LESLIE GONZALEZ OMS4
You have been open about your decision to take a leave of absence in medical school. What have you learned about yourself from that experience?
I’ve learned that there is NO SHAME in needing a mental break from school. It was single-handedly the best decision I ever made. It allowed me to see a therapist and work on myself. I learned how to recognize the symptoms of burn out and how to combat them. I also learned how to rest and take care of my mind and spirit.
What led you to start Latinx En Medicina?
There is no doubt that there is a shortage of Latinx healthcare professionals. I was inspired by my own experiences with the lack of representation to start Latinx en Medicina. My aim was to provide a digital platform for resources, culturally competent mentorship, and workshops that enhance students’ skills.
What are the most important things you are doing right now to help you to excel in school while taking care of yourself?
I take breaks! I make sure that there are moments in the week that are dedicated to relaxing and spending time with family and friends. I make sure that my studying time is of high quality and not high quantity.
NAWAL MUSTAFA MA PHD CANDIDATE
What compelled you to embark on your journey in Clinical Neuropsychology?
I’ve always been interested in the human brain and behavior. In undergrad, I obtained a B.Sc in behavior, cognition, and neuroscience. Like many millennials, I took a year off to decide what I wanted to do for graduate school. Ultimately my heart was set on clinical neuropsychology. I find it to be the perfect balance between the physical and psychological aspects of the human brain and how they influence behavior.
What are the biggest challenges you have encountered as a PhD student and what have you learned from them?
One of the biggest challenges I have encountered as a PhD student is learning to have faith in myself and trash the negative self-talk. Clinical neuropsychology is an extremely competitive graduate program, so it was easy to forget my worth and purpose as I embarked on a six year journey with highly intelligent and over-achieving individuals. It also does not help that we get critically evaluated by faculty at the end of every year. The pressure of this program and never-ending workload has resulted in bouts of intense anxiety for me, to the point where I had to take a step back and genuinely check in with myself. Instead of simply trying to keep my head above the water, I now practice self-love and work on instilling self-confidence. I have stopped comparing myself to others and believe that I am good enough as long as I am working relentlessly toward my passion all the while facing my fears of uncertainty and self-doubt.
What message do you wish to impart on those that are dealing with high-functioning anxiety, especially while at work?
Work on yourself, you deserve that. The most significant culprit of HFA is our inner critic. From an evolutionary standpoint, our inner critic is meant to keep us safe from harmful or embarrassing situations. It is not supposed to suck the life out of us. Unfortunately, when it becomes loud, it starts to negatively affect our self-worth.
DASHAÉ SMALLWOOD SPT
Although you’re still a student, what has surprised you the most about the physical therapy profession thus far?
I am most surprised that our pay does not reflect our schooling and all of the hard work that we do. We as students go into so much debt to become physical therapists, but our salaries are not sufficient enough to counter this. This is something that I hope is addressed/improved in the coming years.
If you could boil it down to one thing, what has been the most helpful advice you can offer that helps you feel balanced with school life, content creation, and taking care of yourself/spending time with friends and family?
Honestly, prioritizing my mental health has helped me feel balanced with everything I am involved in. Last year I started anxiety medications and this year I started working out consistently. These 2 things have helped me have the energy to get everything done and more. My mood has dramatically improved and I am generally happier which directly correlates to the rest of my life!
What message do you wish to impart on those that want to follow in your footsteps and embark on the PT journey?
That grades aren’t everything! It takes a lot of hard work (and high grades) to get into PT school, but once you are there you have to remember that your grades won’t directly translate to patient care. It is impossible to know everything. Focus on comprehending information rather than memorizing it. At the end of the day, your patients won’t care about the grade you received on an exam.
Also, try not to worry about what other people are doing; your classmates are not your competition. All you can do is your best, and that will ALWAYS be enough! Even if your best is a whopping 68% the world will not end. On the first day of orientation, one of our professors referred to our quizzes, exams, and practicals as ‘celebrations of knowledge’. At first, I didn’t believe him. I thought it was corny. I had the toxic idea that A’s = competence, but that is not true at all. Assessments are opportunities for growth. They give you a chance to see what you actually know, and to find out what you need to focus on in the future. If you miss something this time, you will get it next time!