Something that people don’t tell you before you go to medical school is that there are a number of sacrifices you have to make that are not outwardly made evident at the forefront. Besides the obvious free time sacrifices as you are dedicating yourself to four years of nonstop studying, you also have to sacrifice some familial obligations. For example, there were some pretty strict rules on what types of family gatherings would be accepted as an excused absence during clinical rotations, which meant that friends’ and family members’ weddings may had to have been foregone; I was surprised to learn that unless you were a member of the wedding party, you had to make a strong case for why you should be able to take a day off. This seemed very unfair to me initially as I believed attending a relative’s wedding or graduation is very important, and that school should not get in the way of your familial obligations. However, upon further reflection, I have come to terms that by deciding to go to medical school and become physicians, we subjected ourselves to a lifestyle where we must sacrifice a lot in order to successfully pursue our goals. This was definitely not obvious to me last year, but has become very evident as I see a majority of physicians going to clinic on holidays, residents working through Christmas, staff mentioning that their spouse had to attend their child’s sports game because they were scheduled to work that day. It is not ideal, yes, but I recognize that patient care and safety is the foundation of our jobs and should not be taken lightly. On the flipside, I do think hospitals and schools do provide us with reasonable time off and excused absences, and I think it is all about adjusting your mindset as to what can take precedence over your clinical duties.
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Alex is a third-year medical student at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, not far from her home in Chicago. She is currently completing her clinical rotations. 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. She is an aspiring pediatrician who wishes to be highly involved in the community, as a patient advocate and potential community clinic leader.
Outside of school, Alex loves fitness, music, spending time with friends/family, and expressing herself through art, makeup, and fashion.