How Do I Stay Motivated In Training?

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I want to address a question I’ve been asked many times over social media – how do I stay motivated during medical school and residency?

I’ve always known that my true calling as a physician was to remain in academics to teach. In order to teach effectively, I must distill complex topics down to their very essence in a way that first-time learners can grasp. A firm mastery of the topic at hand is required to have credibility when teaching and also inspire others to independently learn more. In this sense, I study hard to ensure that I can teach well.

That being said, the most powerful motivating factor for me to persevere with my studies and preparation is the need posed by my patients. I am training for them. My commitment to patient safety relies on a refined knowledge base and skill set. Whether it’s studying for an upcoming exam, finding motivation to read after a call shift, or staying up till midnight on my day off to understand a difficult topic, I know that Patient X will potentially benefit from my toil in the future. This “need to be needed” is shared by many of us in healthcare. We work hard because our patients’ lives often hang in the balance and failure can be catastrophic.

When I changed my mentality to view the hours of studying/preparation as a means to improve patient care rather than to do well on exams… I discovered a limitless source of inspiration and drive. This continues to drive me each day with increasingly complex patients and cases.

Nearly 30 years later, and I study the same way.

It’s humbling to work in a career as vast as healthcare. The amount of medical knowledge is growing at an unfathomable rate, so we owe it to our patients to remain at the forefront of new research and teachings to provide the best quality care. Stay motivated! 🙂

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