The musings of a fourth year English medical student

Friday, 17 June 2016

MEDICINE CULTURE

If I ask any of my friends how they are, I'm pretty sure the answer will be "Stressed". It's two weeks until my written exams and everyone is feeling the pressure. Most of us are having mini melt downs at this point. We have good days where we enjoy the subject revision, and other days where a mate may bring up a disease that you haven't gone over. Your heart sinks and you think: "I'm still not ready".

The trouble is we're only in our second year of medical school. We have many more exams of greater importance still to come: finals, SJTs, MRCPs etc. Plus, we will be revising for those whilst spending more and more time in the hospital rather than in the library.  Some of those exams will cost us £500 per attempt. 

Sadly I have met many medical students, junior doctors and consultants who are unhappy; who are drained, frustrated and fatigued. 

As much as I want to be a doctor, I don't want my profession to be my life. I don't want to spend a career fraught with anxiety and feeling as if I'm missing out on The Real World. 

I am trying to find a balance between revising well and enjoying life. However, I feel guilty any time I'm not in the library going over my notes. I am trying my best to find this infamous 'work-life balance'. 

I don't want medicine to be a vocation filled with negativity. Recently there have been junior doctor contract threats and the suicide of Dr Rose Polge, a junior doctor working in Devon who allegedly left a message to Jeremy Hunt in her suicide letter. A career is not worth a life. A career that is based around helping others and caring for others, seems ironic that the doctors themselves are not being cared for. 



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Monday, 6 June 2016

CONFIDENCE

Today is June 6 2016 and tomorrow is my first OSCE examination at medical school. 

I haven't felt able to write recently and I'm not sure why. My mind feels like it is racing at a hundred miles an hour. I have sat in front of my laptop lots of times, trying to type out my feelings and write something humorous and entertaining, but it has felt impossible. 

I have been working hard, but it doesn't feel like it is enough. I feel inadequate. Medicine is a vocation I have wanted to pursue for a long time, and I still do. This year has simultaneously made me question my reasons to do it, as well as reaffirm my passion to become a doctor. I've had doctors make me feel rubbish and others who praise my skills, and told me I will be a valuable contribution to the profession. 

Failure is not something I am used to, and I suppose that goes for most medical students. I don't think I can put into words how scared I am of failing this year. I failed both of my written exams last year and retook them. It honestly pains me to admit that. Fortunately I had approved mitigating circumstances and was allowed to do the retake. Somehow a year has rolled by, and I am in the thick of revision and filling out mitigating circumstances forms. 

Doing that retake last year was the biggest shock. I was at my lowest. But when I found out I had passed, and in the top quartile, I literally screamed with joy. At that moment I told myself I would never get into that position again, I am never going through the miserable process of doing retakes, not to mention the embarrassment. A year later, I don't know if I have done enough. 

I know that I have worked much harder this year, but that isn't difficult when I think of how little I did in my first year. Now that I am even more passionate about medicine, it hurts even more to think that I am not good enough. It feels horrible. I try to take the advice I give my peers: that I wouldn't have been put on this course if I wasn't capable of completing it. But it can be very hard to take your own advice, and we often are our worst critics. 

I really hope that I don't feel like this in the run up to every medical school exam. If I am dedicating so much of my life to medicine, I don't want it to take away my self-esteem and confidence in the process. I hope that at some point I will feel more comfortable and accepting of the challenges put in front of me, and that I will relish them like I used to before beginning uni. As much as I want more than anything to be a doctor, I'm not prepared for it to take away my happiness or sanity. 




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