Hey Readers – we’ve got an exclusive Match Day Memoir from our very own (and recently matched Ob-Gyn mentor) Tiphany Jackson!! Enjoy the read!
March 18th, 2016 | 06:43AM | Chicago, IL
In a couple months, someone is going to hand me a diploma and tell me that I am now Dr. Jackson. In a few hours, I’m going to gather in my school’s atrium to open an envelope that tells me where I’m going for the next four years. A tad bit uneasy? You have no idea! But today, as I reflect on the last four years, I feel a sense of completion — a distinct “wholeness” that could only come from giving my ALL to this experience. I want to share some of that reflection — particularly, those gems and pearls I would tell to an earlier (and probably a little less anxious) version of myself.
Keep the Focus on School
Sounds obvious, right? Wrong. There’s just about a million ways to divide your time — and many don’t include studying. Sure it’s completely reasonable to want to do 10,000 hours of community service, or to plan that much needed student leadership retreat. But at all times our intentions need to be kept in perspective: we are students first and foremost — and ultimately need to be wise about how we allocate our time. (Of note: Now, I’m not saying that I would trade-in all extracurricular experiences, because some of them proved more valuable than what I learned in the classroom. But, I would caution myself to be more judicious about what I spent my free time on). The inherent benefit of limiting what you say “yes” to is that it magically increases the available time you have to pursue true passions; then, you can be amazing at those one or two things, rather than “okay” at 6-7 things.
Network! It’s not just a collection of TV shows
The idea of networking isn’t what comes to mind when thinking about medical school. Students in MBA, Law, and even PhD programs are encouraged to network and cross-collaborate regularly. The underlying premise is that a broad network generates access to job opportunities that otherwise would slip through the cracks. Medical school is no different. In an era where it has become increasingly more difficult to match in your desired specialty (or to match at all for that matter) strong connections are essential. You never know if meeting someone at a mentoring event, during a conference (AMEC!), or through a family friend can be the difference between getting your foot in the door for an interview and getting that pesky “do not reply” email.
Turn Friends into Family
I am most proud of the connections that I’ve formed during my time in medical school. Stress tends to be at an all-time high for everyone in the class, and without the support of friends, staff, and family it can become overwhelming. Good friends are the type to travel with you through that grueling anatomy lab and exam phase. They’re the type to lift you up when you get that not-so-hot grade or evaluation, and to applaud you when you crush a presentation. Over time, those study partners become family, the kind that appear on your doorstep with a bottle of wine and bag of Thai food to make the stressful days feel a bit more normal. Good friends transform learning medicine into an enjoyable ride, with memorable pit stops along the way. I’ve learned to cherish these friendships that I’ve cultivated, and have made it a point to continually keep them in the fold throughout my career. After all, they helped me to persevere.
So to wrap this up, I just want to say — be thoughtful, be invested, and be intentional. Be thoughtful about where you choose to go to medical school because that environment can have a profound impact on your learning. Be invested in the lives of the friends you make along the way; whether they stem from a small or large interaction, the relationships you build make all the difference. And be intentional about what you do while you’re there, keeping in mind that the end game is that long sigh of relief, sealed tightly inside a white envelope.