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Attitude Adjustment

Today I realized that I need to change my attitude towards learning. I am starting a new type of medical education: clerkship. I need to appreciate that I will be learning in a very different way than I am used to. The last few months of the didactic teaching portion of my medical education have quite literally sucked away my will to live (and to learn medicine). Over the past few months (and maybe more) I have often found myself thinking or saying, “why am I wasting my time with this?” Remember the tour of my local water treatment plant (and the associated paper I had to write)? Perfect example.

So many times I have sat in a lecture theatre wondering why I am even there. What am I learning? Why is this college wasting my time? There are so many other things that I could be doing right now that would make my education so much better…

I just automatically figured that when I started clerkship, it would get better; that I would be excited and eager to do everything that comes my way. I realized today that this shift isn’t going to happen magically. In the last two days of orientation, I have caught myself saying (or texting to friends) that something is a huge waste of time, or that I don’t understand the point of [whatever I’m doing]. It occurred to me that I need to actively and conscientiously make a decision to approach every experience from here on in as an opportunity to learn something that will make me a better physician. You know that saying, you get out of something what you put into it? I think clerkship is really like that. If I sit around and think that [whatever] is a waste of my time, clerkship will pass and I will learn nothing except how to be a mediocre physician. I won’t stand out against my peers, I won’t find my passion for medicine, and I won’t love what I do every day.

So starting tomorrow, I have decided to engage in my own type of cognitive behavioural therapy: Every time I catch myself thinking that what I am doing is a “waste of my time,” I will give myself a little slap and then re-frame my thought process. Instead, I will think, “what can I learn from this situation that will make me a better student and a better physician?” I will even go so far as to make a specific objective for that experience or seek out something extra that I think will enhance whatever it is I am doing – just to ensure that I get the most out of everything I do as a clinical clerk.

Hopefully this change in attitude will make all the difference in my medical education. I am pretty sure that this change will also make an immense difference in my mood and my self-esteem because I will feel like I am taking an active part in my own education.

2 thoughts on “Attitude Adjustment

  1. I had to stop slapping myself for every bad attitude because I bruise easily 🙂 But I get what you’re saying. The happy approach to things is sometimes the hardest!


    1. It’s so easy to fall into the habit of being negative all the time, yet it is so unsatisfying. I hope I won’t have to slap myself too much before it just becomes common nature for me.


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