“I Used to be Brilliant, Now I Don’t Even Know Anymore” – Self Doubt in Medical School (Pt1)

It’s another day on the streets of Med-School Lifestyle☺️. And today’s episode is dedicated to sharing an open secret about we medics-in-training, the fact that it’s not all rosy in here.

So what really happens when some of the most brilliant students across the country are gathered into a specific department? If you don’t already know, stick around to find out more in this piece😅.

One of the harsh realities about Medical School is that it is mostly an academic leveler. I mean, from the stiff competition stemming from the geniuses you have as classmates, to the system which is as rigorous as it can get, it’s a place where academic giants with the most enviable track records get humbled by the harsh realities of their academic results.

Results that can make you doubt your track record and your actual academic strength💔🥲.

If you’ve ever felt this way at any point, you are not alone.

We reached out to medical students across various various schools in Nigeria to answer this question – “At what point in Medical school did you first feel less brilliant than you always thought you were?” Their responses are given below.

“It was Shocking, I didn’t expect to Fail!”- Deborah, University of Ilorin.

It was 100L first semester. It wasn’t self doubt as much as it was shock. 
I sincerely didn’t expect to fail seeing my ‘track record’ prior to medical school.  Then, realizing a lot of my friends passed, I could not  make the excuse that it was generally hard. I just realized that I  was surrounded by people who know a lot more than I did. – Deborah (ILUMSA)

“300 is the New Normal Here”

My breaking point was when I was in part 1. I can remember being celebrated by my school for having a mad UTME score. On resuming part 1, I heard some even madder scores that humbled me. 300 is the new normal here. – anonymous (IFUMSA)

“I was only a Village Champion in My secondary school”

I think the first time I felt less brilliant than I thought I was  was when we were having our departmental registration in the early days of Part 1😅.
I was feeling fly because I was among the 20 or so students that were admitted from OAU Pre-degree. However, while we were queueing, I peeped at the WAEC result of the lady in my front and I saw that she had A-Parrallel. My eyes nearly popped out. That was also when I knew I have been playing Village Champion in My secondary school and in Pre-degree.
I don’t know how I stopped self-doubting myself though. But I guess it gets better with time, consistency, and hard work – anonymous (IFUMSA)

“Med School doesn’t care about your emotions”- Balogun F. Michael (Imo State University)

Basically, 200L first incourse in physiology knocked the confidence out of me😅😅. I scored 40/100😅😅😅😅😅And I must say that that was the most devastating score of my life (or like the second to the worst so far😂). I guess I was still playing with medical school so I forgot what it was really about . Immediately I saw my score, my head rebooted on the spot😂. Good thing I shrugged off the self-doubt quickly because I don’t sleep on events. I just moved on since there were other Incourses to cover up. And here we are today still pushing 😎🙌🏻. Quick advice for you. If you sleep inside your depression, it’s your loss😅. The system (Med School) doesn’t care about your emotions.

It’s the nagging feeling that I’m no longer the overall best students like I used to be –

I think for me, it’s not about being brilliant or not. It’s the nagging feeling that I’m no longer the overall best like I used to be in Secondary School. It’s hard to get over this – anonymous (IFUMSA)

“After my first Anatomy MB”

Hmmmm… Mine was after my first Anatomy MB result came out. Scoring 54/100 was never what I would expect because of the kind of preparation I put in. I felt pained and thought the next will be better – only for me to have fifty something in the next one. Since then, I’ve left everything to God. – anonymous (IFUMSA)

The Problem is Bad Results not a lack of stuff

I’ve not really felt un-brilliant at any point to be honest. Although, in Part 2, I felt like I had a cloud of bad luck hovering over me a number of times. But the problem wasn’t a lack of ‘stuff’, it was basically bad results. Now, I’m in Part 4 and Pharmacology gives me that feeling and it sickens me.
But I believe it just means I have to work harder.

“People dey!

For me, it’s that feeling when everyone is complaining about how bad an incourse is, and then you are calm because you feel you’re still safe. Only for results to come out and the same scammers are the ones with unbelievable scores. It was then that I knew that people dey!- anonymous (IFUMSA)

“The subtle insults from Consultants that can take you back to your origin” -A. N, University of Ibadan

So many instances. Anatomy steeplegaze, Micropara exam, postings, the subtle insults that can take you back to your origin (especially from Doctors and Consultants). So many different times. – anonymous (UIMSA)

“The Award goes to My Neuroanatomy Incourse result!”

And the award goes to my Neuroanatomy in-course result. 
That score was U-N-B-E-L-I-E-V-A-B-L-E. It’s one of the ones where you say, they gave me💀 If I remember correctly, I went on ghost mode for like 24 hours.
Not quite sure if this was the ‘first feel less brilliant’ but it definitely hit the hardest among the firsts.😂😂 – anonymous (IFUMSA)

“I requested that they re-mark my script”

I failed an Incourse in Anatomy and I requested that they re-mark my script because I couldn’t believe that was my score. Turns out it really was my score. It was devastating to say the least – anonymous.

“Biochemistry Messed with My Mental Health”

It has to be after Biochemistry incourses. That department messed with my mental health so much – anonymous (IFUMSA)

“How on earth did my classmates put all these details on their head?” – Sunday, Obafemi Awolowo University.

Omo! It happens when I attend group discussions and I’m completely blown away. The one I remember well was Head and Neck/Neuroanatomy Incourse prep. It wasn’t that I couldn’t relate with what was being discussed. I was just wondering “How on earth did this people put all these details on their head.”  Although, I know somehow that I’ll have good scores in the exams no matter what, those moments of self-doubt prior to the exams after being dazed by my classmates sometimes makes me feel bad. But most times, (if not all times), I channel the frustration to preparing for the exams harder, as God leads me.
But I’m aware that I’m not less less brilliant than I used to be sha, I just can’t pay the price the shana people are paying to be at that level. I know the price but I’m not ready to pay it😂😂 -Sunday (IFUMSA)

Neuro Again!

Scoring my first 40-something in college💔. It was in Neuroanatomy. For days, I was a walking ghost🥲.
That’s the most un-brilliant I’ve ever felt in Med School – anonymous (IFUMSA).

“Eventually you get used to it and no longer feel less of yourself”

The last time I felt brilliant was  when I aced 300+ in UTME. Asides part 1, exams in Medical school have a way of making one feel less. It’s so easy for one’s self confidence to be utterly destroyed. But once you remember you’re not the first to go through this and feel that way, you eventually push that out of your mind and refocus till the next ballistic missile against self confidence comes 😂. But, eventually you get used to it and no longer feel less – I think. – anonymous (IFUMSA)

In all, self-doubt is an emotion every medical student has experienced at one point or the other. However, don’t lose yourself to the depression of it all. Just brace up for whatever still lies ahead of you!

Enjoyed this? Check out the previous episodes in this column by clicking here.

Also Feel Free to add your own experience in the comment section and Watch out for the second part of the Self-Doubt series! Loads of love from us to you😘♥️.

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