Letter From Me: If I Could Do First Year Over Again, I Would…

I was listening to some music the other day when a song caught my attention…

If I could write a letter to me
And send it back in time to myself at 17…

While some of the singer’s advice to his younger self was less than stellar, with droves of first-year students pouring onto our area campuses, it got me thinking –

If it were possible, what advice would our second-year students have given themselves as they began their training a year ago?

I asked some of our students that very question, and here’s a sampling of what they said, in their own words.  As another year begins, it may be that we can all learn a thing or two.

  • I wish I would have been more involved in CMA… if I really tried I could have easily spared the hour or 2 hours per week for the group more consistently.
  • Medical training is very isolating… community provides a way where you have fellow believers that you trust to speak God’s eternal truth into your life – whether it be a word of wisdom/redirection or encouragement.
  • Many students find themselves thinking that med school is a mission. The mission is to get to the end. Med school is not a mission, it’s a mission field.  Your life, your presence, should be a ministry. Some of the people you walk around every day have such deep hurts… that all they are looking for is someone to talk to… your goal is for everyone to know that you are both available and care.  It takes sacrifice.
  • Find a hobby or place outside of [your normal] school circle.
  • Really devote time to hearing God in the morning – by reading His Word. It sets the tone for the rest of the day and reminds us of our mission.

There you go, incoming students: make time for God, Christian community, caring for the people around you, and, stay sane by expanding your life beyond what you’re studying.

From my experience, I’d add the need to find a solid, bible-believing church and attend as regularly as you possibly can.  Join it (even as an associate member) and make sure people there know how you’re ‘really doing’ as the year goes on.  Give them permission to challenge you when you need it.

It’s all very basic, but the challenge is living it out when school or training becomes intense.  We need God and believing friends to help us stay faithful, and, to pick us up when we’re not.

Regardless of where you are, why not take a moment now and think and pray about where you are spiritually as the year begins:

  • How are you ‘really doing’?
  • What one or two changes would make this year a more successful one for you?
  • Finally, what have you learned in the last year that you could pass on to those coming behind you?

The good news is that this doesn’t need to be overwhelming.  God wants to bless us, and He will work with us as we take small steps forward to honor him.

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About Bryan Stoudt

On my personal website (bryanstoudt.com), I help Christians follow Jesus in a noisy, broken world. I also have the privilege of helping Philadelphia's healthcare students and professionals do this as Area Director for the Christian Medical & Dental Associations (CMDA). More information at cmdaphiladelphia.org. On a personal note, I'm fortunate to be married to my wonderful wife, Sharon. Together, we have four fantastic children. In my spare time, I enjoy roasting coffee, running, reading and learning foreign languages.
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