It’s the night before your first day at University, mixed with a pile of emotions that have built up over time – sleep is nowhere near to be found. All those days of trying your best to get good grades, working on your university application(s) and running behind teachers to get your LoR’s (Letter of Recommendation), all of that hard work’s finally came down to this one day. The beginning of your journey in the healthcare field starting as a Medical Student!
You are nervous yet excited, scared but curious about what the days ahead are going to reveal. Will you succeed or succumb to failure? Are you actually cut out to becoming a doctor? What if someone dies in your hands? These thoughts don’t stop. The reality is, Medical school is scary, stressful, and it requires marriage type commitment – it’s frustrating and leads to a severe lack of social life. But it’s also really exciting, gratifying, eye-opening, and challenges you till you reach your full potential.
The Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS)
Briefly, on the medical program, I attended: it consisted of five years of med school and one year of (optional) internship. The five years were divided further into pre-clinical (years I to II) and clinical years (year III – V). It was one of those programs where you didn’t need a pre-med degree but could begin straight from high school. So by the age of 24, I was a graduate Doctor.
I vividly recall the night before my first midterm – It was anatomy, and I was bawling my eyes out. Thankfully, the next day I realized I wasn’t the only one to flood their apartment with tears. I’d always look at the final year students and tell myself “I don’t think I’ll ever make it there”. Well, five years and a whole load of exams later, I was walking on stage to receive my Medical degree with my parents watching, teary-eyed. It was an exhilarating moment. Med school days were tough. I cannot stress enough on that. Constantly preparing for exams, completing assignments and just racing against time. It was exhausting. Ever heard of physician burnout? Well, there was definitely a med student burnout too! By the second year, we were all losing weight and hair (in particular reference to my balding guy friends). Some of us were not prepared for the stress, and that affected our mental health.
Each one of us at some point would lose interest in studying and turn to the others for help. Almost everyone I knew or was close to thought something was wrong with themselves. There was hardly anyone to tell us that the stress, anxiety and low moods were part of the package and that it was okay and normal to feel that way. As long as you could figure a way out, you would be fine.
With time we learned the key to it all was the balance. Now, finding a balanced life in the health field requires a lot of practice. It’s a trial and error game. It’s hard to juggle between staying on top of your game at school and keeping that social life going. With all those late nights staying up studying, the only social interaction I wanted during my free time was with my bed! I realize now that you can’t leave behind your family and friends in complete pursuit of your education or career. Take time out to go out for a laugh, watch a movie, dine at your favorite restaurant with your people or even play a video game (you can never get too old for that). It’s okay to leave that one lecture out for your exam in order to keep your sanity going!
It’s worth it!
All the hard work eventually pays off. A time comes where you have an epiphany- the moment you realize all the stress, dedication and sacrifice was worth it! It’s crazy and unbelievable, but it happens. My first moment was during my posting in OBGYN as an Intern Doctor.
It was 3 am, I was hungry, sleepy but high on adrenaline under the bright surgical lights, assisting a complicated c-section. There was blood and lots of it. It was hot, stressful and we were under pressure to deliver the baby. Eventually, the baby was out and rushed to the resuscitation room while we worked on closing up the mother. After washing up I decided to visit and examine the newborn. As I stood there placing my stethoscope on its tiny chest, I heard its heart beating and it struck me that I was part of bringing this being to life. For the first time in a while, I believed that everything was going to be okay. Being part of saving a life, of bringing new life to this world and trying to prevent the departure of another is the ultimate goal of a healthcare professional.
So yes, its crazy tough and scary but at the end (well there actually is never an end) it’s worth it. Life is a journey filled with bumpy roads but it’s up to us to live every moment of it and learn from the experiences. With the hope to grow from all that we learn. So if you find yourself in a similar position, lost, stressed and uncertain of your career decisions. Know that you are not alone. These feelings are normal and part of the journey. Remember to always find your balance and keep telling your self it’ll all be worth it at the end.
Comment below if you would like to share any experiences on your journey.