The pre-medical journey is a daunting task on its own, but when you are the first one in your family to attend college, it’s an entirely different journey. This journey comes with many obstacles, roadblocks, and renavigation. You develop imposter syndrome, questioning if you’re supposed to be here. Peers around you have parents that attended college or who are practicing physicians. You think about your parents; they moved to an entirely different country and have language barriers. They had to help their families, much like you are helping your own family, all while still trying to maintain that 3.6 GPA so that you attend medical school. You get upset often and ask why I have to do all this; after all, you are working on your career. These are just some thoughts that run through the minds of first-generation college students. It’s hard to be able to do so many things and do them well. So often, we forget to take a step back and realize how impressive we are. Instead of looking at these struggles as unfair and wishing you hadn’t had to deal with them, we forget to embrace the adversity for making us who we are and defining us. The adversity that cannot be taught but only experienced. The same adversity that will make you an exceptional medical professional someday. Below are three key tips on how to succeed as a first-generation college and pre-medical student.
1. Find mentors/peers who are relatable.
Navigating the different aspects of the medical school process can be confusing, mainly because you might not have many connections or know family members who a part of the medical community, but who is to say that we cannot have mentors. As a first-gen student, it can feel like you are the only one going through your struggles. You aren’t alone, many faced this before, and many will face this in the future. Discover students/professionals who are relatable to you. They will be your biggest advocates helping you find opportunities to succeed. The most important tip here is to ASK a lot of questions and don’t be shy. Finally, don’t forget to pay it forward, someone helped you, and you will help those following similar paths.
2. Be consistent and hold yourself accountable.
The truth is that we are going to face many obstacles throughout our journey in medicine. Each of us has our strengths and weaknesses that we need to work on. It is so easy to continue to do the things that we are good at; we get stimulated and feel empowered. The real battle is to acknowledge and address our shortcomings. Shortcomings feel shameful, and by nature, you avoid them. The reality is that our failures and struggles are what make us who we are. For these reasons, we need to continue working on our weaknesses and learn how to improve them. Like the famous Allen Iverson once said, “we talkin’ about practice,” yes, we are talking about practice. Consistency develops good habits, and good habits develop a better you.
PDSA: Plan – Do – Study – Act
- Plan: Create attainable goals
- Do: Enact actions on your goals
- Study: Evaluate what worked and what didn’t?
- Act: Considering your reflection and implement your changes
- Repeat PDSA
If you’re a pre-medical student, you most likely have the trait of being extremely hard on yourself. Sometimes so pressing that you spend countless energy being upset and recounting what you could have done differently. But how often do you take a step back and see the bigger picture? Look at yourself and how far you have come. Not everyone has the opportunities that you do, and you should be thankful for that. You have a chance, and you’re running with it. Celebrate the small victories and be incredibly proud of yourself. You are your worst critic, and you should also be your biggest fan!
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