3.4 Identify one’s own strengths, weaknesses, and limits.
- Seek and respond appropriately to performance feedback.
- Maintain an appropriate balance of personal and professional commitments
- Seek help and advice when needed
As an indecisive person, choosing a medical specialty was something I spent a huge amount of time thinking about. I weighed every option, and I went back and forth between fields all the time, especially during my first and second years before my clinical rotations. Entering medical school, I knew that I liked being in the operating room from my shadowing experiences and I didn’t like clinic time very much. I also know that I like doing something different every day! Showing up to work at the same building every day using the same three exam rooms for years isn’t something that I would enjoy. I’m at my best when I haven’t fallen into a monotonous routine. From this knowledge about myself, I thought that I would like general surgery, emergency medicine, or anesthesia.
When I rotated during my third year, what I thought I wanted out of a career was only partially true. While I knew that obstetrics and gynecology involved surgical cases, I didn’t think that I would like to have a majority female patient base, I didn’t think that I liked delivering babies, and I thought that clinic was boring. These are all conclusions that I had come to when I shadowed an ob-gyn during undergrad. However, when I was in the ob-gyn clinic I felt like I was really able to connect with patients and educate them about their own health. I loved the surgical cases I got to scrub in on and delivering babies. The residents were so welcoming and were wonderful teachers, as were all of the attendings I worked with. I felt like I would really be able to serve my patients best as an ob-gyn.
Applying to residency is a lengthy and stressful process. I reflected back on when I applied to medical school, and I realized that there were some areas that I’d like to improve upon this time around. First, I wanted more people to read my personal statement. For medical school, I had my pre-med advisor and my mom read it. For residency, I had two residents read it, our program director, all of my letter writers, my boyfriend, and, of course, my mom. I also didn’t really consult anyone about the list of medical schools I chose to apply to. I also wished that I had used connections that my university had with students who were now in medical school to ask them about their experience there. This time around, whenever I interviewed at a program that had an Ohio State grad as a resident, I got in touch with them to ask them about the program and how they felt their transition was coming from Ohio State. I also asked residents here about the programs where they went to medical school and places they liked and didn’t like based on their interview experiences. I realized that I didn’t really like asking for help back in undergrad. Medical school has made me much more comfortable with asking for assistance when I need it and asking questions when I’m unsure about something. These are very important skills heading into residency when you have more responsibility with patients and could end up causing harm to your patients unintentionally.
In addition to making me much more comfortable asking for help, medical school has made asking for feedback much easier for me. Growing up playing soccer, I was constantly getting feedback from my coach and my teammates about what I could do differently and how I could improve my game. I never needed to seek out this feedback, it was always just given. During medical school, we are also constantly getting feedback from residents, attendings, and peers evaluating us. However, these are normally at the end of rotations, so you often have to seek out feedback on your own in the meantime. I was a bit shy about approaching busy attendings early in my third year, but by my fourth year, I was checking in with my residents at the end of the day if there was an area I could improve upon and I’d ask my attendings at the end of rounds or the end of a clinic day.
I found balancing my personal life and professional life much more difficult than I thought it would be during medical school. Probably in part that my partner was attending law school five and a half hours from Columbus. It was difficult not being able to see him and talk to him when I was having a difficult day. While we talked a lot on the phone it just isn’t the same. It was difficult to find weekends to visit when one of us didn’t have a huge test the next week or an important paper due. After the first year, it got a little easier. We were better at managing our schedules and planning around weekends. It was very difficult during step 1 studying because I was studying so much, and it was a busy time of year for him as well. Below is a photo of us at a Penn State vs OSU football game on one of the couple weekends we were able to spend together.
He graduated last spring and moved back to Columbus. It’s been great getting to spend so much time together before the responsibilities of residency start! Since we’ve had even more time together due to COVID, we even got a dog! We named her Olive and enjoy taking her on long walks around Columbus.
I was able to find a better work-life balance with the help of COVID, but anticipate that I will struggle again once residency starts and I don’t have nearly as much free time. To help combat this, I plan on setting aside two nights a month during residency where Max and either go out to eat or make a fun meal at home together so we can catch up and not focus on work and the hospital. I also want to make a point to call my mom or dad once a week, especially because I won’t be in the same city as them.