Lindsay Erol, a graduating medical student in the class of 2019 recently shared a unique reflection on her experience at the University of Kentucky, and the inspiring journey that took her from medical student to physician.
“I entered medical school a bit apprehensive. I had only ever heard about how challenging, all-consuming it would be for all of us. Orientation was a blur as we were all settling into our new homes and bracing ourselves for the next four hardest years of our lives. Yet, in the midst of that anxious preparatory week, one lecturer stood out to me. Dr. Brian Adkins, EM physician and Assistant Dean of Student Affairs at the time, recounted his years of medical school. He spoke of med school as a siphon that hand-selected some of the most amazing people who would become your best friends, creating amazing memories and for many become your future bridesmaids and groomsmen. I hadn’t imagined medical school as a season where real-life outside school existed, but he spoke as if this should be more of an expectation. The first few classes rolled by. I found my incredibly smart study partners, some friends that I thought were way too cool for me, and other classmates with amazing careers and feats before med school. Maybe this Dr. Adkins was right, I was surrounded by really amazing people. After settling into the first few months, I looked at my way-too-cool friends of mine and asked if they wanted to do a triathlon with me. In true medical student fashion, we looked at this sport in which none of us had any experience and took it on as a challenge head first. School was still taxing, requiring many laborious hours in the library and 5 am study sessions before more hours of lecture in the morning. But somehow, an afternoon run, weekend bike or post-exam swim seemed to fit in really well. You see, medical school is quite the marathon, not a sprint. It requires stamina, perseverance and an attitude that almost enjoys the grueling daily grind. Triathlon requires all the same elements, but it was a relief from the mental game we had to conquer the other 22 hours of the day. Semesters flew by, we studied, we trained, we took exams and we raced. Friendships flourished in the epic experiences and memories we made and medical school was becoming my favorite season of life yet.
Some friends became more than just friends. We grew in love, becoming each other’s forever and asked these way-too-cool friends of ours to be by our sides on one of the most important days of our lives. The prophetic words of Dr. Adkins were becoming all too real. I asked myself many times why I hadn’t heard of this version of medical school before I officially entered? Had I simply encountered a disproportionate number of cynics? Or had these physicians employed the classic ‘you’ll never walk again’ just to make me prove them wrong? I asked friends of mine at other medical schools about their quality of life, and unfortunately it wasn’t exactly what I was experiencing. Slowly I began to realize I was accomplishing my medical education at a school that appreciated life-beyond-the-books and gave us the flexibility to maintain our humanity.
This past weekend, our group of way-too-cool-for-me friends flew out west to celebrate our last medical school triathlon before officially becoming MDs. For me, the weekend represented a capstone of achievement. Four years of successful academics and athletics – mental and physical boundaries pushed time and time again. As I ran down the red Ironman carpet to the finish line for the last time as a medical student, I was overcome by the bittersweet realization that this was the end of the most challenging, all-consuming season of my life yet. But it was also the most epic, fulfilling and action-packed era with the best of friends I could have ever asked for.”