We were in the middle of the Women in Medicine meeting and one of the ER docs, just 2 years out of residency, eagerly leaned forward and said:
It’s worth it.
I know you feel poor and tired all the time. I remember… But it’s worth it.
It’s worth it. It’s worth it. It’s worth it.
Hang in there, because it’s worth it.
Those 3 words are sometimes the lifeline that keeps you going. As is often the case, this applies not only to med school, but also to life. How often a situation can seem impossible and too much to bear…until you remember that it will be worth it. The end will totally justify the means.
My favorite example of this is childbirth. I should add: this is probably my favorite example because I’ve never actually experienced it ;) But I’ve watched the glorious chaos go down. The mom is a beautiful mess, feeling like the situation seems impossible and too much to bear (haha, get it?)…but something keeps her going. Maybe it’s the epidural or the screams of “PUSH!”…but I suspect that in the back of her mind, she’s telling herself, “It’s worth it.” And it is. The minute that baby is out and you hear that cry and mom gets skin-on-skin contact with the little human who just evacuated her womb to enter her arms…there’s just this overwhelming feeling of “it’s worth it” that fills the room. The pain was real, but temporary. The situation seemed impossible, but now it’s done.
And that applies to a lot of areas of life that feel unbearable. Whenever you’re faced with a situation that seems difficult, think to yourself: is it worth it? Sometimes that involves taking a step back and getting the opinion of others. Sometimes it’s hard to see the worth of something when you’re in the trenches. Sometimes it’s hard to wait for the fun stuff when you’re immersed in the tedious studying.
Doctors have to think about this all the time. Some of our ICM docs have mentioned it in class / I spent 2 years during college working in a hospital…so I know this is a common topic among physicians. This procedure is extremely invasive and expensive for the patient…is it worth it? This treatment is long and will take a toil on the patient’s energy level…is it worth it? Our awesome pharm prof, Dr. Z, often discusses this in class too. For example, Valproic acid has a broad spectrum of use as an anti-seizure med, but it’s associated with hepatotoxicity, severe IQ impairment, and spina bifida in kids. So even though it’s useful for many types of seizures, you’re not going to use it in women of childbearing age because the cost doesn’t outweigh the benefit (especially since there are other options)…aka it’s not worth it.
Anyway, this is a short post because I also need to write my summary post…but the point of this is that apparently all this studying will be worth it :) Surround yourself with people who understand what you’re going through (i.e. other med students, residents, physicians) and with people who have no idea what you’re going through (i.e. anyone who doesn’t fit in the categories above). You need a balance of both. The former will (hopefully) remind you that your effort will pay off…that it’s worth it. The latter will (hopefully) remind you that there’s life outside of medicine and help you enjoy life.
As always, choose joy. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year in advance!
The views expressed in this content represent the perspective and opinions of the author and may or may not represent the position of Indiana University School of Medicine.
I’m an MS4 based at the Indy campus, though I spent MS1/2 at the Muncie campus. I started med school with a strong interest in international missions, pediatrics, education, and whole person care. I’m still interested in all those things, except I re...