Recently, I saw a post on social media from a doctor/influencer asking medstudents if they can remember when was the first time they cried in medical school.
It got me thinking. I sure do remember a lot of times when I cried. But when was the first time? And why?
Was it because of academics? Of social pressure? Was it because of a rude professor? Or merely because of fatigue (which is most often the case)?
I am now an incoming Clinical Clerk. A fourth year medicine student equivalent to a Junior Intern. This means that sooner or later I’ll be at the hospital doing what an actual clinician does (and more). Our batch’s case tho is peculiar from the previous years. Click here to find out why.
I can clearly remember the last time I cried. Two weeks ago after I took an online exam in Gynecology. It’s hard to believe but online exams is ten times more toxic and more difficult than the actual. I cried because I’m tired and I just want everything to be over. I’m also struggling to see the point with online classes because I’m actually not learning anything, to be honest, but we have no choice but to take these tons of exams.
Flashback to when I was in first year. Like every freshman in medical school, I was so excited and so motivated with my studies. I was so passion-driven. I wanted to become the best doctor there ever has been so I took everything seriously. From the pettiest homeworks to the 100-item major exams. I was clearly doing well. The academic pressure was never tough enough for me to handle. (That was only in first year though. Second and third year was really tough with an enormous academic load).
But the social pressure? I had a hard time adjusting socially because I used to be confined within the kind and caring walls of a denominational instutition where we were trained holistically without the harsh and blunt truths of the actual world.
I was then very naive about how the “real” world works. And given the harsh culture medicine was known for, I, for sure, did have hard time adjusting socially and emotionally. Long story short, the first time I cried in medschool was during the first week of first year. I cried for several reasons: culture shock, feelings of inadequacy socially and emotionally, being unable to adapt with people and how things work, feelings of innocence and naivity.
Petty right? But yeah. That’s the truth. I guess introverts would relate more to this. Any amount of social pressure induces introverts to cry. So was my case back then.
Although right now I am proud to say that I was able to adapt well. And that the majority of times I cried from first year to third year wasn’t because of social issues anymore but mainly because of exhaustion and fatigue. Anxiety and the typical medstudent worries is probably just secondary.
Now that Junior Intership is approaching I expect more of these crying moments. And that’s okay. I’ll cry it out when I need to. I’ll probably cry on my first hospital duty day — that’s for sure.
To every medstudent or aspiring medstudents reading this right now, I’d like you to know that it is okay to cry.
I believe that tears is a fundamental part of our training to becoming good doctors. So cry it out loud. I sure will do. One of these days, these tears will drop again. And it is nothing to be ashamed of. We become stronger physicians as we learn to own up our emotions. Our tears.