The musings of a fourth year English medical student

Sunday, 15 January 2017

BE A BETTER PERSON



Studying medicine is weird. I don't think anything could have prepared me for what it truly is like. However, I feel that this year has really taught me a lot about people. 

When I wrote my application to medical school, the first line read: "To me, a career in medicine means setting myself up for lifelong evolution, both academically and emotionally." I wrote that aged 17, hoping to sound clever and grab the attention of the universities. I thought I knew what I meant by that statement, but four years on I feel that it couldn't be any more true.

Each year in medical school I feel like I have worked harder than I have ever before. It seems normal to memorise extensive pathways and complexities of disease. You have to be good at maths, eloquent in your essays, have an extensive memory and damn good spelling. Aside from the academia, you have to understand people. You have to learn to interpret their body language, nuances in their facial expression, comprehend various dialects and thick accents. Every history you take is different - some questions you can openly ask, others you have to word as gently as you can.

It's not just the patients you have to win over, but your colleagues, too. Some people can really test you. Some people are downright rude. Others will do things differently to how you would like it to be done. Learning to say nothing and control your urge to contradict them is a very challenging skill. 

Of course, when things are done that are illegal or put the patient or themselves in danger, it is our obligation to speak up. Some hospital trusts have code words that signal to other staff that the person needs your attention to raise an important issue. 

What I'm getting at is that although I had a good idea of what medical school would be like, I'm learning things other than just facts. I'm learning to try and be a better, nicer person. I'm learning to not be confrontational. I'm really grateful that medicine is teaching me that. 
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