The Algorithm


Photography and writing by anonymous

Do no harm.

Enjoy your time here. You have three years to build the foundation upon which your career shall rest; make the most of this experience.

Divide your time wisely between academic endeavours, clinical experiences, leisure activities, and stimulating social engagements.

Sleep for at least six hours each night. You cannot expect to provide adequate care to patients if you are not functioning at an optimal cognitive level.

Accept that you will never be able to grasp the intricate physiological mechanisms underlying each disease you study. This journey you have embarked upon is a lifelong one, and you cannot expect to learn everything at once.

Read as many textbooks chapters, primary journal articles, and systematic reviews as you can find on each topic until you are certain you can teach those concepts to a group of your peers.

Understand that although it does not exist, perfection is the goal you strive toward—the standard against which all else is measured.

Do not show your weakness. Better yet, do not have weakness. Weakness is a luxury you can no longer afford.

Do not sleep. Do not waste time. Do not allow yourself to be distracted by anything that will not propel you further along the path to becoming a passingly competent physician.

Prove yourself. Do everything you can to gain exposure to a variety of clinical settings and specialties. What are you doing? You’re wasting time. I know you’re tired, but look around you. You cannot possibly keep up. Your classmates are suturing lacerations, suctioning infants from ripe uteri, and you cannot even chart a proper history.

Acknowledge your stupidity. What made you think you could do this? How arrogant were you to presume you could endure this unscathed? How dare you even be surprised that it’s overwhelming?

Straighten up.


Be open. Honest. Genuine.

When the inevitable question surfaces, always offer the proper response. An enthusiastic nod: “I love it here.”

Reflect on how fortunate you are to have this opportunity.

Do not forget proper hand hygiene; lather, rinse, and repeat.

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