As a third year medical student, I have had to overcome my anxiety and fear about constantly being evaluated. I remember the first day of third year orientation when the various clerkship directors talked about their expectations, their emphasis on professional behavior, and their pet peeves about medical students. I vividly recall my sheer panic over the thought of being watched and critiqued at every moment of the working day. And in the beginning rotations, that sense of anxiety definitely showed. I would painstakingly think before I said or did anything. I wouldn’t really add my opinion to the conversation, especially when the first few times of being caustically shot down discouraged me from trying ever again. During those beginning months, I wasn’t happy with myself or my performance. I was hindering myself and it made me miss out on so much that I could have benefited from.
With my family medicine rotation, I began to realize that instead of worrying about being judged all the time, I should focus on my own learning and the rest would fall into place on its own. As an over-thinker, this self-realization took a while to sink in, but throughout my neurology and internal medicine rotations, I have come into my own and am content with being myself now. I don’t feel as intimidated by the attendings and residents and am able to give my perspective when discussing my patients during morning rounds. I volunteer for different procedures (when my team members give the med students the chance to try it out!) and even try to pick up the most challenging patients to work up. I ask many more questions than before, knowing that this is my chance to be as inquisitive as I want, since I won’t have that luxury in residency.
By letting go of the constant fear of being judged, I think I have improved my own clinical performance and have set forth on a path toward figuring out my own style of medicine. While I do still feel like I am expected to be “on” at all times, I think the pressure to be perfect is completely gone. I’m a student who’s constantly learning and applying all my experiences to be the best doctor that I can be for my patients.