A coal transforms into its most beautiful form when it is put under immense pressure.
Studying for Step 1 and getting through second year is not an easy task; it is grueling. There are days (weeks and months for many of us) that will challenge your mind, your sanity, and even your desire to become a physician. Throughout this process there will definitely be hardships, but there is also the potential for joy, growth, and satisfaction... IF you choose to pursue them. There will be glaring reasons to be negative, get discouraged, and complain. However, there will also be obvious reasons to be positive, be encouraged, and rejoice, and these reasons are often hiding in plain sight. The challenge, though, lies in our tendency to get caught up in the difficulty facing us and miss out on everything else. Too easily we forget that there cannot be valleys without mountains, and both are critical to the makings of a beautiful landscape. I strongly believe you can choose the reality in which you want to dwell. That doesn’t mean you won’t get frustrated or disheartened at times- certainly not! But it does mean that your perception becomes your reality. If you decide this will be the worst year of your life, then guess what: you will be right! If you decide that you will grow, excel, and flourish in multiple areas of life, then, you guessed it, you will be right too! This simple truth applies to studying for Step 1 as well.
So here are some tips to keep in mind: As you are refined through this year and this massive test of intellect, don't forget to strive to excel in areas of character, compassion, love, family, and faith. Pursue balance and success in all areas of your life. We put so much time into ourselves during this year studying and building up our own knowledge that if we aren't careful the selflessness that is essential for our profession won't automatically turn back on when we are ready to take care of others. Our calling to be servants and care for patients is just as much a skill as is our knowledge. If we don't practice it and focus on it, then it quickly falls to the wayside. Furthermore, don't forget that a number does not define you, your worth, or your ability: these things are multifaceted. Don't strive to succeed as a number and yet fail in the intangible requirements of a great physician that are grown, day in and day out, habit by habit and choice by choice, as we go through this process. Remember that you are extremely capable, talented, and strong. Remind yourselves of these things daily. Focus on the positive. Deal with the negative and move on; don’t dwell in it. Encourage others around you. And I think you, like me, will find your attitude improved, your stress decreased, and your capacity for greatness climbing.