May Allah SWT have mercy on Deah, Yosur, and Razan and reunite them                                          with their families in Jannah inshaAllah, Ameen

One of the most important things in medical school is to have a good advisor. Someone who offers you meaningful advice and support when you need it, and giving you constructive criticism when you require it. For those in the system already, you know that the academics and emotional stress placed on you in med school is completely different from your undergraduate education. Its a whole different ball park, and you need someone to help you navigate the way. Otherwise, you may find yourself trapped in a maze unable to find an exit.

When I was in my sophomore year of college, I walked into the health professions office seeking advice and exited twenty minutes fuming and vowing to never darken its doorstep ever again. The advisor took a glance at my file and declared that I would never get accepted to my medical school and that I should start looking for a backup plan. When I tried to ask why and how she came to this conclusion when I had excellent grades and was only in my second year, she arrogantly declared that there were too many med school hopefuls and that I just didn’t seem the type they were looking for. Needless to say I had a negative view of advisors and did not seek their advice throughout the entire medical school application process.

After I matriculated and started my first semester of med school, I realized that I was having a difficult time adjusting to the study load balancing my commute and free time. In fact, it became so emotionally taxing that despite my misgivings based on my previous experience, I was driven to the Dean of Academic Affair’s office to discuss with him about what I should do. Before I began to speak with him, I mentally prepared myself for an onslaught of negative comments such as those that I had experienced in undergrad. However, as soon as I began talking with him and discussed with him my issues, I realized that this was one of the nicest people that I had ever met. He advised me certain ways to study (see an upcoming post inshaAllah about adjusting to the study load), certain activities that I should give up while choosing a select few that I could balance, and most important of all, understood the deal behind my long commute. In fact, he told me about how he also commuted for two hours while completing his PhD, but the advice that he gave himself and shared with me was that its only for a limited time, ad that everything eventually passes. Most important of all, he told me to relax and that to focus on my clinical class more than the basic sciences, as that is what will determine whether or not you will be a great physician and able to impress the residency directors.

Another great resource for advice are upperclassmen that you can trust. I stress the ones that you are able to trust because there are many upperclassmen that still act like its their senior year of high school and they can lord it over the freshman while traumatizing them with horror stories. Just last month several third years tried to scare my class about the horrors of a certain final and how everyone drops a full letter grade due to the poor scores on the exam. We took it two weeks ago and alhamdulillah, when the results were released almost everyone passed with flying colors.

On the other hand, there are some upperclassmen that can serve as great resources for you. The advisor that I had spoke with introduced me to a third year as to serve as my mentor. We became great friends, and she was able to advise me in many matters throughout my first year. A year later, she is graduating mashaAllah and relates to me the dos and dont’s of what she had learned along the way. Not only did I receive excellent advice and guidance, but I was able to gain a wonderful friend as well.

It’s interesting how our religion encourages us to hear and accept advice. As a hadith quotes, Al deen al naseeha, or the religion is advice. It may be difficult to find someone who can give you good advice, but they are definitely worth searching for. Also, do not allow your previous experiences to cloud your judgement or prevent you from seeking guidance. If I had refused to speak with the advisor last year, I may have continued blindly in an unorganized environment, and Allahu A3lam where I would have been right now. If you can’t find a reasonable advisor who is willing to speak with you about your issues, then consider speaking with an upperclassman. Most schools have a big-little mentor program, and they should be able to hook you up with someone that has a similar background and experiences. Avoid taking advice from one of your classmates. Why? They’re in the same boat as you, taking the same classes, so they may be struggling like you but are unwilling to admit it. They may also discourage you so they can ensure that you are not taking their place on the ranking charts. Taking advice from the right people is important, and a little can go a long way.