The lovely caristeenaaa pointed out this website to me, and I think you should all go and check it out. After all, it’s a parody of the different sorts of pre-med students and who doesn’t enjoy mocking stereotypes?
Up until recently, when introducing myself, I would almost inevitably say Hi, my name is JD and I’m a med student. And then whoever was listening would ask me polite questions about my course and my year and the things that people generally ask about medicine. Even in high school, people knew me as the girl who was going to do medicine (apart from my history teacher, but that’s a long story ending in general and mutual passive-aggressiveness).
It was my crutch. It was something I could talk about no matter what social situation I found myself in, and it was easy to define myself by it. Being a med student comes with a whole series of assumptions (you’re married to your studies, your social skills are severely lacking, you’re super smart, and all that fun stuff).
Barring the intelligence assumption (95% of the med students I know are ridiculously brainy, even if they refuse to admit to it), most of those things aren’t true. Yes, med students study hard, but they’re not just med students. And nor should we only define ourselves by our studies.
I’m not saying don’t be proud of what you’ve achieved. Getting this far is a huge achievement. All I’m saying is that it’s not all that you are. I’m a writer. I’m a really bad dancer. I like to think of myself as an advocate for mental health. Yes, I’m also a med student, but there’s more to me than that.
people you meet in hospital: the stereotypical pathologist.
The pathologist is a bit of a mystery—you know that the hospital has a pathologist (someone has to write the path reports, right?) but you’ve never actually seen him.
Wrong. You have.
He’s the unassuming-but-formally-dressed man scurrying down the hallways, most likely wearing glasses. He’s always in a rush and walks with his head down, a quiet talker who seems almost shy. He’s knowledgeable and will happily answer every single one of your questions (even if they make him rather flustered), but he’s a little… awkward.
(My apologies in advance to any future pathologists I offend. Let me assure you, anyone who can read histology slides is brilliant by default.)
the many faces of med students: the one you eventually fall for.
It’s bound to happen. Spending ten hour days with the same people over and over and over again—you start seeing them differently. Some will have tiny quirks that eventually drive you mad, while you’ll inevitably warm up to others a little too much. There won’t be any distinct turning point; one day there won’t be any awkward feelings, and the next—the next day there is and you can’t get rid of them.
So, what do you do? Do you bite the metaphorical bullet and take a leap of faith, or do you stay quiet and hope that, when you’re no longer spending so much time with the object of your affection, that they simply dissipate as suddenly as they arrived? Or better yet, do you run to the nearest physiotherapist/nurse/pharmacist/consultant/senior medical student and convince yourself that you could never have feelings for a colleague because there are just so many other, more attractive, people in the hospital?
Just remember: for every Elliot and JD, there’s a George and Izzy.
The inexplicable ability to race up four flights of stairs in order to keep up with the consultants on ward rounds, but the inability to climb a flight of regular stairs without getting very short of breath.
A respectable head nod in the corridors from surgeons I’ve met, but who have no recollection of my name or where they met me.
A constantly-changing speciality. (I want to be a psychiatrist! No, I want to be a plastic surgeon! No, I want to do geriatrics! and so forth.)
what i learnt about medicine (and life) from a dirty hipster.
I was at the bus stop today (cool story, bro) and this guy started talking to me, as you do when you’re a sociable fellow with half an hour to spare. He told me about his life, and hitchhiking, and travelling with monkeys in Southern Africa, and swapping booze and party drugs for massages (he’s a qualified masseur, or so he said) at festivals.
Maybe he was making it up. But the important thing is that he’s my age—and I have absolutely no life experience.
So as I sat on the bus going home, I started to wonder why I’ve never wandered out of my comfort zone.
As medical students, fear is ingrained into us. Fear of failure. Fear of not being good enough. Fear of a seemingly inevitable mistake that kills a patient. Fear of getting an answer wrong in front of a consultant. And after a while, that fear creeps out of our work lives and into our personal lives, and we’re struck with this inexplicable anxiety about everything, both inside, and outside of, medicine.
Our lives become a series of milestones by which we procrastinate. I’ll travel when I graduate. I’ll write when the semester is finished. I’ll do all those things I love when medicine is finished. But medicine doesn’t finish. It doesn’t go away once you’ve graduated or finished intern year or entered a surgical training program or you own the hospital. However, your youth does finish.
I’m not saying go and hang with monkeys and catch monkey fleas and do hard drugs. In fact, I would advise NOT doing any of those things. But have fun. Find passions outside of medicine. Hang out with your non-med friends. Do charity work.