Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Lauren Welch and I am a first-year medical student at BSOM. Six months ago, I set foot in White Hall for the first time as a bona fide medical student. I was overwhelmed with the excitement of starting my professional journey and meeting over 100 people who would experience it with me. Prior to beginning medical school, I graduated from The Ohio State University with a degree in English Literature and spent a year traveling, working, and reflecting upon the utterly confusing and awkward period of life that is our 20s. I am currently 23 and therefore have not made much progress in overcoming this treacherous decade; however, I have since learned to accept and even enjoy its unpredictable disposition.
I remember the first time I put on my short white coat at our White Coat Ceremony. For one, I was ecstatic at how well I managed myself in heels, a dress, and a stage. I was also very proud of my family members for their cooperation in the whole procedure of sitting down and listening to all of the speakers. They were not asked to leave, nor did they say anything that offended anyone else (to my knowledge). Kidding aside, the moment I slipped on my coat was one of the most proud moments of my life. I had envisioned myself on this stage for so many years and was now fully able to pursue my dream of becoming a physician. The quest was here. I looked out across all of the unfamiliar faces around me and thought to myself, Heres to four years and beyond. Every man dies, but not every man really lives." Ok, so I probably wasn’t quoting Braveheart at that exact moment. You catch my drift.
But, even amidst all the cheering and hugging and shaking of sweaty palms near the podium, I could not help but feel overwhelmed by the new medical world in which I was entering. All of the horror stories I had heard from doctors and medical students of the challenges that awaited me in medical school began to take over. In my mind was a picture of myself isolated from all I had ever known of the free world, a girl suffocating silently beneath stacks upon stacks of medical literature only to gasp out occasional medical jargon and sink back silently into the corner of the library. I worried I would be forced to part with many of the hobbies and relationships I hold dear to me.
My experience has undoubtedly proven otherwise. I have kept in close relations with family and friends. I made a resolution to write hand-written letters and have found that by doing so, I have not only managed to keep in touch, but have even rekindled old friendships that have unfortunately slipped by the wayside over the past several years. I have continued to run and also to procrastinate (I probably should be learning about the nervous system right now); yet, I would be lying if I said that medical school hasn’t been a challenge. There are periods of time when I wonder if I am smart enough or have the courage to take on such a large responsibility in our society. I worry still that I may have to sacrifice not simply time, but part of who I am, in order to become an honorable physician. I worry that I may not be able to retain the dense material for the next exam, let alone when I take boards and start medical rotations for the first time. Still, I have been blessed by classmates who stand beside me and remind me every day that I deserve to be here. They laugh when I spill coffee on myself or leave my keys in the freezer (again). They ask me questions to which they already know the answer just to make me feel smart (just kidding, but really). They are a source of strength for me every day and a reminder that medical school is not a time of my life that I must get through in order to become something else. It is a period of growth and self-discovery, a chance to enlighten myself and to be a part of a movement to shape the world in a positive way, not sometime down-the-road, but now. And hey, I have even managed to keep my white coat stain-free. I look forward to what the next half of this school year will bring, and to sharing it all with you.