How to Achieve Success in Medicine

As a former McMaster University varsity badminton player, and having competed on the national stage, sports have always been a part of my life. I can still recall the countless hours spent on the court and at the gym in preparation for the tournaments and matches. Being a competitive athlete and pursuing a career in medicine is no different. I always had this motto that stuck with me whenever I trained, when the days were too long, when I just want to give up, and that was “sweat plus sacrifice equals success”. It was a simple formula that I used to get to where I am today. Let me explain what I mean by this.

Sweat, it is what the body produces in an attempt to decrease its core temperature, most often brought on by physical activity. Why sweating is important is that it denotes work, not just walking about at a leisurely pace, but work that elevates your heart rate, makes you tired and exhausted at the end of the day. When it came down to the last few weeks before the provincial university tournament, we often practiced upwards of 4 hours a day, with additional conditioning thrown in during the mornings. In sports, like in medicine, both are long-term commitments that take time, dedication, and perseverance. In each, the individual needs not only to be hard working, but also to work smart and have great work ethics. Nothing comes without work, and you must work hard.

Now, perhaps the more difficult of the two, sacrifice. Think about what you are willing to give up to have what you want the most in this world. Are you willing to give up TV, how about a couple hours of sleep, time spent with friends, seeing your family, or other things that you enjoy doing? If the answer is no, then you should evaluate what it is that you really want. For me, sports taught me that sacrifice was essential, which allowed me to re-evaluate what my priorities were. Having to work on the road, eat on the go, and give up seeing your friends and family for weeks were all things that I did in order to dedicate myself fully to competing. As a medical student, this is no different – I don’t see my family as much as I would like, and I definitely don’t get to sleep in, not even on weekends. Sacrifice helps us re-evaluate what we are willing to give up in order to have the thing that we want the most in life.

If you follow this formula, incorporating “sweat” and “sacrifice” into all aspects of your life, then “success” is what shall come. But success in itself is an important word to define. Having goals in place will help you reach where you want to go, with success ultimately coming down to what you want to get out of a particular experience.

Being an athlete and competing at an intense level have taught me many things. It has helped shape me into the person I am today, and have given me the confidence to excel at whatever I put my heart into. So I leave you with this – work hard, work smart, and give up what is not important, so that you can reach your dreams.