Having Outlets in Med School: A Step 1 Sonnet

By Tim Durso

Having Outlets in Med School - My Step 1 SonnetI’ve long since admired a poet’s ability to take an experience and mold it into a relatable and elegant form. I’ve dabbled with my own poetry (which admittedly is rough at best) from time to time as a sort of creative outlet for whenever I’m feeling stressed or bored (a.k.a. throughout med school). I don’t always write them down, but sometimes they help me work through my emotions and release them in a constructive way.

Below I’ve included a sonnet about my experiences leading up to taking Step 1:

I felt the warmth of sun upon my skin
My room had been my dungeon for some time
This isolation kept me free from sin
First Aid had shown my mind its utmost prime
The drive to hoard supplies was short and quick
Some candy would do nicely for my feast
With emptiness my stomach would feel sick
If in some time I were to slay the beast
The sweat rolled down from brow to lowly feet
Prometric lay within my line of sight
My legs took hold and forced me ‘cross the street
I knew I must be ready for this fight
I took my place while feeling rather stressed
But now I’m glad I crushed that crazy test!

Granted, I’m no Shakespeare (dat iambic pentameter doe), but I think a lot of people probably experience test day in a similar way with a mix of apprehension and confidence in their preparation process. Poetry isn’t cool or “sexy” or whatever you crazy kids are calling it these days, but it helps me, and it may help someone out there reading this post. With that being said, don’t be afraid to have your own outlets (creative or otherwise) when it comes to medical school.

Maybe you’re a runner and can set your sights on a race to train for down the road (pun absolutely intended). Or maybe you can rock out on an old instrument collecting dust that you occasionally hear playing itself in a Poe-esque nightmare (though “The Tell Tale Clarinet” just isn’t as catchy). Also, don’t forget the old standby of pick-up games with your friends and classmates; after all, musculoskeletal injuries are much more fun to diagnose once you’ve learned a little bit of anatomy.

If you end up studying all the time, it will consume you, and you will burn out. Not to mention, having interests outside of school will keep you stay grounded in a way that your friends and family who don’t know what you’re going through can really appreciate. Remember, as English poet John Donne so aptly remarked in Meditation XVII, “No man is an island.”

Do you have a unique outlet you use to deal with the stress of med school? Or do you have a poem of your own you’d like to share? Post it below in the comments! I look forward to reading them.


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