Recently I was given an opportunity to present for a virtual conference regarding how to get into podiatry school and how to succeed while being in school. It was amazing how many students reached out thanking me for highlighting this niche of medicine but also really thanking me for talking about my path to getting here. This had me reflecting on my own personal journey and things I wish I knew when I got into podiatry school. Success comes in so many different forms and a lot of that starts with truly understanding yourself as a student.
The best advice I can give any incoming student is to never compare your journey. It may sound cliché but there is a lot of truth behind that. There is something in your application that stood out to the admission committee that got you to where you are. Use that as fuel to be confident in your skillset. Often times medical school gets depicted as a competition. Who spends the most time at the library? Who volunteers the most? Who scores the best on every test? Although those are all great achievements, what works for one person may not always work for you.
So what are ways to focus on your journey or ways to succeed in medical school?
1. Know your study method. Often times we get to medical school and are exposed to many different methods of studying. Our classmates may have different styles. This might mean that you lecture capture and rewrite notes. Your classmate may study better in group settings. Knowing your style is so important to not getting deterred and comparing yourself. If you are going to medical school and are unsure of what works for you in regards to studying, that is ok. Try to spend a few weeks maybe trying different styles and seeing what feels the most comfortable to you.
2. Know Time Management. Medical school requires a lot of long hours. It is drastically different than college. However, even within that is the intricate concept that for one person they may spend 13-14 hours at the library every day and you might only spend 8 hours. I admire those people who are the first to show up at the library and last to leave. But to me that never worked. For one, I believed in working hard for 8 hours and getting everything done in that time. The remaining time, I enjoyed going to dinner or spending time with my friends. That does not mean that I was struggling. It is just for me dedicating study hours allowed me to have something to look forward to. I have always been about balance and part of that is incorporating my study time management skills into my lifestyle.
3. Know your Weakness. No one is perfect. Part of medicine is also knowing your weakness. You might not be the best in physiology. While your classmate may be getting all A’s. If you start to compare yourself then you might not be able to get past the “Why me” mentality. I say turn your weakness into a strength. Part of that is knowing also when to ask for help or guidance. You might need to have a tutor. You may need that additional study group just to help you focus better and keeping you accountable for studying. Never worry about what others might think or say. There is strength in recognizing your weakness. It means you have time to strengthen it. Constant comparison and fear of others will only weaken you.
Being in podiatry school is a great opportunity to grow as a student and person. The skills and things I wish I knew in podiatry school are things that are still transferable and applicable to residency. I still do this day get asked “how do you have time to do it all” and sometimes I laugh because I have my days where I just watch Netflix and am not working on anything. Life is about balance and most importantly just being truly authentic to yourself. When you recognize and appreciate your journey, you begin to embrace this profession in a new light.