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Hi, 

I know exactly how you feel. And your story is not as rare and unique as it may seem. I myself am also Muslim woman of colour and the anxiety I feel about fitting in with my classmates is real. But you got into med school. You out competed hundreds of applicants regardless of the hardships that you have gone through. You have achieved what many people can only dream of. The fact that you got into med school despite your circumstances means that you belong here. Everyone who got into med school is unique and different and belongs exactly where they are. You will without a doubt find groups of people you feel comfortable around, friendships you never thought possible, and hopefully a family among your medical school classmates. We are all in this together and if you come in with the mentality that you will not fit in, you likely will block yourself off from potential connections with your fellow students. Keep your head up. You deserve this and you will more than fit in if you give yourself the chance to get to know your other classmates.  

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15 minutes ago, offmychestplease said:

I am starting medical school this fall. As happy as I am to start, I don't know how many others are like "me" and I am nervous. I am a POC, Muslim, immigrated from a war torn country when I was 7, grew up below the poverty line in Canada. My family has never gone on a "vacation" in my life. I had to work since I was 12 years old, and I don't have any doctors in my family. To put things into perspective, a birthday gift that I received when I was 10 was a McDonald's happy meal. I didn't have any guidance to get into med, don't have doctor parents/connections, went to public schools my entire life, grew up in a small apartment, etc

I have a completely different background but similar in the sense that it's not the "usual" pre-med. I think that if you are willing to be open to differences you will find classmates that you vibe with. I think of it as in any social group. You are drawn to certain people - humour-wise, music, work ethic, hobbies.

Plus the shared anxiety of imposter syndrome is a unifying factor! 

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24 minutes ago, offmychestplease said:

I am starting medical school this fall. As happy as I am to start, I don't know how many others are like "me" and I am nervous. I am a POC, Muslim, immigrated from a war torn country when I was 7, grew up below the poverty line in Canada. My family has never gone on a "vacation" in my life. I had to work since I was 12 years old, and I don't have any doctors in my family. To put things into perspective, a birthday gift that I received when I was 10 was a McDonald's happy meal. I didn't have any guidance to get into med, don't have doctor parents/connections, went to public schools my entire life, grew up in a small apartment, etc

Congrats on your acceptance, I'm really happy for you. You've been through a lot, I wish that you didn't have to, but I'm sure your experiences will make you a better and more compassionate doctor for people from similar circumstances. It's true that a large proportion, will have to check the stats but it might even be the majority, are affluent and come from comfortable backgrounds and have not experienced the hardships that you've encountered. But there are also certainly others like you who've also experienced adversity.

I myself have experienced living in poverty, losing my home, not being able to afford health care or living necessities, and eventually losing my parents to health complications. I had to work and give up on schooling every now and then to be able to afford an education, and I've also had to immigrate to Canada by myself. I will also be a the first health care professional in my family, let alone being a doctor.

Just want you to know that you are not alone, and feel free to message me privately if you'd like to chat further.

Lately I've been thinking that, you know there was a Filipino Association of Medical Students created to provide support and mentorship for Filipino students and patients, due to health inequities and disparities in the Filipino community. I'm thinking that there should be a similar group for medical students who've experienced difficult socioeconomic circumstances and advocate for better representation and health care for others.

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reading this honestly warms my heart so much. I'm a new immigrant too from a developing country. My parents are from the healthcare background at home but here they're just blue-collar workers on minimum wages. We've been living modestly my entire life and I have found it slightly difficult in the past to mix with my more affluent peers in different programs I found myself in. I have been just a little anxious about how I would fit in in med school but if my past experiences have been any indication, you finally find your clique with people (not necessarily from the same background) who appreciate you for you are and share similar interests. I agree with previous posts about how we should all go in with an open mind and be willing to step out of our comfort zones a little bit e.g. going on hikes with classmates, going out for dinner, having study parties (very nerdy lol) etc. I also found that when I was in a high-stress program in undergrad, everyone just kinda huddled together over the common anxiety and I'm really hoping med would be even more of that.

But yeah, you are definitely not alone and the journey you've gone through to get to this point speaks volumes of your adaptability and resilience. Most people I've met who are in med school are nice and approachable so I don't doubt we will be able to find our belonging there. Best wishes for your future and I'm so grateful to have colleagues like you!

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When I was starting medical school, I was far from home, different than my new classmates, came from poverty, I just jumped right in, felt comfortable, was accepted, my only friends now are those previous strangers from medical school. Just try to fit in and you will. Differences are unimportant. We each have different backgrounds, cultures, languages. We collaborate as colleagues and do our best to improve the lives of our patients. By the way, when it comes to residency, it all comes down to being “a good fit”, being friendly, collaborative, a hard worker, a good fit for the team, your religion, color, culture, traditions are irrelevant from a selection point of view, same for friendships as far as I am concerned. I am also an immigrant who comes from poverty. In fact, as a child I encountered discrimination and am so grateful for that. It never ever bothered me, on the contrary, it made me stronger, the person I am today, and whenever I saw another student facing discrimination, I befriended that person and defended her. It helped build my character.

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@offmychestplease Hi there, you echoed all of my concerns in your post... We have very similar backgrounds and I am also worried about being completely different from my peers, but this thread right now is very reassuring! I think I am also slowly learning that we need to start valuing ourselves: We are not less worthy because we come from a more underprivileged background. If anything it will help us understand and connect with patients from various demographics as a doctor.

From what I have seen, med students as a whole seem to be very nice and approachable! Go in being yourself and I'm sure you will make tons of friends :) 

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Unfortunately(?) in the class cliques will form. The rich preppy types will form their own clique, and you will most likely befriend the people from blue collar background with a few exceptions. For example in my friend circle there is only 1 person with a physician parent (but in this case this person's demeanor is much closer to ours than those from the other cliques).

 

Either way, from my experience all you need is a small group of friends, you'll be cordial with everyone else in the class and that's ok. 

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Hey OP, super valid points you brought up. it can be daunting going into a new chapter of life without knowing how you'll fit in. That said, medicine is probably one of the best environments to do that with. People come into medicine from all types of backgrounds. Finding life-long friend/friend group during O-week - bit ambitious, but you will definitely find someone that you'll resonate with. Furthermore, we'll all be colleagues one day and be working on the same team to take care of our patients and each other - that sense of comradery begins on day 1. Finally, everyone worked extremely hard to get into medical school - the admissions and interview committee believed that you would make a good physician one day and that you belong in the cohort of incoming students. 

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