How to Explain Boards to Friends and Family

One thing that I learned early on in my professional career was that my family and friends who are not in graduate school often have a hard time understanding how demanding it can be. For example, the holidays are always a bit of a struggle for me. I am the only person in my immediate family who has attended professional school. We always have exams the week after our holiday break so the studying doesn’t stop when the presents start. Each year I actually get scolded for studying.

Now, I am totally pro balance. I think it’s important to spend time with my family while I’m home. However, I also think it’s important not to flunk my exam. The issue is, I can’t study with my loud, Italian family surrounding me and continuously trying to feed me. This creates a dilemma because when I sneak away to try to find somewhere quiet, they instantly think something is wrong. So it becomes this cycle of me trying to explain the importance of school while also making it clear that I appreciate my time with my family.

Enter boards. Now that I am a third year and spending the majority of my time outside of clinic and class studying for boards, this holiday situation has hit a whole new level. Living in the center of Chicago, I am lucky to get a lot of visitors. However, now that it’s crunch time, having to tell my friends and family that they can’t come visit because I have to study for a test that is a month away has been a bit of a struggle.

What’s my solution you may ask? Well, since explaining doesn’t seem to work, I’ve been trying to compare it to something important career or education-wise that has occurred in their life. And when that really doesn’t work, I drop the numbers. You know, the gazillion-dollars-in-debt numbers. Generally that gets through to them.

Whatever the case, I’ve realized that as much as I may want to please my friends and family, this is a huge moment in my career that really matters for my own success as well. So, don’t be afraid to go into hiding for a little bit in order to do what works best for you. Just make sure you come right out and enjoy yourself once you get that. Good luck to everyone taking Part 1!!

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