I have a chance to study from some amazing doctors in the ER but I’m so shy. In everyday life I am loud, brave and a risk-taker but there I’m just like “wow, I’m so dumb”. I even forget the most trivial stuff when they ask me questions, it’s so frustrating because I know I’m not stupid and am usually good with people. Do you have any advice? (I’m a med student)
Hi there, anon!
We’ve all been there; especially as a med student. I remember coming home feeling completely ashamed and exhausted from all the negative self-talk I pummeled my mind with on a daily basis. So I would tell you what I wish someone told me:
1. The more time you spend on thinking about how “dumb” or “stupid” you were yesterday, the more time you waste in the present to learn and engage in your environment. One of the hardest things I had to learn during clerkships was to forgive myself for my mistakes. We’re all perfectionists, to some degree and we are our worst critics. But if you cannot forgive yourself, it doesn’t matter how much your resident or attending tells you it’s okay. You have to start with you.
2. EVERY SINGLE PERSON feels like the biggest idiot on the rotation that means the most to them. Because you want to do well, you want to put your best foot forward.
3. No one is looking for perfection. They are looking for tenacity and passion. That is literally all anyone is looking for. I never remember how smart or dumb are my med students’ questions. I remember if they are polite. If they are helpful. Did they try. Were they team players. Would they make an effort. Even if they got something wrong, were they trying? That’s what counts.
4. No one expects you to remember everything they say. I certainly don’t remember everything. That’s why my pens and notebooks and cellphone photo album called “medical stuff” exists. And I often say “I don’t know”. It’s part of medicine!
5. And to re-emphasize: we all remember what it was like. And we want you to succeed. Anyone who is going to be unkind to a genuine, passionate med student who is doing their best is an asshole.
I hope that helps a bit, let me know how it goes!