Countdown: 21 days until I finish my fifth year at medical school.
To the people who have followed my blogging journey since 2010, you already know what medicine means to me. You’ve already lived with me during the good times and the bad. You were there asking why I hadn’t blogged when I was drowning in exams, and you were there giving me feedback on every single blog post. Sharing my life with you has been a privilege, and I am eternally thankful for your support. You continue to be an important part of my life.
To my new followers, and to those who joined a little bit later, thank you for your interest in my blog. When I first started blogging as a 16-year-old, I didn’t know what I wanted to gain out of it. I knew that I had something I wanted to say, and the best way to say it was through something that I had done my entire life: write. Seven years later (YES, seven!) I now know that this blog is my tool for raising awareness on issues we all encounter daily. I want the people who read my blog to stop and think twice about their surroundings, and maybe one day together we can find the solution to all problems.
To everyone reading this, I want to share with you today why the past year changed me.
This year, I was required to attend rotations in 11 different specialties in medicine. This vast exposure taught me a little more than disease and drugs.
Don’t forget the bigger picture
I wake up everyday and plan my schedule… my classes, my meetings, my outings. My life revolves around me. But listening to stories from patients at the clinics always reminded me of one thing: I am part of something bigger. It’s very easy to get wrapped up in accomplishing your own dreams that you forget that the people around you also have dreams. Some were able to accomplish them, and others had to put them on hold because of the war, or because of their illness. Everyday, I was reminded that I should chase my dreams endlessly, but I should never forget why I chose this career in the first place: to help people.
Medicine is a community
In the medical field, there are so many specialties and subspecialties because of the emergence of new technologies and treatment options. However, every doctor functions as part of a system. Every doctor matters. Every specialty is important. And this brings me to something I’m not very proud of: the amount of criticism some doctors have towards other specialists. I remember being in a clinic once where after we finished, our doctor asked, “So what do you want to pursue a residency in after you’ve finished?” She listened to everyone, and then proceeded to highlight every disadvantage of every field we had in mind. We’re all different people, and what I choose to do may not suit other people and vice versa. It is crucially important to realize as future physicians that you will need your colleagues for consultations, and you will encounter cases you’ve never heard of while someone else has. It’s not wrong to look for help, but it is wrong to gamble when it comes to medicine. After all, we have human lives at stake.
Explore all your options
When faced with a problem, it’s completely normal to be emotional at first, but what really defines who you are is what you choose to do about it. Anger can lead you to only make one problem bigger. Tune out the people encouraging you to act impulsively, take some time off, and think about every step you choose to make. Sometimes even the victory isn’t worth what you’ll have to do during the fight for it.
Cut out those who pull you down IMMEDIATELY
Don’t get me wrong, I’m all about second chances. Just make sure the second chance doesn’t turn into a third, fourth, or even fifth. It sounds like a dumb thing to do, but before you know it you get used to letting people mistreat you assuming one day they’ll change. The sad truth is that most people don’t change, and as long as someone doesn’t value your friendship, cut them loose. I’m also in no way saying you have to wage war on every person you don’t like; simply don’t get too involved. This year, for me, was about filtering my relationships on so many levels.
“Life is not fair. You have to adapt and cope”
Doing my psychiatry rotation changed so many perspectives I had thanks to the wonderful doctors we have at JUST. They taught us with so much passion that we grew to respect them all immensely. Secondly, we come from a society that stigmatizes mental illness. We grow up seeing people being judged for things they can’t control, like how they look, what their family name is and the circumstances they’re born into. And we expect them to function well. Being in the psychiatry ward taught me two things: A, we have to learn to cope with life from the very beginning and not wait until our stresses consume the best of us, and B, some illnesses know no young or old, rich or poor. We are all at risk for illness, which is why we must all fight the stigma towards mental illness in our society. What are the similarities between someone who has had a heart attack and another who has depression? They both can’t go to work, and they both need medical attention. Why we continue to treat them differently is beyond me.
And last but not least, enjoy the journey!
Don’t attach your happiness to the future or to the past. Don’t expect to be happy when you achieve something, be happy that you are able to wake up everyday and chase your dreams. Be thankful for having good people in your life to help you overcome the bad. If you think you did something wrong yesterday, today’s your chance to make it right!