A Letter to New M3s

Dear Rising M3s,

First things first, congratulations! You have officially moved past one of the hardest experiences in medical school (the dreaded Step 1). You are now entering the best two years of medical school, your clinical years. These are the years where you can finally begin to put all the knowledge you have absorbed over these first two years to use. These are the years where you finally start to practice medicine (you know, the thing you worked towards in college, studied your butt off for on the MCAT, and sweated through the application, interview, and waiting processes)!

Welcome to the beginning of your career. This is probably the most influential time in your life where you will ultimately decide what branch of medicine you love most and will pursue for decades to come.  There are so many things that you will learn and experience over the next year that will test you and force you to rise to the challenge. You will learn how to effectively navigate the labyrinth that is electronic medical records and how to talk to and examine actual living patients (not SPs!). You will learn how to deliver bad news to a patient when you have no attending or resident as a safety net in the room. You will learn how quiet GMH is at 4 am when you are arriving for surgery pre-rounding. You will experience just how much better the cafeteria food tastes at 12 am when you are pulling a night shift with the pulmonary teaching service. You will meet and learn from some of the greatest residents and physicians that this hospital system (and in my opinion South Carolina) has to offer. The world of medicine is at your fingertips, and it is up to you to grab hold and enjoy everything it has to offer.

I do not mean to say that it will be easy. There will be plenty of days where you will not want to get out of bed (especially going to the hospital in the cold at 4 am). There will be times where you feel like you have failed or that you do not belong. There will be moments when you are figuratively and literally lost (the hospital basement is a maze like no other). There will be many, many times where what you most want in the world is to go home, eat junk food and sleep. It will be up to you to face adversity and power through, but you won’t be alone. The M4s will be there right next to you. We used to be in your shoes. The residents used to be in your shoes. All of your attendings used to be in your shoes. You are surrounded by individuals who want to see you excel. We want to share our life experiences and advice with you to help you in the ways we ourselves were helped. Sometimes our help looks hard (being pushed to do an exam or note that you do not want to or pimping questions that seem impossible) but it is all directed towards helping you become the doctor that we know you can become. You have the opportunity in this next year to meet so many new people. You will meet patients who will stick with you forever. During this year, you will grow closer to your classmates. Friendships from the first two years will be strengthened in the fires of codes, the operating room, and the trauma bay. This is the time where you will truly shine.

M3s, don’t let yourself become jaded. There have been studies that find that the first time empathy in the medical field wanes is in the third year of medical school. There will be patients that lie to you or refuse to see the consequences of their actions. This can get frustrating and make you wonder, “Is this all worth it?” I urge you to remember the love of humanity that drove you into this career path. Learn to place yourself in the shoes of others. Even if they are wrong, empathy goes a long way in building the physician-patient relationship that is the foundation for modern medicine. Talk to those around you. Share your feelings. We have all felt frustrated at some point and will gladly help you navigate these emotions.

At the end of the day, M3s, this next year is a time that only comes once. You get to experience so much in the span of 12 months. The lessons you learn here will follow you forever. In the words of retired Carolina Panther Julius Peppers, “I think if I could go back, I would tell myself to enjoy everything.” I look forward to you changing the world next year.

Sincerely,

Josh Schammel and the M4 class

Originally born in Albuquerque and having spent time in Minneapolis and Washington D.C., I have lived the most recent 18 years of my life in Greenville. I swam at Davidson College and graduated in 2016 with a degree in Public Health. I am forever grateful that I was able to return to my hometown to be a member of the USCSOMG Class of 2020. I like to spend my time traveling, enjoying movies and board games, hiking, getting constantly sunburned playing disc golf or soccer, or enjoying whatever new weird foods and craft beers I can find in the area. I am honored to be training with every one of my fellow students and can’t wait to see what the future holds!

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