A Day in the Life of a Third Year Medical Student
I still remember the days when getting into a reputable medical school seemed to me a far-fetched dream only; passing A-level with flying colors, acing the aptitude test and building up the resolve to reach my daily study target was in itself a hefty demand from my little self. But ultimately my conviction in my own abilities and my utmost passion for the field of medicine enabled me to blaze through cut-throat competition and emerge out of it successful. My parents reassured me that getting in had been the real drill; the rest would be manageable. With that in mind, I decided to dedicate my days and nights in chasing the flighty temptress – Medicine!
It’s another story that I did not realize what I was signing up for, by this pursuit.
The first two years passed in a whirlwind of making new acquaintances, enjoying newly found independence, getting over the spoon feeding habit of past teachers, adapting to stricter study patterns and getting a glimpse into the real world of medicine with mannequins as our patients – learning to insert IV injections, doing CPR, and putting our brains and limited medical knowledge to work during case based learning tutorials. I felt like a real doctor!
Come third year and the full reality of medical school struck me. I found myself grappling with time pressures as I braced myself to encounter the patients on hand. Ward rounds have not only made me brave but have also enabled me to feel humanity and realize the fleeting superficiality that encapsulates our daily lives. Medicine has truly captivated me by now; an innocent smile on a child’s face in the pediatric ward, or a prayer from an elderly soul in the medicine ward refreshes the drive to pursue my passion to the best of my abilities.
By now every friend, acquaintance and senior that I meet, asks me about my future plans. This frequent (not to mention uncomfortable) probing has given me my definite answer that I do not want to be a doctor ‘bahu’ who can make the perfect ‘gol rotis’. No, I want to practice medicine and make a difference.
Hence, I prepared myself mentally to be up for some necessary challenges in life, namely preparing for the USMLE exam. Furthermore, commencement of wards from this year should hopefully help me decide my medical specialty of choice. Simultaneously doing wards, prep for USMLE and my current studies at school can be more than hectic at times. However being surrounded by friends, seniors and teachers who are always motivating me makes it all worthwhile.
Every day I struggle to achieve my set goals, and I often fail. Waking up early morning and getting ready for school is an achievement in itself for me, but what comes after is the real struggle. Walking up the pedestrian bridge to my bus stop waiting for the bus, wondering if I would be fortunate enough to get a seat. The next thirty minutes are the worst: students filled to the brim, up close and stumbling onto each other until we reach the university.
In uni, the first half of the day passes by with lectures to attend, and then it is ward time. I am thrilled to go there in the hope of learning something new every day, which is the only motivation indeed. It is no surprise that government hospitals are a real disappointment in terms of cleanliness and hygiene. Patients are swarming in like bees and every person is a poor soul whether it be a patient or a house officer on call. I do understand that it is these struggles that will make me a stronger person and keep me closer to the ones who need me the most.
We reach our ward and our class usually starts at bedside. Our teacher starts up with the history of the patient, stressing its importance and how to proceed. He talks of some familiar, and some strange, diseases and we keen students, are all ears, trying to hold on to that information. An hour or so passes by, while we remain tired but still standing firm. After that, we have to take history from other patients who, by virtue of our naïve and unpracticed ways, often identify us as junior (or ‘inferior’) doctors, and get irritated which compels us to begin our eager hunt for a new patient.
Finally, two hours are up and we all return to the university exhausted. We sanitize our hands to ensure that we are not infected and discuss our problems as we finally scramble to get some lunch. This is how my day as a third year medical student ends, with all its ups and downs but what keeps me going is my faith that ‘today has been difficult but tomorrow will be another day’.
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