by christine

A writer and medical student at an Ivy League school discusses learning in medicine—perseverance and engagement instead of burnout, gaining the tools for longitudinal learning and kindness to self.

Undifferentiated | 09.17.2018


Right now we’re stem cells. As first-year med students, we’re undifferentiated cells that could go on to take any number of fates. There are seemingly unlimited numbers of potential paths that we could choose in the next years.  

In that regard, the future can seem pretty daunting. After all, we can’t always stay undifferentiated. During med school, we’re likely going to start figuring out our interests and heading down one of those paths, and at some point, we won’t have all of those choices anymore.

With all the interest groups and specialty talks, there are plenty of opportunities to hear about the different paths we could choose. This week, some of us attended an event to meet surgeons and learn about their work. The surgeons at the event were warm, open, and excited to share everything that led them to dedicate themselves to their field. I was inspired by their passion, but also wondered when I would become more certain of the area of medicine that would be so exciting and fulfilling for me.  

I stayed around with some of my friends after the event, and as we talked, we expressed both our excitement about our time so far in med school, as well as our fears about how the future could turn out. Thus far, we’ve spent much of our lives learning and observing. What will it be like when we’re no longer students—when we’ve made choices and continue to make choices that affect not only us but our patients as well? Can we trust our future selves to get it right?

Imagine who you were five years ago, one of us said. How different was that person? Think of how much you’ve changed. Now think of how much you might change in the next four, five years—if anything, we can believe that the growth and learning that we experience during that time will prepare us for our futures.

So early in our journeys, we’re undifferentiated, but before long we might start heading down different paths. It’s scary to think of choices—what paths we might choose, all the number of challenges that could come our way. But while we’re not sure of the person we’re going to be, and what their life might look like, when we think of that person we hope that they’re competent, empathetic, and kind—someone who has learned from their experiences and is going to keep learning.  

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[vc_custom_heading text=”About: Christine Heidi” font_container=”tag:h4|font_size:20|text_align:left” google_fonts=”font_family:Roboto%3A100%2C100italic%2C300%2C300italic%2Cregular%2Citalic%2C500%2C500italic%2C700%2C700italic%2C900%2C900italic|font_style:700%20bold%20regular%3A700%3Anormal” css=”.vc_custom_1536435995564{margin-top: -15px !important;}”][vc_custom_heading text=”Bio: Christine is a first-year Ivy League medical student who is interested in narrative medicine and journalism. She also enjoys playing music, baking, and running in her free time.” font_container=”tag:h4|font_size:16|text_align:left” google_fonts=”font_family:Roboto%3A100%2C100italic%2C300%2C300italic%2Cregular%2Citalic%2C500%2C500italic%2C700%2C700italic%2C900%2C900italic|font_style:300%20light%20regular%3A300%3Anormal”][/vc_column]

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