I may not be the wisest person in town, but these past 5 years in Med school I have been challenged physically and emotionally enough, in order to make some golden rules of survival. So I thought, why not share them with others, on my Blog?
We are all together in the boat called “Med school”, and by sharing our wisdom, we can help each other face all kinds of difficult situations. Besides, when you see that others go through the same things as you do, you get this very warm and nice feeling that you are not alone in this.
Here I go!
1.Find your priorities
One universal truth is this: if you want to be good at what you do, you will have almost zero free time. Except if you are a miracle student who memorises things with just one look, or if you have found the key to the ancient student dilemma:
(if so, please share your secret with us 😉 )
During Med school years you will be challenged to choose your priorities. Find what’s most important to you and keep it safe. You will not have enough time for absolutely everything you want to do. Ignore what others do, look deeply into yourself and find what is most important to you. What will hurt you the most if you lose it. Med school is actually a place that “forces” you to find your true self. I am very grateful for that, even if in the beginning I disliked it.
2.Study hard, rest hard
Simple as that. Study hard, and study for you. Not for the grades, not for the “glory”. Study for the beauty of knowledge, for the moment when you will be able to save a patient, or you’ll be able to give him some advice that will transform his life. Study for the love you have for Medicine and for the fact that it makes you a better human being.
And then, rest hard. Rest is not a loss of time. It is a process that is needed in order to organise your thoughts and knowledge, and start fresh.
3.Learn from your mistakes and then move on
It’s okay to make mistakes. Not just “okay”, it’s needed! I have found that when I make a mistake, the correct answer then just sticks on my mind for a long, long time. Mistakes are a sign that you are trying. The only way not to make mistakes, is not to try at all. Just sit on the sofa, one leg over the other, and stare at the wall. Wherever there is effort, there are mistakes. It’s true that our educational system is built in a way that condemns mistakes: You made a mistake? You will be punished for that, with a bad grade, a frustrated look from your teacher, the sarcastic laughter from your colleagues. But does it really matter? You know what? The sarcastic laughter of your colleagues reveals information about their character, not yours. And what if your teacher looked at you frustrated? Did he forget that he was a student, too?
Repeat after me: Mistakes are okay, as long as you learn something from them. Do not close your eyes and ignore them. And do not drag them for ages. Just acknowledge them, get what they have to offer, and move on.
Also: constructive criticism is NOT the same as destructive criticism. Let’s move on to the next point and I will explain it even more.
4.Receive criticism, process it by yourself, and then move on
I learned to appreciate feedback, the moment I learned to appreciate the value of my mistakes. I feel that most of us are somehow afraid of feedback. We think it is something bad, because it is connected to our mistakes and lack of abilities. “Oh, my superior/professor told me this = It’s because I didn’t do it well enough = I am not good enough.”
Feedback is one of the best things that can happen to you, because it is one of the fastest ways to find out what needs improvement. It is a necessary ingredient for success! Plus, the fact that someone cared enough to tell you what you did wrong is lovely and something to be thankful for.
My advice: listen to criticism, but process it before it actually reaches you. Try to be honest with yourself. Is this person right? Can I become even better? If so, do it. If, however, you honestly believe that this person was unreasonable and just wanted to hurt you, let it go and move on.
5.Do not be affected by negativity
It might be the secretary of a department. A doctor. Your examiner during an oral examination. A patient. A fellow student. A random person in the corridor of the hospital.
Do not get affected by their negativity. Negativity is self-destructive. It destroys them, first of all. If you choose not to internalise it, you are safe. You lose the game, the moment you take everything by heart. “He did this to me”, “she said this”, “he looked at me like this”… People can do, say, and look at you they way they want. You cannot control the behaviour of others! However, you can surely control the way that you react to their behaviour.
Don’t let the negativity of others hurt you. They don’t have any rights on you, only you can give them this right. Remember: you do not know the story of these people. What happened to them in life, and they became like that. Or perhaps, they might be… (ehm) …impolite, without a reason. :p In any case: p r o t e c t yourself. Do not take everything they do or say personally. Chances are that they don’t even know your name. They just had bad energy and they had to throw it somewhere. Do not spend time and energy on situations that do not deserve it. And most importantly: do not lose your kindness and love for medicine. You have your own path in life, and it does not include them.
Well, this is what I had to say. I’m sure you can tell that I love talking. 😉
Do you have any other survival tips for your fellow Med students around the world? Leave us your comment with your own piece of wisdom. To you it might be something simple. To one of your colleagues, however, it might be the solution they have been searching for. : )