Let me pose a question to you. Think back to college.What was some of the aspects of college which were the most meaningful?
You will realize that among the most meaningful things are: the things you really enjoyed learning about (no what you HAD to learn, but what you wanted to learn), the experiences which challenged you, and the people and relationships (the friends and mentors). What you probably wouldn’t say was meaningful was the sitting in a lecture hall, grinding out grades.
In this post, let’s focus on the people and relationships. I had a chance to talk to many attendings about their medical school experience. Some LOVED med school. Some HATED med school? What was the biggest factor which let them to their experiences?
What I noticed among the doctors that LOVED med school was that they talked about having fun with friends. Yes, med school is hard, but they suffered together at least! They talked about med school friends being groomsmen and bridesmaids at their wedding. They talk about the reunions they still have to keep in touch with one another. They talk about the mentors they cultivated, which have shaped their lives. When you have a community, it is very difficult to be miserable.
What I noticed among the doctors that HATED med school was that they treated it like a loop to be jumped through. They treated High School as a hoop. They treated college as a hoop. They treated residency as a hoop. Now they treat their practice as a hoop, or they’re burned out from jumping through hoops. What does hoop jumping look like? It looks like focusing on the future. They don’t go to school for the fun of learning. They focus on positioning for ‘success’ in the future.
Can you be miserable while having straight ‘honors’? YES. Can you be miserable while having $10 million? YES. Can you be miserable while having a lot of friends around you? Not so much.
Yet, many students, even with great intentions, let the relationship aspects of school slip. When the pressure builds, they pull themselves out of community. They do things alone.
“Loneliness shortens lifespan in a way similar to smoking 15 cigarettes a day.” ~Vivek Murthy, former Surgeon General
Yes, it’s often easier to study by yourself. Sometimes, when you’re enjoying time with friends, you can feel guilty that you should be doing something ‘productive’.
You need to have balance in your life. You need to work and study. You need to do things for yourself. You need relationships. Make time for each on a weekly basis.
Some of the easiest ways to make time for relationships are:
- Dinners with friends (you have to eat, don’t you?)
- Group study with friends
- Take a role in organizing student interest group events
- Meet regularly with a mentor
- Take a few days off to travel with friends
Make a commitment to yourself that no matter how much pressure there is, that you take time for relationships. Relationships take an investment on your part. If you want to grow your savings, don’t you have to invest money and attention? If you want a strong body, don you have to invest in good diet and exercise? If you want good relationships, you need to invest in your presence and time.
Make time to be with others. If you do, you will be able to look back at med school and say, “Med school was an awesome experience!”
- Relationships: Finding Your Tribe
- Mastering Knowledge and Skills: The 10-Year Commute
- Achievement: The Essence of Achievement
- Self-Discovery: Transcending Corporate Medicine
If you successfully target all four quadrant quadrants, you will have an AMAZING medical school experience.
Prompt for Personal Reflection
What relationships do I want to develop?
What kind of community do I want to create / be a part of?