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Guest Post: @MedicalRedhead | Haley Barnes | A Pre-Med’s Take on #GirlMedLive2018

December 1, 2018

 #GirlMedLive2018 was an absolutely fabulous experience. I am so grateful for all the lessons I learned, the people I met, and the joy I gained from #GirlMedLive2018. This blog is to serve as a quick recap of lessons that will benefit all pre-medical students. It also serves as a thank you to all those who affected me the weekend of November 2nd-4th. A sincerest thank you to the board of Girl Med Media who made this conference happen. I cannot wait to see what happens in 2020.

 

 

 

In this blog, I will share 5 main lessons that I will remember throughout my pre-medical training and into my medical school applications. I hope you gain the same reverence for the lessons I share. I have already begun to put some in place, and my life has gotten exponentially better. Please enjoy.

 

One. Live A Deliberate Life | @ShreyaTrivediMD

 

I really enjoyed Dr. Trivedi’s talk about living a deliberate life because I did not realize how undeliberate I had been with my own. She spoke on how if we do not live a deliberate life, we will find ourselves living our spouse’s or best friend's lives. This quote affected me because in the world of social media (and oftentimes in my imposter syndrome on #GirlMedTwitter) it is very easy for myself to get caught up in seeing how others are living their lives. On social media, I see other pre-meds sharing their research experiences or their study abroad trips. I wonder if I should be doing the same without considering if their actions and successes will apply to my personal life mission.

 

But Dr. Trivedi snapped me out of my glooming Imposter Syndrome with her discussion “Effectively Using Deliberate Practice to Propel Vision.” In her talk, Dr. Trivedi discussed how to live a deliberate life through short-term and long-term planning. One method she shared was backwards planning. If you have a goal that is five steps away, break it down into the four phaseable goals you need in order to get there. For example, if I want to be a surgical resident, I need to complete medical school in a competitive position. If I want to achieve top status in medical school, I need to get into medical school. To get into medical school, I need to complete my post bacc. To complete my post bacc, I need to do X/Y/Z in order to ensure a strong GPA and graduation. 

 

Backwards planning can be broken down into simple tasks, too. Since #GirlMedLive2018, I have used this method to create tangible, smaller goals. For example, I want to present research at my institution’s annual research day. To do that, I need to have something to present. To have something to present, I need complete a full experiment. To complete an experiment, I need to be partnered with a research investigator. Lastly, sprinkled throughout, I will need to budget time to read literature and analyze data.

 

How can you implement backwards planning into your life in order to achieve a deliberate plan towards your goals? Do you review those goals daily? 

 

 

Two. Be Their ‘It’ Person | @DrLandrau

 

I thought I had grew my confidence to handle any situation, Dr. Landrau’s discussion “Know Your Worth” raised the bar for me. She spoke passionately of taking pride in one's achievements. Women are already … less likely to be promoted then men in medicine, so what do we need to do to own our achievements without touting them? 

First, you have to prove that you are their ‘It’ person. As the traditional saying goes, you have to walk the walk if you are going to talk the talk. If you want the job promotion, you need to see what is expected of the job. After learning the expectations, do your absolute best to fulfill them in every action you take. 

 

For example, if Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine (TCOM) is your dream school, you will want to note the school highly values patient-centered medicine and humanistic qualifications within their physicians. Along with their mission to create solutions for a healthier community, you should have a clear understanding of the type of physician tecom is anticipating within two or three clicks of their website. What activities are you achieving that focus on patient-centered medicine? Are you growing your humanistic qualities through talking to people or interacting with demographics you don't identify with? What are you doing to create solutions for your community?

In following the same example, Dr. Landrau would then advise: Communicate your wants and demand your needs. Communicate your wants by applying to TCOM's early admission program. Directly state your achievements and why they relate to the institutions mission. As a pre-med, 'demand’ isn't in our vocabulary, but if you need help with housing placement or technology scholarships, communicate those needs! Some of my peers are limited geographically to where they can apply. Explain your situation in your application. It is best to ask for scholarships after an acceptance, but if your spouse is limited to a certain city or another extenuating circumstances similar to that, communicate your needs. 

 

Through working to achieve the expected qualities and experience of a desired job and communicating that you want/need the job, you can prove you are their ‘It’ person!

 

Three. Prioritize True Self-Care | @docswiner

 

Dr. Swiner's workshop “avoiding burnouts how to be Superwoman without being Superwoman” was one of my favorites of #GirlMedLive2018. She powerfully conveyed how self-care has a direct relation to our productivity and performance in other aspects of our lives. Another great part of this workshop was hearing from audience members and how they handle prioritizing self-care. I need to let you read the below tweets, because there's no way my interpretation of them would be any more powerful than the words spoken by #GirlMedLive2018 attendees! 

 

 

 

 

Four. Recognize Your Burnout | @DrSuzyFeigofksy

 

Dr. Feigofksy’s was another of my favorite talks because she was able to so succinctly put my emotions into words. at the start of my post back, I was really struggling with how to handle everything that was being thrown at me: family, wedding, good grades, applications, it went on and on… Dr. Feigofksy’s testimony about recognizing and overcoming burnout was exactly what I needed at #GirlMedLive2018.

 

She defined burnout as multiple, different things in our life that can bring us down. One definition that really stuck with me was a diminished sense of accomplishment. My post bacc ended up being much more difficult than I ever anticipated, and I had lost sight of all my achievements because they weren't as great as I was anticipating them to be. Why was I so ashamed of my 85% on a 75 question immunology test? It was a class I have never touched before. But because it was less than a 90%, I was ashamed. Dr. Feigofksy taught me that my diminished sense of accomplishment was classic burnout.

 

She spoke on her personal recognition of burnout, how she was consistently burnt out throughout medical school and throughout residency. Dr. Feigofksy could recognize burnout when she would find colleagues complain about patients in the breakroom. Everyone will have something to negative to say about their job at some point, but for her, when she reached this judgmental point, she knew that she was experiencing burnout. 

 

I relate to the same experience because I know that negativity is much easier to seep into my life when I am laying too many unrealistic expectations on myself. One of the most powerful comments she shared was a thoughtful analysis on how the culture medicine strives for perfectionism. Similar to chronic trauma, medical trainees are often living off adrenaline. This constant fight or flight mode is not the way to live life. I had my fight or flight mode on 24/7 prior to #GirlMedLive2018, and it was time that I addressed it thanks to Dr. Feigofksy.

 

How do you step back to recognize burnout? What actions do you take to prevent burnout? Do you talk to others in order to keep yourself accountable so that you do not experience burnout?

 

Five. Do Not Lose Your Grit | #GirlMedLive2018

 

The #GirlMedLive2018 experience allowed my witness to amazing testimonies from amazing women in healthcare. Tears were brought to my eyes multiple times during talking to role models of mine since I created the @MedicalRedhead Twitter account. They all taught me one thing: never lose your grit.

 

This medical training journey will definitely take a lot out of you, but it is worth it. I loved meeting Dr. Hussein as she spoke on her testimony as a Muslim woman with five children throughout her surgical residency and trauma surgery fellowship. I loved meeting Dr. Willett as she spoke on her experience earning a position on the board of global health non-profit. I loved learning from Ashley Liebig RN on how to receive and give feedback.

 

My heart broke as I heard from audience members on their personal experiences with sexual harassment in the workplace through colleagues or patients. I reflected alongside other pre-meds and medical students as we shared our personal stories of imposter syndrome throughout training and earning a medical class spot or residency spot.

 

I appreciated learning from the men of the audience including @BossB_MD and @chuckleheimers because they were able to share their own stories of how they recognized women’s opportunities in healthcare are diminished and what they can do to be greater allies for equality. 

 

It took grit from everyone to be here at #GirlMedLive2018, and it certainly took each individual grit to earn their training and current status in health care. Each and every testimony was an ignition of my inspiration to join their ranks. Thank you to #GirlMedLive2018 for giving me the weekend of

 

You can read more from Haley at her own website, medicalredhead.com, or on twitter at @MedicalRedhead

 

 

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