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From Desperation to Freedom

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The views and opinions expressed in this collection are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the positions of the Association of American Medical Colleges.

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Eliana Garcia

University of New Mexico, School of Medicine – MD Class of 2022 


As an immigrant from Colombia, I embrace the opportunity to serve others and decrease health inequities using the basis of loving service engraved in my own Hispanic culture. This reflection has made a lasting impact in my personal and professional life. I hope it can help others as they enter their clinical stage in medical school.

From Desperation to Freedom

As residency application season approaches, it can bring so much anxiety into our already stressful medical student lives. Residency is such an intimidating concept, especially going into a surgical field as a Latina woman. When I first began my sub-internship in Gynecology oncology, I was so worried about “performing” and making others believe that I would be a good OB/GYN.

I was presenting well, building good rapport with my patients, helping the team; however, my nights were still uneasy. Why couldn’t I relax and let go of the day?

I entered into a state of desperation.

Even though I KNEW I was “performing,” it is like my body didn’t let me BELIEVE this. I would go to bed at 9 pm and not fall asleep until after 12:30. I would think about rounds the next day… My alarm was set for 4:30 am.

I reached out to one of my attendings. She saw right through my fear and taught me something I will never forget. “Stop worrying about performing or impressing or pleasing others and ENJOY this. Work hard for YOURSELF and your PATIENTS.”

My fellow medical school peers, let me take this moment to remind you that we are STUDENTS. We are supposed to be learning, and we are never going to be perfect. Why are we striving so hard to impress others when we should be working hard for ourselves, for our education, and for the sake of our patients.

I let this advice sink in, and this is what happened at my next clinic:

FREE. I was so happy and wanted to be there; my patients could tell.

BELIEVE. What matters is that I know I am doing my best.

KNOW. I am capable and have the spirit and humility to improve every day.

HARD WORK.  Helping the most incredible women I know - my patients.

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Disclaimer:

The views and opinions expressed in this collection are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the positions of the Association of American Medical Colleges.