Fiona Scott, UC Davis SOM
Welcome Class of 2020!
You are about to embark on a most wonderful adventure. You have worked so hard to get to this moment and I hope in the midst of the craziness of orientation you find a moment to appreciate all you have accomplished, all you have sacrificed. I would also like to wish you a hearty congratulations. You have just acquired 109 or so new brothers and sisters—oh the birthdays you’ll have to keep track of! I know you’re all very busy assembling your new IKEA furniture so I’ll keep it short, here is a list of everything I know about success in medical school:
1. For better or for worse (mostly better) you are now family. Treat each other as such. Show love and patience when it is difficult to do so. Respond to texts and emails even though you’re tired, post helpful resources, bake cookies, don’t park your bike like an asshole (and wear a helmet—your brain just became exponentially more valuable).
2. Medical school is a beast. You’ll need a good team by your side to get through it. Think of who your people are (you know the ones you would call to help move a dead body). Not to be uncouth, but soon you will find you actually really need help moving a dead body in anatomy lab. You’ll also need people to talk to, to cook for you occasionally, drink with you, exercise with you, remind you to shower and vent/cry/whine to. Make sure your people know how very much they mean to you and that your victories in med school will be theirs too.
3. Take every piece of advice you are given with a grain of salt. Mostly people have your best interests at heart, and just want to tell you about stuff that worked for them. What was right for someone else may not be right for you. Ask lots of different people how they studied, what resources they liked, how they felt about classes and how they managed their time. Pick and choose what you like best and what you feel like helps you the most. Also…know that the library and several other indoor spaces are ironically and planet-destroyingly really cold right now. Come prepared with a sweatshirt, blanket, parka, snow shoes and snacks.
4. Numbers are not real. I think every math teacher I ever had is now sorely disappointed in me—but this is a helpful concept to keep in mind. Those loans you just took out—imaginary money which only exists on paper in the office of some boring stiff working at the Federal Reserve. You have too many important things to do, like loving others, to worry about how much debt you have. And no…you can’t pay back your loans by donating a kidney to the financial aid office—trust me I asked. The number that you see when you submit your very first quiz (and let’s be honest every exam from here on) will send your heart plummeting to the pits of your omentum. These numbers are also of very little consequence. You are not how many questions you missed, you are not how many you got right and you are especially not how many you got right compared to anyone else. You are you, not a number, not a statistic. What you have to offer is worth more than any value could ever contain.
5. Help will always be given in medical school to those who ask for it (I actually said this in my interview. I guess it worked because I got in—I mean who can resist a good Harry Potter quote). Seriously though, all you need to do is ask. Professors will meet with you as many times as you need for classes, life advice or tips on being successful. Second years will give you their two cents—whether you ask for it or not.
6. Sleep. Get some. Arianna Huffington of the Huffington Post extols the virtues of sleep to her employees. Showing up sleep deprived is like showing up drunk. Getting enough rest will help you learn better, perform better on quizzes and be less of a grouch to be around. When we sleep, we win. And no…checking email on your phone while laying in bed does not count as sleeping.
7. Crying. Someone told me that if you don’t have at least one melt down a block then you’re not showing up. Not totally sure that I think there’s a hard and fast rule to that one. But know that it is okay to feel whatever emotions come to you—and in turn give others permission to do the same. I’m British, so we have no emotions, soul or tear ducts. But its hard when you see bad things happen to people, you’re tired and stressed and pushed to the limit and then you watch a Hallmark commercial or a video of our Armed Forces returning home— and Lord Jesus why is it raining indoors?
8. Eating. Not only is eating important—it’s one of my favorite past times. Eating keeps you alive and gives you the energy you need to function. Ice cream is also a cure for most every ailment—except lactose intolerance. There will be free food. If you see food out in the lounge, just remember to use your best judgment. I ate salsa that had been sitting out for over a week last year—good thing my immune system is made of steel. There will be free pizza, every day, all the time. Use caution. Medical school was not kind to my waistline (can I get an amen second years). Eat vegetables. Buy them with your imaginary loan money. You can’t put a price on being healthy. Also we are going to be telling our patients to eat right—so try to walk the walk (and jog the jog) and stuff.
9. Dance it out (pants optional). Sometimes you just need a dance party. Sometimes that dance party is in the Medical Education building at 2am. Sometimes its when you’re alone in your room with a hairbrush microphone. TSwift has some sick beats and life is too short and too full of joy not to dance. So go on…get down with your bad selves.
10. Life is nothing but a series of experiences in which we learn more about ourselves. God, that was deep. What I mean to say, is find your voice here. If you love something, keep doing it. Or find new things to love. Writing is great—you don’t have to show it to anyone if you don’t want to. Join an interest group, go rock climbing, just promise me you’ll put the books down once in a while okay?
And that’s it. That’s all I know about medical school and basically life in general too. For more Harry Potter quotes, wry humor and vicious rhetoric follow my blog! I try to write every week for your procrastination pleasure– I’m not like a regular mom, I’m a cool mom. Welcome to the best 4 years of your life. Make yourself at home, drinks are in the fridge.
Fiona Scott (http://nerdseyeview22.blogspot.com)
Medical school is tough, even tougher is residency. sometimes we need to hear that voice of inspiration and excitement we carried before entering the journey.
The goal of WhiteCoated is to allow medical students and residents to contribute anything ranging from art to articles to podcasts that help others learn more about the field or rediscover their passion with the goals of bettering themselves and thus enhancing the care of their patients.