Help me encourage a great future doctor not to lose faith in herself.
April 29, 2009 6:59 AM Subscribe
I'm out of fresh encouraging perspectives, and the stakes are higher than ever. Please help me figure out how to best be a supportive friend in the 11th hour of my pal's struggles with studying for the med school boards.
posted by dorothy humbird to Human Relations (7 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
So, my friend is a very intelligent and principled person, and has for most of her education been in honors classes and in other ways recognized for her commitment to learning and knowledge. She also happens to be one of the most caring people I know, and is absolutely one of my best friends. She is the sort of person who is keenly sensitive to the human element of any problem or situation, and for this reason I think she would be an invaluable addition to the field of medicine, which can sometimes be heavily populated by self-absorbed jerks and/or people who are only in it for the money.
But, as far as I can tell, she is burned out in the extreme from years of studying and studying, not to mention her family worries and expectations (she is a 1st gen daughter of immigrants from a country with pretty conservative expectations for offspring, and despite somewhat Westernized viewpoints on the part of her parents, there are still major friction issues). She has struggled this entire year, her second in med school, with getting herself to buckle down and study, and has been discouraged time and again even when she did with grades that fell below the median of her class - but she's scraped by. And now, with classes over so the students can completely focus on studying 10+ hours a day to pass the board exams, she is really and truly putting in the effort, only to keep getting dismal results on her practice tests for the boards.
She's discouraged. I'm discouraged for her. She's been seeing a counselor, but sometimes sabotages herself even there by not revealing the extent of her struggles, or not doing the tasks that the counselor suggests for her. It takes so much effort for her to just focus on studying these massive tomes of knowledge that she somehow has to ingest and immolate into her very core that when she doesn't make progress, she loses almost all faith in herself. She has mentioned to me that her brother, who also attended med school and is now in residency, did poorly in the books section too, but excelled once he was in a more hands-on environment doing rotations. So, I've been encouraging her to look ahead to that -- but the problem that she and I both obviously can't ignore is that she has to PASS the boards to get there.
I'm out of supportive words and phrases. Everything I can think to say, I've already said: just hang in there; quit beating yourself up; I BELIEVE IN YOU - YOU CAN DO THIS, BUT YOU NEED TO BELIEVE YOU CAN DO IT; it's okay to take more time (she is now pushing back the beginning of her 3rd year to give herself more time to study because her practice test results haven't been enough to pass), you are smart! you are intelligent! you of all people should be a doctor because you actually care about human beings!
I've said it all already, and I can't imagine that repeating this to her is any help at this stage.
I need insight into this experience; who out there in MetaFilter has had similar struggles in professional schools - med school, law school, anything else similarly demanding? I am meeting to have coffee with her this evening, and I just want to give her the most encouraging pep talk I can feasibly manage without personal experience of what she is going through. It would crush me to see her defeated by this, and if there is anything I can say or remind her of to help her avoid that, I want it in my bag of resources. Help me help her.