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getting to and through YEAR ONE

Hello? Oh, Hello there! I am excited to talk more about my summer as I enjoy the last few days before I dive into studying hard. It is almost the beginning of the second year of medical school.

Last year was one of the hardest years of my life. I experienced more pain, suffering, doubt, tears, and heartache than I have ever before in such large doses. I staggered under the weight of my fears and found myself often on my knees with no where else to turn.

It was a beautiful place to find myself.

Of course it is easy to say that now, looking back as I stand proud.

There was a lot that went into my decision to go to medical school. Ultimately it took a lot of prayer and a lot of planning. It took a lot of service hours, a lot of hard work in my undergrad, a lot of conversations with my mother. It was a grueling process which no one can understand until you've been through it. I often doubted I was making the right choice.

As I was preparing for the MCAT, which is the entrance exam for US med schools, I was dating someone I cared about a lot. At the time, I was taking a heavy load of courses at school, I was dealing with some family things, I was working part time and I held a time-consuming calling in the LDS church. There came a time in my relationship where the man I was dating looked me in the eyes and said, "I just can't be sure you care about me - you never give me enough time. And I feel guilty taking your time since you are preparing for medical school and that is important to you. But aren't I important too?" And that was hard. Because at the time I truly felt as through I had no more time to give him. It became a question of whether I wanted medical school, or I wanted him. You know which I chose and that was extremely hard.

I do not doubt there will be some people in the LDS faith, and likely the general population, who will think I made the wrong choice. Sometimes I wonder about it myself. However, I know after struggling with all the doubts associated, that I made the right choice. That medical school was the right choice.

I also never expected to get in. So I made the choice with the idea that I was throwing away a very important relationship to chase a dream that likely would never come true. Which Is Completely Terrifying.

So! I did all the leadership experiences, the service hours, the shadowing, the research opportunities, the paperwork, the money spent and I signed up for the MCAT. I kept saying to God, "Okay, I understand if THIS experience is why I went through this whole thing and you can stop me at any time." - in regards to my service, my leadership experiences, my internship. All the way up to my MCAT - I kept saying that in my prayers "Okay, I understand, I've grown SO MUCH and I never would have had such-and-such a lesson if I hadn't needed to for my med school applications. I can stop now if You want."

Honestly, I was frustrated every time He chose not to stop me. How foolish I was and full of doubt and fear. I lacked trust. But you also have to understand that I believe that God sometimes leads us down roads in order for us to take a fork that is later on - that we never would have been able to take if he hadn't gotten us on the road in the first place. There are times he leads us down a path not so we get to the destination at the end of the path but so he can veer us off later and I honestly believed that that was what he was doing with me. I never expected that actually getting into medical school was what he was doing with me.

The time came to take the MCAT. I did well. I sent out my applications before I even got my scores back because that was the timeline I had planned out. When I got my score, I was relieved. It wasn't as high as I wanted but it would get me in somewhere. I paid a lot of money to apply to a lot of schools after having carefully researched dozens of programs, made an excel sheet with all their information, carefully determined that I would apply to some I knew I would get in, some I knew was a long shot but would be awesome, and some in the middle.

In time PNWU-COM invited me to an interview. It was at the bottom of my list, a safety school. So I treated my interview as a practice and I was calm and easy-going (except for the part where I cried in one of the multiple-mini-interviews because my brother came up and he had died less than 6 months before). It was still stressful but not as bad as it could have been since the entire time I was in Yakima at that time I really felt as though I would not be going to that school. I felt easy at the school, in the city, with the couple that hosted me. It all felt very "chill" and I attributed that feeling to the idea that I would never end up here so I did not have any reason to stress too much - I treated it as a great chance to practice my interview skills for when I was invited by a school I actually wanted. Looking back, I know it was more a blessing to help me later get accepted and Heavenly Father blessing me with a kind of reassurance.

I returned to school and to my job. And I got my acceptance voicemail. For a while last semester I tried to remember what that experience was like and I couldn't even remember when or where or any of the details. I remember now. At the time I was a Teachers Aid for the neuroscience course and was helping to run a late night study and open lab. I looked down to see I had missed a call and stepped out into the hallway. It was late and it was dark in the hallways and outside since it was in October.

I remember feeling kind of stunned and a little numb. I didn't want to go to PNWU so it was less exciting for me than I wish it had been.

The thing with getting into medical school is after you are accepted you have to pay to hold your place in the class. The amount we had to pay by the start of December was the exact amount of money I had in my bank account. I was terrified to pay it. I was still hopeful I would get into a different school and would need the money to get me to and from my interviews.

I spoke with people whose advice I take very seriously - they said to pay it. I prayed. And ultimately I said to Heavenly Father that if Yakima, Washington was where I was supposed to be, that He needed to not let me get into any other medical school.

What followed that prayer was a very hard week as I received rejection after rejection from almost every other school to which I had applied. It was disheartening and humiliating until I realized it was an answer to prayer.

I paid to hold my spot in Washington.

And then I moved here! And I did my first year! And it was hard, disheartening and a little humiliating and you can read more about it in my previous posts. I remediated the course I failed and it went well - four weeks of packing in twelve weeks of the original course, with a midterm and a final. Nerve-wrecking but I passed it and I studied over the summer - two birds with one very difficult stone!! Board study and remediation? Done! (Well, obviously I still have a lot of Board study to do. We will take the first step of the medical boards next summer so that will happen mostly this school year).

I spent the next six weeks travelling, seeing my parents, brothers, sister-in-laws and nieces and nephews and their puppies. I spent several weeks in the sweltering heat of the midwest playing tee-ball coach, playing board games with my siblings, lying by the pool, eating too much food and WAY TOO MANY Oreos - just kidding haha that's not a thing.

 And learning important lessons from a knowing Heavenly Father as I watched my brothers talk to and with and about their wives. I studied the scriptures and pondered about the topic of marriage. I wrote in my journal a lot about this. My thoughts this summer were heavy with the idea of marriage preparation and watching my siblings and how they treated their own marriages since I expect I will be a lot like them. I imagine you'll hear more about this in later posts.

I know God is how I got through last year. I know God in his mercy is with me every day. I know in times of trial that he is near me and sends me heavenly help. I know he does not wish for us to be doubtful, fearful, tearful, or scared. He wants us to feel empowered, forgiven, redeemed, that All Things Are Possible. And they are.

And with that I step into the next year of medical school, recognizing I will likely continue to struggle as I did my first year but that miracles will continue to happen because that is life and it is oh so good.

(Always a favorite.)


Anonymous said…
Dear Melissa,

I found your blog when I was searching for an answer to one of the essay questions in secondary application for medical school. I love your writing and your stories, which are very encouraging for me. I just want to say thank you!
To the Anonymous person who wrote that - You are Oh So Welcome! Congratulations on making it this far in a very difficult process. Thank you for your kind words. I am grateful to have helped someone even a little bit. Sharing thoughts and stories is a large part of the history of the human race and I don't think we take enough time to just share our experiences and stories now. I wish our culture had a bit more of that in it. So thank you. And best of luck to you wherever you end up <3

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