For the past few days as I’ve woken up in the morning and stepped outside, I feel like I can sense a sort of change in the air. It feels a bit crisper, cooler, and somewhat more relaxing. I know for certain fall is right around the corner, with its full force of “pumpkin spice” flavored varieties galore. But this year, something feels different. No, it can’t be just fall, there’s something more. It’s the season to reflect, to look back on nearly three years of your life. Three years of coffee-fueled study days, brutal grinding, fat-retracting, somehow managing to always be in the way of someone, and mind-numbing amounts of q-bank questions. It’s ERAS season.
Some people might have no idea what this means, so let me quickly explain. For fourth year medical students, ERAS is the application system you fill out to apply for residencies. Naturally coming with that is the reflecting back on everything you’ve done over these years in med school, from volunteering to working to board scores. Some people smile at the thought of this, and some people cringe. But no matter how you feel, I think we can all agree there’s a lot of excitement, and a lot of anxiety that comes with the process.
I’ve been one of those lucky few people who knew what they wanted to do with their entire life. As far back as I can remember, being a doctor was always my goal. I never even entertained the thought of anything else. Sure, being young I had no idea what being a doctor was all about, aside from saving people. But somehow I managed to keep my head on straight, jump through all the hoops of life, and wind up here in my fourth year of medical school. At times, I can’t even believe it. I mean, I’m 8 months away from being an official doctor, something I’ve wanted for so long. I think back to my first year of medical school and thinking how I absolutely couldn’t wait to be a fourth year medical student and getting to enjoy the excitement of matching and becoming a doctor. But as I sit here typing this, I want nothing more than to pump the brakes on this crazy, anxiety-fueled train.
I feel like I’ve spent so much of my life wanting this one thing. Sometimes I’ve wanted it so much, I blocked out other things in my life to focus on medicine solely. But, I know upon entering residency my life will change very drastically. Gone will be the times where your notes don’t matter, and you can leave your shift without being paged. Once you’re a real doctor, the buck stops with you. Once I really thought about this, it made me want to do everything I could to enjoy my time left in medical school. Sometimes in medicine it’s so easy to just focus on getting to the next point, that you really forget about the journey. I know, that’s so cliché and cheesy, but really, come on. Isn’t it the truth? During third year, you just grind your way through rotations, thinking about the shelf, then the next week of clinicals, followed by the next shelf. And on and on and on. It’s so easy to get bogged down in this mind-numbing grind and not even take a second to enjoy our lives. People, we’ve worked so hard to get here, but our lives aren’t on hold! There’s so much else out there besides grades, volunteering, and board scores. Yeah it might seem like that at times, but if that’s all your life revolves around, what’s it even worth? So remember my folks, as we begin this new season, take a second to breath and reflect back on how far we’ve really come. Sure, there’s a lot more training to be done, but be proud of how far you’ve made it. No matter how well you’ve done in school, we’re going to be doctors soon, and that is something to be proud of. So here’s to ERAS season my friends, and may the match gods be in our favor.