I am so glad you are here. You deserve it!
A member of the Class of 2020, Hope Conrad graduated from Anderson University with a degree in biology. She likes to live a curious life through travel, study and service to others.
Copyright 2014 USC School of Medicine Greenville