Interview: Med School as a Mature Student

Of all the search queries that lead to this blog, one of the most popular is about studying medicine as an “older” student. Perhaps in the USA the question is not as prevalent, but Med School is an undergraduate program in South Africa, and the vast majority of students enter straight after high school.

I too followed the traditional route, so although I have had older classmates, I’ve always felt like my advice on the topic was pretty generic. You know, “of course you’re not too old for med school”, etc. But a great young woman agreed to chat to me about her non-traditional journey.

tash interviewThis was my first time interviewing someone using voice-notes. I really hate the sound of my voice on recording, but my interviewee was an absolute star. Allow me to introduce Tash, a final year medical student at the University of Stellenbosch, whom I have now known for seven years and who never fails to make an impression.

Did you always want to be a doctor?

Absolutely. I remember very clearly when I was about five years old I had a “teddy triage” and I used to inject my teddies, and I raided the first-aid kit to bandage them. So it has pretty much been a lifelong dream. Continue reading “Interview: Med School as a Mature Student”

A Young Doctor’s Oath

What a whirlwind-week. From the Oath Taking Ceremony to Graduation to packing up all my belongings and trekking 1000km to my old-new home. It felt so wonderful, being inducted as part of the medical profession. And the graduation cloak helped too – I felt like someone at Hogwarts and it was really fun!

Oath-taking was really special to me, so I made this soundbite. I had the desire to thank a whole lot of people and to impress how many people contributed to my success*, and this was the closest I could get – I should probably add TO ALL MY BLOG READERS WHO HAVE KEPT ME SANE!

What a journey these six years have been. Here’s to a new era.

* Most of this came to me during a rest station in the OBGYN final exam… the Muse never promised to be considerate!

P.S: speaking of saying thank you… check this guy who thanked his parents at his grad recently – it’s so sweet!

Day 1: Student Internship

It has teased us from a distance for some time, but the first day of Student Internship finally arrived. We did not have the White Coat Ceremony in first or third year like many other medical schools, but today we had our badge “ceremony”, loosely defined. For two and a half years of clinical rotations we have worn generic navy-blue name badges and white coats. Today we received our pretty cream and red badges – and unofficially, nobody with such a badge is compelled to wear a white coat. Except in Urology, which incidentally is my first rotation.

For these last few months of the year, we will rotate with the “old” SIs, those who are graduating at the end of this year. Gives us a moment to get used to the whole shebang! For those who don’t know, Student Internship is the final 18 months of our medical training. It’s backbreaking work and very scary.

Continue reading “Day 1: Student Internship”

Look how far we’ve come

Just under a year ago, I posted about my friends, then fifth years, who had had their last day of class.

Today, it’s our turn.

As fate would have it, I am in South Africa for this important celebration. From here on out, we shall have clinical rotations and exams, but no more theory classes as a group. We will be Student Interns. We are just over eighteen months from graduating.

I don’t know if I’m ready. Just being an SI is a big responsibility. I’ll have to teach third years how to draw bloods. It will be my responsibility to ensure they have as positive an experience as possible – not something very many SIs cared for when I was a third year. And inside, I still feel like a newbie.

As usual, we celebrated by dressing up. Here are some pictures of dressing up – I’m on the far left, as a pirate. Fitting, don’t you think? My clinical partner, next to me, is Nicki Minaj. And don’t you just love the Rubik’s Cube?


Continue reading “Look how far we’ve come”

Med School Acceptance: The war before the war

By now, most school-leavers in South Africa have settled their plans for next year – that is to say, the majority of kids who will start their first year of MB.ChB. (Bachelor’s of Medicine and Bachelor’s of Surgery) next year, now know – and I’m sure they are very excited (and congrats to all of them)!

This time of the year also makes me a little sad, though. Newspapers and magazines are filled with letters from disappointed achievers and their families. Why haven’t I been accepted to medicine, they ask. I’m academically strong, I’m a leader, I serve the community. What is wrong with me?

Continue reading “Med School Acceptance: The war before the war”

Weekly Photo Challenge : A Foreigner in China

This week’s theme for The Daily Post’s Photo Challenge is “Foreign”. I’ve had two opportunities to travel beyond the borders of South Africa – once to Canada and Connecticut/NYC, and the other to China. For Canada I was in Montreal, and the French certainly made me feel relatively non-local. But China? In China I was a foreigner through-and through.

I’ve written of China before here and here. One thing I haven’t written of was the food. We were in Hunan Province, which is decidedly un-Westernised. They are are well-known for hot and spicy food, and we were treated to their best.

Continue reading “Weekly Photo Challenge : A Foreigner in China”

College, Dorms and Culture

It’s that time of the year… I refer to it as the month our campus has its period. Elections and competitions abound, while exams are around the corner (Southern hemisphere, remember).

My favourite part of this month – perhaps my favourite of the entire year – is “Sêr”. Sêr comes from “serenade”, and is basically a singing competition. Residences compete for ultimate glory. I am not a culture-vulture, and I know precariously little of song and dance. But Sêr makes me so, so happy. (If you still don’t get it: it’s like Glee, only without all the lights and electronic music. Instruments are limited to those an artist can carry onto the stage).

Continue reading “College, Dorms and Culture”

Running Update: Semester at Sea

In between studying like a crazy person and trying to organise Student Government matters, I managed to (finally) have a meeting with my faculty regarding attending Semester at Sea next year! There are still some smaller details to sort out, but I have the support of the admin department and of my course convener. I was jumping around like a jack-in-the-box from excitement.

Now to finalise my application…