Being idealistic is a necessary component in achieving your goals


I am a first-year medical student, and just like some of you once did, the primary reason I am becoming a physician is to really make a difference for my patients by [insert x, y or z].

“Wow, that’s really great, but we’ll see how you feel about it in a few years.”

“That’s not how it works once you’re actually out there.”

“Trust me, medicine isn’t what it used to be, get out while you can.”

Why do conversations I have with upper-class medical students, residents, fellows, and physicians usually deteriorate to an inevitable pessimism? For many in the medical community, it seems that to see idealism is to mistake it for naivety often.

You’ve heard the spiel : physicians, especially in primary care, are overworked, underpaid and don’t have the time to be a doctor. Forced to spend more of time completing tasks indirectly related to their patient’s care, doctors have relatively few empty moments in which actually to care for their patient. It’s nothing new. So why are we surprised that the experienced health care superhero chose to scoff at my well-rested goals to, you know, save the world? Honestly, I see how hard you work, and I’m not surprised. But it needs to stop.

In order to achieve the goals that are deemed too ambitious, you must maintain or reignite your idealism.

Life, medical school is no exception, will invariably chip away at your determination. It’s human nature to be brought down, to question our resilience, despite our best intentions. And unfortunately, in healthcare, it’s inevitable. Which is why you entirely should be overly idealistic about the goals you want to achieve, if you really want to achieve them.

Picture this:

After a full night’s sleep, you’re in your seat 15 minutes before the start of your first medical school lecture, and you’re 100 percent sure that you want to help underserved and socioeconomically disadvantaged people. Probably as an internist or maybe a pediatric oncologist — depending on your board scores.

After a volunteer experience during your second year, you smell a homeless man for the first time. You see your glorious future of saving sick and starving children, probably of color, and you think to yourself, “Wow, that might be a tough road. That really smelled awful.” Now, you’re only 90 percent sure that you want to spend your career working with said underserved population.

After the second internal medicine rotation of the year at an inner city hospital, you are left feeling exhaustion you had never felt before. You wonder if you’re even physically capable of doing this, and your determination starts to wane to 70 percent.

Mid-fourth year, you hear from fellow classmates going to audition rotations for specialties whose lifestyle provides a great work-life balance. Meaning: they eventually get to be home by five or six with twice as much in the bank. You begin to realize that you could have that too if you so wanted. You’ve worked so hard, don’t you also get to deserve that balance? When the pivotal moment comes, and it’s time to rank sites for residency — when it’s time to decide what you want to do with your life, your commitment is at an all time low, 51 percent.

But guess what 51 percent means. It means you’re surer than not. It means you’re sticking to your guns. It means to have just enough audacity to commit to that original, scoffed at reason you went into medicine. Fifty-one percent is the difference between you squeezing in an extra appointment at 5:15 p.m. to help a single mother of two who hasn’t seen a doctor in five years versus you squeezing out of work an at 4:45 p.m. feeling you haven’t actually helped anyone in the meaningful way you had once imagined you would.

Imagine if you started your journey with more realistic expectations. What percentage would you be at during pivotal moments? Less than 51 percent?

To be idealistic is not a form of false optimism, it is simply a necessary component in achieving the goals you set out to accomplish before finding out how hard those goals actually are to achieve.

If your goals are tough  —  be idealistic.

Gaurav Jain is a medical student and can be reached at his self-titled site, Gaurav Jain.

Image credit:


Sof Sole Guys’s estimable Orthotic qualified-Size Efficiency Shoe Insoles, Guys’s Measurement 9-10.5

Sof Sole Men’s Airr Orthotic Full-Length Performance Shoe Insoles, Men’s Size 9-10.5 Athletic orthotic insoles for low arches and flat feet; ideal for walking, running, and cross training Reinforced nylon arch support plate enhances motion control and promotes alignment SKYDEX air bubbles in the heel and arch of the insert absorb shock during high impact … Continue reading

My heart goes out to all of the first responders

105 Shares Share Tweet Share It’s hard to put into words the horror we all feel about the events in Las Vegas. So I won’t try. But what I will try to do is point out an often unspoken reality. Which is that those who work in emergency care constantly face terrible things with courage … Continue reading

Natural Bamboo Nursing Pads (10 Pack) beside Laundry Bag by Child Zeli – Extremely Delicate, Reusable, Hypoallergenic, Washable Breastfeeding Pads Evaluations

Organic Bamboo Nursing Pads (10 Pack) With Laundry Bag by Baby Zeli – Ultra Soft, Reusable, Hypoallergenic, Washable Breastfeeding Pads Organic, hypoallergenic, absorbent and durable bamboo. Best nursing pads for moms, babies and the planet! Check our Night Protection Nursing Pads (4 layers !) as well. Search for ASIN: B01FJLGYV8 10 Pack (5 pair) off … Continue reading

Alteril slumber Help, one hundred twenty-Rely Field

Alteril Sleep Aid, 120-Count Box Contains ingredients that are shown to induce and improve sleep Should be taken approximately 1 hour prior to going to bed Is all natural and won’t produce any of the side-effects that other types of sleep aids cause It gently sedates you and helps you get good, deep, sound sleep … Continue reading

Metene Medical Brow and Ear Thermometer,Infrared Digital Thermometer Appropriate For Child, Baby, Toddler and Adults with FDA and CE authorised Evaluations

Metene Medical Forehead and Ear Thermometer,Infrared Digital Thermometer Suitable For Baby, Infant, Toddler and Adults with FDA and CE approved FOREHEAD AND EAR MODE: Free to switch the detection mode from Forehead to Ear which is the easiest and most practical way to take temperature. CLINICAL ACCURACY and RELIABILITY: Equipped with the most advanced medical … Continue reading

You don’t have to like everyone under your care

20 Shares Share Tweet Share You don’t have to like everyone under your care. And you probably won’t, which is OK. Own how you feel. If you insist on telling yourself that you should like someone when, in fact, you don’t, it will come out in other ways: The tone of your voice, the expressions … Continue reading

Stop Snoring Solution Adjustable Anti Snore Chin Strap Sleep Aid Device For A Deeper Night’s Sleep [Blue Outline]

Stop Snoring Solution Adjustable Anti Snore Chin Strap Sleep Aid Device For A Deeper Night’s Sleep [Blue Outline] ✔ADJUSTABLE STRAP – Our anti snore mask has a handy strap that is easy to adjust, thanks to a very flexible and durable belt. ✔EASY TO USE – Stop snoring chin dress easily, relieves discomfort, does not … Continue reading

Molain Chin Strap Discontinue Anti Loud night breathing Aids Snore Residence Cures Stopper Decreasing Adjustable and Delicate (colorless)

Molain Chin Strap Stop Anti Snoring Aids Snore Home Remedies Stopper Reducing Adjustable and Soft (Black) Good Material: this chin strap is made of high quality lycra, good elasticity, greatly enjoy the comfort of soft fabric. After receiving the package, please hang this strap in airy place to de-odor because of the material. Comfortable During … Continue reading

Sassy Baby Disposable Diaper Sacks, 400 Count

Sassy Baby Disposable Diaper Sacks, 400 Count Product Description Sassy Disposable Scented Diaper Sacks provides a safer and more sanitary way to dispose of diapers. Bags seal in wetness and bacteria from soiled diapers, while baby powder scent helps control odor.This is a must have for nursery and for moms on the go with baby. … Continue reading