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Developing Resilience as a Premedical Student

Developing Resilience as a Premedical Student

written by: Nora Galoustian  

You know that feeling when your stomach sinks, and your chest suddenly feels heavy? When you feel a jolt of pain run through your core, and your face gets hot? When anxiety begins to seep into the spaces between your ribs, and negative thoughts begin to arise from the back of your head? 

Failure. Rejection. Underperformance. These are perfectly human experiences that every single one of us has endured at one time or another in our lives. 

As pre-medical students, we don’t typically discuss this topic openly with one another. We are surrounded by peers with straight A’s, research publications, stellar community service work, and brilliant MCAT scores.  The inkling pressure of feeling the need to achieve all of these things is quite common throughout the pre-medical journey.

It’s normal to get a midterm score back and be disappointed or to get rejected from the research lab you applied for failure is normal; however, openly discussing it with one another in pre-medical culture is not. As a pre-medical community seeking to empower ourselves and one another, it is critical to foster a community of support and guidance, as we each undergo different types of obstacles in our lives. These obstacles may be career-oriented or personal adversities that we’re facing in our everyday lives. 

In a state of anguish, it could be difficult to pick up the shattered pieces and restart. Setbacks are often not merely external, and failure to obtain a desired goal can manifest internally by fueling one’s insecurities and self-doubt. A deep self-reflection and analysis of events that may have ensued leading up to the roadblock can help to prevent one from finding themselves in similar situations in the future. It is important to look at ways to improve your own strategy and to do the best you can with what is in your control. However, sometimes, there are barriers that are beyond our control. There are some goals that we, as pre-meds, have sacrificed so much for, yet we did not receive the results for which we were hoping. 

We must take a step back to realize that our passion and hard work will pay off, but there are other factors to reaping the benefits of this hard work. “The earlier in your healthcare career that you learn the importance of resilience, the better,” an esteemed pediatrician told me during a mentorship phone call. Your tenacity… your resilience…  are the fundamental components to becoming successful. Roadblocks are inevitable, but perspective is within our control, and developing resilience will help to propel you along your desired career path, despite setbacks that may come along the way. While you may not achieve your goals in the exact way you intend to, there are many different paths to the same destination. Enjoy the unexpected twists and turns. Take a moment to be present and look around you —  not just ahead toward the future. You are alive, you have a purpose, and you will get to where you desire with time. Be open to unexpected experiences along the way, be resilient, and continue to work hard toward your ambitions. 

Roadblock Reminders: 

  1. You are more than your productivity output. You are enough.
  2. You are not defined by the barriers you face, but you are defined by how you choose to respond to these barriers. Take a deep breath, and keep pushing. Resilience coupled with hard work is key. 
  3. Sometimes, certain opportunities do not pan out for us. An unexpected turn of events can be a transformative experience both professionally and personally. Keep an open mind and embark on a journey of self-growth through this process. Know that there are other opportunities for you along the way that you may not currently foresee. 

Alexandra Alvarez

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