The musings of a final year medical student

Sunday, 12 April 2015


I've realised something today. Right now, at the very beginning of my medical career I am posed with two options: to work as hard as possible for the next 10+ years in order to get to the best hospitals/GP practices, or do what I've always done, to work as hard as is necessary in order to pass each exam but not to particularly excel. That is, I have the decision to compete and be a busy city doctor or perhaps even move into respectable medical journalism/research/regulatory sectors relating to national governance. Alternatively, I can 'settle' (if you can even call it that) on choosing easier options, working in less competitive regions. I suppose I've described it in quite a black and white way, and maybe it isn't that simple.

The way I see it is, if I want to leave medical school and do my FY1/FY2 in popular deaneries, such as in central London, the grades and actions and activities I start doing now will affect that. I forgot that once you get to medical school, the competition doesn't stop there. You've got to continue to compete, only this time it is far more cruel. The range of intelligence is more narrow; everyone is so much more ambitious and driven.

Most of my mates know that UCL Medical School was my first choice and Liverpool School of Medicine was my insurance. London has always been a place I have dreamt of, and I loved the idea of living there when I'm young, as I cannot imagine settling down in such a frantic city. I'm from a very rural area but we have family in London and visit all the time. London is my favourite place in the world and it would be a real treat to get to work in such an exciting and fizzing place. 

I don't yet know what speciality I want to do, but for some reason I feel a compulsion to confound expectation. What I'm not sure is whether I'm secretly hoping to confound my own expectations of myself, or the expectations that others have of me. A very silly and sad part of me doesn't want to take the easiest route when I could prove that I can do so much more. 

Currently, the process of getting FY1/FY2 jobs takes into account finals results, SJT results, but also things like intercalated degrees, PhDs and publishing research. In order to gain these points it means choosing now to do well and be academically strong enough for eligibility for these other opportunities.

To be fair, I'm sure older medics will read this and think it's not a case of work hard or not work hard, medical school is bloody difficult and you should be lucky to pass - focus on that rather than anything else!

Right now I'm thinking it's best to keep my options open so that there are more opportunities available, even if I don't pursue them. At the end of the day, will it be all worth it?


1 comment

  1. I'm in my fourth year of medical school and still wrangling with these thoughts! On the one hand, I'd love to go to a London deanery - NW Thames is home and it would be a nice way to settle into working life, having family nearby. It would be great to reach the top of the field I want to go into and be really high up and make huge achievements. On the other hand, medicine isn't the be-all-and-end-all of my life. I want time for a family, for pets, for other activities... And perhaps another deanery would offer a pace of life that suits me better than inner city. After all, I might be from outer London but I do prefer the countryside!
    I have days where I feel like I should push myself to work harder, especially this year because this is the one with the biggest influence of my end of degree ranking. But I think really it's more important to balance everything out, take time to actually enjoy the course and look after myself and just see where life goes. I'm sitting comfortably in upper-middle of my year right now. I want to go into either psychiatry or primary care - both areas absolutely desperate for doctors. I would suggest just work at a level that feels comfortable to you - certainly be ambitious and work hard, but don't push past your limits. Medical school is a marathon not a sprint. And what will be, will be. Good luck!
    Jennifer x
    Ginevrella | Lifestyle Blog


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