I’ve been trying to do live Instagram stories more often to chat with y’all, and the last one gave me some really good post ideas! I love “talking” with you guys, hearing more about what you’re doing and why you follow me, and answering any questions you have. Someone asked me how I stay motivated, which is a pretty broad question, but one I’ll attempt to answer here.
I think the question was asked because medical school is known to be pretty demanding. Especially this year, my third year, we are often working more than 40 hours a week (70+ on surgery!) at the hospital and then have to study for our exams when we get home and on the weekends. And trust me, studying is usually the last thing you want to do after a long day!
When considering how I stay motivated, there are four initial thoughts that come to mind:
1. We don’t have a choice!
Medical school is different than high school or college because you can’t just cram and still expect to pass the tests. There is just too much information! To get through the books and question banks we use to study for each test you have to start early. On each eight week rotation people may take the first week or two a little easy, but after that you have to be consistent with studying in order to not get behind. In addition, we get “pimped” (or quizzed – pimped is a weird medical school term) by our residents and attending physicians each day at the hospital. And then they evaluate us on how much we know and how well we do on the rotation, which is part of our final grade. So really, we just have to study. All the time.
2. I want to know this stuff!
It’s way easier to stay motivated now that I’m in the hospital and seeing patients each day. Back in the classroom days it was definitely a struggle to connect the hours in the classroom to real people. But now I want to be able to figure out what is going on and know how to treat the people I’m helping to taking care of each day. In order to be a good physician I need to learn this material (and then keep learning…forever!) so I have to put in the work. Luckily the body’s physiology is fascinating, and modern medicine is straight up miraculous, so even on the most difficult days I still learn really amazing things.
3. I have to feel my best to do my best.
In regards to eating well and exercising, there are a few things that keep me going. First, I know that to be an effective student and part of the team, I have to feel good. Eating mostly nutritious foods and moving my body often helps energize me and keeps me focused. I genuinely feel better when I’m regularly doing those things. Secondly, I want to practice what I preach! I have learned in school and very much believe in the importance of nutrition and exercise for optimal health. There are many more things I think contribute to overall health, such as sleep, close relationships, spirituality, down time to relax, etc, and these often fall by the wayside in busy med school. I do my best to fit them in because I know that I have to take care of myself before I can best take care of others. It’s not easy (for anyone!) but after struggling with an eating disorder, anxiety, SIBO and more, I am probably more dedicated to my own health than others.
4. Truthfully, I’m NOT motivated all the time!
Oh goodness, I hope I don’t give off that impression. The idea that med students are constantly happy, inspired, and focused is just not true. I try to stay pretty real here and on Instagram, sharing my ups and my downs.There are plenty of days my brain barely works and I can’t get enough caffeine. There are so many days I am just over. it. and want a break! I try to give myself some time off when I’m feeling burned out, but lots of times I know that things have to get done and push through. That’s just life, huh? Work hard and do things you don’t always want to do. Med school is a career of delayed gratification and sacrifices now so you can achieve your goals.
What are your tips for staying motivated?