A Reflection on Failure

Recently, I took my first set of medical school exams. I have been studying my butt off and was hopeful that my effort would be reflected in my grades. 

A few days ago, I found out that I failed both exams. 

I wanted to share my setback here, partly because I created this space to write about my highlights and struggles. Medical school is hard and currently, I find myself struggling more than I am thriving. My exam grades indicate that my study habits up until this point have been ineffective and I need to make changes.

On the day I found out my grades, I burst into tears in my favorite professor’s office and cried myself to sleep. The next day wasn’t much easier; my peers were still talking about the exam and all I wanted to do was hide. I have told a few people in my class about my situation and while they have been nothing but supportive, I still feel like I majorly screwed up.


After all, who fails not just one, but two exams within their first month of med school?

But I digress…

The following day, I met with the course director for one of my classes.

“The good news is, ” he said, “you can earn the same grade for the remaining exams and still pass this course. ” I was confused until he explained that the assignments and quizzes would boost my grade. While hearing that was comforting, he also identified himself as an optimist, so I don’t know how much I should trust his words.

While the anxious thoughts and self-doubt are still present, I’m choosing to move forward with a reasonable plan and cautious optimism that I will be okay. I’m meeting with a few more professors this week, and I’m reaching out my support system and keeping them in the loop.

There’s already pressure to perform better on the next exam, but that’s a challenge I am willing to take on.

Reminding myself now (and every day) that I can do this. 

2 thoughts on “A Reflection on Failure

  1. I believe you can do it. Med school is one heck of a roller coaster. How many hours do you spend sitting in classes, and how many hours do you get to spend to study at home? Just curious.

    1. Hi there! Thanks for your comment. Lectures aren’t mandatory at my school, since they are recorded but labs are. I estimate we have about 20 hours of class or lab time a week, and I spend an additional 40ish hours studying outside of that.

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