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In your remaining days as a medical student...

Monday, April 9, 2012

If only you had a little time remaining before you graduate.

You do!
If you are a 4th year you probably have just a few weeks left until commencement, before you begin the next phase of your career. Before you are hooded by someone who has hugged and helped you along the way, before you sign your name with an M.D. and take a sincere oath (of Hippocrates, Maimonides, or other) as a physician...

These are your precious remaining days in undergraduate medical education, getting ready to focus your aspirations and dreams. A pediatric (or other) residency and thereafter. Growing and helping others grow.

Maybe right now you are abroad, maybe finishing your acting internship, maybe on vacation, maybe completing that final graduation requirement, maybe taking a humanities elective, a teaching elective, a critical care elective.

Last month you matched (CONGRATS), and now you are finding a new abode, solidifying things with your significant other, having a baby, getting a new wardrobe (scrubs?), signing some forms, getting letters of reference, putting in call/vacation/schedule requests for the upcoming intern year.

What might you do with some spare pre-MD time?
  1. Read a book. Even an e-book (bring it on your travels). Read a book about being a pediatrician (Perri Klass, Claire McCarthy, Meghan MacClean Weir). Read or at least obtain a pediatric textbook (Zitelli, Harriet Lane, Bright Futures). Read a pediatric memoir (Vicki Forman). Read about vaccination (Paul Offit). Read about how doctor's think (Jerome Groopman) and become better despite complications (Atul Gawande). Read (or write) some poetry, some history, or dive into a novel.
  2. Exercise a bit. (So you can counsel about 5-2-1-0 with experience.)
  3. Visit and reconnect with your family members. Old and young, near and far. Those you neglected lately. And even those you had been avoiding.
  4. Try out a new recipe; learn to cook. Or, find someone who can (near where you'll be in residency).
  5. Have some fun.
  6. Have plenty of fun!
  7. Give, donate, share.
  8. Reflect on your past 4 years.
  9. Savor this time.
  10. And gear up (develop an individual learning plan? a personal survival plan? a few goals?) for the upcoming amazing roller coaster ride that is residency. You won't learn "everything" you need to know, but aim to learn about how to keep learning, to keep asking the key questions, to keep helping, to keep caring, and to keep growing.
What will you do (or what do you suggest doing) between now and graduation day?

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