What are Medical Students Thankful For?

medical students thankful

With all the pressures of medical school; the time constraints, the pressures to perform, stressful interviews for residency, and money-money-money on your mind, it can be difficult to realize there are things to be thankful for this Thanksgiving. In fact, there are a few reasons to give thanks and your fellow medical students have articulated some of them. Here is a sampling for your consideration.  

Good News During Interview Time

Medical students in the forum at studentdoctor.net were thankful that they received some good news before the holiday slowdown:

“Happy Thanksgiving and I’m thankful I’m done with the OAT.” 


“80% of the schools I applied giving me an interview, 25% of those accepting me (so far). Much to be thankful for when your dreams are beginning to materialize before your eyes!”


“I’m thankful that I will never have to apply to medical school again, and yet also thankful that I went through it at least once in my life.”


“AN ACCEPTANCE RIGHT BEFORE THE HOLIDAYS! And having a few schools that still haven’t rejected me so there is still hope for options!” 


“Try to enjoy some turkey and forget about interview season for a few minutes. Good luck!”


A List From All Angles

Here’s a list from one medical student who considered things from all angles in order to develop a fairly comprehensive list of gratitude:

  1. The white coat and scrub pants that fit.
  2. Good study playlists and podcasting at 1.7x speed.
  3. Pass/Fail grading systems and not being pre-med anymore.
  4. Extra coffee left over after morning class and free lunch talks.
  5. Lecturers with a sense of humor and those with a passion for teaching.
  6. The classmate who studied for anatomy and ends up teaching us everything.
  7. The resident that grabs us for a cool procedure.
  8. When a patient mistakes us for a physician and calls us “Doc”.
  9. Nurses that look out for us in clinic.
  10. Our friends, who keep us sane and endure our nonstop attempts to diagnose them.
  11. Our classmates, who understand the struggle and remind us that we are not alone.
  12. Our families, who continue to support and love us, even when we come back for Thanksgiving break and spend the entire time studying.

Thankful For Colleagues Who Help

Just when you thought it might be impossible to be thankful for medical school, one med student finds a way.

1) Residents who make time to teach… I’ve dealt with a few residents (PGY-1 through Chief) who have dedicated themselves to teaching medical students. If you find these residents, glue yourself to them for the entirety of your clerkship; they will look out for you and make sure you get the most out your time on the wards.

2) Attendings who remember what it’s like to be a medical student. Those who stay close to medical students and have made a point to remember our perspective of the world are some of the best shepherds in medical training.

3) Classmates who know how to work as a team. Medicine isn’t about being an island in a sea of disease, but a member of a team working in unison to improve the quality of life of an individual.

4) Rounds after 6 am. I’m still human. I still like sleep. Anytime rounds can start around 6 am instead of 5 am or 4 am, the more present I am.

A Bit of Perspective Helps

If you think you have nothing to be thankful for, perspective can help. These medical students are grateful for the simple act of vaccination to protect them while they practice medicine.

Fifty-nine students at the A.M. Dogliotti College of Medicines of the University of Liberia did not have access to Hepatitis B vaccines to protect them during patient care. Each dose of vaccine cost $20 US dollars, but in Liberian dollars, that was L$115 per dose. For the three doses that are necessary for full protection that would cost L$6,900.00 which none of the students could afford. It equals $60 for the three doses. The vaccine was donated by a heart surgeon at the Catholic Hospital, Dr. Ahmad Jo.

Humor Always Helps

As you think about what you have to be thankful for this Thanksgiving, consider these quotes from some well-known Americans who have added different points of view to the exercise of finding gratitude.

“If a fellow isn’t thankful for what he’s got, he isn’t likely to be thankful for what he’s going to get.” Frank Howard Clark, American screenwriter

“Be thankful we’re not getting all the government we’re paying for.” Will Rogers, American comedian, storyteller

“I’m thankful for the three-ounce Ziploc bag so that I have somewhere to put my savings.” Paula Poundstone, comedian

“I’m from Canada, so Thanksgiving to me is just Thursday with more food. And I”m thankful for that.” Howie Mandel, comedian

“Be thankful for problems. If they were less difficult, someone with less ability might have your job.” Jim Lovell, American astronaut. (Famous for the line “Houston, we’ve had a problem.”

Deborah Chiaravalloti is an award-winning writer and former hospital executive. Her insider experience helps healthcare clients launch medical procedures, products including artificial intelligence software and knowledge sharing platforms. Deborah writes websites, blogs, opinion pieces, and marketing strategy for elder care, health care consumerism, revenue cycle management (RCM), and the business of healthcare. Her printed pieces have been published and her radio shows syndicated nationally.

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