Staying Motivated in Med School
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How To Stay Motivated In Med School – Even When You’re In A Slump

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How do you stay motivated in med school or medicine?

You’ve signed this imaginary contract and feel like you have no choice except to become a doctor. But you’re burnout out, uninterested, and frankly, have lost that love you had for the field.

You may already be so far down the path. Turning around seems even more nauseating than continuing.

But then again what’s the point of going on when the destination no longer looks attractive? The rainbows, golden halos, and magical shine which we dreamed of are gone.

If you feel like this – I promise you that you are not alone.

In fact, as I write this – just 3 months away from graduating med school – I’ve had these feelings countless times during my journey.

Sometimes it was due to poor performance, low motivation, no sight of the end of the tunnel, etc.

Trust me – I get it.

But in this post, I want to share with you one principle which has helped me overcome those low days.

Note: At the end of the post I’ll have a free downloadable guide for you to apply this principle and regain motivation in medical school. Stay tuned.

Let’s get into it.

The Positive Cycle of Motivation:

Motivated in Med School

To overcome a lack of motivation in med school, you must understand why our motivation grows in the first place.

Think of the last time you were extremely motivated. What drove you to want it so bad?

Some may argue that some individuals are just more driven than others. There’s some truth to that.

But every person is capable of being motivated given the correct finish line.

What was that for you?

Perhaps it was school or work related. Maybe you were motivated to crush an upcoming exam or project.

The motivation can easily be something personal. Maybe your goal is to do the impossible this year. (You can see what my impossible goals are here.)

While motivation may seem as simple as setting a goal and then going out to accomplish it – that’s not the whole picture.

In fact, motivation is a cycle. We are motivated in med school to succeed because we have succeeded in the past with similar motivation.

For example, med students and pre-meds are considered to be smart individuals. While I think anyone can be smart enough to be a doctor, the thing which makes them so smart is that they love the success which comes from hard work.

They continue to study hard because they studied hard in the past … and it worked.

The gym fanatic continues to workout because he/she wanted to become healthy…and it worked.

The pianist continues to practice because their past desires led them to become great.

[Tweet “There’s a cycle of motivation – we are motivated by our prior success. Thus we stay motivated and strive for more.”]

How Cycle Of Motivation Applies to Medicine:

If you understand that motivation is a product of past success then you can use this when motivation is low.

This is what I call my golden nugget principle.

Like anything in the world, medicine won’t be perfect and fulfilling every day. You will hate the paperwork, have tough interactions with patients and staff, and feel overworked. Those are all inevitable.

Obviously, this is not why we picked medicine. It’s also not the reason we continue to pursue it.

Instead, we rely on golden nuggets to keep us going.

A great example of this is a memorable patient encounter.

Think back to your favorite patient. What made that interaction so special?

More importantly, what did you do which led to such a pleasurable experience?

You may have spent extra time with them to explain their treatment, joked with them, gave them hope, or maybe were just present when they needed someone. In return, they respected you and showed you gratitude. Obviously, you’re going to remember that interaction.

So here’s the main question now – was the result worth the effort you put in?

Did you enjoy that patient interaction so much that the listening, joking, and going the extra mile all seem worth it?

If so then you have your golden nugget!

Because the next time you interact with a patient – you will try to apply the same effort in hopes of that same result. You may not always be successful, but you know it worked in the past … and it’s likely going to work again in the future.

This golden nugget principle can be applied to your studying, relationships, health, and much more. Simply think back to when that aspect of your life was great. Reflect on what led to that result and then ask yourself if it was worth the effort to get there.

Once again – is the result worth the effort?


I have used the golden nugget principle in my life numerous times. It’s great for helping me reframe things.

You may also see some benefits from applying it. If anything, I promise you that you will feel more motivated in med school when it’s all said and done.

So if you’re struggling to find the light at the end of the tunnel – find your golden nugget and let that guide you to the next step.

Hope you enjoyed this post. If so, comment below with your thoughts on how you would use this principle in your own life!

And here’s a quick challenge for anyone brave enough: Share this post with one person you think it will help and help each other find that motivation you may have lost.

Finally, I promised a free downloadable guide for you to apply this principle.

You can download this free worksheet which will help you find your own golden nugget. Download it here.

Golden Nugget Worksheet

If you want more help with stress management and want to finally feel in control – then check out our Stress To Success course.

Here you will learn simple step-by-step approaches to go from overwhelmed, stressed, and burnout to finally getting wins in your personal life.

Check out Stress To Sucess here. 

Stress To Success - TheMDJourney.com

If you enjoyed this post then you may also enjoy the following:

The Pursuit of a More Perfect You – My Approach Towards Personal Progress
7 Reasons You’re Stressed in Medical School
Stress in Medical School? Stop Doing This One Thing!

Also be sure to check out my impossible list and feel free to create your own!

Thanks for reading!

Until next time my friends…

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