-Written by Dr. Sadiya Khan

Dear first year me, 

Welcome to medical school. Congratulations on reaching the first checkpoint in your journey towards your dreams.  You’ve no idea what you’ve gotten yourself into. 

In the next few years, you will be learning to help humanity in their most vulnerable times. You will be amazed by the beauty of your creation when you study the perfect synchrony of the lungs, heart and the brain that let you breathe, live and dream.  You will take the Hippocratic oath wearing your crisp short white coat, promising to do no harm. In the dissection labs, you will hold a heart that once beat for years, lungs that breathed life into a person and the brain that holds memories and secrets in its sulci and gyri. You will learn to take histories and be kind and empathetic to those around you. You will form bonds that cannot be expressed in words. You will realise the privilege and honour of being entrusted with a person’s life. You will learn to use your knowledge and carry yourself with humility and grace.

The next few years are tough but will also be the most rewarding years of your life. You’ve chosen a field that is ever evolving. There is too much information to process but too little time.  On some days you feel like you belong and, on the others, the imposter syndrome kicks in, reminding you of why you don’t.  At times, you are cruising through and at times, you are barely staying afloat. You will fail at times and still get back up and continue walking. There will be many sleepless nights, breakdowns before tests, countless hours studying and missing out on family gatherings. You will see your non medical friends moving into different phases of life. You will feel stagnant and lonely. I hope you realise that it’s okay to have these conflicting emotions. You are not alone. You will get through this just like those before you did. You will emerge stronger than ever before. You will be shocked by how resilient and capable you are. You cannot care for others without taking care of yourself first. So, until then, breathe and take it one day at a time. Enjoy every moment of this journey with gratitude, keep your loved ones close and strengthen your faith.  It’s true what they say about this field – the days are long but the years are short.  

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