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A Letter in the White Coat Pocket

Ivory Shelton

Dear Me,  

Hi. It's me. Yourself from the future. (Don't worry Instagram is still very much a thing and, yes, your caption game is still very much on point.) 

First thing, congratulations beautiful. You did it. You got that White Coat. You achieved what you have fought and clawed for over the past 5 years. You are a rockstar and you deserve every smile and ounce of joy that you are feeling today. So sit with it. You don't need to worry about studying yet; that will come soon enough.

Once the White Coat is hung up and your friends and family have gone home, though, there are a few more things you should sit with and know. Med School is going to be so hard. Just so so hard. And I don't mean in terms of books and notes and studying. 

You are going to be so overwhelmed and so overstimulated so much of the time. You are going to feel scared and inadequate and frustrated and grated. You are going to feel like if you study ONE MORE WORD your chest will cave in from sheer, raw, emotional exhaustion. You are going to feel torn in a million directions for where to invest your time.

You are going to miss your family. You are going to worry about your family. You are going to feel guilty because you can't talk to or see your family as much as you want. 

You are going to cry. You are going to scream. You are going to stare at the ceiling silently and wonder if this is all there is.

You are going to crave a warm body in the bed beside you... but there just won't be time to go searching for that someone. You will wonder why you don't look like all the other girls in your class. You will wonder why you were made to take up quite so much space. You will feel your heart break and then just as quickly begin to re-mend itself. 

You are going to become acquainted with illness and death a little too intimately. And you are going to mourn the time that already feels lost with the ones you love so much. You will try to disassociate yourself from the bad and the hurt all around you, but it will creep back in while you're in a patient's room or while you are reading a slide about cancer. 

You will reach the lowest of lows and there will be times where you aren't quite sure what you have gotten yourself into or what you have given up in the process....

But, you are also going to dance several nights away in a gold dress... or a Santa dress... or a Superwoman dress. You are going to have so much pizza on these nights and it will be absolutely glorious. You will be 23 and stupid and you will love every questionable second of it.

You are going to call your Mom and Dad after all of your tests go OK and you are going to light up as they call you “a real doctor"... with more pride in their voice than you have ever heard.

You are going to hear, on your most exhausted of days, a patient say, "You are going to be a great doctor." And it will make the load a little lighter. 

You are going to open yourself up to new friends and to old ones in ways that you never have before. You are going to cry into their coat collars. You are going to hog the wine. You are going to tell them your insecurities and your fears. You are going to annoy them (just a little). You are going to ask for a lot of patience and a lot of support. But guess what? They are only going to love you (and lift you up) all the more. 

You are going to laugh so much. In anatomy lab. In a cabin on an Asheville mountain-side. At a tailgate.  In your car.  At your kitchen table. On a basketball floor. In some very Spooky Woods. You are going to laugh so so much and you are going to find pure joy in the most unexpected situations. 

You are going to learn a little of "practicing medicine" and A LOT of "being human".

You are going to grow from this; you are going to change from this; but you are going to love this. 

Never forget who you are and how far you have come. Never forget you are loved. Never forget that your friends and family are there for you. Never forget what it means to be kind. 

All of my love, 

12.5% M.D.




Ivory Shelton 
Year in school: 1st year Medical Student 
Hometown: Erwin, TN            
Undergrad attended: Wake Forest University
Favorite quote: “Here's to the fools who dream.” 

Last Updated: 12-08-2017
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