This April marks the 10-year anniversary of the founding of in-Training, and we invited all members of the in-Training family to contribute articles and other artistic works to celebrate our first decade as the premier online peer-reviewed publication by and for the medical student community.
Neha Deo, Class of 2023 at Mayo Clinic Alix School of Medicine, contributes this article as an in-Training writer, columnist and featured author in our print book in-Training: 2020 In Our Words.
2020 was a tough year for all of us (and 2021, and 2022…), but it brought me closer to the medical humanities.
The pandemic was the reason that I began to write. This was in 2021, where the pandemic was really starting to take off. At that point, society was at a standstill. What would the future look like? Would we be able to leave our homes without fearing for our lives? I really didn’t know what life was going to look like moving forward. At that point, I barely saw my friends because of COVID, and as someone who likes a balance between being introverted and extroverted, I was struggling to find circumstances where I felt connected to my people. This struggle went on for months as the pandemic raged on.
What inspired me to write was a day during my pulmonology block in my second year of medical school. There wasn’t an “aha!” moment of sorts, but I just felt that I had enough. I needed to let out my frustration with the pandemic and my isolation. I was tired of feeling so disconnected from my family, my friends, and my partner. So, I started to write these thoughts onto a Word document.I wrote about the challenges I was experiencing as an international medical student in an unfamiliar place. I felt lonely. I felt scared. And most importantly, I didn’t feel like me.
As the days went on, I felt comfortable sharing my written work with others. I felt vulnerable with others being able to read my writing, but I wanted to know if they felt the same. And they did! I felt reassured that my feelings weren’t just in my head — this was a difficult time for everyone, not just me.
With the positive response, I decided I wanted to start a column at in-Training. I wanted to write more about the challenges of being an international student who was far away from her support system in the middle of a pandemic. This quickly became a hobby of mine and I enjoyed sharing my work with others who could relate with my struggles as a medical student. By reading my stories, I hope others can find solace in knowing that they are not alone. Medical school is a challenging period for many, and it isn’t easy having your support system so far away and inaccessible from you.
in-Training has provided me a platform where I can share my experiences of being an international student, and for that, I am so very grateful. I often find myself identifying myself with other pieces that writer’s share as well. This has been a great forum for students to share their stories, artwork, and poetry, and I can’t wait to see what the next 10 years bring.