The article below initially appeared in Scrub-In, a magazine for medical students published by the Ontario Medical Association. It’s being reproduced here. Pictured above are the three medical students I had an impromptu meeting with, from Left to Right, Zak Haj-Ahmad, Harris Sheik and Nader Chaya.
Life is funny sometimes. I was wondering what to write for Scrub-in. So, I did what most people my age do when in a funk – I went to eat carbs (in this case Pizza). As it happened, I had a chance encounter with three medical students from the University of Toronto.
Like most medical students, they wondered what to specialize in, whether there will be work in their chosen field, how government regulations and changing scopes of practice will affect them, and more. But despite that, what was plainly obvious was the passion, enthusiasm and pure joy they exhibited at simply being in Medical School, and the gratitude at being chosen to join our noble profession. I was inspired by them, as I remembered the wonder I felt when I first got accepted into medical school.
I also asked them what they thought medical students would like to hear about. I was relieved that it was similar to what I was thinking. Medical school has many ups and it has many downs. It can bring joy tremendous joy and pride. It can bring you tremendous sorrow, and sometimes pain. But here is what helped me, and I think will help you.
- Try to stay on an even keel. I realize that many of you are watching your grades fall seemingly like guano from stalagmites or seeing incredible triumphs like your first successful procedure. But remember – things are never as bad as they seem.
- Don’t forget self care. Not only does self care mean the usual – eat right, exercise, take time for yourself., It also means don’t neglect your friends and your family. They can support you through the tough times. Self care also means taking care of things like planning for the future. It may seem premature to get insurance and start saving for retirement (especially when you have $200,000 in debt) but small investments in those now can pay off significantly in the future, and give you more peace of mind than your realize. Visit our Advantages Retirement Plan™ website or contact an OMA Insurance Advisor at firstname.lastname@example.org to get started.
- Remember that everyone has a role to play here (my thanks to future doctor Zak Haj-Ahmad for helping me crystalize my thoughts on this one). Look, when you graduate, the simple fact that you get to use “Dr.” before your name will afford you a tremendous amount of respect and privilege in the eyes of the general public. But with that respect comes a responsibility that you have to ensure that you treat your patients (and others) with kindness, humility and basic human dignity. Everyone has a role to play in a health care team (student, teacher, nurse, janitor etc). Make sure you exhibit the kindness and empathy you expect from doctors to others at all times, particularly when things are stressful. It will reflect well on you, on our profession, and I find it will help you become a better person.
I want to wish all of my future colleagues the best of luck as you pursue life in our great profession. Follow me on twitter @drmsgandhi.