Firstly, let’s play homage to the ultimate cliche—the Scrubs theme song about med school.
Med school is competitive. You’re ranked according to your performance. You’re constantly compared to your colleagues and studying becomes a matter of keeping up with the standards rather than learning medicine because you want to be a good doctor or because the magical ways in which the heart works fascinates you.
And then there’s that voice. You know the one. The one that tells you that you shouldn’t need anyone’s help. That you’re weak and pathetic and stupid for asking your colleagues questions or not knowing the answer to the consultant’s question regarding Charcot’s triad (fever, RUQ pain and jaundice for ascending cholangitis).
Today, I had a clinical exam. I aced it. And it’s not because I’m a particularly good med student. (I spend way too much time on tumblr, for starters.) I did well because I have amazing colleagues who took the time to push me to the next level. Colleagues who gave me feedback and tips for improvement and lots of compliments and let me examine their lungs ten times a week.
Medicine’s a team sport, from med school all the way up to clinical practice. Think about it: ward rounds are four or five doctors discussing cases with one another. Research papers are never written by just one doctor. Surgery consists of anaethetists and many surgeons tolerating one another long enough to save a life (or remove a lesion).
And honestly? Studying for hours is boring when you’re all alone, and I’m yet to see anyone perform an adequate gastrointestinal exam on themselves (I’ve tried). The only way to survive med school is by embracing your colleagues and siphoning their knowledge while willingly sharing your own. Ignore the voice that tells you to be competitive and that you should be capable of making it through all alone and that you shouldn’t need help.
Don’t be afraid to show your weaknesses to your colleagues. You’re not a superhero, and neither are they—we’re all med students, we’re all struggling, but to quote High School Musical, we’re all in this together.