The inspiration for this document came during my second year while studying for an end-of-block test. At the same time, the then-first years were studying for Pathology, aided by “Le Document”. Somewhere in this time period I looked at a fellow second year, threw my hands in the air rather dramatically and exclaimed,
“I wish I had a Le Document for Second Year!”
Le Document pour MB.ChB.II can be found here. It focussed mostly on holistic wellness during a tough theoretical year. Third year is a whole new ballgame, with students finally set wild in the clinical environment. Theory modules are unfortunately still a reality and at my school, third years are haunted by Neurosciences and Musculoskeletal System.
I throughly enjoyed this year and fortunately I had some older friends who had some handy tips. Thus, some advise for new third years:
Do not freak out if you struggle to draw blood. Practice will make perfect. Accept any challenge, but look out for patients with good veins – they will boost your confidence.
Do not freak out if nurses know more than you do – chances are they have been practicing longer than you have been alive. Respect them: they can either help you a lot, or make life extremely difficult for you.
ARVs are not a joke. Stressing for an HIV-test isn’t either Never fool around with a contanimated needle or specimen.
OBSTETRICS: wear a mask when delivering a baby, amniotic fluid does not taste very nice. Always remember tbe infection risk. Wear goggles or a visor and an apron too. Note that if a lady comes in crowning it is not always possible. Remember that the mothers do all the work, it is your job to help them. Remember you are working with lives, always. If told to deliver a multipara, check twice with a doctor or matron.
Ask to take a picture of your first baby, you will not regret the memory.
PAEDS: little humans are resilient, but not made of steel. Be sure you know how to do procedures on them – do not attempt to draw blood from a little human with a syringe. Do not perform a procedure in their cot – it is the only safe place they have. For your own emotional well-being, try not to get too attached. And beware the paediatrician – just because they love kids does not mean they love you.
INTERNAL MEDICINE: this rotation is competitive and exhausting. Try to be on your supervisor’s good side. Take initiative. Look interested. Go the extra mile. Wear comfortable shoes. Read up about all cases on your firm, not only those of your own patients. These are good principles anywhere, but especially important in Internal.
Never underestimate the importance of a good history and a basic physical. If you don’t know what to do, start there. Have a method to your investigation, and a structured presentation.
FAMILY MEDICINE: Do not scowl at this rotation, there is a remarkable load you can learn here , especially if you learn to respect the multidisciplinary approach. Be well prepared for site visits, take sturdy shoes and hand- sanitisers. Take the time to understand you patients’ psyche and sociology, there are not many blocks that cater for this.
SURGERY: not my favourite rotation. Apparently doctors fall into one of two groups: those who love surgery and those who despise it. Surgeons can be scary and temperamental, but try to learn as much as possible. Attend tutorials even if it is easy to slip out. Assist in surgeries even if other students are willing to relieve you of your duties. Do not stress about assisting, you will be told what to do. Most importantly, know how to scrub in and practise your suturing.
With so much practical, theory becomes mundane. Do not lose sight of your goal. Attend classes. If you get bored, look for blogs, student sites or books to pique your interest. For example, The Brain that Changes Itself promises to be a great addition to neurosciences. A Life in Pieces is exceptional for psychiatry. Three Letter Plague as well as Disease are gripping. Musculoskeletal system requires great effort. Colour in, draw, use your friends’ anatomy and don’t let the skeleton stay in the closet.
Third year is wonderful and can ignite your passion for medicine once more. However, you must take good care of yourself. Sleep often, eat well.