Foot Fetish

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Does being an introvert make it tougher to succeed in medical school? The thought of meeting new people sends a chill down my spine. Unlike some introverts who love to point out that they are paradoxically outgoing, I'm simply not. I'm shy. I can force myself to speak up, but it feels like I'm dying on the inside when I do so. For example, I become very tachycardic when asking a question in class, and I need to mentally rehearse it before I speak. I like to think the end result is rather convincing, but it really drains me. Can a person like me survive medical school? (I'm accepted btw)

My dream is to go into diagnostic radiology and tailor my practice so that I can just read films all day with minimal human contact, and I know I'll be able to breathe a big sigh of relief when that day comes...but that's about 10 years away, and I'm getting the sinking feeling that there's going to be a lot of uncomfortable forced social interaction between now and then...
 

mcatjelly

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Just wanted to chime in that I'm the same way. I have two sets of friend groups that I'm super comfortable with, but in general socializing is very draining. And forget speaking or answering questions in class--I also had to pre-prepare what I was going to say if I anticipated being called on, and even then it took the rest of the class to relax haha.
 

Goro

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No, but why on earth go into a profession that is a service profession dependent upon meeting new people??? And please don't think you're going to waltz into a radiology or pathology .

If you don't overcome your fears, how are you going to deal with standardized patients?

Does being an introvert make it tougher to succeed in medical school? The thought of meeting new people sends a chill down my spine. Unlike some introverts who love to point out that they are paradoxically outgoing, I'm simply not. I'm shy. I can force myself to speak up, but it feels like I'm dying on the inside when I do so. For example, I become very tachycardic when asking a question in class, and I need to mentally rehearse it before I speak. I like to think the end result is rather convincing, but it really drains me. Can a person like me survive medical school? (I'm accepted btw)

My dream is to go into diagnostic radiology and tailor my practice so that I can just read films all day with minimal human contact, and I know I'll be able to breathe a big sigh of relief when that day comes...but that's about 10 years away, and I'm getting the sinking feeling that there's going to be a lot of uncomfortable forced social interaction between now and then...
 

.hematoma.

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No, but why on earth go into a profession that is a service profession dependent upon meeting new people??? And please don't think you're going to waltz into a radiology or pathology .

If you don't overcome your fears, how are you going to deal with standardized patients?
You learn how to overcome those fears during medical school; you don't go to medical school just for the knowledge. OP as you practice on more and more standardized patients, you'll definitely develop better speaking skills. Honestly, so many classmates I know struggled with talking with patients, from what I hear it's an art that takes time to develop!
 

ABatOutofHeck

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It can absolutely be done! I too am a classical introvert, and I'm thriving in internal medicine, one of the more heavy patient interaction specialties. I still get tachycardia when I'm called on in report and become a bumbling klutz who trips over my words, but patient encounters are no problem.

First of all, social interaction, like anything else, is a learned skill, and you will get extensive training and practice in all the aspects of a patient encounter, from history taking to breaking bad news to counseling around decision making. These are not skills that come naturally to anyone, introvert or extrovert. Approaching these medical skills as something you need to practice to be comfortable with might actually leave better equipped than your colleagues who assume they can just do them.

Second, you might find that you're actually well suited to patient encounters. Think about it: it's a social interaction in which you're expected to be listening and is most emphatically, not about you. Doctors get rated higher when they focus more on the patient, interrupt less, ask open-ended questions, express empathy, etc. I imagine you'll find, like many introverts, these are things you can handle very well - it's likely the role you're used to playing in social interactions.
 

Autopsy101

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In both diagnostic radiology and pathology there is a lot of interaction with your colleagues in other specialties. We are always on the phone calling unexpected results and talking to other doctors and nurses. The doctors and other members of the clinical teams pop by your office unexpectedly and ask to review films or slides on their patients with you. Depending on your practice setting, there are many presentations that you are expected to make including tumor boards, grand rounds, and m&m conferences. In pathology the joke is: What is your best diagnostic tool? The telephone - pick it up and call the clinician. I am sure that it is also dangerous to read films in a vacuum without interaction with the clinical doctors as well.
 

Stagg737

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Does being an introvert make it tougher to succeed in medical school? The thought of meeting new people sends a chill down my spine. Unlike some introverts who love to point out that they are paradoxically outgoing, I'm simply not. I'm shy. I can force myself to speak up, but it feels like I'm dying on the inside when I do so. For example, I become very tachycardic when asking a question in class, and I need to mentally rehearse it before I speak. I like to think the end result is rather convincing, but it really drains me. Can a person like me survive medical school? (I'm accepted btw)

My dream is to go into diagnostic radiology and tailor my practice so that I can just read films all day with minimal human contact, and I know I'll be able to breathe a big sigh of relief when that day comes...but that's about 10 years away, and I'm getting the sinking feeling that there's going to be a lot of uncomfortable forced social interaction between now and then...
Yes, it's very possible. I'm one of the "paradoxical introverts" you mentioned who likes heavy social interaction in small doses but generally prefers hanging out with a small group at a local dive or just hanging at someone's house/apartment and watching a movie or something. The more you get immersed in medicine and the day-to-day of it, the easier it gets. Yes, it'll be more challenging for you than natural extroverts, but thousands of introverts have done it before you.

The one thing I will say is that the bolded makes it sound like there could be a little more to your issue than just introversion though, like there may be a social anxiety component or something like that mixed in there. If you know that the social interactions are going to take a toll on you, set up a meeting with your school counselor early just to get to know him/her and see if they have any tips to help you deal with those moments. It's also a good way to meet them in case something happens and you really need to talk to one of them later in the year.
 

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Rotations are going to be a bit painful for you. Being super introverted might make 3rd year a little rougher, but it probably won't have any meaningful impact on your career.
 
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Foot Fetish

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The one thing I will say is that the bolded makes it sound like there could be a little more to your issue than just introversion though, like there may be a social anxiety component or something like that mixed in there.
I do have a diagnosis of GAD actually. I'm not on any medication for it though as I prefer not to be.
 
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Foot Fetish

Foot Fetish

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CBT is actually a more preferred first line for GAD anyway. Have you ever tried a short course of therapy? I also have struggled with anxiety and have found it very helpful.
I don't think I'm very amenable to therapy for some reason. I tried a couple sessions with a psychologist, but I didn't find it helpful.
 
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I don't think I'm very amenable to therapy for some reason. I tried a couple sessions with a psychologist, but I didn't find it helpful.
You do have to mesh with your therapist. I tried the therapist offered by my school for free and it was TERRIBLE! To the point where I almost flipped him off and walked out. Many other students at my school have felt similarly. Then I tried a different woman and it was incredibly helpful. I want to do psych, I am all for medications when they are required but I understand your desire to manage without medications as well, I feel the same for myself. However, nothing that is going to help is going to be entirely in your comfort zone and staying in your comfort zone isn't going to help you be more comfortable socially so I would suggest trying a couple of different therapists.
 

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I just started M1 as an introvert and its been fine if you are truly comfortable with the thought of being classified as a weirdo and don't really care. I went through orientation not actively avoiding people/conversations, but not actively seeking them either. The first few weeks, most people jockey socially and feel each other out and form their groups. I was polite to people and amicable but didn't try to form a connection with anyone because its not what I'm looking for, and its been fine. At least at my school, as people stratify themselves they will tend to stop exchanging pleassantries you, partly because you're not in their group and partly because there aren't that many "lone wolves" and the other kids think you're weird for not wanting to make friends. Almost everyone has a categorization, from the attractive mostly white crowd (which I'm sure has its own subgroups), to the huge group of brown kids (again, probably has its own subgroups), "other" (not hot, they just exist - the worker bees of the colony) you have the kids that are generally all-around annoying (typically composed of try-hard social rejects who bury themselves in schoolwork to ease their pain), and then a few lone wolves. All good.
 
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Goro

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Not everyone gels with a therapist. Try a different one.

I don't think I'm very amenable to therapy for some reason. I tried a couple sessions with a psychologist, but I didn't find it helpful.
 
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You're going to be called on a lot in class, labs, rotations, etc. I really hope you'll be able to learn to deal with it because med school is going to be even more painful for you otherwise. It's 10x worse when you don't know the answer to something though so at least know your stuff lol
 

Syncrohnize

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Does being an introvert make it tougher to succeed in medical school? The thought of meeting new people sends a chill down my spine. Unlike some introverts who love to point out that they are paradoxically outgoing, I'm simply not. I'm shy. I can force myself to speak up, but it feels like I'm dying on the inside when I do so. For example, I become very tachycardic when asking a question in class, and I need to mentally rehearse it before I speak. I like to think the end result is rather convincing, but it really drains me. Can a person like me survive medical school? (I'm accepted btw)

My dream is to go into diagnostic radiology and tailor my practice so that I can just read films all day with minimal human contact, and I know I'll be able to breathe a big sigh of relief when that day comes...but that's about 10 years away, and I'm getting the sinking feeling that there's going to be a lot of uncomfortable forced social interaction between now and then...
Hey man, from this as well as your previous posts, it seems like you have a bit of what i call a anxiety-overcompensation cycle going. While being an introvert is great (I'm one too), you can't just keep calling yourself that and use it to rationalize stuff like having your heart race when asking a simple question. I can't imagine that's very fun, is it? :/ Also, you can't just bottle up your feelings and be a super hard gunner and avoid friendships like you alluded to in a previous thread. It's not just for your profession..:I get the feeling that if you sought help (doesn't have to be clinical either because I can see you're not really thrilled about that, there are plenty of great books out there that work perfectly from introverts), you can really change yourself and (I think) be a happier person.


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You'll be fine. I'm a classic introvert (as in I need quite a bit of alone time) and I'm shy on top of that (being introverted and shy are not the same thing by the way, though they often co-occur) + I speak with an accent and occasionally get self conscious about it (though I've never had difficulty communicating with anyone; my accent is more a personal quirk than an impediment to communication). I was terrified when I first started on the wards, but now half way through my core rotations I'm actually surprisingly comfortable communicating with patients - moreover, my patient interaction skills are consistently mentioned as one of my best skills on my evals. As was mentioned above, patient interaction is often more about listening empathically than anything else. On top of that, even as a medical student, there is a power differential between you and your patients (I was surprised to find this out myself) which allows you to feel more confident with your patients. And finally, again as was mentioned above, communication is a learned skill and you'll pick it up as you go if you pay attention.
 
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Stagg737

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I do have a diagnosis of GAD actually. I'm not on any medication for it though as I prefer not to be.
Address this sooner rather than later. Med school can be brutal at times and it can absolutely bring out the worst in people, especially when it comes to mental health. I have friends who were completely healthy, no history of mental issues personally or in their family, who developed severe anxiety or depression in med school and had major problems occur (failing classes, having to repeat a year, even dropping out). I'm not saying any of those things are going to happen to you, but the best way to help yourself is to own up to the issues as soon as you recognize them and be proactive about it. Do NOT just suppress it and hope that it will work itself out, because in med school it won't.

As others have said, see what your school counselor is like. If you don't like them or don't mesh with them then look for either another professional or a faculty member you connect with and think would be understanding. Idk how other schools are, but there are multiple people in my schools admin and faculty that are extremely supportive of our students. Some to the point that they're like a mom-away-from-home for some students. Bottom line is just to be self-aware and proactive with your mental health and you should be able to succeed just fine.
 
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In both diagnostic radiology and pathology there is a lot of interaction with your colleagues in other specialties. We are always on the phone calling unexpected results and talking to other doctors and nurses. The doctors and other members of the clinical teams pop by your office unexpectedly and ask to review films or slides on their patients with you. Depending on your practice setting, there are many presentations that you are expected to make including tumor boards, grand rounds, and m&m conferences. In pathology the joke is: What is your best diagnostic tool? The telephone - pick it up and call the clinician. I am sure that it is also dangerous to read films in a vacuum without interaction with the clinical doctors as well.
I agree 100%. I am a hematopathologist and an INFP. I work face to face with oncologists every day I am on service. You have to put your "game face" on and get the work done. I am also the Associate Dean of Admissions and that involves a LOT face to face interaction. Same applies there. It is a skill like any other.
 
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echidna001

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One of our first "professionalism" lectures went over the different personality types you'll encounter in medicine and sure enough, introvert was on there! It takes all types of people working together to come to the best solution. I'm quite introverted and only one week in, but so far I've found the following. I'm fine when it's "organized"/"required" interaction - SP's, working in small groups during an activity, talking to people at a group meeting. However, too much interaction gets draining very quickly. I tend to study alone, eat alone (I also enjoy running alone which is a really fabulous way to escape in your own head for a moment).

Orientation week was actually far more exhausting for me, even though this first week has been a bit of an information overload. I think as long as you realize who you are, accept that and realize your limitations, you'll be fine. I was pushed to do every social thing under the sun orientation week (which I tried for a day and it nearly killed me inside) so I made a compromise to partake in events that sounded fun while avoiding others. This worked much better and I was able to socialize well by giving myself "breaks" in the human interaction. I don't think I'll make as many friends but I am slowly locating people with similar interests. The big thing I'm worried about is how I'll be perceived by residents once I start clinical rotations and my lack of networking skills when it comes to getting into residency. But I'll cross that bridge when I get there.
 
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Being an introvert helps.

The girlfriend I had in med school was probably the reason I was able to break 260 on the Steps. Would study long hours into the night while she'd go out, then she'd come back at 3am and we'd fall asleep together. Would keep me sane. Allowed me to be my introverted self and not have to go out having perfunctory conversations and wasting time elsewhere.
 
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Syncrohnize

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Being an introvert helps.

The girlfriend I had in med school was probably the reason I was able to break 260 on the Steps. Would study long hours into the night while she'd go out, then she'd come back at 3am and we'd fall asleep together. Would keep me sane. Allowed me to be my introverted self and not have to go out having perfunctory conversations and wasting time elsewhere.
Wow, this sounds awesome!
 
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Being an introvert helps.

The girlfriend I had in med school was probably the reason I was able to break 260 on the Steps. Would study long hours into the night while she'd go out, then she'd come back at 3am and we'd fall asleep together. Would keep me sane. Allowed me to be my introverted self and not have to go out having perfunctory conversations and wasting time elsewhere.
Being an introvert helped me with Step 1 too. I was not sad at all that I completely gave up going out, hanging out with friends, going on weekend trips, going out to eat with people for 6 weeks. Oh wait... I never even did those things in the first place.

Seriously Step 1 dedicated was my dream. Woke up at 7, walked to get coffee and think/mentally plan (mornings are for coffee and contemplation), start work at 9, worked out mid afternoon, studied more, took an afternoon walk for coffee, studied till 9, relaxed 9-11, sleep. Rinse and repeat. I was actually quite happy without BS group projects, simulations, required lectures with interactive components, etc.
 

Phloston

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Being an introvert helped me with Step 1 too. I was not sad at all that I completely gave up going out, hanging out with friends, going on weekend trips, going out to eat with people for 6 weeks. Oh wait... I never even did those things in the first place.

Seriously Step 1 dedicated was my dream. Woke up at 7, walked to get coffee and think/mentally plan (mornings are for coffee and contemplation), start work at 9, worked out mid afternoon, studied more, took an afternoon walk for coffee, studied till 9, relaxed 9-11, sleep. Rinse and repeat. I was actually quite happy without BS group projects, simulations, required lectures with interactive components, etc.
I love this because the second paragraph sounds almost sarcastic but it's not. Medical community is lucky to have people like you 笑
 

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I am more extroverted than introverted, yet I believe patient interaction is a skill that comes with practice and more exposure. Medications are helpful for symptomatic relief if exposure therapy doesn't work. Low-dose propranolol for tachycardia, low-dose ativan for anxiety, topical or oral glycopyrrolate for emotional hyperhidrosis/sweating and so on. You will be fine.
 
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I am more extroverted than introverted, yet I believe patient interaction is a skill that comes with practice and more exposure. Medications are helpful for symptomatic relief if exposure therapy doesn't work. Low-dose propranolol for tachycardia, low-dose ativan for anxiety, topical or oral glycopyrrolate for emotional hyperhidrosis/sweating and so on. You will be fine.
I'm an introvert but I find that I thrive in one on one situations with patients. When I get worked up and sick to my stomach is when I'm being watched talking to or evaluating a patient. This, for me, has been the part where practice is easing the anxiety.


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I'm an introvert but I find that I thrive in one on one situations with patients. When I get worked up and sick to my stomach is when I'm being watched talking to or evaluating a patient. This, for me, has been the part where practice is easing the anxiety.
samsies. i love talking to patients even though i hate talking with people. can get right straight to the point, there's a clear script and finite end points.
 

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I'm an introvert.

I'm so sick of people calling themselves introverts when they are just shy squid-people.

Keep your anxious tentacles to yourself and stop identifying with my group saying that we are somehow weak. You are not us, you are just anxious.

Please read up on the Big 5. Neuroticism is a different modality than introversion/extroversion.
 
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Foot Fetish

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I'm an introvert.

I'm so sick of people calling themselves introverts when they are just shy squid-people.

Keep your anxious tentacles to yourself and stop identifying with my group saying that we are somehow weak. You are not us, you are just anxious.

Please read up on the Big 5. Neuroticism is a different modality than introversion/extroversion.
Being an introvert and being a shy, anxious "squid person" are not mutually exclusive. In fact, I would wager that they are actually often co-morbid. You outgoing """""""introverts""""""" probably represent the minority of introverts, just based on intuition. I'm not saying that most introverts are outright anxious like myself. I admit that I have a pathologic level of anxiety...but still, I think most introverted people tend to be on the shy or "socially reserved" side. Yeah, there are introverts who can fit in seamlessly with extroverts in terms of socialability when they're not in their "recharging away from people phase," but I think these folks are in the minority tbh.
 

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Unlike some introverts who love to point out that they are paradoxically outgoing, I'm simply not. I'm shy. I can force myself to speak up, but it feels like I'm dying on the inside when I do so. For example, I become very tachycardic when asking a question in class, and I need to mentally rehearse it before I speak.
This seems less like a personality trait and more like pathological social anxiety. Have you ever talked to anybody about this?
 
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Being an introvert helps.

The girlfriend I had in med school was probably the reason I was able to break 260 on the Steps. Would study long hours into the night while she'd go out, then she'd come back at 3am and we'd fall asleep together. Would keep me sane. Allowed me to be my introverted self and not have to go out having perfunctory conversations and wasting time elsewhere.
Amen. The summer I took my MCAT I like to say that the only things I did were study and my then-girlfriend.. WOrked out well. Time to line up someone in a year or so when I take the step 1.
 
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Foot Fetish

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This seems less like a personality trait and more like pathological social anxiety. Have you ever talked to anybody about this?
Yeah, I talked to a psychologist, but I did not find it helpful. I know I should probably try another counselor before calling it quits on therapy, as others have suggested itt, but I honestly feel that I am somehow simply not amenable to therapy. It's like I know in my heart, intuitively, that no one can talk me into changing my ways... I might benefit from therapy in conjunction with medicine, but I have an aversion to taking psych medications. I tried an SSRI but DC'd after 3 days, partly because I could not tolerate the side effects (yes, I know that they are supposed to be transient), but moreso because I simply don't like the IDEA of being on mind-altering substances...I know, these are hypocritical thoughts to have for someone who aspires to heal people with medicine and therapy referrals, but I cant help who I am. Believe it or not, I am highly functioning despite my anxiety (which has been diagnosed as GAD actually). I am capable of switching into "outgoing mode" when I need to, and the result is quite effective, but the problem is that it takes an inordinate amount of energy. For some it comes effortlessly, but for me it is merely acting. 1 on 1 interactions are a different story. I can manage those much easier...at the end of the day, though, in true introvert fashion, I do become "peopled out," regardless of the types of interactions I had.

My fiancee is a strong stress reliever for me. She's like my informal therapist lol. Her patience for listening to my neurotic ramblings is amazing, and the fact that she loves and accepts the whole me, eccentricites and all, is a potent anxiolytic for me. I sometimes wonder if I have a touch of avoidant personality disorder since I really crave human affirmation, despite my paradoxical aversion to social interaction.

/madman ramblings
 

Law2Doc

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The problem with the word "introvert" on here is that there's multiple definitions and nobody ever really knows what you are talking about. For example there are people out there that fit the lay definition of "introvert" who cringe and shrink from all social situations who really would do poorly in a people-oriented field. Yet every time someone asks if being an "introvert" would impact medical practice we see 98% of the responses from people who are using the Myers Briggs much looser definition who say "no problem, just because you are an introvert really doesn't mean you don't do well in social settings". But yeah, it kind of does, at least how a lot of people use the word.

So rather than use the word introvert ask what you really mean. Ask "if I hate social situations and just want to work alone at a workstation, can I make it in this field". The answers will be very different because people won't be trying to apply their own liberal uses of the word.
 
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Dr Tony T. Chopper

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Does being an introvert make it tougher to succeed in medical school? The thought of meeting new people sends a chill down my spine. Unlike some introverts who love to point out that they are paradoxically outgoing, I'm simply not. I'm shy. I can force myself to speak up, but it feels like I'm dying on the inside when I do so. For example, I become very tachycardic when asking a question in class, and I need to mentally rehearse it before I speak. I like to think the end result is rather convincing, but it really drains me. Can a person like me survive medical school? (I'm accepted btw)

My dream is to go into diagnostic radiology and tailor my practice so that I can just read films all day with minimal human contact, and I know I'll be able to breathe a big sigh of relief when that day comes...but that's about 10 years away, and I'm getting the sinking feeling that there's going to be a lot of uncomfortable forced social interaction between now and then...
Hey just wanna chime in. I was a shut in during undergrad all four years. I only ever hung out with my roommates and that's it. Ever since med school started, I made a deal with myself to go to every single social event for a week just to see if it will work out. Guess what, I broke out of my shell and am close friends with more people in my first 2 weeks than I've ever had in my life up to this point. The thing is, faking it till you make it is very true here. I forced myself to socialize and molded my personality completely. You can too.
 

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Hey just wanna chime in. I was a shut in during undergrad all four years. I only ever hung out with my roommates and that's it. Ever since med school started, I made a deal with myself to go to every single social event for a week just to see if it will work out. Guess what, I broke out of my shell and am close friends with more people in my first 2 weeks than I've ever had in my life up to this point. The thing is, faking it till you make it is very true here. I forced myself to socialize and molded my personality completely. You can too.
lmao @ you if you think the people you're hanging with in the first 2 weeks are "close friends"
 

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lmao @ you if you think the people you're hanging with in the first 2 weeks are "close friends"
The intimacy of a relationship doesn't always correlate with the amount of time you've known said person. It's more dependent on the extent to which you've opened up to him/her. OP good on you for getting outside of your comfort zone and building relationships - that's what it's all about.
 

Dr Tony T. Chopper

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The intimacy of a relationship doesn't always correlate with the amount of time you've known said person. It's more dependent on the extent to which you've opened up to him/her. OP good on you for getting outside of your comfort zone and building relationships - that's what it's all about.
Thank you. It was an uncomfortable process, but I'm glad I did it. It really helped lift my mood and reduce stress.
 
Jan 11, 2015
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Does being an introvert make it tougher to succeed in medical school? The thought of meeting new people sends a chill down my spine. Unlike some introverts who love to point out that they are paradoxically outgoing, I'm simply not. I'm shy. I can force myself to speak up, but it feels like I'm dying on the inside when I do so. For example, I become very tachycardic when asking a question in class, and I need to mentally rehearse it before I speak. I like to think the end result is rather convincing, but it really drains me. Can a person like me survive medical school? (I'm accepted btw)

My dream is to go into diagnostic radiology and tailor my practice so that I can just read films all day with minimal human contact, and I know I'll be able to breathe a big sigh of relief when that day comes...but that's about 10 years away, and I'm getting the sinking feeling that there's going to be a lot of uncomfortable forced social interaction between now and then...
You're in a profession that is made for extroverts. Even radiologists have to be extroverted. Pathology you can probably get away with being introverted, if not worse.
 
Jan 11, 2015
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Hey just wanna chime in. I was a shut in during undergrad all four years. I only ever hung out with my roommates and that's it. Ever since med school started, I made a deal with myself to go to every single social event for a week just to see if it will work out. Guess what, I broke out of my shell and am close friends with more people in my first 2 weeks than I've ever had in my life up to this point. The thing is, faking it till you make it is very true here. I forced myself to socialize and molded my personality completely. You can too.
I really liked this story. Glad you made so many good friends and didn't isolate yourself!
 
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Syncrohnize

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OP, if you don't want to use the Citalopram or whatever the physician is prescribing you, there are books and experiences you can use to improve yourself. I highly suggest you do that.
 

Law2Doc

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lmao @ you if you think the people you're hanging with in the first 2 weeks are "close friends"
Let the guy have the illusion of friends for however long it lasts. We all know the friends you make in early med school probably won't be your BFFs. People gravitate together early on because everyone is scared of the unknown. But eventually cliques will form or people will hang with those with shared specialty interests and the like.
 

BadgerBadger

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I enjoy talking with my classmates about study material. I enjoy taking histories from patients and creating a differential diagnosis and learning about why I'm wrong while talking with a resident or attending.

However, I absolutely hate small talk. I'd much rather be reading something, studying, or melting my mind watching anime or playing video games. Even if I have 1-2 hours of small-talk conversation, I feel anxious the whole time and afterward it takes me a day or so to recover. That doesn't happen at all while at school or in the clinic, strangely.

My advice is to do what works for you. If you try interacting with your classmates and experience the same thing, there's nothing wrong with you if you can be happy with little to no extraneous social interaction apart from school-related topics.
 
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Dr Tony T. Chopper

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I enjoy talking with my classmates about study material. I enjoy taking histories from patients and creating a differential diagnosis and learning about why I'm wrong while talking with a resident or attending.

However, I absolutely hate small talk. I'd much rather be reading something, studying, or melting my mind watching anime or playing video games. Even if I have 1-2 hours of small-talk conversation, I feel anxious the whole time and afterward it takes me a day or so to recover. That doesn't happen at all while at school or in the clinic, strangely.

My advice is to do what works for you. If you try interacting with your classmates and experience the same thing, there's nothing wrong with you if you can be happy with little to no extraneous social interaction apart from school-related topics.
What about making your patients comfortable with a little small talk?