So I’m now 1/16th of my way through medical school, 3 months in, our first minibreak, and I wake up to a quick message “Mate, just got your email… how did you end up studying medicine? You are an artist you twat!!!”

So its as good a time as any to reflect on what the hell I’m actually doing.

Things I love:

  • patient contact, particularly in Paediatrics. Maybe I just like talking, but I enjoy spending time with patients and hopefully amusing them for a bit during the boringness that is a hospital stay. They are also a wonderful reminder of what I’m aiming for.
  • the subject is fantastically interesting
  • some of the people are wonderful; teachers, fellow students and patients are just inspiring.

Things I hate:

  • PBL. I used to think it was awesome, but its quickly degenerated into a pissing contest – whoever can dig up the most profound article to make whoever, god forbid, used a textbook, wins. It is now essentially pointless to go and I do more and better on my own and with my studybuddies. However we have recently upped the food stakes and it now saves me lunch monies twice a week.
  • The speed and wishywashiness of the course. There is little direction as to what you need to know, we are told ‘you DO NOT need to know this’ only to find the exact question in a quiz that week.
  • Basic Life Support is taught woefully from my view point, we get 4 hrs spread over a year to learn it.
  • The people. Some of the people are woeful – competitive and arrogant.

I’m trying hard to find a way to lower my expectations – I think I’ve mentioned it before; I’m an awesome teacher, very patient, but for some reason I am totally unforgiving of myself when I’m learning. Rather silly but there it is. So I’m trying hard to let myself make mistakes. I’ve joined a gym and will start teaching dance again soon which is great, and a nice change of pace from the incessant study that Med school seems to entail.

Its very much a up and down thing, some days I find myself loving every second of it, other days, I’m pining for the fjords or such. I haven’t had a chance to be creative for ages (though wasted a bit of time modelling the optics of urine for the above picture) I miss the thrill of coming up with new ideas, of moving and the excitement of performing. But other days I’m just stoked to be learning so much, seeing the nobility of some patients, appreciating the depth of inequity there is in health.

Its certainly tough, depression and even suicide are sadly not as rare as we’d like, and we know of cases even just recently, and we try to just look out for each other just that little bit more. Its easy to to feel overwhelmed, and pride and all the stupid things that goes along with that stops people from getting help. It doesn’t help that lecturers say that only people who have mental and other problems drop out – the stigma for not coping is, in my opinion, not a helpful thing.

I don’t have any neat wrapping up sort of remarks a’la J.D. It’s not what I expected. Its even more study than I anticipated, and I was anticipating a lot, its far far scarier and humiliating than I though – mistakes are pounced on, unknown knowledge is mocked, everyone is constantly ranking themselves, even to the point of suggesting that others ought not to be there. But on the positive, some people are remarkably generous helping each other out, patients show immense grace with our fumbling, nurses and dr’s indulge our hovering presence. Its harder than anything I’ve ever done, and while it is like pushing runny shit up a hill, the occasional moment of clarity, of humanity makes it seem do-able.

For the record, I’m still an artist.

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