Thank you to Francine Zeng, student member from University of Connecticut, for this post!
Some people think that medical school ultimately shapes the type of doctor you are going to be and this is definitely true…to an extent. As a first year medical student at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine who is almost done with her first block, I can honestly say I have learned an immense amount of information. This ranges from learning all of the steps in a Core Physical Exam to the mechanisms behind several types of anemia that I had never even heard of prior. At the end of these four years, I am going to be able to reflect on all of the amazing experiences and all of the amazing people that have shaped me into becoming a physician and helped me choose my specialty. However, as I get further into medical school, I must not forget what brought me here in the first place.
I am blessed to belong to such a diverse class, filled with people from different backgrounds and at different points in life in general. However, all medical students have at least two factors in common and I will share them, along with my related experiences that have ultimately made me into who I am today.
- All medical students are innately competitive, but truly mean well. We would not be in medical school if we did not put countless hours into achieving high grades, volunteering, conducting research, studying for the MCAT, and so on. The month before my MCAT, I recall waking up at 6 am to study, going to work from 9-6 then coming home and studying until 10pm before going to bed then repeating it all the next day. During my senior year of college, I poured hours of my final weeks into organizing the hospital volunteer group at UConn and stayed up writing and re-writing my Honors thesis. I am not a lone example as the majority of my classmates were in a similar boat. However, the reason for our questionably insane work ethic is not the mindset that we must be better than everyone else, rather we just want to be our own best selves. My class is full of excellent students in their capacity to learn, as well as their willingness to help each other and support one another. Great physicians not only recognize their own potential, but also the potential in everyone else around them. This applies to patients and other physicians, and our main goal is to help everyone reach this potential so they can be their best selves too.
- We would be nowhere without some form of support system. One of the most important questions to ask while conducting a patient history is whether the patient has support in their life, and this can be in the form of many things including: family, friends, religion, etc. I would not be here without the love and support of my parents, who encouraged me to work for my dreams ever since I was young. My four younger siblings motivate me to be a role model and to be a big sister they can always be proud of. My friends always provide comic relief when I am stressed out of my mind and always pull me back to reality whenever I get lost in life’s convenient challenges. I am also lucky to have had all of the amazing educators and faculty members, such as Dr. Rebecca Andrews, that have helped me find my passion in healthcare by educating me about the realities of becoming a physician. Regardless of the journey we take, we cannot always pick and choose the hardships that life throws our way, but we can pick the people we surround ourselves with to get us through them.
I could write pages about the entire journey that brought me to UConn Health, but the important reality is that I made it. There were plenty of times in undergrad where I questioned whether everything I was doing was worth it. In fact, I had experienced those same feelings during orientation as I learned about how remarkable my classmates are and even now, as the stress of our first exam is beginning to envelop us. However, every time I put my white coat and stethoscope, identify a new structure in human anatomy lab, and participate in active conversation with my peers and educators, I remember that I deserve to be here. With the support of those around me, I pushed myself to seize every opportunity to make myself a strong applicant and can still remember the feeling of pride and relief when I got my “UConn School of Medicine Acceptance” e-mail. I am extremely lucky to have had the amazing opportunities that have shaped me into the first year medical student I am today and I believe that I am truly a better person because of it. I am proud of who I am entering medical school, and I cannot wait to see how I emerge after these next four years.