“Great works are performed not by strength but by perseverance”
Mar 05, 2016
As I approach the end of my second year of medical school, I must say that I have hit the burn out point in my medical school education. The past couple of months have been busy from sunrise to sunset, from the weekdays, to the weekends; it has been months filled with studying for classes 8am-5pm, clinics, volunteer work, research, and most importantly, Step 1 studying. I sometimes wish I could make a day have 36 hours instead of 24. Nonetheless, I keep finding ways to keep myself motivated, to keep going on this journey, and to keep making a difference. Yesterday, as I was looking for motivational words, I came across the post you guys see up above, and it reminded me of my past, present and future. It reminded me that this is a great year for me, for you (yes you!), and for all of us. I sat down for a minute watching sunset and reminiscing on the journey to where I am today.
Getting to this point has not been easy and along the bumpy jumpy journey, there were many times I wanted to give up on my dreams. Many people wish or hope to become doctors, engineers, artists, athletes, etc., but when the tough gets going, or when they hit a bump on the road, they want to call it quits. I for one learned this hard way. After graduating from grad school, I though taking the MCAT and applying to medical school as well as finding my dream job in public health would be easy. I thought, what the heck, I have masters degrees in business and health care policy/management, I can find a great paying job, afford to pay for an mcat prep course, apply to medical school, and get into a great school. Yet, a week later I found myself as newly grad school grad selling shoes at a mall, making minimum wage, and barely being able to pay my cell phone. As the day progressed, I couldn’t understand why, I, an educated man with college degrees could not find a job (it was during the recession of 2008-2010), couldn’t pay my bills, and couldn’t afford to even register for the MCAT.
I quickly became furious at life. I applied to more than 10 jobs on a daily basis, I went for interviews every other day, yet nothing. I quickly found myself depressed, mad, feeling like I was a failure. I just couldn’t understand the higher purpose that I know now. See, being a shoe sales man making minimum wage despite having college degrees, masters degrees and certificates was not a failure, indeed, it was my first attempt in learning. In effect, it was my first attempt in learning to be humble, it was my first attempt in learning to develop people and social skills, it was my first attempt in learning to deal with life, adversity, and persistence. I didn’t know it then, but as the day passed and I got calls from job interviewers saying “No” and “that’s the end”, I quickly learned that their no meant there was a greater, next opportunity ahead and that my effort should never die.
I will not lie and say it was an easy process, there were a lot of tears, a lot of sleepless nights, and many thoughts that I would never reach my dream of entering medical school. Nonetheless, one of they key lessons I have learned is that every experience in life, whether for better or worse, has a life learning experience. For example, before medical school, i completed a masters degree and a post-abc program to enhance my medical science knowledge and clinical skills, yet despite interviewing at some medical schools, they said “No” to me. And let me tell you something, there is no uglier feeling than being told “No” to your dreams and having them crushed. You sit for a minute reflecting all the hard work, all the money and time spent, all the sacrifices, all the illusions and dreams, and they just simply come crushing down from two simple letters: “NO”. Nevertheless, I learned to embrace “no” as another chance at life, another chance at making things better and working harder, and as my next opportunity.
There was a reason why I did not get into medical school right out of undergrad. For one, I simply was not ready. I did not have to adequate studying skills, studying habits, the right mentality and attitude, despite believing I did. Going through all the ugly experiences before getting here have shaped me into who I am today. Not only that, but I was able to do many great things before coming here. Yeah, it was not easy, no one likes to wait for what they want, but every step along the way is just a simple preparation for triumph. If you ask a boxer why their fights are spaced out so far apart and why they need to train fight after fight, they will tell that they do so because their skills can always be polished, and because each giant is a different process before winning that belt. In my case, I was able to get a job as a health care risk manager where I was able to make a different in underserved communities. I was able to help my family financially for an entire year and ease their financial burden; Furthermore, I was able to help open two clinics in underserved communities of Miami; I was able to meet First Lady Michelle Obama, Vice President Joe Bidden, and President Obama and discuss the healthcare disparities Latinos face in America; I was able to represent the voice of my people and make a difference for my community. Aside from that, I grew as a person. I learned to be a young business professional, I learned to communicate and express myself differently with the various ethnic and religious groups of our Country; Hence, today, I am able to communicate effectively and adequately with my patients. I learned the true meaning of sympathy and empathy which has helped become a better physician in training.
All in all, I can keep going about my experiences on and on and on, but that is not what I want. What I do want is to let you guys know that if you work hard and stay persistent, you will persevere. It is not easy, and many times the easy road will see like the path take ( I had the thought of just giving up and going to medical off shore cross my mind many times). However, know this, the easy path is always only a momentary fix to the problem, a problem which will only become greater down the road, i.e., getting into your dream residency in my case. Therefore, keep your head up! Brush off the negative comments, take in the constructive criticism, stay persistent, and above all, have faith in yourself!
The best….is yet to come!