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The Emotional Dilemma of Balancing Studying and Living

Op-Med is a collection of original articles contributed by Doximity members.

This is part of the Medical Humanities series on Op-Med, which showcases creative work by Doximity members. Do you have a creative work related to your medical practice that you’d like to share? Send it to us here.

Just do your best: nothing more, nothing less.

The pressures of medicine may seem vast;

And training at lengths that forever last;

At each day’s end, if you need words to possess;

Just do your best: nothing more, nothing less.

You probably have learned throughout your career;

That medicine induces excitement and fear;

And balancing these emotions may leave you a mess;

That you forget to do your best: nothing more, nothing less.

Sometimes you may exceed what is on your plate,

Forcing your other commitments to sit and wait;

Even when they are prior, nevertheless; 

It becomes hard to do your best: nothing more, nothing less.

Beginning in medical school, you may feel this;

That time with loved ones must be missed;

To dedicate to your studies and tests;

As you learn how to do your best: nothing more, nothing less.

At some point, however, you may hit a wall;

Feeling your spirits reach a treacherous fall;

As you realize your studies have left you obsessed;

With no longer being satisfied at just doing your best: nothing more, nothing less.

Your health and well-being are priorities, too;

Simply because, they belong to you;

Whenever you fall short, it is okay – do not stress;

Be reassured that you did your best: nothing more, nothing less.

Life is so joyous, full of wonder and love;

Just like medicine, it is a gift from above;

Helping others to heal and out of distress;

Occurs when you just do your best: nothing more, nothing less.

Keep your mind open and heart listening close;

To the feelings you have and reflect on the most;

If you can keep sighing and laughing, then I must attest;

That you really are doing your best: nothing more, nothing less.

Hear my words, as they reign true;

In halting those thoughts which may consciously undo;

These words, I reiterate, will put your mind at rest; 

Please, just do your best: nothing more, nothing less.

What was your inspiration? Did other creative works, if any, influence your creation of this piece? 

This submission serves as a reflection on my views over the struggles many medical students, residents, and physicians face regarding finding their personal balances between self well-being and career achievement. My inspiration comes from hearing many stories of how health professionals and trainees have become more at odds with their mental health throughout this COVID-19 pandemic. As a medical student, I can attest to the reality of this emotional dilemma. I hope that this poem can reassure others who may be experiencing these feelings that they do not have to struggle alone and should reach out for help.

How long have you been writing poetry? What got you started? 

Writing poetry is an activity I have enjoyed since my childhood. However, throughout high school, college, and these past several of medical school, I felt my priorities shift as I tried navigating other scholarly and familial obligations. Now that I have a better grasp on my personal self and career trajectory, I hope to continue writing poetry as a way to express myself creatively.

Casey P. Schukow is a fourth-year medical student attending Michigan State University College of Osteopathic Medicine (MSUCOM). In his free time, Casey enjoys writing, reading, exercising, and conversing with his family and loved ones.

All opinions published on Op-Med are the author’s and do not reflect the official position of Doximity or its editors. Op-Med is a safe space for free expression and diverse perspectives. For more information, or to submit your own opinion, please see our submission guidelines or email

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