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Diagnosis: Grateful Medical Student

Thanksgiving is a holiday rooted in gratitude and founded on appreciation. So, I would like to share a few aspects of life as a medical student that I am truly thankful today, as well as encourage you to express a heart full of gratitude towards the blessings in your life.

Medical can be challenging, exhausting, and emotionally draining in more ways than one (queue Miley Cyrus' It's the Climb). In fact, there have been days where I have questioned my abilities, whether I belonged in medical school, if I was even smart enough or actually deserved to be here. Add a global pandemic and high burnout rates to my hards days of questioning my intelligence and negative self-talk chopping at the bits at my self-esteem, it is easy to see how there is so much negativity in the medical/healthcare world today. However, through all the ups and downs, mistakes and successes, trials and tribulations if you will - I am here to encourage you that it should all be WORTH IT!

If you're anything like me, when I was in the application process of applying to medical school, I would have given ANYTHING for the opportunity to pursue my childhood dream of becoming a physician. I mean, I studied and took Organic Chemistry at the University of Georgia and the MCAT for goodness sake! So if you're feeling suffocated with responsibilities, Step 1 looming in the near future, imposter syndrome, test anxiety, or anything else ~ remind yourself that thousands of people would gladly take your spot. Aim to have an attitude of gratitude for where you are in your medical journey!

Someone on the admissions committee saw potential in YOU. Someone believed in your passions and abilities. Let the fact that the people who accepted you into medical school and who truly believed that you were capable of taking care of human life encourage you in any season!

We have a tendency to focus on the bad/negative parts of life that happen to us and around us. It is crazy how much more likely our human brain is to remember the mistakes we've made or the criticism we received over a genuine compliment or personal accomplishment. This unfortunate habit of focusing on negativity increases our feelings of discouragement, frustration, and sadness, as well as decreases the emotions of happiness and joy in our lives. Therefore, we have to be intentional. We have to choose to focus on the things that spark joy in our lives and the aspects in which we can control. So even when medical school challenges seem unsurmountable or the future of healthcare in the midst of COVID-19 seems bleak, decide right now to bring attention to the small (and big) things that blessings in your life. Cling to those happy moments!

Medical school has made me so much more aware of the need to view the world with a sense of positivity (not naivety, there's a difference). Being intentional with your thoughts and reminding yourself of the joys in your life allow for us to be grateful for where we are, how far we've come, and the opportunities that the future holds. This intentional sense of thankfulness in a way to build resilience when those bad days hit, because it equips us to handle the negativity and struggles with affirmations. These positive affirmations help us control how we choose to feel in challenging circumstances and destroy any of the false jabs our negative self-talk makes towards us.

So, thank you medical school Thank you for teaching me to properly conduct a review of systems in both clinical skills and life outlook. Thank you for teaching me how to appreciate the little things, progress (not perfections), and the people around me in ways I have never really noticed before.

This Medical Student is Thankful for (in no particular order and certainly not an exhaustive list):

  • Iced Coffee - caffeine is truly a necessity at this point

  • Online Lectures @ 1.5 - 2x speed

  • Not Being Pre-Med Anymore

  • Amazing Classmates - who are encouraging, share resources, talk through challenging topics, etc. (instead of a toxic, competitive learning environment)

  • My Husband - who is officially working/living in the Savannah, GA area (a.k.a. no more long distance marriage and a very happy Merritt)

  • Finding Fitness/Physical Activity as a Stress-Relieving Outlet

  • My Color-Coded, Organized Planner - seriously could not function with that this gem

  • Truly Committed & Invested Faculty

  • Community Service Involvement - reminding me why I am pursing a field dedicated to helping others

  • Mexican Food - I'm convinced Tequila Town is truly my happy place and/or love language

  • The Nathan Deal Scholarship Program - giving me the ability to purse a medical career in rural and underserved Georgia without financial obligations negatively impacting my choice of practice

  • Medical Campus Outreach Girl's Small Group - this group of girls encourages me and challenges me to pursue both Christ and medicine wholeheartedly

  • Pass/Fail Grading Systems

  • The White Coat - love feeling so official (and how no one talks about how hard they are to keep clean...)

  • Post-Exam Celebrations with Classmates

  • My Constant Support System - my family and friends believe in me, even when I doubt myself, and I could not be more blessed with better cheerleaders in my life!

  • An Excuse to Want/Need/Buy Cute Scrubs (aka Figs in all the fun colors)

  • Standardized Patients - these humans volunteer to act as our guinea pigs for all things clinical skills

  • AMBOSS + Anki Mash Up - truly a game changer in my study methods

  • Avoiding the Real World - who knew medical school is a socially acceptable path to further your learning and growing up

  • No More Anatomy Lab (if you know you know...)

  • Opportunities to Motivate, Encourage, and Aid Others on their Medical School Journey

  • A Future Career of Possibilities - that will allow me to make a difference in people's lives and positively impact the community

  • Coffee - yup, again but this time we'll say it's warm or espresso to mix it up

  • Better Appreciation for Time with Friends and Family

And to all of you reading this ~ Thank you. Thank you. Thank you!

I – we – all have so much to be thankful for. I hope your day of Thanksgiving will spill into a life of appreciation. I hope that this month is filled with blessings, good food, great people, and an attitude of gratitude.

Happy Thanksgiving y'all!

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Jul 03, 2023

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