Thoughts and insights from medical students
Surviving Medicine: How We Do It – Part 1
Most dictionaries define medical school as a “college or university where people study to become doctors”. To me this definition appears incomplete. There is a certain depth to medical schools; a volume to the experience, a symphony to its existence and a particular pain on this one way road to becoming somebody exceptional.
To me, medical school is like a race across an antique corridor of architectural brilliance. Each brick resembles a particular moment in medical history. The windows stand tall and narrow and the ceiling goes on forever, gradually becoming darker and more mysterious. A pessimist is left to imagine lingering bats, an optimist thinks it resembles a room needing improvement, and a pragmatist sets about making discoveries and contributions to fill the limitless, ever inviting spaces of Science. And at the end of this very long corridor is a door which opens out onto the possibilities after medical school.
At the other end is a lineup of fresh faced and naïve medics. Some of them are warming up for the race, while others are too busy admiring the building’s architecture. There are also those who are biting their lips absent mindedly, yearning to be in a completely different place. Along the corridor are our teachers, mentors: the people who can build you up or take you down. This corridor is “four years long”.
These outwardly calm medics are swimming in a myriad of thoughts. An auditory chaos. Will I make it through? Will I lose my love for Medicine? Is this how I want to plan my life? Will I lose my creativity? Can I strike a balance? What sacrifices should I make? The questions are endless, but so are the possibilities.
The race begins at the crack of a gunshot. Some medics drop from the sheer unexpected sound of it and pick themselves up; they weren’t prepared to turn into athletes so fast. The rest are running as hard as their peripheral hearts will let them, while others jog or stop by bricks to admire the history of Medicine. Some race at breakneck speeds because they think that if they stop they won’t be able to handle the disappointment. And some never run; they simply walk because either they never wanted to go to medschool or are able to enjoy every moment whilst still acing all their tests.
Year 1 has definitely started with a bang. Some students feign narcolepsy just at the sheer mention of Anatomy. Then there are the neurobiology kids splaying themselves out like the homunculus over the subject trying desperately to make sense of the wiring system in the human body. But, this course is like quantum physics: either you get it or you don’t.
Also, don’t forget the complimentary side dishes that nobody orders but are still served with the main course of the core sciences. To some, PBL is an afternoon of playing pretend and to others it is a stepping stone to developing clinical dialogue and critical thinking. Psychopathology -unwittingly shoved into the afternoon hours- serves as a snooze spot for some drained medics, while others -usually those with a poetic streak- savor this time spent looking into the enigma of the human mind. Physiology is an instant hit with most medics, reassuring them that they’ve applied to the right place, while biochemistry just about snuffs out the eager fire in others.
By the end of year 1, most medics have worn out their running shoes, some taking them off for good, while others look into buying sturdier ones so that they can be more prepared next time. A few medics have tripped over undone shoelaces and broken a couple of bones; nothing that cannot be fixed with additional work. They get patched up over the summer and are sent on their way. One down, three to go.
-to be continued