I recently went through a very demoralized phase, resulting from what I would consider my second most discouraging exam of medical school. I walked out from the exam feeling relatively confident about my performance, finishing early as per usual and imagining the test would have been much more difficult. Astounded would be an understatement for how I felt when I received my score a week later. I was taken aback and felt very down about my capabilities, especially because I felt I had performed decently. I had not felt this way since my first exam in medical school. It was hard for me to dive back into studying knowing that the potential consequences of doing poorly on the next two exams would be pretty dire. The way our curriculum is set up makes failing a unit very inconvenient as you are not able to continue onto rotations until you have passed all “Phase 1,” and would be set back a year. With this looming possibility and feeling very lost as to whether I should go back and review the midterm material or focus all my energy on the new material, I was unable to concentrate.
I took the initiative to meet with the course director and a learning specialist. Once I met with both of them, I felt much better. As I was well aware of but maybe needed someone to tell me, I would be fine as long as I did better on the next few exams, and needed to stop fixating so much on the worst case scenario and focus my energy on doing better. I also asked the learning specialist for a tutor, as I know many of my classmates meet with one weekly and find it helpful. Today, I am feeling so much more hopeful and confident than I was just a couple of days ago, and I would say most of that comes from talking to not only loved ones but also faculty and those who have been in my shoes, to realize that I will be okay.
It is very common to feel demoralized in medical school, and thus important to not allow this to lower your self-esteem or lose sight of the future. The biggest takeaway from this situation for me was to obviously not dwell on your perceived failures, recognize your strengths, and talk to experts/experienced professors to help you rationalize through dilemmas and help you identify next steps to move forward.