Reflecting on my First Year of Medical School

On May 20th, I took my last exam of my first year of medical school. During the past two weeks that I have had off, I’ve had some time to reflect on all that has happened in my life as a first-year medical student.

This year was filled with ups and downs. It started with my white coat ceremony, when all the new medical students receive the white coats they will wear throughout their four years of school on the path to becoming a doctor. This was an exciting day that made me feel like I had finally made it. Yet, the journey was only just beginning. I experienced many firsts this year: living in my first apartment, running my first 5K, interviewing my first patient, performing my first physical exam, seeing a C-section for the first time, drawing blood for the first time, assisting with orthopaedic splinting for the first time . . . the list goes on, but my personal favorite would have to be scrubbing in to surgery for the first time. Overall though, the best part so far would have to be the people I have met – classmates, faculty, mentors, doctors, and patients. It’s the inspiring people around me that constantly remind me of why I wanted to go to medical school and become a doctor. At times it’s hard for me to believe that I am here, standing amongst them. In short, I feel blessed to be where I am.

While starting medical school as been the best time of my life, there were absolutely some tough times too. There were moments when I questioned myself: Can I do this? Will I make it through this class? Have I let others down? Will I reach my goals? I’ve scored above average on some tests, but have also studied for an exam all day and night for weeks only to barely pass. There were days I was so tired, but realized the time to rest was not coming any time soon. I have sacrificed time with family and friends for school. I made mistakes both in school and in life. However, I have learned, and will continue to learn, from these moments. The only thing I can do, and will continue to do, is keep going, do my best, and aim to be better each day.

At times when in the hospital running around with residents and seeing patients, I wish that I was where they were. I wish I was a doctor in residency able to treat patients and embark on all the work and action a resident takes part in. However, I try to remind myself that soon enough, that will be me one day. I am thankful for where I am now. I have to walk my own course and have my own experiences these next three years on the road to becoming Dr. Dvorsky. It’s easy to keep moving along from one exam to the next and robotically work towards the future. BUT I want to enjoy the journey. All of it – medical school, life in my 20s, and everything in between. Better said by orthopaedic surgeon Dr. Michael J. Collins in his book Hot Lights Cold Steel:

“We start here and we go there. But it’s not that simple is it? Our paths may be circuitous or direct. We may gaze excitedly ahead, or cast our eyes regretfully behind. Until we reach our destination it exists only in our minds. It is what we have imagined it to be. And yet we tend to neglect the journey, which is real, in favor of the destination, which is not. For too long I neglected this journey. It was an obstacle to be overcome, an ordeal to be endured; for I had never chosen the journey, I had chosen the destination. But now that the journey has ended, I have discovered that here isn’t so important after all. I find myself looking back with particular fondness for how I got here.”

Bottom line is, I want to enjoy my life while in medical school because if I don’t, I fear it will pass me by.

Even though I am technically on summer break, I really don’t consider it much of a break at all. It actually requires effort for me to relax and have fun. I’m so used to always having something to do, and when that’s not the case I get bored pretty quickly. Therefore, I will do some relaxing, but I still will be doing research, taking a summer physiology class, and hopefully shadowing and learning as much as I can. And I am okay with that, actually I am more than okay with that since it’s how I truly prefer it. I want to be a sponge when it comes to anything related to medicine. I will continue working to be my own version of the best medical student I possibly can, so that in the future I can be the best version of myself as a physician – just like some of the amazing doctors I have had the chance to learn from. Being a medical student is the proudest accomplishment of my life. I said the following just a few days ago, and I’ll end this post by repeating it here: Medicine is wild, but it feels like it’s where I was meant to be.

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