(No more classes, no more books / No more teacher’s dirty looks. In celebration of the end of my training, I’m sharing tidbits of advice from the last six years of my life. Because there’s no advice like unsolicited advice).
What I Wish Someone had Told Me
Before I started Medicine . . .
Stay in the Arts, create yourself, establish boundaries and priorities, travel, push through the fear and conquer the unknown. Own the unknowable. Get advice from as many people as possible about how to do what you want to do, not just about the best thing for you to do. Stick to your guns.
In first and second year . . .
Pay more attention in Anatomy class. Actually, forget that. You were probably better off break dancing at the back of the room when no one was paying attention. Study just enough to pass your exams, real medicine won’t start for another two years. Anatomists and physiologists are not real doctors, but they can still fail you. It gets better. It does.
In third year . . .
Read the small books and commit them to memory – the OHCM is going to follow you for the rest of your life. Do not ever trust the administration to get things right. Have at least five white jackets to start with, add more as necessary. Spend your time on Paediatrics learning Paediatrics, not feeding and consoling fussy babies. Switch consultants if you have to. Don’t lose your enthusiasm for participating in clinical duties; pace yourself. Don’t assume it’s always going to be this exciting because it. won’t. be.
In fourth year . . .
Leave UHWI every chance you get. Deliver your elective assessment to the Dean’s office yourself; no one is going to do it for you. Give up on ENT classes from early (you’ll only sleep through them); spend all your time reading instead. Pay more attention to ECGs on Emergency Medicine. Pick the rural places for community health; the people are nicer. Do not start the habit of calling ‘Empathy point!’ every time a student says something supportive during a history/counselling station. Read more Radiology than you think is necessary.
Start MBBS prep from now – find a study group you’re comfortable with, who moves at your pace. Get organized with PPQs and lectures and notes from the graduating class. Do it now so you don’t have so much to do later.
In fifth year . . .
Prepare for each clerkship like it’s the final exam. Take really good notes on everything – that way you can revise your notes and not the whole textbook. Ignore the consultant who tells the third years not to end up like you. No guilt-tripping about your study habits. As early as possible, ensure the Dean’s office has all your elective forms. Spend less time in the classroom and more time assisting at procedures or reading on your own. Keep a tight hold on the small books (Surgical Recall, OHCM, Toronto Notes).
Medical school drags its feet when you’re stuck in the middle or at the beginning, but when you look back from the end of the road you fully appreciate the whirlwind/ thunderstorm/ cacophony of experiences you’ve lived through. It is a lot to live through but you can survive it; you can even do it well, if you try hard enough.