Something has become very apparent to me during this challenging time of self-quarantine and COVID-19: that medical students are addicted to certainty. Specifically in the context of the current situation, we are fearful of what the future holds, and how this may impact our own professional career. Clinical rotations and acting internships are on hold, scheduled board exams have been cancelled as testing centers across the nation are closed, and much is up in the air regarding the residency application and how deadlines may or may not be altered. Students are panicking about not getting letters of recommendation given the hold on rotations, about the delay in exam scores, in how the interview season is going to play out. I believe this love for certainty also plays out on the wards, as we are married to our algorithms and treatment regimens that we have acquired throughout medical school. When a patient presents with a constellation of unspecific symptoms or an unclear diagnosis, it throws us off and forces us to think harder, become innovative. I feel that in order to survive in this inevitable world of unknowns and uncertainty, we must let go of our addiction to certainty. I have been strangely not too stressed out in regards to the uncertainty of the residency application, because I figure everyone is in the same boat, and hospital programs will account for this unique situation when it comes time to apply. In the hospital, we must not panic when patients do not present the way we expect, and instead apply what we know to come to a good care plan for patients. Certainty is comforting, certainty breeds confidence. But, certainty is not always possible in a fluctuating, dynamic world of unpredictable events, and we must learn to adapt to that.
Alex is a fourth-year medical student at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health. As an avid lover of the intellect and interspecialty collaboration associated with medicine, she is excited to be applying for Internal Medicine residency programs. Her interest in medicine largely stems from her volunteer work in free clinics in underserved communities and experiences growing up with a brother with autism.
Before attending medical school, Alex completed her undergraduate degree at Northwestern University in 2014 and her Master of Public Health (concentration in Chronic Disease Epidemiology) at Yale University in 2016.
When she is not working in the hospital or studying, you can find Alex running by the lake, doing circuit workouts outdoors in the fields, drawing and/or writing, or at home spending time with her family in the suburbs of Chicago.