Beginning medical school at Mayo has been a period of intense transition. Everything is new! One can see newness in every aspect of life: location, hours, subject material, lingo, commuting challenges, distance from family, relationships, friends, and colleagues. The list goes on and on!
What does this period of transition mean for the first-year med student?
First, it is daunting. For many people, new is bad. The familiar is comfortable and feels safe. Newness even has a noticeable biological effect on us. Constantly experiencing change activates the stress response; unfortunately, the stress response can wreak havoc on our bodies. In the same way, not knowing anyone or anything in your environment can make you nervous, anxious, scared, or even sick; this is the challenging side of newness.
However, newness can also be a good thing! Although the stress response can sometimes be very detrimental to us when left unchecked, it can also be good—interestingly, it helps keep us alive. In the same way, the newness of medical school has many overlooked benefits.
The newness brings opportunity. Coming to medical school means the fulfillment of a lifelong dream for many students, and starting medical school means that we are one step closer to the realization of that dream. It gives a person more opportunities to pursue their aspirations than they’ve ever had at any previous point in life. For instance, in the first month of medical school, we are exposed to many fields of medicine that I previously had very little knowledge about. I have even discovered some fields of medicine that I had never even heard of before starting medical school. There are also countless opportunities to shadow world renowned doctors, do research in the lab, advance the arts, or even start something entirely new.
There’s also that little thing called class and studying. Although there are many long hours of work involved, as a med student on the road to realizing my dream, I couldn’t imagine doing anything else. The work is interesting and challenging, sometimes even overwhelming, but I know that, as a doctor, I will be able to positively impact others’ lives as a result.
Although the period of transition has its difficulties, without the changes of coming to med school and all of the newness associated with it, I would have missed out on this great opportunity. This new place, Mayo Medical School, with new classmates, faculty, and friends, has strengthened and added more possibilities to my dream.
Chris is a first year medical student. He is originally from Akron, Ohio and enjoys sports, reading, and being with his wife.