Hi everyone! I’m Maya, an M1 from Troy, Michigan. I went to Stanford University for undergrad and studied Human Biology with a concentration in Health and Human Performance. After graduating in June 2014, I spent a year as an AmeriCorps VISTA in Detroit working with local schools to promote the incorporation of service-learning into the curriculum. Now, I’m at UMMS and I’m loving it!
Instead of writing this, I should be studying for the exam in our cardiovascular/respiratory sequence, but I just can’t bring myself to look at one more lecture slide right now. It’s hard to believe that I’ve been in medical school for three(ish) months. In that time, I have learned a few things that I think will benefit any current or future medical student and I wanted to share these lessons with you! These aren’t tips that will help you ace every assignment and exam. They are things that will help you balance being an actual person with being a medical student, which can be harder than you think.
The first thing I’ve learned is that you should take the time to find what makes your UMMS experience worthwhile. When I first arrived at UMMS, I thought that my experience would be made meaningful mostly by major accomplishments like learning to save lives or publishing an awesome paper. Three months in, I think that medical school is about so much more than that. You might find meaning in being chosen for the perfect position in a student group that you are so excited about. You also might find meaning in shadowing in a speciality that makes your heart sing. Maybe there is meaning in having friends who share your sense of humor and push you when necessary. Sometimes, it is as simple as identifying your perfect study spot. What makes Michigan special is an amalgamation of things big and small. The small stuff matters just as much as the big stuff, and it makes me appreciate everyday I spend at Michigan.
The second thing I’ve learned is that you need to prioritize what and who you love. I was afraid that being in medical school would mean long hours in the library alone in a tiny carrel. Medical school does involve studying and sometimes it involves a carrel. However, being a medical student can also mean being a real person with interests outside of medicine. Since starting medical school, I have still found the time to keep up with my hobbies, see my friends, and visit my family. It’s a balancing act. The best advice I can give is to make time for what you love. As an older student told the M1s earlier this year, studying will happen because it has to happen. You can take the time to go for a run, visit a friend, or bake cupcakes. There’s no need to feel guilty about it. Your lecture slides aren’t going anywhere!
The most important thing I’ve learned is to go easy on yourself. UMMS is full of students who will be the leaders and best at whatever they do, but that takes time and the road is not always paved with success. There will be times where you think about the extra points you could have gotten on that last quiz or exam. You will think about the wrong answer you gave in Doctoring. You will kick yourself for forgetting your name badge for an ICE (Initial Clinical Experience) shadowing session. It’s important to remember that you are human. You are learning to be an excellent physician, but it’s a process. Next time, you might get a few more points on the quiz, answer a question right in Doctoring, or remember your badge. As I’ve learned, you also might not. As long as you are learning and growing from the process, you are on the right track to becoming the best you can be. That should be enough!