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"Dear Adam" Letter to Myself as a First Year Medical Student

March 12, 2020
Adam Dunmore, Anesthesiology Chief Resident

Adam Dunmore MD, Chief Resident PGY3 in UMMS-Baystate's Anesthesiology Residency will be graduating in May. Here's the letter he wrote to himself as a first-year med student—what he knows now that he wishes he knew then.

Just remember that in the end, this is all going to be worth it.

Dear Adam,
Starting out as a first-year medical student is going to be a confusing time; medicine really isn’t like undergrad and it only gets more complex. I really wish I knew how hard I had to work in order to achieve the goals I made for myself. Keep studying, keep working hard, and keep at it because it’s worth it. 
Photos: Adam's white coat ceremony as a first year med student (top), Adam as chief resident (bottom)

My best advice is to keep going.

The hours are going to get longer, the days tougher, and the responsibilities will increase. Medical school is about creating a good work ethic and relentless attitude towards studying and learning. You’ll miss weddings, birthdays, and funerals, and you need to remember why it is you’re doing what you’re doing. Putting in the hours is the most important and most difficult part when you know you could be out doing other things, but it will be worth it come residency Match day and you get into the program you’ve always wanted. 

It will be important to take care of yourself from the inside out.

Your mental health, your physical health, and the health of others are so important. I’m talking about eating well, exercising, and being with others going through the same stress as you. Its important to remember that you never know what other people are going through unless you ask.

Make the most of your time off.

When you have time between semesters or exams, relax, see your friends, and do things that make you happy—you’ve earned the mental break. I really wish I had spent more time with family that I can’t see now, either because of the time constraints with my schedule, distance, or because they’re no longer here. Before you know it, you could be doing residency in a far away city and the moments with friends and family will be things you long for.

Going away to medical school will be a risk, but one that is rewarding.

In your first year, you’re going to encounter a lot of new people, new opportunities, and opinions. Try to break out of your shell, try new things, meet new people, but don’t forget what the end goal is or where you came from. It’s a delicate balance between trying to immerse yourself in the world of medicine to be the best physician you can be without losing yourself along the way. 

Lean on whatever motivates you.

One of the most motivating factors I had was hearing my family telling me how proud they were of me. This stuck with me and drove me because times were going to get stressful. There are going to be a million things to study and little time to do it and you’re going to need that motivation.

And just remember that in the end, this is all going to be worth it.