Lessons From Medical School

I write this post on my last day at Auckland hospital. My last day of medical school. 6 years later… The most significant period of my life to date, has ended. It’s a real milestone. How do I feel…?

Meh.

It actually doesn’t feel particularly big or important. Because in 2 weeks, I’m back in hospital doing similar things to what I was doing this year, but getting paid for it, and not having the luxury of leaving work early, ever.

But I guess it is a big deal. 6 years of work I put in. It all feels a bit surreal. I definitely do not feel like a doctor yet. I doubt I will until I have my first ward call or unwell patient that I (hopefully) manage properly.

But then what does today mean? I think I should take this opportunity to look back and think about what I’ve learnt from medical school.

My 1st year – biomed. My pre-med year was a pretty significant year for me. I was straight out of highschool and working harder than I ever had in my school days to achieve a single goal – entrance into medical school. Once achieved, I had felt amazing about myself. I thought, hey I guess I do have the potential to do well in things if I work hard enough. During this year, I had made sure I had zero distractions.

My 2nd and 3rd year: Not working so hard on academia itself. Trying to learn what medicine was all about and where I fit in and what my skills were. Several times cut down by other students and taking several hits to my self-esteem. I learnt that theory was something I had major issues with. My knowledge needed to grow.

My 4th year: People in the workplace, people I know, people I didn’t know, people, people, people. I found I was quite naive. So very naive. Hospital hits you hard. But I didn’t realise until much later that my expectations of myself were not the expectations others had of me, and what level I was supposed to be functioning at. That made things way harder. I expected too much of myself. And crashed down. I also found that you cannot make friends wherever you go. Especially not at university or work. There will be people who you meet who will be nice, but they don’t know you. They’ve come along too late in your life to really understand what you’re all about. Don’t get too comfortable. It’s not a good idea. And with work, they are not your friends regardless of what you do. They are smiling and asking about your weekend because they need to work together with you in the most tolerable way possible. Do not think any more of it. It’ll only disappoint you.

My 5th year: Began to focus back on myself. Less on others. More reflecting, more skill developing, I found certain types of people and certain parts of medicine and the hospital do not agree with me. Accepting that I don’t know everything in medicine, and I never will. Even if I’ve revised it several times, and will not retain everything forever. I just have to keep revising and reminding myself of the knowledge I have and learn more at every opportunity. People tried cutting me down then too. But self focus and reflection is a powerful thing. Your skills are your skills and no one else’s. You’ve got yours that WILL work for you. I promise. My strengths, and my discovery of the love I have for gastroenterology. I also found I have great empathy towards patients apparently.

My 6th and final year: Things started to make more sense. More comfortable around the hospital and interacting with consultants. The confidence that comes with being needed and having a role. Not only being aware of strengths and weaknesses, but being able to use them to get things done as well as knowing what to do to fill the gaps. Plans needing to be made, looking ahead. Still many disappointments and nothing is certain, but accepting that and going with it anyway, is still pretty good.

Further lessons:
1. Never let anyone know that they get to you.
2. You could do your absolute best in everything, but still come up short and have bad things happen. Accept it.
3. Do not try to please everyone. No point. Doesn’t work. Regardless of what you do, people will still not understand you or trust your efforts.
4. Trust you. As you’re all you’ve got.

So looking at this, I guess medical school has been a significant part in teaching me about myself and how I should move forward.

Oh of course I also learnt medicine itself. xD But that’s more of an ongoing learning forever. I have to accept that.

And that’s my reflection over the last 6 years. It’s a brief one of course. More happened in these last few years than I can write about in one blog.

And many more to come when I start working in 2 weeks. There’s also my graduation next week which I will update on.

So for the last time, here is my med school. A student for 6 years and never again. I spent a little while sitting in front of it and reminiscing on this day. I’m on to bigger, better and older things!

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