I realized the shorter the entry, more people will engage to it and stay loyal until the last full stop. I’ll make it simple as possible but no guarantee.
So, a friend of mine from Twitter, replied to my tweet from last year when I asked what kind of story they want me to write here and she said “Tell us about your medical school journey”, and as a good, decent and responsible person, I have to write about it. What’s the point of asking if you’re not going to take in the advises and work on some?
Let’s go straight to the question: Why medicine?
Well probably because I did well in Biology back then at high school, and I like the subject very much. It had easy concept to grasp compared to Physics and Chemistry. And I had that typical mindset of a kid, that you must be either an engineer or a doctor to be said ‘having a career’. And also the false thought of scholarship only be given to medical course or something related to engineering, or architecture or anything else that fall into the same categories. You get what I mean.
That’s all and little did I know medicine was far much complicated than ‘an easy concept I learnt at high school’ and to choose a country thousand miles away from home- it complicate things even more. But that’s another story.
But things about ‘a living hell of medical school’ did not quite hit me yet in my first year of enrollment, because our syllabus were basically, learning again the same things in high school but over one year; not three years of schooling. It started to hit me real hard when more focused subjects were introduced next year. It never stop. And mind it, IT WERE HARD. It’s like when you think “Oh this is hard enough I don’t think anything can get any harder!”, but yeah it did get harder and harder. It did not stop on one level, sometimes the levels get doubled up.
You’ll be like “I WAS ON LEVEL TWO LAST WEEK HOW COME IT BECOME LEVEL 10 OUT OF SUDDEN? WHAT WITCHCRAFT IS IT?!”
Learning the concepts were easy, to understand them take times and to memorise them was another level of headache!
I start to consume coffee since I started medical school, nothing works perfectly when you need some relieves from the huge, never ending materials- but at the same time it gave you headache. Well, it’s a risk to take.
And never have I ever take in ibuprofen for simple headache if not when I started medical school.
Did I cry? Hell yeah, I did.
I had, I can say, a number of mental collapse and breakdown from studying. But I rarely cry unless I reached a certain limit. I am quite grateful of my coping mechanism, I had a few method to relieve the stress to choose from, one of them is writing. Over years, you will develop new method you wouldn’t know you have. Take for example, in my final two years I found gym and working out as one of the mechanism. I never did any sports before but I sure love running now.
Starting my clinical years, I know things are gonna get hideous and more complicated. From the schedules to the materials, down to the language barrier. From here onward you are dealing with real patients, who mostly from rural areas, a neighborhood you never even heard before and can’t speak English.
However, a good support system made everything doable. Over the past five years, I learnt how important to have supportive friends and family around you, close to you. I learnt a lot about who’s there for me, who’s willing to give me their ears to listen to my rants.
But it’s a give and take process. You can’t take without giving back to people. I call it ‘lack of common sense’. So over times, you will develop that empathy skills, and that is crucial.
So next question: What changes?
Self-durability, and that is man-made word.
I don’t know it the term exist but I’m just gonna use it anyway. So over the past five years of medical school, I realise that all exams and struggles my university put me through, I become tougher and I never thought I could make it this far.
I become used to the exams, the systems and I accept the one fact, this is medicine, and it is how it is. You can be at any university you want but it doesn’t change the fact, medical school is hard. You’re not going to believe what you are capable of until you are push to go beyond your limit.
To continue the next step you have to move forward, even if you are at the limit, you have no choice but to move forward. Then, you will know you are more than what you think you are.
However, also over the time I become rougher socially, and I’d like to call it ‘Social Numbness’.
I have no idea if there is such name over the internet but that literally describes how I am now. This school turns me into a living zombie, if that makes sense. The zombies care nothing else but to eat brains. I care less about what others doing, I care only to survive this school. There is constant fear of flunking and in my head, failure is not an option. I need to get everything right, even just by being an average student that’ll be enough.
It might be just me, probably I am the one with short term memory. Even if I read about renal disease for the 20th times, I might still forget about it the next day of the ward round. Plus, with everyone around you excels in everything which you do not, then sense of inferiority and insecurity would come creeping through the bones. You couldn’t help yourself but to feel hopeless.
And this last point, I think a lot of my friends will agree with me. This would happen at least once in their life as medical/dental students, but I bet it comes to their mind a hundred times. Haha
The thought of ‘quitting medical school’.
Believe me, there isn’t one time where I do not feel like ‘lets put a stop here, take flight home and become a barista’. But every time I did, I just brushed it off saying to myself I can do this, and I am meant to finish this. And five years flew, poof just like that.
It is crucial that I finish this first step because there won’t be next step if I don’t complete the first one. That’s my one time philosophy. No matter what my first step is about.
It doesn’t matter if you are a medical/dental student or not, every school has their own struggles, just because we are not in the system, don’t assume theirs are less hard than ours.
Will I recommend medical school or not, is actually, a matter of personal experience. I have it hard enough to say ‘Please reconsider!‘, but some would say differently. Of course, someone has to take the responsibility to learn medicine so that there’ll be young doctor who can continue to serve the society good. But to get yourself into this, you have to 110 percent understand that it’s gonna be hard, and it gets harder every single time.
For me, medicine will totally burn you. Be ready for a third degree burning.