Having just recently become a blogger, I’ve been reading some other medical student blogs to see what they’ve been saying. Some are really interesting and are pretty representative of life as a student, which I can only aspire to. This post, however, by “The Angry Medic” really ground my gears…
“As a medical student you get used to a feeling of power very quickly. Striding down the hospital hallways, stethoscope draped prominently across your shoulders and an important look on your face, patients and staff make way for you, reverent looks on their faces.”
I can’t describe how much I disagree with this. For some reason, it’s just completely rubbed me up the wrong way. Not to disregard what Angry Medic is doing. I’m sure that he/she’s trying to write an interesting blog about medicine, and nothing entertains people than another person’s frustration and anger. And to be fair, his/her blog is quite an interesting read – in fact, I recommend you go read it. However, for him/her to portray medical student life like you’re the most important mother-f***er to ever strut the hospital corridors is completely ridiculous.
Here is my answer to Angry Medic’s except above, in order to describe my personal experience of the same events:
“As a medical student, you are almost constantly terrified of being found out to be a big, fat, fake who literally knows nothing about medicine what-so-ever. Stepping tentatively down the hospital corridors, stethoscope firmly bundled up in your pocket (as you’re not meant to have your stethoscope around your neck anymore 1) for infection control purposes and 2) so you aren’t, heaven forbid, mistaken for a doctor) and with a worried expression on your face, dreading the bollocking you’re probably about to receive from the next hospital consultant you meet about your lack of knowledge, patients and staff look down on you like you’re scum, and on one rare occasion, the cleaner woman screams at you for walking on her newly cleaned floor, depite there being no other way around the area she just cleaned.”
I’m not trying to put anyone off medicine, but, as a student, you are the bottom of the pile and, basically, a bit of a nuissance to a great number of staff who have to make time for you on the wards. This may be a bit of an over-generalisation – if you’re nice to them, they’ll be nice to you. But, if you walk around acting like the boss, then the chances are they’ll do their best to knock you down a few notches. Which I would probably also do if I were put in their position.
I can say with almost certainty that the feeling of confidence The Angry Medic seems to possess will not occur in around 80-90% of normal people. You don’t feel confident. You feel shy, like you shouldn’t be there. You tentatively ask a busy-looking nurse if it’s ok to go and chat to a patient and examine them, to which, most of the time they end up saying no as the patients are eating during their ‘protected mealtime’ or it’s ‘quiet hour’ on the ward to give the patients a chance to rest.
And, I can assure you that the 10% remaining of people who still walk around like they own the place are just as useless as any of the rest of us. If you feel like you’re lacking confidence, just remember that almost everyone will have gone through a scenario similar the next one I’m going to describe. Almost everyone has done this as a student at some point. We’re all guilty. We’re all the same, and as hopeless as each other. Which is why I find Angry Medic’s description so false.
When you talk to patients and actually listen to them, things progress. Soemtimes, when you start getting down to the nitty-gritty, they say something like. “I’m just not sure how long I can go on like this” or something of that ilk. Every medical student up and down the country will then have done exactly the same thing at somepoint in their student-career: Completely ignore what the patient just said and powered on with your mental list of questions you have to ask before you can head off to the pub – my choice of questioning on this particular situation was “So… Do you get your 5 a day?”