The summer before medical school is generally regarded as the last time of true freedom for doctors-to-be. We are supposed to “live it up” and “enjoy every second” of this liberated time before we become sleep-deprived and buried in books. Although this summer brings relaxation, excitement, and enjoyment, a number of anxieties also accompany this transition time. To remain as carefree as possible this summer, I have been telling myself three things:
1) Life doesn’t end when medical school begins. I fully believe that there is a way to balance rigorous schoolwork and dedication to the medical field with enjoyment of friends, family, and other passions. To me, what makes an extraordinary doctor is their ability to understand and interact with patients in a sincere way. The experiences we have outside of the classroom or clinic develop our abilities to connect with future patients and colleagues. If we make it a priority to have Saturday brunch with a friend, go on an evening bike ride, or volunteer at a shelter, we can make any of these activities a part of our schedule. Remaining disciplined but also giving ourselves time for a break will allow us to maximize our time and maintain our personal sanity, well-being, and happiness for the next four years.
2) We don’t have to have it figured out just yet. The first question people ask each time I say I am going to medical school is some variation of “What will your specialty be?” Responding, “I have no idea” isn’t very satisfying to say or to hear so I tend to improvise to make things a little more interesting. Each time, the bottom line is, anything could happen and I won’t truly know what the field is like until I’m a part of it. What makes medicine so appealing to me is that there are countless paths and roles to be taken (and created). We don’t need to have all the answers at this point. We don’t need to know our future specialty or trajectory, especially because those are both highly likely to change. What we do need to know is that we are wholeheartedly dedicated to the field of medicine.
3) We’ve made it this far and will continue to be successful. If we have been accepted to medical school, it is because deans, admissions officers, and review committees believe that we will succeed throughout the years of medical school and training. They want us to thrive in the spot they chose us to fill and think we are well-suited to do so. Managing premedical coursework, MCAT studying, and extra-curriculars in college was no easy feat. The competition and rigor of medical school will certainly exceed high school and college, but we are well equipped to take on the challenge. That doesn’t mean we won’t fail. We all will fail at some pursuits, and some of us will fail a few exams. However, we have been accepted because someone with experience in the field had the faith that we would be successful in the end.
Keeping these three pieces in mind has helped me maintain my calm in the summer before medical school begins. While undergraduate years are thought to be the “best four years of our life,” I believe the next four will give them a run for their money in a different and challenging way. This isn’t the end of our lives. The way I see it, we are just getting started.
About Arianna Yanes
Arianna will begin medical school at the Feinberg School of Medicine in August. She’s a graduate of Northwestern University’s Honors Program in Medical Education where she majored in psychology and minored in global health studies. She is the daughter of two physicians who immigrated to America from Iran and Syria to pursue their passions for medicine. Although they encouraged her to consider other career options, Arianna ultimately developed the same passions that brought her parents to the U.S.
As an intern with CNN’s Medical Unit, Arianna became passionate about communicating medical news and making health information accessible and digestible. She currently blogs for Northwestern’s Global Health Portal and the Huffington Post’s College section. She plans to continue writing and blogging through medical school and hopes to eventually incorporate this into her future career.