Just another fourth year med student freaking out

Been having a bit of an existential crisis these last few days because the deadline for submission of Rank Order Lists is this Wednesday.

The existential crisis simply stems from not being sure if I’m making the right decision in choosing the heart-mindblown program as #1. I’ve considered changing #1 to the top/brain-mindblown program at the last minute. Admittedly, I’ve got it easy in this decision process because they’re both good programs and in the city that I adore.

I feel like I’m throwing away a perfect opportunity to train at the place I’ve basically always dreamed of training at. A place that literally has it all, from top-notch education, to the research, the opportunities, and even the pretty hospitals that smell and look as if they were made by giddy little baby cherubs on a sunny spring day. And, this sounds stupid, but training at a place that is physically at least “pretty” to me is important because I’m a very visual/artsy person and that sort of thing keeps my spirits up and inspires me. It sounds superficial, but I don’t care.

My reasons for not choosing the top program #1 are: 1) the click I felt with the heart-mindblown program, and 2) I’m afraid of being miserable and/or not measuring up to very qualified co-residents at the top program, resulting in severe depression, suicide, or just not doing the best I can because I’m overall miserable all the time.

I’m not afraid of not thriving at the heart-mindblown program, because I’m sure I will. What I’m afraid of is letting go of the amazing opportunities the top program offers. I dreamed of training there once, and I stopped feeding that dream eventually because I thought it wouldn’t be possible (plus, my bad experience in 2012). And now I’ve interviewed there and that dream actually looks like a possibility again (albeit, not a probability, since I didn’t keep in touch with the program much after interviewing). I mean, I cried happy tears when I got the interview offer. That never happens with me…

However, I think of the hard work that would await me there. Would beautiful hospitals, awesome ancillary staff, and wonderful opportunities make up for that if I’m miserable? No. I’ll be overworked at any residency training program, but even more so at a top program. That has the potential to break me (or anyone), and I know it.

I’ve never been an anal med student who freakishly obsesses over tiny details and has color-coded highlighter schemes in her books (ok, I did a bit of color-coding but gave it up later on). I’ve never been one to put my work before my personal life, quite the contrary, as much as I could possibly love my future job, I abhor the idea of just being my job. Would this be incompatible with the top program? I think so, but I feel I’m relying on stereotypes when making that assumption. For all I know, the top program could have a great work-life balance! It sucks to have to make a decision based on one meager day of interview.

Plus, to be honest, I don’t feel as prepared in simple tasks as other fourth year med students probably do. Am I saying I’m not competent? No. I’m saying I don’t feel I’d measure up to co-residents at the top program, in part because I feel my school failed me to a certain point in knowledge terms, but mostly because I was depressed through most of medical school and didn’t make the most of my third year. I feel this would make the learning curve even steeper at the top program. Again, could that break me? Potentially, yes.

I’m just overall afraid. Afraid of making the wrong decision and then having a huge bag of regret to deal with (or worse). I don’t know if I’m making fair trade-offs, I don’t know if I’m doubting my capacity and knowledge too much…I. Just. Don’t. Know….ANYTHING.

I was so sure of this a while ago and now I’m having last minute doubts. I haven’t made any changes to my certified ROL though, because I know it’s all due to that deadline adrenaline rush.

I just want to be happy wherever I end up. That’s all I want. Really.



  1. And really I think you will be happy if you follow your heart. I think you do know just what you need to do. You have the answers inside yourself and just need to trust yourself.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much for this. I really do appreciate your words so much. And Iagree with you. I just have to listen to that inner voice a little more. Argh, trust! I definitely need to do that!


  2. It sounds like you are making the wise minded decision: what the heart wants and brain wants. Your brain is siding with the heart in all honesty. Why pick a place that could lead to suicide? Is that really what your brain wants? Cause to me it sounds like it’s what you think society wants. Buck society.

    You’ll be a better YOU in a place that fosters YOU!! Don’t forget that!!


    • Loved this, hun! Especially that last line. It really struck me because you are SO right. And yes, I’m pretty sure there was a lot of “what I think society wants”. I’ve had those thoughts before!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Ya I struggle with this myself a lot. What society wants. Because society loves to tell us what they want. As I heard today in therapy–we can be second rate versions of others or we can be first rate versions of ourselves.

        Liked by 1 person

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