When the going gets tough, the tough get going

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Photo by Denis Oliveira on Unsplash

Three weeks into my trip to Kenya, something unimaginable occurred. As my group got ready in the morning to head towards the hospital where we came to serve, we were greeted by armed guards at the hotel gates.

We thought the blockade must have been for something shady going on in the area. Naively, we tried to go around the guards and unhinge the pedestrian door to the main road.

“Stop!” the guard yelled as he grabbed the butt of his holstered pistol.

My heart pounded through my chest. …


I took a chance on myself, and it was the best bet I’ve made.

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Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Four years ago, I was trapped in a rut working a dead-end job and living at home paying student loans I couldn’t afford. I was just rejected by all of the medical schools I had applied to, and I was ready to give up.

But my heart was set on becoming a doctor. I needed to make a change in my life to lift my mood and pursue my passion. It wasn’t easy, though. I was still living at home, and the drain from daily questions of “what are you going to do now?” and “are you sure you want to do medicine?” were enraging. …


Stored anger is inevitable but you need to find ways to move on

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Photo by Guillaume de Germain on Unsplash

Harboring a grudge is a natural emotion. When you’re hurt, it’s difficult to forgive and move on.

The problem with holding a grudge is that it prevents you from opening up to others. It can feel like a hefty weight of emotions that you’re carrying while trying to avoid repeated trauma. But, if you forgive, then you free yourself and allow an opportunity to grow.

Forgiveness isn’t meant to let others off the hook. Instead, forgiveness allows you to liberate yourself from the built-up anger. It enables you to form new relationships without the fear of recurring trauma. …


Engage with your readers and write a better blog

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Photo by Sincerely Media on Unsplash

I’ve spent most of my 20s in school. Writing book reports, reflection essays, and published scientific articles became a standard routine.

When I gave blogging a shot, I didn’t know where to start. There’s a different purpose for blogs that makes them engaging and fun to read.

The beauty of a blog is that the format is fluid. You don’t need to have at least 4 sentences per paragraph. You don’t need to have a thesis statement. You don’t need to have an in-depth supportive analysis of what you wrote. …


Why I waited too long and missed many opportunities

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Photo by Digital Content Writers India on Unsplash

4 years to get an undergraduate degree, 1 year to get a Master’s degree, and 3 completed years of medical school. Seems like an awful lot of schooling to start writing.

But that’s what it took for me to realize my desire and passion for writing. Before my 4th year of medical school, I had zero desire to write. Why would I? I was spending 12+ hours a day studying, then several more hours working on research projects. …


With strokes affecting COVID-19 patients, what are the chances of complete recovery?

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Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels

There has never been a better time to study the brain’s ability to recover than now, particularly when COVID-19 has been shown to incur damage to the brain and the central nervous system. Melinda Wenner Moyer of the New York Times writes, “The virus may, in effect, injure and thereby age the brain through a number of mechanisms that aren’t yet fully understood.” Research suggests that the virus can enter neurons and replicate inside the cells, affecting how they function.

Sustaining a brain injury is never a good sign. The brain is a soft organ composed of non-regenerating cells that communicate through long tails called axons. When an injury occurs, whether through a stroke, trauma, tumor, infection, or surgery, people often struggle to return to their baseline functionality. However, that’s not to say complete recovery is impossible. Doctors have been describing miraculous re-establishment of functionality for years. …


Studying is easier when you find what works for you

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Photo by Link Hoang on Unsplash

In the past 15 months, I’ve completed a minimum of 10,000 practice questions preparing for medical licensure exams. With each item taking between 60 - 90 seconds to answer, I’ve spent a mind-boggling 250 hours of the last year answering questions. I’ve spent twice that amount of time in reviewing my answers.

I realized that before medical school, I had studied all wrong. Throughout our education, there is a focus on lectures, readings, note-taking, and review. However, there is little attention drawn to adequate practice with the learned material. …


How I got here, and why I’m okay with it

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Photo: Ian Espinosa/Unsplash

In 2020, the U.S. student loan debt burden rose to $1.56 trillion spread across 45 million borrowers. According to Forbes, student loan debt is the second-highest consumer debt category behind mortgage debt.

The average student loan burden per person is about $32,000.

That doesn’t seem that bad when you compare it to the $500,000 I’ve managed to accumulate.

At least I managed to be in the top 1% of something, right?

How Did I End Up in This Mess?

My educational journey plays out as follows; 4 years of undergraduate education, a 1 year Master’s degree program, and 4 years of medical school, which combined, costs enough to buy an upper-middle-class home in a quaint suburban neighborhood. My experience is not unique. …


The body is resilient, but what happens when it starts to break down?

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Image by Cris Saur from Unsplash

Medical school is hard enough with the amount of studying and test preparation. Working 24-hour shifts brings a whole new challenge to the table. The exhaustion alone can make the strongest of us start hallucinating.

During my obstetrics and gynecology rotation in medical school, I worked several 24-hour shifts. I was excited walking into my first shift. Working a “call” shift is a stepping stone for any medical student and feels like a right of passage. …


3 strategies to approach feelings of sadness during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Image by Luis Galvez from Unsplash

I’ve lost count how many weeks we’ve been social distancing. With COVID-19 cases on the rise once again, I’m finding more reasons to give up. Give up hope, give up motivation, and stoop to the lowest of lows. My family is over 2,500 miles away, and while I put on a happy face for them during video calls, I miss them immensely.

If you’re anything like me, you’ve felt down, depressed, and discouraged in recent months. The pandemic has made it increasingly difficult to utilize traditional methods of supporting one’s mental health.

We can’t escape on a mind-clearing vacation during a pandemic. We shouldn’t be gathering with friends or family to ease our loneliness. Some people are facing difficulties in reaching their mental health providers. What do you do when the stressors are overwhelming, and your familiar sources of mental health support are floundering? …

About

Ilya Frid

4th-year medical student, aspiring neurosurgeon. Writing about medicine, technology, and personal development.

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