“Mentorship is about getting to know someone and learning how he or she finds passion in his or her medical career.” writes Marissa Camilon, MD. “As young learners, we are drawn intrinsically to passionate people; whether their energy is shown through lectures, clinical work or even in simple conversations.”
Not only do mentors give advice, provide encouragement, offer insight, and connect you to a wider network; they can actually provide you with the perspective needed to figure out some solutions on your own.
12. Medical school is just a phase. It won’t last forever.
Just think of all the hurdles you’ve crossed to get to this stage, the endless tests and exams you had to take before you ever qualified to become a medical student. So is the journey through medical school, it is but a fraction of what lies ahead in your medical career. Stay optimistic!
13. Quitting is not an option.
“I’m fully aware of how rigorous medical school is, that prepares me to face any challenge during the course of study.” says Adarju, a medical student, who is also a spoken word artiste and a public speaker. Like the famous expression, “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.”
14. Cultivate healthy friendships.
Keeping the right company in medical school not only improves your emotional wellbeing, it also strengthens your focus. Seek like-minded friends who have a similar passion for the journey. They will not only ask to hang out with you for pizza, they will also suggest sleepovers where you can study together for your next Pathology test.
15. Find what works for you and make it work.
“I studied myself, I’m a lecture kind-of-person, I learn more in class than when studying by myself. So I attended more lectures and studied minimally.” says Dr. Popoola.
16. Remember why you started.
For some it was the admiration for the likes of famous Neurosurgeon, Dr. Ben Carson, while for others it was simply a deep-seated desire to make a significant difference in their community. Whatever your motive was for applying to medical school, don’t allow the pressure from the workload to kill your dream.
When you have a great relationship with those who believe in your dreams and want you to excel, not only does their flow of support (whether through uplifting words, cash or gifts) boost your morale; you also do not want to let them down, which motivates you to even go the extra mile. Your support network can be your greatest cheerleaders while in medical school, and also for a lifetime. “There’s no one in this world who believed in me like my mum did, even when I didn’t believe in myself or my performance in tests or exams. She was just exceptional.” says Dr. Tamie.
18. Eat healthy.
It’s no news that a lot of medical students barely have enough time to grab a cup of coffee, before they hit the ground running; And because of their fast-paced schedule, they mostly survive on fast food and energy drinks. The truth however, is that it takes a healthy medical student to become a healthy medical doctor, and a balanced diet not only increases your physical stamina, it also enhances your mental capacity.
19. Focus on becoming competent rather than just getting good grades.
While good grades are important for you to graduate from medical school, you need more than good grades to become a competent doctor. So don’t be depressed because your grades are not so impressive, just keep working hard to become the doctor of your dreams.
20. Listen to podcasts.
Whether you’re interested in purely medical podcasts like EM Basic or you prefer a wider variety of topics such as TEDTalks, listening to podcasts is a good way to keep your motivation coming.
All medical students need encouragement from time to time; And staying motivated through the rigors of medical school is in itself a challenge.
From my experience and those of other past and present medical students, here are some practical ways to keep the motivation coming through medical school, which I’ll be sharing over the next few weeks.
1. Discover yourself.
As a medical student, you’ve likely spent most of your life in a school environment (Elementary to College); now is the time to not just focus on your schoolwork alone, but also learn about yourself- your purpose, your values and your principles. You’ll be surprised at what you’ll find out.
2. Learn new skills
Medical school opens a world of other interests to you, where you can develop new skills like writing, photography, baking, video editing, or music; plus the Internet offers you great DIY resources.
3. Take online courses.
It is true that you’ve chosen the career path of medicine, but there’s so much you can learn about other fields like the arts, humanities, social sciences or technology. There are a variety of free courses online that you can look into.
There’s enough stress to handle already with the overwhelming work load in medical school and sometimes discouraging grades. It gets worse with putting extra pressure on yourself and criticizing every mistake you make.
Volunteering especially for medical causes (health fairs, blood drives, health awareness campaigns etc) is a good way to feel invaluable while giving back to your community. You don’t have to wait until you graduate before you find some meaning in the medical path.
6. Listen to good music.
Good music is like therapy for your soul. You’ll have some low output days, and rather than allow yourself to sink into depression, why not listen to some cool beats with amazing lyrics? Music is a great tool for internal motivation.
Listen to this inspiring song: I’m a Winner(MTN Project Fame version)
7. Watch Medical Shows.
Medical shows are not only a (fairly good) source of medical information (think terminologies, procedures and diagnosis) and humor, they also fuel your passion for medicine. Grey’s Anatomy, House and Chicago med are a few of them.
8. Start your own business.
Even as a medical student you can become an entrepreneur; apart from the financial renumeration, it also gives you a sense of self-worth and personal satisfaction.
9. Keep a journal.
Having a journal helps to boost your morale when you reflect on how you overcame a previously challenging time; it also helps you to keep an account of your journey which will be relevant in sharing your experiences in future.
“For me it was mostly the thought of being a good doctor (that kept me motivated) says Dr. Johnson, “I was always like someone’s life is going to be in my hands one day and I sure want to be able to save…I don’t want to be the doctor that doesn’t know what she’s doing.”
I hope you find some of the tips helpful, you can let me know some other ways you stay(ed) motivated in medical school.
PS– If you enjoyed this post, you might also enjoy:
It’s no news that scaling through medical school is challenging. Learning how to manage the stress that comes with it, is therefore a necessity.
Like I shared in an older post, a minimal level of stress, called EUSTRESS, is required for proper functioning in everyday life. When it becomes overwhelming however, it is known as DISTRESS which is counterproductive.
In this post, I have shared some tips that worked for me in managing stress as a medical student. I hope you find them helpful.
1. Start each day with a plan
As a medical student, I usually planned my day using both a to-do-list and a schedule.
A schedule is like a customized calendar that highlights specific activities for each day, especially those that demand a big chunk of your time (Eg Mondays for shopping, Tuesdays for taking out trash, Wednesdays for laundry, Thursdays for cooking, Fridays for blogging and so on)
A schedule helps you to manage your tasks, so that you can have sufficient time to get each one done, without neglecting others.
A to-do-list helps you to manage your time, so you get to maximize your day and account for every important activity.
A To-do-list on the other hand, is like a reminder, that lists out everything you want to get done before the day ends. It’s important that you do not overload your To-do-list. As a rule I don’t put more than 10 goals to accomplish on my To-do-list everyday.
Both are important to monitor your daily productivity, stay balanced and avoid crashing. To maximize them however, you need to apply the priority scale principle.
(PS: Check this blogpost for what a priority scale is and how to use it).
2. Practice healthy habits
It is true that you become whatever you’re becoming. Work at becoming a healthy doctor. Don’t just preach it, practice it!
They are quite simple really. But you’d be surprised at how many medical students break most or all of them.
The work is demanding enough, so you can’t afford to break down, not if you can help it.
Learn to take care of your body, so that your body can take care of you.
One simple advice, have your breakfast everyday!!! It’s a great way to avoid energy drain especially during ward rounds.
3. Make time for me-time
In other words, learn to unwind, relax and rejuvenate so that you don’t burn-out.
And if possible, have a “No-Studying Policy” for at least one day in a week. Sundays are perfect! Just take time off to take care of you.
You might like to stay indoors and get refreshed. For instance, I found out that taking a couple of hours at the beginning of the month to have a retreat was spiritually uplifting.
Or maybe you prefer the company of friends, think indoor games, movie nights, beach outings or even a boat cruise!
And if you’re several miles away from home (like I was), hanging out with your homeys on phone or skype, will go a long way to relieve any tension you might have accumulated over some days. Having your support network (friends and family) around and allowing them to pamper you for a while, when you’re having a bad day is always a blessing.
4. Attitude is everything
In this path you have chosen, there will be some tough times but you must learn to hang in there.
Learn the 3As of keeping a great attitude: Accept. Adjust. Adapt.
Accept the things you can’t change, adjust the way you respond to challenges and adapt by doing the best you can.
Your motivation is your responsibility. Find out what works for you and use it to your advantage.
As a medical student, I started a blog, practiced meditation and yoga, subscribed to podcasts/blogs, improved on my culinary skills, and read a lot of novels and other non-medical books. There’s an endless list of what you can do too.
5. Take one day at a time.
I can’t over emphasize this part. It’s understandable to think about what’s next after medical school, licensing exams, areas of specialization, and what not. If taken to the extreme however, it does more harm than good. Whenever you find yourself getting overwhelmed, try to declutter your mind and focus on what is right ahead of you – the next class, the next test, the next semester or the next clinical rotation.
Thank you for reading,
If you’ve enjoyed this post, you may also enjoy these:
It’s the middle of the year already…like seriously, year 2017 is wrapping up rapidly.
Well, I’m thankful because God has been so faithful.
For me, June is a month of JUBILATION.
Jubilation (Noun): a feeling of great happiness and triumph.
Synonyms: euphoria, ecstasy, glee, delight, elation.
And here are some reasons why:
– About this time last year, yours sincerely completed medical school.
It was a major breakthrough and a dream come true.
– And just this month God gave my family another victory, My dad got his PhD!
It took a while coming…many days, weeks, months and years longer than expected.Thank God, it has come to pass. And we trust him for other testimonies as well. Amen.
Before I continue, I have a few confessions:
In my first blogpost this year, I’d announced that I’d be doing free adverts for a few of my friends with growing businesses through this platform until the middle of the year. Unfortunately, I had to discontinue at some point, because it was challenging to create content and publish my blog posts.
To the friends I made promises to, I sincerely apologize. Please find it in your hearts to forgive me and I hope I can make it up to you all in the near future.
I also had to quit the blog challenge: 26 BLESSINGS AND COUNTING (with just 2 more posts to go), because I was overwhelmed by the way it dragged into the month of May. And there were other pending posts I had to work on, so I had to let it go.
Again I apologize for all the unkept promises.
Here’s a peep into my June (plus What’s New):
1. Meditating on:1 John 4:11
2. Song on repeat: The Hill (Travis Greene)
3. Currently reading:
a. The book of 1 John
b. Lioness Arising (Lisa Bevere)
“Jesus stripped himself and became like us, so we could strip ourselves and become like him.”
c. Unstoppable (Christine Caine)
” The goal of the race is not to earn God’s favor, the goal of the race is to become like Christ.”
d. Passing It On (Myles Munroe)
“True leaders do not retire. They simply move to the next phase.”
e. Innovation and Entrepreneurship (Peter F Drucker)
“Successful innovators are conservative, they are not risk-focused, they are opportunity focused.”
4. Still learning:
5. Working on:
Scripture Flash Cards
I love memorizing scriptures and I keep looking for easier ways to go about it. So I finally decided to create my own Flash Cards from scratch, using cardboard paper and a variety of pens.
6. Personal development:
Another thing I’ve become really intentional about is boosting my Self Confidence. And here are a few things I’m learning to do:
i) Proper Grooming
ii) Amiable Smile
iii) Increase Competence
iv) Accept Compliments
v) Lend a helping hand
7. Driving lessons:🚘🚥🚦
I’ve been training for over 2 weeks now but I’m still a long way from becoming the confident driver I need to be. My instructor says I’m taking the training rather too seriously and I need to relax.
I feel I’m battling with a level of performance anxiety that leads me to repeat some mistakes. It’s frustrating really. I need all the courage I can get and be done with the training already. Please Pray For Me🙏🏾🙏🏾🙏🏾
8. Creative Writing: I finally registered for an online writing course I could afford, last month. It’s been really enlightening, and to be honest there’s so much to learn. I’m thankful for the opportunity to improve on my writing.
9. NewsFlash: I’ve started using a piggy bank which is another goal for this year, thanks to Dr. tamie. My bank is locally made from cheap wood and without lock/key, which means I can’t be tempted to “borrow” from it. Already I’ve saved a reasonable amount, though I don’t have a job yet. I’m pretty excited.
10. Crushing on:
My three favorite TV soaps with intriguing storylines. I watch them back to back on weekdays, thanks to Africa Magic Showcase.
Here is the final part of my MDCN Experience. I’ll be sharing some of the highlights and challenges I had in my Centre.
First, I’d like to thank Dr. Tosin of lifewithtwotees.com, who was kind enough to blog about her MDCN experience (July-October 2015). I was privileged to come across her blog a few months before I returned to Nigeria. Fortunately, I got to do my MDCN remedial course at LUTH as well, and her tips were helpful.
The Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria (MDCN) is the umbrella body for medical doctors and dentists practicing in Nigeria. A primary function of the council is the issuing of provisional licenses for foreign trained medical and dental graduates, and inducting them into the Nigerian Healthcare System.
The license is issued to Foreign Trained Doctors (FTDs) after a satisfactory performance in the stipulated exam, following a 3-month remedial course at specified Tertiary hospitals.
The MDCN remedial program which takes place twice (January-April/July-October) every year, cuts across different Teaching Hospitals in the country. The usual centers are:
– Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), Lagos.
– Ahmadu Bello University Teaching Hospital (ABUTH), Zaria.
– Obafemi Awolowo University Teaching Hospital Complex (OAUTHC), Ile-Ife.
– University of Benin Teaching Hospital (UBTH), Benin.
– University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital (UNTH), Enugu.
(For more information about MDCN, visit mdcn.gov.ng)
Tales from LUTH
The last MDCN Remedial Course (January-April 2017) was held at Lagos University Teaching Hospital, Idi-araba, Lagos. I resumed a week after the program had commenced and I discovered there was a lot of catching up to do already. To add to the stress, I had to be going about looking for a suitable accommodation. Thankfully, I found one in Mushin, and moved in with a friend about 3 weeks into the program.
Like I mentioned in my previous post, the earlier you get settled into the program, the easier it will be.
Tbh, the 3 months duration was pretty intense, much like a boot camp experience. In comparison, my medical school days were such a luxury.
There were Foreign Trained Doctors from all over the globe: Egypt, Hungary, Ukraine, Russia, St. Kitts, Dominica, St. Vincent, Ghana, South Africa, Sudan, London, Uganda, Ireland, India, Canada etc
Over 300 candidates registered for the remedial course at LUTH. First, we were divided into four groups (A-D) for our clinical postings, then further divided into subgroups for the different units.
On week days, we had ward/clinic activities in the 4 major departments (Medicine, Surgery, Pediatrics and Obstetrics/Gynecology). We resumed anytime from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., depending on the department/unit. We also had logbooks for attendance where the Consultant/Senior Registrar available in the unit would sign.
My postings were in the following order:
1. Pediatrics (Infectious disease/Cardiology unit)
Since I resumed the remedial program a week late, I spent the shortest time in that department.
Highlight(s): The usual ward rounds which included bedside patient examinations and drilling, an outpatient clinic with the consultant (who took her time to teach us after we had clerked some patients); and a departmental seminar where a project was proposed by a SR, followed by an interesting debate with the topic- The Doctor: The King Or A Pawn? Several arguments where made for and against both labels, but the moderator’s conclusion was that the doctor is neither the king nor the pawn, but a visionary leader who is to adequately head the healthcare team.
Challenge(s): I was a little flustered while in the unit, because of a particular SR who made me nervous on several occasions. I’d missed a rather cheap question (something on an antibiotic) and she seemed to pick on me afterwards. Thankfully, that was the only posting where I experienced such a challenge.
2. Obstetrics and Gynecology (Reproductive Endocrinology and Fertility Regulation unit)
Highlight(s): Outpatient clinics and ward rounds. The Regs in O&G really moved stuff, so I learnt a number of important things, like how to use the Partograph.
In one of the clinics, I clerked a patient with another colleague, and our top differential diagnosis was Amenorrhea, only to be told afterwards by the supervising Reg, that it was simply a case of Secondary Infertility!
Shame no fit catch us that day, but we live to learn, and thankfully we did learn.
Challenges(s): Well, the experience was quite pleasant although I didn’t get to observe any labour & delivery or c-section because of the unit I was posted to.
3. Internal Medicine (Renal unit)
I had an interesting time here as well. There was a lot to learn on a daily basis. The team members were quite accommodating too.
Highlight(s): Ward rounds and Outpatient clinics.
Challenge(s): It was quite sad to see a number of patients suffering from chronic renal insufficiency, not able to afford payment for their dialysis.
4. Surgery (General Surgery unit)
This was eventually the least stressful of my postings.
Originally, I was posted to the Neurosurgery unit, which I accepted in good faith, despite the rumors of unpleasant treatment from the unit.
To cut the story short, the few days my colleagues and I spent there was “not it”. We were a bit restless trying to be punctual at all costs and to adhere to the rather strict guidelines of the team.
Eventually, we were kicked out by the Chief Reg himself, because we failed to turn up for the unit call that weekend! All our pleas fell on deaf ears.
And how relieved I was, because I had gotten so worked up anyway.
The General Surgery team members were a lot more accommodating and less intimidating and I did learn a couple of things from them.
Highlights: Ward rounds, Seminars, Clinics and Minor Surgeries. It was overall an interesting experience for me, not just academically but also socially.
Challenges: I was unable to observe any of the major surgeries, during my posting, due to a limited supply of surgical scrubs. One thing common to the Operating rooms both in my med school and LUTH was this, the “Nursing Sisters” were in charge! Whoever they refused to help remained helpless.
The lectures took place from 2pm to 5pm, from Mondays to Fridays. On some days, we were lucky enough to finish on time and on not-so-lucky days, the lectures ended much later. All lectures were either in PowerPoint or PDF format, and our class representatives did a great job of getting them across to us.
We were exposed to a variety of lecturers, some were really nice and enthusiastic about teaching us, they were not just concerned about the remedial course, but also inquired about our general welfare and how we were coping in the Nigerian environment; a few were indifferent, they simply taught us and left, and we had a number of sarcastic ones, who spoke as if training outside Nigeria was a crime itself.
The courses we covered were quite extensive:
– Obstetrics and Gynecology
– Internal Medicine
– Chemical Pathology
– Morbid Anatomy
– Community Health
My favorites were Anaesthesia, Community Health and Psychiatry.
Tuberculosis, Malaria and Sickle Cell Disease were high yield topics that came up in almost every course.
We learnt some interesting mnemonics too e.g.
SHADE for Family History
NASORATI for Patients Biodata
5 Cs forh/o Presenting Complaints
Overall, it was a worthwhile experience and I enjoyed the MDCN remedial course. For those hoping to participate in subsequent ones, I hope you find the experience equally enjoyable.