Advice I'd like to hear when I decided to be a doctor
Firstly, forget that medicine is a career. Contrary to some other lines of work, you are not going up by destroying your competition - you are in medicine to help people. Of course, you must work hard to be better and have great skills to go from one position to another, but it is about helping people, always. In medicine, it is always about a balance between knowledge and social skills.
That's why you must set aside some time for socializing with other colleagues some of which may one day offer you an advice from their field and you will use that advice to save someone's life. Of course, you will do the same. You may learn a lot in your free time, just by talking to other students and professors - all knowledge is not in the books.
Then, studying medicine will inevitably expose you to the newest, ground-breaking research: from biology to chemistry to psychology and anything other you can imagine. For science types - pure heaven! What's even better, you'll hear about many discoveries before they appear in journals or textbooks and you'll be scientifically up-to-date all the time.
No matter what system you like, you must have one to organize your time. Otherwise, you will either a) forget something important or b) you will realize that you should be at two different places at the same time, which is a bit hard to do.
That will, in turn, teach you to manage time later, surrounded with all kinds of patients, from healthy and lonely person who just want to talk, to really critical cases. And all that, of course, with always limited resources and in constant race with time.
Another thing some students may admit from time to time is that they feel less worthy or less smarter than their colleagues. But, this is understandable: only very smart and dedicated candidates are being accepted to study medicine and when you are surrounded with, most probably, best students in the country, yes, sometimes you fell you are not good enough.
However, with a dedicated work you will find your place among other doctors, no doubt about that. And - don't compare yourself to others. Follow your own way, and don't try to be the best in everything, that's not possible.
Whenever in doubt, remember: somebody somewhere said "She has potential, let's call her to our university." So, if somebody with years of experience, somebody much more strict than you mother, thinks that you can do it, you can do it.
As your studying years are passing by, you will notice that your holidays are turning into vacations. And that is not necessarily bad: you will be gradually prepared for real life work and you will not be surprised - like some other students - with a jump from two-months holiday to two-weeks off every year.
That leads to another good advice: you must be organized.
And don't forget that just learning, learning, and learning will not get you anywhere. Yes, medicine is hard, but it's not that hard and without rest you brain will boil very soon. While you are playing football, hanging around, or enjoy the sunset, your brain has time to sort everything you learned that day and make itself ready for another one.
In the process, you will with time learn what relax you most and that will be of immense help later in your life when you find yourself having 20 minutes free after 8-hour surgery - and before another complex task. Trust us - you'll learn to use that 20 minutes in a more meaningful way than other people use half a day.
Yes, the road is hard and demanding, but if after all those long hours spent on learning and practicing and exams you save just one life, it was worth it. This is what it means to be a doctor. ■