I've spent some time recently working on the essay I want to get published. I actually feel odd spending time on this. First, it's an activity that doesn't have an immediate payoff. I'm writing the piece in the hopes that I can get it published somewhere and it will add to my CV and help me get a residency. It's entirely possible, however, that it will never have a payoff because it never gets published.
Am I just wasting my time? Should I be doing research right now, instead, since it has a more reliable reward? Or should I be shadowing doctors in specialties I'm interested in or volunteering more in extracurricular stuff? Should I spend the time studying? Or should I spend more time hanging out with my family or exercising or playing that guitar that I never seem to get out anymore?
I've made it sound like this is a huge decision, when it's really not. I've probably spent 4 hours so far revising and working on that essay, and I'll probably have to spend at least another 8 to get it in any condition with a hope of being published. This might sound like nothing to you, and it almost sounds like nothing to me.
And, yet, time is everything. I feel my time getting more and more valuable as the days go by. When I discover I've wasted some of it on random activities, it's distressing. Did I really want to spend my free hour doing that? When am I going to have another free afternoon? Did I suck the most enjoyment I could out of that recreational activity?
Perhaps I am becoming my father. He is an anesthesiologist, and when we went on vacations he would utilize every moment of sunlight to enjoy whatever there was to do. Vacation wasn't a time to rest, it was a time to play. Hard. If you didn't, it was a waste. Maybe as you get older you realize how little time you really have.
This makes me think of the oft-asked question about the true difficulty level of medical school. I don't know if I can answer whether medical school is really that hard or not. If one measure of difficulty is how much it makes you value your free time, than I would have to say it's quite difficult. But that's probably true about a lot of vocations.
Right now, actually, school feels pretty laid back. Infectious disease and the nervous system are 2 courses that do present a lot of material to be learned, but it doesn't feel overwhelming. I could just be getting used to it. But then again, why did I write this?
I am a medical student at BCM and all thoughts are my own. I am not a doctor. Please read the disclaimer.
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