Tuesday, 13 October 2015

10 non-medical things I have learnt from medicine

During the past 3 and a bit years that I have been studying medicine, I have learnt such a lot. Obviously I now know much more about the body and the psychology of people than I used to, but I have also learnt a lot about myself and some non-medical aspects. So here's a short list of some of the non-medical things I have learnt from medicine...

1) Small talk
After spending hours with various patients, doctors and medical students, I have now completely mastered small talk. The amount I must have talked about the weather in the past 3 years is ridiculous! Football is always a good topic to bring up with Liverpudlians.

2) There are some really good people out there
I have been lucky to meet some really inspiring people, whether they were colleagues or patients. Some of the illnesses patients have tackled, whilst still holding up a social and family life, are incredible. And some of the doctors and nurses I have met have helped me make my mind up about what I would like to do in the future. Most of the people I have met have been really lovely and so helpful - there really are some amazing people out there.

3) You need to have a social life outside of your career
Medicine is not the be-all and end-all. I would go mad if I didn't have other things to do outside my degree. I love medicine, but sometimes I need to take myself away from it and the medic culture - I make sure that I allow myself lots of treats and time to do non-medic things, like watching Netflix or going out for a meal.

4) Confidence
My confidence has increased tenfold since coming to medical school, both regarding my medical knowledge and outside of medicine. I am generally more confident around people - I even spoke in front of 50 people last week, which was a huge achievement for me!

5) Not to waste time
In medicine there is so much to do, yet so little time. I have figured out what is important to learn and likely to come up in exams, and what I can skip over a bit. In first and second year I would cram as much as I could into my head the week before exams, but now I know that it's not worth it. At the same time, I've learnt not to waste my own down time - I plan ahead for things that I really want to do so that I can fit socialising around studying.

6) Being comfortable saying "I don't know"
Before I came to medical school I hated admitting that I didn't know the answer. But now I'm quite comfortable admitting to the gaps in my knowledge and telling a doctor or teacher that I simply don't know - which leads me on to my next point...

7) Not being able to learn everything
During my biology A-level I literally memorised everything in the book - I came out with 100% in one of my exams. But I have learnt that in medicine I am never going to know everything, as there is way too much to learn - that is why specialties were invented, after all!

8) Not comparing myself with others
I try to never compare myself to other medical students. We all work completely differently and do different amounts of work to get through. And yes, another student may know a lot more than you about infective endocarditis - but you may know a lot more about the treatment for an acute asthma attack.

9) How to talk my way through anything
I think I could now talk my way through most things, even if I didn't know too much on the subject. For example, risk factors for diseases? Advanced age, male sex and family history are always a good bet. Where does a particular type of cancer metastasise to? The lungs, most likely. I think medical school is knowing a little about a lot - so that you can talk about any subject a little bit. And use common sense.

10) Change is good
I was terrified of change before I moved to Liverpool. I didn't want to experience a new city; didn't particularly want a new lifestyle; and was happy with my friends at home. However I have come to realise that change is good, and actually very exciting. I now love meeting new people and throwing myself in the deep end to experience new things. I've realised that people come and go from your life, and that's okay. And the most important thing - life doesn't always go to plan, so you just have to roll with it.
Never blame any day in your life. Good days give you happiness, bad days give you experience, and worst days give you a lesson.


  1. love this hannah! i always really appreciate your quotes at the end!! :) xxx

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