The highs and lows of medical school..

Hi everyone.

I’ve been debating on whether to update you on my story or just keep going, and I don’t think it would be fair to leave you guys hangin, so here goes. I started medical school in the fall of 2013. August 2, in fact. Unfortunately, I got called the day of orientation to be accepted, and had to pack my bags and be down there the next day. Having my slight hesitation being overwhelmed with the fact that I just got accepted to medical school in state, I accepted and went. I can remember the day like it was yesterday. I got the call and thought in the back of my head, what if this is the school? & I also didn’t know anyone from there besides the medical school. I didn’t have good service at my house so I stepped outside, answered the call, they told me I had a seat for the class of 2017 if I wanted it, and I dropped to my knees in joy, thanking and praising God. I worked my last shift at work, and packed all night into the early morning.

My mom assisted me and drove me down the next morning which is about a 3.5 hour drive. I was running on no sleep, was not hungry, my stomach was in knots because I was so nervous and anxious and still thrilled about being accepted. I got there the first day of orientation, only knowing one person. As I found my seat next to my friend from undergrad, we sat in the back row…our class size is about 230 mind you, so the lecture hall was huge. I went to all of my assigned activities, but started to get really dizzy, nauseous, and weak. THERE WAS SO MUCH TO DO. I had to set up financial aid, find an apartment, get my laptop, keys, etc.etc. buy books, FILL OUT MOUNDS OF PAPERWORK, and I managed to get most of it accomplished. My mom even lucked out and found an apartment THAT DAY. Keep in mind, this is the next day after they called me telling me I was accepted. So after having an eventful day, getting sick, vomiting in the bushes so none of my classmates would see me (HOW EMBARRASSING), I decided I’d had enough for one day and was ready to come home to get the rest of my things. We packed up and headed home that night, still sick, I had to pack the rest of my things because I was headed back to school the following day for good.

I moved everything into my apartment thanks to my wonderful parents and got squared away…the entire first week of classes. I felt behind from day 1, and I was to be honest. I had a hard time adjusting not only to the coursework, but new surroundings, new environment, people, life in general. It was hard, but I managed to pass my first course and get it together (barely).

In September, starting our second course of SKIN/Musculoskeletal, we had to learn the entire list of nerves, muscles, arteries, veins in both of the upper and lower limbs and the back. HELLO BRACHIAL PLEXUS. Anyway, we had to accomplish this in FOUR DAYS. FOUR DAYS!!! It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done but that’s med. school. Anyway, the ball kept rolling. However, I was hit again with another unfortunate event. I got a call from a friend telling me that my best friend died in a car crash unexpectedly. She was my best friend in the entire world. Dying at my age, 22, knowing how short and precious life could be, I never dealt with death before and it hit me hard. I failed that exam, which meant failing the course. I had never dealt with failure before, ever, but nonetheless I picked myself up and kept moving along trying to bury my emotions because medical school WAITS FOR NO ONE.

After that course ended, we moved on to cardio/respiratory. I was doing okay in this course, still struggling to stay caught up, with Angela (my best friend) in the back of my mind. My grandmother (62 years old, who has no wrinkles and blonde hair — not your typical old grandma) got suddenly very ill. Her hip transplant was recalled and leaked substantially high levels of metal into her blood. She got an infection and was hospitalized. This too weighed heavily on my mind because she meant the world to me. She lived right beside my house, as you can imagine, I went to her house every single day from the time I could walk. While she had to go through many hip surgeries, and developed an infection that even vancomycin could not conquer, her time came as well, and I had to say goodbye. I raced from my apartment in school, getting permission from the dean to be excused from yet another test to make-up (the month before I was in the same situation with my best friend passing) and rushed to the hospital as fast as I could. Remember the 3.5 hour drive it takes from my home to medical school? I made it in 2.5 hours but I was too late, and although she was still alive, her blood pressure was 60/30 while she was on 3x the recommended dose of vasopressin, and two other blood pressure medicines that I could not remember. She passed away, needless to say, the test I had the week after, I failed as well. This too, meant failing the course so here was my dilemma.

At my school, you can fail up to two classes and re-take them in the summer. If you pass them, you continue on with your class. But if you fail more than two classes, you either repeat the entire year or they can ask you to not come back. I had passed one, failed two. So I asked myself…do I continue, knowing my mind is elsewhere, having a hard time dealing with the deaths of two extremely important individuals in my life, do I continue to just get by, barely pass? Do I continue to go on, knowing I’ve failed two classes, haven’t changed my study habits, and could possibly fail a 3rd and be in a position that they would ask me to leave? OR do I take a semester off, clear my head, better prepare myself for next year, allow myself time to mourn and grieve, handle all of my personal issues and family issues and come back better than ever ready to kill it? Do I take care of myself, learn from my mistakes, realize what problems I faced, overcome these, and come back? And I did. I took personal leave. I did not fail out, nor did I quit. The dean granted my personal leave, gave me his sincerest sympathies, and told me my spot was saved for the class of 2018 when I am ready to return.

I’m a strong believer in everything happening for a reason and timing. This year was just not my time. From getting called the day of orientation, 2 back to back family deaths, the odds were stacked against me. I do know God has a plan for me though, and I’m sticking to it. Here’s what has happened recently. I’ve cleared my head, I’ve been working, I already have a house for next fall with two amazing roommates and will be in the class of 2018 also! Did I tell you these apartments are the nicest in town and I envied them last year! SCORE! I already have roommates, people I know, friends, and I signed up for a class which teaches you specifically how to study for medical school and pharmacy school because I can assure you, some of the techniques that worked in undergrad will fail you in medical school trying to learn and memorize so much information. Everything is in order, all of my paperwork is completed, and I am on the ball ready to get back in class come July! I do have to repeat the entire year, including the course that I already passed. But THIS fall, I am prepared, know what to expect, have a clear mind and heart, know what I need to do, am much more strong, able, and persistent, and determined to be the best physician I can possibly be.

So all in all, I’m being honest about my story, what’s happened, and to show you guys that it’s not all sunshine and rainbows. This is why I haven’t been tweeting much medical-related info lately if you’ve been noticing. I just didn’t feel right not being in class, so I only retweeted what you all would send to me and of course tweet encouraging positive things to you guys!  I feel like I needed this break from medicine, I needed these struggles and challenges so I can help others who have ever been in this same situation or might be in the future (though I wish that on no one!) I needed all of these adversities and difficulties because at the end of the day, it will only make me a stronger physician. I can truly sympathize with a family over a death of a patient now, because I’ve experienced it firsthand. I’ve experienced failure, something I have never seen in my life, everything coming so easy to me. This was the first true adversity I’ve ever had in my life, and for that I am privileged to have been through so much, learned so much already, and know exactly what I have to do in order to succeed! I hope my story inspires you, and lets you know that it’s OKAY to not be perfect!! It’s OKAY to fail sometimes. It’s OKAY to not have a deadline on your dreams and to take life as it comes. It’s OKAY to step back and take care of YOURSELF! Because if you learn from your failures, well, then they weren’t really failures at all were they? πŸ™‚

“Every adversity, every failure, every heartache carries with it the seed on an equal or greater benefit.” Success is the result of perfection, hard work, LEARNING FROM FAILURE, loyalty, and persistence. Remember that! Thank you guys for reading, continue to work hard to get where you’re going. BELIEVE in yourself and ALL that you are capable of doing, because I promise you’re capable of so much more than you give yourself credit for.

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32 thoughts on “The highs and lows of medical school..

  1. Thank you so much for sharing. You’re an inspiration to so many, myself included. I’m so sorry for everything you had to go through. You’re going to be an amazing doctor, I hope our paths cross one day in the future!

    • Thank you so much Kristin! I hope they cross as well! Don’t be sorry! I embrace it! I’m honored to inspire you! πŸ™‚

  2. It is wonderful that you shared your journey, as there are so many more medical students than you could ever imagine who face the same thing. It’s brave of you to share! And I will continue to support you through your entire journey πŸ™‚ Enjoy the time off with your friends and family while you can, because as fulfilling and amazing as medical school is, it gets isolating too.

  3. Thanks so much for posting this! I feel like i was the only one struggling adjusting to post-undergrad life. I got accepted to pharmacy school class of 2017 out of my 2nd year of undergad and I was in waay over my head with moving, 6 back to back classes and adjusting study habits. I then found out my dad needs a liver transplant; long story short during my finals we collectively decided I will be donating a portion of mine and ofcourse my grades suffered throughout all this. Thankfully i passed 1st semester, but I don’t know how this semester will go b/c if we fail 1 class we have to repeat the year

    but you know what your story really inspired me to just leave it up to God, and I can’t fully control life. I wish you all the best and thank you !

    • No problem! I’m glad I could help! You aren’t the only one struggling I can assure you! I’m so sorry about your dad and it’s so admirable you are donating some of yours. Congrats on passing. I know you can pass second semester just keep pushing through, BELIEVING, and having faith!! Thank you!

  4. Thank you for sharing, and I think you made a great decision. I was accepted to class of 2017, but had to defer it and now I am starting this fall! yay for class of 2018.

  5. Thank you so much for your honesty and sharing your story. You’re such an inspiring person, to me and many others. My goal is Med School one day, but I too have had family deaths, and have been pretty sick off and on and it is hard to overcome, but reading this gives me hope! I know you will be a great doctor one day and I wish you the best of luck and I am sorry for you loss.I will keep you and your family in my thoughts and prayers!

    • Thank you so much Mary! I try to be. I know you can do it it’s just about how you can get through it! I’m sorry, too for your losses. And thank you again! πŸ™‚

  6. I’ve never actually read your blog before, but stumbled upon this entry from someone’s retweet on Twitter-I’m so glad I did!

    Last year as a first year med student, I took a leave of absence after only a month or so of school, and it was the hardest decision of my life. However, after a year of exploring, reevaluating my priorities and goals in life, having fun, and recovering, I came back to school this year refreshed, excited, and ready for the punches med school has a tendency to throw at students.

    I can honestly say that the process is so much better and more enjoyable when you are in the right mindset and feel like you can perform at your best level. Thank you for sharing your story, and I wish you the best in round 2! It already sounds like things are really coming together.

    P.S. I don’t mean this to self-promote, but rather to show you that seemingly devastating experiences can have awesome, unforeseen outcomes if you have the strength to be true to and take care of yourself and to trust in God-here’s my blog entry on my experience leaving school last year…and why this year is so, so much better πŸ™‚

    http://meghansmind.wordpress.com/2013/08/11/but-the-future-of-us-all-rests-on-the-shoulders-of-your-heart/

  7. I’m so sorry for your losses, I could not imagine being struck with so much pain in such a small amount of time. I’ve been following you on Twitter for the past year, though this is the first blog I read, just to find out that we will now be classmates for the class of 2018.
    Hopefully I’ll get to meet you at some point, and I pray this year goes more smoothly.
    Leannyn

  8. Your story is so real and inspiring! Out of all the blogs and articles on the internet I’ve never felt something I could relate to until I read this. You have truly inspired me that it is not over and to truly be persistent at your dreams! Thank you so very much for this because I swear I needed this hope in my life! Good luck for class of 2018! I’m rooting for you! πŸ˜„

  9. I just wanted to say thank you for taking the time to share your story with us. I can’t imagine what you’ve been through in the past year and how hard it was for you to make that decision. But your story was more encouraging for me to read than you may ever know. I was in the hospital last fall and I’ve had some immune system issues since then and all I want to do is be a physician. It’s hit me hard because it’s difficult to go I to medicine if you keep getting sick all the time. I had to postpone my MCAT because of this and then studied hard and stressed myself out over it, only to get one point lower than I needed for interviews at some schools. But you are exactly right, God has a plan and we have to stick to it. Your story helped me gain more perspective and sometimes we just have to make the decision to keep on keepin’ on and trust Him. I’m sure you’re going to kick butt this year and make an excellent start to your career in medicine.

  10. Thank you for sharing such a personal and touching story! My deepest sympathies for the losses you had to endure – you are such a strong person and this will make you an even stronger doctor! I truly believe that everything happens for a reason and I can’t wait to hear all the things you do in this upcoming year! Best of luck [:

  11. I can’t tell you how much I needed to read this! I am a 3rd year undergrad and want nothing more than to go to med school after I get my Masters. Nothing has worked out as planned and I have reached a place of constant doubt about whether or not I’ll even be accepted when the time comes to apply. But I’ve been praying and reading my word and truly believe that God wouldn’t put this dream in my heart if it weren’t meant to happen. So I’m going to do my best to have faith and keep on pushing! Thank you so much for your transparency and inspiration!

  12. Reblogged this on Brooklyn Danielle and commented:
    This girl is incredible and has gone through some really tough stuff! She pushed through and remains a huge inspiration to me as well as to so many others.

  13. This is such a perfect/inspiring story!! I think a lot of people (myself included) see taking a year off from school as failure & the fact that you came out with this story is a great way of showing that it’s not even close to failure, but a way of making you a stronger student. I’m so happy for you and I wish you all the best next year!

  14. Go you! I will be starting med school (for the second time!) this fall at Rowan SOM. I also had a rough time my first year (2008) and chose to take a leave of absence. After getting my MPH, meeting my husband, getting married, and working, I’ve decided to go back to my original goal of becoming a physician. Can’t wait to read more of your story and go on this journey with you! Best of luck, lady!

  15. Thanks for sharing something so personal. I know there are some who may going through something difficult as well. I’m sure I’ll have my own highs and lows in medical school.

    -Niq (20somethingmedlife.wordpress.com)

  16. Believe me it was the best decision ever, my best friend died with in the first months of med school and i thought it was better to continue, i had to go to the psychiatrist and during all these years i’ve had several crisis… During the internship i had panic attacks and o had to get out, until now im taking time off believe when i tell You, you made the best decision ever

  17. Wow, what a powerful post. Thank you so much for sharing your story and I can actually relate to that, after failing one of my premed courses for the first time in my life (Orgo II). But what’s important is how you manage failure, and I thought your decision was wise and intelligent. I wish you a very great journey through medical school, and may it be full of success.

    • To try and describe the clerkship year of medical school – the year-long, in-depth experience for students to actively participate in patient care in a clinical setting, usually in the third year – to those who haven’t experienced it firsthand is a difficult task.

  18. First of all, I’m so sorry for the death of your best friend and grandmother. I have not experienced death from close family members so I wouldn’t know how that feels, but the thought of it makes me cringe.
    Second, you’re so strong, ambitious, clear headed, and goal oriented! You know what you want and nothing will stop you.
    Lately I have been researching many posts from med school students. I am in my second year of undergrad and I am wondering if I should take a break to become a surgical technician. In order to build relationships with the staff, acclimate to the unexpected world of surgery, etc. I have also taken a personal leave because of emergencies, not death, but financial reasons and I’m just at odds with carrying out my goals. I wanted to get some feedback from you and see whether or not becoming a surgical tech will help me to get into med school.

    • Thank you so much! I appreciate it! And it’s ok, it all happens for a reason! You can do that on the side if you are on break but I would come back to school as soon as possible to finish. It could help, yes, but what you really need is to finish and take the MCAT to get in.

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