Clerkship updates! It’s been a busy past few months! I completed one month each of Internal Medicine (CCU/ER consults) and General Surgery.
What I enjoyed the most
I really enjoyed doing consults in the ER because I felt it really allowed me to hone my history taking and physical exam skills as well as come up with management plans. I met so many interesting patients and learned a lot from the fantastic staff and residents I worked with. In General Surgery, I had the opportunity to become more comfortable in the OR (I was initially terrified of going in there!) and practice useful skills such as inserting foleys and suturing incisions. I also had the opportunity to participate in laparoscopic surgery by assisting with guiding the camera, which was fun! I also developed a new appreciation for how difficult it is for patients to undergo surgery: the anxiety before surgery as well as the sometimes excruciating pain and post-op recovery.
What I struggled with the most
Internal Medicine and General Surgery have definitely been the most demanding in terms of work hours and I sometimes felt like I was floundering. I had managed to keep my mindset positive and motivated during my previous rotations but for some reason, I had moments of doubt and anxiety over the past few weeks which I can’t fully explain. So, I sat myself down, worked through my thoughts, prayed, and confided in family and friends about my struggles. I have emerged stronger and more motivated!
My take home message
Internal Medicine and General Surgery are great specialties despite the long hours. They each bring different perspectives and add richness to one’s medical training. The past few months have reminded me how important it is to guard one’s thoughts and to rely on others when we feel weak and downtrodden. Despite the challenges, I am excited to be pursuing a career in medicine and thank God for his ever abundant blessings in my life!
The other day, I was on my daily commute to the hospital for one of my clinical rotations. The train chug chugged along and as it neared one of two bridges, I turned my head expectantly to view the expansive water and distant hills. But on this particular day, the view which I have come to treasure, was blanketed by an unrelenting fog. I could see absolutely nothing outside of the window. It was a disconcerting feeling. What was happening behind the fog? When would the fog lift? As the train made it to the other side of the bridge, the water and hills left behind, the fog gradually lifted, trees and buildings slowly appeared and my view of the outside world became crystal clear once again.
This two minute experience got me thinking about how similar life can be to this event. There are times in our lives when our path forward is clear. We can feel confident enough to proceed on our journey. There are other moments, when things become less clear, our confidence may become shrouded in uncertainty and we wonder where has the path disappeared to? One thing I do know. The fog eventually lifts, and we will see clearly again. It just requires patience, determination and the will to never give up.
I recently completed my second Psychiatry rotation and have just completed my first 2 weeks of Internal Medicine. Both have been great learning experiences with amazing staff physicians and residents. On some days though, I feel truly tired. I wonder if I have the strength and ability to become a good doctor. Or I struggle to balance medicine with family life. Doubts try to creep in. But I also feel so grateful to be in a position to help people so directly in their moments of crisis, illness or fear. It truly is a humbling and privileged position to be in! And even on those cloudy, unclear days…the fog eventually lifts!
Featured image: View from the train in summer time, late evening (potentialdoctor.com)
“On behalf of the Faculty of Medicine of McGill University, I am delighted to offer you a position in the Fall 2016 MDCM…program. Congratulations!
On behalf of the Admissions Committee, allow me to compliment you on your impressive candidacy. We are confident that your unique experiences and perspectives as a Non-Traditional Pathway student will enrich the McGill learning community and we look forward to your favourable response.
Yours sincerely, Assistant Dean of Admissions”
Words cannot express my joy when I received my offer of admission to medical school yesterday! This is a dream come true for me and after years of effort, three attempts at the MCAT, and my second attempt at applying to medical school, I have finally made it!
Yesterday and today have been a whirlwind of events as I have spoken to many friends and family members. I have received an outpouring of beautiful messages from all over the world. At my women’s bible study this morning, I was smothered in hugs, smiles, laughter and happy tears as well as presented with a beautiful bouquet of flowers. A celebration party is already in the works courtesy of my friends who are as excited as I am.
Countless friends and family have been upholding me in prayer this whole journey and particularly after I received the difficult news on Friday that I had been put on the waiting list. My support network never gave up hope and continued to encourage me, support me and pray for me. I have never felt so much overwhelming love around me. My husband came home from work with tears running down his cheeks as we embraced for a long time and the kids were jumping up and down in excitement.
I feel that I have not been walking this journey alone. So many have been walking with me, picking me up when I fell down, motivating me when I felt exhausted, encouraging me when I felt like giving up.
This whole experience, both the highlights and valleys, has made me grow in so many ways and has strengthened my faith in such a mighty way. I am so grateful to all of you who believed in me and encouraged me. I will never forget the night in my kitchen when I announced to my husband that I was giving up on medicine and we talked for 2 straight hours about how that was not an option and we needed to talk through what my concerns were.
Through it all, my husband never wavered and continued to assure me he would walk with me through this journey. I owe so much to my family and friends, and in particular one of my big brothers and mentor who has been inspiring me since we were children, and who consistently told me how much potential I have. I could not have done this without my Heavenly Father who gave me so much strength through my weak moments, and who guided me when I felt lost.
As I continue to absorb this exciting news, I think of my amazing late father who set a wonderful example of inspiration and dedication in his career as a surgeon. Taken from us to soon, daddy, but I follow this path in honor of you!
I want to encourage everyone out there who is on a difficult path, particularly those trying to get into medicine. It is very competitive, tough and sometimes disheartening to go through the application process, but persistence pays off. Keep trying, don’t give up! Whatever you set your mind to, keep your eyes above the waves and focused on your prize. You will get there at the right time!
Thank you so much to all my readers for taking the time to read my blog and encourage me. You don’t know how much it has meant to me and helped me along the way!! I know that the journey is only really just beginning and I still have a long way to go but I am just so excited to be starting medical school in the Fall!! Please continue to walk with me. It would be my delight to share my experiences with you!
This verse encouraged me multiple times during my journey:
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” Jeremiah 29:11
A new chapter of my life begins…I’m going to be a doctor!
For the past several years, it has been my hope to pursue a career in medicine. Although there have been setbacks, delays and disappointments, I am happy to announce that I received an invitation to interview at my top-choice medical school!
January had been a tough month for me with multiple refusals from several medical schools. When I received one “no” after the other, I was tempted to lose hope. But I knew there was still one university pending and my prayer was that the best outcome for my family and I would prevail.
As I waited for the interview decisions to come out yesterday, my emotions fluctuated between hope, excitement, dread and fear. So many friends and family were waiting for the news and I did not want to disappoint them. My husband and I decided that we would wait for him to get home from work before checking online for the status of my application. The level of suspense was high and at one point in the day, I folded my arms on the dining room table, let a few tears fall down my face and said, “God, I did my best, whatever happens today, may your will be done!”
Looking back at the months of waiting and the moments of disappointment, I can say that things are working out for the best because this particular university that I received an invitation to is one of the top universities in Canada, it is the closest one to where we live and also happens to be my alma mater. I am truly blown away and humbled that I was chosen to interview because the competition was stiff.
Through all of this, I am just grateful to have made it a step further in my dream of becoming a doctor. The last hurdle will be to get through the interview and make it to the final cut. It is a huge challenge but if I’ve made it this far, there is still hope and I am going to give it my very best shot!
So the next few weeks will be spent ramping up my interview practice in preparation for my multiple-mini-interview (MMI) on May 2nd. I am thrilled, excited and so very hopeful that things will work out for the best! No matter what happens, I am so happy to have made it this far and for the incredible support I have received from those around me.
Never give up on your dreams. The mountain may seem insurmountable but there is always a way to get to the top! We just have to keep going!
January was a tough month in regards to my medical school applications. I heard back from three more schools and sadly, they did not invite me for an interview. It felt like one blow after another, like the man in the arena, who is “face-down”.
Sharing the news with friends and family was difficult to do. I had a mixture of emotions ranging from feeling defeated, to feeling like a failure, to disappointment, to wanting to give up. But I learned lessons from my last rejection experience in November and did not entertain these feelings for long. I acknowledged them and then decided to look at the positive side of the situation:
Rejection does not mean I am a failure: It is just a temporary glitch or bump in the journey and does not mean the story is at an end.
Closed doors often have hidden blessings: I realized that by not gaining acceptance to those particular universities, I no longer have to worry about moving to another province. There are so many blessings where we currently live: a safe neighborhood, the opportunity for my children to learn French as a second language, and being surrounded by a great church community, friends and family.
There is still hope: I am yet to hear back from one more university (my alma mater) in March and this is the closest medical school to where we live.
So, even though I had my “face-down in the arena” moment in January, I am picking myself back up and moving forward. I think it’s important to take some concrete steps whenever we feel that we have fallen so that we do not stew in our disappointment or despair:
Preparation: I am practicing interview questions in case I get invited for an interview. Regardless of the outcome, it will not be wasted time because practicing to speak better is a skill that is easily transferable.
Learning: I went through a few weeks of lack of motivation after my bout of rejections so I have decided to take an online course to keep my mind working. The course is in Global Health with a focus on Humanitarian Crises. Not only am I learning a lot from this course but it is helping me to keep things in perspective as I am reminded of the struggles so many people around the world go through.
Writing: I am keeping a journal to document my thoughts and emotions more regularly. I had a habit of suppressing my emotions which was not healthy and journal writing has been therapeutic.
Serving: I am grateful for the opportunities to serve and lead at my church through music and teaching. There are moments when it is nerve-wracking, tiring and frustrating but it has also been so rewarding and enriching and has definitely fueled my personal and spiritual growth.
Whatever challenges you are going through, do not despair. Those “face-down” moments can feel awful but they can also lead to great things and help us grow. Here is an excerpt from one of my favorite speeches that encourages me when I feel like I am struggling in the arena of life.
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat” -The Man in the Arena, Theodore Roosevelt.
I have started off this year feeling very positive and excited about the future. I listened to a talk recently where the speaker described hope as having joyful expectations about the future. And with that hope, comes the attitude of seeing the good in what we currently have now.
When I didn’t get into medical school when I applied in 2013, I was deeply disappointed. I just couldn’t stomach the thought of going through subsequent setbacks. So why not just settle? Admit failure and go back to what I was doing before?
What I am learning from my experiences is that the future goal keeps us hopeful, and in the mean time, we are being shaped and equipped in preparation for our purpose. Both the successes and failures refine us and make us better. It may seem like it is taking an eternity to get to our goal, but provided that we are regularly taking a small step towards that goal, progress is being made. Provided that we are keeping our heads above the waves, and keeping our eyes on the lighthouse that is guiding us to shore, we are making progress.
I am no longer afraid of failure. It may still hurt but I am not afraid of it. I am not afraid of trying again. Each attempt teaches me something and helps me to grow in some way. The journey is just as important as the destination and each day we have is valuable.
So, as I wait to hear back from medical schools this application cycle, I am excited! I am not afraid of the outcome. Whatever happens, I have so much to be grateful for. I have my support-team behind me and I have people who believe in me and love me no matter what.
Whatever your dreams and goals are, don’t give up. Failing is not the end. It means you were courageous enough to try…and that’s something to be proud of.
It’s never easy getting past rejection. It can cause us to question ourselves, wonder if we made the wrong decisions or even tempt us to give up. But rejection is not the end of the story. It can be the beginning of a new, exciting path to our destination!
Yesterday, I received my first official rejection letter from the 5 medical schools I applied to. There was something about seeing the words “I regret to inform you…” that was so stark and disappointing. Yet, at the same time, it gave me a sense of closure and peace that this avenue had closed and it was time to turn my mind to other paths.
In the past, I would have viewed this rejection letter as a personal failure and stewed over it for some time. Now, I am learning more and more to turn to God for His strength in my weak moments and trusting in His grace to see me through life’s disappointments and struggles. And I am reminded that obstacles and closed doors are part of the journey of perseverance and staying the course.
I have confidence in my ability to get into medical school and I am so grateful for my friends, family and readers who continue to support me on my quest to becoming a doctor. No matter how long it takes, I plan to get there one day!
My husband called me from work shortly after I received the letter to check on how I was doing, “We keep going, I’m behind you all the way“.
My brother sent me an email.”We proceed. You will go to the place that sees and places full value on you. There you will be celebrated and thrive. Tuendelee! We’ll get there!”
So as I wait until January 2016 to hear back from the other medical schools I applied to, I take comfort in knowing that God has the perfect plan for me and it will all work out as it should. In the meantime, I have innumerable blessings that I am grateful for and that I plan to enjoy!
If you have a goal, particularly one that is taking a long time to achieve, don’t let rejection or delays stop you from persevering. Keep going! Once we get to our destination, it will be all the more sweeter for the challenges we were able to overcome to get there!