The Med Mentor

Know Your Why?

Hello aspiring physicians!

We are nearing the end of the summer and that might mean new ventures for you in your medical journey. Before I jump into this next topic, if you visit this site regularly then you noticed there are some changes. First, I have added a monthly newsletter for you all. I have chosen topics that your peers have requested and hopefully they will be very valuable for you on your pathway to becoming a physician. All you have to do is submit your first name and email address. Don’t worry I am not selling anything – just offering free advice and tips just for you!

In addition, I have added a section on the contact page where you can answer a few questions about yourself and where you are on your journey. Mentoring is very personal and I want to help each and every one of you. So feel free to fill out those questions so I can be of more help.

Let’s continue with our topic . . .

Know Your Why? What does that mean for me becoming a doctor? Well it means EVERYTHING! If you do not know your why then medical school will swallow you whole and spit you out. If you do not know your why then residency will be the worst 3-5 years of your life. If you do not know your why then you will burn out early in your practice.

I used run track in college and thought I was good enough too continue professionally. I mean I had the athletic ability but what I realized during that time is that I wasn’t doing track for me, I was doing it to please others. At the level that I was competing at, that definitely wasn’t going to win me any races. The long hours of training, muscle pulls, soreness, ice baths, injuries, weight lifting, 6-8 hour training days – I needed to figure out why I was killing myself just to please others when I wasn’t enjoying it. So I stopped. And people were shocked. I stopped and I moved on to something that I always wanted to do. I went to medical school to become a doctor. This was my childhood dream and I stopped doing something that I was really good at, but just didn’t have the desire or heart to put my all into it.

My medical training was hard no doubt. Many hours of studying, lack of sleep, stress, doubt, more studying and less sleep. But at 2 am in the morning when you are studying for an exam or down in the ER seeing patients or working on call in the OR – you better figure out why you are doing this to keep you motivated.

A common question I get asked is “Am I doctor material?”. “Can I make it through medical school?” I think before you begin your journey it is a good idea to do a realistic self-evaluation of medical school.

“Am I smart enough.” First thing is never compare yourself to your classmates. Sure you have to be a solid student and clear thinker to be a physician but you don’t have to be a straight A student. You don’t have to ace every exam. Your goal should be learning what your strengths are as a student. How do you learn and study efficiently? The challenge with medical school is less about the complexity of the material and more about managing the sheer volume of information that you must retain.

“Am I disciplined enough?” Being disciplined is probably the most important trait to have to be able to complete the training necessary to become a doctor. I think this is where changing your mindset comes into play. If you have a growth mindset (browse some of my other blogs) then you will understand that you must become a lifelong student and realize that even as you get older or get into practice – you are continuing to learn about yourself and your patients. Medicine is changing constantly and you must adapt to that to be successful.

“Do I have the perseverance?” This deals with more of the social side of your training and less the academic side. Medicine continues to be a hierarchy meaning there is a team of people that work together for the good of the patient. The medical student is always at the bottom. And as you progress along in your training you move to the top of the ladder until you are an Attending. As in life, some people will treat with respect and others will not. Some days you will be humiliated even degraded, made to look stupid because that’s how some people were trained. Other days you will be shown respect and seen as a valuable part of the team. This is where you must persevere. I always say keep your tunnel vision. Keep your goal in front of you and try to not let the negativity affect you as as person.

As always keep your head up, keep smiling and keep grinding.

Your success is my success!


Your Med Mentor

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