Medical school can be overwhelmingly difficult when readjusting to a routine and relearning how to study and manage your time. I still haven’t quite found a solid study method or schedule after a month, and it seems as though everyone else has got things figured out. I’ve had some difficulty snapping out of the negativity and sometimes, you need some really big wins.

When Georgia State beat University of Tennessee last weekend, it was incredibly exhilarating to see my alma mater, a school with a 9 year old football program, beat one of the most well known schools in the south while getting paid almost $1 million to do it. Prior to attending, I had no idea GSU had a football team. There weren’t many game day traditions and no one yelled “GO THERS” around Atlanta. It was a stark contrast to my weekends in Knoxville where everyone and their dogs were decked out in orange and Rocky Top was played almost everywhere. If GSU’s young and underfunded program can beat UT’s well-established one, I can do anything, or at least I can do better in crushing this exam block despite not having a rigorous academic experience with a masters or post baccalaureate degree.

My optimistic mood only improved after I sawed through my cadaver’s skull and removed the brain. While holding it up to examine the delicate folds and meningeal layers, I was reminded of why I wanted to go into medicine in the first place. In elementary school, I attended a neuroscience festival where a human brain was placed into my tiny gloved hands. I remember being so in awe that I almost dropped it. I had never been as curious in my few years of life as I was in that moment, and my experience only prompted many more questions. Almost two decades later, I’m one of the lucky ones who gets to experience the removal of a human brain. It seemed smaller and lighter than I remembered, but the feeling of being humbled by something so magnificent remained the same.

This wouldn’t have happened had one of my group members not spoken up in lab. I’m working on being more assertive, but it’s difficult to be confident when there’s so much you don’t know. Two guys at my table usually do most of the dissecting, but today, that lab mate said she’d like to work with the bone saw. Her courage gave me the courage to try it out. Once I was confident with the saw, I also volunteered to help remove the dura mater from the surface of the brain and then the brain from its cavity. I might just really like brains, but I’m proud of myself for taking a small step in the right direction.

I’m finally back on track and ready to continue the endless anatomy. One’s mindset can make a world of difference when it comes to seemingly daunting tasks like reviewing hours upon hours of lectures. It’s important to remember that a beautiful day begins with a beautiful mindset and if it hasn’t been beautiful, then blasting Queen and Lizzo during your morning commute will definitely help.

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