Confession: Green-eyed

I am jealous of them.

Not because their medical schools are rated higher than ours. Not because the exchange rate is in their favour and they get to see more of my own country than I do. Not even because they are not exposed to as much violence and infection risks as we are.


I’m jealous of the elective students because they are so confident. The don’t hesitate to answer questions on ward rounds (and even if they answer incorrectly they don’t wilt away). And if they do answer incorrectly the doctor won’t scoff at them because they aren’t his students to scoff.

They have such confidence in their knowledge and their skills. I wasn’t always this afraid, was I? Surely this is not my own doing?

I’m jealous because I wonder if maybe their medical school has instilled that kind of confidence in them, and I want to be angry because I don’t feel like that is fostered in us. It does feel as though we are scorned: nasty little students that should be neither seen nor heard. (Note: my current firm is not like this though. They have been very nice.)

Whatever is the use we study hard and fill our logbooks if we are not confident in our profession?

I’m certain a lot of it is up to the student, but I have to wonder why there is such a discrepancy. It’s not like the CONTENT of our course is bad – in fact, we have an excellent exposure to the clinical environment.

I like to think that I am friendly and welcoming to our elective students. I like them. I love hearing about their lives and their courses.

But I do remain a little jealous.


9 thoughts on “Confession: Green-eyed

  1. I am sure part of it is the program. It’s too bad you sometimes feel like you’re treated like a nasty little medical student. In the US, the culture of yelling and punishing and scorning medical students is definitely changing and starting to become less frequent.

    Might part of it be the types of students that do away electives? Here, at least, that is not required, and maybe it’s only the more audacious students that choose to do it.

    1. I do hope that South Africa follows suite soon and that our professors become less scary. But you make a valid point – here we have to do away electives (though not necessarily in another country) unless we have extenuating circumstances. Thanks for your input!

  2. Not being in the medical field, and thus not having that particular background knowledge, I will say that our own mindset is very powerful. Perhaps you are in an environment where you see others being quiet and withdrawn due to harsh comments. As a result you have adapted to that approach. Maybe try adding some confident questions here and there to see if it makes a difference.

    1. Thank you – you are right of course. There are very harsh comments going around, and it does deter us from putting ourselves out there. Ideally one should grow a tough skin and expose ourselves to learning opportunities regardless of the reaction. But even more ideally, our “teachers” should encourage us to try. I’ll try to be more confident though – I can’t let my education suffer any longer.

  3. Haha, from what I’ve been reading in your blog, sounds like you have nothing to be jealous about! I’m going to be doing my elective at Tygerberg early next year, really looking forward to it 🙂 What can I expect??

    1. Heh, thank you!
      Awesome! Which discipline will you be doing?
      Tygerberg is not a beautiful campus, but there are a lot of beautiful places around. There are always a lot of elective students planning events, and y’all usually have a great time. You’ll be seeing the real deal in terms of South African medicine, for sure.
      I’ll be happy to meet up when you’re here 😀

      1. I’ll be doing 4 weeks in Internal Med. Looking forward to it a lot! It’ll definitely be different to the medicine we see here in Australia, so should be a great experience.

        Would be great to meet up and get some tips on what to do/see 🙂

      2. Oh! You will see a LOT of things here that are different… I have never been to Aus but I know you guys have a very good healthcare system. So you will see a lot of HIV-related disease here, and you should probably get a BCG vaccination because we have a LOT of TB (last I heard it wasn’t part of your recommended vaccine schedule because of TB’s rarity?). Anyway, we don’t get a lot of Australian elective students, interestingly enough, so it will be great to hear what similarities and differences we have.

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