A few weeks ago I was able to sit down and chat with 3rd year medical student, Stephanie Moss, about her experience to and through medical school so far including conversations around imposter syndrome, coping with the pressure, how she’s chosen to take care of herself and her commitment to being authentic while her path unfolds. You can hear our conversation on The A Bit From Within Podcast, episode “Recognizing the Advocate Within, wherever you get your podcasts, or via the embedded player at the bottom of this post.

More on Stephanie:

Stephanie is a currently (2022) a medical student at Rush Medical College in Chicago, IL, using her M3 clinical year to decide if she’ll pursue Family Medicine, Psychiatry, or a combination of both.

She graduated from the University of Colorado Boulder with a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology, with minors in both leadership and dance.

She has a diverse movement background with a 3rd degree black belt complimenting her dance experience, and she teaches all kinds of movement including zumba, yoga, self defense, and more.

Stephanie’s is a natively bilingual, speaking fluently English and Spanish.

She met her husband their senior year in high school, dated through college, and were married in the summer of 2017 in Estes Park, CO (this actually when I met Stephanie as I was a work friend of her husbands previously and become their wedding photographer!)

Stephanie’s lifelong passions are for health equity, mental health advocacy, and serving who disenfranchised individuals within a community.

The Sometimes Painful Crossroad To Choose Yourself

One of the reasons I was excited for this conversation with Stephanie is because of a very big decision she made last year, one that took an immense amount of resiliency. We touch on this briefly in the podcast, but I think you’ll appreciate even more of this part of her story.

Last year I came upon this post from Stephanie, that struck something inside my heart: the pain of resiliency.

The decision has been made- I will take a personal leave of absence from medical school for the rest of this academic year.
That does NOT mean I am quitting Med School.
It does NOT mean I haven’t worked hard or stopped giving it my all.
It does NOT mean that I don’t belong in Med School.
It does NOT mean I am not smart enough.
It does NOT mean that I am not good enough.
It does NOT mean that I can not become a doctor.
It means that my body can not take it any more.
It means that I need to take a break.
It means that I need to reset, relearn how to breath, and try it a different way.
It means that I have a lot to carry and our bodies can literally only carry so much.
It means that I need to do this a different way, and that is ok.
Taking my own journey means just that – I will take my own path to become a physician.
No one else has lived my life and no one else ever will because each of our lives are unique to our own journey.
So here I am being honest with my reality of needing to take more time to become a physician.
In pain but still alive.
Disappointed but still Resilient.
There is a lot of planning to do- as there always is. A new chapter, a new road, but the end of this chapter is still to be caring for my patients as a physician. It will take me an extra 10 months compared to my peers, but I am not the first. Others have taken leaves before me and more will continue after me.
I will take the time to get grounded, take Step1 when I am truly ready, work a job that is meaningful and will allow us to stay at our current home and eat each day. I will get back to volunteering with CHHRGE and maybe some research opportunities I have toyed around with. Who knows? But right now all I can do is breath and be thankful that I was given this opportunity. I will still continue my medical school path just in a slightly different time frame than the norm. But since when do I follow the norm? ~ June 1, 2021 Stephanie Moss

Even now when I re-read her words I can feel the pain she was feeling, and her incredible determination and strength despite what she felt she was losing. I could only imagine the amount of pressure she had been feeling up to that point, and I was absolutely struck by the brave decision to claim her own path forward- even if it wasn’t a “normal” path. Who gets to do decide that anyway?

I was struck by the incredible opportunity to get to see in real time the vulnerability of taking a leap into the unknown. We often hear those stories in post tense, not living out in front of our eyes. My heart went out to her.

It was then I had to reach out to encourage her and commend her difficult decision. Everything she said in that post was TRUE- she knew she needed the rest and the break, the pain had gotten to be too much, and she was absolutely still deserving of her dream, still belonged, was absolutely good enough; but even then- the fear and doubt that is also there on the surface was 100% natural, and I wanted to be a voice that helped her push beyond the darkness into the power of her decision.

And that is where our conversation picks up, almost a year later. Stephanie share’s more on this from her own perspective, expanding on what brought her to that point and what she discovered about herself during this time off. She speaks to dealing with set backs, coping with anxiety, managing her mental health through med school, and the little and big things she’s done to continue to be an advocate for herself and others through it all.

I know you’ll want to keep following along with Stephanie’s incredible journey to becoming a doctor and a passionate community advocate so please connect with her online, and listen to our conversation below.

Instagram: @medpyscmoss

Website: medpsycmoss.com/

Gain early access to her projects on Patreon: @medpyscmoss

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