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You probably read the title of this post and thought “Yeah, cool. you’re in med school, they might not matter for you but they definitely matter for me”. But hear me out.
Your grades don’t determine how suited you are to be a doctor. Yes, your grades may determine how likely you are to get into med school this year but not whether you should or shouldn’t be a doctor. Did you know a solid proportion of my med class is made up of people who didn’t get in the first time they applied? I was one of them.
But how can you deal with potentially bad grades and set backs?
First of all.
You need to forgive yourself. Forgive yourself for not getting 100% in every single test and exam, for not doing as well as you wanted to. It’s ok. But don’t just take my word for it. Research shows that doctors who are kinder and more forgiving to themselves have higher rates of patient satisfaction and better clinical outcomes. It’s not just good for you, it’s good for your friends, family and future patients.
Second of all.
Recognise that most people won’t be happy with their grades. I know people who would cry over an 80% result as much as they cried over a 60% result.
Being the sort of person who wants to get into med school means being addicted to never reaching your own expectations of yourself. Even in medschool, the “smart” people who get in, still struggle to meet their own expectations of themselves. It’s normal. You will get used to it with time. You will come to accept yourself. On that note..
Give yourself a goddamn break.
You’re not a superhuman (as much as you might want to be) and you can’t study every single waking hour of the day. You need to watch some TV, eat some junk food and hang out with friends. You should do some of that now.
Don’t think that just because you did badly (or not as well as you wanted to) in one specific paper (or even in all of them) that it means you’ll never do well. I didn’t get a single A+ until my second semester of 2nd year. Then suddenly I changed my study style and A+s became the majority of my grades. I couldn’t believe it. This leads onto the next step.
Try and figure out why you got a bad grade.
This could be a tough one. The answer to this is almost never “I didn’t study enough”. You wouldn’t be here, reading this if the answer was that. If the answer is clearly that, you know it’s not important to you. You might THINK the answer is that but most likely it’s because you didn’t study right. It is a skill, believe it or not. You need to figure out how to study and what works for you. I have heaps of resources and posts on this topic so either look through my blog or flick me a message :) this is something I can help with. And now onto the last step.
Don’t give up.
This is going to be a motivational quote dump of all my favourite quotes. Please read each of them carefully, write them onto a piece of paper, write them onto the wall, burn them into your brain because you will need them now and you will need them forever.
Failure CANNOT cope with persistence. If you fall down but if you keep trying and trying and getting up and going on, you WILL achieve your goals.
You can be unstoppable not because you don’t have doubts or failures but because you continue on despite them. Not a single successful person became successful without setbacks. Not a single one. The setbacks are kept personal and usually not public. But everyone has them. This might be yours. It might be your first one. How will you deal with it knowing there are more to come?
Carve your success in stone, write your failures in sand. Acknowledge them but let the tide wash them away.
You can survive any fire burning around you if the fire inside you burns brighter. Let your passion for your future fuel your motivation to get back up, dust yourself off and get back out there.
Last but not least: When you think you’ve exhausted all the possibilities, remember this: you haven’t.
I know it’s difficult getting yourself up of the floor and getting back out there but you need to.
You can do it, even though you might not believe it. The key is to do it one step at a time. First you think about what you could do, then you do it, then you do it without even questioning it.
For all it’s worth, there are many amazing doctors who didn’t get in first time. There are amazing med students who didn’t get in first time (or second time for that matter). They’re gonna make amazing doctors and they’re amazing people and it’s a privilege to be in a class with them.
You will grow from this experience, you will meet new people and you will get new opportunities. When I was in first year I didn’t think I could improve my grades, even though I kept trying to. I didn’t believe in myself but passively kept studying. I didn’t care about what I could do later on or all the “life experience” I would have if I applied as a postgrad. I just wanted to get in and I didn’t care about anything else. My mental health was also basically non-existent and I broke down at the smallest hint of adversity. I did not cope well with failure. It was only when I learnt how to cope with it that I began to do well; in life and at university. Let the mistakes of my story be the lessons of yours.