I don’t remember that much about the orientation to med school.
I hadn’t slept much the previous night, so I was pretty tired during that long day of instructions, discussions and locker assignments. My main thoughts at the time were that everyone was friendly – the premed competitiveness seemed to have dissipated now that we had all made it – and that the experience was surreal.
At the edge of my excitement though, was the nagging feeling that a mistake had been made. Did the committee really mean to pick me? This state of mind was further encouraged by the fact that my class had the following: two Olympic gold medalists (twins), a PhD in English, a former aerospace engineer and a graduate of fashion design school. My story seemed bland by comparison: microbiology major, research and the typical array of volunteer activities along with summers spent waitressing to help pay for college. What had gotten me in? And how could a group of people be as gregarious, well-rounded and smart as my classmates appeared?
The med school application process breeds insecurity as we see friends face rejection and seemingly “perfect” applicants end the cycle with nothing more than a spot on the waitlist. Making it in after so much effort and time takes some getting used to. However, as the weeks passed, I started to see the rest of the class for who they were – a group of individuals with various strengths and weaknesses. I also saw that I had my own perspective to add to the mix and realized that I had earned my place in the class.
Progression through med school brought with it a string of firsts – my first patient encounter, the first delivery I witnessed and the first time I walked into the O.R. Often at these moments, the surreal feeling I had on the first day would briefly return. As a premed student, I knew there was no assurance that I would make it in. But I did, and here I was, feeling official in my scrubs and ready to hold a retractor if the need arose. I also knew that an application process as rigorous as the one for medical school meant that applicants were quite well screened and that people did not somehow get accidently admitted.
So when you get to the other side and take your place in the class, rest assured, no mistakes were made. You earned your place. Now enjoy it.
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