We placed an ad for rental of a small office in our suite that was answered by a Harvard Medical School student who needs a quiet place to study for his upcoming exam. Our space is conveniently located close to his apartment and MGH. He needs the office for three months, October through December, his examination falling on December 30th. He is already quite accomplished, having previously earned a Master of Health Science degree from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health before deciding to go to medical school with the goal of eventually becoming a neurosurgeon.
I think everyone on our staff would agree that having him study in such close proximity to us is an eye-opening and inspiring experience. We have had many enlightening conversations about his family, his past work history abroad in Tanzania and Afghanistan, his research, what led him to pursue a career in neurosurgery, and the intense competition he faces in trying to secure one of only a few coveted residency positions nationwide.
His study routine is one for the record books. His focus, dedication, and resoluteness are off the charts. He spends just about every waking moment reviewing the minutiae of every system in the body and taking practice tests, never scoring below a 90. He studies between 70 to 75 hours a week, even on weekends. In three months, that will amount to almost 1,000 hours of study! After he passes his exam, he has seven years of residency ahead of him.
During his limited breaks, he has patiently and completely answered our various medical questions, such as the difference between a punctured/collapsed lung; what a herniated incarceration is; and the various types of stages and grades of cancer. (We considered it good practice for him!) Further, as an aside, it has not gone unnoticed that he takes good care of himself. He eats no sugar, processed foods, or gluten. He gets his required rest. His stamina is impressive as is his energy level. I am sure these choices have factored into his success so far as well.
“How do you stay motivated with such a grueling road ahead of you?”
This all got me to thinking about court reporting students. I asked him the most obvious question: “How do you stay motivated with such a grueling road ahead of you?” He explained that, although his eye is always on the prize, he doesn’t look too far ahead. Looking too far ahead can be overwhelming, so he sets an aggressive agenda for each day and does not waver from accomplishing his daily goal, which is answering about 250 to 300 test questions per day. To become eligible for a neurosurgery residency, you need at least a score of 240 on the exam, a score he already knows he can attain. He wants to do better because he knows he can. He knows he is capable of learning much more, so he is pushing himself to excel. His goal is to achieve the highest score ever recorded on the exam, and we think he just might do it.
So what can we learn from him? Think about his rigorous studying philosophy and see how it can be incorporated into your personal practice regimen. Could you realistically find more practice time in your day? Do you set daily goals and do all you can to achieve them? Do you push yourself to the limit, rejecting mediocrity and aiming for excellence? Are you committed to making court reporting your life’s work and doing all you can to be the best court reporter you can be? What better time than the upcoming New Year to adopt these standards as your own.
All of us will be sad to see “our” med student leave. It has been an awesome experience getting a glimpse into his world and bearing witness to the enormous sacrifices that he is willing to make to reach his goal. He is not only an exceptional student but also one of the finest human beings we have ever met.
Congratulations, Gabriel Sneh, on your accomplishments so far and all the very best as you continue your studies.