16 Jul The Awkward Tales of a Medical Student
The medical student is a creature of habit. Every morning, it wakes up, hoping that today will be a productive and efficient day, making fanciful goals for success. Every night it goes to sleep, having achieved none of what it had planned, self-loathing and an ever-growing pile of work still intact.
At times, it can feel like we’re chipping away at an Everest of assessments. When the glamour of walking around with lanyards and stethoscopes fades away, and the never-ending cycle of study, sleep, study and repeat starts to turn your brain into drivel, reflecting on the more light-hearted aspects of our journey as medical students can be the pick-me-up all we need. So, sit back, relax, and get ready to relate.
Telling people you study medicine…
Telling people you study medicine can often be a mix between subtle pride and uncomfortable embarrassment. Finding the balance between sounding unpretentious and owning the fact that you are part of a competitive degree is a skill- one that I don’t seem to have. The fear of being seen as arrogant, snobby or ‘up oneself’ can often cause momentary panic and so most scenarios end up going a little like this:
Stranger: Oh, what do you study?
My Brain: Ok, ok calm down – I just need to make sure I don’t sound annoying
Me: mumbles Medicine
Stranger: “Ohhhh so you’re going to be a doctor…gee you must be a smart cookie”.
My Brain: Flashes back to the time I sculled three coffees and stayed up all night to prepare for things I had months and months to do…smart cookie indeed
Me: *laughs nervously*
People asking for medical advice despite you knowing nothing…
Since starting med, I for one have changed the dynamic of more than one relationship, taking up the role of resident doctor and medical specialist in my respective friendship and family circles. More than once I’ve had the ‘pleasure’ of experiencing a family member come up to me with medical questions, seeking advice from someone who still Googled their own symptoms online.
“What do you think is wrong?” Mum would ask after a 10-minute description of her various signs and symptoms, most of which could account for anything from a mild flu to a rare disease only contractible in the depths of the African jungle. But once she notices the hollow look in my eyes, she seems to realise that she’d be better off consulting WebMD (or maybe an actual doctor).
Coffee, café, kofee…
If you’ve ever been to a lecture (and don’t lie, I know some of you haven’t), walked past G’s café or even just roamed the corridors of level six, it’s likely that you’ve seen your fair share of sleep-deprived medical students chugging coffee like their lives depended on it. In fact, sometimes I swear I can hear David Attenborough’s voice: “Aaaah, here comes the Griffith med student, keep cup in one hand, last ounce of will to live in the other.” While I’ll be the first to admit, that without coffee it’d be hard to make it through those 8:30am lectures, always make sure to drink responsibly kids.
Selling your soul to the insurance companies…
The relationship we have with insurance companies is ambiguous, confusing, and slightly concerning. Did you just sign away your first-born child? Will this come back to bite you in the butt? Honestly, who knows. I sure wasn’t thinking about all the fine print when I was signing up for my free dictionary. It’s only when you get the emails, the letters and the other notifications from Insurance Company number 1, 2 and 3 that you start to experience the same feeling you get when you’re trying to ghost someone on Facebook. The things we do for a free water bottle, am I right?
Fake it ‘til you make it…
How many of you can actually hear heart sounds? For those of you who answered, “I can”, well good for you. For those of you who didn’t – props for being honest. Statistics show that 90% of medical students fake their ability to auscultate. I just made that up – but honestly, it’s probably true. So, why do we lie? Because it starts to get embarrassing. One more admission that I can’t hear anything, and I feel like the facilitator is going to categorise me into the ‘how did we let this one in’ pile.
Fear (and a lot of excitement) for the future
I’m scared. Are you guys scared? The knowledge that life is only going to become more hectic with each passing day does strike a chord of panic within me. At the same time, the future excites me. Sometimes I’ll stop and look around me at my friends and my peers and think of us all 20 years down the line. I wonder what amazing things these people will be doing. Saving lives, inspiring others, discovering innovative cures and to think, that at one point, in 2019, I sat with these people during lectures, learned with them in PBL and laughed with them during Comm skills. In fact, I wonder what you’ll be doing.