Thursday, September 8, 2011

Wrapping Things Up Part II: What I will take away from this experience

I filled 3 of these books with crazy bits of derm trivia!
1. A love of dermatology: I learned so much in a very literal sense: while my Setswana didn’t improve as much as I might have liked, I learned so much of the language of dermatology. And I loved it. I can't wait to get more involved now that I'm back at school. I've been finding cardio tough so I've started a game with Kari where I email her the disease we are learning about and she replies with the skin problems that go along with that disease. Luckily Jen donated a large pile of derm books so I'll have plenty of opportunity to keep learning. I know, I know...I'm a huge nerd. 

2. The knowledge that I want to make international work a part of my career. I felt so at home in Bots and I felt the same way in Malawi. I can't wait to find out how my career evolves to include this passion. 

How could you not want to work somewhere this amazing?
3. Most importantly however, I learned, or rather got re-acquainted with, my own competence. Medical school isn’t kind to everyone and although I’ve been very successful grades-wise, I’ve been struggling with my own version of the imposter syndrome common to medical students: I keep waiting for someone to “find out” that I am not as smart or as hardworking as my classmates. And frankly, in some ways, that is true. I am not great at sustained periods of memorization and that is the key to med school success in many ways. I think that last year, I always felt sort of bad because I wasn’t spending as much time with the material as my classmates. As we learned in psychiatry, situations like that can set you up to create a very negative self-evaluation. Fears about not living up to my potential made it hard to be proud even though I did really well in terms of external markers like grades.

Botswana was the antidote to that feeling: I wanted to go to work...wanted to stay longer at work... wanted to find projects that would give me more work and I did that work well enough that people started giving me more and more responsibility. Positive feedback is always great but feeling proud of myself was the best feeling in the world. So basically, I had the opportunity to re-ignite my passion for medicine while meeting and working with some truly amazing people. I will echo my first I lucky or what?

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