Medical College of Wisconsin Medical School Medical School

Juggling Lemons

Joanna Bruce

Hi all! I’m Joanna Bruce. I was born and raised in Brookfield, WI, and got my BS in Spanish from UW-Madison (U-rah-rah!). We have just started the second week of the second block of the second semester of our first year of medical school. As I try to process what that actually means, all I can think of is juggling.

joannabruce-1I was on a vacation in Spain just before the start of medical school this past summer. There was a lot of free time, as well as a lemon tree at the house I stayed at, so like any other rational human I decided to pick up juggling. I learned fairly quickly that you cannot simply keep your eyes on all the lemons at all times. Inevitably, you might forget about one lemon, which means you drop it, which means you try to grab it, which means you forget about the other ones and end up dropping them all. With practice, I discovered how evenly-divided attention keeps everything in the air at the same time. And as I got better, I was even able to stay composed enough when the occasional lemon strayed from my concentration to bring it back to center.

Starting medical school is like going from a comfortable pace of juggling just three lemons to suddenly juggling eight. And instead of getting them fed into your hands at a manageable pace, they’re all thrown at you at once. Like any other major life adjustment, medical school takes you from juggling family, friends, and your own personal responsibilities, to adding new responsibilities (like classes), new hopes, new expectations, new friends, new dynamics with family and “old” friends, and what seems like many other changes.

I know I’m not the only one who has ended up dropping one or more (or all) of these at one point or another since starting medical school. And I know I’ve gradually gotten better at juggling life, even though there are times when certain things escape my notice and I nearly drop everything. But I have been blessed by my family, my classmates/friends, the wonderful staff we have here at MCW-Green Bay, and our amazing community. They are the support that has encouraged me to stay focused on the actual juggling process, rather than on any individual “lemon”.