When I graduated high school and started college, I considered myself a “smart kid”. Why? Because I had A’s. The A’s gave me power, self-worth and a feeling of immense competence. I could perform well academically and, up until now, my grades had been the most obvious measure of my success – a clear indicator of my intelligence and my value as a student. As I moved through the years at CMC, I took challenging classes. These challenges made me realise that instead of getting away with fluke shots in a multiple choice exam or mugging up answers, I now had to understand everything at a deeper level so as to apply it in order to portray good clinical knowledge and skills. Long research papers and group projects meant I now had to wander through the perplexing narnia of college grading. Life had suddenly become difficult, in other words I finally stepped into reality!
I still very distinctively remember how I got my first reality check. A year had passed by and it was time for us to take up our first year exams. I as usual had prepared myself well and had written my exams with confidence. A rose coloured dream turned into a nightmare when we got our results that year. I did not fail but then I can say that I barely made it. The next two weeks I spent thinking weird things and in fact called my confidence and competence into question. Maybe i didnt study enough!. Maybe this is not meant for me. I don’t understand much of this. I remember once when i was talking to my dad I told him “I think it’s not meant for me, cuz I tried my best still dint make it”. To which my dad replied “Dont be a sore loser Rach! A smarter thing to do would be to take the same classes all over again, to devise new ways to understand the subjects better and to never make the same mistakes you already made”. This of course didn’t make sense at that time, really, it was hard to comprehend what he said but then eventually years later it all made sense.
This one particular incident and the following 4 years of my bachelors degree taught me things I thought I wasn’t prepared to learn but I learnt those anyways. Few of those I would like to share with all of you, hoping that each one of you can relate to something from this and also maybe sometime in life you might need this. Hope this might trigger that wonderful weird feeling inside you, just like it does to me every time.
“PURSUE PASSION, NOT A’S”. I am not saying that getting good grades would make you a nerd. I just feel that everyone should be moved by curiosity, interest and fascination, and not by mere making the highest scores in an exam. In your journey to pursue your passion, the A’s will come along eventually. No one ever remembers your grades. Grades become irrelevant. But the understanding you have towards your subject, and your approach towards it, will always set you apart. This and this alone will make you good at what you will in future call your PROFESSION. Ambition and innovation trumps grades always, this i have learned through my experience here at CMC
“GET COMFORTABLE WITH FAILURE”. You must be O.K with bombing. There is no way you are going to get it right every time. Improvisation is a great educator when it comes to failing. Failure necessarily doesn’t mean you are lesser than anyone, it just means that you dint do something the way it was supposed to be done, while others hit the right chord. So now is the time to think about what went wrong and to know what can be done to make it right. Don’t ever loose heart based on a failure that wont account for whatever you become in life. Take it like a winner, buck up and see your fate change.
“MAKE A PERSONAL CONNECTION WITH STUDIES”. Trust me when I say I realised this fact really late in my student life and when I did it was kind of too late, at least thats what I felt. But then again surrendering and hampering myself at that point was not an option that I had. Till my final year I just studied to pass tests and did assignments as they were a part of our module. But when I realised it wouldn’t get me anywhere and that i was badly stuck, I literally remember starting to get back to all my anatomy and physiology books from first year. Initially I would do it as an obligation to myself but eventually I started relating it to my courses and believe me, when I say, it was one of the reasons I scored above my own expectations in my final year. Take interest in what you read, try relating it to something if you can. It makes learning fun and also serves the purpose of being good at what you do.
“READ AND THINK ACTIVELY”. By saying this I mean keep alert at all times when you notice something new happening around you. When you read up anything, think about it, try to reason with it, see if you can improvise it, use your own concepts. It can be anything, from your clinical subjects to some other extra curricular that interests you.
“HAVE AN ALTERNATE HOBBY”. In the race to excel in exams and cope up with personal life crisis don’t forget to exercise an alternate hobby. Each and everyone of you should have a hobby which refreshes you, and takes you away from your day to day cycle. For me it was dancing and playing badminton. A hobby will take you away from your monotonous life and leave you with a fresh dose of energy every once in a while. To survive through college life you need it, cuz I am sure you agree when I say hostel life can get extremely stagnant every now and then.
“ASK BIG QUESTIONS”. Have a lot of WHY’S whenever you can in everything you do. Don’t go around trying to find answers for smaller things, ask big questions and try to figure those out. I guarantee on the way to find those, you will also get the answers to all your small questions.
Because the thing with big questions is that there is no one place to look it up, no simple answer. So it will force you to dig your brains a little deeper and that will solve a lot of your other curiosities.
“CULTIVATE EMPATHY”. In a profession like ours its very easy to become stone hearted too soon, cause from the very start we are taught not be moved by emotional aspects of medical science. We are taught to do whats the best for the patient in view of our knowledge and not be driven by sentiments. So its easy to become a little too practical than needed on a personal front. Always keep your emotions guarded inside but don’t let them disappear. Act in ways which speaks out for your empathy. It can be something as small as sitting and listening to your patient if he/she is feeling low and just needs someone to listen. Giving someone assurance that they will be fine and that it will get better or the easiest thing to do. Just flash a positive smile when you see your patient. It is a small gesture but to a person in pain and agony it would mean more than anything positive they would have felt in a very long time.
“SET GOALS AND MAKE THEM REAL”. Set goals for yourself as to where you see yourself in 10 years and work towards it. Aim high so that even if you achieve a little lesser than that you would still be fine than average. But by aiming high I definitely don’t mean unrealistic dreams that you chase aimlessly. Consider your interests and set them straight. You are definitely gonna make it big! Believe in yourself more than anyone else does.
“FIND A WAY TO CONTRIBUTE”. Don’t forget you are a medical professional and you are expected to work for the people. Contribute in ways that can make this world a better place. It can be a small thing to you but in a wider perspective it will be counted for and it will lead to bigger things.
I know all this makes me kind of a saint saying all this to you guys. The fact remains that I hardly practised or understood all of the above said things myself but then it was the best way to put it down. Over the years I have learnt this and these are the things which are in me to stay for a very long time. Always remember…You win some, you lose some. But you live, you live to fight another day. At the end i would just like to quote one of my favourite lines which will sum all this up and also answer you if you were intrigued by the title of this article, so here it goes,
“A’S ARE LIKE OSCARS : JUST TROPHIES”.