There were times were I was sitting on my desk in front of a hell amount of study work and asked myself how it’s physically and psychologically possible to absorb all these facts and understand it without having a stroke. I honestly am amazed how much the human brain can take up. I really learnt to push my boundaries and to gain my study persistency.
There is a first for everything and I learnt that I will probably not shine at my first attempts. I am a bit of a perfectionist and I really can sometimes feel ashamed to my bones if I do mistakes or not in a brilliant way. Specially in practical classes and lessons, in labors or at hospitals during clerkships, I always had this great fear of failing and simple not being good enough. That fear prohibited me from actually trying and if I tried, I didn’t had the best results doe to stress. I learnt the hard way to let that go. We all start at some point, we all learn. Overthinking prevents from actually doing.
It is amazing to have your people at Uni, but it’s also important to have friends outside of Medical school. That is something I luckily had and appreciated since the beginning of my studies. My Uni system is very classroom orientated, long study days, seminars and lectures are on schedule on a daily basis and I see my colleagues and friends there every single day. Sometimes it’s like living in a bubble, which is natural and definitely has it’s positives and provides a comforting stability. But in my opinion, it’s so important to step out that bubble and interact with non medics. It gives me other perspectives and an objectivity on my daily life. And also, it’s really interesting to learn about different subjects, jobs and lifestyles. I remember stressing out about certain things happening in Med School and talking to non medic friends often took that weight of my shoulders and a lot of times we ended up laughing together about my little emotional moments after having a fresh view on things.
Never take anything personally. I try to stick to being my self and taking everything with a pinch of salt. Learning by humiliation can be a thing in Med school. People are stressed or overworked or whatever and some of them let that out very clearly. And also, working and studying in a hospital is still working in a massive Hierarchy system. Eventually, you will get a sense of that. It’s often not the easiest to maintain motivation and passion during that times, but letting nobody telling you what you can’t do and trusting in yourself will grow you as person. And in case of serious insult, don’t be shy and speak of for yourself. It is a very daunting thing to do, specially to authority people, but it’s important to not give these people the right of treating you in a way it insults and pains you.
Sleep and the right diet is so important. It’s just that simple! Without taking care of yourself, how will you otherwise take care of others? Everyone of us can relate to that instand ramen noodles – pesto pasta – frozen pizza – coke and coffee until shaking days. In second year, we had a week of oral pharmacology exams. I honestly think during that 5 days, I had a total sleeping amount of 6-8 hours in total and I was eating either junk food or not at all. I was a wreck. And not surprisingly, I wasn’t able to think. After that week, I changed my view on diet and sleep completely. I treat sleep as one of the most important parts of my day and no matter how stressed I am or how much I have to study or work, I cook a proper meal everyday since.
The great thing of studying Medicine is that we study the human body which is, no matter where you are on this beautiful planet, universal. We are not stick to a particular country to gain experience, there are so many opportunity to attend clerkships and electives abroad. I feel like having an open mind to different health care systems, life conditions, religions, culture aspects of dealing with illness and death is so important and fulfilling. And also, making friends all over the world, networking and just living abroad for a couple of weeks/ months is a experience for life.
Studying up right before a deadline is not for me. At all. Bulimic leaning is definitely a thing in every University, and I have a lot of friends in Med School who get through the semesters in that way. Sometimes it’s inevitable to study that way and I surely used to be guilty of that as well, but I tried a long time ago to change that mindset. As you absorb the knowledge in that short period of time, you get rid of it so quickly, and thats not what university is all about. I try to study every single day and enjoy my free evenings with friends or pursuing things I love rather then doing nothing for an entire week and then study for 18 hours a day without seeing anybody for that period of time. It just works better for me.
During school, sometimes you will feel like you know nothing and having so much lack of knowledge. There is so much to study and learn that it’s easy to no longer see the wood for the trees. But then, specially when applying your knowledge while seeing patients or working at hospitals, you will see how far you have come. And when there is something important you’ve missed or forgot, it’s not the end of the world as you always can go back to the books and put some more effort into your work. On the other hand, it’s impossible to know everything and that is totally okay. Anyone who went to see a doctor knows that even qualified doctors don’t know everything because, well, they are just human. It’s important to stay curious and try the best you can to gain knowledge and experience, but also to stand still every now and then and give yourself some credit.
Stop comparing yourself to others. There is a quote which I love and live by (I think it’s by Jon Acuf) which goes ” Don’t compare your beginning to someone else’s middle.”
Destructive Comparison is an unnecessary, illusional, disheartening monster. I’ve learnt very early in my studies that numbers shouldn’t rule my life, specially grades and the amount of study hours. I still get so many questions of colleagues in Med School who ask me how many hours I study or on which day I start to study for a certain exam and I can’t stress out how much I hate these kind of questions, because they don’t matter. Everybody is different, everybody has a different routine and mindset. Just do the work and do it how it works for you.