Thoughts of an MS3

Madison Duppenthaler

I was inspired to write this after the orientation sessions of “Becoming a Doctor Part 2” when we listened to other medical students share some of their reflections. They were raw and real and conveyed many of the emotions I was feeling at the time. I figured if that was so encouraging to me, I would love to do the same for doctors, students, parents, and moms.

“Thoughts of an MS3”

Do I have what it takes? Should I even be here? Am I qualified? What did they see in me when they accepted me into medical school? Could I have done something else with my life? Anything else with my time? Could all my skills serve me in a different career field?

These thoughts creep through my head daily. The weight of them gives me feelings of weariness. The constant attack from myself to myself. This shouldn’t be what it’s like to finally achieve my dream of getting into medical school and becoming a doctor. This is harder than I thought. I feel like no one at school cares. They are so focused. They study so much harder than me. Maybe I should look for another job. I know I am talented, capable, and have an amazing work ethic. But lately it doesn’t feel that way at all. I didn’t know it would feel like this.

Should it feel like this? Is my passion dimming? Do I have a passion for medicine anymore? What is my passion? Am I lost? What would my family think if I changed my plan? Would they look down on me? Would they be less proud of the woman I am becoming?

My thoughts get heavier and heavier. The pressure increases and increases. I have never felt this way before. I have always been so full of hope and determination. Now the competition and the test after test determining my future and my capabilities to perform a job. It is just a job after all! This isn’t my life.

Where did my fire go? Can anyone help me gain clarity? Does anyone else feel this way? Am I all alone?

No. No. No. I can’t be the only one. I reach out to friends. I ask other medical students. I allow myself to share these thoughts and questions with other students, so that I can be sure I am not alone. It seems that these thoughts patterns, for the most part, are shared by many. Almost everyone has felt this way at some point. I must not be so far off in where my thoughts take me. But it shouldn’t be this way. We were hand-picked. Someone saw that fire in us, but they didn’t help it stay ignited. The structure of the system was like a large bucket of water that took away my flame.

Am I too deep? Is it too late to turn back? Has anyone tried before? How will I pay back my student debt? Even if I did become a doctor, how long would it take to be loan free?

I don’t know. He doesn’t know. She doesn’t know. This is a heavy burden to bear. There is a price to pay for this type of education. Then I hear a whisper, a still small voice. I am supposed to be here. I am made to be here. I am worthy to be here. I need to press on. I need to finish strong. I have a future family to provide for.

Do I want to start a family? Is this the right time? When is the right time? Will there ever be a right time? What will my parents think? What will my mentors think? Am I capable of being a loving mother right now? Do I have the time to raise a child and give them the love and affection they will undoubtedly deserve?

My heart screams, YES! My brain begins to think and think of all the ways it could work. I began to talk to my husband, family, friends, and faculty about how it could work. I knew I could make it work.

Is this really how it has to be? Is this what it is going to take every time we want to add a child to our family? Should it be this way? Can it be different? Can I make it different?

I announce my pregnancy. Everyone is excited. Or maybe everyone acts excited. My dad asks how this will affect my education. My grandma asks how this will affect my education. My aunt asks how this will affect my education. My answer, it shouldn’t.

Who knows what will happen? Will this be a routine pregnancy? Will my education be delayed? Will my graduation be delayed?

It is all out of my control now, but I have so much hope, happiness, and excitement. Feelings I hadn’t felt much of since starting this journey to become a doctor. To me, there is more to life than becoming a doctor. And that, everyone, is completely alright.


Becoming a Doctor at the University of Minnesota Copyright © 2021 by Madison Duppenthaler. All Rights Reserved.