12 Resolutions for 2012
So, I was just talking with my dad and my little bro about New Years’ Resolutions and I realized that I wasn’t so great last year about keeping mine (especially the one about being a more faithful blogger, sorry!!) so I think I should try to aim for at least 90% adherence to the resolutions for the upcoming year. That means that I should stick to 10.8 (let’s round up to 11) of the following 12:
1. Read something to do with medicine and/or health care every single day
One of the things that stuck with me from surgery rotation was Dr. C’s admonishment that as medical professionals, we should be reading at least an hour a day, no matter what. I probably spend over an hour reading every day but romance novels, blogs and amateur fiction probably aren’t going to make me more valuable to my patients. Hopefully, one of my other resolutions will help me stick to this endeavor.
2. Be ready to take to Step 3 by May 30th
Step 3 is the final USMLE required before one is eligible for an official medical license. Once can’t apply for it until after one receives a medical degree but since only a portion of this exam is devoted to pediatrics, it would be nice to get it out of the way before the start of residency so that I can spend my intern year focusing on the good stuff. Studying for this exam will also help me stick with resolution one since it will make sure that I’m reading something medical (and learning something new or reinforcing something I already know) every day.
3. Strengthen my language skills
On my past few rotations, I’ve been one of the few people who was able to communicate well with Spanish-speaking patients and that has garnered me praise from the attendings and residents, not to mention interest from residency program directors. However, I find I’ve been coasting by on my above-average español and I’d like to push past the plateau and become fully fluent. The trouble is, it’s tough to find resources (especially free ones) at my level. I’d welcome any suggestions. Meanwhile, my 日本語 has fallen from 上手 to まあまあ from lack of use. I’d really like to get it back up to speed. If that means making time for manga, dramas and anime, so be it.
4. Make physical fitness a priority
Fitness in 2011 was less of a routine and more of an afterthought (or something I panicked about when the scale read over 115.) One of the things I’m paying attention to as I tour possible residency sites is access to places to run where I don’t have to worry about being mugged and/or assaulted. I also have plenty of resources that I don’t have to go outside to use. I’m going to make a commitment to get in at least 2.5 hours of exercise a week and to take my vitamins every day.
5. Make time for writing
Much like any sort of dedication to fitness, the first thing to go when the going got tough in 2011 was writing for pleasure – I have a short story sitting stagnant and I didn’t keep my promise to my blog every month. Things are probably going to be 10 times busier this year but I’d like to a) finish that story, b) be faithful to this blog and c) set time aside to write every week as my schedule allows.
6. Make mature financial decisions
Four years of very expensive loans are going to go into repayment this spring and PGY-1 salaries aren’t particularly generous. I’m going to have to be smarter about the way I spend money and stop storing my savings in my jewelry box. Maybe mutual funds or CDs might be better? Also, it’s never too early to plan for retirement…
7. Maintain connections
Finding out about college pals getting married on facebook (rather than from actual invitations to their weddings) was like a cold splash of water in my face last year. I haven’t been very good at keeping close to people and now that my med school pals and I are about to go off into the world and away from each other, I want to make sure that I don’t lose touch with the friends that kept me sane during this crazy experience. I also feel like I should reach out to friends with whom former closeness has faded. Lastly, I’m going to try to keep in touch with all the medical mentors who have given me guidance.
8. Be more organized
One of the things that program directors say is essential to success during intern year is being organized. I’ve always been a little OCD when it came to silly stuff like my notes and my pen collection but I could stand to be more organized in terms of time and work. I also need to resist procrastination!
9. Stop putting my personal life on the back burner
Ever since I got back from Japan, I’ve been pretty single-minded in the pursuit of my childhood dream and now that I’m 16 weeks away from achieving it, one would think I’d be pretty satisfied, or at least proud of myself for being committed to that goal and working hard to attain it. However, I’ve recently been wondering if I’ve made the mistake that people like to warn career-minded women* about – chasing professional prestige while neglecting the other stuff. My personal life hasn’t really been something I prioritized and now, seeing my peers all settled and sorted out, I can’t help but feel like I’ve missed out on something important. I’m not sure how far I can go to correct this but I’ve decided to put more effort into achieving the goals I set for my personal life this year.
10. Stop downplaying my strengths
I tend to say “I’m sorry” a lot, and most of the time, it’s not because I’ve done something for which I should apologize. I also tend to preface my statements with “I’m not sure, but…” when really, I do know what I’m talking about. I think that sometimes, women get into the habit of apologizing for sharing their opinions or for being assertive and I want to stop doing that. I’m not the most brilliant person in the world but I’ve just spent nearly four years building up a knowledge base and skill set and besides that, I have several talents and lots of experiences that make my insights of value. I’m not going to become that arrogant person who thinks they know it all, but when a situation arises in which I can showcase my strengths, I’m not going to shy away from it.
11. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes
When I was younger, people used to think that I was really smart. Because of that, I’ve always been terrified of being seen as anything but intelligent. Not knowing the answer or worse, giving the wrong answer, is something that has been a source of anxiety for as long as I can remember and sometimes, that anxiety paralyzes me and prevents me from contributing, especially on rounds or during differential diagnosis brainstorming. I often have to remind myself that it is impossible to know everything – med school is very good at teaching that lesson. It simply isn’t possible to avoid making mistakes and just because one does, it doesn’t automatically make a person into a dunce. Really smart people learn from mistakes and don’t let the fear of making one prevent them from speaking or doing or contributing to a discussion. Even though the stakes will be higher once residency begins, I’m not going to allow the fear of making a mistake get in the way of me being an active participant in the care of my patients. I’m going to try not to let the fear of asking stupid questions keep me from asking them and I’m not going to be afraid to admit that I don’t know when I don’t know something.
12. Don’t be afraid of the big 3-0
I’ve got a big birthday coming up this year and everyone seems to use it as a sort of measuring point for one’s success in life. By June 20th, I will have graduated from medical school and signed the contract for my pediatric residency program. I won’t be married or published but there’s still time for that. I’m not going to let turning 30 make feel like a failure just because I haven’t got everything sorted out, achieved all of my goals in life, or just because I didn’t do all the things that people are supposed to do with their 20s.
Okay! Quite a few of my goals have something to do with residency because that’s the next big step, but I haven’t even finished interview season so let’s hope the eggs don’t break while I’m mentally counting chickens. As always, thanks for reading this humble blog and and encouraging me with your support. I hope this can continue to be a source of information and/or entertainment for all the readers who stop by in the coming year. Thanks, and best of luck with your resolutions and goals. Happy 2012!
*people never seem to warn career-minded guys about this stuff.