“Why medicine?” is the questioned I answered when I asked my undergraduate professors to ask letters of recommendations. It’s the question I answer when strangers and I exchange snippets of our lives in airports, on trains, or in the grocery store. “Why medicine?” is the question I answered in my medical school interviews and to an extent in my recent residency interviews. “Why medicine” is the question I ask myself when motivation runs low. Life of a Medic reached out to a handful of individuals in the medical blogosphere to share our answer to “why medicine” in 10 words.
For those of us participating in the NRMP match, today is a big day. Scrawled in all capital letters in the box attributed to February 21st is “submission day.” In other words: rank lists are due. It’s crazy to believe that in less than a month, we’re going to find out: if we get our first job in medicine, whether or not we will have to move, and if we need to invest in a new wardrobe (like omg winter coats?). Pre-match anxiety is real (beyond real) and I’ve found myself re-reading my personal statement when I need a dose of reality, when I need a reminder of why I’m letting an algorithm decide my future, or when I need a source of motivation.
Some of you guys have reached out with questions about personal statements. My response: write something incredibly honest. There is no right way to approach your personal statement. I wanted to share a version of my personal statement with y’all. To all the fellow fourth years, hang in there my friends!
I won’t lie to you: I’m not the most spontaneous. When it comes to academics and life-planning, I’m (to be frank) not spontaneous at all. This may not come as a surprise to those of you who have read my series on “How to Survive Medical School.” This time last year, a flurry of emails from then-MS4s-now-PGY1s launched a series of conversations amongst my classmates: “should we go on away/audition rotations?” For some of you pursuing fields such as orthopedics and urology, the question is not “should I?” but rather “how many?” For others, it really depends. The argument is raised that: if you go on an away rotation and perform poorly, you ruin your chance of matching to that program. I think that point is fair but I also think that if you go on an away rotation and you’re motivated and excited, it’s hard to leave a terrible impression.
Sure, there’s the “fish out of water” effect that is to be expected. Sure, you’ll get lost a time or two. Sure, the MS3s may perform better than you at the start. Sure, you’ll be frustrated because you’re nervous and feel like you’re not performing at your best in a new environment. You’ll acclimate. You’ll progress. They’ll notice. It’ll work out.
In the case that it truly is a terrible away rotation experience in regard to fit or workload – there’s a chance that it might not have been the right place for you as a resident. So even in that case, you’ve learned a lot about where you want to end up or what sort of programs you’re looking for when you start on the interview trail. Speaking of the interview trail, if you want to follow my journey the best places to do that are Instagramor Twitter. I’ll share a recap of my trail here on the blog after match day (March 2018!).
I concluded my clerkship year in April. How crazy is that? Since that time —
I took Step 2 Clinical Skills at the end of May — I passed guys!
I took Step 2 Clinical Knowledge at the beginning of July (score is still pending)
I completed a 2 week elective in radiology
I completed a 2 week elective in allergy/immunology
I spent a month in the northeast for an away rotation
This post, admittedly long overdue, has been drafted for months. One of my friends (hi Ronke!) told me that I have to publish this post before she started her OBGYN rotation (aka on Monday) so I clearly didn’t take her too seriously.
As always, please take my advice with a grain of salt. If you’re looking for more advice, these are some pretty great places to check out as well.
Too often, we find ourselves trapped in the mindset of “have to.” I have to go to work. I have to study. I have to go see the new patient in room 6. I have to make time to workout. I have to meet up with my friend for dinner.
I know I am not alone in this.
We, professional students, get caught in the whirlwind of our responsibilities and our interests. To-do lists that stretch far too long down the page serve as our lifesource. We are unfailingly hardworking. We schedule naps. We schedule social time. We fail to be spontaneous.