I had a bit of an epiphany toward the end of 2016 as my fourth trimester was coming to an end. I was leaving the Academic Achievement Award Ceremony at Cleveland, and while I was proud of myself for dedication to my studies, I also felt a pit in my stomach realizing that was all I was dedicated to for the past year and a half.
I am “that” girl. You know, the one with the color-coded binder, six planners, and a carrying case of 13 assorted highlighters to make sure no color is used twice. Why? Because I started this program wanting to be excellent. I told myself failure was not an option and dove right in on the first day of tri one. I pulled out my Type-A personality supplies and did my best to absorb every single word that came out of my instructors’ mouths. I went home after class and spent hours upon hours making study guides for exams and then followed that up with even more hours of studying them. There were times I would set alarms for 3:45 a.m. just to memorize all the extra little details.
All of that is wonderful…if my purpose and future profession were to take exams. But we are not here to be excellent exam takers, we are here to be excellent doctors. Patients will not come to my office asking me to take a physiology exam, and as proud as I am, no one will care to see copies of my super awesome rainbow, color-coded study guides for Biochem I spent hours making.
Was it really worth it to skip clubs at lunch just to re-memorize an entire power point forwards and backwards? Or to pass up on opportunities to attend seminars that would help me better my craft? The answer is definitely not. I did it because I had this presumption that my efforts were displayed by letter grades when the reality is – getting a B in a course does NOT reflect as a “B” level of dedication to your profession. It might mean that you chose to understand the material, but not at the expense of losing an opportunity to gain hands-on knowledge outside of the classroom.
Keep the drive and determination, but refocus it. This is not an undergraduate program. This IS the big leagues and we’ve made it (deep breaths). Now, we are training to be doctors, which requires a new and unique knowledge. It requires a shift of focus to a new, give-it-your-all, on your feet, forward-thinking, compassionate kind of knowledge. It’s a kind of “smart” you cannot become from reading a book alone. It comes from interaction and experience. It comes from serving and connecting and engaging. It comes from training your body and mind. And most importantly, it comes from getting your heart in the right place to put yourself second at times.
I want my future patients to see passion in my eyes, in my hands, and in my heart. I want them to see that I put my energy and time into the art of chiropractic during my four years in graduate school. I want them to see I have worked on perfecting the care I give and I am fully aware of how to properly treat their conditions. Does this require dedication to studies? Certainly. But do not lose your purpose in the stressful demands of exams. Instead of being a master of memorization, become a master of adjusting, of compassion, and of being comfortable in your own skin.
Ask yourself this, would you want to go to a doctor like you? What do you do on a daily basis to better yourself? It could be something super simple. Write down your “why” in bold letters, put it on your mirror, and remind yourself every day why you are doing what you do. Define it, declare it, and devote to it. Plan the things that matter most, first. Our mental state at school is vital to our success. If you get in the habit of continually dismissing things that are important to you, you will eventually start to lose the drive that got you here in the first place. Remember: you cannot pour from an empty cup. We have anywhere from three to four years here. It’s a marathon, not a sprint and your future patients need the best version of YOU.
So hustle hard and hit the books, but don’t lose sight of what brought you here. I can’t wait to see how these changes shape me in 2017.
Jessica Langel is a CUKC campus ambassador and student blogger sharing personal experiences and perspectives. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org learn more about CUKC.