Changing Definition of Excellence

Today makes our third (I think) snow day of the semester (and one canceled volunteer event on a Saturday). Although it’s beautiful out my window, I’m getting a bit sick of snow days. Don’t get me wrong, I love snow… around Christmas and New Year’s, not so much when it interferes with work/school and makes things more complicated. Sure, I enjoy being able to stay home today since I’m paranoid about falling while carrying this kiddo, but there are no such things as free days in med school.

There is also a forecast for an appreciable amount of ice the night before I’m due to take my CSE-1 Exam, where we perform a head-to-toe physical exam with one of the SPs. I really, really do not want to have to reschedule this exam, so I’m hoping this is the only snow day we get this week.

So, this brings me to my original idea for this post. Friday at lunch, we had a short seminar about career planning and things we need to be doing (or at least, thinking about) during first year, especially since we are now well past the halfway point of MS1. I did an extensive amount of research over the summer before school started and assembled a binder full of information about how to make myself a great candidate for any residency program of my choosing, so I felt pretty prepared for the seminar, but it was still informative and useful.

This seminar made me think about how my definition of excellence has changed since school started. If I had gotten into medical school the first time I applied, it was my goal to eat, sleep, and breathe med school in order to be the best physician I can be, because I thought that was the most important thing I could do. Thankfully, I am no longer 22 and so near-sighted. Sure, it would be wonderful to be first in the class, AOA, and the like, but those things are no longer my top priorities. I’ve learned so far that being all-consumed with schoolwork leads to burnout and is inconducive to how I learn. This doesn’t mean that I’m not committed to my education or that I’ll be a subpar physician-in-training. However, this doesn’t mean that I don’t feel subpar these days. High school, college, and even graduate school were so much different than this type of educational program. I worked hard, things came to me fairly easily most of the time, but hard work usually paid off in excellence. I’m still struggling with giving my schoolwork my all and still feeling mediocre or falling short of my overall goals, even though I’m doing well. Friday’s seminar only reminded me that there are other things outside the classroom that also need to be done–in this ample free time that I have–to be considered competitive for our future first jobs as physicians-in-training. Just thinking about it is exhausting sometimes. (But, have you ever looked up a physician to see his or her background? Usually there are a lot of “and”s… “Chair of ___ and Chair of ___ and Dean of ___ …” And I used to think I was the Queen of And. *Sigh*)

I’ve made my personal philosophy (Always have at least one Ace up your sleeve at all times) known to a friend and fellow classmate, and then got accused to cheating due to stealing the Ace’s in the (hypothetical) deck. (/total sarcasm there– med students need a laugh every now and then too.) Medicine is one field where there has to be constant consideration of what’s to come… it’s not just about studying, Boards are looming a mere year now from now; after that, performing well in clerkships and then taking another Step of Boards; then applying for residency spots. What score do I need on Step 1 to boost my odds of landing interviews in 4th year? (This was mentioned in the seminar.) I fully understand the importance of being well-prepared for such things, but geez, right now I just want to focus on biochem and physio for awhile.

In speaking of Aces, in recent developments, the Distinction in Global Health track that I applied for is officially “on hold” due to unforeseen circumstances that happened after all of the applicants had interviewed. I’ve made some good contacts and had a few conversations, but until some things are straightened out, the DIGH track is indefinitely on hold. I cannot even describe my disappointment, as I had ideas for three projects, but I’m hopeful that the issues will be resolved before MS2 begins. We’ll see, I suppose.

The seminar also focused on summer plans. I am still brokenhearted that I will not be venturing to Ecuador, Kenya, Thailand, or Brazil this summer with my classmates to work in clinics where people need help. My summer plans are still unconfirmed, as I’m still waiting to hear back from several possibilities, and the earliest I’ll know anything will be March. Sometimes I think I should change the title of this blog to “Major Change in Plans”… but I guess that is to be expected. It seems as though my interests in global health will go unfulfilled for awhile; luckily, the programs that I’ve been investigating for residency all have global health programs, certificates, and rotations. Someday, that dream will be realized, just not when I want it to be, apparently.

My plans for today are to go over the material we would have had in class today, prepare some more for my CSE-1 Exam (and praying the weather holds out so I can take it at my scheduled day/time), work on my part of our first Biochem TBL (Team-Based Learning) session on Thursday, and work on my Aces. So far, I’ve accomplished several items on my To Do List already, but it’s time I quit procrastinating and get back to it.

Have I mentioned lately that I’m living the dream?

“Cast your net wide, and you just might catch a fish or two.” ~Me

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