To med students of color

On April 23, 2021, in my journal, I wrote: “If I could share advice w/ younger med students of color:”

Here is that advice.


That you should always think very highly of yourself. You should not think low of yourself or who you are. Become your number one advocate. When you are struggling, be the very first person who tells yourself – it’s okay, I appreciate how stressful and overwhelming this is. And be the first to have utmost compassion for yourself – to hold space for yourself, and to have patience for yourself to work through what you need to.

Because med school will have you facing things that you thought you worked through a long time ago. And it’ll have you working on things about yourself that you may never have even thought would be problems for you. So, to go through that and not judge yourself, and not say, you’re being too sensitive about this, but to say – it’s okay, and I am here for myself, and I care for myself, and I love myself enough to do all these things – that is the most important advice I can give.

I also want to extend the understanding that I didn’t have the time to really cultivate an awareness for while I was in school, but something I was able to get clear on after I got a break and after discussing these instances on a few occasions with a very good friend of mine, but there is a very real and added burden that comes on when you are functioning in a system that has historically and to this day perpetuates racial, sexual, and ableist injustice. When you are constantly aware of how often Black and Brown people are left out of curriculum, left out of leadership, when you are aware that the same profession that has left you constantly knocked down because of your weight, or how you present yourself to this world – there is a baseline anxiety. There is a baseline fear. And it will make sense to some of you – it will not strike a chord w/ others of you.

What I’m saying will not hit you deeply if you belong to identities that can ignore these daily and long-standing injustices and experience no consequences to your groups and even to yourself directly in response to your ignoring. And what I’m saying will hit you deeply, if you are someone who’s directly impacted. And what I’m saying will also hit you deeply if you just really care.

So, in the first part of all of this is my advice to you. In the second part, is a recognition. And I don’t want you to forget that. I hope you come across many reminders.

Detail from mural by Greta McLain: “We See You, We Thank You” (2017)
Medical student artist: Chidiebere Ibe (https://www.nbcnews.com/news/nbcblk/meet-student-bringing-black-illustrations-medical-field-rcna8277)
Artwork from Duke University Hospital, mural panel by Sean Kirk.

Published by Hina Iqbal

I am a student studying medicine who enjoys sharing thoughts and reflections on the things I pick up around me!

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