To me, studying medicine doesn’t really feel like medicine until we leave the safe university campus and step out into the wards.
Suddenly you turn up to a timetabled block and the Doctor is not expecting you, doesn’t know who you are, and may even ask you to leave because there is not enough room for you.
Lectures are no longer recorded and may not have access to the slides beforehand, or after for that matter. We no longer learn solely from books, now we learn from patients.
Some days we learn a lot, some days we don’t. Every day is unpredictable.
Here’s my experience of starting clinical school so far.
There is no where to hide
My cohort has been split up into the clinical hospitals associated with Melbourne University. Once we filled the Sunderland lecture theater with almost 340 students. Now we share a lecture theater with only 60 other students and our tutorials consist of only 5 students. We may even interact and learn from senior Doctors one-on-one.
The learning environment has changed drastically. I feel as though the anonymity sometimes associated with large cohorts has vanished. Even in a lecture theater you may be called upon to answer a question unexpectedly.
The hospital can be draining
We need to adjust quickly to seeing confronting things in the hospital. We witness the aftermath of surgery. This includes the scars, bruising and discomfort of patients.
We also discuss the aspects of life-changing illness and deteriorating health with those who are affected. We stand for hours on end, watching real life surgeries take place. I have seen this and more in the first few weeks of my clinical placement so far.
This, coupled with long hours, can absorb any remaining energy I have. Luckily we witness a lot of positive things too.
Teaching time is valuable
During my undergrad I could show up to uni, half asleep still, and passively sit through recorded lectures until the early afternoon when I would go home.
Now I find it is important to arrive early, be alert, engaged and really try and get the most out of my time with Doctors, Nurses and patients. Their time is limited and valuable.
Senior Doctors will deliver extra tutorials at their discretion, and our time with them is very high yield. They have so much knowledge to impart, but their time to teach is limited.
During my undergrad it was easy to take tutorial time for granted – I have found a new appreciation for teaching time here in the hospital.
This is only the beginning
Although moving from the Melbourne Uni campus to my clinical school has been an adjustment, I absolutely love it.
I used to study for exams, but now I study so that I can one day treat patients. We learn practical skills as well as improving our theoretical knowledge of disease processes.
Training to become a Doctor takes years and I hope to make the most of every opportunity I get.
– Your fellow Med student