Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Being a medical student

Being a medical student


Being a medical student blog

So I'm currently a third year medical student, and I thought I'd do a post about what it's like...

People always seem shocked when I tell them that I'm studying medicine (I'm hoping that's a good thing?), and it's amazing how much respect I get when they find out. This is lovely, but I wish other professions, such as care workers, would get this reaction all the time too!

A question that medics always get asked is, "why medicine?". This is such a hard question to ask, as there are so many different answers, including the cliché "because I want to help people". I actually didn't decide to apply for my degree until I was 17 - I previously always wanted to be a vet. My chemistry teacher asked me one day about what I wanted to study at university, and I told her that I was thinking about psychology as I found it really interesting. She encouraged me to consider medicine and specialising in psychiatry, as I had the grades and I would get to fully manage and diagnose my patients in that way. At the time I was studying biology, chemistry and maths at A-level, so I was taking the right subjects as well. I looked into it a little more, and as I loved human biology and the idea of caring for people I decided to do some work experience, and eventually this lead me to apply. I took a gap year and carried out various shadowing shifts, including in psychiatry, and then went on to help in a hospital in Tanzania, and I soon found that I had a passion for it.

Being on placement in medical school has actually broadened my horizon; I came into it thinking that I would definitely want to be a psychiatrist, but I have discovered that I love other specialities just as much, such as paediatrics, geriatrics and GP. I feel so fortunate to be able to learn such interesting things that I wouldn't have ever thought about before, and to find out how the body works and how easily it can go wrong. I find it fascinating that just one small electron or hormonal change can completely change how someone functions, or how they think. I also feel privileged that I get the chance to talk to and examine patients, and that they sometimes trust me enough to be able to tell me private things. I also adore the fact that I am constantly learning, and will be throughout the whole of my career, and believe that I will never get bored in that respect. I have the chance in the future to have an amazing job and to get involved with loads of exciting projects, such as research and teaching students.

Medicine is also incredibly difficult. This post on "things you'll only understand if you're a medical student" is so completely true. I am exhausted all the time; there's always so much work to do; and waiting around for doctors on hospital placements can get really tedious. You begin to sometimes question whether all the hard work is ever going to be worth it, and despise those people that can be enthusiastic about everything all the time. No, I don't want to spend an extra two hours in hospital waiting for the 456th cholecystectomy to take place. Apparently medical students will learn about 1000 new words over the course of the five years... I currently feel like I know about 10% of those. And also, who ever found metabolism and the Krebs cycle fascinating? And yes, anatomy sessions do make you weirdly hungry (apparently it's something to do with the chemicals that the cadavers are preserved with...). I also diagnosed myself with benign fasciculation syndrome the other day.

But overall, however hard it gets, I feel so privileged to be a member of the medical community, and to hopefully be able to help people in the future. Although I moan I do really enjoy my clinical placements; learning about the diseases and the human body is absolutely enthralling, and seeing these in real patients just helps to cement that knowledge. Medicine is such a rewarding career, and I would definitely encourage anyone that wants to do it to follow their dreams. I love it and I wouldn't change anything for the world, except to change the number of hours in the day from 24 to about 30 so I can get everything done,

Hannah x

Medicine is not only a science; it is also an art. It does not consist of compounding pills and plasters; it deals with the very processes of life, which must be understood before they may be guided.

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