20 Aug Wellbeing Stories: Year 3+4
For Blue Week this year, we asked people at different stages of their journey through medicine to share their wellbeing stories unique to their stage of medical education or career. Through various stages of medicine, we all face our own unique challenges and although it may sometimes feel like we are all alone or the only one struggling, this is often not the case. Each of us has a Wellbeing Story that describes the challenges we face and how we approach them. Sharing these stories creates a community that is positive, understanding and supportive as we work together to create a healthier environment for health professionals. As you navigate your own challenges, we hope these stories encourage you and empower you to talk and share with others.
Year 3 Story 1
The prevailing opinion of Year 3 of Medicine at Griffith is that it’s the hardest year. It starts in early January and ends late November, with little break in between. I think at this stage it’s the burnout of the year that really affects me. Everyday constantly rising for early morning starts and being exposed to concepts that you weren’t really familiar with in med school. On top of that you need to find time to study on your own and this study is challenging because on the one hand there is hospital knowledge and on the other there is exam knowledge. It is quite overwhelming.
I anticipated this would be a struggle of year 3 but the gravity of the struggle can only be appreciated with experience. I think the biggest tell is the fatigue, just always feeling tired and not having the same energy. Inevitably this leads to worse eating and self-care. On top of this you realise over time you’re not putting the effort you used to into relationships. There is just so much to deal with you forget to make that time for others. To manage this issue I sort of just accept that study is secondary at this point to my wellbeing. I try to hang out with my mates as much as possible and play some sport. This breaks the monotony and in a way gives you the energy to solider on. I am really appreciative of my supportive friends who have facilitated this process for me. While the year is tough I don’t feel alone. I feel like I’ll be okay in the end and that helps me get through. I also know I’m priveleged to be in this position, I’m allowed to do what I love. I know COVID has seriously affected our society so I’m thankful that I’ve been okay in this time. Overall I know getting through this challenge will help me grow and that’s priceless.
Year 3 Story 2
Getting into my clinical year I was very excited and was ready to apply my knowledge in the real world. However once the year started, I realised that I had a constant feeling of doubt and inadequacy related to my skills and my general role within the medical team. I felt incompetent every time I couldn’t answer a question the consultant asked me or if I couldn’t connect the patient’s symptoms to their diagnosis. I started staying in late at the hospital to go through patient’s notes and then study. I realised that I was getting burnt out when coming across a new topic or condition made me feel overwhelmed rather than having the feeling of excitement of learning something new. After a while I felt so overwhelmed that I stopped studying. My diet changed from having home-made meals and salads to finger foods and take outs. I realised I had to take a step to be more realistic rather than idealistic so I made a timetable with planned breaks and restricted myself to studying only 3-4 topics on weekdays. I scheduled a guilt-free break on Saturday evenings and started meal prepping again. I also read a lot of blogs from other students that spoke about the stupid mistakes they made or their journey through clinical years. This helped me normalise my experience and also bring my expectations to a more realistic level. I got used to saying “I don’t know” to questions doctors asked and started reviewing conditions/concepts with my doctors rather than feeling incompetent for not knowing them. Removing the burden of my expectations made me feel more free and I was learning more clinically as well as studying more effectively.
Year 4 Story 1
Overall fourth year is amazing – you’re comfortable in the clinical setting, the rotations are usually pretty engaging, assessments are basically variation of third year. Something that has proved challenging is facing the negative attitudes from senior staff about the career path ahead. You will have the discussion of what specialty you are considering (whether you have one in mind or not) many times. While so many staff are supportive and encouraging, there are many who focus on the difficulties of every single speciality. The story of an oversupply of doctors is everywhere, and talks focus on how hard it is to get on a pathway, and once you are, how rarely a consultant job even opens up. You have to start looking for the worst aspects of each profession, knowing your limits, and considering if you find the best parts of the job worth it. It can pull away from the excitement of finally becoming a doctor. When I started hearing these stories last year, I somehow thought people having this discussion were just all burnt out (which some are, but some are really just trying to help you). All of this aside, it is a small part of an overall amazing year, and in your mind you know to take it all with a grain of salt. Focus on the positive feedback, and let the rest just roll off! Not every person gets the promotion, and medicine is no different. Also are you really in a rush or can you take your time? For me personally I’m not too hurried, I will still be getting a job and great experience every year! Understanding we are all in the same boat, we have each others back is important! Remember the bigger picture – enjoying life overall and taking your time. Every career is difficult in it’s own way – it doesn’t mean it’s insurmountable!
If you, or someone you know, needs help please contact:
- 13 11 14
- 1300 22 4636
- Eve De Silva (Griffith University School of Medicine)
Image credit: Eesha Bajra