Life continues in medical school and residency. Engagements, marriages, and divorces. Becoming a parent to a child. Having a dog or cat. Love and loss. Life and death. Then there is the uniqueness and privilege of being in medical training combined with great responsibilities and pressures that set the stage for some of the highest of highs and lowest of lows.
Prior to beginning medical school, I was told by a physician to “find something or someone you love outside of medicine because medicine won’t keep you warm at night.”
As it turns out, this was remarkably perceptive advice. It is a simple sentence easily skimmed over and has very little direct meaning or impact unless you have lost something or someone outside of medicine. During the moment that you believe you have lost everything except for medicine, no statement could feel more true than that one. It was one of the most uncomfortable realizations I have had to face.
At my lowest point, I quite peculiarly texted a busy and exhausted general surgery resident on his transplant rotation for comfort. If I didn’t know him better, I would have thought his seemingly unperturbed response was due to his exhaustion and preoccupation with far more important events. But we know each other well, and he knew that there is almost always at least one thing that can keep someone in medicine going. I think everyone in medicine should hear it.
Just hang in there, it’s going to be OK.
You have a lot going for you and a lot to offer.
The world and patients need you.
And the patients come first.
And they’re really going to need you.
You’re too intelligent and compassionate to pass up.
Medicine does not keep me warm at night, but it does get me up in the morning.
The author is an anonymous medical student.
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