Since childhood, I had romantic notions on the life of a doctor. Glory, respect, prestige and honor came into my mind whenever I looked at medical profession. The sense of power, satisfaction and fulfillment that comes with being a healer always appealed to me in an instinctual way.
And I was still a child when I had decided to become a doctor. I’ll complete my schooling, pass the MCAT, go to a med school, do my internship at some fancy big hospital, become a cool doctor to serve the humanity and be a hero.
The motivating factors to study medicine and to be a doctor then are very different than the motivating factors that are keeping me in medical school now. The farther I advance, the more I realize the following:
I CAN NO LONGER USE THE SAME STUDY TECHNIQUES I USED IN HIGH SCHOOL
To be honest, I coasted through high school assuming that I can survive med school the same way almost flunked me out in the first year. Medicine is hard, complex and you have to learn and memorize each and every detail. I had to deal with huge volumes of material with exams being the deadline.
It was very difficult until I met Dr. Bilal Umar. He gave us a lecture on how to read a medical book and he even read a couple chapters to us and discussed some learning techniques. I, literally, had to teach myself how to learn and I wasn’t the only one in my class.
MY SELECTIVE STUDY DAYS ARE OVER!
It’s easy to say that we don’t need to learn surgery because we’re going into physical therapy. But the truth is, no matter what specialty you’re going to choose, you’ll have to study subjects you find unnecessary. For instance, if you’ve got an elderly gentleman with hypertension you can’t solely look at it physiologically, because it will miss the pharmacological management.
You have to ask asthma history of a patient before treating him with beta-blocker. Whatever they teach us at medical school, they teach it for a very good reason. And we have to learn each and everything irrespective of what we are going to specialize in.
IT IS NOTHING LIKE GREY’S ANATOMY, SAVING HOPE OR HOUSE MD
As much as I hate to say it but a medical student’s life is nothing like they show on TV series. I am yet to find one person as good looking as Dr. Joel Goran or as clever as Dr. Gregory House in my medical school. House’s being a total ass can be discussed but that is entirely beside the point. The wards in hospitals are not what they show on TV. Partying all night and then looking all fresh in the day, no paperwork at all is not the luxury we have. Besides we can’t even use the elevator, we take stairs even for 5th floor because they’re quicker.
SOCIALIZING, WORKING AND GETTING ENOUGH SLEEP? YOU CAN’T DO IT ALL
I always used to think that ‘I can do it all’. I can continue my job after my university. I can study after my work. I can socialize and I can manage to get a good night sleep too. Your routine will become too hectic to continue. You can’t do everything at one time. I had to quit my work because I wasn’t getting enough sleep. And now I can’t socialize because I don’t have enough money. But it’s okay because self-care is more important than doing it all.
SAVING LIVES OR SURVIVING?
The only life we save during our stay at a medical school is our own life. Before saving lives, we have to learn the physiology, anatomy, biology, and bio-mechanics of human body. It’s essential to know how everything works. Making an entry in a medical school doesn’t feel as an accomplishment anymore. Looks like it’ll years to even feel doctor-ish.
So, medical school wasn’t exactly what I had in my mind but still, it’s incredible. It taught me and is teaching me a lot of things and my experiences here made a better person than I was before getting here.