You Know You’re a Bad Medical Student When…

I’m sure you’ve had THOSE DAYS… when one too many doctor has given you the evil eye, when you have given a stupid answer and looked like the class dunce, when you are considering leaving med school for good to work at the furthest McDonald’s…

If you haven’t, you’re probably still in your first two years.

If you think you are a bad medical student, I’d like to cheer you up. If you have never attempted the following, you have a semblance of common sense:

1. Attempted to draw blood from the deltoid muscle*

2. Poked a patient three times in order to fill three blood tubes*

3. Attempted a femoral blood draw and ended up with urine

These are actual events which took place with actual third year students (disclaimer: not me!). I am happy to report that even they learned from these experiences and are now thriving fourth years. Also note that I am not denying the difficulty of clinical skills. Many a poor patient had to agonise through my attempts to draw blood. But there is a difference between poor technique and poor thought.

So, no matter how stupid you feel… you’ll be okay. I think.

* In the manner one injects the deltoid. When no vein is visible.

** As opposed to drawing a single syringe full and dividing the blood into the tubes. This is not applicable if you are doing a septic workup, which requires two to three blood samples from separate sterile sites.


  1. Hilda says:

    I am a first year medical school student, and I’m already an idiot in front of my professors. I wouldn’t even be surprise if they pray to god every night that I don’t make it. I have to admit medical school is the reason that I developed a pretty thick skin. I use to be one of those students who care what others think, but now I’m like desensitized. I don’t care or give a rat’s A$$. I would just smile if they yell at me and have a good time after class. In fact, just to piss them off I would work harder and study harder to the point where I do really well on my exams and my professors would be like “ok, i’m surprised you even got a high score like that.” Some even wonder if I cheated but are afraid to ask.
    What I’m saying is after so much thinking, I realize that the students who fail or go insane are the one’s that try to be perfect in the eyes of both the teacher’s and their peers. Medicine is so tough to the point where perfection is impossible. And any students who even try to reach perfection would only be disappointed. Medicine is about learning your flaws and fixing it, it’s about growth and realization, it’s about being tough and willing to take in information that could hurt you emotionally, and it’s also about shrugging off any verbal abuse from your peers or teachers.

    1. Hilda, you’ve expressed this so well. I’m sorry you feel stupid in front of your professors this early on already. A good professor never makes their students feel stupid – that what I believe – but there are too few of those around.
      At the same time it is necessary to grow a bit of a thick skin. This year I’ve had some pretty awful patients, who insulted me and fortunately I could deal with it.
      As for perfection, I agree – it’s not attainable. And I made the decision that it’s okay to score less than a perfect 10 in exchange for a semblance of a life.
      Hang in there. You’re not an idiot, that’s pretty evident. Keep growing, keep strong.

  2. Therese says:

    Nice one =). I feel inspired to read your posts. You seem to be really passionate with your chosen career.

    1. Thank you, Therese 🙂 Blogging helps a lot, it keeps me from taking myself too seriously while simultaneously keeping me from getting too disillusioned.

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