Do doctors have super-powers?

Published: January 13, 2011

Medical school teaches you more than how to treat patients

Medical education seems tedious and never-ending. It has the capacity to kill with utter cruelty but it does have a few perks.

As I near graduation I have realized that I have changed. My English grammar and composition have suffered a severe blow. My literary sense has gone down the drain. But my colleagues and I have also acquired a few specialised skills at medical school which we are extremely proud of.

1. Energy: The magic 5 minute power nap

In first years of my college, my parents were a little perplexed when they would find me sprawled on the floor over my anatomy book . They would nudge, wake me up and ask me to lie down properly. But with time, they made peace with the fact that I had mastered the talent of sleeping for exactly five minutes on a hard floor and waking up fresh.

Nobody believes it but trust a medical student who studies for more than 30 hours at a stretch during preparation leaves. It is quite possible. Those five minutes are pure bliss plus nothing makes a better pillow than an anatomy book! Medical students also take power naps in lecture halls, so don’t be surprised if you see students zonked out there.

2. Resources: Capacious over-all pockets

There is nothing as pretty as a doctor’s crisp white coat and it carries an unparalleled charm. Come third year and the pockets of that white coat become stuffed with a collection of items. In a student’s overall, one can easily find a stethoscope, three or four pens, a torch, a measuring tape, a thermometer, an ophthalmoscope and in extreme cases a blood-pressure apparatus as well. It’s true – all this can fit in to that tiny space.

3. Immunity: Digital rectal exams

Digital rectal exams are like metaphorical bones that you can neither spit nor swallow. These have been the most uncomfortable part of my medical career and not a day goes by without one of us performing a digital rectal exam. There can be no doubt that the patients hate it more than we do but if you are a doctor and don’t know how to examine the rectum of an unsuspecting patient you are doomed – for life. Surgeons, particularly, will never forgive you. You might even be the butt of their jokes for all eternity.

4. Brain power: Ability to revise a course book in 2-hours flat

As time passes in medical school, we invariably develop the ability to revise course books within hours – the whole content in all its glory. And whoever said rote learning is a big no-no during medical education, lied. We learn things like a parrot and if asked can repeat them like one too. If they still insist, ask them what they did during their Pharmacology exam.

5. X-ray vision…or horrible handwriting vision

When I entered medical school, I promised myself that I would never write with my feet. I am about to graduate and I can proudly say that my handwriting resembles nothing like it was in first year. I can probably write better with my feet if given a chance. If a graphology student ever tried to assess a doctor’s handwriting, he would run for dear life.

Who understands those wriggly threads anyway, right? If three years of training at hospitals has led to one thing, it’s the fact that only medical students can extract information out of patient files. We glance at a prescription, see that there is a wavy line and voila! “It’s Augmentin!”

Bushra Maheen Rahman

Bushra Maheen Rahman

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

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Talat

    If your one of those doctors who believe they are the only ones who have to work so hard for their medical degree, you are absolutely right. But, I don’t think any professional, generally speaking, has to work harder than a lawyer in professional life.

    What did you people do when the rectum could not be “digitally” examined. :)Recommend

  • faraz

    And after living in a fool’s paradise for 5 years, you realize that your FSc class fellows who failed to get admission in medical college, are actually earning more than you. Recommend

  • Dr. Amyn Malik

    Agree with you on most parts here except that during medical college my literary sense didn’t take a hit including grammar and composition :)

    Another thing. My writing didn’t go bad either. I write prescriptions clearly and have been told more than once by patients that my writing doesn’t resemble that of a doctor. Now I don’t know whether I should be happy or sad about that :PRecommend

  • Vik

    Are you by any chance, gloating that you’re in med school?Recommend

  • Awais Ali Shah

    Being myself as a doctor I can exactly feel your state of mind mate. I recently did my graduation and nowadays doing my house job but believe in medicine where you think its the end of my all troubles and can can finally take a sigh of relief. Dude you are just mistaken as the medicine is a never ending tale of hard work and trials. may ALLAH give us courage and strength to accomplish what our parents dreamt for us. aminRecommend

  • kalim

    Congratulation madam your literary sense, grammar and composition is still intact.Recommend

  • Dr. Amyn Malik

    The link below is an interesting read..have a look[email protected]@.2a05fbf6!comment=1Recommend

  • parvez

    If you become as good a doctor as you are a writer you should do fine.
    Enjoyed reading this piece. Recommend

  • Faria Syed

    like parvez’ comment


  • Mobeen

    Hmm..I’m wondering which medical school you go to where they make you perform DREs everyday! The heads probably get a kick out of it.
    BTW wait until you graduate,and start practicing. You’ll think to yourself, what the hell did I do in the last five years, I dont know jack!Recommend

  • Anonymous

    cool piece…. i can relate to it… sam is going on specially the Power Nap thing bcz im having my Third Prof Exams :PRecommend

  • Lelomaye

    True that!Recommend

  • Ali Hassan

    Interesting blog. I can understand medical is tough.
    But believe me, chartered accountancy is even tougher, because you have to work the whole day (and late sittings and travelling) under severe pressure of deadlines and then you have to study at nights, you are left with no social life.Recommend

  • Sana Saleem

    Interesting ! I have seen my cousin studying the same way…. Surrounded by course books, Rotting and repeating: lol !Recommend

  • hasan

    hmmmmmmmm wel every1 thinks thay hav 2 work hard wel yes u do but especially doctors far as rectal examination goes get a blow on ur stomach or dont pee for a day this will answer ur quaryRecommend

  • hasan

    @Ali Hassan:
    hmmmmmmmm but if u mess up sme figure wot hapen a new assingement!Recommend

  • Maheen Rahman

    @Talat : We order more tests :)Recommend

  • unseen-eccentric

    Agree with you on everything but I disagree on the literary and grammar skills taking a hit. If anything, I think they improved quite a lot after I finished medical school. Good read.Recommend

  • Cookie

    hahahah! Amazing! I relate to all the things 100 percent! My writing has gone from bad to worse and I’ve only just entered my second year of medicine!Recommend

  • gourish

    nice piece..seems like troubles of med school students are all pervading..i also experienced the same before graduation last me it seems like fun when u look back on it from real world of resident doc that now i am in..loved reading your piece..Recommend

  • http://islamabad Maryam

    nice write up!
    enjoyed reading itRecommend

  • Humanity

    Good luck and carry on with your hard work. Strive to become a good human for all the hard work to really pay off :)Recommend

  • The Only Normal Person Here.

    Shouldnt they have? It looks like so when they charge.Recommend

  • Pakeezah

    Excellent piece. :D

    Med Life is really really hard. A good strong heart can go through all this! Recommend

  • Elena Shah

    Why isnt there a thumbs up option?…Luvd your article!!!…each and every bit of it is turnin out to be true!!..and its been only 4 months that I’ve entered my Med College..o_O..Recommend

  • Friend

    Loved it =D
    My rote power is about to be tested. Pharma, here I come!!
    P.S. Thank you for suggesting the power naps, they really do work =D Recommend