Leanna, Third Year Medical Student

Frankly, I’m not sure how to phrase this post. For a month or two now I’ve been wanting to write about feeling burnt out. Yet each time I’ve started an entry, it becomes a bit of a downer, and not representative of who I am as a person or as a medical student. Becoming a physician is difficult in all sorts of aspects, and with every phase of medical school there are new joys and rewards, as well as disappointments and frustrations, but for some reason this stage of school seems to have beaten me down a little more than I would’ve imagined. And so, recently I’ve been challenged to really peek around in the recesses of my mind to fully process every single thought I’ve had regarding school.

If I could say any one piece of advice to anyone, regardless of what field he or she is studying in, is that you must live for something bigger than yourself. I suppose this is something cute that could be written on a refrigerator magnet or on a social networking profile, but you must, must, must give deeper thought to it. With each day’s new challenges and unknowns, it seems to me that as humans we get so frustratingly focused on ourselves. I see this in myself tremendously––coming back to my apartment at the end of the day I find myself exhausted, whether emotionally or physically, and I start to dwell on all the things in my little life that I wish were different. A different attending physician. More opportunities for practicing procedures and having more responsibility for patient care. Placement at a different site. More time off. A better understanding of the future. More time with my boyfriend/family/friends. As you can see, I could go on and on, and still, not all these things I’ve listed are wrong to hope for. But really, they revolve around I, I, I, me, me, me, and when my life does not reach the standards and expectations I’ve set for it, it falls short into a place of frustrated futility, tiredness, and intermittent self-pity.
However, back to my point––you must be far-sighted, you must have a great purpose for why you want to be in medicine (or in whatever field you have chosen!). Not because the day-to-day rewards are so fun, although they sometimes are. You need to come home at the end of the day, and whether or not you were treated unfairly, or spoke to condescendingly, or feeling personally rejected and exhausted, there must be a clear focus as to why you are in medicine and not in something with more immediate, comfortable benefits. I can’t stress the importance of loving, adoring, and treasuring the field you’ve chosen, making sure that it something you want for the rest of your life and something with a greater purpose than yourself.
Speaking of myself, I am in medicine because I cannot see myself being satisfied doing anything else. And I’m not saying I’m in it by default––if you knew me, you would know that my passion for what I am studying is enormous, and that it’s the undeniably perfect fit for me. It’s ironic and amusing, how in the days and hours I feel most exhausted there is some unexpected form of encouragement and support further acknowledging the fact that I am indeed in the right field. There are many hobbies and topics that catch my eye, and yet at the end of the day I know that nothing would bring the same feelings of gratification as restoring people’s health to the best of my ability––or doing my best to prevent disease in the first place, and as a Christian, hopefully using that as a vehicle to show God’s love and kindness towards broken humanity.
So, at the end of the day, all that said, remember the big picture––whatever your big picture is for you personally. With everything that you are, love what you do, and make sure you are in it for the right reasons, for the long haul, even when at times the day-to-dayness of it becomes less than thrilling!

3 thoughts on “Burnt

  1. I needed to hear this more than you know. Being a nursing student and then spending my Christmas break and summers in uganda as a medical missionary I am starting to feel what you feel.

  2. Such an encouraging post!!!! Definitely something everyone needs to be reminded of more often than we think..thank you! 🙂

  3. Thank you so much for this! I am also a nursing student who has felt called by God to go into medicine and I love it and have a great passion but what you put into words is exactly what I am feeling but didn’t know how to say. I sometimes stop and think well I could be an NP and have a family and be more comfortable but that just isn’t me! If I feel God is calling me to something I want to go for it for Him! I want to use what I love the most for God and medicine is it! God Bless in your academics and keep fighting everyday is a step 🙂

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