From 1st Year Tribulations to 1st Year Wins

As promised, I’m back!!  I’ve definitely missed my followers over this past year and a half!!  This will be a short post but definitely a sincere one.

When I began medical school, I had the hardest time integrating.  The learning curve was SO steep!  I had to fight an uphill battle of learning how to study for the first time along with being ill the majority of the time.  In May of last year, I decided to repeat my first year.  I decided that as long as I’ve been in school already, what’s one more year?  So for most of my followers that were preparing to enter school, I experienced my full 1st year of medical school with you guys.

We’re so used to excelling at everything and being the best of the best. When we come to medical school & we’re hit with that first low grade, it can definitely be a hit to your ego. Most people learn from it and build upon it, while a select few have a pretty rough time.

I was one of the ones who immediately had a very, very hard time. Along with getting some of the worst grades of my life, I got one of the worst shots to my ego as well. In the twinkle of an eye, I lost confidence in myself & I began to have horrible test anxiety. In lower levels of education, it’s fairly easy to deal with that. In med school, not so much. Every single minute is just whizzing by you and you find that not only are you having a rough time with the “here & now”, you’re also far behind!!  I had never had to deal with test anxiety before. From what I found out is that tons of professional students begin to have test anxiety AFTER undergrad (Who knew?!?).

Oftentimes, during hard or rough periods, we find ourselves counting ourselves out far before we get started or are even close to the finish line. Sometimes it can be a hindrance & we cause ourselves to be on the losing end. More often than not, we end up winning.

I recently had to deal with an illness the night before an exam that caused me not to be able to study. If it was any time that I had to rely on pure confidence, it was now!! I wasn’t able to prepare for the exam like I normally would but I had studied a week prior so I had SOME base knowledge. I simply told myself, “You might not know the details but just try to reason your way through the test and no matter how you do, you should be able to fight your way back with your test next block.” Really and truly, I didn’t expect to get more than a 50 on this exam because I just didn’t have the information down.

I went into my exam and came out feeling better than I have on almost any exam!! When I got my grade back today, not only did I do fine on the exam, I got the best grade that I’ve had since I’ve been in med school!! If that’s not a sign I don’t know what is!! Remember, you may be down, but you’re definitely not out!!

While I haven’t hit many milestones yet, I silently rejoiced at the end of the school year for a very personal, significant one. A successful year of lectures came to an end. While it’s the norm for any other student, I silently rejoiced. Last year, when I arrived at that point, I skid into Finals not having any idea what I was doing, questioning whether I wanted to be in Medical school, & wondering if this was the end of what had been a dream a lifetime ago. I was tired, broken, & discouraged. I, unsuccessfully at the time, attempted to persevere through an illness & social/educational anxiety. In short, I was a mess & had to figure out a way to pick up the pieces all by myself.

This year, I did what I never thought I WOULD do & what I had been discouraged from at every turn. I walked into Finals with the light of a new beginning and the realization of being blessed with a second chance.

After many failures, pickups, counseling sessions, & destressors, I can finally say that I have found ways to effectively manage my anxiety. I’ve come to realize that although tests are an essential part of my education, they don’t define me as a person, student, or future doctor. Yeah, we want to do great on exams, but if you don’t do as well as you thought you should have, there’s always a way to make it up. Work hard for that next exam, work on study strategies, and get ahead of the game!! As a medical student, it’s far too easy to define yourself by exam scores and it can cause you to get down on yourself pretty quickly! Trust me, I dealt with it! That can all be curbed by self-evaluation & working on those flawed areas.

It took me quite some time to say, “Hey, there were plenty of other people that could be in my spot, but I was chosen!!” “It’s my time to shine and I’m not letting anything or anybody take that away from me!

It’s taken me almost a year to gain my confidence back and it’s an uphill battle every day, but I am winning!!

In the words of my most inspiring professor, Joanne Oakes, “This won’t be on the test but this is real life.”

XOXO,

~Student Dr. Kendra

The Not So Pretty

Keep calm everybody!!!  I’ve finally decided to keep a written account of my medical school experience!!  A little about me, I guess.  I attend UT-Houston Medical School as a 1st year.  I’m definitely a homebody and by no means a gunner.  For all you gunners out there, have at it!!

Other than class attendance and mandatory events, the only extracurricular thing that I do for the school is occasionally host an interviewee in my home.  They are just full of unanswered questions, and for lack of a better word, yearn for the knowledge of someone that has already started the journey that they are about to embark on.  Even as someone who has succeeded in becoming a medical student (a feat in itself), I definitely still heed the knowledge and pointers that my upperclassmen peers are willing to offer.  Before I came to medical school or even applied, I had so many questions so I thought it was time for me to host a forum to talk about my experience in the quest to become a doctor and also offer some advice, should some need it.  By all means, most of this blog will include only my personal experience and my “Non-expertise”.

Getting into medical school is hard, but staying in medical school is EVEN HARDER!!  SPOILER ALERT!!!  IT’S NOT PRETTY!!!  Without further ado, here it goes.

I am pretty much the typical small-town girl.  I grew up in Hamlin, TX, a city of about 2400 people.  I graduated salutatorian of a 33 person class (Fascinating right??) in 2010.  By that time, I absolutely had it set in my mind that I was going to school to be a doctor.  Traumatic experience, death of a family member, epiphany, blah, blah, blah, the sort of thing you put on a personal statement right??  I attended undergrad at McMurry University in Abilene, TX.  I majored in Biomedical Science and minored in BioChemistry (the fun stuff).  Let me stop here and say I definitely chose BioMedical Science as a major because it offered all of the prerequisites for Medical school without (for the most part) taking anything else (yay)  and I also got a Bachelor’s out of it (double yay).  I was definitely not going to be either one of those habitual major changers or an art history major that decided to “pursue her passion of art history” but wanted to be a doctor as well.  Back to my life.

I had the privilege of having an adviser that was also a chiropractor, so he offered pretty great advice, besides that little tidbit of information that he tried to force down my throat (You’re not extraordinary, you don’t have a 4.0 GPA, & you didn’t make a 40 on the MCAT.  You need to either just go get a master’s or at best, you don’t have a choice but to go to DO school).  Yeah, I just disregarded that.

I am a professional procrastinator, so I decided to pay for an online Kaplan course to prepare me for the MCAT (worst $1200 I have ever spent).  As I now know, I pretty much only learn if I’m sitting in a class or I have hands-on experience.  I ended up studying for all of about 30 minutes the night before my exam (don’t try this at home kids).  While trying to finish up the semester, I highly anticipated my score.  I told myself, “Whatever I get, that’s what I get and that’s what I’m applying with.” (cavalier right?).  Finally, dear God, 30 days later, I got my score back.  My one and only score was a 25.  (You mean to tell me I didn’t make a 40?  I won’t ever be able to go to medical school!!)  All that aside, like I promised myself, that’s what I decided to apply and, hopefully, interview with.

With my new-found confidence, I put my usual procrastination to work.  I waited around until the last day that the TMDSAS application was due.  (In retrospect, where was my brain?  What was I doing?)  I didn’t hear back from any school until after the pre-match period for most schools was over.  In the end, I only got two interviews (One in Galveston & one in Houston).  I informed my adviser about how elated I was that I got not one but two interviews and was pretty much told, “Oh you only made a 25 & your GPA is only a 3.7.  Good luck next application season.”  (Yeah obviously at this point he’s not gonna be of any help.)

When Match Day came around, I don’t know how many prayers I sent up!!  At 8:00 am I finally got to check and see if I got in and lo and behold I matched to UT-Houston!!!  I matched!!!  I matched!!! I matched!!! (Insert Happy Dance Here)  “Wait, what does match even mean??”  It took lots of Google searches and a few inquiries for me to even figure out that I was accepted.

Fast-forward to today!!  My med school life is anything BUT glamorous, perfect, any of those fun things.  Every day is a struggle but I definitely take medical volunteering opportunities any time I can to keep me grounded!!!  It also reminds me of why I came to medical school in the first place!!  I constantly go through the same cycle:  Oh I feel so stupid—>I finally understand what’s going on!!!—->I’m never gonna graduate—->(I volunteer) Now this is why I got into medicine!! and back again!!  But I wouldn’t trade it for the world!!

In conclusion, this blog was just made so others can see my transparency and know that you don’t have to be SuperWoman/Man to become a doctor.  I hope it is encouragement & motivation for most and maybe just informative for others.  Take it from somebody that was riding the STRUGGLE BUS!!!  Like I said before, beware.  The ride ain’t always pretty!!!  More pieces to come!!!

XOXO,

Student Dr. Kendra