It's Sunday morning, I'm on my vacation month from clinical duties and currently visiting my hometown. If you haven't picked up by now I'm a sports fan and after attending church today will be hanging out with the guys I grew up with to watch football and catch up.
What you don't know is that I've been awake since 5:30am doing reading and studying because medicine demands a lot from you and even on vacation I may slow down a bit but the passion and drive to be a great doctor is still there.
Actually, now that I think about it, here's a text I sent to my friend who is a second year medical student who is gearing up for 6 exams next week. Sent it last night around midnight...
"Keep at it you're gonna be a doctor late nights are a must and there are patients in the hospital who don't have the luxury of going home and they depend on a doctor to know what to do and when to keep them alive. The studying is hard but the burdens of an error are greater."
Folks, this isn't finals week rather just another day in the life of a medical student.
Typically, what happens during your second year of medical school you have module or organ based system exams. So right now they are doing cardiology so they will have 6 exams covering various topics of cardiology.
The struggle is real.
You're well beyond the halfway point of the semester and maybe you're getting tired, the work seems too much, you don't want to study or you are borderline in your classes and cannot slip up at all.
If that's you then this message is for you.
I've been speaking with students one-on-one recently and have been noticing a trend. Some of you are in academic trouble but still want to get into medical school, maybe you've been labeled as the premed who needs to resort to plan B. But you know deep down in your heart all you want to do is medicine, you're not going to let someone from the prehealth office dash your lifelong dreams.
What you need is the Tom Brady effect...
Tom Brady and Laser Focus
Even if you're not into football bear with me this is what you need to hear.
Tom Brady is the starting quarterback (QB) for the New England Patriots where he has won several Superbowls and been the NFL MVP 3 times already in his career. But he wasn't always the perfect man...
While in high school he wasn't even a starter on the football team that went 0-8, and states that just goes to show you how bad I was I couldn't even start on a team that didn't win a single game.
Some people would have walked away but not Brady. Instead he went back to the drawing board and worked even harder, he was persistent, he was relentless and the work paid off because it got him onto the University of Michigan football team.
I'm not going to go on and on about this but Tom Brady was never always a superstar.
He was always the underdog but he didn't let this status get him down or walk away from what he loved. Instead, this was the fuel to his fire that he said the odds are stacked against me but no one is going to work harder than me, I'm not going to be outbeat, this is what I want and I'm going to make it happen.
I found an article in the Washington Post today that chronicles Tom Brady's journey and if I were your teacher I'd say this is required reading.
But there's a catch.
I want you to replace every instance about football and Tom Brady and replace them with medicine and yourself. How bad do you want to be a doctor? What are you willing to fight for? How much studying are you prepared to do to reach your goals of getting into medical school?
You Need to Ace this Final
I don't share stories often but here goes.
I do advising for students like yourself on all aspects of getting into medical school and some of you may think I'm not in touch with the reality of how hard it is to be a premed student but I can attest to it and have gone through what you are dealing with.
So when I say you need to do XYZ, it comes from personal experience and can be done.
What I want to share is my freshman year at Northwestern University experience.
Let's say it was an eye-opening experience to be surrounded by so many great and gifted minds where I didn't know if I fit in or was on the same level as my classmates academically. Obviously, I knew I wanted to be a doctor so I was enrolled in general chemistry as a premed requirement and I was getting my butt kicked.
I spent all my time working premed classes because I wanted to get the best science GPA possible, this is what matters to medical schools.
Well, I neglected my other classes one being Espanol aka Spanish. I had tested out of the first year of college spanish and found myself in the professors office about two weeks before Reading Week and he said, "Mr. Spears if you don't get X grade on your final, you're not going to pass my class."
Talk about a demoralizing experience.
I was in shock, I was concerned and I didn't know what to do.
I played football back in high school, I believe in positive thinking and most importantly getting to work and doing what needed to be done.
So I doubled down my efforts, said there would be all-nighters, I renounced exercise, and all other distractions because I had a single focus on cramming in as much Spanish as possible. Life absolutely sucked, because it was stressful and tiring beyond anything I had encountered.
I would practically live in the library early morning to late at night only leaving for food and bathroom.
Test day, came and I was very nervous because it wasn't just do well, it was do exceptionally well probably better than I had on any test throughout the Quarter or I wouldn't pass the class.
With the work I put in, the changed mentality and being prayerfully optimistic I took care of business and passed my Spanish class.
My hope is that you're never in a situation where you're backed up against the wall academically and it looks like you have two options pass or fail. But if this is your reality, you certainly can change it and come out on the winning side of things.
I want to hear about any academic challenges you're facing and what you plan to do about it. Send me your comments below.
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