I had family in town recently and beyond the usual great time we always have together, we ate… a LOT. We ate so much that I felt uncomfortably stuffed on several occasions- the kind of stuffed where you are glad you are wearing some stretchy pants or a loose fitting dress. I would be offered a dessert and say I am beyond full and decline, only to grab a plate five minutes later.
At one point, I was laying on the couch thinking about what just happened and how it was possible to stuff that whole lasagna in my mouth. I started to ruminate on feeling full, which led me to down the rabbit hole of questioning if I felt this full in other areas of my life. I can honestly say I feel fullest in my professional life after small interactions where I have helped a student work through a challenge. I usually get voiced jealousy from friends that I love my job as much as I do. I just can’t imagine waking up to go to a job that was mediocre or worst case scenario- hated. This will be my third year at USCSOMG, and I am reflecting on how much I have learned in the past few years. Things are becoming more routine, and I know what kind of stressors or downtimes will be around the corner. I am personally reflecting on change, an area where I not only feel I thrive best in, but also miss when it becomes less frequent. A few of the big changes in my life have been moving my life from Philadelphia to Greenville, moving back in with parents for a short period of time, moving in with a roommate, buying my own house, adopting a dog, and being my own landlord when things break (like my HVAC system). Although big changes are important, so to are the small ones as they are the events I had to adjust to in-between those big events. For example, I started journaling, became the token activity organizer for my friend group, started mowing my own lawn, and bought my dog’s heart guard on time. All are small accomplishments that will never make a list to share with anyone else (if you don’t include this reflection). It’s not that a pat on the back is needed every time you accomplish daily tasks, but just remembrance that you are accomplishing things regularly.
Right now, many students are working through several big steps in their medical careers. The students in the Class of 2021 are developing their study skills in medical school as Structure Function I is ramping up. The Class of 2018 just submitted their ERAS applications and are anticipating interview calls. M2s and M3s might feel like they aren’t in a big transition at the moment, but each have their own challenges. Should I be studying for Step already? Do I think this specialty I am rotating on is for me? I hope students are taking the time to reflect on the little daily challenges they have learned to overcome- things like creating a more scheduled daily routine, having a really positive patient interaction, being there for a family member or classmate when they need it. Given the nature of humans, I think we always get caught up in what is next and don’t reflect on what is. If you are an M4, remember what you felt like your first week of Foundations. I can imagine you have accomplished a whole lot between then and now. M1s, do you remember your first week of undergrad and how that felt like the biggest/scariest thing you can picture doing? M2s, do you remember studying for the hardest exam of your life–the MCAT? Class of 2019, remember what it felt like to study for modules and not for rotations?
All this to say, the little things may not feel like a lot, but I hope you are caring for yourself enough to take time and reflect on how many things you do accomplish on a daily basis, and not just the huge looming other things that are a few days/weeks/months from now.
Copyright 2014 USC School of Medicine Greenville