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Sorta Random Sunday: Why All the Hoops to Jump Through?

Graduation time is approaching. For high schoolers. College students. Med students. For medical/surgical trainees. And this time of year always gets me thinking…in life there are always a ton of hoops to jump through. And sometimes it’s easy to start asking ourselves if all these hoops are necessary. I don’t know that any of us have the real answer to this question.

But I am going to try to use a metaphor to help illustrate how I think about these hoops. The metaphor I going to use is that of medical education and training.

hoops to jump through

Because our medical education and training comes with a whole lot of hoops to jump through!

What are some of the hoops involved in medical education and training?

  • Get good grades in college
  • MCAT test to get into medical school
  • Get good grades in medical school classes
  • Get good grades during medical school clinical rotations
  • Step I & II tests for residency training
  • Get good letters of recommendation for residency
  • Work on research projects to publish papers for residency
  • Perform well in residency and fellowship training
  • Pass Step III exam
  • Get board certified

And a ton that I am sure I’m missing or have blacked out of my brain…

So, are these hoops to jump through necessary?

Well, yes and no…how’s that for sitting on the fence? I guess a better question to answer is, what do these hoops really demonstrate?

For instance, if I took the MCAT or Step I today, I would fail…horribly. Why? Because I don’t remember anything about physics or the Kreb’s cycle or nephrology or tons of other stuff that is not applicable to my daily practice as a doctor.

So what are these hoops actually good for? And do they matter?

I think they do matter. And they do measure something. Just not necessarily what they seem to measure on the surface. And this is something I constantly remind our medical students and trainees…

These hoops are just guarantees that you will work hard

In my mind, that is what they are good for. They are a good measurement of if someone will work hard or not. They are an imperfect measurement. But a measurement none the less…

Let me flesh this out. I am not particularly smart. But I will work hard. That’s how I did well enough on the MCAT to get into med school. And well enough on Step I to get into residency. And did enough research to pursue the post training opportunities that fulfill me…and on and on…

I do believe that hard work will allow anyone to accomplish these things and successfully jump through these hoops.

They show me that someone has the grit and determination necessary to be successful in difficult spots in the future.

And, in my mind, that is what is most important. I’ll take a gritty person over a smart person anyway. Maybe I’m biased because I think I’m more gritty than smarty but still…

But are the hoops that we jump through worthwhile?

Well, this is completely up to us. And our mindset.

I’ve jumped through hoops that are worthwhile. And I’ve jumped through hoops that are not worthwhile. You can find some of my hoops here…

In fact, I believe that burnout is, at least in part, due to jumping through the wrong hoops that are not worthwhile.

Now that I am more selective in the hoops that I jump through, I do think they are very well worth the work and grit required. Because life without the right hoops would be boring…right?

But are the hoops in life always fair? I tend to think no, they are not. And fixing that is a very challenging problem of course. But that’s a loaded and totally different question.

And in the words of Forrest Gump, that’s what I think about that.

Here are some other great posts to help up your mindset!

What do you think? How do you handle the hoops in your life? Are they necessary or worthwhile? Let me know in the comments below!

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    Jordan Frey MD, a plastic surgeon in Buffalo, NY, is one of the fastest-growing physician finance bloggers in the world. See how he went from financially clueless to increasing his net worth by $1M in 1 year and how you can do the same! Feel free to send Jordan a message at [email protected].

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