Medic diaries // 1

18 February 2014


Even if I try to pretend otherwise, being a medical student is a huge part of my life. I never planned on writing about my experience of med school here, but I guess it would make for an entertaining read in 10 years time when I'm hopefully qualified.

The truth is, I sway between loving being a medic, and hating the fact that medicine has taken my life. I'll try to focus on the positives here and make it vaguely interesting for non-medics. I also have to add a disclaimer that due to the patient confidentiality all clinical encounters described here will be either inventions of my imagination or completely anonymous.

I'm now in 4th and penultimate year of my training, which means my life evolves around hospital placements and taking selfies in scrubs in the changing rooms. Since the middle of the 3rd year until last Friday I spent 15 weeks in general medical ward, 15 weeks in surgical wards, and 16 weeks on placements of my choice (in my case 12 weeks in neonatology, i.e. medicine of tiny humans, and 4 in gynaecological oncology). The final phase is all about exploring all the different specialities, and making sure that if I'm placed in a speciality ward such as obstetrics & gynaecology as a junior doctor, I'll be able to take care of my patients and will at least recognise their diagnoses written in the clinical notes. 

I thought as an introduction to I would post something I wrote on the train on my first day of med school (as cliche as this may sound, this actually happened, including the title). I apologise for the lofty tone and pretentiousness.

       I'm finally there

Having spent so many years dreaming about being a medical student and asking myself a question: “what am I lacking that they have?”, I'm finally there - on a train to my first day in medical school.

It's reassuring to have a perspective of a graduate student. I know what the university life is like, I know how to avoid plagiarism, structure and edit my essays and reference properly. What I do not know is if I will fit in. One would think that ' fitting in' is a major worry of teenagers. They are the ones who are growing up, rebel against their parents, wear black T-shirts and wear wooden necklaces and refuse to shower. All of that to fit into the group of their equally lost peers. And I can't help but wonder, what are the new medical students prepared to do in order to fit in.

First of all, from a perspective of someone who spent 3 years looking at med students with jealousy, I can assume that my idea of them is somehow skewed. They always dress more smartly than other students, have their sleeves rolled up, are never late, excel in sports and music, are involved in charity work and occupy the best spots in the library with piles of cool looking textbooks. Is it only me who's got this image stuck in my head? Now that I realised I'm going to be one of them, I need to decide for myself, do I want to become this seemingly stuck-up person, who whenever gets asked 'what do you do' replies with pride - Medicine and invariably gets an eyebrow rise from the person who has asked?

My answer would be no. I do not want to give this impression of medicine being superior to any other subject. But what if it becomes second nature? What if it turns out, that if you don't do this, you'll no longer fit in? For now, I'm going to focus on the curriculum, try and enjoy my learning experience as much as possible, knowing that this will get me a degree I have always dreamt of. And if anyone asks me, what do you do, I'm going to reply : Medicine, but try and keep my voice down and a humble expression on my face.
As painful to read as it is now, I'm glad I saved this file. At the time it was really a dream come true, now I sometimes struggle to remember why I've gotten myslef into all this. 

Currently, I'm on ENT (ear nose and throat aka otolaryngology) placement, which has been fun so far. I saw some cool surgeries already, including myringoplasty which is basically a reconstruction of the ear drum using a part of the patient's own skull connective tissue.

At least I don't faint in surgery anymore. Not having to be escorted out of the operating theatre is always a bonus, especially when you got a chance to scrub in and assist during the surgery... 

 So, are there any medics reading along? Reveal yourself.

PS.  (Polish title of this post is: Z pamietnika mlodej lekarki)


  1. So I am not a medic but a newly qualified nurse whose is reading along! I love your medically themed posts and especially the one you did on ethical travelling, very thought provoking as I did a 3 month placement in Norway. I wish you all the best in your career! Frances

    1. Thanks for stopping by and commenting Frances! I actually considered doing a placement in the far north of Norway but knowing Norwegian was a pre-requisite. All the best with your career as well!

  2. I think that there are some folk who are just drawn to vocations. I've known my oldest friend since school, and he always wanted to be in the army - I was so proud when he made it through all of the rounds of applications, because he was one of the few people I knew who really had a calling in life. The other was my mum, who was a nurse. She started her training at 17 and (for various reasons) finished nursing thirty years later. She doesn't really "get" my sense of frustration at not having found my vocation - I am one of those people who has floated around a bit and never quite found their thing – but medicine is something I keep coming back to as one of the few things I could see myself really enjoying. I don’t think I’d be able to do a medicine degree, as my undergrad was in social sciences, but I keep wondering whether nursing would be for me. I just don’t know. Anyway – what I’m rambling and trying to say is – people who are passionate about what they do tend to be good at what they do, so I’m sure when you qualify, you’ll be a brilliant doctor.

    1. I know what you mean Gwen. Vocation is a strange thing, sometimes I feel like I didn't choose to be a medic, ti seemed like if I didn't try to apply to med school my life wouldn't be complete. Weird. But then so many people are good at more than one skill and can only find out what they want to do a bit later on in life which is also good. In my year there are people who've done humanities before doing medicine, including English literature and music degrees so social science undergrad doesn't disqualify you at all...

  3. ale super, że to napisałaś. jak dla mnie mogłabyś mieć alter-bloga o studiowaniu medycyny. kocham czytać/słuchać o czyichś zawodach - lekarz, muzyk, nauczyciel w technikum gastronomicznym, fryzjer - zadaję straszne mnóstwo pytań, Tobie pewnie też zacznę, aż zablokujesz moje ip.
    i uważam, tak całkiem serio, że ogrom pracy i czasu włożony w studia medyczne + odpowiedzialność na codzień sprawia, że macie podstawy, żeby się wywyższać ;) ja na przykład na lekarzy patrzę z wielkim podziwem.

  4. This sounds so interesting. I was very keen to take medicine at university but I missed the deadline and took Biomedical sciences instead and now I'm studying for my phd. I regret it a little, but lifes too short for that and I think I have found my direction in life and it's not science. I may have felt differently with medicine or if I had stayed as a biomedical scientist but who knows.

    I'm excited to read about your adventures though and I wish you a lot of luck!!

    ~ K