As medical students, particularly in our clinical years, it can often feel like we are at the mercy of other peoples’ subjective opinions to define our value as future clinicians and it often feels as people are given the centrality of medicine to our lives. While it is undoubtedly true that our seniors play a critical role in what opportunities and accolades are available to us my recent garnering of the ASCP Medical Student Award offers a reminder of the continued need to strive and advocate for ourselves.
The ASCP Medical Student Award honors medical students who have achieved academic excellence, demonstrated leadership ability, and shown a strong interest in the pathology profession. While I assume that most people are nominated by more senior ASCP members I somehow found myself in the rare position of finding the confidence to nominate myself. In the process of putting this application together, I learned that as valuable as having mentors advocate for you there are some advantages to having to speak for yourself. First, and perhaps most intuitively, no one knows your experiences, what they meant to you, and what you derived from them better than yourself. Second, no matter how much a mentor values and supports you another person (perhaps excluding family) will largely prioritize your success as much as you do since while for others it may be a good deed to you it is very literally your life and future on the line. Lastly, it is an invaluable skill to be able to stand up for yourself simply because we so often find ourselves in rooms where we are forced to be our own advocates especially as many of us including me look at the rapidly approaching residency interview season.
I likely would not be sharing these thoughts had my risk not paid off but with the clarity of that success, I realize the lessons learned are universal ones. Ultimately while supportive mentors are important to our ultimate success at the end of the day a person has to be in the game if they hope to win it and can mean taking yourself off the bench when no coach is willing to.