We are in the middle of a full-blown pandemic right now. What a time to be alive. Something to tell our future generations about, right? Well, I know how I’m going to sum up this pandemic – it sucked. This pandemic locked people up in their homes, overworked the entire world’s healthcare system, and most importantly, took away some of our loved ones. Adjusting to quarantine laws, wearing masks in public spaces, excessively decontaminating our homes, groceries, and cars has become the new normalcy. The tremendous impact of COVID-19 on education has forced students to return home, adjust to online classes, minimize social interactions, and somehow stay motivated throughout this period with no end in sight. While this pandemic has taken a toll on everyone, pre-meds are getting the short end of the stick with shadowing and research opportunities being cancelled, less in-person volunteering available, and MCATs being re-scheduled all over the country. Pre-meds already don’t have it easy, and this pandemic is adding to their stress. Hopefully, the rest of this article can offer you some support and hope during these difficult times.
We are individual cars on our own journeys. We come from different places, but we have a similar destination. We may cross each other’s paths or take a path less traveled by. The heart of the car is its powerful engine – keeps the car running smoothly on its path. A brand new engine is reliable and efficient, but as the car gets worn out the engine loses its efficiency. Pre-meds, I know you are getting worn out by racing with some of the brightest individuals in the country to receive admission into medical school. However, there are sights to see and a beautiful destination ahead.
The journey of medicine is already a painful one. After twelve years of grade school, four years of undergraduate studies, and four years of medical school, you are finally able to call yourself a physician. Therefore, I understand if you are feeling burnt out. However, when an engine burns out, the car loses its function. You have to pull the car over and figure out what is going on. Similarly, when we lose energy and motivation, we begin to question our dreams and ask ourselves if the journey is even worth it at all. During these challenging times, most of us begin to question: why are we putting ourselves through this, and will we ever reach our final destination?
Why did we start this journey in the first place is a question each of you should ask yourselves. Find that purpose and meaning to your journey, and let it drive you. The reason behind your journey should fuel your car and motivate you during these difficult times. During my own bumpy ride in undergrad, I would often question my ambitious plans. I remember seeing my friends graduate in other disciplines and begin working immediately. When comparing myself with them, I felt stagnant in my life. Watching people grow and move into their next phase of life initially felt discouraging, but then I realized I was on a completely different route than them. With this realization, I remembered my inspiration for medicine and began fueling my journey.
Another way to fuel your engine is by understanding the significance of your future role. During this world crisis, a lot of inspiration comes from our own physicians. They are selflessly working on the front-lines of this pandemic with great fervor and passion to help patients not succumb to COVID-19. While sacrificing their own mental and physical health, they continue to work for hours on end to provide comfort to patients who are separated and isolated from their family members. Time, sleepless nights, and hunger are only a couple of sacrifices healthcare workers have signed up for. A doctor puts the needs of their patients first, and their own needs come after. As pre-meds, you are committing to a path where your patients will hold the utmost importance in your life. Taking up this noble profession will require many sacrifices along the way and immense grit and courage.
The path to becoming a doctor is one heck of a journey, and we have to gear up for potential battles in the future. We have to remember that by taking on this path we are enlisting in a service to help people who are in the most vulnerable state. While the COVID-19 era continues to feel miserable, use this excess time to maximize your productivity. Get back in your car and start driving towards your goals. In a matter of time, YOU may be the next physician during the world’s darkest time. After all, “difficult roads lead to beautiful destinations” (Ziglar).
P.S. If you want to read more inspiring stories from pre-meds, medical students, and residents, feel free to check them out on the AAMC website.
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