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Dear all premed students,
Firstly, I want to applaud and welcome you on this journey to medical school to become a physician. Your passion and desire to better the healthcare system and change the lives of so many people are admirable and for that alone, it is safe to say that I am excited and proud of you all. You’ve worked hard to be in the position you are in today. Whether an incoming premed student, a current premed student going through organic chemistry or biochemistry, or a current medical school applicant waiting for interviews and acceptance, your relentless effort to become a physician is recognized and if no one has told you that, I am telling you now, I see you and I am proud of you.
Now I know this journey is hard. Trust me, I’ve been on this journey for the past four years and over those years, I’ve stumbled, struggled, fallen, and gotten back up many times. There have been times when I have pondered on whether I am smart enough for this or have wondered if any medical school would want me. I’ve made mistakes and learned from them. As I prepare to finish out my last year of undergraduate and prepare for medical school applications, I want to lend some advice to keep with you throughout your premed journey.
Please prioritize your mental and physical health. This journey is long and can be exhausting as it is exciting! There will be many restless nights, busy days, and times when you may feel overwhelmed with everything. But no matter what, don’t let your mental and physical health deplete. Make time to do activities you love that nurture your body and soul. Take breaks, work out, take a walk, cook, watch a movie, and sleep. Do anything and everything that helps you with your mental and physical health. In order to perform your best, you must feel your best inside and out.
Don’t be afraid to reach out for help. Us premeds are smart but we can also be stubborn and independent people who feel the need to struggle by themselves and not ask for help. However, there is no shame in asking for help. Reach out to your professor, get a tutor, attend office hours, and utilize all the resources available to you to help you with a class you’re struggling in. This is your future and believe it or not, there are people who want to help you and see you succeed.
Surround yourself or create a support system. This is a long journey and one that should not be done alone. Please surround yourself with people that you trust and love. Family, friends, professors, co-workers, therapists, mentors, anyone that you feel you can trust and who has your best interest in mind. On the days you feel down or feel the need to talk to someone, you should reach out to them for support.
Draw boundaries for yourself. Your boundaries and your energy matter and so do your time. You don’t have to juggle everything at one nor do you have to say no to everything and everyone. Learning what you can handle and to who you can commit your time is an important development of this journey.
In addition to getting volunteering, shadowing, and research hours, don’t be afraid to incorporate some activities that you genuinely love. Whether it is with a club you generally love or a certain activity you do outside of class, don’t be afraid to get involved. Not only will it make you a well-rounded student, but it will give you an activity that you can relax and distress
Don’t compare yourself to other students. Everyone’s journey is different and no one journey is linear. The path to medicine looks different for everyone and comparing yourself to another student won’t do you any good. Instead, focus on yourself and your journey. Make the necessary changes, let your passions and motivations shine through everything you do, and do your best to be the best applicant and student possible!
Don’t isolate yourself or your feelings. Talk it out. Whether it is with a friend, family member, professor, or therapist, never be afraid to talk out your feelings or even write it out. I know sometimes when things aren’t going well, it’s easy to withdraw and keep to yourself but expressing your feelings will allow you to get it off your chest and refocus.
Don’t be afraid to celebrate your accomplishments! Being premed is hard so whenever you accomplish something, celebrate it! Passed a test? Reward yourself! Got into a research lab and are now conducting research? Celebrate! Landed a clinical job? Rejoice! Every step of the way, it is important to celebrate your accomplishments but mostly yourself! This journey is no easy feat but you’re doing it!
Last but not least, be easy on yourself. Love yourself. Give yourself breaks. Allow yourself some leniency. Balancing everything is not the easiest thing and sometimes, things happen! But allow yourself some grace and you’ll see, it will pay off.
Remember, I am proud of all the premeds out there! You guys are going to make great physicians! No matter what, never lose sight of the goal and don’t let your motivation dwindle. You are going to be on the other side and once you reflect back on your journey, you’ll see how far you’ve come!
Wishing all of you the best of luck!