10 things I learned at med school

Published: July 1, 2010
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People refuse to believe that being a first year student doesn’t make you a qualified doctor

1. If you thought clearing the entry test exams after high school was the end of your hardships, you are in for a treat. Every year brings new surprises, challenges and career options and better still, new perceptions on life. Biology, chemistry and physics appear minuscule and boring compared the grilling subjects we study at med school.

2. People around you think you are a doctor from day one of med school, not knowing that you are far from actually understanding any disease or how to treat it. They come to you for advice. If you fail to check their blood pressure, which you will, they are extremely disappointed and refuse to believe that being a first year medic doesn’t make you a qualified doctor.

3. The idea of simply “being a doctor” vanishes with each passing year. It changes into something like, “I want to be a neuro-surgeon, a gynaecologist or an anaesthiologist,” as soon as you hit sub-specialties. The worst part of the whole deal, perhaps, is that with each day you remain as clueless as a camel which has inexplicably found itself on the North Pole.

4. You become uglier, lose a lot of hair and either gain plenty of weight or become anorexic. The world of fashion exists in a different universe altogether.

5. Any literaterary sense that you had, what so ever, evaporates. TV, radio, movies and drama serials become a part of the distant past. “House M.D” is the only medical show you are remotely interested in. Political discussions, intellectual arguments and life-changing stories make you uncomfortable; because of your own hermitic life. You are a social outcast.

6.  The general public stops co=relating with your new found vocabulary. Instead of saying, “XYZ had a heart attack,” you tend to say “XYZ had a myocardial infarction.”

7. Your newest poems revolve around books rather than people. For instance “Ellis, Ellis, where art thou Ellis” was written for a surgery textbook. It is okay to fumble and probe your memory if you forget a person’s name but extremely rude and almost unethical to let a book’s name slip the depths of your brain. “Bailey and Love’s” will seem more poetic and romantic than anything Shakespeare has ever written.

8. The Socratic method of teaching is intimidating at first. A domineering consultant’s questions will rip your ego apart on a daily basis. Yet, getting used to it is a revelation and understanding the Socratic method is ultimately bliss. You begin to accept their blows gracefully and you can’t wait to be in the position when you can do the same to your juniors.

9. Patients will actually realize you are students. Though you give them your flashiest grin while introducing yourself, your ineptitude is apparent to them. They are smarter than you think. Give them some credit.

10. Lastly, as you near graduation, your conversation will mostly be based on PLAB, USMLE, FCPS, GRE and the likes. Every day, you will tell yourself that there is one less day to graduation and then you’ll be out of there on your own, independent at last. This, however, is an absurd dream. Remember, how life after high school seemed easy and heavenly. The realization eventually hits as hard as it possibly can.

Bushra Maheen Rahman

Bushra Maheen Rahman

A doctor from Peshawar who writes, blogs at www.pistaye.wordpress and tweets @MaheenRahman

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