I have a question for medical students and doctors (and anyone else who thinks they can): How do you do it?
I am in my final (sixth) year now and it is by far the hardest year I have ever had. We are expected to work long hours, like the Interns. I am not opposed to working hard, but be reminded that a) we are not paid for this like the Interns are and b) we have to study for upcoming exams, whereas the Interns already have their degrees. So at the end of a long day we still have to study…
Furthermore I feel like a lot of our work is scut. When you’re a third year and maybe even a fourth year, you don’t mind doing scut, because you need to learn all of those things. It’s exciting for you to perform any mundane little task in hospital because OH-EM-GEE HOSPITAL. But running around doing these things – even assisting in surgery – is no longer exciting because I feel it keeps me from the ultimate learning experience at this level, namely patient contact.
When you are a final year you need patient contact. I will not be examined on the ability to get IV access this year. I was examined on that in my third year. I will be examined on my approach to clinical scenarios. And I feel like I have little to no time to learn that. I get home at night and I have no energy to read up about the cases we had that day. I fall asleep on my books.
And exams creep ever and ever nearer. The biggest exams we have had. The exams they call “hell week.” Where examiners have no mercy and could turn an already-long six-year degree into a seven-year one.
I am told that hundreds of students have done and survived this before me, and hundreds will do so after me, and so too, can I.
But some days, it feels like I am not ready. Like I can’t. I’m sure it sounds like I have a huge attitude problem, and I swear I do my best every single day NOT to have a bad attitude.
So, how do you (or did you) do it?
P.S: I’m currently on General Surgery, which is no different than it was in third year. I.e. it still is killing me. Michelle Au’s cartoon about her third year surgery clerkship pretty much describes it spot on. Click the image for full cartoon.