You know you’re a med student when eight pm rolls around and you’re trying to justify going to bed.
Sleep would be incredible right about now.
Oh, wow. I hope you’re okay!
But this is precisely why I would consider being a plastic surgeon. It’s all about finesse, it’s lovely and clean work, and you do make a difference to people. They might not save your life per se (unless you have necrotising fasciitis, but I really hope that no one out there ever gets that), but they can repair your nerves and your joints and return you to a level of function very close to what you were prior to surgery. And they put so much effort into making it look like you never had surgery.
Thanks for sharing your experience, and best of luck with your studies!
The best thing about senior doctors is that they can afford to shout everyone coffee. And who doesn’t love free coffee?
- Me: I keep getting bruises all the time... I must have leukaemia. That's the only possible diagnosis.
- Mom: At least we know you don't have haemophilia.
- Me: Unless I had some really messed-up genetics...
- Mom: You could call it HERmophilia!
Blue. I wish they were pink.
I do indeed go to med school. (:
As for the future, I’m really not sure. I like patient contact too much to fully commit myself to surgery, but I don’t like patient contact enough to commit myself to medicine (and medicine seems hard).
I was told by a registrar (or the registrar was telling someone else and I overheard) not to pick a specialty too early, lest you lose your fascination for it.
But plastic surgery seems fun. It’s all about finesse, and it makes sense. And I’ve always enjoying sewing and needlepoint, so perhaps that might be the path I take.
…and that was a very convoluted answer to a simple question.
Answer questions incorrectly. Say stupid, ridiculous ideas in your PBLs. Be willing to make a fool of yourself. Volunteer to take the patient notes and be corrected a million times by your seniors. Confuse osteoporosis and osteopaenia.
Every mistake you make now is one less mistake you make when you’re actually a doctor and when your decisions actually matter. We learn from our mistakes.
So many questions!
Firstly (and this made me laugh), I’m not Mrs. Med Student. In fact, I’m not even remotely close to married.
As for credentials—I’m currently in my clinical years in Victoria, and becoming more and more undecided about my specialty as the year progresses. I was going to do psych, and then plastics, and now I’m really liking general medicine because of all the patient contact… I’ve safely ruled out general surgery though. Never going to do that.
And scrubbed in in first year? That’s insane. I was just happy to get into a pair of scrubs in first year. (And I honestly thought it was the coolest thing ever. I FELT LIKE A REAL DOCTOR. And now, since “assisting” in theatre a few times, I laugh at how naive I was.)
Thirty contact hours a week. Constant exposure to infectious disease. Hours spent walking on ward rounds, holding charts and trying to stay out of the consultant’s way. Coming to terms with the words “terminal illness” and “palliative care”.
But we do it anyway. We study hard and go to hospitals and then spend more time studying.
Because it’s worth it. It’s worth it to make a patient, despite their illness and poor prognosis, smile. It’s worth it when you hear the woman that just attempted suicide say that she’s grateful to be alive. It’s worth it because sometimes, as corny as it is, in the midst of illness, the best of people emerges.
And that’s why we do this.
Can you imagine waking up one day and being completely short of breath, unable to even walk to the bathroom without gasping for air?
Can you imagine being a young woman in the prime of her life, suddenly crippled by a stroke and being stranded in hospital for indefinite periods of time?
Can you imagine finding yourself alone in a hospital with no family and friends to visit you, and only the walls to keep you company day in and day out for weeks, maybe months?
Can you imagine being so depressed and so unhappy that something inside you drives you to swallow paracetamol tablet after paracetamol tablet, not caring for the consequences?
Being privileged enough to meet these patients has made me realise that it’s not good enough to simply be grateful to be alive—we should be thankful for the ability to live our lives.
Seven-thirty am ward rounds. The perfect excuse to rock up to hospital bleary-eyed and in your least formal formal clothing, all while clutching a cup of coffee to your chest and praying that you remembered to brush your hair and your teeth before leaving for the hospital.
Unless you’re the sharply dressed med student that always (regardless of time, place, or rotation) makes sure that they’re properly attired in the most stylish clothing. This med student is also particularly coordinated (because what’s the point in looking good if you’re just going to get sprayed with various bodily fluids, or spill hot chocolate all down your front?). They’re the epitome of “dress to impress” and yes, we’re just jealous that even after spending an hour in the mirror, we’re still not as stylish as the sharply dressed one.
When you have a day off and your first thought is “maybe I should go to the hospital and try and clerk a few more patients instead.”
Number one: any medical-based television show.
In hospital, elevators aren’t actually magical places where you find yourself stranded with your hush-hush lover. Staircases are not the hallways of deep and meaningful conversations. Your seniors, no matter how attractive you are, will not enjoy your romantic inclinations. Surgeons do not form empathetic relationships with their patients, and they do not form bromances with physicians. Surgery almost always goes to plan. Consultants rarely yell at interns, and if they do, it’s never in a very creative way.
And it’s never lupus. It’s always lower-lobe-pneumonia-with-complications-of-diabetes-presenting-on-a-background-of-COPD-and-CCF-and-ARF-on-CRF-with-hypertension-and-IHD.
Her lecture notes are enough to induce an epileptic fit, they’re that colourful. And every single word on the page is highlighted—in three colours, no less. Instead of a pen, she carries around her favourite highlighter attached proudly to her ID badge. Her love affair with the adorable doesn’t cease with raindow-adorned papers, though—her list contains smiley faces next to her favourite patients, and her exclamation marks are dotted with love hearts.
As lame as it may be, the highlighter addict brightens up everyone’s day, literally and metaphorically. After all, there’s no problem that fluorescent colours can’t solve.
Ward rounds are over, and you’re studying in the common room (read: surfing YouTube and watching parodies that aren’t really contributing to your studies at all). Do you know who isn’t in the common room? The proactive one. They’re off clerking patients, cannulating patients, catheterising patients, or, if nothing else, they’re actually studying (most likely in the library, away from the internet). They have boundless energy and a complete, enduring love for medicine, and they want nothing more than to be the best doctor ever.
The proactive med student is rather admirable, really. And they’re going to be top of the class come clinical exam time.
Next time you’re on the wards and you want something to do, go talk to a patient. No, don’t take a history or perform an examination, actually talk to them.
They will tell you everything you need to know about being a good doctor. Learn from the mistakes that other doctors have made with them. Ask them what they want from health care.
For some people, all they want is to be heard.
Interesting question, anonymous.
I will say this upfront: I don’t want to have a family because I’m scared that it will interfere with my career, amidst other reasons. But that’s my personal choice, and in five years, it’ll probably have changed more than once.
That being said, I do believe that you can have both. My favourite surgical registrar/idol has an amazing career and a happy family. In fact, most of the surgeons I know maintain some semblance of a relationship outside of work. The same notion applies to physicians as well, now that I think about it.
Personally (and I have no evidence, empirical or otherwise, to back this up), I think it’s easier to have a family as you move higher up in the medical chain. I couldn’t imagine the stress of being an intern and assuming responsibility for patients for the first time, working 55-hour weeks, and managing the responsibilities of a family.
I don’t think you have to make a choice, but you will have to make sacrifices along the way. That’s the take-home message.
Never be rude to anyone. It’s okay not to like someone, but a good attitude and a simple “good morning” in the common room goes a long way.
Remember: the people you meet in hospital now will be your colleagues in ten years’ time. Respect that.
“Never forget that patients are real people and not just part of your job”
Advice received from a cardio patient.
I just went and looked up what in OP1 actually means (we use numbers in Victoria, so I’m making the assumption that you’re from interstate). For those who don’t know, OP1 means an ENTER/ATAR/UAI of 99.00.
Let me give you the good news: this is completely untrue. Yes, having a high score will give you an advantage, but it’s not necessary in order to get into medical school. Your high school score generally counts for 25%-33% of your overall “admission” score, and you will find that most universities now value the interview (which supposedly demonstrates your ability to communicate) over your final score and your UMAT score.
The bad news? Some schools will not accept you with a low OP, and you may have to travel interstate or consider post-grad studies. However, don’t let that dishearten you. Yes, you do have to be smart to get into medicine, but that’s not the most important thing. You need to be passionnate about medicine, you need to want to do this, and honestly? You need to demonstrate that you’re a good person who wants to do medicine for the “right” reasons and that you have empathy.
Conclusion: work hard at your studies, but don’t give up yet. Also, as an aside, study for the UMAT. A lot of schools will only consider you for an interview if you attain >93rd percentile on the UMAT. Furthermore, (and this is the stuff that you don’t get told) have a life outside of medicine. Volunteer. Play sport. Participate in theatre. Do something that makes you genuinely happy. Not only will it help you get into medicine (they want you to say this in the interview), it’s good for the soul.
I hope this helps. (:
Oooh, am I ambiguously gendered here? But, for the record, I’m female.