Being brave

What does it mean to be a medical student?

This question, for my physician colleagues, likely immediately evokes no shortage of memories.

Some memories are positive, such as the sense of pride we and our families had with our admittance to the “club” or the late-night laughs experienced with friends while studying for exams or toiling on the wards.  Some are negative, such as the immense responsibility that came with “club” membership. The fear of not being good enough, of being figured out as being an imposter; the nights of sleep deprivation changing us subtlety, or immensely; the humour shifting darker as a desperate attempt to cope. 

Dr. Shelly Dev recently shared her story of medical training, in a reflection which speaks to this in an amazingly thought provoking and brave way.

Recently, while attending the Canadian Conference of Medical Education, four brave medical students presented their educational initiative on suicide prevention. How brave of them. Brave!

During the discussion about their initiatives, I marvelled at my own shifting thought processes. Why did I think it brave to discuss this so very timely and important issue? Certainly, we have heard the statistics that 27 per cent of our medical trainees will suffer from depression, depressive symptoms or suicidal ideation. Was it just easier to believe that this would only be an issue somewhere else, with someone else? Must we wait for tragedy to seek help, to offer it?  

Colleagues: please take the time to check in, support, and look in on each other. Recognize your mindset and get help if you need it. Find time in your life to refuel. Consider getting involved with Faculty Wellness initiatives. Remember, your well-being is not a task, it is an outcome. One we all need to work to and support.

Students: we are here for you. I may joke with you about your academic half days (yoga and therapy dogs) and I have heard you lament about the time wasted in these 'soft' sessions. At the end of the day, your success is of the utmost importance to us. Be proud that you are here, work hard, but do not feel lucky.  We recognize the pressures you experience and we want you to feel supported and know that you are not alone.

If you need help, or think someone does, speak up. The Learner Equity & Wellness Office is here to support you.  
We are all here to support each other.

As always, thank you for your hard work and dedication.

Twitter: @larry_jacobs1