Tuesday, December 6, 2011


mediocrity by ~seven20 on deviantART

In grade school (K-12), I was always at the top of my class. I was pretty good at everything (except gym) and the world was full of endless possibilities. In undergrad, I understood that few people are truly Renaissance men. I learned where my strengths were and I knew where my limits were, in some cases hitting that unmovable wall. In grad school, the world - while more limited - was still full of potential. I learned what I loved and I learned what I could excel at.

In med school, I am mediocre. During M1 and M2 years I did pretty average on exams. Actually, no, I often did below the class average (though, my end grade was "average"). Even the classes that I had a solid background in and did above average I usually was still not among the top. But this didn't deter me as I had come to learn that grades don't necessarily equate with how well you know, understand, and appreciate the material. Then on the USMLE Step 1 exam I did below national average. While this was a hit, I eventually shrugged it off because I still passed, which was what truly mattered. Plus, since I would likely be going into pediatrics (or possibly internal medicine or both), it didn't matter SO much as long as I passed.

Surely come M3 year, with largely subjective evaluations, I should do better! Alas, it appears that I'm still relegated to being mediocre. It seems no matter how hard I try, how hard I study, how excited and motivated I appear, how much I care for my patients, I am only "mediocre." I am only "average." And this befuddles me. Here I am compared against my peers, many of whom I KNOW do not care for their patients in the same way that I care for mine, and yet we end up with the same grade (and sometimes they do better than me). What gives?!

I'm kind of afraid. I really really wanted to excel on my pediatrics rotation. I've mustered every ounce of excitement, enthusiasm, motivation, genuine care for my patients, willingness to do scut work (aka, the residents' bitch work), willingness to receive feedback to improve . . . and yet I'm not sure I can make it out with more than "average." I'm afraid that no matter how hard I try I will remain in the same place.

I am tired from my months on medicine and surgery. I've worked my ass off in hopes that I'm able to mask my exhaustion and put on a face of enthusiasm. And I honestly did care for my patients. I don't know what else I could do, I don't know what other well of strength I can draw from.

As I talked to my friend, he said the following to me:
"Don't feel defeated, you passed and you are a bad ass med school person. You're like, proving yourself beyond 99.9999% of all people in the world. Can't get too upset about that last 0.00001%."
I always loved him for his perspective on things.


naturgesetz said...

Your friend got it exactly right.

word verification: straw — dunno what to make of that, except that it is what your rank in med school will mean once you have your degree and start practicing.

Anonymous said...

the past is history, i learnt that too through my disappointing exam results to enter university. They were only just good enough to get into my last preference for a uni. I sympathise - giving it your all and to have a result that clearly doesn't reflect the dedication whilst others.. well you wonder if they cheated the system somehow.
Nonetheless, your friend is absolute when saying you should not feel defeated :) it's terrific having someone to put what really matters as your friend has.

Biki said...

This one line to me says it all, "And this befuddles me. Here I am compared against my peers, many of whom I KNOW do not care for their patients in the same way that I care for mine".

Once you are a fully fledged doctor you will work hard for your patients, and if you dont know what is wrong with them, I KNOW you wont rest until you track the reason down.

It's nice to have a hotshot doctor, but if they are obvious in their lack of love for their patients, they wont have many patients who stay with them over the long haul. The only doctors that I think can get away with dont care about you as a whole person are surgeons. Any doctor that one sees on a regular basis, wants one that cares about them, and buddy you have that in spades.

Ok, so you've been used to scoring at the top of your class, and now your not. I can see how that would muck up your self view. You were always the boy who scored at the top, and now your not. And so what? Does this really make you a less better doctor? Do those in the middle scores put your patients in danger when you're treating them? Yeah, I thought not.

And really, so you're now in the middle of the pack, there are people who are lower than you, score wise. And if you take how few people make it as far as you have, I know there has been people you started out with that are no longer in the med program.

Head up, keep your eyes on the prize, yeah?

tracy said...

i think you are a truly amazing person because of how much you honestly care and definately give it your "all"!

Not to mention being a Med Student to begin with...! That there is just more than i could ever imagine!

You will be a caring, compassionate Doctor and that is what matters most.

i am sorry that you are feeling down. :(

Anonymous said...

Thank share

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