My biggest struggle with both medical school applications and studying has always been how introverted I am. I am someone who has a few friends, because I mentally struggle to keep up with a large group of people and find it incredibly intimidating to be surrounded by them all. Being this way brings its own amount of challenges; I get incredibly anxious walking into new situations and always doubt myself which creates a viscous circle of stress and anxiety.
“Yes, there is a stigma behind resitting a year, but I am confident that it will make me a better doctor by the end of it all.”
There are a number of reports about introversion and medical students. Observations suggest that these people feel like misfits, judged as under-performers and question whether they need to change who they are in order to be successful. For a long time this summarised me and my experiences in medical school; ultimately, it led to me failing my preclinical year and having to resit the year. Whilst this was really devastating and really knocked what little confidence I had it also has been an opportunity for me to really thrive in medicine.
“Everyone shines given the real lighting” – Susan Cain
This quote summarises my experiences with resitting my year; I now know about what i am going into, I’ve not been as stressed going into situations that are introduced throughout the year, as I have already done it before. I am asking questions, not being afraid to step forward and talk to patients or perform examinations. It is strangely liberating; and I am seeing the rewards. Lectures and clinical fellows have commented on how much I have improved and seem more engaged. Not that I wasn’t before, but I was too scared to show it. I am feeling like I deserve to be a medical student and that passing is possible now. Yes, there is a stigma behind resitting a year, but I am confident that it will make me a better doctor by the end of it all.
There is part of me that still cries in her car before having to go to a new ward and introduce myself. Who stirs herself into such a panic over having to meet someone new. But I am surrounded by a solid support network now, and boosted by the confidence I have gained from people telling me I am doing well. I can have my little moment and push through it. When I reach that moment of utter panic I think of a student in my original year group. His confidence and ability to just take an instruction and do it; to take what he needs to be successful without being afraid of not being good enough or being judged. I am envious of him in a way, I wish I could do that so easily, because I know i will be a good doctor, it’s just getting through the messy social anxiety and fear of people to be that doctor.
My Tips for You!
1. Surround yourself with good people. Whilst I know it’s not exactly a medical school application tip, its a medicine survival tip. Medical school applications are stressful, so is medical school. If you surround yourself with people who support you and lift you when you need help and not put them down. You need to do medicine for yourself and not for others.
2. When in interview, always take a deep breath before answering a question and always explain your thought process. This got me through my interviews and was the reason behind my success. Taking that breath gives you a minute to think. Voicing your thought process lets them know how you think, which is ultimately what they are trying to find out about you. Its not just the answer they are interested in but how you get there, and how you deal with a situation you don’t know thee answer to. That’s medicine after all.
Rosie – The Female Medic
Abigail discusses the fact that failure is inevitable in life but provides an opportunity for growth, even though it hurts sometimes. I outline my failures and how I learnt from them in my post ‘How to Fail’ linked here