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”

The Passion Deception: Beyond What You “Like”

Last week, I wrote about how the idea of “passion” can overwhelm us into unrealistic future prospects. I actually got some good feedback from readers, which leads me to believe that I am certainly not the only one with this experience.

But if you’re a high school student – or otherwise at the threshold of choosing a career – you might wonder, WHERE DOES THAT LEAVE ME? If you have been told your whole life that you need simply to do what you love (and you’ll “never work a day in your life”, yada yada yada), you might not know HOW else to choose a path forward.

My suggestion? Ye ole’ trusty mindmap.

Many of ours (mine included) may have looked something like this:

IMG_4249

When in reality, it probably should have looked something like this: Continue reading “The Passion Deception: Beyond What You “Like””

The Passion Deception: Why Passion Is Not Enough

I had the pleasure of visiting my old high school recently to talk to some of the Matrics about life, their final year of school and their future plans in general. I spoke at length about what I call the Passion Deception. It sounds like a bit of a downer but to be honest, it’s real talk and the more I think about it, the more it makes sense.

passion deception

I feel like many talented youngsters have a pressing desire to do a job that makes them “tick”, and they are taught (myself included) from a young age that the profession you choose should be one you feel passionate about. I can understand why we tell people that too: talented youngsters can often do anything they want to, so “passion” becomes a good indicator of what to leave and what to dive into. Continue reading “The Passion Deception: Why Passion Is Not Enough”

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!

I Lived in a Shipping Container

This is a scheduled post as I am currently camping and soaking up the sun! 😀

I am packing my room up. All of the detritus of six years of university (and one accumulates a lot of STUFF) must go into boxes to be transported 1,000km away, to my old-new life.

For the past three years, I have lived in a modified shipping container. I wanted to post about it before, but I was worried about privacy and the big bad internet, so you know, I had to wait.

tincan Continue reading “I Lived in a Shipping Container”