Columns, Therapeutic Misadventures
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Personal Growth (Through Poetics) Between Step 1 and 2

Author’s note: This poem is a continuation of my previous column “The Battle of Midday,” and I suggest reading that entry before continuing with this post.

I wrote this poem several months ago while studying for Step 2, which was a completely different experience than studying for Step 1. Studying for Step 1 was a rollercoaster full of self-doubt, insecurity, sadness and disappointment. Things did not exactly play out in my favor initially, and I struggled with handling the pressure of it all. But when the time for Step 2 came, I felt confident in my abilities to set up a successful study plan, which included very important self-care time that I did not make a priority during Step 1 studying. I did yoga three times a week and spent time with my husband every evening. Making me a priority over the test allowed me to take care of myself in a way that opened up the road to success on the exam. I felt like, “Look at me! I can do this! I am studying. I feel good. I’m happy. I can do this!” It is that very exciting sense of “I made it!” that inspired me to write this second part of the poem.

Looking back on how much confidence I gained and the growth I experienced over the years amazes me. I could not be prouder of the place I am in today. I hope others who read part 1 and now part 2 of this poem see themselves and the transitions they have made throughout their own medical education. We should all be proud of the challenges we have overcome and celebrate every victory, big or small.

The Battle of Midday: Part Two

Oh yes, I’m back without attack, like how I was before.
With growing strides and doubt that hides
away from breaking thoughts.
I’ve made a turn, with blood and burn,
to better places I have sought.

To higher ground, with leaps I’ve bound my mind upon the sun.
On hands and knees my fingers bleed with parts that came undone.

Not looking down into the depths of where I lay before,
I guide myself with confidence into an open door.
Resent and fear still seated near, an everlasting bond.
I can’t un-break my past mistakes–
they’re with me all along.

In written words I seem a blur as applications brew,
But see me clear and breathe relief,
You’ll know my strength is true.

Valerie Efros Valerie Efros (5 Posts)


Michigan State University College of Human Medicine

Hello! I'm Valerie. I'm from the suburbs of Detroit and graduated from Michigan State University in 2009 with my BA in Psychology. I'm currently living in Grand Rapids Michigan with my fiance Adam, where I'm now in my second year of medical school at MSUCHM. I'm the aunt of two little kiddies that I love to death (Asher 3.5 and Shana 1.5) and the proud mama of a silly red-brown dog named Bo. Before starting medical school, I sang in an a cappella group for 3 years, traveled to India, volunteered at a Navajo hospital in New Mexico and many other uninteresting things I won't mention. I still sing as much as I can, love hot vinyasa yoga, hiking, camping and spending time with my family. If I'm not studying, you can probably find me on my couch in sweat pants eating frozen yogurt, watching Modern Family, The Mindy Project or The Goldberg's.

Therapeutic Misadventures

Therapeutic Misadventures catalogs the unanticipated effects of medical school and is meant to provide a sense of the emotional roller coaster that is medical education. It is a peek into what it really feels like to be a medical student and the perpetual challenges that come with that life. Spoiler alert: it's hard.