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The Differential

Impostor Syndrome in Medical School

Neil C. Bhavsar, Medical Student, 02:54AM Oct 29, 2017

1st Year Medical Student

I'll be honest, one of the hardest things I have to come to terms with is the idea of confidently calling myself a medical student. That's probably because I personally believe the title of "medical student" is as much of a privilege as that of going to medical school-- and like with most privileges, it's something that you need to earn.

My medical school acceptance was one of the most humbling experiences I ever had: having members of the medical community personally offer me a seat at a medical institution to follow in their footsteps just reminds me that I'm part of a lucky few who are offered a chance at making people's lives better through an expert knowledge of medicine. 

With that said, it makes me wonder if I have truly earned the right to call myself a medical student. My heuristic for deciding that question comes from two factors. 

(1) - With the knowledge that I currently have, who can I empower or educate with useful information?

(2) - Experience as a student in medical school

Classes began in August for me, and we're just hitting November. Up until now, I've really just learned about glycolysis and maybe had a brief introduction to pharmacology. Sure, this information is exciting, but the most useful advice I can give to a family member that asks for anything is that most vitamins they take will be flushed down the toilet. Other than that, I tell them to consult WebMD or someone knowledgeable about any issues at hand. Of course, I know what you're thinking: "Neil did you expect to learn the entire spectrum of medical knowledge in the course of 3 months?"

Well no, I didn't expect to learn the entire spectrum of medical knowledge in the course of 3 months, but the teasers into the medical science make it feel as though I am in an extremely overwhelming extension of undergrad rather than medical school.

Now don't get me wrong--I don't know anything about setting up a medical school curriculum, and I'm not trying to complain. I just feel that with the limited schooling I currently have coupled with the little knowledge that I have that can be applied to helping people in my day to day, I haven't truly earned the title of "medical student."

Maybe this is a pseudo-form of impostor syndrome that the dean of student affairs warned us about during orientation week. Or maybe I'm the only one who feels this way... Either way I'm sure it'll pass overtime as fall further into my classes and deeper into potential clinical experiences!


Poll: Have you ever felt imposter syndrome during your time at medical school? Yes|No|
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Medical school and residency can be a stressful, demanding time. These medical students share their insights and experiences, good and bad, in order to create a community of support and understanding for medical students everywhere.

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  • Neil C. Bhavsar

    Medical Student 
    New Jersey Medical School

  • Rick Tumminello

    Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine

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    Chicago Medical School at Rosalind Franklin University

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    Temple University School of Medicine, Philadelphia, PA

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    Temple University School of Medicine

    Philadelphia, PA

  • Vincent Migliaccio Michaelson

    O&Med School of Medicine|Havard Developed Pilot Program



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