Mental Health Begins With Medical Students

Every few months, the mental health of doctors/medical students makes it to popular media. It seems like these spikes in attention occur, and everyone shouts YOU SHOULD CARE FOR YOUR DOCTORS! and then we write blogs and we tweet and we make youtube videos and eventually we go back to work, and nothing has changed.

I think we are the missing link. And by “we”, I mean qualified doctors. And also, you, the older doctors. Continue reading “Mental Health Begins With Medical Students”

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FAQ: Will I Get Into Med School?

Ever since I first posted tips for applying to medicine (in South Africa) in 2014, I have received multiple questions from aspirant medical students.

give up hope dont

The hardest to answer (and thus one of the most popular) is DO I STILL STAND A CHANCE? – usually prefaced with the person’s failure to achieve the desired grades for medical admission, or some other stumbling block. Continue reading “FAQ: Will I Get Into Med School?”

[Guest Post] From Nursing to Medicine

While the best-known route to medical school in South Africa is the “conventional”: finish high school and enter med school the next January, it is by far not the only route followed by medical students here.

The journeys are numerous, like Tash’s journey of an older medical student, which she graciously shared here.

nurse to med school

Today, Roxanne shares her journey from nursing to medical school. Roxanne is a fourth year medical student at the University of Stellenbosch. We lived across from each other when she was a first year and I in my fifth. She impressed me from the beginning, with her humility, passion and eagerness to learn. This is her story: Continue reading “[Guest Post] From Nursing to Medicine”

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”

Cadaverish Tales

tumblr_n94hlvcFOs1tpw2ero1_1280It’s been a long time since med school dissection, and I must say I never really enjoyed it. I appreciated it, sure; but just like I rarely enjoy surgery, I rarely enjoyed dissection. It’s something that just WAS.

I had a lot of thoughts about our cadavers though. I wished we had a dedication ceremony, as many med schools abroad have. Our professor’s reasoning was “there are too many religions to accommodate”, but I thought that was a silly excuse because whoever said that a dedication ceremony had to be religious at all?

When we teamed up for dissection groups, we were told to ensure there was a male in each group to help with some of the “tougher” work. Of course, some of us disagreed with such old-fashioned suggestions and teamed up in all-girl group anyways. Continue reading “Cadaverish Tales”

The Best Med School Fiction I’ve Read

I read a lot of medical fiction. I even have some lists about them (fiction and non-fiction, actually). I think I just read one of my favourites: Suicide Med by Freida McFadden, aka Fizzy McFizz. She also wrote The Devil Wears Scrubs, which I reviewed here.

In all honesty, I don’t think the blurb does it justice:

There’s a reason Southside Medical School has been nicknamed “Suicide Med.” For the last six years, every year one student has taken his own life. Except for last year. Last year was a murder-suicide.

The press has pointed to the heavy workload as the culprit in the high suicide rate. Some students believe that the school is cursed. And others believe that the deaths may not be suicides at all—that it’s no coincidence that Dr. Conlon, Southside’s quirky but beloved anatomy professor, joined the staff on the very year that the suicides began.

Either way, the same question echoes through the minds of every first year student at Suicide Med: Who will be next to die? Continue reading “The Best Med School Fiction I’ve Read”

I Hate Med School – And That’s Okay

Here’s a quick post-call ramble: I had a pretty bad night on call last night.*

And it was still better than medical school.

hate med school
Base Image by DearFreshman, click for link

I hated med school.

In first year, I hated the loneliness. I had went in hoping for intelligent conversation with the country’s cream of the crop and at least initially, I could not find it. What I found was a narrow-minded and selfish little campus, and I hated it. Continue reading “I Hate Med School – And That’s Okay”

A Letter to Final Year Medical Students

Dear Final Year

On the eve of your examinations*:

I have been wanting to write you. I wanted to give you a “list of things to do” to survive your Hell Week, but time got the better of me and thankfully so, because trying to reduce your finals to a list of survival tips is a slap in the face of the hard work you have done, and will still do.

Base image by Angela Hart, click for link.
Base image by Angela Hart, click for link.

Continue reading “A Letter to Final Year Medical Students”