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medical school
2:32 pm
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been a while since i ranted about how medical school is like.
Well, i think my last post was about how much there was to remember, how different IMU was to regular ol' college with their large auditoriums instead of small group classes (lol... i think big auditoriums are common to all universities though), how i feel like i'm going to fail in this and that exams.
Hahaha... all that has come to pass now that I'm done with basic sciences looong time ago (ok, fine. 1 yr and 5 months ago (for those of you coming from the regular world, our first few years where we learn about anatomy, physiology, pathology, all the -"ology"s are termed as basic science years. those 2.5-3 years are just cramming information down your throat) )

clinical medicine started when I came to the UK. now, we have to go for hospital placements from 9-5, 5 days a week, and virtually no classes anymore. Apart from 1 or 2 lecture days here and there.
Sounds exciting? It's like.. "yay! we get to feel like we're more like proper doctors now!! we get to stroll the wards feeling respected with our stethoscopes in our hand, the trusty oxford handbook in the other. Parents get to feel so proud that their child is going into hospitals practising medicine"


how i wish it was like that.

when I first stepped into the wards, I think I had one word plastered across my face: "fear"
Yeah sure, I had my stethoscope at hand with my textbook in the other and of course, the essential notebook and pen (+ logbook to get stuff signed off. more on this later. this stupid book basically ruled my life) but on top of that, clammy hands, palpitations and just an aura of nervousness permeating whichever room medical students are in.
Everything was so foreign and I had no clue how everything works. Like why was there different colours of uniform for the nurses (lol... till now i have no clue) or what we were meant to be doing in wards, what we could do in wards, etc.
the thing is, everyone else looked so calm. when clinical placement started, I did not enjoy it at all. Self doubt came into play and I started thinking that if I don't like being in wards, how was I supposed to be a doctor? Everyone else kept saying they enjoyed being in wards better than being in lecture rooms and found it so easy and fun to chat to patients and help doctors out.
Instead, I found myself having self doubts all the time. Was I meant to help out? Am I allowed to talk to the patient? Am I doing this correctly? Am I getting into people's way?
One thing I constantly beat myself up for is failing to take a good history or do a good examination. I hated myself for failing to do simple things like that. And extracting important bits of information from the history to form a diagnosis.
Another annoying thing about placements is waiting. We stand around waiting for doctors, nurses and patients. Nurses don't really like medical students cause we mostly stand in the way. And when we are just scheduled to be "in the ward" (which occurs nearly everyday) I hate the feeling where you're just not too sure what to do. Everyone is busy with their own things and I'll just be stood around.

But one day, having a chat within our group, it was a relieve to hear that I wasn't the only ones that felt this way. Everyone had self doubts, everyone felt it difficult the first few times to simply waltz into the patient's room and start asking intrusive questions. Everyone did not take a perfect history each and every single time they talked to a patient. (lol.. exception to those born to be a doctor with magic brains, mouths and hands. and yes. those people do exist. every medical fact they read is permanently stuck in their head and they can engage with the patient so well, it's like they have crack flowing out from their mouths each time they talk, the patients/doctors are just so smitten with them)

What's the difference now?
Now I definitely am a bit more comfortable with being in the hospital. It's not that I've become more knowledgeable but more like I've just stop worrying about things so much. I still fail to draw bloods or take a proper history or do a perfect physical examination. But I tend to brush off my failures a bit more easily rather than ruminating on them day and night. Not too sure if it's good or bad, but definitely it's been healthier for my mental state.

I think my level of self-doubt is still high. I've never been a very confident person although I try my best to boost my confidence. And I feel as medical students, we've been taught that we are the bottom rung of the hierarchy of medical staff. Which doesn't do any wonders for our self confidence. Like I said, we basically are ignored most of the time.

That's why I think that every little bit of compliment from the patients and doctors it becomes the highlight of my day. It's sounds really sad but any word or "pat on the head" from a doctor especially... it basically changes my mood completely.
Hahaha... its really dumb but I do remember the doctors who told me that the history i presented was excellent or that i really helped them out that day or I did a good job on some procedure.
And yes, the patients as well. What one sentence could do to lift my mood. I think it's the best compliment when a patient says that we'll be a good doctor. Heck, I choose to ignore the fact that these things could mean nothing to the doctors or patients (they could say it to every medical student they come across with).

Hoping that the next few placements I'll gain more confidence and knowledge along the way :D