What no one told me about studying medicine
Obviously, being a medical student is a well-documented process in a culture where the figure of the doctor has been made popular by movies and television. Perhaps more than one of us, as career aspirants, have envisioned a brilliant future in the world of surgery, like Meredith Gray or Gregory House, solving complex clinical cases or revolutionizing hospital medical care, like Max Goodwin.
For many decades, the doctor has been a social figure of importance in the past, and until now there are many myths and stigmas in place about what it means not only to be one, but also to prepare to be one.
There are a number of things I wish I had known before I started my degree, which perhaps due to the gradual assimilation of this profession, we gradually integrate into medical culture after becoming part of the guild, but which would undoubtedly have caused surprise in pre-university training .
1. The vocation of the doctor is not blind.
Many times we talk about medicine as a profession filled with nobility and service, thinking that the vocation that brought us here will always justify any context that a doctor must go through to do his job, even if it exposes him of danger or threat to his integrity or their dignity, directly or indirectly.
Sometimes the patient will expect the doctor to become an instrument of unconditional service, forgetting that like all people they also experience flaws, have basic needs, life expectancy, require places to rest, etc. Let us begin to question our own calling at times when fatigue, insecurity, fear of humiliation, and physical deterioration itself devastate our ability to retain, learn, and care for patients.
Read also: evoke the vocation
2. Medicine is violent.
Probably some of the most common jokes we’ll hear in the healthcare industry are those related to “scolding the medical staff”, the in-house doctor “saved” for punishment in the hospital, the claims of disgruntled patients, the uncertain service in the most underserved places etc.
From our first stages of training we will be taught that hierarchy has more value than evidence and that the boss must always be right, and the division between the various stages of training will be constantly repeated, arising from the supposed authority that the doctor acquires over his colleagues younger.
We will often hear that we cannot aim for a score of ten because we cannot know more than the teacher, that even when the evidence supports our knowledge, we must accept the direction of whoever answers that we must know the things being asked by us, even when we have not been taught, and that humiliation, rudeness, and deprivation of sleep, food, water, or rest will be frequently used weapons against any trainee physician who fails to meet the expectations of his superiors.
3. You will learn more medicine on your own than from your teachers.
The first educational shock we will face will be the recognition that despite the presence of classrooms, classes and teachers, the study of medicine must be self-managed most of the time. That we need to be able to understand our brains and figure out how to make the learning of all the information that will pass through our eyes more efficient.
We will be constantly told, “You should start reading,” and we will fall into the delusion of studying a lot, forgetting to study better. Until we find our learning strategies, we will optimize the way we integrate knowledge. And while our teachers will play a critical role in understanding and reinforcing, we as learners will always be expected to receive, process and share knowledge.
4. You will feel that your life project has been abandoned.
When you start your career, you may still be in touch with your classmates from high school and it’s amazing to tell them what you have the opportunity to see in your training as a doctor. Over the years, you’ll see your generational friends become graduates, engineers, get their first job, get married, travel the world or buy their first car, while most medical students will continue to depend on their parents’ support and carry he has a couple of years of college ahead of him.
Patience is key to keep moving forward, even when it seems like you’re falling behind.
The reality is that while any life project is compatible with medicine, this path will somewhat limit your ability for personal independence and take a little longer than others who graduated high school with you. Patience is key to keep moving forward, even when it seems like you’re falling behind.
5. He who knows only medicine or medicine knows.
You will constantly hear that the medical career is jealous, and although it is a time-consuming profession, we must be smart not to let ourselves be consumed by it. Being a doctor is not a person, just a profession, and it would be easy to believe that as students we have an obligation to breathe, eat, consume and dream medicine 24/7. At first it makes sense and seems like a novelty in our lifestyle, and it becomes difficult to put on the mask of a full-time doctor and remember that it is valid to have other dreams and passions, to make time for family and friends, etc.
Sometimes I think I wish someone had shared these things with me when I was about to become a medical student. But today I also believe that this is part of the discoveries that we must gradually make as we build ourselves as doctors. At the end of the day, no one is lecturing anyone else, the important thing is to be receptive and not lose the ability to be surprised, for better or for worse, by the little details that make our careers so special.
Follow doctor-in-training Rocío Guadalupe González González on Instagram @_oyechio.
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