Dear Medical Student: Med School Is Not Worth Your Self-Harm


A while ago this secret appeared on PostSecret:

“Medical School made me self harm. It better be worth it.”

It made me sad then, as it does now, but I deferred writing about it because… I don’t know why.

An event at my alma mater this past weekend – that I don’t really feel like talking about right now – made me think of it again.

I wish I could say I don’t know what this student was feeling when they wrote their secret. But oh, I do.

I know how unwelcoming the world of medicine can be.

How traumatic.

And how uncaring those who are meant to be your mentors can be.

Medicine is a dog-eat-dog world. We eat our young, and we starve them to such hunger that they start to tear into one another.

Dear Medical Student: medical school is worth a lot of things. I can tell you that because I went from hating medical school to loving being a doctor (well, on most days).

But it’s not worth that.

Medical School is not worthy of your self-destruction.

Nothing will ever be – not art and not science and certainly not the practice of healing.

I’m sorry. I am sorry because that realisation in itself can be earth-shattering.

When you start working as a doctor, you may find that you love it. You may find that the long hours of studying were worth it. That missing parties was worth it. That having shorter holidays was worth it.

But self-harm? Self-harm will not be worth it. Not in this profession, and not in any other.

If medicine – or whatever you are pursuing – is driving you to self-harm, something is wrong. It may be a number of things, but whatever it is, it needs to be addressed. Resolving it is the biggest gift you can give yourself.

Dear Student (ANY student): You are far too valuable for this. 


  1. That Tiny Giant says:

    Thank you for posting this:)

  2. Nancy Ackelson says:

    Beautiful and knowing and caring. Just like you Mariechen. Thank you,


  3. Nadia says:

    Timely post. I think many of us need to hear this as exams creep up on us. Thank you ♥

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